In the thick of a 35-year career, Plunky will release “Drivin,’” August 29, and celebrate its release with a party September 6 at Martini Kitchen & Bubbles Bar, 1911 W. Main St. “Drivin’” is available at Plan 9 and BK Music, online at www.CDBaby.com/plunky12, and is downloadable at iTunes. A Richmond music icon, Plunky says with pride, “I’m born and raised in Richmond. I was away to go to college in New York. I was in San Francisco three or four years and went back to New York. But you have to know, I’m 61 years old. For 45 or 50 of those years, I’ve lived in Richmond.”
What’s going on in your career?
I have a new CD called “Drivin.’” I’m calling it my silver milestone; my 25th CD in a 35 year career. My last CD, “Cold Heat,” is still getting played. There’s a very popular song on that CD called “Drop.” It was popularized after it had been out about a year. Michael Baisden did it on his nationally-syndicated radio show. That airplay made me an overnight success after 35 years. In the D.C. and Baltimore area, people are doing what they call hand dancing and line dancing to that song. A dance group invented a line dance to that song. When I thought that song had dropped off, in fact it got added to a couple playlists on stations in D.C. So I gave a pause as to when to release a new album. It’s an interesting problem to have. You don’t want to step on the momentum that album has, but I have to put out something new for the people who ask me. It’s an interesting thing for an independent artist.
What do you think of the jazz scene in Richmond?
R&B music is very important to Richmond’s history and continues to be very important in Richmond. I’m not one of those who knock our local music scene. We’re having a resurgence of live music, particularly of black music, with what’s happening. Richmond is almost like a festival city these days. We have almost innumerable festivals during the summer months. We have two new venues in Richmond, that have brought musical talent, both Toad’s Place and the National Theatre. There’s music almost nightly. Richmond has a very lively music scene. In regard to jazz music here in Richmond, it’s also quite alive, led by the Richmond Jazz Society, which by the way is getting a governor’s award. The Jazz Society is about 25 years old. As a parenthesis, that organization was founded in my living room. I’m quite proud of the development of the organization. VCU is very important to the jazz scene here. They continue to train musicians, ensuring that jazz will have a future. The public schools still have great programs. The other universities also do their part. Virginia Union University has a great choir program. Certainly Virginia State has an extremely active music department. University of Richmond does its part because they have an annual concert series where they’re bringing in top internationally-known jazz musicians. Plunky does not have a complaint about the music scene as it now stands. If you had asked me seven to ten years ago, I would have had lots of complaints. But mostly, those complaints are being corrected. Plus we have some young musicians who are coming to the fore.
What are you listening to right now?
The most recent things that I’ve listened to are Jill Scott and Mary J. Blige. It just happens that those are female vocalists. But I also listen to Coltrane and a lot of classical jazz stuff.
If you weren’t a musician what career would you be in?
There’s no doubt. I’d be a chemist. I went to Columbia University to study chemistry. I left in my junior year to pursue music. Otherwise I’d probably be a teacher, or some sort of sociologist, or a political scientist.
What’s your favorite Richmond restaurant?
What song do you wish you had written?
I wish I’d written “A House is Not a Home,” by Burt Bacharach. I think it’s just so simple but the bridge just takes you somewhere, I definitely think that was songwriting at its best. Or any of the sixty Beatles songs, or any George Clinton song.
What do you do when you’re not playing music?
Tennis is a passion of mine. I’m not very good but I play it all the time. It does keep me physically fit. I do yoga. I’m constantly looking at the political news. I’m a junkie for all those things.