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Inside Track: Richmond Music News

Welcome to the RVA music scene. What do you need to know?

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Beatlemania is alive and well in Richmond. In addition to the new all-girl Beatles tribute band, the Girtles, the Fab Four are getting the big-band treatment. The 19-piece Upper East Side Big Band, boasting a who's who of local players from such bands as Bio Ritmo, the No BS Brass Band, Glows in the Dark and Bungalo 6, just finished up “The Abbey Road Project.” Arrangers Samson Trinh and Adrian Duke put their stamp on the Beatles' 11th, and last recorded, album with the help of vocalist siblings Allyson Mills-Steele and Curtis Mills, the crux of the Mills Family Band. The Upper East Side Big Band will celebrate the CD's release when it opens Dogwood Dell's Summer Concert series June 11, first playing a swing set, then performing “Abbey Road” in its entirety.

Bio Ritmo has a new 7-inch ready for release later this summer on former member Jim Thomson's label, Electric Cowbell Records. If you want to take the Bio Ritmo concert experience home with you, its recent performance in New York City was recorded for a live DVD release.

A weekly residency is in order for the New Belgians, an experimental funk, soul and jazz quintet formed by Todd Harrington of the DJ Williams Projekt and Modern Groove Syndicate. Harrington's songs were fleshed out at a local computer-repair shop, with assistance from bandmates Joel DeNunzio (Modern Groove Syndicate) on drums and Brian Mahne (DJ Williams Projekt) on keys, plus Marcus Tenney (No BS Brass Band) on horns and Charles Arthur (Chez RouAc, Piedmont Souprize) on lap steel and guitar. On June 2, they'll move to Cary Street Cafe for a regular Wednesday gig.

Lydia Ooghe also enlisted a member of Modern Groove Syndicate to help her fill out her compositions: guitarist Trey Pollard. Ooghe's new ensemble, Lux Vacancy, leans more toward acoustic pop, although its collective backgrounds scream Richmond jazz. Bassist Cameron Ralston plays with Pollard in Ombak as well as Lux Vacancy drummer Pinson Chanselle in Fight the Big Bull. Plus, Pollard knew pianist Wells Hanley from backing up Dean Fields and Brian Jones. Lux Vacancy is recording its first EP at Minimum Wage Studio and when that's done Pollard will assist Hanley in actualizing his own collection of pop tunes, tentatively titled “Camels Are Coming.”

Bring on the beach parties. Surf-garage trio the Milkstains just recorded with Evan Bateman and are tweaking the songs for a summer release. Their next commitment is a live gig June 7 at the Triple, along with Crushed Purple. In their spare time, Milkstains bassist KJ Johnson is promoting “The Marquees,” the latest EP from his other band, One Friend, while guitarist John Sizemore and drummer Raphael Katchinoff, create some psychedelic-swamp boogie as the Dirty Nubs. Katchinoff is also preparing to tour with People's Blues of Richmond, which has a new album ready to go that was recorded with Lance Koehler at Minimum Wage. Katchinoff, bassist Matt Volkes (Ominotago) and guitarist and vocalist Tim Beavers are joined on the album by Justin Paciocco of Farm Vegas on keys, Corey Wells of Think on slide guitar, and his twin brother Jesse Wells on fiddle. P.B.R. will deliver the rock 'n' roll goods May 28 at the National, along with Barrelhouse and Caught In the Rift.

Could a band named Crushed Purple play anything else but psychedelia? We think not, so it's good the band formed out of the ashes of psych-rock band the In and Outs. Guitarist and vocalist Mark Hines, keyboardist and vocalist Lauren Hines and percussionist Danny Cholewa regrouped with drummer and guitarist Nick Ward, formerly of Sana Rouge, and bassist Felix Falcon from Victims of a Modern Age. They're slowly laying their rock 'n' roll freak-outs to tape, but you can see for yourself at the June 7 gig at the Triple or at the Camel June 10.

“When life gives you noise, point a microphone at it!” So goes the mantra of guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Allan Coberly (Third Eye, Shag Nasty), who named his new intercontinental band, Monday Machines, and a first single, “Ruined Morning,” after the inspirational construction crews demolishing the road in front of his Fan apartment. Instead of fighting them, he captured the ambience of dump trucks and jackhammers and worked them into noisy space-pop songs with the online help of three British residents. The new, self-titled album was mixed and produced by multi-instrumentlist Cary Grace at Door 13 Studios in England.

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