RVA #28 SPRING 2017

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R. Anthony Harris + Jeremy Parker FOUNDERS Inkwell PUBLISHER John Reinhold PRESIDENT AMANDOO CREATIVE DIRECTOR Doug Nunnally PRINT EDITOR Brad Kutner WEB EDITOR, RVAMAG.COM & GAYRVA.COM Amy David ASSISTANT WEB EDITOR John Reinhold ADVERTISING WRITERS Shannon Cleary, Doug Nunnally, Joseph Genest, Cody Endres, Laura Confer, Davy Jones, Jill Smith, Drew Necci, Emilie Von Unwerth, Amy David, Robert J. Sodaro & R. Anthony Harris PHOTOGRAPHY Christian Hewitt, Craig Zirpolo, Joey Wharton, Robert Escue & Dennis Williford INTERNS Gregory Rosenberg, Gabriella Lacombe, Katherine Mendes, Charlotte Woods, Tico Noise & Ren Martinez hello@rvamag.com GENERAL, EDITORIAL & DISTRIBUTION ADVERTISING JOHN REINHOLD 276 732 3410 john@rvamag.com SUBMISSION POLICY RVA Magazine welcomes submissions but cannot be held responsible for unsolicited material. Send all submissions to hello@rvamag.com All submissions become property of Inkwell Ventures Inc. The entire content is a copyright of Inkwell Ventures Inc. and cannot be reproduced in whole or in part without written authorization of the publisher. ONLINE Every issue of RVA Magazine can be viewed in its entirety anytime at rvamag.com/magazine. SOCIAL @RVAmag SUBSCRIPTION Log onto rvamag.com/magazine to have RVA Magazine sent to your home or office. DISTRIBUTION Thank you to our distribution partners Richmond limousine & QUICKNESS RVA HEADS UP! The advertising and articles appearing within this publication reflect the opinion and attitudes of their respective authors and not necessarily those of the publisher or editors. Reproduction in whole or part without prior written permission from the publisher is strictly prohibited. RVA Magazine is published quarterly. Images are subject to being altered from their original format. All material within this magazine is protected. RVA Magazine is a registered trademark of Inkwell Ventures. RVA Magazine is printed locally by Conquest Graphics cover & Credits page by STUNTKID





Plan 9 Records, Agee’s Bicycles, New York Deli, Portrait House, Don’t Look Back, Chop Suey Books, Heroes & Ghosts, Weezie’s Kitchen, Ellwoood Thompsons, Need Supply Co., World of Mirth, Bits N Pixels, Tobacco Club & Gifts, Venue Skateboards


Gallery 5, 1708 Gallery, Turnstyle Velocity Comics, Monument, Utmost Round Two, Steady Sounds/Bare Bones Vintage, Lift Coffee, Quirk Hotel, Sabai


Pasture, Barcode, Tobacco Company Bottom’s Up, Kulture, Alamo BBQ, Legends, Plant Zero Cafe, Cha Cha’s Cantina, Urban Farmhouse, Manchester Market, Union Market, Mbargo, Frame Nation


ALB Tech, Strange Matter, Lamplighter VCU, Kulture, 821 Cafe, Fan Guitar & Ukulele, Ipanema, The Village, Mojo’s, Rumors


VMFA, Bandito’s Burrito Lounge, Black Hand Coffee, The Franklin Inn, Cleveland Market, Patterson Express


Bellytimber, Commerical Taphouse, FW Sullivan’s, Lady Nawlins, Foo Dog, Cask Cafe, Harvest Market, Star-lite Lounge, Fan Noodle Bar, Deep Grooves, Capitol Mac, Katra Gala, Sticky Rice, Stikcy ToGo, Joe’s Inn, Strawberry Street Market, Little Mexico, The Camel, Lamplighter, Balliceaux, Helen’s, Metro Grill, Yesterday’s Heroes


NIssan Of Richmond, Su Casa, Mekong, Taboo, The Answer, Diamond Direct Guitar Center


The Broadberry, En Su Boca, Buz & Ned’s BBQ,, Smoke and Mirrors, Lunch.Supper, Ardent, Salon, Hardywood, The Veil


The MIll, Stir Crazy Coffee



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SLEEP Follow us @RVAmag Top: @thattallchick, @joey_wharton, @michaelgrabow Second Line: @_russ.c.bates, @ keithblvck, @_h_u_m_b_l_e Third Line: @shutterpoltergeist, @irongreaganofficial Bottom: @rvamag, @r_deneff OPPOSITE PAGE Top: @erinclair, @r_deneff, @rvamag Second Line: @thatkidshoots, @ nick_aytche_photos, @thatkidshoots Third Line: @joey_wharton, @ _raspy_, @dirtydirtkid Bottom: @joey_wharton, @casual_ thinker, @foulperalta DON’T SLEEP -- tag us @RVAmag 12





ATTA GIRL, “26 DUNE” BETTY’S BEGONIA, TRRRASH Driving melody, spastic vocals, jangly guitars, random modulation, and even soothing harmonies. You get all of this -- and a lot more, trust me -- on the lead track from Atta Girl's latest EP, a song that might just be the strongest of the group's growing catalog. Like their past work, it beautifully harkens back to origins of twee where the fledgling genre was more about rough and ragged charm than polished and sugary sweetness. Vocalist RM is brash and sincere in her delivery, something that instantly sets Atta Girl apart and makes their sound instantly fresh and modern despite the classic C86 comparisons. -- Doug Nunnally

BIG KAHUNA OG & GRAYMATTER, “CATASTROPHIC INVENTIONS” CATASTROPHIC INVENTIONS VOLUME ONE, BANDCAMP The title track to the duo's latest collaboration boldly flaunts the musical relationship the two Mutant Academy members share, with rhymes that perfectly flows alongside a twinkling, melodic loop.. A modest offering at a little over three minutes, the song is actually the longest of the concise, new release, a surprise considering how restrained it feels at times. But that restraint allows the groove and lyrics to instantly engulf the listener, who will undoubtedly desire more music from the duo which hopefully comes sooner than later. -- Doug Nunnally


The first single from the Dr. Dog drummer is quite a doozy, even by the lofty standards his new label Egghunt Records have built over the last few years. In a recent interview, he touched down on the meditative theme of the record, something that can be instantly felt on this song with its circular background that has hints of George Harrison -- that is if George Harrison ever went with a fuzzed out wall of sound. As you progress through the song, you'll see how Slick utilizes that wall of sound to his benefit with elements becoming lost before found again in the mix, much like a moment of clarity one seeks out in meditation. -- Doug Nunnally


STUDIO NEWS Bad news, good news situation for fans of local band Venus Guytrap. The trio has currently gone on break, something they labelled as indefinite in a social media announcement. Time will tell how the band's future will unfold, but in the meantime, the band's fiery frontwoman Sammi Lanzetta is gearing up to release her debut EP, one that comes on the heels of her striking 2016 single "House Plants." Recorded at Moonwalker studios with a release expected for later in 2017, the small release will surely appease longtime fans of Venus Guytrap while also bringing much more attention to Richmond's thriving scene thanks to Lanzetta's inescapable spirit.

Here's a name destined to dominate local music conversation this year: Andrew Carter. The former frontman of The Mad Extras, who also performed under the name Tony Jabroni, is inching his way to his first official release, one that’s earned rave reviews from the select few who have heard. “It’s going to be a monumental release for the local scene,” states one Richmond stalwart on the record. That statement was hardly isolated with other prominent local figures echoing the sentiments, making Carter’s release one that Richmond fans should be eagerly anticipating. Pop punkers The Weak Days, one of the hardest working bands on the East Coast, will release their next record this summer. Recorded at Silver Bullet Studios and due out on local label Running Around, the seven-song release is a much more polished and mature offering than their previous release, 2015’s Drowsy, and will feature a few guest musicians, one of which will be welcome news to fans of bands with extremely long and slightly political names. After releasing three humble, yet brilliant EPs in 2016, shoegaze punk rockers The Talkies will release their fourth EP later this year. The forceful quartet continues to raise their stock across town with blistering and unforgettable performances, and as their sound continues to boldly improve, their upcoming release deserves to be on any music fan’s radar.

Upon announcing her recent signing to Matador Records, Julien Baker left the world aching and full of delight with the release of “Funeral Pyre,” a song that dissects the realities of an unhealthy relationship and how some lovers might stick around despite the unhealthy ramifications. In her skilled presence as an ephemeral guitarist, the song eschews its way into the core of its listener with just a few languished notes. By closing with the sentiment of understanding there was nothing either person could do, it offers absolute closure for anyone that has ever had to watch After a successful first wave of a cathartic love dim away and burn out. -– Shannon Cleary



We know from his work in Punch Brothers that Noam Pikelny’s banjo playing is world class, but his Universal Favorite album provides a new line of sight into his abilities. In terms of genre, opening track “Waveland” floats gracefully between the Carter Family Fold and the concert hall, ebbing and flowing at a zillion notes per second (approximate speed). Continuously rising and falling clustered notes evoke multi-dimensional movement; you first notice the tonal changes -- the distances traveled up and down the scale -- but repeated trips across the banjo’s strings and back gradually hypnotize, as if you’re watching a harpist reach for high notes before returning to the nearer low tones. But fast. -– Davy Jones 14

releases and shows, the Friends For Equality group is deep in planning mode for their next move, one that will again include a massive compilation, scathing zine, and inspiring benefit show. Eyeing late spring or early summer, there is no word yet on what charities the group will support this time, though indications are that they would like to spread out beyond past charities like ACLU, Forward Together, and Sister Song in order to continue to bring awareness to essential charities for today’s society.








(AERICALAUREN.BANDCAMP.COM) Heart-wrenching songwriting by a sincere, gutsy, and ambitious artist who quickly asserts herself in a town known for strong female songwriters. Lauren uses the space of her raw recordings to create tangible depth within her songs, allowing the harmonies to shine bright and the emotions to cut deep. Unexpectedly, the release leans towards bedroom pop at times, but one wrought with conflict, setback, and introspection that makes for a striking collection. (DN)




As Groan takes off, the listener should immediately be aware that they are about to be treated to one of the strongest debuts from a Richmond artist. Antiphons find a proper balance between the whimsy of artists like Fleet Foxes and fury of Dinosaur Jr. As Brian Dove croons throughout, a record detailing the travels throughout the continental United States and a romance faltering feels poignant and enchanting. An early, but strong frontrunner for record of the year. (SC)

A riveting debut record from a quintet strongly asserting themselves as one of Richmond's best hard rockers. Dense guitar lines engage in a shouting match with the tight rhythm section, while Sarah Moore-Lindsey's siren voice provides clarity and direction to each song. Naturally, there are plenty of epic moments provided by guitarists Ben Courdiet and Kyle Lewis, but this release really soars on its ability to reign in the songs and deliver succinct, yet blistering compositions. (DN)







It’s easy to see why Dazeases has become a favorite in town with each and every dystopian electronic foray into indie pop hitting its lofty mark on C R U M B S. Each tune languishes on tearing apart anything that remains taboo to discuss in how we treat and relate to one another while developing a harsh realm of loops, grooves, and noises that fit well with each relative concept. Dazeases quickly engages audiences with the provocative and intensifying sounds to be found throughout C R U M B S. (SC)

A winding road that leaves the listener wondering if they somehow landed on another record at times, Babe is a testament to the trio's songwriting ability and attention for structure. Though rock for most of the record, the band flirts with other styles -- maudlin, country, and post-punk -- in a way that helps bookend sections of the record and allow strong compositions like "There Will Be Blood" to really shine through and leave a lasting impression. (DN)

A touching collection of songs from a young voice with plenty to express. The songs flow easy across, with gorgeous melodies and pictureperfect instrumentation, but what gets lost is how ambitious the record is at time, such as the expansive opening number. The album is guided by a patient, almost veteran hand that realizes there's no rush in establishing the song, and takes care to ensure each song gets to where it is going by any means. (DN)






Give one listen to Chapel Drive and you'll understand just why the Mutant Academy collective has earned such a strong reputation in hip-hop circles. The first project to feature every member of the collective, there is a ton of creative rhymes and stunning production to digest, so much so that it’s daunting at times, but Fly and Koncept pace the sixteen track well and work hard to ensure its laid-back feeling… just like a chapel drive itself. (DN)



