Matisyahu, Infamous Stringdusters Headline A Weekend’s Worth Of Awesome Free Music At Dominion Riverrock

by | May 16, 2014 | POLITICS

This weekend marks the return of the Dominion Riverrock Festival to RVA. This “outdoor lifestyle festival” features all sorts of outdoor recreational activities along the beautiful Richmond riverfront, including biking, paddleboarding, kayaking, and even some things I’m a little uncertain about what they actually are, like bouldering and dog jumping. Anyway, all that is cool, but if you’re anything like me, it’s the three days of free outdoor music performances that catch your attention, and there’s a great mix of local and national acts performing this weekend for local music lovers at Brown’s Island.


This weekend marks the return of the Dominion Riverrock Festival to RVA. This “outdoor lifestyle festival” features all sorts of outdoor recreational activities along the beautiful Richmond riverfront, including biking, paddleboarding, kayaking, and even some things I’m a little uncertain about what they actually are, like bouldering and dog jumping. Anyway, all that is cool, but if you’re anything like me, it’s the three days of free outdoor music performances that catch your attention, and there’s a great mix of local and national acts performing this weekend for local music lovers at Brown’s Island.

Things get underway with a brief show taking place this evening, Friday May 16. The Infamous Stringdusters are your headliners tonight, and this quintet hailing from somewhere west of here in rural Central VA have been playing their unique brand of catchy bluegrass-pop tunes for around a decade now. They just released their sixth album, Let It Go, in April, and you should expect to hear a good many of the tunes they premiered on that album when they perform tonight. Here’s the title track for your listening pleasure:

And show up on time to catch Sunliner, a project of the Stringdusters’ Travis Book and his partner in singing, songwriting, and romance (the two have been married for five years), Sarah Suskind. The Grammy-nominated duo will take the stage at 6 PM tonight.

The musical main event for Dominion Riverrock will take place on Saturday, May 17, with an all-day bill headed up by Matisyahu. The reggae-rap star originally known for his devout Hasidic religious practices and his veganism as well as his mighty, mighty beard may be clean-shaven these days, but his commitment to his beliefs and his music has not faltered. Now backed by Brooklyn reggae crew Dub Trio for live performances, Matisyahu is just about to release his fifth album, Akeda, in June. A few preview tracks have made it online over the past few weeks–here’s the latest, “Broken Car”:

Matisyahu is just the beginning where Saturday’s lineup is concerned. Also on the bill will be New York’s London Souls (and why they’re named after one city but hail from another is anyone’s guess). Regardless, their up-to-date interpretation of classic rock sounds should bring joy to young and not-so-young concertgoers on Saturday night.

Saturday’s bill also includes a variety of great local RVA acts operating in all different genres. Jammed-out rock n’ rollers The Congress actually moved to Colorado a while back, but they return to their home state semi-regularly, and will surely pull out all the stops to impress their long-lost hometown crowd at Riverrock. People’s Blues Of Richmond will crank out all the dirty, soulful blues-based rock n’ roll sounds you crave when you put on a Jack White or Black Keys record, but without all the studio polish and rockstar remoteness. This band is down to earth, of the people, and ready to sing to you of the triumphs and tragedies of real working class life.

By contrast, the more sophisticated, cosmopolitan sounds of Cosby, headed up by Richmond natives and actual brothers Chip and Chris Cosby, will enliven your afternoon with pure new wave power-pop. And whatever you do, don’t sleep on the afternoon’s opener, Noah-O, who is known around the city as one of the solidest emcees in the RVA rap game. He’s just dropped his new album, Monument Avenue, and if you haven’t heard it yet, rest assured Noah-O will give you a preview tomorrow at Riverrock.

After all that, Sunday might seem like an anticlimax, but its relatively brief afternoon of music will be the perfect comedown to finish your weekend. With RVA’s own Proverbial bringing their unique mix of hip hop, jam-funk, and alt-rock to the stage, you’ll get quite the thrill to wrap up your weekend. And since they’re joined by Fredericksburg jazz fiends Elby Brass and local instrumental funk quartet Butcher Brown, you can expect a nice variety of smooth sounds to enliven your Sunday afternoon cool-down.

It’s all happening this weekend at the 2014 Dominion Riverrock Festival, taking place downtown at Brown’s Island starting Friday, May 16 at 6 PM and carrying on all weekend! For a full schedule of musical performances and start times, click here, and to hear about the full spectrum of activities taking place this weekend as part of the festival, go to dominionriverrock.com. The whole thing is free, too–can’t beat that! We’ll see you there!

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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