2013 Fall Music Preview
While there might not be the scientific data to back up this claim, the fact of the matter is that the music scene in C'ville is like an ocean: high-energy, action-packed music moments come in waves. Charlottesville was once home to a dynamic scene of '70s ensembles; it later morphed into a sleepy little town where Dave Matthews found his calling; it went through fits and spurts of re-invention as industry moguls staked their claims on the area and ramped up the venue game; and today, the line-up for the fall season is jam-packed with must-see talent— both locally and nationally-renowned.
A huge contribution to the current wave of excitement that's engulfing Charlottesville music? The plethora of festivals on the horizon. What better place to host a weekend of music mania than the sweeping properties that pepper the surrounding areas— practically divinely created for the purpose of weekend camping, long nights of live music, and rollicking fan communities coming together. Four major festivals loom large this fall–– grand, diverse, and not-to-be-missed.
The Festy Experience
October 10 - 13
The fourth annual Festy Experience aims to be the best one yet. According to Travis Book of The Infamous Stringdusters (the Festy's founding fathers), "we're just continuing to fine-tune the experience. People can expect everything they've had in the past, but just a little bit better."
The Festy is stamped with the energy of the Stringdusters— their musical preferences, their environmental priorities, and their fans, the bulk of whom, Travis says, call Central Virginia home. A "family reunion" of sorts, the Festy is an opportunity for both the band and their fans to experience a dream festival— one the Stringdusters would love to perform at and attend.
"The goal is that at the end of the weekend, people leave and don't wish anything were any different," says Travis.
Must-sees: JJ Gray and Mofro, John Scofield, the Jon Stickley Trio—"John Scofield is an American legend," says Travis. "We're so honored to have him."
The experience: Held on the grounds of the Devils Backbone Brewery, The Festy is a full-fledged festival experience to rival the likes of Bonnaroo (Tennessee) or Coachella (California). Camping is available throughout the weekend; the festival celebrates the outdoors with the annual Blue Ridge Burn trail run (and the course for this has been revamped), yoga classes, and bike rides. As always, eco-friendly practices are at the forefront of the weekend. Between eliminating disposable cups, creating permanent power sources, adding shuttle services to eliminate excess cars, and encouraging clean camping, The Festy and the Stringdusters are hoping to create a sustainable festival experience.
To sum it up: Bluegrass, Southern rock, folk, jazz, and all-around soulful music on a stunning property with plenty of opportunity to commune with nature.
September 5 - 8
"We're just booking a show that we would like to see," says LOCKN' co-founder Dave Frey, former Blues Traveler manager who honed his festival planning chops at the HORDE festival in Richmond. Alongside fellow industry vet Peter Shapiro, Frey has put together a premiere event that celebrates a genre of music that desperately needs a festival niche around Charlottesville— the jamband.
"We're working with jammy rock bands that are somewhat more mature than they were," says Frey. "We're not trying to be all things to all people. We've got a very narrow focus and we intend to keep it that way."
Jamband favorites like the String Cheese Incident and Further top the lineup, while, of course, there are the requisite Southern rock staples (both local, like Love Canon, and national, like Widespread Panic) joining in on the two-day festival. The performances will be taking place on two adjacent stages, one band playing directly after another without interruption. It is this continuous, "interlocking" schedule that Frey hopes will set LOCKN' apart.
Must-sees: According to Frey, all of it. But, more specifically, Grace Potter, Widespread Panic, The String Cheese Incident, The Black Crowes, Punch Brothers, Love Canon, John Fogerty, Hackensaw Boys, Further, Founding Fathers
The experience: LOCKN' has the potential to be epic. With such a detailed and extensively planned-out camping set-up, a boutique food and drink experience (the craft food line-up is being managed by Ben Thompson of The Rock Barn), and all the expected extras— outdoor activities (stand-up paddle boarding, mountain biking, carved-out hiking trails), silent discos, movie screenings— this first festival experience could position it to dominate the jamband scene.
To sum it up: "This place is awesome. When people experience this place, they're going to want to come back," says Frey.
