An off-the-cuff pre-pandemic live recording from Big Heart Collective, a fun side project featuring some of Richmond’s most talented rockers, has become a fundraiser and statement in support of Black lives.
For the better part of 2020, musicians around the world have been in a forced state of hibernation. Most are unable to go play shows, and many have zero access to a studio. However, 2020 has also been a time of political chaos, and the resulting spark of inspiration from these issues has motivated many artists to release whatever content they can in spite of the quarantine.
Big Heart Collective is one of these bands, and while their recently-released live album — An Evening at Cary St. Cafe — was recorded before the George Floyd protests, it’s release was still inspired by the historic event.
“It was something where I wanted to help out in whatever facet I can,” said BHC founding member Raphaël Katchinoff. “And the only way I could think of was to put a record out and then use that money to donate to causes that were worthwhile.”
The album itself is admittedly nothing too elaborate. For the most part, Big Heart Collective is a side project for all of its members. Katchinoff (Drums), Andrew Carper (Bass), Nick Michon (Guitar), Andrew Sisk (Percussion), Andrew Rapisarda (Guitar), and Tommy Booker (Keys) all play and record with other bands, including Palm Palm, The Southern Belles, The Deli Kings, and many more.
Recording this live album was not even the last music-related activity many of them did before quarantine. Katchinoff was on tour when the pandemic hit, with a band that was supposed to play South by Southwest. Unfortunately, their performance was cancelled.
Members of the Big Heart Collective did not even originally plan on recording their set at Cary St. Cafe that night. However, their opening act, Ben Butterworth, has a habit of recording many of his live performances. That night in February, once he’d recorded his own set, he continued recording, and captured BHC’s performance as well.
Big Heart Collective has had a steady gig at Cary St. Cafe since their origins. Katchinoff founded the group in 2017 as a way to get back into professional music after a long break from the art. The band’s first gig came on Thanksgiving night; Katchinoff assembled a lineup at the last minute. After that, Big Heart Collective became a monthly presence at Cary St. Cafe throughout 2018 and 2019.
Unfortunately, the band’s monthly live shows at the cafe have been completely postponed until the end of COVID quarantine. For now, all of BHC that is available to the public is their album.
But that’s okay, because An Evening At Cary St. Cafe‘s status as a live album by a side project makes it perfect for a charity event. It is a way to put out music during an artistic lull without straining the listener’s pocket, while simultaneously making a positive impact on the world.
“I was on the ropes about putting it out, because it’s not that great quality and it’s not our own songs,” said Katchinoff. “I would never put something out that has covers and then take money from that… The only thing I could think, to feel like it was worth putting out, was to see if I could use any funds people donated to go to organizations that I thought would stand up for the direction of what should be right in this country.”
Like many projects available for streaming on Bandcamp, BHC’s album is technically free to listen. However people may choose to donate as much as they want on the album page. 100 percent of the proceeds for the donations will go to the NAACP and Southern Poverty Law Center, two organizations that work against bigotry and fight for the rights of marginalized groups, particularly African Americans.
Top Photo: Big Heart Collective (Raphaël Katchinoff, Andrew Carper, Nicky Michon, Corey Wells, and Tommy Booker). Photo by Ashley Travis.