1/7 Shannon Cleary

jon brown


If I were to breakdown this year to a single phrase, the first word that comes to mind is rewarding. I found myself in a position where everything started to fall into place. Patience paid off and it left me feeling exhilarated. The following list is my best ability at recanting what 2013 meant to me while traveling on a train to my now unfamiliar hometown and incredibly sleep deprived. This should get interesting.

The Listening Room

I started and ended my year with curating two Listening Rooms. I’ve always held a found admiration for what this determined organization has achieved within the local scene. To have an opportunity to bring my own repertoire of Richmond music into this area was an absolute delight. There were so many moments to pinpoint that made these nights so special. Here are a few quick highlights. Introducing Ben Shepherd to room of strangers that were quickly converted to the profound wisdom found in his songwriting was a huge honor. Making the dreams of photographer Rob Jefferson come true by inviting White Laces to perform selections from their new album was spectacular. In my attempts to make The Commonwealth of Notions a brand, making arguments for all the artists involved and how they are integral parts to this local music community felt important to the years of work I’ve put into trying to cultivate this scene. The biggest moment that I took from these two experiences was this. It was a moment where I could stand in front of my peers and explain why the music that emerges from this city means so much to me. It was a moment where I could celebrate the fact that we are all so fortunate to be around to witness this era. We are all a part of why we have come so far and we can only continue to do that through our determined efforts to showcase what we love about it.

Clair Morgan

Years ago, I had met Clair Morgan. He was a stand-up guy. At that point, he had been playing with the group Langley Holland. After a few sets, I was impressed. A time came where I hadn’t heard from Clair. That was until I received a note about how he could get his new record on the air at WRIR. It was entitled No Notes. At first, I put it on the stack of records I was meaning to get to and it slipped my mind. By the time I got around to listening to it, I was blown away. This was an all-around incredible release by an artist I had the utmost respect for. I invited him to be a part of WRIR and The Commonwealth of Notions Presents: Volume Three and it was awesome. A time arrived where he was in need of a new a bass player. I never thought I had a shot at taking on the role until a drunken evening at Portrait House. With that intoxicating confidence one can only acquire from an insatiable thirst for Jameson, I asked if he had found anyone yet. The spot had yet to be filled and I made a huge decision. I knew I wanted to be in this band, but little did I know is that I needed to be. Learning these songs has been a challenge for my musical prowess and has only helped restore my drive in songwriting. Being a part of a collective of individuals that want to be a part of this incredible ensemble is rewarding in and of itself. I switched the night that The Commonwealth of Notions airs to Friday Nights/Saturday Mornings. This was so that I was available to practice with the band. It might seem small on the scale of how many bands come and go, but there was something special about No Notes that I knew I couldn’t turn down. Now, it’s been four months or so and it’s one of the best decisions I made all year.

WRIR and The Commonwealth of Notions Presents: Volume Three

I think everyone reading this probably knew about what happened in July. With the help of several close friends, we organized a Richmond music festival. It existed to support WRIR and it showcased several artists around town that I think are remarkable. We raised a great deal of money for the station and hopefully exposed a lot of these bands to new audiences. The thing that I love about doing this every year is that I’m still learning how to make it perfect. The things that were perfect for me is that I got to spend a weekend with friends celebrating Richmond music. I got to see myself on the news and in the pages of Style Weekly. I got to talk to a lot of new people about something that means a lot to me. I got to make something that I started dreaming about in 2011 a reality. Here’s to Volume Four next July!

An Article About Richmond Music Festivals

I miss a lot of things that happen in Richmond. It’s mostly due to my current and chosen profession. I work in the service industry. Yes, I dream of bigger things. For me, it works. If an event falls on a weekend, chances are I probably cant make it. I didn’t know the whole story, but a pretty big music festival happened in Richmond featuring a great line-up of national and local acts. It wasn’t a success and it felt like the same old story all over again. Someone tries to put something together and no one takes the time to support it. I didn’t want this to happen again. So, I wrote my friend John Morgan and said I had a piece for him. It was basically my attempt to understand why these festivals didn’t succeed and how we couldn’t let that happen again with Fall Line Fest around the corner. I made a plea to people to start supporting these events that everyone puts a lot of time and effort into. I have no idea if what I wrote had an effect. All I know is that Fall Line Fest was a success and I cant wait to see what they do next year for their second edition.

Secretly Y’all

This isn’t so much about music as it’s just a thought on how spoken words had a large influence on me this year. I only had the chance to tell a single story this year, but it might have been my favorite. It was a story about a reoccurring dream I have. It’s happened about three or four times and it’s really detailed. It’s about my nonexistent relationship with someone and falling into the rhythm of what can happen to two people years down the road. It was revealing yet rewarding. The rehearsing of phrases, lines and thoughts felt the same way as a focus on any style of narrative. The lyrical drive that occurs in a spoken word moment is truly magical. I hope to recreate that moment some day and chances are it will be at a Secretly Y’all in 2014.

Now for 2014

I don’t know what will happen. I never do. If anyone mentioned to me that half the things I did in 2013 would happen, I would have called bullshit. At the very least, this is what I hope to do. Keep writing. Keep playing music with Clair Morgan. Make another WRIR and The Commonwealth of Notions Presents happen. Continue doing awesome things with WRIR and be a creative force behind the innovative events that we get to share with this city. Maybe I’ll learn how to drive or at the very least, stop being lazy and ride my bike more often. If anything, I’ll be here. If I’ve learned anything over the past thirty years, it’s this. I have a funny way of just following through with enough of my crazy ideas to make somewhat of an impact on the things I care about the most.

Shannon Cleary » Richmond, VA » Journalist / Songwriter / Host of The Commonwealth of Notions / Primary Organizer of WRIR and The Commonwealth of Notions Presents / Bassist (Clair Morgan) / Kitchen Minion
Clair Morgan / WRIR / RVAmag / @thatssocleary / @CmmnwlthNtns