Tag Archives: Richmond

The Flying Sulsers!

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Green here.  The hubby and I went to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s Flowers After Five last week.  The garden stays open late every Thursday, and features a local music group. This Thursday The Flying Sulsers owned the stage.

The Flying Sulsers are a Richmond cover band. They describe themselves as a “raucous mix of Swing and Country peppered with strains of Hillbilly and Bluegrass”. The show Thursday was characterized by high energy, and what I am calling “loose harmony.” The vocal blends fit together beautifully, but not in a barbershop quartet way. It feels like the musical equivalent of doing stunts on runaway horses–beautiful, technically spot-on, but with a sense of messy adventure that is appealing.

They covered a bunch of stuff, and–silly me!–I didn’t jot down the playlist. A few of the songs included “Blue Moon,” “Undecided,” “A-Tiskey, A-Tasket,” and “Two to Tango.” It was obvious the group loved what they were doing, and the best word to describe their style is “fun.” The group is led by Brian Sulser, who plays the upright bass (and even though I had 7 years of orchestra, I didn’t know until today that was called a doghouse bass), with Marty Flipman on guitar, and Aimee Sulser leading the vocals. They remind me of the Texas swing band Asleep at the Wheel. They have the same casual competence that fools you into thinking their performance is easy.

We enjoyed their performance immensely. You can bump into them all over Richmond, but I’ve had a hard time finding their dates ahead of time. In addition to yearly appearances at Lewis Ginter, they’ve played at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art’s jazz nights, and Taste of Richmond. Lewis Ginter had the sound done perfectly. If you were anywhere near the show, you could hear every note clearly in spite of the happy kids dancing and talking.

The rest of the Flowers After Five schedule is available at Lewis Ginter’s website. The second and third Thursdays each month are also Fidos after Five, when you can bring your pets on their leash to enjoy the garden. So look for the Flying Sulsers around town, and come to Lewis Ginter on Thursday for more great music.

 

Learning The Musician Code

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Image credit: A. Rothman

That Green Hen is a two-person project. The “Hen” half is a music pro, with decades of experience in the world of chords and cords, gigs and rhythm, and the secret language and feelings of those who love music so much they are compelled to make it with their own hands, breath, and voice.

I’m the other half. I like music–a lot! And I’ve played musical instruments. I sing in the car, and have even sung a few times on stage–but rarely on my own, and always in settings that can politely be called “amateur.”  I don’t like crowds, don’t like to stay up at night, and don’t like loud noises. In spite of these handicaps, I’ve decided to broaden my world to include the local music scene (I think that’s the jargon of the music world).

Why? I’m also a small businessperson. I prefer to buy from family-run businesses, from small companies where the business represents the integrity of an individual, or a family. So when I looked at the music I enjoy, I realized too much of it was pre-packaged. Perhaps very well done, but not made by people I could ever know in person.

Then I started stumbling over musicians everywhere. In my business, in my friendships, in conversations–the guy serving my coffee has a band, the girl at work grew up in a musical family, a client is a saxophone player–I have been wandering around in a world full of music I know nothing about. So Green joined Hen, and now we’re adding our words to promoting local music. First in our respective towns (San Diego, CA, and Richmond VA, with Austin thrown in because we both want to visit), and later spreading across the country and hopefully beyond.

I’m learning I’ve slipped down quite the rabbit hole. To learn about music groups quickly, I’m researching online. I start with one group, then search everyone associated with that band. Musicians are an incestuous lot. After a few clicks, I find one name connects to another, and to another, in an ever-widening circle of associates. With Hen right in the thick of things most of the time. I almost think I could pick one local musician and follow the degrees of separation until I find every musician around the world!

I’m also learning some of the trials of the local musician. The money is rarely good, and the wonders of the internet hurt as much as help the local guy playing his heart out. Yes, internet exposure means you can take your music directly to anyone without needing a record deal from some big recording company, but it also means you are probably selling 99 cent downloads of your songs and trying to compete with sites like Pandora and Spotify offering nearly unlimited music for free. You are looking for places to play that too often don’t want to pay you for your time and effort. And you are encountering people like me–who don’t know you and are as likely to think of you as the background music to my dinner as to recognize you pouring your heart into something you love, that I will only miss when it’s gone.

So one of the things I will write about on That Green Hen is how to appreciate local music, for those who do not go out every night to a new place. We’ll also cover information aimed at the local musicians, to help them best share their talents in a world that needs them more than we sometimes realize.