The Fire Tapes CD release, with Andrew Cedermark and Sarah White {it’ll be great show, and you can win tickets to it here!}

October 22nd, 2011 · 6 Comments · By

{Yo, it’s kind of a long-winded post, so if you already know all about this show and just wanna cut to the goddamn chase and win those tickets, please email us here. Otherwise, read on…}

There’s a certain number of excellent, Charlottesville-based musicians that I’ll definitely go to see every time they’re playing (as long as my work schedule and funds allow); so any time that three of those bands are all playing on the same bill, I’m pretty darned excited:

The Fire Tapes are, relatively speaking, “new in town;” Betsy and Todd moved here from Richmond like, a year and half ago(?), and soon picked up Rob as their bassist and Mark as their drummer. I feel like there’s been a weird interim-period of them playing superbly excellent music in this town, without many folks paying attention to it; I first caught them at a Magnolia House show back in March, and I’ve been a huge fan ever since. They do a pretty fucking killer combo of morose southern gloom and fuzzy indie-jams; definitely in Cowboy Junkies  / PJ Harvey / Concrete Blonde  territory… BUT they also have a heavy dose of Velvet Underground / Sonic Youth experimental sensibility, plus there’s also more than a few moments where Bestsy reaches well into Neko Case vocal-territory, which wraps up the whole thing into a pretty amazing package.

I feel like the Fire Tapes are the best largely-unrecognized band in Charlottesville, so I’m glad (and proud) to see that they’re “headlining” a show at the Southern with two super-solid “support” acts on the bill. They’re definitely a thing that all y’all should check out; they’re releasing their debut CD tonight (home-recorded, but mastered by Kramer — yes, that Kramer, the 80’s NYC fellow who ran Shimmy-Disc, produced great albums by Galaxie 500, Half Japanese, and Palace Brothers… and also played in Bongwater). The CD is a fine effort, filled with solemn, warbly, solid sprawling country-rock; but in my ears, the live show is where they really come alive: they sound rawer, looser, more willing to stretch their legs and get heavy and far out. (of course, I’m in some way the beneficiary of making up a large percentage of their audiences; we were joking the other day about how, between the time they played at the Pigeon Hole for just Me & Jacob, and the time they played live on WTJU with Me & Matt operating, I’ve kind of gotten two private shows). BUT, take it from me, a guy who’s seen it up close — Fire Tapes are a fucking killer live band, and one you definitely want to check out.

Andrew Cedermark is — as regular readers of this blog are certainly aware — one of our favorite dudes. We first heard him when he played his inaugural show, back in May of 2008 (his first show! at Dust! opening for one of the first Corsair shows! along with the early, mostly Invisible-Hand-populated, version of Articulate Chewbacca! on the night of his own college graduation!), and we’ve been fans ever since. He came back to cville in… I think October of 2009, and sort of innocuously began playing a few solo gigs around town, which were all kind of alarmingly solid; then he put together a live band (of Nailgun’s own Jacob Wolf, and superbly-competent drummer-about-town Kevin Haney) and they were sort of immediately amazing, and soon afterward released his first solo album of home-recorded material on the Underwater-Peoples label, which went on to gather fame & acclaim around the internet. Andrew’s album is excellent (I think in the past I’ve compared it to “Galaxie 500 produced by the Microphones”), and it got a lot of internet attention, due in part to the fact that Andrew was once the guitarist for Titus Andronicus (a much-beloved band whose work — in my unpopular opinion — falls far short of Andrew’s solo material).

Since then he’s been one of my favorite dudes, playing some breathtakinglingly amazing shows in town… along some deliberately subdued, low-key, and often baffling gigs, wherein the fame-shy Cedermark would do things like go on super-early, or play a sloppy set of Frank Sinatra covers, or sing an (adorable) obscure-Weezer-cover duet with his girlfriend, and just generally shy away from all attention and attendant fame (which is, in it’s own way, kind of admirable — in addition to the fact that those shows were often a sloppy-and-charming kind of perfect mess; the kind of show I imagine when I hear the old-timers talk about early Pavement gigs).

