Posted by: Necci – Jul 10, 2012
We live in a Richmond, Virginia nowadays where the music scene and where one goes to see a band can be rather political. Whatever happened to just having fun, and literally letting your hair down? There are thousands of folks, mainly Henricofielders, who don’t want to deal with pretentious frat boys at a jam band show, the whiny hipster-doofus kids at whatever indie band showcase, or the "my-life-sucks" crowd at a noise show. You are the epitome of blue collar, or perhaps an unhappy cubicle dweller, so music isn’t a fashion show or psychological charade to you. Having just spent forty or more hours slaving away at any one of the hundreds of office parks in the metro area, you want to get loose and rock out. I understand exactly where you are coming from.
Where is the good ole rock and roll Henricofielders cherish? Yes, this scene is as much a part of the Richmond music scene as any other sub culture in the metro area. Look, hard working, lovable rednecks out there need their fix of fun live music as much as any other music lover needs their fix of any kind of music genre they’re into. Now, the places I am referring to that cater to this kind of music tend to be in the outer suburbs of Richmond. They usually have stages with Bud Light banners, this season’s NASCAR schedule, and/or cardboard posters of some model holding a bottle of whatever beer as their backdrops. Not to worry--aside from the music, the game or race is always on the television, and the wings are mediocre, yet hot. The patrons of these establishments want to have a good time, and let’s face it, after smoking a menthol, they want to get nasty on the dance floor.
Where are these types of live music venues in metro Richmond? Well, not as far away as you think. Here is a list of the best bar/restaurant live music venues where one can catch some of the best cover, tribute, and/or original rock bands for the mainstream music fan in all of us. Oh yeah, real quick: all of these bar/restaurant venues are in strip malls, so there are ample parking opportunities!
McCook’s Lakeside Grill
5516 Lakeside Ave. (Lakeside)
McCook’s Lakeside Sports Grill is a wonderful small sports bar and grill in lovely Lakeside that showcases pure bar rock and roll, blues, rockabilly, Americana, and of course, country music. This place basically picked up where the old Shenanigan’s left off. The bands are mostly local, or possibly regional from time to time. Shows are usually Friday and Saturday nights.
7526 Mechanicsville Turnpike (Mechanicsville)
The Ville has been around for a couple of years, and is a smoker-friendly place for great food, drinks, and fun. Now that’s nice to know. The bands that perform here tend to lean towards acoustic acts, country, country rock, and metal music. Shows tend to be on Friday and Saturday nights. Yelling out "Woo-Hoo!" is encouraged.
Cullen’s Cove (pictured atop)
6233 Mechanicsville Turnpike (Mechanicsville)
Cullen’s Cove is the best of all the suburban venues in my opinion. Cullen’s Cove is a legitimate live music venue, actually. Cullen’s boasts a quality sound and lighting system, and a great stage, along with plenty of space for dancing or getting right up next to the cute sweaty singer. Cullen’s Cove books local, regional, and national touring acts. The bands here are usually hard rock, metal, or pure rock and roll. Shows can be any day of the week, so keep your ears open. There is never a bad time at Cullen’s Cove.
Far West End:
Sharky’s Bar and Billiards
4032 Cox Road - A (Innsbrook)
Sharky’s is a gem in the heart of wonderfully aesthetic Innsbrook. This venue is right around the corner from the Pavilion, so it’s a great spot for pre-(and post-)gaming before a big show. Aside from SnagAJob Pavilion events, every weekend at Sharky’s has in store some of the best rock, country, and metal music this side of Interstate 95. A lot of shows are free, so who can resist. Sharky’s also has a wonderful stage, good sound, and a fabulous area for dancing. Also, nothing asserts more "class" then having a Hummer as a billboard for your establishment.
Sportsman Restaurant & Lounge
3306 Williamsburg Rd. (Montrose Heights/Airport)
You're gosh-darn right there’s live music in the East End. And hey, this isn’t some cheesy airport hotel lounge spewing disco, either. Sportsman Restaurant & Lounge has it all, and then on top of that, they have line-dancing from time to time. Oh my! Sportsman showcases mostly cover band rock, hard rock, and of course country rock. They have a decent stage, lighting, and a very adequate dance floor.
Rock Falls Tavern
2813 Hathaway Rd. (Strafford Hills)
Really good original rock and roll, cover bands, and country rock also shine at the foot of the Hathaway Tower. And be careful--a hard rock band might sneak in here. So keep the Buds a-coming, because the music at Rock Falls is always a miracle. The stage here is grand, as are the lights and sound, and of course, there's plenty of room in front of the stage for shaking that thing. Also, the stage doubles as the dart board area. My favorite part about Rock Falls is the mural-like paintings of famous musicians on the walls around the stage and restaurant. Nice touch.
11146 Hull St. (Midlothian/Brandermill)
Mulligan’s always has great live music. Quality, and I do mean quality--oh what the heck--inspirational rock and roll, holds court here. There is mostly hard rock, indie rock, blues rock, acoustic rock, and country rock on this stage. But hey, it’s only rock and roll, and Brandermill likes it. Now I’m not sure if you can dance anymore in Chesterfield, but I’d do it anyway at Mulligan’s Southside. They just host the best bands in the metro area for those who adore simple, yet rocking music.
By John Lewis Morgan/originally appeared at onewayrichmond.com