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Inside Track

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

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Last summer, the Whiskey Rebellion earned a spot on a concert lineup to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the filming of the movie, "The Goonies," thanks to their hilarious video for "The Ballad of Chester Copperpot." Impressed by the bluegrass band's version of the truffle shuffle, the town of Astoria, Ore., (where the Richard Donner-directed cult classic was filmed) has invited it back for another go-round this year. The group's late-July tour will be accompanied by a film crew, which will document the five shows for a live CD and DVD release.

Local filmmaker Kevin Gallagher has finished up a video, set in a forest of bamboo and birdhouses, for the song "Turn to Face the Wind" by Jonathan Vassar and the Speckled Bird. And while the group is hard at work on its collection of Southern Gothic folk songs, to be titled "The Sky and Country," Jonathan and Antonia Vassar have launched two other musical projects together. Antonia's classically-trained voice is at the center of the Bird and Her Consort, in which the duo explores different ethnic folk traditions, art songs, and salon music. Hymns and spirituals are the highlight at their weekly bluegrass mass, held at 5:30 p.m. on Sundays at St. Thomas' Episcopal Church. Past programs have focused on the Carter Family, Hank Williams and Woody Guthrie. You can find out what's in store at jonathanvassar.wordpress.com.

A track from Long Arms was included on Style Weekly's "Sounds of Richmond" compilation this past May — still available for download at styleweekly.com — but the photo we used was admittedly out of date. The roots rockers are currently a robust six-piece, featuring a fiddle player and keyboardist, and they're about halfway through recording album number two. "Crazy Bet," the first song released by the expanded lineup, recounts the exploits of Union spy Elizabeth Van Lew. The song is available on a limited edition 7-inch vinyl split with the new Horsehead offering, "Sweet on You." It can be picked up at area record stores or through Emerald City Sounds at Box 14709, Richmond, Va. 23221.

Her mic skills have turned heads in Virginia and North Carolina, but hip-hop artist Ms. Proper just earned some national props with her recent television performance on 106 & Park's "Wild-Out Wednesday" on BET. Building on that momentum, she's about to embark on a Hot Topic tour with So!lla, an artist from her label, So Proper Entertainment, who's about to drop his new EP "Living Out Visions Everyday." Ms. Proper's latest mixtape, "NoDaysOff," can be downloaded free at msproper.net.

As vocalist for the James Brown tribute band the Big Payback, Kelli Strawbridge plays the hardest working man in show business. In the past, he's made a run for the title by drumming with a legion of jazz ensembles such as Hotel X, the Heavy Rotations and Yo Mama's Brass Band. More recently, he's been exploring indie-rock arrangements with Silversmiths, along with Jay Calabro, formerly of Red Anthem and the Upper East Side Big Band, and guitarist and vocalist Matthew Smith. The trio's debut CD, recorded with Allen Bergendahl at Viking Recording, will be released Aug. 14 at the Camel. Bergendahl is also recording and playing bass with the Snowy Owls, who will join the Silversmiths at their CD release show. Originally composing quiet slices of pop, the group has upped the fuzz substantially, as evidenced on its latest singles "All These Thousand Things" and "Yr Eyes," available at thesnowyowls.com. This fall, the Owls will join White Laces on a split 10-inch record from Harding Street Assembly Lab.

Inside Track is compiled by Mike Rutz of "Activate!" on 97.3-FM WRIR.

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