Music Mapping: Richmond, VA
Welcome to Music Mapping. With your help, The Music Mermaid is going worldwide to shine a spotlight on local music scenes that deserve a little love. All you have to do is tell us where we should map next and we’ll do the rest.
First up? Richmond, VA.
Our very first nomination comes from Ethan, an avid music lover based a few hours outside of Richmond. That’s how good the scene is apparently — if he’s not at work, chances are Ethan’s traveling once or twice a week over there to catch some live music.
Music Mapping with Ethan
What makes Richmond so awesome for music? Great mix of small and DIY local venues — and a lot of solid, local bands to fill them.
What genre is most often represented in the scene? Rock!
Who should we listen to in Richmond? Eaves, Colin Phils, Downhaul, Inthewater, Dens, Toxic Moxie, and Ashley Wilda
What else should we know about the scene? There's a small label called Blood and Ink in Richmond, but I don't think any of their current bands are from the city. [Editor’s note: Looks like Blood & Ink’s roster is all over the map — seriously. Though they are based in Richmond, they boast hardcore and metal artists from Colorado to Indiana to Florida and so on. Pretty cool!]
Music Mapping with The Music Mermaid
A few weeks ago, Forbes wrote up an op-ed on why Richmond is a totally underrated scene for music. Like author Isis Briones says, “The energy is effortlessly unique and contagious without being overwhelming.” Maybe when you think of bustling music hubs, your mind goes straight to Nashville or Los Angeles, but in Richmond, there’s a community of hard-working, connected, creative folks whose mission it is to bring good music into Richmond and to bring Richmond’s own talent to the rest of the world. With labels like Grimalkin Records and Citrus City fostering both local and national artists, Richmond is in good hands. With artists like Eaves and Natalie Prass, Richmond is among good sound.
Though Richmond’s scene is saturated by a spectrum of rock — Eaves offer the post-hardcore flavor, Patrick Bates dabbles in angst, and Deau Eyes brings rollicking retro-rock to the forefront — it’s also got a ton of other great genres represented. Thanks to small tape label Citrus City Records’ discovery and nurture efforts, we’ve got the smacking, shimmering feel-good tunes of disco artist Shormey and the buzzing brass-infused hip-hop of McKinley Dixon. With Grimalkin Records, founder Nancy Kells works tirelessly to develop a safe and creative collective home to queer, women / WOC, trans men, non-binary, non-gender conforming, and agender artists — the thing about Grimalkin, though, is it isn’t genre-focused, so the result is a roster that includes Nancy’s own experimental dream-pop project Spartan Jet-Plex, folk-rock singer-songwriter Elizabeth Owens, and a whole lot more.
One of the coolest initiatives we’ve come across researching Richmond is Good Day RVA, a non-profit collective of local filmmakers and artists who collaborate to produce videos showcasing the diverse musicianship of Richmond. Hosting showcases, partnering with festivals, and fighting for social justice, Good Day RVA helps to unite Richmond’s creative community in exciting, thoughtful ways.
We curated an extra special playlist of some awesome Richmond (and Richmond-adjacent) artists we’re loving so keep scrolling to dive into that, but if you care, here’s a shout-out to the standout tracks on the playlist…
“Boogie Island” by Shormey: The title track off Shormey’s newest EP, Boogie Tape Vol. 1, “Boogie Island” is a hypnotic wall of sound buzzing with neon synth and groovy 70s flavor.
“Like You! (Yes, You)” by Alfred.: On their debut album, Alfred. deliver a wildly impressive selection of shadowy hip-hop anthems, but this track specifically proves they’re a wordsmith. A magician of sound. An experimental genius.
“I Will” by Camp Howard: “I Will” by indie-rock outfit Camp Howard is a dreamy foray into the band’s careful treatment of searing multi-instrumental unity.
“Everybody’s Got Somebody” by Prabir & The Substitutes: A sparkling smash from the get-go, this 2008 tune is one of those in-your-face singalongs begging for attention — and it gets it because it’s so. fucking. good.
“I’m Asking You” by The Cinnamon Band: This track from The Cinnamon Band sounds so much bigger than its two members. There’s depth and flavor to it, rocking but twangy, a song that’ll have you fooled into thinking it’s from a full-band setup.
“Pay Me No Mind” by Hound Heart: Alt-folk duo Hound Heart dropped a beautiful debut EP recently featuring this song decked out in dark energy, rapid acoustic strums, and howled harmonies.
“Katie” by Benjamin Shepherd: Expertly merging his twangy Nashville roots with Northern indie-rock vibes, singer-songwriter Benjamin Shepherd delivers a rollicking ode to “Katie.”
“Honey Waits” by Keilan Creech: The title track off Keilan’s debut record, “Honey Waits” feels like dusk settling over your skin, chilled by a hint of wind but still basking in the residue of golden hour. It’s lovely in so many ways.
“Feel Good” by Peter $un + Blue Rondo: Rapper Peter $un spits clever wordplay over a slinking, vibe-y arrangement of quick drum pad beats and thumping hip-hop bumps looming out of the foreground on “Feel Good.”
“Paper Stickers” by Deau Eyes: Every once in a while there’s a song that grabs you hard and fast — for us, it’s “Paper Stickers,” the punchy, blistering single from indie rocker Deau Eyes. It’s a sheer force of high-powered rock genius sweetened by an amber voice.
We’re getting to know these scenes along with you, so if you want to learn more from the people who can tell it best, check out rvamusicscene, a blog that posts editorial interviews and podcast episodes chatting with local Richmond musicians!
Dive into the Richmond, VA scene.
P.S. If you have a local scene you want us to spotlight, let us know right here!