Free for all: Downtown tunes come cheap

Charlottesville likes free stuff. Maybe it's a flow-over from the Mecca of free stuff that is UVA, but on any given day you can probably get free food, drink, or see a show for the grand total of $0.00.

The Charlottesville Downtown Foundation ( is responsible for many of the free shows in question: in addition to throwing the weekly party known as Fridays After Five every April to early October, the group produces the yearly Dogwood Blues Festival, and the July 4 celebration at McIntire Park and the Downtown Mall, among a number of others. I decided to play into the group's hands this week, get out of the smoky bars I always end up doing my show reviews in, and go outside– specifically, downtown.

On Friday, after another day of the 9-5, I walked to the Downtown Amphitheater, enjoying the unseasonably warm weather for all that it was worth, safe in the knowledge that another free Fridays After Five awaited me. The band that played during my attendance was South Carolina's Maywater (, who was in search of a better term, "pleasant."

It's not as if the band wasn't any good; they just sounded pretty much the same as thousands of other bands across the country, that college neu-Gin Blossoms (Allison Road, etc.) sound. Sure, the group could get on the radio (don't get me started on the state of radio today), but you probably wouldn't be able to tell them from umpteen other bands that sound just like them.

On Saturday, the CDF struck again, with the annual Fall Court Days festival. I was there for the music, but I also had ample opportunity to buy the wares of many an arts and crafts merchant and get the requisite festival gyro w/funnel cake. Kimmystery (sounds a lot like Chemistry) performed while I was there, and, oh my god (OMG for you IM users), they blew my socks off.

The band, fronted by soul-singing Kim Cook, mostly played originals– songs that for the most part sounded like long-lost '70s soul hits– with a few like-covers here and there. Lead guitar, bass, drums, and a rhythm guitarist who also played some mean sax all made up a mix that sounded straight out of '60s Detroit. Originals like "Do Yourself A Favor" clenched the group's amazing hit-single worthy sound. Some of their own tunes quite truly ranked up there with the best local original music I've heard– ever.

So I saw two acts, one of which was great– for the grand total of $1.50– the cost of the 20 oz. Minute Maid Lemonade I drank on Friday. How I love this town.