Richmond as Center of Musical Creativity

New York, L.A. and Nashville are undisputed leaders of the music industry in the United States, while Austin, Seattle and New Orleans garner widespread recognition as important second-tier cities. But Urbanful has highlighted nine other U.S. cities with thriving music scenes where “new local bands sprout every day, and, best of all, you can still catch a raucous live show at a hole in the wall for $10.”

One of those is Richmond. Writes Urbanful:

The Virginia capital has long been a hotbed for a wide variety of musical genres, from metal (GWAR, Lamb of God) to punk and hardcore (Municipal Waste, Strike Anywhere) to folk (Aimee Mann, Pat McGee Band) and D’Angelo (he deserves his own genre). Today, music lovers can head to venues like The Camel, The Broadberry and The National for rowdy shows featuring local bands.

I have to confess, I have never heard these bands. I’m not sure I would particularly enjoy their music. (I’d rate the D’Angelo song highlighted above as so-so at best.) But I also recognize that I am no arbiter of musical taste. Indeed, if anything, I’m Geiger counter for dorkdom. The more I like a song, the more radioactive it is likely to be among the magistrates of hipitude. Still, I think it’s cool, or should I say, swell, that Richmond is recognized as a center of musical creativity.

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  1. CrazyJD Avatar

    I wonder how many comments you’ll get.

    I haven’t followed these groups, so I took the trouble of looking them up on YouTube. I’m reminded of Dizzy Gillespie’s comment to Johnny Carson some years back during an interview. Carson asks him, “So Diz, you’re an old jazz man, this new rock’n’roll must drive you nuts, all these guys hanging on there one chord”. The Diz looks at him and says, “Johnny, there’s only two kinds of music…good music and bad music.”

    Most of what I heard was bad music. That may only reflect the current state of pop music. I have to be careful with this, because we all think our music was the best, when in fact there is always a lot of bad music floating around. But just consider the current big hits, like last year’s #1 hit Get Lucky from Pharell Williams. Pharell is no fool. He got Nile Rodgers to produce and even play on his record. Don’t know the name? It often gets lost. He was one of the originators of disco back in the 70’s. You remember, that stuff that got blown up in center field at Comiskey Park by that half-assed Chicago DJ Steve Dahl. Rodgers started with Chic (Dance, Dance, Dance; Le Freak; Good Times), then went on to write and produce for Diana Ross (Upside Down and her theme song, I’m Comin’ Out); Sister Sledge (We Are Fa-mi-ly, The Greatest Dancer); David Bowie (Let’s Dance); Madonna (Like a Virgin); Duran, Duran (Notorious); INXS (Original Sin). That’s good POP music. Imaginative, timely, simple, uncomplicated. No, it’s not the symphony, which is my preference these days, but really good danceable pop music. And he’s still at it. Age 65 and recovered from stage 4 prostate cancer. You could look it up.

  2. LifeOnTheFallLine Avatar

    Somewhere on this blog I made a very similar post about Richmond’s killer music scene. It’s nice to be validated.

    And D’Angelo’s newest album certainly isn’t for everyone – I personally enjoyed how much callback to the evolution of Black American music was in there – but I think if you liked classic R&B/soul some of his older songs might be more your speed. Try this:

  3. LifeOnTheFallLine Avatar

    You might also want to check out No BS! Band.

  4. LifeOnTheFallLine Avatar

    Oh, and did you catch this today?

    Has attendance dwindled and no one told me? What does a new stadium get them in terms on attendance?

  5. Lots of great music and musicians from Virginia – then and now …

    This list is incomplete missing Eddie from Ohio, Soja, Jim Morrison (graduated from high school in Alexandria).

    Unlike some states, Virginia seems to stop remembering its famous sons and daughters around 1800.

    Here’s a quick quiz about famous Virginians (where they were from in parentheses)

    1. One of the greatest actors of all time (Wise)
    2. Perhaps the best player in NFL history (Williamsburg)
    3. The original Ronald McDonald (Alexandria)
    4. Mr. Vegas (Norfolk / Roanoke)
    5. A famous technology executive (Blacksburg / Falls Church)
    6. 3 of the greatest professional golfers of all time (Hot Springs, Norfolk, Richmond)
    7. Best known and most highly paid African American entertainer in the first half of the twentieth century (Richmond)
    8. Arctic and antarctic explorer (Winchester)
    9. Crime and mystery author (Richmond / Reston)
    10. Inventor of the cloud (Alexandria)

    Good luck.

  6. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Why is this big news?

    Gwar (hosting the Gwar-B-Q soon,) was on Joan Rivers. Lamb of God got in trouble in Europe.

    And so on.

    Could be that this blog caters to older folk. I learn about some of these groups from my kids.

    1. LifeOnTheFallLine Avatar

      Uh oh! Someone posted something positive about the city of Richmond on the front page, which means it’s time for Peter to come in and find some way to try to undermine it.

      Show us on the doll where Richmond hurt you.

  7. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Plus, there’s Duchess of York that I think has folded.

    Life, you are misreading what I wrote. The fact is that Richmond has been a great incubator on the music scene. Plenty of people know about it, but apparently not on Bacons Rebellion.

    1. LifeOnTheFallLine Avatar

      Ohhhh, so you’re just being a smug hipster because you knew about it first. Gotcha.

    2. Peter, the news is that Richmond is gaining national recognition for its music scene… unless you want to tell us that even that‘s old news.

  8. Blackbird Fly Avatar
    Blackbird Fly

    Regarding the music scene, it may unsurprisingly leave a lot to be desired compared to LA, NYC, or Nashville, but I would call ours a burgeoning scene with a lot of great artists emerging in recent years. Some RVA bands to check out are: J. Roddy Walston and the Business, The Avers, The Trillions, The Sleep Walkers, The Southern Belles, Matthew E. White, Natalie Prass, The Photosynthesizers, among many others. There are many music events throughout the year including: The Folk Festival, Big Field Day, Friday Cheers, Fall Line fest, Innsbrook After hours. Our music venues and wonderful and certainly have live music daily (i.e. The National, Camel, The Broadberry, Strange Matter, Canal Club, The Hippodrome, Balliceaux, and the newly opened Tin Pan).

    It also recently got some love from Vanity Fair:

  9. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    I think Richmond already had a national reputation for music — just old coots are learning of it!

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