An extremely eclectic offering from one of the more unique bands in town, with enough musical ideas to tide them over for the next decade it seems. Sounds jump from song to song starting with a bang ("Coal Miner Rebellion") before moving on to a shimmering duet ("Fish Me Out"). Utilizing two strong singers in Anneliese Grant and Jordan Lette helps lift the record up, but it's really the quartet's songwriting ability that lets this EP soar. (DN)


Landis Wine and Tori Hovater have hit the ground running with this debut. It’s an intense, emotionally affecting collection -- “Do you really want to die sometimes?” -- and while the album drives deeper into the synth territory White Laces had explored, the ache in Wine’s voice and sporadic saxophone appearances fill these songs with a striking sense of humanity. From its loudest moments to its most reflective, Opin feels alive, with all the passion and variety of life itself. (DJ)



People recoiling at the shameless album cover will be surprised to find the record is actually quite accessible for those interested in garage and powerpop sounds. The songs fly fast and loose, though the band is in full control, expertly guiding it through the brash rollercoaster they've meticulously structured. With a great live feel to each song, the band's delivered a great taste of their live shows that's earning the band a strong reputation in and around Richmond. (DN)



I will undoubtedly count first hearing Flo sing the chorus of “Thinking Bout You” as one of my happiest moments in recent memory. It’s an act of amplification -- giving an implicitly powerful vocal part even more oomph within an atmosphere of loving and capable extrapolation. Lead single “Look At What The Light Did Now” hinted at the grand yet precise scope of this album, but track after track delivers a considered depth that ends up sounding easy. (DJ)



Throughout Azalea Days, Saw Black makes one convincing argument after another for why he is one of the strongest songwriters in town. As the record contemplates a relationship unraveling, Black looks at the universe internally and externally as he seeks answers and resolve in each of the eleven tracks featured. Even at the most disparaging moments, there are still moments of hope to be found from a perennial love song to an ode to everyone’s favorite pastime. (SC) RVA MAGAZINE 24 | SPRING 2016



On her proper solo debut, Allison Crutchfield seems more vulnerable than ever. While spinning tales of anxiety and embracing change, this new side of the songwriter is as welcome as ever. “Dean’s Room” is a quick song to highlight on the stellar Tourist In This Town. If you were in need of a reflective collection of intimate confessionals in the form of nuanced songwriting, look no further than Crutchfield’s latest. (SC)





When they’re performing music written by other people, Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau are lossless interpreters. Their instruments -- the totality of what they’re capable of between their playing and Thile’s singing -- are borderline perfect, and it’s thrilling to see where they direct that exquisitely appointed machine. Elliott Smith. Bob Dylan. Gillian Welch. Their own compositions. This album feels like an incredibly thoughtful, neatly wrapped gift, both for listeners and for the featured songwriters. (DJ)



Lekman is a bit of a songwriting trickster. At his most depressed, the songs elevate themselves to appear as joyous affairs of boisterous arrangements and fanciful grooves. With this in mind, this record is Lekman at his strongest by balancing the sadness with the whimsical. Highlights include the pop gems “Our First Fight” and “How We Met, The Long Version.” It has been far too long, Jens. We are eager to hear you now. (SC)

Organic and sincere, wistful and romantic; Byrne's second record is a much more confident affair than her debut with the singer fully embracing the tonal atmosphere she creates. Capturing her restless spirit is key here, with her august voice willing the listener to join her on her travels, both in the real world and within. Though clearly folk by design, the subtle use of synths helps distance herself from other songwriters, leaving Byrne in a class of her own in 2017. (DN)




The aplomb of Priest's musical spirit is what makes this debut remarkable as the band weaves a needle of punk energy through a tapestry of surf rock and indie pop. Paying close attention to the words of the record and the way the music ebbs and flows reveals the band's personal politics, but the band ultimately leans more towards the Pixies’ end than Pussy Riot as they freely frolic in a surreal world swirling with surf and punk elements. (DN) 10 YEARS OF RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2015


After his bold offering 2015 that exposed him to a completely new fanbase, Adams returns with a record that shrewdly builds on his past work, while still striving for that next sonic jump. Mirroring the album's over, the songs come off as blurry, patchy, almost disjointed at times, but still form a recognizable image of heartbreak and confinement, one that's as affecting as it is brilliant. (DN)




Oberst has been known as a strong songwriter for well over two decades now and Salutations, his 22nd album since 1993, only further proves the point, legitimizing himself in the upper echelons of modern music composers. Though it lacks the focus of his previous work, 2016’s Ruminations, the Dylan-esque melodies and Americana sounds come together beautifully, while the lyrics offer a more shrouded lens with which to listen through. (DN)

On their fourth record, the duo leans on Spacebomb to overcome the shortcomings of 2014's ...And Star Power and delivers a more focused record that imperfectly imposes over the band's catalog, even if it is a far cry from 2013's We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic. Richmond fans will love the numerous local credits on the release, while music fans in general will love the direction Sam France has willed Foxygen in. (DN)



The album art for The World Is a Loud Place isn’t just the first GIF cover released via Bandcamp -- it’s also a wonderful representation of Landlady’s music. Big, colorful, kinetic... songs move and change with such amazing energy. “Electric Abdomen,” “Nina,” and “Driving In California” all function as multi-act productions that deserve elaborate set designs, and they round out -- along with past releases -- a vibrant and powerful body of work. (DJ)

The most important record released in the wake of the Women's March, Marlin's latest record is far from a departure from her previous works, but is also much more pointed in its subject matter and over-flowing with existential thoughts and observations. Easily the most attentive album of her catalog, Semper Femina is one of the boldest examinations of feminism and womanhood society has seen in some time, something that comes as no surprise to those who have followed her career. (DN)



The xx have never lacked cohesion, but this feels like a new fusion of powers. Jamie xx’s production knowledge and abilities fully burst through on his 2015 solo album, and he’s applying that skill set more confidently than ever, complementing and elevating the hypnotic Romy-Oliver chemistry that’s defined the band to this point. Singles “Say Something Loving” and “On Hold” are instant xx canon, but “Lips” is a sleeper for one of the year’s most gorgeous songs. (DJ)

Like the title implies, Thundercat's goal here is to intoxicate you with the groove, something a lot of modern soul producers ignore. Listen to classic soul records and you can truly feel the attention given to the groove. It can alter and modulate, but it can't be paused, interrupted, or, worse, dropped. Thundercat realizes this and pays extra attention to it ensuring no matter who is in front of a mic or behind the board, it's a seamless sound from start to finish. (DN)










10:48 AM

After some banter about music and sports (specifically, why the Bills will never win the AFC East), we decide to sit down over some morning coffee to chop it up a little bit on his origins and how Ocean Grown came together. Originally from Richmond, Kahuna has been bouncing between here and Buffalo for the past few years. However, in late 2014 he made Richmond his permanent home, citing that the scene in Buffalo wasn’t generating anything musically, aside from Conway and WestsideGunn.


“There’s not enough popping people in Buffalo,” he reasons. “It was a corrupt place for a while. A lot of hood shit, drug shit, murder shit. It was big factories, but now they’re mad abandoned. It’s a tough city, but I love Buffalo.”

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After snapping some photos and taking a quick lunch break, we head to Graymatter’s house to meet up with some fellow Mutant Academy His love of Buffalo extended to a specific sound members before the battle. he found within the city. “It’s hard to explain the accent, but Westside [Gunn] is the best The walls of the apartment are lined with example of it,” he explains. “I have cousins that stacks of vinyl, with the majority of the room sound exactly like that, and to hear somebody being dedicated to his studio. With BSTFRND, rap like that it’s like ‘Wow.’ But hopefully, after Koncept Jackson, and Fly Anakin arriving, they hear us, they’ll be like ‘Alright, that’s really much of the discussion focuses around music, By Joseph Genest some Richmond shit’.” including the upcoming battle, local music, Photos Christian Hewitt national music, old music, and new music. Make Luckily for him, the people he was most familiar no mistake, this is more than just hobby or sidehere with were also aiming to cultivate a hustle for these guys: it's every damn day. Richmond sound too. Vibrant sunrays peer through the blinds, illuminating the meticulously clean, yet homey Museum District apartment. As Roy Ayers’ “I’ve known Koncept [Jackson] for a long time, We’re patiently waiting in Strange Matter for Virgin Ubiquity 2 plays in the background, since high school, so when I came back, I linked Baptism By Fire to begin. The crowd is packed there’s a warm, yet comfortable greeting to the up with him,” he details. “He was already chilling out, with a diverse mix of fans coming from all with [Fly] Anakin and was in Mutant Academy. place. over the area. Although it’s one of Henny L.O.’s They introduced me to BSTFRND, Unlucky first battles, Kahuna, Graymatter, and the rest Bastards, and then Graymatter hit me up on “You guys hungry? of the Mutant Academy crew are all out to SoundCloud from knowing all of them. He told You want some breakfast? support. me to come through for some beats, so I went Maybe an omelet?” there one morning and he played me like seven "Are we all going to go on stage when he's up,” I decline, but am taken back a little by the beats. We made “Fly The Coup” first and were someone asks. gesture. After all, it's uncommon for a young like ‘Damn, this shit is tough!’ So we put that host to offer to make a meal for you not even out. A lot of those songs on Ocean Grown were "Nah, there's too many of us,” Kahuna replies. some of the first I made when I came back.” five minutes into meeting them. But then again, “That'd be packed out." if there's one thing I’ve learned about Kahuna “Everybody wanted to help out when we played -- his focus is always on the details. As I look around at what makes up only about it,” he adds, noting the collaborative efforts half of Mutant Academy, it occurs to me that Big Kahuna OG recently made waves on the on the tape “Our friend Ziri helped, BSTFRND almost all of them have put out quality projects scene with Ocean Grown, his collaborative tape helped out. Mad people helped. Duce is on the over the past year. And while Kahuna and with producer Graymatter. For their first major tape. I’ve known Robalu since high school. All Graymatter love that Ocean Grown was largely release together, the tape has a polished, well- my friends are a part of Ocean Grown, so that a collaborative effort, they realize the work they joint is classic.” rehearsed sound as if the two have been doing put individually is what's going to keep not just this for years. With practical, yet vivid lyricism, the group's attention, but the rest of the city as Kahuna has a knack for setting descriptive well. scenes of his day-to-day, encapsulated with Wrapping up our sit down, it’s time to go take memorable hooks over Graymatter’s raw, yet photos and check out the Baptism By Fire show “You’ve got to do as much as you can on your melodically rich and soulful production. It’s a fellow Mutant Academy rapper Henny L.O. was own. That’s the best, you do it all yourself and battling in. combination that’s undeniably intoxicating, try to master it. But there's a lot more work with both Kahuna and Graymatter taking Ocean to do. Graymatter and I just finished another “You trying to roll, Duce?” Kahuna asks. Grown to be as much energetic on the surface as project. But still, there’s a lot more work to do.” it is polarizing in its depths. Duce declines, opting instead to continue And with tenacity like that, Kahuna and his working on the first-person video game he was colleagues will be making waves for a long, long designing for his upcoming album. Who knows? time. He might be the first artist to have a #1 album on Newgrounds. SOUNDCLOUD.COM/BIG-KAHUNA-OG

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“...after they hear us, they’ll be like ‘Alright, that’s really some Richmond s**t’.” 10 YEARS OF RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2015




STUNTING WITH STUNTKID Interview by R. Anthony Harris Words by Jill Smith


“I’ve always loved to create these strong moments that are like a still from a beautifully animated movie,” Levesque said. “To look at them, you feel like there must be a story. And I really feel like that’s the direction that I want to go with.”


