Sam Barber, Grails & Burns Burly west: Sound Check


A wild and varied week it will be, with concert goers having to pick their sound of choice this weekend. Down on the Friday Cheers stage comes a rotation of country and folk artists headlined by the increasingly popular sound of Sam Barber, backed up by Jake Kohn and local group Villages. Meanwhile over at Richmond Music Hall, Grails fill the air with their folk inspired instrumental psychedelia along with fellow instrumentalists Nathan Bowles Trio. Then at The Camel Monday night, a stage full of Richmond up and comers and mysterious faces will be up and running all evening long. It’s going to be a strange night that you will not want to miss, so save a little energy from your weekend escapades why don’t you. I’ve got all of this for you and more on this week’s SOUND CHECK.

ed. note: This will be the last column for a while from our friend and collaborator, Andrew Bonieskie. He has moved to New York to pursue the next phase of his career. We wish Bones all the best in his new endeavors. Meanwhile, we’re excited to introduce our new music editor, Griffin Smalley, who will be starting next week.

So if you are a band with new music, a listener with suggestions, or just want to say hi? Send an email to

friday cheers

Sam Barber Jake Kohn and Villages Friday Cheers 6/28 Brown's Island Sound Check RVA Mag 2024

Friday, June 28th @ Brown’s Island
Doors: 6:00 pm

It’s going to be a laid back Friday evening down on Brown’s Island this time around, ending this run of Friday Cheers with not a bang, but a satisfied sigh. Headlining is singer-songwriter Sam Barber, who despite only releasing a few singles since 2021 has amassed over 5,000,000 monthly listeners on Spotify while playing events like Lollapalooza and with bands like The Dead South. Barber’s calm yet sophisticated songwriting style shines through in judicious finger style playing, being technically impressive while not show-boaty.

Joining him on the stage is Jake Kohn. The 16 year old songwriter is known for his deep and gravely singing voice, which one might not expect from his hiding-in-the-tall-grass and doe-eyed demeanor. Make no mistake, he can sing, he can write and he’s going to show you. Also joining is local Richmond ensemble Villages. The musical vehicle of Justin Paciocco, The group released their debut album back in 2018, and have since to record and release much else, but with an group this chock full of veterans from the local scene, one can only expect that they will bring the heat for one last Friday evening down on Brown’s Island.

Out of town acts to see

Grails The Broadberry 6/28 Sound Check RVA Mag 2024

Friday, June 28th @ Richmond Music Hall
Doors: 7:00 pm

If you were looking something a little more on the psychedelic (and instrumental) side Friday night, then perhaps you better turn towards Richmond Music Hall. Headlining is Grails, whose minimalist approach to folk infused psychadelia is a unique experience that must be heard to be believed. Their music is epic (in the old fashioned sense of the word), grand and capturing, so you should head over to The Broadberry for their wild spectacle.

Opening up the show is the Nathan Bowles Trio, who follow a similar vein of folk influenced instrumentals. With an emphasis on the folk, Nathan Bowles Trio tends to lean towards the more delightful and peaceful tracks, where as Grails can be kind of intense, but regardless they are a match made in heaven. It’s going to be a hypnotic show chock full of endless tunes and rivers of melodies that will carry you away.

local & regional acts to see

Caleb Flood Noble Dial Alaska Burns Burly West The Camel RVA Mag Sound Check 2024

Monday, July 1st @ The Camel
Doors: 7:00 pm

Oh boy, if anybody can pack a Monday with four bands one bill it is The Camel. This is an absolutely stacked show, so let me hit everyone real quick. Burn Burly West take the stage, and bring with them their chill indie rock tunes sounding like they stepped out of a time capsule from the beaches of 1970s Los Angeles. The group only started releasing tunes this year, and already have a well developed and self-actualized sound that will attract lovers of indie rock, and just might earn a few converts. They’ll only be playing an acoustic set this time around, but keep your eye on them to catch their full group live.

Dial Alaska are a mysterious group to me, who as far as I can tell released their debut album back in March of this year. Seemingly a concept album, Dial Alaska’s freshman record 907 600 1698 — I am not kidding, give it a call — is a bizarre experiment that nevertheless is wildly interesting to me. They made the choice to upload their entire album to an interactive phone number you can call, or you can just pull it up and listen to it on the streaming platform of your choice. A novelty? Perhaps, but a fun one that might just lead to something more.

Then comes Caleb Flood, who is on this bill by that name, however seems to release music under the name “pollywog.” You can find their music on bandcamp, with yes a few songs sprinkled, but the sounds of Caleb Flood tend to delve into the depths of the avant-garde (think “Revolution 9” by The Beatles). I can not tell you what they will be bringing to the show, but after listening to their music, I can’t help but be so extremely curious.

local & regional releases


This delightful little tune is the third single by Richmond band The Wayward Leaves. Fronted by Ross Wright and Curtis Wayne Patton, the group are currently in the process of recording their debut album which they are promising later this year. Combining elements of folk with pop song structure and some soulful and tight harmonies, “In It Now” is a beautiful track that does what is should, no more no less. It is a promising beginning for this group who are only in the first six months of releasing music, so perhaps this spells good things for their upcoming record. If you like their sound, you can catch them at Cobra Cabana on July 20th for a look at what else they’ve got cooking up.

On a final note for regular readers of this column: I will be stepping aside from penning the weekly music column at RVA Magazine. I am moving to New York City, and therefor can not effectively cover the music scene in Richmond, especially if there is someone else capable. Stepping up to the task will be Griffin Smalley, whose finger is tightly on the pulse of the Richmond music scene, so I can not imagine more capable hands to be passing this off to. If you would like to continue following what I am doing, you can find me on Instagram here, otherwise I encourage to check out Smalley’s work as he continues this tradition from here on out. Thanks everyone for reading, and I hope to see you again soon!

Top photo by Colton Kramer courtesy of Sam Barber

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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