Channel Lounge at Nat's on Mediterranean

Channel Lounge at Nat's on Mediterranean

I remember the first time I met Josh Toney from Channel Lounge.  I caught him wearing a haoles shirt and just had to take a picture of him in it.  We got into a conversation about Hawaii, where he’s from, and reggae music in Virginia Beach and ever since he's been sending me invites to his local shows.  That was months ago and I've never been to one.  I've seen him freestyle before and it got me interested but this is the first time I've been out to one of his shows with Channel Lounge.  I originally had other plans but things fell into place for me to end up at Nat's with Josh and Channel Lounge.

My first thoughts upon arrival:

  1. The are way more people he than I expected.

  2. The crowd is nor what I expected.  The range of people here is wide

  3. Channel Lounge has a following.

Josh's music is unique and honest.  Having heard him freestyle hearing written lyrics are just an extension of his personality.  The band backing him grounds his unpredictably.  Not just his lyrics but his delivery.

RMC Reunion

Josh tells us he wrote a children's book and a song around it.

The song starts with some mellow backing vibes from the band.  Reggae based soothing sounds and a  "Woah, oh oh," from Josh.

"Once upon a time in a land far away there liver a king so powerful."

Opening line of his story of power, fatherhood and sacrifice.  Positivity,  pure Josh.  Unpolished.  The product of a band and frontman not trying to please others and appease opinions that don't matter.  Raw emotion.

Among some of the other lyrics of their original songs that stand out are these two gems that maybe hard to appreciate without hearing the beauty of their delivery or the peaceful feel of the music around them.

"Ground score I fell in love right there on the floor now that's what I call a ground score."

"It's a great day to be a hippie is a great day to be alive it's a great day to be a hippie it's a great day for the sun to shine."

When the music stopped I got a chance to meet Mike Harris, an old childhood friend of Josh's who went on to chase BMX fame and stardom with the X-Games and realized the amazingly genuine type of people that the members of Channel Lounge attract to their shows.  Just before I left I was able to link up with Josh for a second and let him know how much I enjoyed his show, especially his freestyling because it truly is a thing of beauty.  I leave you with this picture of the RMC reunion.

RMC Reunion
Strange Rootz

Strange Rootz

I ducked into Cactus Jack’s late Saturday night a little bit wet from the ongoing downpour.  With the rain it wasn't really the type of night I like to go out on but I wanted to catch Strange Rootz performing for the first time.  A few days before front man Derek Moore had gotten in touch with trying to find out how to make sure all of his band's dates made it to the Small Venue Live schedule.  It’s always humbling to me when a band reaches out and I wanted to return the favor as soon as I could.

When I walked into the restaurant I went straight up to the bar and sat down.  The male bartender, who was one of three on duty came up to me immediately and asked me what I was drinking.  A few seconds later I had my normal cocktail in front of me and the bartender introduced himself as Caesar.  We talked for a few seconds before another of the trio of bartenders introduced herself as Megan.  While the band played in the background Megan asked me questions about my day at work and I learned the rain had cleared everyone out.  After a few minutes our conversation trailed off and I turned my attention to the band.

The first song that I heard them play start to finish was I Shot the Sheriff.  Within the first few seconds of listening I knew that Strange Rootz was one of Virginia Beach's best kept secrets.  Frontman Derek Moore's vocals were amazing.  His confident relaxed tone seemed a perfect fit for the song.  The band’s arrangement with the saxophone made the song come of a little bit jazzier than the original and I found myself wondering if I would have chosen their version over the Bob and the Wailers performances in the 70's.

After a few mellow reggae songs I didn’t recognize they picked up the pace with a Jimi Hendrix cover.  At first I wondered if I was going to continue to hear a Caribbean slant in Derek’s voice and a reggae lean in the band’s arrangement but when the saxophone kicked in I knew what I was in for and I knew I liked it.  Everyone knows Jimi was a guitar man but after a few dueling solos, sax then guitar then back again, I felt All Along the Watchtower could just as easily been written by a saxophone player.

I decided on a second drink when Megan asked and almost wished that the music would stop, but only so I could meet Derek and his band.  Earlier I said that Strange Rootz is one of Virginia Beach's best kept secrets but every secret is a bad one when it comes to live music.  Strange Rootz needs to be known.  They need exposure and you need to get out to see them.  Its a shame when the weather stops people from being able to see a live performance.  The magic of a live performance can never be recaptured.  Once its gone its gone and my only consolation is that this band has more dates coming and I know I'll get to see them again.  Strange Rootz plays again tonight.  They open up for Mike Love at Shaka’s and I know at least one person that will be in the audience.  This guy!

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