Friday, November 26, 9 PM
Butcher Brown, Michael Millions, Chance Fischer, Teddy Belafonte @ The Camel – $15 (Order tickets HERE)
Saturday, November 27, 9 PM
Butcher Brown & Nigel Hall, Sam Reed, Kenneka Cook, Charles Owens @ The Camel – $15 (Order tickets HERE)
Folks, the holidays are here, and it’s time to give thanks. And here in Richmond, where we’ve finally been able to return to the wonderful world of live music after a year and a half of COVID-related deprivation, one of the biggest things we have to give thanks for is the amazingly talented quintet known as Butcher Brown. Last year, as summer was ending and we were heading into the worst hard time of the entire pandemic era, Butcher Brown brought their eighth release — and first with legendary jazz label Concord — #kingbutch into the world. Full of the funk, soul, hip hop, and massive helpings of jazz that we’ve all been gaining from Butcher Brown’s music for damn near a decade now, it was just what the world needed… really though, just what RVA needed. Since then, they’ve stayed productive, and followed that excellent album up with a five-song EP, Encore, released this summer and containing highlights like opener “VA Noir” and the epic jazz-funk jam “Truck Fump” (yeah, you know what that means).
After all they’ve brought to us, what more can Butcher Brown do for RVA music? Well, how about a post-Thanksgiving two-night stand at Richmond mainstay The Camel, featuring two different supporting casts, both crammed with the best the local music scene has to offer? Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? And yet, that’s exactly what we’ve got for you now. It’s going to be incredible, and you really owe it to yourself to be there. On BOTH nights.
Start out with night one, the hip hop-focused night, during which Butcher Brown will be joined by some of RVA’s most talented MCs. Michael Millions should need no introduction to RVA readers by now, but in case you haven’t heard, he’s one of the top hip hop talents this fair city has produced over the past decade, and that is no joke. Chance Fischer has lyrical skills sharp enough to slice you up without you even noticing, and Teddy Belafonte is a celebrated local wordsmith whose creativity knows no bounds. But wait, there’s more! Night two brings Butcher Brown together with Nigel Hall, celebrated organist for long-running funk group Lettuce. Hall’s recently released solo album, Spiritual, was recorded with Butcher Brown at their legendary local studio, Jellowstone. Now they’re coming back together to bring their collaboration to the world in a live format. What’s more, that second night features a murderer’s row of top local talent in the jazz, soul, and electronic music worlds, in the person of Sam Reed, Kenneka Cook, and Charles Owens. So yeah, this whole thing’s gonna be amazing. Get your tickets now, for both shows. And be sure to thank Butcher Brown very kindly for their service to the Richmond music community.
Wednesday, November 24, 8 PM
Pay Rent Brass Band, Dalton Dash @ The Camel – $10 in advance, $12 day of show (Order tickets HERE)
The night before a big holiday is always a high-pressure situation, whether you’re back at your parents’ house for the first time in nearly a year or just scrambling to get the house clean and the food options together for tomorrow’s big get-together. That’s a great reason for you to give yourself a bit of a sanity break tonight, and go see Pay Rent Brass Band and Dalton Dash bring some early holiday joy to The Camel.
Pay Rent Brass Band, who bills themselves as a six-piece brass band from Richmond that’s “just trying to pay the rent,” will be kicking back with some uplifting jazz tunes on this fine evening, and they promise that their set will feature music from classic holiday special “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.” Seems to me that that’s reason enough to go, right there. But of course, we also have Dalton Dash on the bill, and this Radford-birthed bluegrass/folk ensemble have been proving themselves as bringers of musical delights around RVA for quite a few years now. This evening of tuneage is sure to unkink your spine a little bit, just in time for Thanksgiving. And who doesn’t need that?