While he sees himself out west in ten years shooting photos of coyotes and cacti, Norfolk’s Jacob Levesque, known in the art world as Stuntkid, has witnessed first-hand both the successes and failures of the art scene in Virginia. But he is hopeful for the future of art, especially here in Richmond and in his home town. For now, Levesque’s typical day consists of putting his art skills to use as an illustrator and animator at a digital marketing agency in downtown Norfolk called Grow. He just reached his tenth anniversary with the company. “Been with them for a long time,” Levesque said. “They were a baby company with four other employees whenever I first joined. Got to see it gr-…uh, you know what I’m about to say.” Grow’s CEO and executive creative director, Drew Ungvarsky, has been an instrumental part of what Levesque labels as Norfolk’s “rebirth,” both inside and outside of the arts community. “A lot of the [area’s] leaders kind of look to him as a young, brilliant businessman who kind of knows what it takes to, you know, to make things happen; to make things get started the way we need them to,” Levesque said. “So, they look to him for a lot of insight, and he pours a lot of time into our community.” Ungvarsky and Grow have specifically had a hand in building up Norfolk’s first official arts district, the NEON District. NEON, or “New Energy of Norfolk,” combines the enduring history of the neighborhood’s automobile industry with new art studios and exhibits, clubs, shops, a comedy theater and eclectic restaurants. On one wall in the the fledgling area, Grow installed an interactive mural called “Transparent Seas.” Levesque painted the piece which features elements of land, sky, and the ocean stretched across seethrough female figures. The 40-foot mural is highlighted by colored lights that change when approached by viewers. This allows the mixed-media piece to transform and expose unseen features depending on where the viewer stands. “[it] really kind of brought another big corner piece to our newly-birthed NEON district,” Levesque said of the installation. Levesque said he believes the NEON District, which has played host to shows and pop-up galleries for local talent in multi-use venues, is a necessary ingredient to the larger Norfolk community for forward movement. Still, he sees the district now as a promise that has not yet been fulfilled in its entirety. “We’ve hosted events there, but we’re really still waiting for the art galleries and the artists to move in,” he said. “We have these 24

pop-up events, some art shows, and local talent coming up and having a venue to show their work. And that’s great, but you know, having more permanent fixtures and having more anchors in the area is going to be necessary for it to be something that lasts.” Levesque recognizes that utilizing the relationship between the Norfolk and Richmond art scenes could be an untapped strategy for reeling in the more permanent and established galleries and artists that the NEON District requires for sustainability. He said much of the effort in the district goes to supporting and highlighting local artists, which is good, but not for growth in the way that inviting outside artists, especially from near by cities like RVA, could be. Without the input from its neighbors, Norfolk could remain insular - it needs the influence of outside art culture. “There’s a lot of traffic back and forth, very literally. But yeah, no kid here survives without making their trek to Richmond for the big shows that come through there, and I think a little bit of that is true the other way too,” he said. “These cultures are very dependent on each other. You grow by inviting outside influences, and having a neighbor like we have with Richmond, having a lot more of that culture kind of pulled down here would be helping.” While trying to be delicate in his description, Levesque said the danger having an insular scene includes a “big fish in a small pond” mentality. Once local artists make it big, they risk losing the drive to become better since it does’t seem necessary. “When you travel or you pay attention to the arts community at large, or beyond the borders of your city, you’re exposed to people that are working harder than you are and innovating. They’re creating in different ways, and it pushes you to make yourself better,” Levesque said. He feels that he definitely knows artists in the Norfolk area who suffer from that lack of exposure to outside inspiration. As further evidence of the need of a successful art district like NEON, as well as the necessity for a healthy art market with buyers who appreciate the artwork, Levesque himself has battled in the past with finding profit in the area and has turned instead to areas such as New York and L.A.. He admits that where he shows his own art and has successfully networked and met other artists whom he views as his contemporaries. He admits that during those times, he has felt a bit depressed to come home to Norfolk where there was little to no art culture pre-NEON. He remembers RVA MAGAZINE RVA MAGAZINE 28 | SPRING 24 | SPRING2017 2016



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cause of “we need a good art gallery here,” at a loss of up to $10,000 a month until he or she can no longer afford to keep the doors open. “It’s incredibly frustrating to try to hold on to that culture without the buyers,” “He brought his entire catalogue here. Levesque said. Between the two of us, I sold maybe $300$400 worth of prints, to locals and friends To counter the gallery issues and to garner that had always meant to buy something support for art, Levesque prescribes from me, and he sold nothing,” Levesque promotion without and within the area, as recalled. “Two months later, he was on well as finding business models which are the cover of, I believe it was Juxtapoz sustainable and right for the market there. Magazine.” His friend was a big deal in the “A white walls gallery here in Norfolk isn’t national arts community but could not sell really sustainable now,” he said. “But a place like Work Release [a venue in the NEON an $800 painting on the street in Norfolk. District] that balances art and culture At that point, after experiencing low sales and hosts events; that’s something that’s and losing money for both himself and the realistic, and that works for us right now.” hosting gallery, Levesque began to pull back from creating art. He did find some success Despite feeling optimistic about the Norfolk as a co-curator at the Andy Warhol tribute, art scene, Levesque is ramping up his own called ‘I Like Soup,” put on by the Virginia work and will soon head out west toward new Museum of Contemporary Art, but even adventures. “I’m hopeful for Norfolk, but I’m then, the exhibit was not open to online here only for one more year, unfortunately. sales, which Levesque said he personally And then I’m getting on the Great Migration counts on. He found the difficulty to sell to train. My culture has always been kind the local audience to be discouraging unlike of Southern California; that’s where I the sales to “invisible” yet consistent buyers make friends quickly; that’s where the big adventure waits for me I feel,” he said. in larger markets. “You know, I think it’s funny because I think He plans to continue to promote Norfolk that people don’t realize, I have friends that artists, even from L.A., and is excited by the own some of these successful galleries in prospect of someday being a visiting artist L.A., and the buyers are usually invisible. in Norfolk. They come through before the opening, and little red dots go up, sometimes before In the past when he has hit a slow period, the doors even open. They can just be Levesque says he has fallen back on wealthy collectors, benefactors, sometimes photography due to the quicker results celebrities, but you know they’re consistent and social aspect. He sees the switching buyers,” he said. On the other hand, of mediums to keep busy to be a survival Levesque describes the average gallery technique for refocusing and gaining frequenter in Norfolk. “People like us can momentum, which he believes is very go into these art shows and enjoy them but important for an artist to feel like he or she probably never drop the $1,000-$2,000 on has. For now, he senses a transition back to drawing because he is more excited about a painting.” the drawings he has envisioned than the The strong art economy is not yet there to photos he would like to take. back up the artists in Norfolk, according to Levesque. “Many galleries work at a loss to “I’ve always loved to create these strong keep the art scene alive,” he said. Instead, moments that are like a still from a beautifully he describes how some “vanity galleries” animated movie,” Levesque said. “To look at show art at the expense of artists who turn them, you feel like there must be a story. over as they run out of money. Or the kind And I really feel like that’s the direction that of galleries which are personal investments I want to go with.” He is also considering by a single patron to serve his or her own getting back into doing magazine covers a time a few years ago in which he invited an artist friend from New York with a similar style to come to Norfolk for a two-man show which had little success.


again. “I had a strong relationship with L.A. Weekly and had some good conversations with [the person] who runs that magazine about the direction of my work, and he would be very happy of course to see me come back to doing covers,” he said. Levesque says he is also excited to get back into illustrating work with limited colors for screen prints. He is currently working with a Norfolk outfit called the Prince Ink Company, which will soon be printing and distributing shirts with his designs in a limited release. “They’re actually located, now, two doors down from where I work at Grow and real close to the arts district, so actually having them here has been really good,” Levesque said. 10 years from now, Levesque hopes that he will hopefully have a beautiful home in the desert, a Joshua tree, and his camera. He admits he's been blessed with a day job which many people work their entire lives toward, but he still hopes he can bail some day and work on his art full time. “That’s the dream,” he said. “I’ve never smoked pot, and I don’t believe in a single lick of magic, so they’ll probably reject me but I’ll do my best.” Still, Levesque’s art seems to incorporate some aspects of fantasy and magic. “Yeah, fantasy. And definitely drawing as many mushrooms as I do people get a wrong idea about me,” he joked. As to leaving Norfolk in the near future, Levesque sees it as bittersweet. He says that he expects that eventually, as the people born in Norfolk – the type who are proud to say they bought art in Norfolk – age and have more money to spend, the white wall galleries that will not currently work in the area will start to appear, and out-oftown artists will come to Norfolk to sell their artwork. “I’ll be excited to make the move,” Levesque said. “But it’ll also be a little sad to be out of the bush for something that’s going uphill.” STUNTKID.COM


“When you travel or you pay attention to the arts community at large, or beyond the borders of your city, you’re exposed to people that are working harder than you are and innovating. They’re creating in different ways, and it pushes you to make yourself better,” Levesque said.


















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www.venturerichmond.com • #CheersRVA










That's acclaimed singer-songwriter Angelica Garcia summarizing the events of the last several years of her life, a tumultuous yet rewarding time that included multiple crosscountry moves, periods of isolation and discovery, and, ultimately, landing a coveted slot on Warner Brothers Records who released her debut record, Medicine For Birds, in September of 2016. "It seems like a lot when I list it all out, but that’s how life goes I guess," she laughs. Garcia's story begins in Los Angeles where she lived with her mother, a graphic designer, and father, a record executive. For the most part, her life ran smoothly until around middle school when her father made a decision that would change their lives: He was leaving the record industry and becoming an Episcopal priest. "He always said he was repenting," Garcia remembers with a smile before detailing how her family packed up and moved to Connecticut so her father could attend seminary. After graduating, the family moved back to Los Angeles for a time while her father still pursued the priesthood. "That whole process takes a while," she explains. "You have to go to seminary for a few years, then be a deacon for two years, and that's when you start to get assessed to become ordained." On top of the location and career changes, Garcia's family also had to cope with her father’s battle with cancer. "It was really difficult for the family," she states. "It was actually really hard for him because as he was going through his treatment and recovery, he had to do time as a chaplain in a hospital." She remembers one of his first hospital experiences was consoling the family of a man who had suffered a fatal heart attack. "He had to somehow learn how to console them and figure out the exact right thing to say, which was hard when he was going through his own serious fight with cancer," she explains. "It was just difficult." Garcia also admits that the uncertain situation was hard on her and her mother. She remembers living in a big house when she was younger, something she never noticed until each house got progressively smaller as she grew up. "Our last place in LA, I could actually put my hands out and touch both walls," she says while stretching for visual effect. But it was more than the living arrangements for Garcia. "It put weird pressure on the family because it's the kind of job where the whole family gets involved. I would help out so he's not doing it all by himself. Sometimes it's making food, other times it's getting things in order. Whatever it took, we did it." Around this time, Garcia was starting her senior year at an arts school in Los Angeles and getting her first taste of the music industry. Though she studied jazz and classical voice, she didn't pursue music until her classmates approached her randomly with an opportunity. "They were competing in a Battle Of The Bands and needed a singer," she remembers. "We had this indie pop sound, though we were all jazz kids so it had a different twist to it. People liked it a lot 10 YEARS 10 YEARS OF RVA OFMAGAZINE RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2015 2005-2015

and we ended up winning." One of the prizes was recording time in a studio -- not a fancy one, Garcia states, but one good enough to impress a bunch of "high schoolers". Eager to start, the band had one issue before entering the studio. "They were saying, 'We can't record other people's songs. We have to record our own stuff,'" she remembers. "They basically looked at me and told me to write some songs. I had a bunch of poems, but I never did songwriting so that was my first real experience." One of those songs Garcia wrote ended up becoming popular around LA leading to the band playing a set at The Troubadour when she was only 17. "It was crazy -- I'm on stage and people are actually singing my words back to me," she says with a shocked expression. "That's when I thought I could actually do this." Realizing her potential wasn't the only thing that happened that night. The band's set also impressed an A&R executive who quickly expressed interest, even as the group's future was uncertain. "He really believed in me even after the band disbanded since everyone was moving away," she recalls. "He told me to just keep writing and to send him stuff. It was really a big moment. I was just a normal teenage girl with a lack of confidence so for him to tell me that, when I already wanted to write anyway... I got a lot of self-definition out of that." It was a seminal moment for Garcia, but unfortunately, there was little time to celebrate with graduation fast approaching and a big decision to make: She could either go to college or move with her family across the country (again) to the town of Accomac on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. "I studied music in school, but I really wanted to try my hand at writing," she admits. "I had always loved it and I did get into a writer's program in Vermont, though it was just the wrong time with the move and the second diagnosis." Six months before her graduation, her father had already moved out to Virginia and by the time Garcia and her mother were ready to join him, they all had to prepare for her father's second fight with cancer. "That was the most stressful time because I had just finished graduating and my mom also broke her leg at the same time," she says. "I ended up taking care of both parents and I also really thought about how hard it was to just make ends meet. I couldn’t justify spending $30,000 a year on college so I decided to take some time off and think, which ended up being the best thing that ever happened to me." Upon arriving in Virginia, Garcia began to acclimate to life in the town of Accomac, a community she described as "half-farmer, halffisherman," and while her father and mother had no problem fitting in, she quickly found problems with few people to relate to. "I was the only 17-year-old in the neighborhood so I knew I was going to be by myself... a lot," Garcia reveals. "It's okay though. I used that time to think about things and write. Really write." 33

It's not as though Garcia shunned herself from the community though; she helped run a food pantry with her family for migrant and seasonal farm workers, one that was the only Spanishspeaking pantry in the area despite it being the first language for many of the workers. "It was a great way to help supplement food because their income wouldn't cover it," she reasons, even though many at the church voiced their concern.

