Goodnight, TX, Thorp Jenson

Goodnight, TX

Thorp Jenson

Thu, September 20, 2018

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

The Camel

$8 ADV, $10 DOS

Tickets at the Door

Goodnight, TX
Goodnight, TX
If you take out a map and measure the midway point between San Francisco and Chapel Hill, North Carolina — the homes of songwriters Avi Vinocur and Patrick Dyer Wolf, respectively — you'll find an unincorporated town called Goodnight, Texas (population at last count: 18). That's what the duo discovered when they went looking for the center of their long-distance collaboration, a musical project that sounds, appropriately enough, like a cross-country drive on Interstate 40: Expansive, full of possibility, American in every sense of the word — the perfect place for missing someone but regretting nothing, for losing yourself in the crackle of guitar through speakers and having a good long think.

After meeting in San Francisco in 2007, Vinocur and Wolf built a friendship based on trading words and tunes. "I had never been able to sing with anyone before Pat. I was terrible at it," says Vinocur. "But I didn't even have to try to harmonize with him. I still sort of have a hard time believing how easy it still is." When Wolf moved to North Carolina in 2009, the songwriters kept in touch, finding their stylistic midpoint amidst banjo, guitar and mandolin, a love of working-class anthems. Though the two singers have notably different styles — Wolf showcasing a life long love of acoustic folk; Vinocur clearly comes from the world of garage rock, and leans toward darker blues — the duo shared a mutual admiration and easy harmony, as well as a fascination with late
19th century small-town America: A vision of a grittier, simpler world, full of raw pain and mysterious beauty. In 2012, after picking up a rhythm section (Alex Nash and Scott G. Padden), Goodnight, Texas released their debut LP, A Long Life of Living, to much critical acclaim.

The band's contagiously entertaining dynamic at live shows, as well as the album's energy, soul and range — from red-blooded, foot-stomping rock 'n' roll to wistful front porch ballads to haunting tales of doomed romance — has made devotees out of both music critics and a growing legion of fans spread out across the country. Goodnight, Texas spent the last year and a half out on the road, supporting acts like Shakey Graves and Rusted Root, in addition to playing two sold-out hometown shows at the Fillmore alongside Bombay Bicycle Club and Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers. The band released their sophomore record, Uncle John Farquhar, in the summer of 2014.

"It's a more upbeat, a little more fun, but it's still got some heaviness," says Wolf of the new record. "The highs are higher and the lows are lower." Vinocur, in particular, is excited to release "Dearest Sarah," based on an actual Civil War letter written from husband to wife in 1861, a song Vinocur's been working at for nearly eight years. "I wrote it in 2006 as a 4/4 acoustic guitar song and played it at two shows before taking it out of my set list." says Vinocur "It was a lot of lyrics to remember and I was worried I
would mess them up and ruin the song's impact. I knew it was a significant song to me, but it wasn't quite right yet." Vinocur says the song was "all but forgotten until I re-watched Ken Burns' Civil War where Sullivan Ballou's letter is read. Very shortly thereafter, on a particularly lonely trip to New Zealand in 2012, I re-learned it on a
rooftop in Auckland and switched it to mandolin and waltz time. I added the bridge riff and the whole vibe came together. Finally I felt it was done and we re corded for release on our new record, 8 years after I first wrote it."

The album itself is named for Wolf's great-great-great grandfather, and a sermon he delivered on the occasion of Abraham Lincoln's death graces the record's liner notes. "In my eyes, he serves as kind of the first entry in the scrapbook that is this album concept,"
says Wolf of the old photo of Farquhar that originally captured his imagination. "I was thinking of the album as a scrapbook - a collection of clippings over the course of the past century and a half," says Wolf. "The oldest entries of the album package relate to
John Farquhar, who was my maternal great-great-great grandfather, a minister in Lancaster PA: the cover of his Abraham Lincoln sermon is the cover of the liner notes booklet. Inside the booklet a letter that he wrote to his cousin in Massachusetts during
the Civil War after visiting makeshift hospitals right outside the battle of Gettysburg. These documents are sort of the anchor of the work, so we've got this familial link to a seminal point in America's history and an example of both his (John Farquar's) public and private voices."