Friday, November 26, 7 PM
North By North, Lightmare, Spacemere, Ten Pound Snail @ Fuzzy Cactus – $10
The holidays are stressful, aren’t they? Sometimes it seems like every passing day brings a new source for anxiety. For example, this week — Wednesday night, you’ll be stressing about getting everything ready for the big event on Thursday. On Thursday, you’ll be stressing about which of your relatives is going to say something terrible to you first, and/or which one is going to get sloppy early and have to be babysat all night until they sober up around 1 AM. And on Friday, whether you’re a retail worker or just an ordinary person with Christmas shopping to do, the whole outside world is going to be a bit difficult to hack.
Wait, did I say the whole outside world? I was lying, because there is one place you’ll find a home in the outside world Friday night, especially if you’re a diehard fan of garage rock. That place is Fuzzy Cactus, Richmond’s home for wild n’ crazy rock n’ roll since back before the pandemic forced us all to spend a year and a half avoiding all indoor live performances (boo). This Friday night, Fuzzy’s bringing us a killer set from Chicago rock n’ roll duo North By North, whose 2020 LP, Get Real, got totally upstaged by COVID but was nonetheless an incredible slab of danceable retro-psych fun. If you were too busy buying hand sanitizer to pick up on it at the time, well, now’s your chance. You’ll get a bonus treat of a co-headlining set by DC soul-punk ensemble Lightmare, who only last month brought their excellent second album, Dirt, into the world — so if you like your danceable rock n’ roll sounds to be properly horn-infused, Lightmare’s got you covered. Come out and dance your cares away.
Saturday, November 27, 7 PM
Taylor McCall @ Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House – $15 in advance, $20 day of show (order tickets HERE)
If you’re a fan of moody, electrified Americana sounds — and hey, who isn’t? — this is a show for you. South Carolina native Taylor McCall is a young singer-songwriter with a skill for cranking out spooky musical tales that cut to the heart of the dark underbelly of the South. McCall shows off his talent on his second album, the just-released Black Powder Soul, which gets downright swampy on tunes like “Hell’s Half Acre” and the nine-minute slide-guitar epic “Lucifer.”
All sorts of ingredients have gone into McCall’s musical mix, from Led Zeppelin and the Drive-By Truckers to John Lee Hooker and Gary Clark Jr. The result is pure gold, and if you love the sort of gritty, distorted blues sounds The Black Keys were dishing out back before they went commercial and lost track of their soul (yeah, I said it), Taylor McCall’s a musician to whom you should be listening closely. Make it happen this Saturday night at Capital Ale House’s Richmond Music Hall. You won’t be sorry.
Sunday, November 28, 8 PM
Bats, Jason Jamal, Ethanol @ The Camel – $6 in advance, $10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Now, when you say “bats” to me in context of a musical artist, my brain goes to THE Bats, the long-running indie-pop group from New Zealand. But that’s just because I’m an old lady. If you’re young, hip, and up with the times, you know Bats (no “the”) is a musical project headed up by Tennessee songwriter Jess Awh. And you can probably also guess that the show Jess and her Bats are headlining at The Camel this Sunday is a Citrus City production, considering that Citrus City released the cassette version of Bats’ spring 2020 LP, There’s A River Up High. And of course, considering that it came out only weeks before the pandemic descended upon us all, this is probably Bats’ first chance to come to Richmond and celebrate its release with a live show. So hey, let’s make up for lost time, shall we?
This show features two other artists with connections to local labels as well. Richmond classical trombonist turned R&B singer Jason Jamal released an EP called Sweet this summer on Grimalkin Records, and it’s full of excellent smooth sounds that incorporate both his horn-section experience and his excellent singing voice. Meanwhile, Ethanol is another Richmonder (real name Ethan Rozario), who you may know from the band Teenage Cenobite. Under the name Ethanol, he dabbles extensively in synth-pop, ambient/experimental textures, and electronic sounds. Ethanol’s 2019 album, Meet People And Learn, was reissued on cassette by Citrus City in April of 2020… so again, this might just be the first chance Ethanol and Citrus City have had to get together and celebrate this release with a live performance. Glory in the sounds of all of these artists, and the pure fact that they can now perform them for you with far less risk of exposing us all to a deadly contagion at The Camel this Sunday night.
