Making the scene
"I'm not a fan of 'scenes' becoming more important than the music itself," said local guitarist Rick Olivarez in our
2013 music issue, "where people go to see and be seen and have no care about the art being created.
"I don't think I would be too thrilled if there was a so-called 'Charlottesville music scene,'" he says. "Just look what happened to the Seattle, Chapel Hill, and Austin scenes. In the end, I think it's probably best to just go out and support some live music."
Indeed, on any given night in this town there are plenty of music "scenes" to check out. Just keep it real, People!
So, who's hot?
Heavies weigh in on who to listen to
While jazz trumpeter John D'earth says he "does jazz" he also has an interest in seeing musicians of different persuasions simply playing together, especially young student musicians. As far as acts to watch, D'earth says he's more focused on individual musicians, but he does want to mention a quartet of "extremely gifted teenagers." That would be pianist/saxophonist Garen Dorsey, pianist/trumpeter Austin Patterson, bassist Kevin Eichenburger, and drummer/composer Daniel Richardson.
Other acts that capture D'earth's imagination: "Rick Olivarez Trio; the Mike Rosensky/Jeff Decker Quartet Wednesdays at Miller's, anything pianist Hod O'Brien does (he's a national treasure), anything Art Wheeler does (he's an intergalactic treasure), a new band called Quiet Fire, led by bassist Dhara Goradia, [for which D'earth plays], singer/songwriter Peyton Tochterman, and singer/songwriter Genna Matthews." "But, of course, we have a ton of gifted singer/songwriters," says D'earth. "Apologies to all the awesome players and writers I forgot to mention."
"There's a few bands I've worked with recently who I feel are going for the gold," says promoter Jayon Falsini. "Some names that come to mind are the Southern Belles, a Zappa-esque jam rock act who host a monthly residency at Rapture." Falsini calls them an "incredible band" who know how to write great original tunes.
Falsini also mentions Double Faces, a Gogo band he works with over at the Main Street Annex regularly.
"They've been working hard and growing their repertoire and getting a lot of love from their hometown," says Falsini.
He also says that Erin Lunsford and the Smokey Bandits is a name you might start seeing around more often, one with a "wonderfully soulful female lead."
"There's actually a lot of really great female singers who've popped up locally," says Falsini, mentioning Larissa Moore and Brianna Litman. "I could go on and on. This city, heck this whole region is flush with talent. Don't even get me started about Richmond and the surrounding counties."
"For sure The Invisible Hand," say Rick Olivarez, "Adam Smith's song writing is so, so creative and he references bands like The Kinks while at the same time has his own thing going on, very, very cool!"
Olivarez says he'd also mention Borrowed Beams Of Light, "because again, so creative and that's really the most important thing."
And lastly, Olivarez singles out Corsair, who began playing together in 2007 in C-ville's annual Black Sabbath Halloween tribute band, Mass Sabbath.
"Just because they rock so hard," says Olivarez.
Check out these great music venues:
The Jefferson Theater: Now in its centennial year of entertaining Charlottesville, the Jeff plays host to some of the hottest acts to roll through town. With slanted floor for sweet sight-lines, plus two bars and two balconies, the renovated-in-2009 Jeff has become a local favorite. 110 East Main St. 245-4980.
Rapture: Rapturians usually prefer DJs to live musicians, but if a band really means business, they'll be able to work their way into the back room. Downtown Mall. 303 E. Main St. 293-9526.
John Paul Jones Arena: In addition to being the toast of the sports world, UVA's 16,000-seat arena brings the legends to town for oversize shows (Red Hot Chili Peppers, DMB, Elton John, Kenny Chesney, and Mama Mia) to draw fans from all over the state. Budget a few extra minutes to drive away once the show's over. 295 Massie Road, near Barracks Road. 883-JPJ-TIXS. Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar: Two years before you heard about them, your favorite indie rock and experimental bands probably performed in this cozy, hookah smoke-filled establishment. 414 E. Main St. Downtown Mall. 293-9947.
nTelos Wireless Pavilion: The biggest shows of the summer, without exception, are always at the nTelos Wireless Pavilion, the large outdoor amphitheater at the east end of the Mall. Recent standouts include Bonnie Raitt and Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers. Downtown Mall. 434-245-4910.
The Paramount Theater: If you want to impress your parents next time they visit, take them here to see the likes of Joan Baez, Peter Frampton, and– most recently– Kris Kristofferson in the classiest venue in town. 215 E. Main St. Downtown Mall. 979-1922.
Bashir's Taverna: Another eatery that dips its toe into the venue game only casually, but it's the place to go if you want to see any of the local jazz guitar wizards take the spotlight– or some exotic belly dancers take the stage. 507 E. Main St. Downtown Mall. 923-0927.
Coupe DeVille's: This Corner establishment is a clear student favorite, where locals will often cut their teeth alongside bands on shoestring tours. 9 Elliewood Ave. 977-3966.
The Pigeon Hole: Like nearby Coupe's, this place is small, but it opts for more modern music on its terrace facing Elliewood Avenue. (Even if the Old-timers still call it Martha's.) On the Corner. 977-4711
Fellini's #9: An award-winning historic restoration made this old house one of the most eclectic little music venues in town. Anchored Sundays by the Hogwaller Ramblers. 201 W. Market St. 979-4279.
Old Cabell Hall: As expected, UVA is the nexus of Charlottesville's academic musicians; but touring artists, such as A Fine Frenzy two years ago, may appear. The Lawn. 924-3984.
The Southern: Home of quirky rock, acoustic folk, and a wild array of local and touring artists. 103 First St. NE. Downtown Mall. 977-5590.
Miller's: Tourists know that the helmsman of Dave Matthews Band may have been launched from this downtown institution, but the main attraction remains the Wednesday and Thursday night jazz. Downtown Mall. 971-8511.
The Garage: Hands-down the smallest musical venue in Charlottesville and maybe the world. An old garage perched facing the western side of Lee Park, it really blossomed this year with recent performances by Hello Rocco and Love Banshee.
More classical listings
Ash Lawn Opera : When the weather gets warm, you can cool off inside the Paramount Theater (2012 was the 4th season inside) with the professionals who perform opera and musical theater. 293-4500
Charlottesville Chamber Music Festival : Annual series of five chamber music concerts featuring musicians of international stature. September 9-23, at Old Cabell Hall and the Paramount. 295-5395.
Charlottesville & University Symphony Orchestra : Performs in Cabell Hall throughout the school year. Tickets to individual concerts via the UVA Box Office. All seats reserved. 434.924.3376
McIntire Department of Music: Concerts throughout the academic year, including our favorite, jazz-playin' Free Bridge Quintet. Old Cabell Hall. 434.924.3376
The Municipal Band of Charlottesville : Doing everything from folk and opera to classical and big band for over 80 years, it's the official band of Charlottesville. Every summer, these guys and gals come out of nowhere to make the Downtown Mall pulse with excitement. 295-9850
Oratorio Society of Charlottesville-Albemarle : Setting the standard for choral excellence. Performs throughout the year at beautiful and iconic venues: the Paramount, Old Cabell Hall, the First Presbyterian Church. 295-4385.
Tuesday Evening Concert Series: Internationally renowned musicians give performances in Old Cabell Hall. The 2012-13 season seven acts include the Salzburg Chamber Soloists and the Pavel Haas Quartet. Shows begin at 8pm. $5-33. 244-9505
The Virginia Consort : A choral group that performs nearly year round at various locations in the area. 244-8444