If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the four or so years I’ve been doing this column, it’s that you should never assume you know about everything that’s happening around here, because the Richmond scene is always capable of throwing you a curveball. Thorp Jenson is the scene’s latest curveball for me personally–I was certainly not expecting a heartfelt alt-country singer to suddenly show up fully formed on our local scene, complete with praise from Rolling Stone magazine slotted into his press kit. Of course, a little digging shows that it’s not really as big a surprise as it seems at first blush–Jenson is really local singer-songwriter Chris Ryan, who picked up a goofy name from bandmates poking fun at his ranch-hand mustache and decided to run with it.
Jenson clearly has quite a few great local connections formed back when he was just another dude named Chris, as can be seen in the list of backing musicians and collaborators he’s accumulated on this album. With songwriting help from Spacebomb all-star Cameron Ralston and bass tracks on the album laid down by Butcher Brown’s Andrew Randazzo, it’s clear the man knows who to call to flesh out his tunes. That said, he’s the one who deserves the ultimate credit for new album Odessa‘s stunning mix of Petty, Springsteen, Willie Nelson, and the Drive-By Truckers–and you’re sure to get a kick out of the set he lays down while celebrating that album’s release at The Camel this Saturday night. So don’t let the many twists and turns of the local scene throw you–come out and catch on to this one.