Monday, November 29, 8 PM
An Unthemed Rap Show For No Reason With No Theme by Secret Bonus Level, feat. Tribe 95, I Am I Collective, Melodic, TMA, Cane, Sap Evans, Eliturite, Sons Of Ichibei @ The Camel – $7 in advance, $10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
If you’re interested in the less straightforward, more creatively offbeat sounds currently being created within the realm of Virginia hip hop, Secret Bonus Level is a name you need to pay close attention to. The brainchild of Noah Page, Secret Bonus Level brings eclectic bills full of a wide variety of VA-based hip hop sounds and always featuring an LGBTQ presence to venues around Richmond on a regular basis. This is Noah’s latest endeavor, and unlike many of the other Secret Bonus Level shows you might see around, this one takes great pains to let you know that it has no theme. However, it does have a ton of great music on the bill… and isn’t that all you could really ask for?
Let’s talk about exactly who you’ll be seeing at The Camel on Monday night, starting with Tribe 95, probably the most noteworthy artist on this bill, at least if you’re a big fan of Richmond’s indie hip hop scene. This group brings together a bunch of artists associated with Citrus City Records, including Ty Sorrell [who, we have received word, will not be performing Monday night], Clwdwlker, Billy Capricorn, Luther, and Tron Javolta [all of whom, we have been informed, will be performing]. They’ll be doing an ensemble set consisting of group pieces as well as songs you know from their respective solo careers, and that should certainly be plentiful enticement for attendance right there. But the show also features Eliturite, a Gritty City affiliate who helms the community-support organization HearRVA and will be performing tracks from his forthcoming Ant The Symbol-produced project. And then there’s Charlottesville’s Sons Of Ichibei, a duo consisting of illustrious hustlers Remy St. Clair and Fellowman, who’ve gotten a lot done for hip hop in VA over the past few years — as well as bringing us all some really great music. There’s way more in store for you too, from Petersburg-based raw street-level rapper TMA to Richmond hip hop veteran Cane, as well as local up-and-comer Melodic and RVA hip hop supergroup I Am I Collective. If you really want to know the score, though, this blurb is nothing compared to what you’ll take in by being there. So hey… be there.
Tuesday, November 30, 7 PM
Heartracer, Saint Samuel @ The Camel – $5 in advance, $10 day of show (order tickets HERE)
Everybody needs a strong dose of upbeat 80s-style pop music every now and then to lift their spirits and get their feet moving. And for years now, Richmond has been getting our dose of that sound from Heartracer, a group led by brothers Chip and Chris Cosby. They’ve been keeping it low-key over the past year and a half — hiding out from the pandemic, as you do — but they’ve kept the music coming in digital form even as all of us were trapped inside our houses begging for new tunes to dance to. Now, with their first live performance in well over a year, Heartracer will give us all a chance to enjoy their latest catchy tunes, including “Reverence,” “Sound Of Fear,” “Better Off,” and more, without having to hear them through tiny earbuds or tinny laptop speakers.
They’re not alone, either — they have fellow Richmond pop hitmakers Saint Samuel along with them for this Tuesday night showcase of local pop excellence. This four-piece group just released a new single of their own, and “Such A Saint” would fit right in on any playlist of 80s magic by groups like Duran Duran and the Psychedelic Furs. Their appearance earlier this month on an Hourglass Sessions livestream shows that this quartet can deliver the goods live, too — and it’s sure to be a lot more enjoyable when you don’t have to watch them do so through your phone. So hey, come to the Camel this Tuesday night and enjoy your booster shot of pure pop.
Email me if you’ve got any tips for me about upcoming shows (that take place after the week this column covers -– this week’s column has obviously already been written): [email protected]com
Top Photo: Butcher Brown, by Jacob Blick