Working alongside famed producer Charlie Peacock, Garcia set out to build upon the songs she once demoed with crickets in the background late at night. "Most stayed true to the demos, but a lot ended up in places I never would have thought of," she admits. "These simple songs that were made in this weird, awkward stage of my life -- I'm so attached to them, but I loved hearing them grow and change with a cello or pedal steel.”

"A lot of people were upset, saying we were helping the illegals," she recounts while shaking her head. "My dad would just say that they were helping their fellow human beings and if they couldn't see that, then they shouldn't go to this church because this is the real work of God." Garcia expressed her pride in her father for standing up, even though it led to some people leaving the church. "He made it very clear that his church was not going to use religion and God to give an okay stamp on some people's shitty beliefs and behaviors."

The collection of songs included some of the first ones Garcia ever wrote, like "Loretta Lynn," as well as some newer ones that helped bookend the recording like "Twenty," a song that was finished on the last day Garcia was 20 years old. Though the songs were written over the span of several years, Garcia concedes there is a theme to the record, even if it may have been unintentional. "I guess the theme is about leaving the nest," she concedes. "'Little Bird' is about when you first go out on your own and 'Twenty' is about how that's not always what

Though the congregation eventually accepted her father's decision, Garcia began to see similar sentiments pop up around the country. "Words kind of fail me here because I didn't realize people held that much hate," she admits softly. "It almost seems that people are so desperate for answers and clarity that they justify terrible things. I'm definitely Latina America and proud of it and nothing anyone can say is going to change that." Despite this, Garcia found her time in the Eastern Shore to be exactly what she needed, even if it meant retreating into an isolated bubble behind the church itself. "I just realized I had a lot more time on my hands," she explains, "so I ended up going to this little parish house behind the church where they held dinners and AA meetings. It had an upright piano in there and I just spent a lot of time back there, writing and playing, and that's really where my music came together." In between attending community college and helping out in the church, Garcia spent most of her free time in that modest building, writing lyrics and tinkering with melodies. It wasn't long before she began to record these songs as sparse demos, utilizing whatever she had on hand, and just like he had asked in LA, Garcia began to send these demos to that encouraging A&R executive. "I sent him what I had and he just kept asking for more," she remembers. "Eventually, we got to a point where we thought we could record stuff and show it to the [Warner Brothers] to see what they thought." Those demos, forged in that almost remote building, wound up landing Garcia with a lengthy record contract, one that led Garcia to a Nashville studio where she would record what would become the bluesy roots album Medicine For Birds, a record comprised solely of songs written in that parish bubble.


“Most stayed true to the demos, but a lot ended up in places I never would have thought of," she admits. "These simple songs that were made in this weird, awkward stage of my life -- I'm so attached to them, but I loved hearing them grow and change with a cello or pedal steel”

all my hair and painted my room this pumpkin orange color. Pretty weird, but the more time I spent in the room, the happier I felt about that color and how it represented my personal expression." The color is referenced multiple times on Medicine For Birds, most notably on the breakout single "Orange Flower," a boisterous and eccentric roots composition many point to as Garcia’s signature song. Around this time, having finished community college, Garcia left the Eastern Shore and moved to Richmond, finding instant comfort within the city’s thriving art scene. “I love how much music brings people together here,” she remarks. “For a long time, I was just the priest’s weird daughter who likes rock music, but here, in this big city, I instantly fit in.” Going to open mics around town and crashing on couches after late shows, Garcia eventually formed a circle of like-minded friends who definitely inspired her and influenced some of the direction of Medicine For Birds. She even dabbled in other projects too, forming Whatever, Honey with close friends and fellow musicians Hannah Goad and Ali Thibodeau. “I just love that Ali and Hannah and I were able to do that, even if just for a second,” she smiles. “You really don’t know how others can inform the music you make until you combine your little bubble with their own.” Though she doesn't know what the future holds for her in Richmond, she's enjoying her time here and does admit it's home to her now. "This city is a lot more to me than just passing through," she says leaning in. "I don't know that I'll live here my whole life, but I have fallen in love with it and no matter where I end up, I'll always have a special place in my heart for the city and the amazing, inspiring people that make up the scene."

Currently, Garcia is working on recording demos for what will make up her sophomore record, you expect it to be so it’s a nice start and finish songs that she describes as being true to her to the record." Latina heritage -- an intentional decision on her part. Returning home from a recent tour with She even admits the indirect influence birds alt-country star Lydia Loveless, she’s excited to had on the record too. "When I was a kid, my immerse herself in the local scene again, playing mom used to call me baby bird," she states. alongside many bands looking at her trajectory "Also, I have a lot of early memories in Virginia for guidance... without even realizing it is Garcia of birds just everywhere. Sometimes a flock of herself striving to be more like them. birds would just come land on a house. That may sound normal here, but not when you come “There’s not one way to make it in music,” from LA. I didn't really sit in my room all the she explains. “Some bands would love to sign time obsessing with birds and leaving the nest, to a label and make a big record, but I look at but you can definitely hear that message in the these bands in town making great music and I songs. Maybe I'm just more metaphorical than often wonder how they do it and how I can do I thought." something similar. There’s so many different things in Richmond to be inspired by. That’s A much more conscious theme Garcia really why I love living here at this stage of my implemented in her songs was the color orange, career.” something she relates to her first memories of moving to Accomac. "My first room there had ANGELICAGARCIA.NET this weird peach color," she sneers. "It was a tough time. I had broken up with a boyfriend and left all my friends behind so I just had to do something I could identify with. I chopped off RVA MAGAZINE RVA MAGAZINE 28 | SPRING 24 | SPRING2017 2016







“If you hold my beer, I think I can make it,” I said to Ben. Handing him my beer, bracing myself with his free hand, I stretched as far as my legs would go to make it from the pillow on the floor up to the tiny recliner where he was perched, feet carefully up in the seat. When I made it without falling or touching the floor, the room erupted in cheers, friends holding beers up in a salute, the sounds of their yells echoing off the walls and out into the quiet 2 AM streets. The game is True American, and the floors are lava. Take a snapshot of that room and you’ll find a group of professionals, late 20’s to early 30’s. We are two butchers, a graphic designer, two teachers, an adjunct professor, musicians, artists. This definition of adulthood I never could have predicted as I grew up watching my mom work as a nurse and go back to graduate school, taping soap operas during the day to watch on the weekends. Yet here we are, drinking and playing this terribly silly game, but not on a work night, safe in a friend’s house, a sober driver present for those of us who will be traveling out at 3:00, 4:00 in the morning, still laughing but tired. It’s this same kind of redefinition of old social norms, of doing things your own way, that leads me to a tiny house couched in the middle of the museum district to interview one of Richmond’s increasingly popular scuzzy rock ‘n roll band. Fish, a smoky gray cat who greets me at the gate, follows me up the stone path where Kyle Trax, the band’s drummer and current host, shakes my hand warmly. “Welcome to the Nugget,” he laughs, giving a sweep of his hand to show off the porch, where strings of lights give a glow to the worn, but comfortable, setting. Having only heard about the unhinged shows the Cherry Pits give and seeing the obscenely irreverent cover art for their latest release, Splatterday Nite, I thought I would walk in, have to tease out something personal from some tightlipped hard dudes disinterested in talking, maybe stretch to write a couple hundred words, but even those skimpy expectations were left at the gate as the band welcomed me into what felt more like a family reunion than an interview. Settling in with a beer in one hand and my notebook in the other, I asked one question: “How did you guys become a band?” For the next hour and a half the group talked nonstop, joking with one another, telling me story after story about the crazy stuff that happens at their shows. Chris Jordan, the singer, guitarist, and primary songwriter, quickly moves from his move up from Alabama three years ago to recounting how he was once thrown through a table in the middle of a set. “The PA fell on my head, dude,” he says, perched on the edge of the couch, owning the room as his band mates and I laugh. “And the best part is Kyle’s mom caught my guitar!” he roars as we all lose it, his friends in nostalgic camaraderie, me in a kind of incredulous enjoyment. 38


If nothing else, this is a band that cares about the live show. While Kyle and Paul Kirk, the band’s lead guitarist and backing vocalist, recall a time when bassist Sean O’Dell was so drunk prior to the set he can’t remember playing, Sean waves his hands in surrender as the laughter dies down. “Seriously, though, that doesn’t happen that often,” he assures me, as “no one wants to give that kind of show to our audience.” Fixing me with a pointed stare and too-serious face, Chris say, “Yeah, make sure you print this -- we definitely do not do heroin,” starting what would end up being a running joke all night. Striking through these drunk tales, obvious in their conversation and surely at live shows, is a strong consideration for the audience and the experience they want to cultivate for their listeners. Listening through the six songs on Splatterday Nite, the band’s first solid release recorded by Tim Falen and put out by Jenny Records in Florence, Alabama, the energy of the tracks bursts through. Lyrically accessible, as Chris writes about depression, losing lovers, all things anyone in the audience could connect with, the feverish delivery pushes through any downtrodden feelings those heavy subjects could call up in a listener. Short songs, each one its own blast of punk, rock, breathless kind of melodic scream-singing, make sense for the quartet, all of them tough, veterans of the music scene and lifestyle. Yet throughout our conversation the band makes it clear they take their music seriously, defying the stereotypes of punk musicians sloppily composing, slurring through sets, or fighting onstage.


By Laura Confer Photo by Dennis Williford


Regular rehearsals and nights spent writing and drinking at the Nugget have yielded this release with more tracks already forming for a second. Amidst the many tales of drunken parties, there is an unmistakable connection to the fans omnipresent whenever they talk about their work. The almost tangible appreciation of their live experience comes through best when Sean says, simply, “When you look out from the stage, we just see our friends in the crowd -- people from other bands, people that keep coming to our shows, people coming in with touring bands... we just want them to have a good time.” In a city raised on punk and metal, with all the trappings those scenes in the past call up, the Cherry Pits give rise to a new version of this kind of rock; partying, setting a rowdy stage at every show that never outweighs an awareness and love for the audience. Their redefinition of what it means to go to a wild punk show in Richmond throws their growing popularity into clear focus. At the heart of every show, every recording, is a simple idea that spurs the band’s frantic rock. “This never gets old,” Kyle says, smiling at his band mates, “it’s just too fun.” CHERRYPITS.BANDCAMP.COM






“I like taking up space. I want to take up so much space because I’m not supposed to,” says Elisa Rios, one-half of the creative force behind Richmond-based screen printing business Guard n Flags, when asked why she and co-owner Emma Barnes started printing flags specifically. “We’re thinking about taking up space in a certain way, and private vs. public in a certain way,” says Emma. “I truly, really believe in the idea that personal is political and in putting that on display.” Guard n Flags, which operates out of community art space Studio Two Three, has been in business designing custom flags since August of last year. They’ve worked with Quirk Hotel, Tiny Space, and The Bettys, as well as a multitude of individuals, designing and creating bold, abstract flags, banners, and prints. Flags of all types, as we know them, have existed for thousands of years. Their origin is a bloody one, soaked in warfare and possession. The notion of taking that back, of reclaiming this large, tangible symbol of proprietary rights -- a symbol largely exclusive to the patriarchy -- and offering it up to the underdog, is the very crux of Emma and Elisa’s business goals. “We look at it as taking this thing that has always represented ownership and making it about self-representation,” says Elisa. Emma agrees, adding that flags can go even further for individuals. “We also see waving a flag as taking a stand. Taking things that you deeply connect with emotionally and putting them out there. Personal is political on so many levels.” With the current political climate, people of all beliefs are finding it more necessary to link the personal to the political. More and more each day, it’s becoming clear that a person can’t exist in our society without being political, not with the divide being this stark, with anger, aggression, and concern constantly and passionately flowing from all sides. Both Emma and Elisa recognize this growing sentiment with Guards n Flag existing as a way to channel this indefinite sentiment.

