The first-ever Daydream Fest comes to Richmond this Memorial Day, May 30, at Main Line Brewery. The all-day event features a stacked lineup of Richmond-based heavy hitters from a variety of genres. We spoke to Pete LeBlanc (Baripete Productions) and Zavi Yueske (PRSMCAT Presents) to get the full lowdown, including details on a special surprise guest!
How are you spending your Memorial Day this year? I know, there are all sorts of traditions — hitting Hadad’s Lake or the local pool, grilling out in the backyard… all the classics. But this year, local promoters Baripete Productions and PRSMCAT Presents hope to kick off a new Memorial Day tradition here in Richmond with the inaugural Daydream Fest, taking place at Main Line Brewery on Monday, May 30, starting at 11 AM and lasting all day!
With the stated goal of “distract[ing] you from the present in the best way possible,” the all-day outdoor party that is Daydream Fest is a great antidote to the lingering pandemic malaise that so many of us still feel. But to Baripete Productions’ Pete LeBlanc, this is a natural progression from what Baripete and PRSMCAT were doing before the pandemic so rudely disrupted the live music scene in Richmond.
“I’ve wanted to do something big that brings musicians together, without a set theme,” he said. “Which is hard to do, because the genres don’t really cross over. I don’t know that it wouldn’t work, it’s just that no one really tries it.”
This desire to bring together multiple genres and communities from around the city to interact with each other and have a great time together is one that unites LeBlanc and PRSMCAT’s Zavi Yueske. “We just really wanted to try something else,” he said. “I think there’s a huge scene here of different types of people, and we really wanted to offer something that was kind of new, that people haven’t experienced before.”
To that end, the two of them each used their connections to put together a dozen-band lineup that features top-notch acts from many different corners of the Richmond scene. Butcher Brown’s much-beloved soul-jazz sound shares top billing with indie/alternative rock supergroup Palm Palm, and support acts range from buzzworthy blues-rockers Justin Golden & The Come Up to the charming indie-pop of Abby Huston to the math-rock intricacies of Night Idea. The lineup is rounded out by a variety of RVA luminaries, including Spooky Cool, Deau Eyes, Weekend Plans, Free Union, Good Dog Nigel, DEADSUN, and Piranha Rama.
These aren’t necessarily bands you’d expect to see grouped together, but to LeBlanc, the eclectic nature of the bill just reflects how music fans actually listen. “I deal with almost any genre of music, as long as I see value in the content, you know?” he said. “I think every band, across the board, on the bill is putting out really genuine stuff that speaks and is gonna last. It’s not just a fad.”
Besides, Richmond is a pretty small scene. Let’s be real — all these bands know each other. “They might not play together all the time, but they’re always one degree away from each other. They might have a practice space together,” said Yueske. “That’s why you look at the lineup and it feels natural. You can see all these people together.”
While LeBlanc and Yueske haven’t officially worked together before Daydream Fest, they’ve known each other for years. “We started crossing paths when we were booking shows at Poor Boys,” said Yueske, referring to the sadly defunct restaurant that occupied the long-running space at 207 N. Lombardy St (previous home of Bogart’s, Balliceaux, and Flora).
LeBlanc picks up the thread of the tale. “We started meeting together with the management of Poor Boys,” he said. “I had a little more experience dealing with club owners. I remember that first meeting,” he laughs and turns to Yueske, “You were kinda like ‘Did you just say that to that guy?'” They both crack up. “I had been running the Dark Room [at The Hofheimer] for about a year and a half at that point,” LeBlanc explains. “I don’t beat around the bush anymore, you know?”
With the pandemic putting the kibosh on shows at Poor Boys — and, eventually, the restaurant itself — LeBlanc had to find other places to host live music. The first place he found, back in late 2020 when it was still hard to book events anywhere, was Brambly Park Winery. “That was really fortunate for post-lockdown, because it’s a big, expansive park,” he explained. “With the sit-down shows we had to do in the second half of 2020, the tables had to be six feet apart and ten feet from the performer, which is pretty hard to do in any indoor spaces.” During that period, he said, “Brambly kept it going.”
Finding new places to host shows is important for both LeBlanc and Yueske. The pandemic slowdown had a negative impact for a lot of businesses, but the problems really began even before COVID-19 came on the scene. “Over the past few years we’ve lost a lot of venues, and a lot of things ended in Richmond,” said Yueske. “As a musician here, it’s weird now. Even house shows are going away a bit. So we’re just looking for new venues and new ideas for how to keep the scene thriving. Because there are so many bands. There are so many people that want to play. I think it’s been great to link up and make the scene as good as it can be.”
