An “Ordinary” show (video 2:08)

An “Ordinary” show (video 2:08)
An “Ordinary” show (video 2:08)
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New Year’s eve was a true Throwback Thursday at Tanglewood Ordinary, where they served up RVA’s Hot Seats as the main entertainment course. It was a taste of times long ago, when the restaurant was more a roadhouse and dance hall that hosted itinerate bands on a regular basis.


Crowd3Playing without the benefit of a sound system, the group’s vocals were sometimes lost to the diners’ fun, but that added to the evening’s charm…transported back to the 30’s. The band seemed to love it too, not performing as much as standing in a corner playing “old time” music and having fun.


The Hot Seats are a “string band” with all members rotating instrumental and vocal duties. Their music crosses genres, influenced by expected sources like the father of bluegrass, Bill Monroe, the Bonzo Dog Do-Dah Band, and some unexpected ones like the Fugs, Frank Zappa and even a bit of Monty Python.


Leader Josh Bearman says they’re more than bluegrass (hence “string band”) and not too worried about being silly on stage.




They began as Special Ed and the Short Bus in 2002, playing regular gigs at Legends and the Cary Street Café. From 2005 to 2011 they concentrated on touring in the U.S. In 2008, at the suggestion of their agent who was booking them in Europe, they became the Hot Seats.


Band2They’ve developed a healthy UK following, typically playing in theaters during the summer. Troubadours with social commentary, their tour shows are, in Josh’s words, “performative” with the members doing some play-acting along with on-stage banter and poking fun at American life. “European audiences crave the American experience.”


They’ve got another European tour booked for August and are lining up some festivals in the States. Band dynamics (one lives in New Hampshire) prevents them from playing often as a full band in Richmond, but they do play as duos and trios. You can catch them next with the Atkinsons Jan. 8 at Hardywood.


Watch Video


The Band:

Ben Belcher: strings, vocals

Ed Brogan: strings, vocals

Graham DeZarn: fiddle, strings

Jake Sellers: washboard, percussion, strings

Josh Bearman: strings, vocals

1 Comment

  1. In 1989 and ’90, Bill Monroe and his band members, along with George Winn, made a special trip to Tanglewood Ordinary for an early dinner of his favorite fried chicken and southern comfort food before his local Richmond gig. We had the pleasure of hearing him sing the blessing acapellla. And he showed me how to make a Cat’s Cradle from a loose piece of string in the parking lot. An unforgettable part of the fabric that is our 30 years at Tanglewood Ordinary.

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