The Coal Men Play Richmond

Ear­ly last month, my broth­er, Dave, and his band mate Dave Ray trav­eled up to Rich­mond to play a Coal Men show at the Ash­land Cof­fee and Tea House. I was­n’t sure what to expect when Dave C. told me that the bass play­er, Hitch, would­n’t be able to make it. Most trios have to pay close atten­tion to fill­ing in the space that comes so easy to four- or five-piece bands (or larg­er), and The Coal Men have done a great job at this for years. How­ev­er, just a gui­tar and drums can sound a lit­tle weak at times. I sup­pose the most pop­u­lar line-up like that right now is The White Stripes, and the fact that they have expand­ed to more piano and even dif­fer­ent arrange­ments on albums should sug­gest that they strug­gle with that as well.

The Coal Men Duo at Ashland

Dave Cole­man (my lit­tle broth­er) and Dave Ray play an amaz­ing show as just a duo, Sept. 8th at Ash­land Cof­fee and Tea.

It did­n’t take too long into their sound check and warm-up for me to real­ize that this was not going to be an issue. Dave Ray’s drum­ming is so musi­cal and intri­cate that he eas­i­ly fills up the space, allow­ing Dave C. to elab­o­rate on melody lines or even play a instru­men­tal solo with­out loos­ing the tune. The entire show was a lot of fun and the two sound­ed great in the The White Boys line-up. They did a great job of talk­ing just enough to intro­duce them­selves to a large­ly unfa­mil­iar crowd, giv­ing some inter­est to a group of peo­ple that had most­ly shown up to hear a band they knew noth­ing about.

Epiphone Guitar

Dav­e’s birth­day present to me dur­ing the Coal Men show (oth­er than the show, itself). It even has been cus­tomized with stick­ers on the back read­ing 30.

The best part of the show for me came in the sec­ond set, where my broth­er sur­prised me by announc­ing my recent birth­day to every­one. He men­tioned to the audi­ence that he and I played music togeth­er quite a lot in our younger days and how I had more-or-less stopped about nine or ten years ago1. So, in light of my big 30th birth­day and the fact that he want­ed me to pick back up the hob­by of music, he pre­sent­ed me with an acoustic gui­tar on stage. To say the least, I was­n’t expect­ing that (seri­ous­ly, have I just become easy to sur­prise in my mid­dle age?). It’s a very attrac­tive Epi­phone six-string that has a tobac­co-burst fin­ish.

Dave Ray was able to spend some time with his par­ents that evening and the fol­low­ing day (they’re from NoVA), while Dave C. got up the next morn­ing and went on a nice 18 mile run with me (Angela did 15, noth­ing to shrug off for sure). We spent the rest of the day just kind of hang­ing out, although Angela and I did attend a wed­ding for one of my co-work­ers. We took Dave Ray out for Indi­an food for din­ner, since he’d nev­er had it before but was will­ing to give it a shot (I think he liked it; who does­n’t like chick­en masala?). That evening was spent watch­ing Fam­i­ly Guy and just chill­ing out. They guys took off the next day, but it was great to get to spend some time with them. Of course, I always miss hang­ing out with my broth­ers and I enjoyed get­ting to spend time get­ting to know Dave Ray, as well (I had­n’t actu­al­ly seen the guy in over two years, I think).

I’ve been play­ing my gui­tar most days since. I’ve been able to remem­ber some things (most­ly just chords). There’s this new thing called the inter­net where you can find the chord pro­gres­sions to just about any song, which is handy. I’ve also sat down in front of my com­put­er with iTunes and picked up a cou­ple of tunes, as well. I have no aspi­ra­tions of every play­ing for any­one else, but it’s a won­der­ful hob­by and maybe some­day I’ll con­vince Angela to play a lit­tle gui­tar-flute duet with me, just as long she goes real­ly slow.

  1. That was nev­er real­ly an inten­tion­al thing, but I just nev­er had the space for a drum set. Also, a drum­mer rarely has real­ly friend­ly neigh­bors for very long. I’m real­ly glad that Dave still has my old drum set that I refin­ished with his help, along with my old­er broth­er, Steve, and our friends. []