Charlottesville Chamber Music Festival
September 8 - 22
The Charlottesville Chamber Music Festival has one goal: to make classic music intriguing for all audiences. "We're trying to find the next generation of our audience," says Rebekah Brooks, the festival's executive director. "We're trying to stand out and stay current by bringing in artists that are also trying to revitalize the next generation of classical music lovers."
Showcasing some of the most talented— and most innovative— chamber musicians of our time, the festival will bounce back and forth between Grounds and the Downtown Mall.
Must-see: Jennifer Koh, James Ehnes, locals Raphael Bell and Tim Summers, and Brooklyn Rider—"They're Julliard trained, they've played with Yo Yo Ma— but they're trying to perform new works and revitalize this music, modernize chamber music. They're like a modern rock band, but with string instruments," says Brooks.
The experience: The entire festival will oscillate between great classic works— think Beethoven, Bach, Mozart— and contemporary composers. Funky, innovative instrumentation and edgy composition will be performed alongside beautiful and traditional chamber music. The Festival has taken strides to incorporate all audiences and all interests into their offerings from a free lunchtime concert (family friendly!) to sophisticated performances at The Paramount and Old Cabell Hall. Making chamber music accessible to Charlottesville is the overall goal.
To sum it up: "Usually you're not sipping beer while listening to this kind of music— but with this festival, you can," says Brooks (psst– that's happening at the Brooklyn Rider show at Live Arts!). Classical music is sexy again!
September 25 - 28
What began as a single-day experience to introduce University of Virginia students to the annual Tom Tom Founder's Festival that occurs in the spring has now morphed into a weekend of action that emulates the original festival's overall priorities: combining innovation and creativity into one conversation.
"The ultimate idea of TomTom is about people founding ideas, founding businesses, creativity. This will be one of the first times TomTom has actually put all of that into one physical space," says Paul Beyer, TomTom founder.
"At the end of the day, people to choose to live in a place because they like it," says Beyer. Which is exactly why he's so motivated to put on TomTom every year— to celebrate all aspects of creativity and innovation in Charlottesville and to encourage the continual refreshing of ideas and talent that come out of our shared space. "You like music, you like business, you like creativity, you like art… I want an event that has all these elements," he says.
Must-sees: The two major events are the Friday night block party at McGuffey featuring Erin Lunsford and more diverse, to-be-announced musical groups, and Saturday's Founders Fair at the UVA Amphitheater, which will showcase dozens of student, university, and local organizations and start-ups and feature performances by seven a cappella groups.
The experience: TomTom prides itself on creating a South by Southwest atmosphere for the East Coast. By combining business and politics with music and creativity, TomTom appeals to a wide range of attendees. In the spring, TomTom puts on events across the city— this event will put most of it in one venue, the UVA Amphitheater.
To sum it up: "Expanding Charlottesville's horizons— and one way to do that is to better assemble its pieces and get them working together," says Beyer. We couldn't have said it better ourselves.
Only in its third year, the Misty Mountain Festival at the Misty Mountain Camp Resort in Greenwood has managed to bring the best folk, bluegrass, country, and Americana in the area to this three-day extravaganza September 27-29. Hosted this year by Yankee Dixie, which combines Tara Mills folk and bluegrass sound with John Howard's punk-country and Turtle Zwadio's rock and roll to create a veritable stew of unique sounds, this is family-friendly camping event, and there will be something for all ages. Also, one of the goals of the festival is to raise money for charity. So get your tickets and reserve a campsite at 1-888-647-8900. September 27 is free, and you can get $30 day passes or $50 for the weekend.
Must-Sees: Hackensaw Boys, Sun Dried Opossum, Ashley McMillen, The Judy Chops (pictured), Red Light Rodeo, Mercy Creek, Kathryn Caine, and many more…
The experience: Held at the Misty Mountain Campground. Unlike a lot of other festivals, the camping here is built-in, and the folks at Misty Mountain have it all figured out.
To Sum it Up: Take the kids or a date or friend, and bask in nature, drink some kombucha, and behold our great folk and Americana scene.