What Helped Me Love Richmond Just A Little Bit More

by | Jan 19, 2010 | MUSIC

It’s practically been eight years since I moved to Richmond. I recall venturing into this city and instantly wanting to turn back around.

It’s practically been eight years since I moved to Richmond. I recall venturing into this city and instantly wanting to turn back around. As my travels, acquaintances and experiences found their way into my casual reminiscence, Richmond felt more like home.

With every passing year, new ideas emerge. Several of these ideas may perish. It’s those ideas that excel and live on passed their expectations that act as a love letter to this city. It’s the bands that catch you off guard. It’s the events that are spoken about in drunken taboos and actually become a reality. It’s the stores that you think would be awesome if you had one of those in your town, but exist beneath your radar struggling.

These are the things that helped me continue to love Richmond all throughout 2009 into 2010.

The List (in no particular order)

Amazing Ghost

Remember when the United States sent their Dream Team to compete in Barcelona in 1992? The team consisted of Jordan, Johnson, Malone, Stockton, Robinson, Ewing, Drexler and Barkley to name a few. This was the best the United States had to offer in regard to Basketball. Well, Amazing Ghost is the best we have to offer as far as a musical ensemble is concerned. This group features members of Bio Ritmo, Fight The Big Bull and The Great White Jenkins. With a unique and delectable understanding of jazz, the group flourishes with impeccable musical numbers that conjure up an unapologetic love for genres like hip-hop, dance and rock. 2009 was the year for the ghost to set up shop. 2010 will be the year of the ghost.

For more information about Amazing Ghost, check out www.myspace.com/amazingghost
Also, here’s an article about the band published on RVAMAG.com last year, Amazing Ghost: Can You Tell Me Where The Party’s At?

Fountain Bookstore/Chop Suey Books

What was your new year’s resolution? Was it to start going to the gym? Was it to quit smoking or cut back on drinking? These are all fine and dandy, but a part of me hopes that it was to become a book person. I find it amusing when people relegate themselves as not being into reading. I can understand that to a degree, but how many words do you read daily while scouring the Internet? There really is no excuse to not pick up a reading habit. You might live a little longer. Two of the best resources that deserve to be untapped in Richmond are Fountain Bookstore and Chop Suey Books. There you will be greeted by an endless number of possible reading opportunities and staff members that can help direct you to your new favorite author. After jumping off the treadmill, maybe it’s time you catch up on Jean-Paul Sartre. Also, it’s much cooler to be elitist about literature as opposed to most other artist mediums. I swear.

For more information about Fountain Bookstore, check out www.fountainbookstore.com
For more information about Chop Suey Books, check out www.chopsueybooks.com


Were you at the Herschfest this year? I know, I know. The weather was awful on Saturday and discouraging for all attendees, but it was an event worth raving about. There was literally something for everyone. In between bands like Orioles, Hot Lava, Coald Toast, The Milkstains, The Veins, Spirit Fingers and many others, audiences were entertained by stand-up comedians Blake Midgette or David-Marie Garland, spoken word artists like Julia McCauley or Andrew Blossom and even short archival pieces retrieved by Ken Hopson.

As the name of the festival suggests, ukulele maestro Herschel Stratego was behind all of the proceedings. This entire event seemed like the greatest testament to the arts in Richmond. One individual considered the possibility of having one event showcase multiple facets of it’s community and in doing so raise awareness about the arts as well as the wonderful cause of Avert.org (a foundation that benefits HIV and AIDS awarenessh). Stratego sent a call out to the creative community that surrounded him in his social stratosphere. With the initiative of one person and the help of his friends, the Herschfest became a reality.

Stratego set a new precedent for what an arts festival can mean. Hopefully this is not the last time we see this level of enthusiasm and determination towards helping bring the Richmond artistic community together.

For more information about Herschfest, check out www.herschfest.org
For more information about Avert.org, check out www.avert.org

Plan 9/Deep Groove

In a day and age where record stores may seem like a figment of our imagination, Richmond is fortunate enough to have two fantastic spots. Say what you will, but I will never get over having a physical copy of a record I love. Even with everything going digital, I just can’t wrap my head around sifting through a digital booklet.

Also, where else are you going to receive intimate, personal stories involving the records you are about to purchase? I can easily recall the numerous tales about Springsteen’s early days in Richmond while picking up Devils and Dust. There was even the time where I bought a used copy of Drag Me To Hell and I found myself in an endless conversation about how awesome this movie was. Or the time where I discovered that Will and Thao of Thao with the Get Down Stay Down used to work at the Williamsburg Plan 9 Records.

