Monday, December 19, 2011

Cherry Valence/Birds of Avalon

There must have been something in the water in North Carolina in the 1990's.  Around 1998 or so, a trickle came from down south up I-95 by the name of Cherry Valence.  In a just world, every accolade that was heaped upon undeserving bands like the Strokes would have gone to this band.  But then, if that were the case, what would I write about?
The Cherry Valence rocked.  By that I don't mean they got into music by listening to Weezer and kind of pretended to rock.  These dudes (and one lady) could probably recite every lyric to every song on the first Grand Funk Railroad album backwards, while drunk AND asleep.  They lived it, they breathed it.  They even owned a club in Raleigh called King's Barcade that had live bands and an old-school arcade.  You can always tell which venues are owned and operated by musicians in how they treat touring bands - no matter how small your band was, there'd be people there and a deli tray.  Cherry Valence was one of those bands that made rock and roll worth it.
Another interesting thing about this band was that their guitarist - Cheetie Kumar - raised the bar for women that play guitar in rock bands.  I shudder at the oft-used term "good... for a girl."  No.  I don't care what your gender, race, religion etc. are.  You either locked yourself in your bedroom until you could play Sticky Fingers by the Rolling Stones the whole way through, or you didn't.

At Home

Cherry Valence toured seemingly non-stop in the late 90's.  They played in Richmond more often than a lot of local bands did.  After I moved to Texas in 2001, I lost track of what they were up to, but it seems like their schedule slowed down.  A few years later, Paul (their bassist) and Cheetie left the band and were replaced by my good friend from High School named Erik Sugg and some guy I don't know.  Paul and Cheetie went on to form