Part mix tape, part musical journey, part contest. Call it what you will, DROP THE NEEDLE is open to everyone in and around our beloved city. For this inaugural round, Daniel Clarke is the man to impress. Confused? Read on.

What would it be like to put some of Richmond’s greatest improvisational talents on one playlist, made available for the world to hear? We all know we’ve got something special in this little town. Could this be the way to prove it? You’ve been honing your Garage Band and Pro Tools chops, and you’ve been looking for ways to use that new handheld recorder of yours. Might this be your opportunity to get those tunes out of your head?

Let’s take a step backward.

One of hip hop’s many gifts to the greater musical world is the mix tape. MCs rap to a keyboard loop, a blank unproduced beat, or a capella to demonstrate their superior rhyming athleticism. Not only do underground artists utilize this low-fi technique to gain notoriety and generate interest in their music, but superstarts drop them, too, to remind people that their words remain relevant on many levels.

With this new series, we hope to create a new forum for Richmond musicians to track the city’s improvisational scene. Part mix tape, part musical journal, part contest. Call it what you will, DROP THE NEEDLE is open to everyone in and around our beloved city. Here are a few ground rules:

  • With the advent of Garage Band, Pro Tools, Macs et cetera, many musicians have decent mobile recording capabilities. We’re looking for submissions of ad hoc creative recordings that may or may not be odd instrumentations (see amendment): incomplete bands, duos, new bands, jam sessions, solo stuff…really anything but a polished studio track. The idea is to capture the creative process at a stage we don’t normally see it.
  • Each round will have a different featured judge. We’ll tell you who it is and let you know a little about him or her, but we encourage doing some research of your own. Whether you choose to cater to what you think the judge will like is up to you.
  • To submit your track, email it in a readily downloadable format to dean AT rvanews.com with “Drop the Needle” in the subject. In the body, include names of all musicians, instrumentation, and title of the track. Feel free to also include any notes on the gear, software, or process used.
  • Everything will be judged anonymously: the judge will just receive a disc with track numbers, and he or she won’t know who is playing on the disc until after the selections are made.
  • We’ll announce the chosen tracks here on RVANews and put them on iTunes for free downloading when the round is over.

For the very first round of Drop the Needle, we are proud to present Daniel Clarke as the judge. Most know him through his keyboard work with Modern Groove Syndicate. Others recognize him as a key (no pun intended, really) player in other local groups like Brian Jones Wurlitzer Trio or as a session and touring musician with artists like Mandy Moore, Ryan Adams, k.d. lang, and Tim Barry. He is a consummate musician whose creativity knows no bounds.

Check him out here with the very funky MGS (many, many more can be found on YouTube):


We will accept submissions through Friday, April 9. Get on it!

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Dean Christesen

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