There is a history that lives and breathes in these establishments far beyond the records the stores contain. It’s just not the same when visiting a digital music store and finding your favorite new record that way.
Let’s make sure places like Plan 9 and Deep Groove don’t become fleeting memories.

For more information about Plan 9 Music, check out www.plan9music.com
For more information about Deep Groove Records, check out www.deepgroovevinyl.com

The Low Branches

Enthralling. Mesmerizing. Melancholy. Haunting. Ephemeral. Astounding. Cathartic. Remembrance. Distinct. Beautiful. All of these words and more only begin to describe the majestic sounds emanating from the musical collaborations of Christina Gleixner and Matt Klimas. Give “Giant Sounds” a listen and discover one of the best new groups to emerge from this great city.

For more information about The Low Branches, check out www.myspace.com/thelowbranches or www.thelowbranches.com

The Listening Room

Jonathan Vassar? Check. The Speckled Bird? Check. Allen Bergendahl? Check. Christopher Payne of The Richmond Scene? Check. No Talking Allowed During Performances? Check.

This new concert series that is already on it’s third volume has already developed quite the reputation. Imagine a setting where acoustic artists and audiences alike can feel comfortable and entertain the idea of enjoying music in a setting that isn’t a bar room. An idea that spawned from a thought that Vassar had and has now become a reality. This is one of the more exciting monthly events to take place and it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere.

For more information about The Listening Room, check out www.therichmondscene.com/profile/TheListeningRoom

WRIR 97.3FM Richmond Independent Radio

I am guilty of being biased in this choice. As the host of The Commonwealth of Notions and assisting the local music department, this is one of my favorite projects to be involved with. There is a program for everyone on this radio station and there is something wonderful about that. Even for the programs that may not be my cup of tea, I am glad that they exist because they satisfy someone’s musical palate. The station is about to celebrate its fifth anniversary. Congratulations to the station and to all the listeners that help keep WRIR alive and well.

For more information about WRIR, check out www.wrir.org


I find myself listening to Orioles more and more. While sitting back, it seems unreal that this group can exist, let alone be from Richmond. With a sound that musically takes it’s cues from groups like Pavement and lyrically from David Berman of the Silver Jews, they are a band destined and bound to impress everyone that discovers their unique pop gems about existentialism, love, adulthood and unexpected bouts of mortality. There are talks of a full-length finally coming to fruition in the New Year from Orioles. That’s enough to keep me excited to see where Nick Woods and company are headed in 2010.

For more information about Orioles, check out www.myspace.com/oriolestunes

Six Great Local Shows from 2009 (in no particular order)
1) Manlike/The Last Century/Orioles/The Mountain is A Whale @ Gallery 5 – September 25th
2) Mouthbreather/Bridge and Tunnel/Pedals On Our Pirate Ships/Punch You In The Face Big! @ The Bagel Czar – March 10th
3) David Shultz and The Skyline/Jonathan Vassar and The Speckled Bird/Liza Kate/Zac Hryciak and The Jungle Beat/Herschel Stratego @ Gallery 5 – March 13th
4) Amazing Ghost @ Balliceaux – December 22nd
5) The Intelligence/Bermuda Triangles/Spirit Fingers/The Order @ The Triple – September 19th
6) Coald Toast/Cubscout and The Rhinoceros @ New York Deli – October 23rd


These are eight things I hold dear recollections of from last year. I could have easily made an endless list of how many things I was entranced by. This is simply the list of one individual attempting to focus on the things that fueled my favorite memories of 2009. What I’d love to encourage everyone to do though is that if you have a favorite event, establishment, band, personal moment or whatever, please share it in the comments. This is what last year was like for me.

Extra Tidbit: The only thing I may have enjoyed tremendously but didn’t touch on was Movieland at Boulevard Square. I think my main reason for not writing anything is that I think we are all aware of how cool it is that there is a movie theater close by and I think we can all agree that it’s existence is above the radar in multiple ways.

RVA Staff

RVA Staff

Since 2005, the dedicated team at RVA Magazine, known as RVA Staff, has been delivering the cultural news that matters in Richmond, VA. This talented group of professionals is committed to keeping you informed about the events and happenings in the city.

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