“It’s funny; we had those at the Studio Two Three Winter Print Fair -- I think we made ten of them -- and we apprehensively hung them up,” says Emma. “We didn’t want to alienate people. But it was crazy. We nearly sold out of them, these huge flags. It was sort of shocking, but it was more so really cool and encouraging.” When asked how they felt about seeing that particular flag at the Women’s March in January, Elisa’s response is both terse and rooted in ethos: “That’s where it should be.” As fearless and empowered as the duo can get, Guards n Flags also focuses on the soft and fun aspect of business -- on lighthearted quotations and sentiments that bring about feelings of joy and familiarity that can lead to

“We look at it as taking this thing that has always represented ownership and making it about selfrepresentation,” says Elisa. Emma agrees, adding that flags can go even further for individuals. “We also see waving a flag as taking a stand. Taking things that you deeply connect with emotionally and putting them out there. Personal is political on so many levels.”

solace. Their catalogue includes Nicki Minaj lyrics (“let’s get lit without a lighter, let’s pull an all-nighter”), a nod to Ginuwine’s greatest hit (“lookin’ for a partner” printed above two ponies), Emma’s own take on the so-momit-hurts-but-you-secretly-love-it with “wine a bit,” casual phrases like “Happy Fall Y’all” “I think it was the day after the election and “Grin And Beer It,” as well as buntings, that we decided to make the Desmond Tutu cards, and garden flags littered with brightly flag,” says Elisa. “I wanted it to be huge.” The colored florals. famed quote, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the Guard n Flags operates under the very strong oppressor,” is printed in simple block letters belief that art should be accessible. It should across a commanding 3 foot by 5 foot flag. It’s be affordable, even on a large scale. “Print powerful and it’s emotional and it cannot be making isn’t viewed as fine art: it’s not a missed. painting, and there are usually multiples, so it’s not valued as much,” says Emma. “But it’s more accessible, it’s cheaper, and it can reach more people. And that’s something we value. 10 YEARS 10 YEARS OF RVA OFMAGAZINE RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2015 2005-2015

We like the idea of having something big that you can hang in your house, that is art, but that isn’t going to cost an insane amount of money.” To the duo, their business also operates alongside their own interests, as seen by their foray into astrology. Some of their best sellers in fact are zodiac flags, a subject matter that is primarily viewed as feminine, queer, and somewhat frivolous. Correspondingly, it’s something the two feel very strongly about. “Astrology is an icebreaker -- it’s a way to get to know people,” says Emma. To Elisa, it’s also a way to break free of her own drawbacks. “As someone who is socially awkward, the zodiac is something I’m obsessed with. It helps me relate to people easily.” The pair recognize the uneven reputation astrology carries, but feel strongly about their business focus on something so personally intriguing to the two of them. “I know a lot of people hate on the zodiac, and first of all, fuck them. We made flags about it and we’ll wave them in your face,” says Emma, unknowingly uttering what could and should be the official slogan for Guards n Flags. Elisa is more skeptical on people’s own personal belief. “I think more people like it though. I think most people are into it. Anyone that I’m friends with, if they don’t really understand or believe in astrology, tell me one year later that they’re not asking me about their sign’s compatibility with their potential hook-up’s.” Astrology can be therapeutic. It can be helpful. For some, it’s calming and enlightening to be able to relate a recent rough period with Mercury’s retrograde. “It’s really about selfreflection,” says Emma. “Which is really important, to be a person in this world and to be self-reflective,” Elisa quickly adds. “Sorry to white men who don’t do that,” they both say... with volition. Guard n Flags manages to exist in a space where not many businesses do: they’re fun, they’re silly, and they’re sweet, yet they also fiercely announce and claim their progressive politics. As a business, they represent the feelings and the dichotomy a lot of youngnon-cis-white-male people grapple with: wanting to exist as an ebullient entity while powerfully and relentlessly demanding space for themselves and their voices to be heard. And when that space is finally given or taken, their stirring flags will be there representing just what each stands for... in a way that no one can ignore. GUARDNFLAGS.COM


I met up with London Perry, who performs under the name Dazeases, at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts’ Best Café on the sunny January Saturday that followed the president's announcement of a Muslim travel ban. She and I talked for a little more than an hour, and near the end of the conversation, I mentioned that I’d been doing news-induced breathing exercises just before she arrived. “Humanity at large is a history of power struggles,” she said in her response. “And there’s constantly the oppressed and the oppressor. And things elevate over time, but that’s just a universal story. Being an individual in that, it’s really easy to succumb to that fear. I think it’s okay to feel fear, obviously, but how is that going to dictate how you act, I think is really what’s important.” With her sparse, weighty electronic music, Dazeases achieves a kind of alchemy that’s tremendously inspiring, especially right now: She transforms vulnerability into strength via self-knowledge, openness, and a true artist’s embrace of experimentation. “I’m kind of going by the seat of my pants,” she mentioned at one point. “You’re seeing it in action.” Much of Dazeases’ experimentation is done in GarageBand, her production tool of choice, and she works with an unlikely combination of deliberateness and speed. “I’ve played some instruments and have a very entry-level understanding of music structure,” she explained, “but I don’t feel like I have control. I can’t sit down and [say] ‘I’m hearing this’ and make it happen. It’s a very painstaking [process of] trying to make things work, trying to get what I want to happen. I really don’t know what I’m doing. I’m just making up as I go and being like ‘That sounds good enough.’” That drive -- “I get really restless real fast. I just want to start doing the next thing...” -- has allowed her, in just a few years, to craft a series of releases that each built on the successes of what came before. That series starts with a 2014 instrumental track called “Consumer” and progresses through a pair of EPs (Lame Parties and Welcome Back), building toward 2016’s C R U M B S album and her latest, Local Slut. Local Slut is part of EggHunt Records’ new “Hatched” subscription series, in which albums by four bands -- Big Baby, Camp Howard, and Doll Baby are the other three -- will be issued quarterly on cassette with subscriber-only bonus perks. “I was into those bands before I knew they were going to be part of the series,” Dazeases said. “It was honestly very flattering to [think] ‘Oh, okay. I’m on that level too.’”

DAZEASES By Davy Jones

Photo by Craig Zirpolo

Though she casts herself as a newcomer in certain respects, the total effect of her music feels much more cultivated. Songs like “Plum” and “M E D U S A” exert a heavy, commanding magnetism, especially when she ventures into her lower register. I asked about how she got 42


her start singing, and she pointed to a few early experiences -- singing with her mom in a Baptist choir for a short time, taking voice lessons at the suggestion of a teacher in the University of Virginia’s summer Young Writers Workshop, which had a songwriting course. Nevertheless, her performance style is selfmade and singular. She prefers low lighting; just the night before, at a show in Charlottesville, she improvised her own ambiance using lamps she found at the venue. “Any photos -- if you see a lamp on a chair, that was me.” And she described an approach to organizing set lists that involves front-loading upbeat material. “It’s really cool to watch that tone change or make that tone change happen,” she said. “I usually do an emotional slope in my sets, so it’ll start out as positive as I get for my music -- it’s not really positive or happy by nature -- and then just drag it down. Down, down, down. Like, unrelenting.” It takes uncommon confidence to intentionally bring an audience down, but in doing so, Dazeases is being faithful to the themes of her music. Her C R U M B S album in particular touched on the dark issue of how power manifests itself in relationships, and the video associated with “M E D U S A” finds her playing both the role of captor and the captured. “I like the idea of being kidnapped by myself” Dazeases explained, “because I’m very interested in control and power and the implications of that. Being a black femme person, I'm given little societal validation in comparison to that of most of my past partners. In the search for validation, I've often relinquished control of a relationship, allowing it to become almost entirely on the other person's terms. Do I think I was targeted or exploited in that regard? At times, yes. But I can also acknowledge that, even when I became cognizant of it happening and of its detrimental effects on me, I rarely cut the cord clean.” Coming to that level of self-awareness hasn’t been easy. Transferring to Virginia Commonwealth University involved an adjustment period in which Dazeases learned hard lessons about how insecurities and alcohol mix, particularly when it comes to sex. “I saw myself as marketable, but only in a certain way. And there was something I wanted, but I didn’t think I could get it by just being like, ‘Hey, you want to hang out sometime?’”


She’s since traded the party scene for one that’s more creatively minded. The Dazeases project has placed her at the center of Richmond’s thriving artistic community, which she’s poised to become an even bigger part of with the momentum generated by the release of Local Slut. “I’m interested in people [whose] socializing is about doing,” she said. “It’s not about ‘Where are we going to get drunk tonight?’ It’s about ‘What are we going to see and participate in tonight?’ and going and seeing what people are working really hard on and curating and presenting. It’s really nice because then it feels like a real community.” DAZEASES.BANDCAMP.COM



It was the hottest ticket that weekend. The Citrus City Records two-year anniversary party, held at Gallery 5 on a chilly Friday night this past January, brought together a large crowd made up of both veteran local music aficionados and hip young college kids. All had made their way to Gallery 5 that night to hear the kind of sunny, energetic indie sounds that have become the Citrus City trademark over the past two years. At the back of the venue, Manny Lemus, the more extroverted half of the duo that makes up the Citrus City braintrust, hawked cassettes and did his best to catch the four bands on the bill -- all favorites of his -- between excited conversations with fans, well-wishers, and prospective collaborators. His partner, Rene Franco, was also in attendance, cutting a more low-key figure and focusing on the music. When I caught up with Lemus at a local coffee shop a couple of weeks later, Franco was at work, but Lemus was glad to fill in all the details and answer all of my questions. Specifically, how had a small local label releasing only cassettes built up this much local momentum in only two years?

internet. Discovering artists like Jay Reatard through online explorations, he became so enthusiastic about the scene he'd tapped into that, by the time he was finishing high school, he was starting to contribute to a Canadian music website called IndieCurrent. "I used to freelance for them, and they'd send me to cover shows," he says. However, by the time he was finishing up at community college, he'd realized he didn't want to go into journalism as a career. Instead, he decided to apply to VCU and study Public Relations. He finished up at NVCC, was accepted into VCU, and moved from his hometown of Stafford to Richmond in May of 2015.

