Musical tribes were gathering over the weekend in both Hampton and Virginia Beach. Two separate CD-release parties -- one for indie-rockers Uglylography, the other for youth blues act The UnXpected -- drew robust crowds.
Both events were enriched by supportive communities of musicians, participants told me this morning.
"It couldn't have gone better," said Matt Thomas, a Hampton bassist and singer who leads the self-described quirkadelic rock band Uglyography. The event, marking the release of the band's CD "Four Shafts are Uglier Than One," was held Saturday at The Hampton Taphouse. About 80 people attended, many of them musicians involved in some facet of the Hampton Roads underground rock scene.
"I'm speechless at all the support we've gotten," Thomas said. "It's really a good feeling. Hopefully we'll feel the effects from all this for awhile."
The Taphouse show was the climax of a busy month for Uglyography. The band released a video for its new song "Hookey," played live on local television through WAVY-TV's "Hampton Roads Show" and was featured on Paul Shugrue's "Out of the Box" program on WHRV-FM.
Thomas said once exhaustion lifts, he'll be working one new material for his band. "We're also talking about touring in the fall, but we need to save some money. It costs money to tour, unfortunately. We'll see what happens."
Right now, though, he's basking in the afterglow of a satisfying CD release party.
"The musical community has been very supportive," Thomas said. "Based on looking out and seeing who was in the crowd on Saturday, I'd say at least 10 bands were represented in the audience. That's cool."
At the Jewish Mother in Virginia Beach Sunday evening, a similar scene unfolded as Peninsula-based blues act The UnXpected released a self-titled EP and prepared for an exciting trip to Memphis, Tenn.
Nearly 200 people crowded The Jewish Mother, a participant told me. The crowd included a who's who of the region's blues community. Players came to either jam or simply show support for the group, which travels to Memphis this week to be part of the International Blues Challenge. Members of the group range in age from 11 to 15.
(Photo of The UnXpected courtesy of Emily Salsberry)
"It was fantastic," said Scott Salsberry, father of UnXpected guitarist Zachary Salsberry. "The most amazing thing to see was that so many local musicians -- with really nothing to gain -- came out to support these kids on their CD release night. That's a pretty powerful statement."
Participants included Bobby "BlackHat" Walters, Ron Fetner and Anthony Rosano. Many more were part of a jam at the evening's end.
"It was such an uplifting experience for these kids who are trying to find their way," Zach's father said.
The UnXpected is set to perform Friday, Feb. 1 in Memphis, one of at least 20 youth acts chosen to play the International Blues Challenge in showcase mode. They won't be competing as the adult acts do, but they'll get a healthy dose of national exposure.
Zach, a 13-year-old student at Hines Middle School in Newport News, said he's more excited than nervous about playing on or near legendary Beale Street.