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Couch Concerts

A PBS series documents the sound of Richmond’s city limits.


“One of my goals for ‘The Music Seen’ was to really emphasize that there’s a whole mix of music around here,” says Mason, who was born in New Orleans but has lived in Richmond since he graduated with a sculpture degree from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Diversity has been the keyword since the show’s inception in the fall of 2000. “The Music Seen” has taped groups ranging from the Ululating Mummies to the Hackensaw Boys — along with Janet Martin, the Waking Hours, the Hogwaller Ramblers, Used Carlotta, Ban Caribe, Pennyshaker, Mercy Creek and others — as they performed live at clubs in Richmond and Charlottesville. The performances are then edited for later broadcast, with three performers presented in each one-hour show. Original episodes of the series aired in October and December of 2000; February, March and April of 2002; and June, July and August of last year.

“The Music Seen” is not glitzy TV, but it gets the job done. It’s clear that careful attention is paid to the program’s audio quality, as should be the case for a series devoted to music. The camerawork and preproduction preparation is smooth: When the banjo player picks, we see his fingers, and when a sax wails, the director is ready with a shot of fingers on the keys. What the show lacks is a unified look, a sense of design and lighting that enhances the drama of specific performances. The short taped docu-vignettes that follow each band’s live turn are beautifully shot and edited, though they provide little insight. But these are minor quibbles about a series that provides a unique service to the community.

“The Music Seen” will be taping six more groups at Richmond’s Canal Club in preparation for broadcasts this summer. On May 7, the Boucan Brothers will perform Southern rock at 9 p.m., folk artist Cesca Waterfield will appear at 10 p.m., and the Circuit Riders will dish up Western rockabilly at 11 p.m.

On May 8, the Marna Bales Band will offer its take on contemporary country at 9 p.m., and the Big Guys (you may remember them in their Good Guys incarnation) will play ska and rock ‘n’ roll with a punk attitude. The Taters – including Style Weekly publisher Jim Wark – will be on stage with roots rock and Americana at 10.S

For additional information, telephone 320-1301 or visit, where you can sign up for a mailing list, read about upcoming performances, and even find out how to audition for future shows. Admission to the tapings at the Canal Club is free, and no tickets are required.

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