By this time, Citrus City was already a growing concern. Lemus and Franco had joined forces to create the label at the start of 2015, with the idea to document the music their friends were making. Unlike a lot of DIY labels who come together with this same mission, though, Citrus City wasn't originally oriented around a particular geographic scene. "We weren't really in the scene yet -- our scene was the internet," Lemus explains. "We came up with the [slogan] 'Made by friends, for friends,' even though they weren't necessarily people The first surprising thing I learned was that the we'd met in person. We had Boy's Age from label hadn't even begun in Richmond. At the Japan, and Lois from Madrid -- it's all people time of their meeting a few years ago, Lemus we became friends with online." and Franco were classmates at Northern Virginia Community College, in Woodbridge. The decision to call the label Citrus City From the beginning, their connection was Records wasn't an easy one. "We had no idea music-based. "I noticed he was wearing a what we were gonna call it," Lemus admits. Wavves t-shirt," Lemus says. "I said, 'Cool "We both really like citrus fruits and flowers, shirt, I just saw them in DC.' He was like, 'I was [so] we were [thinking] Citrus Records, but at that show too!'" The two clicked instantly. there's already a Citrus Recordings." A stroke Lemus attributed some of their connection to of genius on Franco's part solved the problem. their shared Latin background. "At that point "Rene was like "Let's add 'City', it sounds nice I didn't really see any other Latinx kids that off the tongue," says Lemus. liked the music I was into," he says. For a name picked relatively at random, Citrus Lemus was born in America, but lived in City has come to seem quite apropos for the Guatemala for several years during his label's offerings over its first two years of childhood. As a child, he was exposed to a existence. There's been a beachy, almost surfy wide variety of music by his mother, who loved undercurrent that shows up on many of the R.E.M. and Depeche Mode but also took him label's releases, which musically evokes the to see Latin American performers like Marc same sort of sunny warmth that the phrase Anthony and Daddy Yankee at the Patriot "citrus city" calls to mind. Lemus agrees. "A Center. However, going to DIY shows was a lot of the music that we like or want to release tougher sell. "My mom is old-school Latina," is... not necessarily dreamy, but positive, or he says. "She didn’t wanna let me go out. I upbeat." didn't really go to my first show until tenth grade." But of course, the question must be asked: why an all-cassette label? It's true that the For Lemus, his first exposure to the modern cassette format has experienced a bit of a underground music scene came through the resurgence in recent years, but it lacks the

prestige of vinyl. "It's like the only thing we can really afford,” Lemus chuckles sheepishly. “If I had the flexibility and the resources, the first [release] would have been a 7 inch. But tapes are a nice physical format to have. I just like to have a tangible version [of each release]." Citrus City's debut release may not have been a 7 inch, but Citrus City Vol. 1 makes up for its less prestigious format by bringing the listener nearly an hour of music by 17 different bands. The bands on the compilation hail from all over the world -- glittering Anglophilepopsters Jade TV are based in Michigan; shambling garage rockers The Lagoonas are from Memphis; bouncy indie-poppers Beach Youth are from Normandy, France. "I wrote for IndieCurrent for about two years," Lemus explains. "All those people were bands and musicians that had sent me their music when I was a writer, and we had just forged a nice e-friendship. I still keep in contact with all those people." Since the release of their debut compilation, Citrus City has released around 30 other cassettes. This works out to about one every three weeks, which is an amazingly prolific release rate for a small label run on a shoestring budget. Lemus looks at it as something that's possible due to careful planning and organization. "We've been trying to apply a schedule like an actual label, and each month get something out there," he says. They've also realized the importance of keeping things on a manageable scale. Small pressings of each release keep the label from having too much money tied up in back stock. "We usually do around 70 or 80, and we split it evenly with the band," Lemus explains. This way, the cassettes don't stick around long. "If anything the longest is three months," he says. "And even then it's like 'Oh, we have five left!' And people pick them up at shows." The first Citrus City release that featured a band Lemus and Franco knew in real life was their seventh overall, the Nothing Buttrock EP, by Collin Thibodeauxx. Originally named after the group's frontman and chief songwriter, the trio is now known as Lance Bangs. Lemus actually has quite a bit of history with them. "They were all high school friends. We all ran track together," he explains, then elaborates on the connections between Lance Bangs, Citrus City Records, and high school sports.


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"I quit sophomore year -- I was like 'This is dumb.' So did the bassist, Joel. But Collin and Drew kept at it. Collin is very into fishing. He has a bass tattoo on the back of his leg." This knowledge may tempt some to write Thibodeau (who actually has no X's in his name) and the rest of Lance Bangs off as typical jocks, but listening to any of their three Citrus City releases will disabuse you of that notion in a hurry. Their lo-fi slacker alt-rock is reminiscent of Pavement and Parquet Courts, and sounds way more like what a few stoners would come up with between bong hits on a couch than anything at home in a locker room. Of course, the fact that the Lance Mountain EP features back to back songs entitled "#1 Single released on 4/20" and "Football" shows that the tension between jock and slacker remains alive within the band -- which is part of what makes their music such an entertaining listen. Soon after releasing the first Collin Thibodeauxx EP, Citrus City joined forces with fellow local cassette labels Crystal Pistol and Bad Grrrl to release Camp Howard's self-titled debut album. "Camp Howard were the first new friends we made when we moved into town," Lemus says. Camp Howard's sound is cleaner and brighter than that of Lance Bangs, and mixes flavors from Built To Spill and The Chameleons into a fundamentally American pop approach full of guitar sunshine. Their self-titled debut is a solid release that made a good impression on the local scene, and beyond. Camp Howard singer/guitarist Nic Perea speaks highly of their experience with Citrus City. "Working with Citrus City has been fun; we've had a lot of good times and played a bunch of fun shows," he says. The band was particularly happy with the way Citrus City's far-reaching online connections got them press in some unexpected places. "We had some write-up's in the UK and stuff, which is sweet," Perea says. For his part, Lemus enjoys working with fellow RVA tape labels like Crystal Pistol and Bad Grrrl. "I get along with those people," he says. "We're just all running around doing the same thing." Lemus regards Citrus City as existing on a different level than higher-profile Richmond labels like Egghunt and Spacebomb, though. "I've interacted with the Egghunt people, but they want to be more of a label label, if that makes sense," he says. "I respect what they do. They want to put things on a national level, and with the Lucy Dacus thing they really did that. It gives me hope that that could happen to me one day. I would be so fucking glad if I could help a band on our label." At this point, though, part of being able to help has been recognizing the label's limits. "We're trying to keep it consistent," Lemus says. "After a while, pulling money out of nowhere each month... it's kinda hurting us right now." To that end, Lemus and Franco have made the


decision to ease up with the prolific release schedule. "We only are doing five releases this calendar year," Lemus says. "I really want to finish school. Citrus City's been putting it off a bit, so I really just want to get school out of the way." One of the upcoming releases on the docket for this year is the latest album from Fat Spirit, a band new to working with Citrus City after releasing their previous work through Bad Grrrl Records. "Manny approached me about putting out Fat Spirit's next release," singer/ guitarist John Graham says. "I didn't know him at the time, so I asked around about how it was to work with him and heard only good things." Graham was impressed with Lemus's work ethic and drive to promote his releases. "It seemed like he was someone who actually puts in work for the bands he puts tapes out for instead of just releasing it and doing the occasional post," Graham explains. The latest Fat Spirit album, Nihilist Blues, will be coming out on Citrus City in April, with a record release show at Gallery 5 planned for May 5. Fat Spirit is just the latest Richmond band to join the ranks of Citrus City. Over the course of its existence, the label has become a more integral part of the Richmond scene. "I'm definitely seeing that people in town are more interested, and becoming more receptive," Lemus says. In turn, Citrus City is paying more attention to the music being made in Richmond and reinforcing their roster with local groups like Young Scum and Antiphons. "We're more rooted into Richmond now; I've been meeting a lot more people and taking on more Richmond releases," says Lemus. Right now, the label's mission continues to be to release music by their friends. "It's just people we know, that we really want to help," Lemus says. "That stuff goes a long way, especially with the musicians we're working with. Music's a side thing -- a lot of them have two jobs." The positive response the label received from their anniversary show at Gallery 5 is not lost on Lemus. "A lot of friends we've made in the Charlottesville, Blacksburg, Harrisonburg, and Norfolk DIY communities came to the Gallery 5 show. I was taken aback." Seeing such a positive response to the work he and Franco have put in over the past two years only makes him more excited for the future. However, he recognizes that the label needs to stay humble and keep working in order to achieve their full potential. "There are other labels out there who're doing the same thing I'm doing, some for longer, some doing better than I do. But we've managed to reach out to a lot of people with the little we had -- just through tapes, and getting people to check out new bands." For the two young men who run Citrus City Records, that's enough to make it all worthwhile. CITRUSCITYRECORDS.BANDCAMP.COM

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With Young Scum ready, the first rehearsals would take place in the kitchen of Medcalf’s Museum District apartment. “His neighbors fucking hated us,” Smith jokes. As the first set of songs started to come together, the band were eager to play their first show and by June of 2014, the band made their debut at the RNH House. A quick six-song set would reflect a birthing moment for the group as they could sense the growing momentum in the progress they had made as a group. “We ended up releasing that set online, because we thought it was a cool time stamp for us as a band,” Medcalf mentions.

When you recall memories associated with falling in love, what is the first thing to come to mind? Is it the whimsical conversations that fall into place with an unexpected ease? Is it the way that one evening can feel like an indulged spirit that intoxicates the memory? Or is it as quaint as the way one feels when they hear their favorite song and it takes them back to that place? For Richmond’s Young Scum, they carry a torch that is wrought with classic romantic yearnings that weave themselves into entrancing pop lullabies. With a number of releases under their collective belts, the band plunges forward as they prepare to unveil their proper full-length in 2017. The story begins with a Craigslist posting and a farewell to a close friend. In 2014, guitarist Ben Medcalf met original bassist Jason Pirault through an opportunity to sublet a place in Richmond upon moving to the city. Through this digital encounter, Pirault introduced Medcalf to vocalist/guitarist Chris Smith. “Jason dragged me to an Ugly Thrash Demon show and that’s where I met Chris,” Medcalf says before Smith inserts himself into the conversation with a clarification. “It was a weird folk rock band that I was in despite what you might think from the name,” he laughs. Medcalf enjoyed the set and knew almost immediately that he wanted to work on music with Smith. The three were eager to begin working on this new project. A little while later, the three would come together to wish a fond farewell to their friend Brian Dove, someone who plays an integral role in the past and present of Young Scum. Before moving cross-country to Oregon, Dove, also of local band Antiphons, introduced the trio to drummer Taylor Haag. The group instantly hit it off and it was apparent that they had found their ideal missing member. “Chris and I hit it off almost immediately due to our adoration for Teenage Fanclub and I was in need of a new band,” Haag reminisces. “So, it worked out perfectly.”


What soon followed was the recording and release of their debut EP Autumn August. The four song collection includes a number of fan favorites such as “Blue Slurpee” and “Met You At A Party,” both of which reflect a particular personal wit that Smith engaged with in the early days of the band. “Whenever I’m writing lyrics for a song,” Smith details, “I try to think of small things that bring me a certain joy and how I can inject those into them. At the end of the day, I am pretty much writing love songs and it seems like the two ideas go hand in hand.” Autumn August does give the band a bit of a misconstrued portrayal. “When I was recording it, I didn’t really know what I was doing and I think that’s why a lot of the songs ended up sounding a bit quieter,” Medcalf mentions, but the band believed there were other factors at play too. “A lot of the reason for putting the EP out was to help us book more shows,” Smith adds, “but sometimes it seemed like we might shock people when they would see us live and realize that we were a much louder rock band than what they might have expected.” Close to a year after Young Scum’s first show, Pirault would leave the band, but the band wouldn’t look too long for a new bassist as Brian Dove returned to Richmond around the same time, helping locking down a line-up that remains to this day. After the slight shuffle, the band found themselves in the middle of a prolific writing streak, one that spanned splits with bands Shrunk and Reporters. As the streak continued and their discography grew, Young Scum inched their way closer to what might be their biggest achievement to date.

the band’s shift in sound was due to the involvement of engineer Mitch Clem. Having started working with the band on their prior split releases, he was the ideal candidate to continue directing the textures and nuances of the Young Scum sound on Zona. “One of the reasons we were able to sound like a ramped up, loud band on Zona is due to Mitch and his immeasurable talents with recording our songs,” Medcalf states. “A lot of the ideas we had stirring around in our heads would make more sense once we had him around to bounce them off of.” Zona is a reflection of making observations about the world that surrounds you with childlike wonderment. Each of the five tracks takes the listener on a journey that only a writer like Smith could weave. The songsmith takes every twist and turn of engaged folly, and how they encapsulate our daily diatribes and daydreams. “If You Say That” swirls from the introductory moments as Smith dreams of believing in oneself and taking chances to achieve the personal goals any of us set for ourselves. In another personal ode, the singer finds himself paying proper tribute to a favorite beverage in the track “Zona,” while also waxing poetically about the beauties found in a bag of chips and simple kisses. One of Smith’s strongest suits is juxtaposing the daily grind with the small joys that make it all bearable. On “Sun Drop,” he coyly mentions that despite an unfortunate landlord, he can look forward to enjoying tacos and Mountain Dews with a significant other in the later recesses of the evening. As Zona comes to a close, “Out Of State” blasts through to proclaim how undying devotion to being with the ones you love is never foolish. If anything, it’s one of the more deserving virtues that any of us can hope to dedicate themselves to. As the conversations reverts back to intriguing lyrical wordplay, other members of the band are quick to highlight moments they think quickly connects with a certain set of listeners. “I think there is this inherent