Anyway, all of this was sort of done in the professional-shadow of the fact that Andrew’s day-job here was as the mild-mannered (actually, he’s pretty much mild-mannered 100% of the time) Music- (and then full-time Arts-)Reporter for the C-Ville Weekly; but he’s now been offered a regular gig working for the New Jersey Star-Ledger, and he’s moving away from Charlottesville more or less immediately after tonight’s show, so this gig will also be something of a farewell gig for Andrew Cedermark! Who among us can truly judge whether it was the aspirations of the journalistic profession, or if it was the wild and true call of his home state of New Jersey, which drove him to abandon us here in Charlottesville…? All I can say is that, as a person who was born in New Jersey myself, I have never felt the state calling all that loudly to me, and I will certainly miss Andrew’s presence, both musical and social, here in town.

Sarah White is, as I have often remarked, one of the finest musicians (and one of my favorite individuals) around; so it seems a shame to only get around to mentioning her here, seven paragraphs into my write-up of tonight’s show. (Well shucks; them’s the breaks when the other two acts are doing a record-release gig and a farewell show!) Nevertheless, let me assure you that I’m just as excited to hear Sarah White and the Pearls tonight as a I am to hear either of the other acts; Sarah’s current live band is top-notch, and they’ve starting tentatively making some studio recordings of some of the highlight songs from her current set, which are — perhaps not coincidentally — some of my favorite as-yet-unrecorded Sarah White songs. So they’ve definitely got a good groove going on, and I hope they continue it as they head away from a season of warm-weather-regular-performing and into a season of hibernating-and-recording-good-material. I wish them the best, and expect the best from them!

So, I’ve said enough — this show is tonight at The Southern! Tickets are a fair $8; (though I’m told there was some sort of pre-show deal where you could get entrance AND a the album for $10 total? although presumably that offer has expired, and I have no idea how much the CD is going to cost by itself at the show.) Doors are at 8:00 pm.

OH, and if you wanna win some tickets, send us an email at and explain why you’d love to see this show, and by this evening we’ll be giving a pair of tickets to the folks with the best explanation of why they’d love to see the show for free (or, all explanations being equal, a randomized winner selected by a roll of the dice; it’s happened before, but all I’m saying is that a well-composed haiku, or a well-worded-and-clever mini-essay on the current state of human affairs has rarely failed to sway my heart, in the matter of ticket-winner-choosings.)

(oh yeah, and the bands are probably gonna wrap up a little after midnight-ish, so Dave Moore and I are going to perform some of the delicious WTJU flavor for you, discographically speaking, between then and last call… so stick around, have a drink, and dance to a song or two!)

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6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Rob // Oct 22, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Unfortunately there won’t be any Pearls in the mix tonight – Sarah will be playing a solo set in between Andrew and the Fire Tapes. But that’s equally exciting, right?!? Thanks for the great write-up, James!

  • 2 Rob // Oct 22, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Also, because I’m “your fact-checkin cuz”, a note or two about our pre-Charlottesville origins: without knowing each other beforehand (except Todd and Betsy, obviously), we all moved here around the same time, just over 2 years ago. Todd and Betsy moved down from DC, Mark moved from Baltimore, and I came by way of Richmond.

  • 3 Andy // Oct 22, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    Gotta’ say, The Fire Tapes are AWESOME!

  • 4 Andy // Oct 22, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    james – you really nailed it on your description of the fire tapes.

    i had heard of them in passing, but never heard them, so tonight’s soundcheck was my first listen and dang, you are spot on with this, “the Fire Tapes are the best largely-unrecognized band in Charlottesville.”

  • 5 Class of '78 // Oct 24, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    The cover of “Marquee Moon” had to be seen/heard to be believed!
    (I wouldn’t if I hadn’t…)
    Young dudes up front weren’t exactly mouthing the words as reverently as a few older folks in the back, but they moshed as if they had witnessed the 2nd coming of the Strokes!
    But nevermind the bollocks!
    Long live the Fire Tapes!

  • 6 Fire Tapes at the Tea House tonight // Dec 21, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    […] already a fan of their slow, country-flavored shoegazery fuzz-rock. They put out an album a few months back which is really solid, but their live show is louder and looser and totally worth […]