Americana is arguably an overused term at the moment — but what sets Goodnight, Texas apart from the pack is its richly imagined, full-color stories. In the longstanding folk tradition of Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie and Johnny Cash, Goodnight, Texas sings songs that are each a world in and of themselves — transporting listeners from the battlefields of the deep south to a saloon full of hard-drinking but good-natured regulars to the nervous feeling in the stomach of a poor boy about to ask for his girl's hand in

Uncle John Farquhar showcases this talent perhaps better than ever, with the two songwriters' styles playing off each other to great effect, balancing a wry sense of humor with an obvious respect for the ghosts of this country's past. Whether in Vinocur's realm of epic sagas of loss and animated hit-the-road tunes or Wolf's natural gift for deceptively sparse, emotion-driven songwriting, we can feel the sun-baked earth, taste the sweat of a day's labor, hear the hound dog howling in the yard. Our protagonists are lonely travelers and scorned lovers ad sympathetically conjured bank robbers, and for the duration of a song, we are rooting for them with all we've got.
Thorp Jenson
Thorp Jenson
In September of 2017 Rolling Stone Country called Thorp Jenson an
“Artist You Need To Know.” Later that fall, Yahoo Music said of Thorp and his
debut release: “Thorp Jenson is gaining quite a bit of attention with his self-
produced debut, Odessa, a singer-songwriter’s workbook of soulful, free-spirited
rock anchored songs with intriguing storytelling.” 
Richmond, Va.-based guitarist Thorp Jenson creates the kind of music that
makes you want to spend all night in a Southern dive bar and wake up the next
morning just to drive across the country—and his songs are at home in either
scenario. Jenson’s self-produced debut, Odessa, encapsulates the free-spirited
heartland-rock ethos of Tom Petty with a healthy dose of storytelling and
singer/songwriter introspection. The record features Jenson’s rich, soul-warming
vocals and bright lead guitar supported by musicians and co-writers who have
worked and toured alongside artists like Foxygen, Butcher Brown, Cris Jacobs

and more. 

“I wrote a lot of these songs thinking about characters,” Jenson says of Odessa.
“It always ends up including a part of me—you can’t get away from that—but if
you’re only telling your own story, you’re kind of pigeonholing yourself.” 

This character embodiment is apparent throughout the album, no more so than in
the title track—a vivid, rollicking tune in which Jenson imagines himself a soldier
returning from war to a small-town home that doesn’t quite fit the one in his
memory. Along with opening track “Oklahoma,” “Odessa” helps set the
overarching rock & roll aesthetic of the album, which Jenson says was influenced
by The Rolling Stones, whose catalog was in heavy rotation leading up to the
sessions. Jenson also surrounded himself with noticeably simpatico backing
musicians. “I needed to bring in the right drummer to do what I wanted to do,” he
says. “Somebody who had listened to Charlie Watts at some point in their life.”
That drummer was Dusty Ray Simmons, the band rounded out by
bassist/keyboardist Andrew Randazzo, guitarists Charles Arthur and Andrew
Rapisarda and saxophonist/backup-singer Suzi Fischer. “It helps to have some of
your best friends be some of the best musicians you know,” Jenson says. “They

really brought it.”

Jenson channels Ryan Adams at his most apocalyptic on Odessa’s dark yet
ultimately hopeful “All We Have Is Time,” and shows off his songwriting chops on

“The Garden/2nd Season,” a two-part track punctuated by a “Layla”-inspired
outro, and featuring lyrics co-written with Foxygen/Matthew E. White bassist
Cameron Ralston. The album’s lone cover, Jenson’s take on Modern English’s “I
Melt With You” was a bold addition, he admits, but despite his childhood disdain
for the track (“I hated that song growing up”), playing it at a wedding gig helped
him see past the blinding ’80s sheen to the solid framework underneath, which
he’s transformed into a spacey, comfortingly languid love ballad.

Growing up 25 miles south of Richmond in Chester, Va., Jenson, the son of a
loving but frequently on the road truck-driver father, received much of his young
education from his older brother. “I was maybe what you’d consider a ‘bad kid,’”
Jenson recalls. “We were bouncing around on our bicycles, smoking pot. Small-
town America—there’s nothing to do. In some ways, it’s kind of sad; but in

another way, it’s poetic.” 

As an early music fan who “hit the ground running” with ’90s grunge, Jenson also
found inspiration from his dad’s record collection, which included ‘70s staples like
the Grateful Dead and Derek and the Dominos. But, above all else, he was
moved by Tom Petty’s Wildflowers, which came out when he was in seventh
grade. “It’s just one of those albums,” Jenson says. “That record, to me—it’s just


With Odessa, Jenson offers up a collection of spirited and energetic
compositions, setting fire to his lyrics with incendiary lead guitar tightly woven
with soaring keyboards, arresting harmonies and a pulsing heartbeat of a rhythm
section. After years of building a name for himself as a side-man guitarist in the
Richmond music scene, Jenson is now poised to break out as a vibrant
songwriter and dynamic frontman with his own story to tell.
Venue Information:
The Camel
1621 W. Broad Street
Richmond, VA, 23220