In 2016, the band began work on their second EP entitled Zona, a release that helped the band shape their aspirations of becoming a loud, noisey pop band. “With Autumn August, Ben and I were mainly playing with clean tones and that evidently came across as sounding a bit more quaint,” Smith recalls. “With this record, we knew we could start messing around with tones and layering tracks throughout.” Another large part of RVA MAGAZINE RVA MAGAZINE 28 | SPRING 24 | SPRING2017 2016

on their proper full-length release, something the group is excited for even if there is a little bit of pressure involved. “Yeah, a full-length record feels like a relationship commitment,” Smith jokes. “Like it’s time to meet the parents and make thing serious.” Helping ease those commitment fears are some familiar faces, like Ali Mislowsky of Big Baby lending her harmonies once again, and some competent direction, like that of engineer Tim Falen who’s no stranger to the group’s cluttered practice space. With recording underway, the untitled fulllength should see a release later this year. “After we finish everything, I imagine we’ll most definitely work with Citrus City again,”

sweetness on display that really resonates with some people,” Haag says. “Some people might not get it, but the ones that have felt the same way and experienced something similar will immediately latch on to the songs.” Smith considers a few of the inspirations for these approaches. “I have always enjoyed the way that bands like Belle and Sebastian can take that narrative device and have their be a nice blend of sadness and happiness,” he adds. ”Two things that seem like they should be at odds with one another, but they feel kinda at home in the same phrase or song.” Outside of the lyrical perspective, Zona also reflected the band at their most confident. “We also went into this recording with a certain sense of feeling like we had a better sense of what we were doing,” Medcalf says. “We had been a band for a while at this point and we felt like we could reflect that a bit more on these songs.” Even though Dove wasn’t involved with process of recording Autumn August, he is quick to see the progression in the band from an outside perspective. “I think Autumn August was more like an effort to just start a band and get something out there,” Dove remembers. “By the time, I joined and we started working on Zona; it was more like ‘How can we get the most impact out of this release and how do we make that happen?’” After they wrapped up recording, it took no time for the release to acquire the interest of local label Citrus City Records. “Manny [Lemus] hit us up with immediate interest in putting out Zona and the entire base of that label seemed like exactly who we would want to work with,” Smith says. The tape release quickly received solid acclaim from a number of blogs, including (just another) Pop Song whose review specifically led to the band being approached by the Spanish label Pretty Olivia Records about a possible vinyl press. As one could imagine, the band were quick to leap at the opportunity. At the time of the interview, Young Scum had hunkered down in a practice space littered with cans of Arizona Iced Tea to begin working 10 YEARS OF RVA 2005-2015 2005-2015 10 YEARS OFMAGAZINE RVA MAGAZINE


Smith says. “As far as releasing it goes, the goal is to see if we can put the release out on as many formats as possible including vinyl.” As live performances have displayed, the new set of music should entice fans of last year’s Zona and raise the band’s profile even further within the community. Their experiences touring behind their subsequent releases have been favorable as well and the band looks forward to pursuing that even more with this new record. “We’ve had really good luck just trying to hit a lot of the same cities on the east coast multiple times and help build a decent rapport with those cities,” Medcalf says. In the more than three year journey that Young Scum have been on, they continue to find more and more welcome opportunities within the Richmond music scene. “When I first moved back to Richmond in 2013, it felt like the scene was populated by metal and math rock bands,” Medcalf states. “Through Young Scum, I’ve made a lot of friends that also play music in town and the scene just seems to get more diverse with each coming year.” Helping foster that local fellowship is Richmond’s growing number of musicians matching the band’s melodic, yet minimialist approach. “It seems like a lot of people in town are teetering towards writing songs

"....the introductory moments as Smith dreams of believing in oneself and taking chances to achieve the personal goals any of us set for ourselves. In another personal ode, the singer finds himself paying proper tribute to a favorite beverage in the track 'Zona' while also waxing poetically about the beauties found in a bag of chips and simple kisses...” that kinda reflect a similar pop sensibility and attitude that fits well with what Young Scum does,” Smith says. “It’s nice to have those ties continue to grow stronger and see how that affects things positively in town.” With a release in the works and excitement brewing within the band, Young Scum are in a perfect place to further solidify their reputation as pop connoisseurs. Inspired by the likes of artists that found homes at places like Sarah Records and K Records, their beautiful array of music, describing the chances we take pursuing the simple pleasures in life, is a welcome testament. In a city with growing musical diversity, Young Scum couldn’t be more at home and 2017 will surely be a champagne year for them. YOUNGSCUM.BANDCAMP.COM 49



By Cody Endres Photo by Robert Escue

Most metal-savvy people in Richmond are at least somewhat aware of Cannabis Corpse, and are therefore aware of Josh Hall, or Hallhammer, through his drum work with Cannabis Corpse and Six Feet Under. On the other side of the recording booth, Hallhammer has also made a name for himself through work with Muncipal Waste, Bat, and Iron Reagan and if that doesn’t already sound like a lengthy local resume, here’s one more to add to the list: Cruelsifix. Formed late last year, Cruelsifix has no recorded material to speak of at the moment, though it’s not hard to see why considering that multiple members are attached to several other bands. Despite the absence of recordings, the band has earned a following of curious fans, each enthralled by the band’s performances and anxious for more, a fact that’s forcefully fueling the writing process.

is already so engaging. Every member of the band is a seasoned musician, with this new project sounding like the culmination of their collective knowledge. In addition to making their performances sharp, that cumulative experience helps the band navigate a variety of influences, something that produces a sound a bit hard to map. Listening live, death metal is abound in the mix, along with threads of thrash and black metal sewn throughout their songs. Apparently, Cruelsifix started as a grindcore project, but an appreciation for heaviness of all kinds amongst the members led to “ventures in blackened punk” that then “swerved into Obituary slam.” The balancing of those different sounds is a difficult task, albeit one suited to this talented bunch, some of whom have been making noise in the river city for some time now.

a lot since my early days,” Hallhammer says. “It’s not hard for bands to put together shows now if they want, which is good for everybody. Richmond isn't dominated by pay to play like most other cities.” Hallhammer has his own role in improving the scene. With every new, exciting project like Cruelsifix, he offers new enticement for fans to take part and new inspiration for wouldbe musicians to start their own group, both of which ensure Richmond’s heavy music scene will continue to grow for years to come.

Cruelsifix may only be a few months old, but Hallhammer is hardly a newcomer to the scene. With roots dating back to the ‘90s, Hall first formed Cannibis Corpse in the 2000s with his FACEBOOK.COM/CRUELSIFIX twin brother Phil “Landphil” Hall (also of Iron Reagan) making him a true Richmond veteran. Every member of Cruelsifix brings a wealth of Thinking back to his early days, Hallhammer experience to the band from other projects is quick to point out the huge change the local and maybe that’s why their live sets feel so scene has undergone, one he happily concedes incisive and energetic, and why their material is positive. “The number of venues has increased “We are writing a bunch of material and [are] very open to canning songs if we aren't feeling it,” Hallhammer states. “If audiences don't respond to a song, we can it. It’s like a comedian developing material in front of crowds.”




Comicbooks. Before they were made into blockbuster movies and showed up weekly on television, they were once publications advertised as “All in Color for a Dime” and almost exclusively produced in New York. Over the years, not only has the price per-issue increased exponentially, but the production of the books has become radically decentralized. Industry titan Marvel still resides in New York, while their closest competitor DC has moved its operations to the West Coast and hundreds of indie publishers have taken to the space between. The internet itself has helped decentralize too, offering creators chances to work outside of a publisher’s base, settling instead in areas where they find inspiration. Welcome to Richmond. Long-time Richmond resident Chris Pitzer is one of these creators enjoying the freedom offered by comicbooks today. Inspired by the four-color heroes he discovered in elementary school, he eventually joined the ranks of Eclipse Comics out in California, while also offering freelance work as a designer and colorist. Upon returning to the East Coast, he founded AdHouse Books back in 2002 and these days, he hosts a local comic creators group called RVA Comic Creator-ish. The group sports a Facebook page and also, according to Pitzer, meets four to five times a year because “It’s always good to meet people face to face,” a notion he describes as an excellent way “...to meet new people, exchange information and experiences, talk comics, TV, movies.” At one such meeting just prior to Christmas, he brought some boxes of AdHouse inventory and gave copies to everyone there. “I think that was a pre-Christmas get together, which feels appropriate,” he smiles.


Online, the group’s growing presence includes comicbook aficionados with several credits to their name such as Ken Marcus (Super Human Resources), Tim Shinn (If Anthology, Green Arrow), Kelly Alder (Project: Romantic), and even Patrick Godfrey, owner of local store Velocity Comics. “It’s like a wave in the ocean,” Pitzer says. “The amount of comic creators in Richmond comes and goes. Obviously, the magnet is VCU, but then it depends on whether each creator is finding what they need in our city.” Someone finding what they need is Gary Cohn who helped create the characters Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld, and Blue Devil for DC Comics in the ‘80s. Two years ago, Cohn retired from his job as a teacher in New York City and relocated to Richmond. “When I decided to leave New York City, I wanted to find a new home where I could find a creative community to help me reenergize and reawaken as a comics creator,” Cohn explains. “My two years in Richmond have taken me a long way towards doing that.” Many like Cohn are finding new inspiration from Comic Creator-ish, a group that’s becoming more like a true community with members offering to give advice or even help someone move to a new apartment. Pitzer states that it isn’t necessary to be a working professional to “become” a member. To the group, all that’s required is an interest in comicbooks. If you have it and live in the area, then by all means -- visit their page, attend a gathering, and join the community. FACEBOOK : “RVA COMICS CREATOR-ISH”





EATSRVA We like to eat. Follow us @RVAmag OPPOSITE PAGE from left to right, row to row Main: Home Sweet Home Top: Bellytimber, Sorry It's Over, Continental Divide Second Line: Kabana Third Line:En Su Boca Bottom: Helen's, The Camel, The Answer Main: Weezie's Top: Brooks Diner, Belle & James, Sticky Rice Second Line: Savory Grain Bottom: K-Town, Bandito's GOOD EATS RVA -- tag us @RVAmag





This Asian concept is a fresh, modern version of its original antecedent according to Staples. “It’s a modern take on traditional Cantonese food, and a really cool upbeat chic fun place to come and enjoy it,” he said. At the helm of The Beijing on Grove is Chef Fei Zhao, who is from Guandong and served as the original chef at Osaka, and most recently Fat Dragon as executive chef. The restaurant’s menu features dishes such as Beijing Duck, Mushu Pork, Chili Dumplings and Guandong fried rice. “He makes Szechuan, he makes Hunan style, but the core of the menu here is Cantonese food,” Staples said.

HAPPENINGS AT QUIRK HOTEL The boutique hotel located at 201 W. Broad St. has added quite a few programs recently. At the end of January, Quirk Hotel launched Wine Table Tuesdays in partnership with non-profit organizations. Each week, a new organization or charity will be featured with wine reps present to educate patrons on the chosen wine. Price: $17 per person that includes four tastings, with $2 of all tastings being donated to the specific charity that week. Events are held in Quirk’s restaurant, Maple & Pine, with past charities including the American Heart Association. Contact quirkcares@ destinationhotels.com to book. Also at the end of January, Quirk Hotel’s restaurant launched its 10 Course Chef Tasting Series. Maple & Pine allows guests to leave all decision in the hands of Chef David Dunlap. These dinners will consist of 10 courses showcasing the chef’s favorite local ingredients and a variety of textures and techniques. Menus will change frequently and the series will run Thursdays to Saturdays. Price: $89 per person / Optional $25 Wine Pairing. Maple & Pine Restaurant has introduced their version of “Sunday Supper” entitled Feasting With Friends. This new offering is a special family style menu that will allow guests to engage with one another through good food and delicious drinks. With a rotating monthly menu of seasonal eats, guests can continue to come back to enjoy all that Maple & Pine has to offer. Feasting With Friends will take place every Sunday at the restaurant from 5 to 9 pm. Price: $25 per person that includes an enjoyable four-item, shared plate family style meal. FACEBOOK.COM/QUIRKHOTEL


RVA’S EAT RESTAURANT PARTNERS RETURN TO CHINESE ROOTS WITH THE BEJING ON GROVE On Dec. 31, The Blue Goat came to the end of its six-year run at 5710 Grove Avenue and in January, EAT Restaurant Partners returned it to its original Chinese roots with The Bejing on Grove Chinese Kitchen and Bar. It will be the eighth restaurant for the local restaurant group, which also owns Boulevard Burger and Brew, Fat Dragon, Foo Dog, Osaka, Wild Ginger, and Wong Gonzalez.

