After cutting my teeth on DC DIY punk in high school, I developed a sense that some of the best local music can be found in the most eclectic places. Some of my favorite memories involve watching tiny mosh pits form in commandeered VFW bars and somehow convincing my parents to let me take the family station wagon to venues with names like “Hell’s Bottom” and “The Void.” So, when I first got to Charlottesville, I was eager to get into the local music scene.
One year and the finding of some cool friends later, I finally found a fit at last weekend’s show by The Blndrs and The New Half Grassed Revival. Performances went down at Rapunzel’s Coffee and Books in Lovingston, Virginia, a big barn-looking house painted bright red and bedecked in string lights. Sitting about a 30-minute drive from Grounds, Rapunzel’s describes itself as an “arts venue, community space, coffee shop, and used bookstore.” Browsing through the shelves while sipping a freshly-made hazelnut hot cocoa, I discovered and promptly purchased a book about the Illuminati. Flyers for a past performance of The Vagina Monologues lined the walls. It was perfect.
When our ragtag group of indie kids made it through the traffic and maneuvered into the largely-residential neighborhood where Rapunzel’s sits, The New Half Grassed Revival was just taking to the stage. This four-man group of Willie Nelsonesque gents wasn’t quite the vibe I’d seen at local shows back home, but having grown up on outlaw country and Sunday bluegrass radio shows, I found myself vibing hard with their sound all the same. Throughout the set, the guys were playful and witty, interacting with each other and the audience in ways that made even strangers like us feel right at home.
Next was The Blndrs, fourth-year student Alice Clair’s roots/rock/groove squad. Having opened for Annapolis ska group Bumpin’ Uglies at The Southern earlier this year, The Blndrs truly came home for this show, one of their earliest performance venues and a spot of special significance. For the first half of the show, they played a straight sesh of four songs that ebbed and flowed right into each other, stopping at the end to take a breath and banter about the bizarre train accident that had delayed their arrival. Before another song, Alice exchanged some good-natured heckling with venue owner Bob Taylor and led the whole audience in a spirited rendition of “Happy Birthday” for a friend in attendance. That level of audience interaction is the kind of thing I’ve only gotten from local music. The camaraderie and friendliness is a staple of even the rowdiest punk shows I’ve been to, with a spirit of acceptance for every disparate misfit who comes through the door. At Rapunzel’s that night, the same spirit applied; when another audience member found out that my friend’s outfit was just quirky and not, in fact, a Halloween costume, he merely responded with a cool, welcoming “rock on.”
As The Blndrs finished their encore with a cover of “Psycho Killer” that got everyone in the audience shouting “qu’estce que c’est,” my friends and I made our way back to the deserted car wash where we’d parked. For the first time in a while, we’d all ventured outside of the Charlottesville bubble, but ironically, it felt like I’d come home.
Annie Parnell is a second-year that finds inspiration in the moon.
Original Post found at https://www.the-declaration.org/2018/11/13/alice-clair-lets-her-hair-down/