Sampa The Great, Lipstick Stains, Dan & The Fam & Ant The Symbol: This Week’s Sound Check

by | May 29, 2023 | MUSIC

Welcome to this week’s edition of Sound Check, where we dive into the exciting musical happenings in Richmond. Get ready for an infusion of rap and hip-hop at Friday Cheers, starting with the phenomenal Sampa the Great, a rising star from the Australian rap scene known for her hypnotic flow and infectious melodies. In support is our own talented Kenneka Cook, whose captivating performances have earned her a well-deserved spotlight. We also have Lipstick Stains, a punk act from Nashville, ready to unleash their heavy sound and rough attitude at SB’s Lakeside Love Shack. And don’t miss the folk jams of Johnathan Brown, whose mesmerizing talent will grace the stage at The Camel. Plus, we’ll explore the latest releases from Dan & The Fam, Ant The Symbol, and the shoegaze-inspired Colpa Mia. Get ready to immerse yourself in the sounds of Richmond’s vibrant music scene.

If you’re an artist who’s got new tunes, press releases, or suggestions, send them our way. Send an email to Bones at

Friday, June 2 @ Brown’s Island

This Friday Cheers sees an exciting infusion of some rap and hip-hop; a much needed refresher. Opening the show is local Kenneka Cook, and I’m truly stoked for this act. I have seen Cook around town playing back-up for acts like Prabir Trio, but when I was doing research for RVA Mag’s Friday Cheers announcement post back in March, I found her 2018 album Moonchild. A triumph of a record it is worth listening to for a reacquaintance with her music if you’re gonna catch her this weekend. Earlier this month she released a single with Butcher Brown performing the Duke Ellington tune “I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good)” that shows she’s got the connections and the chops to take this. its by storm. Cook is an artist worth watching, and one can only hope that this foray onto the stage at Brown’s Island kickstarts her into striving towards another record. 

Behold Sampa the Great, a dynamic rapper who was born in Zambia and brought up in Botswana. She’s in the throes of an expansive tour that will span the East Coast of the United States and blanket continental Europe. Her most recent album, As Above, So Below, launched just last year, stands as a true reflection of her exceptional artistic prowess.

This album is a masterpiece comprising 11 tracks richly imbued with East African inspired hip-hop. With featured artists such as Joey Bada$$ and Denzel Curry, As Above, So Below is deemed a grand success even before appreciating Sampa’s rhythmic, almost hypnotic, flow. Her capability to seamlessly transition into melodious hooks adds a refreshing element of catchiness that is sometimes absent in rap music.

Sampa is undeniably a rising star, and it would be wise to witness her perform live before she soars beyond reach, perhaps even too far for a return to Richmond.

My favorite track from As Above, So Below

  • Imposter Syndrome 


Thursday, June 1 @ SB’s Lakeside Love Shack
It seems like these weeknights are packed with heavy bands playing bars on the northside of town. This Thursday will find SB’s Love Shack held within the grasp of Lipstick Stains. If you haven’t heard of them before, they are a punk act out of Nashville with a heavy sound and a rough attitude. They released a single earlier this year, and an EP called Controlled Chaos in 2021 that flies high with post-hardcore artsy screaming, and drops down into jangly guitar ballads. It’s very interesting these days to see so many acts coming out of Nashville that don’t fit into the Mecca-of-country-music Nashville is thought of to be. Earlier this month Otnes came here out of Nashville and they brought their pop sound, so who knows who will be showing up here next. Go catch a glimpse of these punks on tour, and stick around for a number of other bands that evening as well.

My favorite track from Controlled Chaos

  • Vanessa


Thursday, June 1 @ The Camel
Ever since catching Johnathan Brown at The Camel a few months ago I have been absolutely fascinated. Playing just about anywhere he can get in, Brown will play solo lunch shows out town, and in April played The Camel no less than four times without a set residency. The brother of local phenom Jaylin Brown, it appears that the talent must run in the family. Brown seems to remain opposed to actually releasing music, instead opting to grind and perfect himself, so maybe there could be a recording project on the horizon for this talented star. This Thursday you should absolutely make your way down to hear Brown play with three other acts for a packed night of folk jams.


This interesting group came through my email just a few weeks ago, and they are unique to say the least. Dan & The Fam put out an album last year – two hours of instrumental jam music titled River_City_11522. The trio consisting of Danny Jams (Guitar) with Alexander LaFreniere (Drums) and Grady Tollison (bass) formed in 2021 and have been grinding ever since. In April they put out a single “Music is Freedom” along with a music video highlighting a number of famous Richmond locales. It’s a must watch for Richmonders who feel that they can spot just about anywhere in the city.

My favorite track from River_City_11522

  • “Fast Jam”
Dan & The Fam – Music is Freedom (Official Music Video)

Thursday, June 1st @ Gallery 5
Some R&B also comes bubbling to the surface this week in Richmond, as Ant The Symbol is getting ready to drop what I can only count to be his tenth album I Know Who I Am this week. The veteran DJ promises something completely different from his past work which leaned much more into straight hip-hop. His most recent album before his release this week was We’re All Here, and essentially amounted to a collection of lo-fi beats with a guest artist featured in the middle rapping over his creations. Ant The Symbol claims to be incorporating a number of different genres and roping in some of Richmond’s finest artists and talent to feature on the record as well. The three singles preceding the record already include Erin Lunsford and a number of other non-Richmond artists on it, so we’ll just have to wait and see what he’s done with any other Richmond musicians he’s been working with. 

Local band Colpa Mia released a single called “Opal” last week, and along with it they put out a video with FIRE ON THE MOON called Sundown Sessions, a performance of their single along with three as of yet unreleased tunes. Great production on both the audio and visuals a beautiful air to the simple video that is positively dripping with chill vibes and shoegazey guitar tones. They’ve got a bit of a backlog as well, so absolutely check out this groups music.

Colpa Mia | Sundown Sessions

Main photo by Travys Owen, Courtesy of Loma Vista Recordings

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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