Courtesy of Chocolate 4-Wheeler Facebook page Chocolate 4-Wheeler gives insight behind some originial songs and are playing Saturday, June 15, at Ashland's Firkin' Fest.

In summer, everything seems to come in waves, whether it is work, vacation or music.

And my mind and soul are still processing the musical wave of getting to soak up nearly 40 live music acts last Thursday through Sunday up at the 15th annual Nelsonville Music Festival on their five stages scattered around the beautiful Hocking College campus.

You know it's a great festival when two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Jorma Kaukonen, who lives nearby at the famous Fur Peace Ranch in Meigs County, Ohio, drops in unannounced to just see the music.

I'm going to dedicate a whole column to NMF19 later in the H-D, but in the meantime, I have got a whole lot of other good local stuff to share.

'Night of the Vampire' in the middle of the afternoon

It's an old Appalachian folk truth that death comes in threes, and boy, I got to believe it after the music community lost three of its most original artists. Over the past couple weeks, we have said goodbye to Leon Redbone, Roky Erickson and Dr. John.

Erickson, who died June 1 at the age of 71, was kind of like the spirit animal of psychedelic rock who burst upon the scene back in 1966 with the LSD-influenced 13th Floor Elevators' debut. In three Elevator recordings and a dozen solo records, Erickson went dark into his head in a world of zombies, two-headed dogs, gremlins and vampires.

Not surprisingly, locally based filmmaker and videographer Michael Valentine, who's done national video work for everyone from Chuck Prophet to "Mountain Stage," is a fan of Erickson's cinematic songs. Valentine's R&B rock unit Chocolate 4-Wheeler has long rolled out Erickson's "Night of the Vampire," and "I Walked With A Zombie."

Valentine said he first heard "Zombie" on a CD of Halloween tunes and thought it sounded like Mick Jagger.

"I looked it up and found out it was some dude named Roky Erickson, and never thought about it again until driving around with Max Nolte and he plays 'Night of the Vampire,'" Valentine said. "He told me it was Roky Erickson. And I'm like, 'Oh the "I walked with a Zombie" guy.' I thought, 'Man, this guy is hilarious.' He just writes songs about monsters, but Max said Roky isn't joking. He thinks this stuff is real and proceeded to tell me about how he had been picked up with a matchbox of weed or something and they basically said you can go to jail or a mental facility. He chose the latter and was subjected to shock therapy, which really screwed him up for the rest of his life.

"Anyway I was so fascinated by this guy and his monster songs. Max gave me his entire song catalog like four or five years ago and I have only listened to 'The Evil One.' I never listened to anything else that he did. 'The Evil One' is perfect - 15 awesome songs about monsters.

"It really got me thinking, 'Man, not only can you write songs about dumb things like monsters, but "I Walked with a Zombie" is just the same phrase over and over until the song ends.' That really allowed me to discover what I wanted to do with my band. Dumb songs about monsters and outer space and a couple like 'Space Gun' and 'American Frankenstein' that just repeat those words until the end.

"How liberating as a songwriter to finally come to the realization that you don't have to follow rules. You do whatever you think is fun and if you're having fun, people listening will have fun."

You can indeed have that kind of fun at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 15, as Chocolate 4-Wheeler will summon the monsters and other killer tunes including a bunch of originals, during the Ashland in Motion's fifth annual Firkin Fest that takes place 1 to 6 p.m.

Other musical artists at Firkin Fest include Creek Don't Rise, The Handshake Deals, Driftwood Gypsy and DJ Charlie Brown Superstar.

Ona announces summer

home show

The Huntington-based band Ona is currently out spreading the gospel of their great songs on their debut, "Full Moon, Heavy Light," out now on Hickman Holler Records/Thirty Tigers.

Read it now and hate them later, BBQ fans, but they are playing Stubb's in Austin this very night - Friday, June 14 - before rolling through the West with dates through June 29 in Dallas, Phoenix, L.A., San Fran, Portland, Seattle and Denver before heading home.

While out on the road, Ona announced that they are playing a summer home show at the V Club, on Saturday, July 20, with El Dorado (the country and western supergroup fronted by Rod Elkins), as well as Sam Filiatreau. Tickets for that show are on sale now at

While on the road, the band has gotten some great looks, a live-in studio at Paste, some great reviews by folks such as Pop Matters, and a shout out for the summer edition of NPR's "Heavy Rotation: 10 Songs Public Radio Can't Stop Playing" from "Mountain Stage" producer Adam Harris for the band's incredibly well-timed song "Summer Candy."

You can check out that list, which also includes King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard, Rhiannon Giddens, Rising Appalachia and Christone "Kingfish" Ingram, at






Get 'Thunderstruck' in Ashland

While I am super-bummed that this concert with Thunderstruck isn't happening at Joan C. Edwards Stadium, it still is cool that on sale Friday, June 14, at noon is the first show of the new outdoor rock series at PAC Live featuring Thunderstruck: America's AC/DC. The Louisville-based tribute act features Ashlander Jerry Lawson on drums.

Greenup County band Celeste Watts and Devil's Creek Special will open the evening at 6 p.m., followed by local Christian rock band Three Days Under at 7 p.m. Thunderstruck will take the stage at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the gate at the Paramount Arts Center box office as well as online at and by calling 606-324-0007.

This week in releases

An awesome new video by Steve Poltz, the Nova Scotia native Nashvillian who just played "Mountain Stage" and Nelsonville Music Fest. He's got a new video for a hell of a song, "Ballin' on a Wednesday," that features guests Jon Latham, AJ Croce and members of the Rhinestone Cabaret.

The single is from his debut album for Red House/Compass Records group. "Ballin' on a Wednesday," an ode to livin' large on hump day, was shot in Steve's neighborhood of East Nashville by Stacie Huckaba. Go online at for more info.

Coming out Friday, June 14, is a new album by Lettuce, the genre-defying funk-jazz-soul-hip-hop-psychedelic-jam-art-rock-experimental-avant-garde music titans.

You don't have to wait long to hear tunes from their sixth studio album, "Elevate," as they will be stopping by Snowshoe Mountain Resort on Friday, July 12, to perform at the first 4848 Festival. Lettuce will perform from 7:15-8:45 p.m. on the Village Stage.

4848 Festival also features Greensky Bluegrass (two nights), Umphrey's McGee, The Infamous Stringdusters, Railroad Earth, The Marcus King Band, Billy Strings, Turkuaz, Fruition, Rayland Baxter, Orgone, Ragin Fyah, The Nth Power, Cris Jacobs Band, The Hip Abduction, Ghost of Paul Revere, Joshua Davis and Nathan Moore.

A wide variety of 4848 Festival ticket packages including everything from Mountain Village condo-like accommodations, VIP suites, to GA rooms as well as primitive tent camping option via

Dave Lavender writes about music for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at or follow him on Facebook and Twitter @DaveLavenderHD.


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