In Defense Of The RVA Music Scene: Craigslist Edition

by | Feb 27, 2013 | RICHMOND NEWS, WTF?!

Our friend Sarah Moore Lindsey over at Sounds Of RVA recently penned this eloquent and well-reasoned defense of the RVA music scene after being inspired by a negative Craigslist post claiming that the local scene lacked originality, inspiration, and hustle. We appreciated what she had to say and we wanted to share it with you here. Check it out, and let us know what you think in the comments!

Normally I do not like to feed the trolls on craigslist, but this recent letter made me sort of sad. If this post is serious, it begs the question: what DOES this guy actually want from his local music scene? Perhaps this post is all about evoking responses, who knows? Here is the monstrosity, followed by my editorial:

“Dear Local RVA Bands [:]
It’s no secret that Richmond isn’t really “on the map” when it comes to music. I think it has a lot to do with the quality of the local music that Richmond has and the fact that local venues that cater to music are few and far between.

Cha Cha’s Cadillac is an example of how mediocre talent, a gimmick-y genre and a boring show can still make you money in a place where music isn’t really prevalent. Rosie Soul and the Rock n Roll Cowboys are pretty much in the same boat. Strap on some devil horns, get a gimmick and have a lot of money and you’re the most popular band Richmond has right now. The Killing Daylight[s] have unmeasurable talent but they lack direction, focus and “show quality.” People’s Blues of Richmond, Snowy Owls and Black Girls are okay in the Indie Rock scene in Richmond but you see one set and the rest of the evening is predictable. Sweet Justice, Monkey Fist, 4Play and all those other bands are full of weekend warriors and are your typical cover bands. Fun for a drunken evening but then what’s the point of going back?

There are plenty of examples of Richmond music that doesn’t quite fit the bill yet every Richmond musician I have ever met has some sort of chip on their shoulder. I just don’t get it. Any other city that is musically inclined has a fuck-ton more musicians than Richmond but are humble and willing to learn new things always.

Step it up Richmond. I have to live here for a while and I want to hear better music. Especially original music.”

To this poster, I would make the following comments:

1 – Your attitude towards the local music scene says more about you and your own personal shortcomings than it does about the scene itself. It’s clear that you make little attempt to find out about other local music. Did you bother to look for websites dedicated ONLY to the new music of Richmond? Try RVA Playlist, You Hear That!, I Could Go On and On, RVA Mag, One Way Richmond… these are all blogs that go way beyond the typical bar/cover bands and focus on the creativity of music itself instead of the popularity of a band. Shoot, even and Style Weekly cover local music in depth.

2 – You named three “Richmond” bands, and the rest are from the counties. Again, this shouts that you really need to get out more and maybe use google a little. Sure, we lump a lot of the surrounding counties into the RVA scene, and we’ll take them, but you’ve got to consider the bands performing within the city limits, amiright? Have you ever tried to attend a local show at Strange Matter, the Camel, or The Nile? Have you ever gone to Balliceaux and kicked back whilst getting down? If the answer to any of the above is yes, I don’t believe you.

3 – I think everybody needs to brush up on the meaning of “indie.” Indie used to indicate that a band’s record was distributed by an independent, non-corporate record label. Now that the majority of corporate record labels are dunzo, indie hardly describes anything. So many bands are independent and kickstarted. Now people are using “indie” to denote any sort of rock that doesn’t fit a particular mold. If we go with the latter understanding, we have countless “indie rock” bands in a wide variety of music directions. Canary Oh Canary, The Milkstains, The Trillions, Goldrush, The Southern Belles, Former Champions, Gritter, James Justin & Co., Sports Bar, Lobo Marino, Navi, Machine Gun Mustache, Little Smoke, Hot Dolphin, Sacred Teachers, The Nervous Ticks, White Laces, Springtime, Close Talker, Young Adult Fiction, Heavy Midgets, Spirit Animal, WINDHAND, Houdan the Mystic, Herro Sugar… these are just bands who posted or were mentioned on facebook in the last day or so. Imagine if I composed a list of every Richmond band that posted on facebook for a month? I would run out of days.

4 – So you’re not so into the pretentious folk bands? Maybe try something else? There is a booming hip hop scene kickin’ it at major venues and small spaces; the jam bands are hot and playing every night of the week at City Dogs, Cary Street Cafe, The Republic, and Mekong; punk bands are at diy venues AND tax-code-valid venues like The Camel and Gallery 5. Metal shows get blown up at Strange Matter and there is even a classical scene powered by the Richmond Symphony. Whatever your musical side craves, there’s something out there to stoke it.

5 – Take a peek at all you missed last year – 75 original bands that compose their own music.

6 – Finally, I leave you with the words of the first responder:

“…I assure you that most [local bands] are just doing the best they can with the resources they have. Instead of highlighting their shortcomings, why not search out a band that you do enjoy, and champion them to your friends. See if you can help them build a local following. Help them pack a club and guarantee that they will always have a venue to play in. Why not help “build” a scene rather than just tearing this one down?”

By Sarah Moore Lindsey (

Marilyn Drew Necci

Marilyn Drew Necci

Former GayRVA editor-in-chief, RVA Magazine editor for print and web. Anxiety expert, proud trans woman, happily married.

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