With all the demands of being a law student, a balanced schedule should occasionally include a night out for some music!   Not only does the University of Richmond have an incredible lineup of concerts and performances each year — from the Modlin Center, to the free Global Music Series held in the Weinstein International center and other places on campus – but the city of Richmond itself is full of concert venues of all sizes booking acts of all varieties from around the world.

No matter what musical genre or style you enjoy the most, you’ll probably find it happening in Richmond (or the surrounding areas.. DC, Norfolk, Charlottesville, Williamsburg, etc).  You just need to know where to look.  Unfortunately, there’s often so much going on, that you might miss an incredible show because no one told you about it.

Below, I’ll try to create a list of a few resources to help you stay up to date on the great music events happening around the city.

First, there are websites like Bandsintown, SongKick, and EventBrite which partner with ticket companies to compile a lot of the more visible / well marketed music events scheduled around town.   These websites are not local, and they are also trying very hard to get you to install their app.  Just don’t rely solely on these types of websites because you’ll miss a lot of more underground, local stuff if you do!

More locally, you can always check the music listings in Style Weekly – one of the only weekly local news and culture papers still in print around here. RVA magazine, another local music, arts, and culture publication also is a good resource for music and events.

Some of the more “popular” venues in town include (in no particular order):

The Broadberry (on Broad and Mulberry) – featuring lots of local and international artists of all genres.
The Camel – also on Broad Street, near VCU, across from Lowe’s Hardware.  also lots of local and intl. artists…  eclectic & quirky
Capital Ale House Music Hall – a pub and restaurant with a huge selection of beer…  they also run a great music venue next door booking some very interesting international artists.

The National – medium / large venue that has been pulling in many world famous bands and performers in recent years, but also still books great local bands and events.

Kamasi Washington at the National

Gallery 5 — a non-profit art and performance space. They have art shows, they hold community forums on important topics, they do Burlesque shows, host off-beat happenings, and they also book some very cool bands and musicians.

Mdou Moctar (Tuareg guitarist from Niger) at Gallery 5

With the closing of Strange Matter this year, the town lost a very important venue that was booking a real variety of artists – punk, soul, hip hop, metal, noise, experimental, international, etc., etc. This was one of my favorite venues in town and many music fans like me were sad to hear that they were closing.  However, there are some rumors floating around that the doors might open again under new management.

Deerhoof at Strange Matter

To hear a song by every cool band or artist playing in Richmond in the next week, Mike Rutz hosts a show called Activate on WRIR every week that’s a self-described “concert calendar for your ears”.  Activate can be heard every Thursday from 5-7pm on WRIR 97.3FM or online at http://wrir.org.  During the show, DJ Mike Rutz plays a song by an artist or band, and then he tells you when and where you can hear them.  He also gives away free tickets to some of the shows he features every week.

Two of the more legendary LGBTQ spots in Richmond are Babes, and Godfreys (home of the Drag Brunch).  GayRVA is another good resource for cool stuff happening in town.

For the Goth,  there’s Fallout  although many of their events are members’ only.

And if you’re into live poetry, check out the River City Poets website.

Other venues that sometimes book music include Crossroads Coffee, The Savory Grain, Black Iris Galley, The Hofheimer, Hardywood Brewery (several other breweries around town also book music – there are lots of breweries.. maybe too many! )

There are also a lot of lesser known venues around town, but sometimes places like these will randomly book a big act — for instance, The Military Retiree’s Club on Chamberlayne Ave. booked Hip Hop legend RAKIM a couple of years ago for their New Years’ party.

Rakim at Military Retiree’s Club – Richmond – New Years Eve 2018

Don’t miss out on all the cool  events and special film screenings happening at the historic Byrd Theatre in Carytown.

Then there are local corporate venues like The Altria Theatre (formerly known as The Mosque), and The Dominion Energy Center (formerly known as the Carpenter Center / aka Center Stage)

GHOST – A Pale Tour Named Death – Dec 2018 – Dominion Energy Center

And in the road trip category —

Digable Planets – 9:30 Club

a few venues in DC (about 1.5 hour drive from Richmond):

9:30 Club

Howard Theatre

U Street Music Hall

Rock N Roll Hotel

Black Cat


Charlottesville (about 45 min drive) – check out cville and Bandsintown for listings

Baltimore (about 2 hours) – Baltimore Sound Stage

And in VA Beach (about an hour and a half), the legendary Jewish Mother has closed, but it’s been remodeled and reopened as Elevation 27.  Also in VA Beach / Norfolk  — Pharell’s upcoming “Something in The Water” festival, April 26-28,  is already generating a lot of buzz

Music Festivals in Richmond:

The Annual (October) Richmond Folk Festival — it’s a FREE, three day, international music and dance festival held on the James River  …. featuring groups and artists from around the world, plus food vendors, dance performances, cultural workshops, kids events, and more. Don’t miss it!

Innov Gnawa (Moroccan Gnawa Music) at the Richmond Folk Festival

The 2nd Street Festival – Also in October in Richmond’s historic Jackson Ward, the festival is usually headlined by a legendary soul, funk, jazz, hip hop, or Go-Go performer..  There’s also food from local restaurants and vendors, and it’s also FREE!

Next, I’ll try to list some of the incredible cultural festivals happening here in Richmond, which always include music.    One coming up on March 23 and 24 that’s always fun is called “Taste of India” and it’s one of two (or three) Indian festivals happening here every year.  Another one in September, the Festival of India is held at the Richmond Convention Center (near UR Downtown).  The Irish Festival is held every year in Church Hill – also on March 23 and 24.   The Lebanese Food Festival takes place in May every year.  The Greek Festival happens every year (May 30 this year) just down the road on Grove and Malvern.  In June, there’s the RVA Caribbean Heritage Festival. In December there’s the Capital City Kwanzaa Festival sponsored by the Elegba Folklore Society.  In January, there’s the Jewish Food Festival, also down the street at the JCC.     And there are many other culture-specific festivals held throughout the year in Richmond where you can hear music AND eat delicious food.

For classical music, and lots more, check out the Richmond Symphony website and calendar.

And don’t forget, the world renowned Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond hosts many music and theatre performances every year as well.

If you know of any other venues, events, or resources that should be featured on this blog post, please feel free to leave a comment and we will probably add it.

Unfortunately, Richmond doesn’t get every good artist on every tour… sometimes you gotta drive a little bit.

Janelle Monae – Summer Spirit Fest in Maryland


Exploring Richmond’s diverse music scene

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