Digable Planets, The Wailers, & Jake Xerxes Fussell: Sound Check


This week in Richmond is packed with diverse musical events, especially for hip hop and R&B enthusiasts. Friday Cheers at Brown’s Island features the legendary Digable Planets, known for their jazz fusion hip hop, alongside the dreamy, psychedelic R&B artist Tre. Charles.

Local fans should also check out Tennishu’s long-awaited album More to the Story, showcasing his signature blend of laid-back hip hop beats and soulful horn arrangements. Newcomer Javi Aguilera debuts his powerful track “The Other Side,” combining rapid-fire rap with jazz fusion and Latin grooves.

For reggae lovers, The Wailers will perform at The National, celebrating the 40th anniversary of Bob Marley’s iconic album Legend. This show promises to be a memorable experience with timeless reggae hits.

Additionally, folk and acoustic fans can look forward to Jake Xerxes Fussell’s performance at Richmond Music Hall. Hailing from North Carolina, Fussell’s sentimental tunes and memorable melodies are sure to resonate. Joining him are local favorites The Great Beforetimes, adding their unique blend of folk and country to the night.

With such a wide array of performances, there’s something for everyone in this week’s SOUND CHECK. Whether you’re into hip hop, reggae, or folk, Richmond’s vibrant music scene has you covered.

Are you a band with new music, a listener with suggestions, or just want to say hi? Send an email to Bones@rvamag.com

Friday Cheers

Digable Planets Tre Charles Friday Cheers Sound Check RVA Mag 2024

Friday, June 21st @ Brown’s Island
Doors: 6:00 pm

The short lived (at the time) jazz fusion luminaries that are Digable Planets are gracing the Friday Cheers Stage this weekend. If you’re not aware of the group, Digable Planets came out of Philadelphia in the late 80s and took the world by storm. Hip Hop was still in its fledgling stages, and was just discovering a wide variety of identities as it diverged from the campy tongue-in-cheek tracks that emerged from Bronx block parties. Reminiscent of the flows of rappers like Phife Dawg and Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest, Digable Planets tunes are, by today’s standards, relatively tame and easily digestible, yet remain timeless in their execution. Though they only have two records to their name, they are both excellent, and incredibly different from each other in tone if not exactly that divergent sonically. I can’t recommend them enough if you’re craving some old school sounds that still reverberate well today.

Joining Digable Planets on the Friday Cheers Stage this weekend is Tre. Charles. Though a bit of a mystery to me, his new school R&B is a wonderful sound that I can not stop listening to; it is dreamy, psychedelic and above all emotional. If you’re a fan of artists like Son Little or The Dip then you will love this young artist on the rise.

Out of Town Acts to see

The Wailers The National Sound check RVA Mag 2024

Thursday, June 20th @ The National
Doors: 6:30 pm

I mean what could I say to sell this show to you anymore than I can sell itself. The legendary group who stood behind reggae legend towering cultural figure Bob Marley are still kicking, and they’re on journey around the country celebrating the 40th anniversary his iconic record Legend. Though the official 40th anniversary was last month in May, that doesn’t mean that the rest of the shows are something to scoff at. Featuring all of Bob Marley’s top 40 hits up to the time, the record sold millions of copies, spent years on the Billboard hot 200, and is named as one of the greatest albums of all time by Rollingstone. There, I guess I can sell it more. Get out there to see this legendary group perform some of the most memorable reggae tracks in honor of a music legend while you still have the chance.

Local & Regional Acts to see

Jake Xerxes Fussell Richmond Music Hall Sound Check RVA Mag 2024

Saturday, June 22nd @ Richmond Music Hall
Doors: 7:00 pm

Now while Fussell claims North Carolina as home, I couldn’t resist talking about this show. Just a state away is enough for me to consider Fussell regional, and his tunes are just absolutely delightful. Fussell is sure to play well in Richmond where folk inspired music does notoriously well (enough to fill rooms like Richmond Music Hall and not just the smaller venues around town). With a deep and comforting voice, Fussell’s acoustic lead tunes are brimming with memorable musical hooks, infectious melodies and sentimentality oozing out of every pour. If there’s one thing an artist wants their music to ooze, sentimentality would be it.

Joining him on the Music Hall stage are local favorites The Great Beforetimes whose February single release signals to Richmond that they are still here, and they’re not going anywhere. Full of personality and combining folk and country sounds with lyrics that reach for a higher plane, The Great Beforetimes are a wonderfully good time, and the perfect choice to booster an already exciting Saturday night at one of Richmond’s Premiere Venues.

local & Regional releases


The long awaited record from Tennishu is finally here. Though he has been releasing singles from this record for the last few months, I chose to wait until this drop to finally talk about it. Listeners get what they expect from Tennishu; excellent beats, horn arrangements and a versatile flow. Instead of opting for ebb and flow, More to the Story picks a vibe and sticks with it. Staying within a comfortable range of laid back tunes, Tennishu rarely if ever accelerates to high speeds or energy levels, but sometimes I find that a piece that knows it’s identity to be more satisfying than an album exercising in grandeur. More to the Story is an excellent summer record for those that love hip hop or the sounds of soulful horn playing.


If I were to use just one word to describe the debut track by new rapper on the scene Javi Aguilera, I would say that it is gargantuan. Aguilera himself has a rapid fire flow that speaks for itself, but it’s the powerful and technical full band arrangement behind him that elevate this song to something else beyond just an old school rap track. Blending jazz fusion sounds with latin groove, and a few quick lines in Spanish, “The Other Side” combines the old with the new to glorious success and with grandiosity to boot. With the arrangement done by Aguilera himself, it would seem that there is a force to be reckoned with in the Richmond rap scene, though it is just one track, so only time will tell if he has it in him to do it again.

Top photo courtesy of Digable Planets.

Andrew Bonieskie

Andrew Bonieskie

I'm a writer and musician living in Brooklyn, NY after having served as the Associate Editor of RVA Mag from 2023 - 2024. After graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in music and a minor in creative writing I have gone on to score feature and short films, released a book of poetry, recorded multiple albums of original music with my band Pebbles Palace and as a solo artist under the name Lawrence Bones.

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