In addition to LeBlanc’s ongoing work at Brambly Park and The Dark Room, both LeBlanc and Yueske have been booking shows at Black Iris Social Club on a regular basis. “Black Iris was doing some shows before the pandemic,” said Yueske, “but I think [with] Pete and I going in and taking over the space with a lot of booking, it’s definitely become a thriving venue, which wasn’t there before.”
And then there’s Main Line Brewery. If you’re a live music fan in Richmond, you might have been to a show there. Then again, you might not have. As LeBlanc explains, the business model for Main Line isn’t focused on live music. “They feel like they get a good flow of people in and out. They’re really close to Hardywood, right off of Ownby, and they don’t want to have a cover and have people not come in because they don’t care about the show. So that’s why they have a lot of smaller acts, and the music’s kind of secondary.”
Based on the plans for Daydream Fest, though, it seems likely that a lot more Richmond music heads are going to be aware of Main Line Brewery after Memorial Day. Their outdoor stage area is sure to impress a lot of people. “It’s expansive,” said LeBlanc. “I’ve never done anything that pushes capacity there… but I’m excited to see the outdoor reach expands to. I think it holds two to three thousand.”
“We’re not trying to sell nearly that many tickets,” he quickly added. “Baby steps.”
Regardless of how many tickets get sold, one thing’s for sure: those who show up to Daydream Fest on Memorial Day are going to get a heck of a treat. Not just because of the music, either — Baripete and PRSMCAT have big plans. “We’re gonna have food vendors, so there’ll be food,” said LeBlanc. “There’s plenty to drink. They make their own beer there, and Cirrus vodka distillery is on the property.”
“In addition to all the bands that are playing, we’ll have an entire area with people vending,” Yueske chimes in. “Selling their art, selling prints, vintage clothing, new clothing…”
“We’re shooting for about 30 to 50 people vending on site, so there’ll be a lot of different wares,” LeBlanc finished.
In addition to all of this, there’s a special musical treat that everyone coming to Daydream Fest can look forward to — one involving Butcher Brown. I had heard hints, so I had to ask: guys, what’s the big surprise?
“Charlie Hunter is going to be playing guitar with Butcher Brown,” said LeBlanc, going on to explain that Butcher Brown’s usual guitarist, Morgan Burrs, will be on tour with Swedish singer Snoh Aalegra’s band. For those who don’t know, Hunter is not just some ordinary fill-in guitarist. Known for his seven- and eight-string hybrid guitars, which allow him to simultaneously play bass lines, melodies, and rhythm guitar chords, Hunter has gained a great deal of fame in the jazz world over the course of his 30-year career. In addition to his extensive solo catalog and his role as co-founder of jazz fusion group Garage A Trois, Hunter has played with Michael Franti’s Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy, and appeared on three songs from D’Angelo’s classic album, Voodoo. So yeah, he’s a certified jazz guitar legend.
How’d a guy like Charlie Hunter end up playing with Butcher Brown? “Andrew Randazzo, the bass player for Butcher Brown, plays the hybrid as well, inspired by Charlie,” LeBlanc explained. “Him and Charlie linked up, and they did one of the Mothership Mondays Butcher Brown did during lockdown. The connection was made.” That connection soon led to Butcher Brown’s DJ Harrison and Corey Fonville being brought in to perform alongside Hunter and Grammy-winning jazz vocalist Kurt Elling on Elling’s 2021 album, SuperBlue — which was also nominated for a Grammy.
To make the Richmond connection even stronger, the SuperBlue quartet — Elling, Hunter, Harrison, and Fonville — performed live together for the first time at The Hofheimer in 2021. When the show needed to be booked, it was LeBlanc who got the call. “When that came together and was proposed to me, I was [blown away],” said LeBlanc. “Like, ‘What’s [Elling] gonna need?’ I’m just a little one man operation, and this guy’s famous all over the world!”
Needless to say, the show was a huge success, and LeBlanc hopes to replicate it with Butcher Brown’s headlining set at Daydream Fest. “It’s really exciting,” he said. “People will probably talk about it forever, so hopefully we’ll get a really good recording.”
LeBlanc and Yueske are excited for everything about Daydream Fest, in fact. “I know all the bands are excited, and Pete and I are too,” said Yueske. “This couldn’t be going any better right now.”
LeBlanc agrees. “It’s gonna be a great summer.”
Daydream Fest will take place at Main Line Brewery, located at 1603 Ownby Lane, on Monday May 30. Doors open at 11 AM. Tickets are $20 in advance, $30 at the door, and can be ordered by clicking HERE.
Top Photo: Palm Palm