Last Saturday night, acquaintances from Frostburg, and Cumberland, MD stopped in Richmond to play at the Hollywood Grill on China Street in Oregon Hill. The players were Kenny Tompkins and Page France. Kenny is a singer- songwriter who is an excellent lyricist and crafter of pop melodies whose most recent album, The Beautiful Death of Everything, stayed in my stereo for months. Page France is a quintet consisting of 4 guys (Michael, Brian, Clint and a guy whose name I never caught) and a cute girl-y girl named Whitney. They are all indie-adorable, only 19 (I think), and judging by their earnest, searching and questioning lyrics (think a sweeter Pedro the Lion- or a Pedro with an angel singing backup and without the need for a heroin addiction) are all really nice to one another. Plus, Page France are pop magicians! Like Belle and Sebastian, they know just how long to wait b/f they bring in the tambourine, or the backing vocals. I got chills from two of their songs. Beautiful.
Kenny Tompkins, whom I know a little better than the members of Page France, is an excellent singer and songwriter (he obviously loves Conor Oberst) despite being too wrapped up in playing the role of Rock Star. As he told us during his set, he spent a big part of Saturday drinking a bottle of wine (imagine that! a guy on "tour" drinking heavily!!), and his set suffered as a result- not so much b/c of the grape but b/c he felt the need to tell us over and over how drunk he was. Damn good songs, damn common schtick. I guess the chills I've gotten from Kenny's music will remain a private experience a while longer.