Prices are along the lines of Fat Dragon with appetizers from $4-$10, entrees from $12$28, and lunch combos around $10-11. And don’t fret Blue Gloat fans, Staples said they are keeping their popular cocktail and craft beer program in place so patrons will have the best of both restaurants. “All we did was take the focus from the Blue Goat and amp it up even more, so still a big focus on craft beer, craft cocktails, and a really nice curated wine list,” Staples said. “You get the things you want if you’re nostalgic for Chinese food, but you also get the stuff you want if you’re into craft beer.” The restaurant offers happy hour seven days a week from 4:30-7pm with $2 off drafts, specialty cocktails, high balls, and $5 glasses of wine. THEBEIJINGONGROVE.COM

Prior to The Blue Goat opening, which was a popular place for cocktails, the spot near the corner of Libbie and Grove was home to Peking for over 30 years. Chris Staples, Director of Hospitality for EAT, said the former restaurant was run by the father of EAT Restaurant Partners’ owner Chris Tsui and his business partner, who owned five Pekings around Richmond. “When Chris was in high school he was a bus boy, a waiter, he worked here while his family ran the business,” he said. After they made the decision to close The Blue Goat just before the New Year, Staples said Tsui wanted to bring back a concept that once did well in the bustling Near West End corridor. “The Blue Goat ran its course,” he said. “There’s five American style restaurants on this block and instead of trying to always think of ways to compete with them and share that same client base, we were like, ‘Why don’t we just bring in something that the neighborhood is starving for and nostalgic about,’ which was Chinese food.”


You may have heard rumblings a few years ago of several local restaurateurs getting together for pizza and booze at the home of Victoria DeRoche, now owner of Italian restaurant Nota Bene, for what would become known as Pizza Club. No one was allowed to talk about it, but we all knew it was happening. And now DeRoche, along with several RVA brewers and restaurant owners, has given Pizza Club a reboot and this time not only do you get to talk about it, but you get to be a member too. Starting in January, DeRoche turned her monthly backyard pizza parties into a monthly event where patrons can dine on a special pizza at her restaurant created by some of Richmond’s finest restaurant owners, along with specialty cocktails and tap takeovers by local brewers. “It’s fun to see it go from a fun gathering to now bringing it a different playing field where we can host it at a restaurant…” DeRoche said. “There’s a lot of nostalgia.” It all started back in 2009 and for two years every month, DeRoche would invite her friends -- including Nate Gutierrez now of Don’t Look Back, Julia Battaglini of Secco Wine Bar, and others -- over for a potluck, but with a twist. Members would come up with a pizza recipe based on DeRoche’s theme, and they’d make that pizza right there in the backyard with a small wood-fired oven. “I would provide dough and sauce and I would throw out a prompt, and the prompt would be like heirloom tomatoes are in season, make your favorite pizza based on an heirloom tomato... or make your favorite pizza that’s based on a soup. People were encouraged to do a signature cocktail or I would do a signature cocktail for the event.” The club events will take Sundays and DeRoche will be baking up the pies in her wood-fired oven, but the restaurant owners will be creating the recipes along with a signature cocktail or other special beer. And while Nota Bene’s kitchen team is busy making pies, the monthly specials guests will be behind the bar sharing stories. DeRoche has made the club even better by offering attendees an official Pizza Club punch card towards earning a free pizza. These punch cards will only be available during Pizza Club Sundays but are redeemable for punches and redemption during any visit. Pizza Club runs on one Sunday of each month from 5-9 p.m at Nota Bene. Reservations are recommended and can be made online at NotaBeneRVA.com.


MILLIE’S DINER EXECUTIVE CHEF LAUNCHES ASIANINFLUENCED POP-UP SERIES, THE JACKDAW Richmond was late to the pop-up game, but nevertheless, the one-night temporary restaurants have become quite the hit over the last few years with Underground Kitchen, Longven, and Pop Up Revolution making it a regular occurrence in our foodobsessed city. One that seems to have flown under our radar is Ian Merryman’s “The Jackdaw.” Merryman, the Executive Chef at Millie’s Diner, started doing a Chinese-influenced pop up at local restaurants around town about two years ago as a way to challenge his culinary chops. “The Jackdaw started just out of wanting to cook my own food instead of somebody else’s,” he said. “Working for someone else, cooking their vision, I just felt like doing something on my own and wanted to do something I hadn’t done before.”

Chinese food,” he said. “I wanted to do something that wasn’t in my comfort zone.” Since then he’s evolved the pop-up to feature other cuisines, most recently, Filipino. “I don’t have any family ties to it, but my mom was in the military and actually went to school with half-American, half Filipino kids when I was younger and was exposed to the food from a young age and loved it.” Merryman said he felt like it was a cuisine that’s not really championed in Richmond so he wanted to bring something to the table that was lacking in the city. By the time this comes out, the chef will have put on his first Kamayan dinner, a traditional Filipino feast which features rice, noodles, pork belly, shrimp, clam and oysters and other dishes you can eat with your hands. “The Kamayan feast, they’ll lay banana leaves out on the table and serve the food communal style,” he said. “Eating with your hands is encouraged.” Justin James of L’opossum works as his sous chef and he usually has guest bartenders from RVA spots including Ron Rogers from Strange Matter and Shaun Loughran from The Rogue Gentlemen along with several Millie’s employees. FACEBOOK.COM/THEJACKDAWRVA

The chef has worked off and on and Millie’s for the last few years, prior to that he held the chef spot at Antler & Fin, but had the idea while he was in between jobs. Merryman has put on pop-ups at the now shuttered Kinsfolk, Lunch, Shoryuken Ramen, Belle & James, and the last Monday of every month he hosts “Industry Night” at Millie’s Diner. “Millie’s has been my go to because Paul {Keevil, owner} has been really supportive,” he said. Creating an ever-changing menu, Merryman first started with Chinese dishes such as dumplings, spicy Dan Dan Noodles, Congee with pork belly, and dan dan mein soup with squid ink noodles. “I have a heavy back ground in Asian background, but never 55

ELEVEN MONTHS: CHATTING WITH RESTAURATEUR HAMOODA SHAMI ON HIS BOLD NEW PROJECT Never one for sitting back on his haunches, RVA restaurateur Hamooda Shami is always looking for the next exciting move to make when it comes to his businesses. Since 2006, he’s continued to shake up the local restaurant scene with unique ventures like New York Deli, Portrait House, and Don’t Look Back, and now Shami will tackle his next challenge with Eleven Months, a restaurant with temporary themes that will switch up every year. Shami opened the first Eleven Months in Charlottesville, where he’s currently based, February 8th, and a Richmond spot will follow in Carytown sometime in the spring. Each year, both restaurants will open with an entirely new theme, coordinating interior, menu and cocktails. We caught up with the busy entrepreneur to hear about his latest venture and his time spent in the business. Tell me a little bit more about your new restaurants, “Eleven Months.” The idea of Eleven months, which is going to be the permanent name... every year we’ll shut down for a month for a remodel and it will open with a new concept. The idea essentially is every year, it’s mostly cosmetic changes, light fixtures and furniture, but also the food and beverage menus. We’ve been saying extended recurring pop-ups, when in actuality it’s 56

more like a temporary restaurant. From the day we open there will be a large clock in the restaurant at Eleven months and when that hits zero, that concept is done. What can patrons expect with the opening theme, “Best Friends Forever,” at the Richmond restaurant? Friendship and everything wonderful that comes with it. But there's also a strong kitsch element, whether it be old photos of kids frolicking in a park or the more recent (and unnecessary) phenomenon of duck face selfies. Think Moonrise Kingdom meets Freaks And Geeks, if that makes any sense. There's also an understated irony to the name, as it seems when you're at the age when you'd actually use the term Best Friends Forever with complete sincerity... well, those friendships tend to rarely last. You recently launched the first Eleven Months concept in Charlottesville with the theme, “Sorry It’s Over.” Can you elaborate on that? It’s going to be all breakup based. I have breakup letters from my bartender, I got her and her husband’s old breakup letters that will be up there, think The Smiths. It’s completely camp, but there’s some substance there if you want to dig in. This won’t work if we take ourselves too seriously it’d be really easy to be pretentious. We’re trying to have fun with it. Do the menus for both locations coincide with the themes? [Charlottesville is] a contemporary American bistro. It’s sort of a mix of dishes, some of them are comfort-themed like mac and cheese on this first go. We’re still working the Richmond one out. It’s going to be rotating, it won’t necessarily be tied

into the theme. The menu will sit on its own as something that will be fun and an opportunity to be creative. I think the Eleven Months concept will lend itself really well to cocktails. Like a featured eight or so every year. Like in Sorry It’s Over, it’s the name of depressing songs, “Boys Don’t Cry”... so having fun with that. You decided to rebrand your Charlottesville restaurant Yearbook Taco into the first Eleven Months. What made you want to run with this idea? Late summer, it became apparent it’d be madness to keep doing what I was doing. Essentially, what happened there, we were around for two years, I closed it December 31. We had a really good first year, second year slowed down considerably, the downtown mall in general in Charlottesville kind of had a bit of slowdown. Outside of the flagship ones like Whiskey Jar, Citizen Burger -- a lot of places there started struggling including us. Anytime you face a challenge, there can be a positive outcome out of it, and to me it was, “I have to come up with a really compelling idea for this space.” People aren’t going to the mall are weekday nights. Parking is a problem so I need to come up with something that I think is compelling. I had to reach into my vault of restaurant ideas and come up with one that was a little admittedly, at most kind of out there. That could be the positive outcome of the slowdown I had at Yearbook, I really had to take a risk and this is definitely a risk. Was this concept something you saw in other places? I did conduct some research once I decided I was going to go forward with this, there was no one quite doing the same thing. The closest one we could was in Chicago, it’s called Next. Fine dining though, every three RVA MAGAZINE 28 | SPRING RVA MAGAZINE 24 | SPRING2017 2016

months they change the theme of the menu, but they don’t change the actual restaurant. So we’re the first doing this in this manner. I contacted market research reports all over the world because I was curious. I’ve figured out some of the numbers so it could make sense, but again, we won’t really know if it’s something people are going to be into until we open those doors.

went two or three years it would get kind of tired, but it could be really fun for eleven months. Any time I try to come up with a different concept, [it’s] same sort of thing. I’ve kind off had to have that in mind, I had to be, “this would get old soon.”

Are you working with anyone on themes or branding for both restaurants?

The restaurant business is sort of a young person’s game and if I didn’t do this Eleven Months idea now, I was never going to do it. That sort of time thing keeps coming into play here... I think the Richmond arts community would really take to it. Richmond in general has been growing like crazy. When you put something on white board or an Excel spreadsheet, it’s not the same as reality. We won’t know if it’s something people will be into until we open those doors. There’s been a lot of positive feedback so far, but now we have to execute. This done the wrong way, is really cheesy and gimmicky. Done the right way, is creative and something we can have fun with and the neighborhood can have fun with.

I’m working with Campfire & Co., they’re on the branding and interior design. They have been instrumental in the process, leading the branding and interior design at both locations. What's been lost in some of the initial buzz is that we've been compared to places that change their menu themes over different time intervals. When what we're actually doing is creating an entirely new brand and restaurant experience every year. The signage will indicate Eleven Months, but when you walk through the doors, you'll be walking into an entirely new concept. That's why Campfire & Co. is so crucial to the model we're attempting to execute, as the plan is for them to be the ones to develop the new sub-brand and interior design on each iteration at both locations. They have been instrumental in the process, leading the branding, logo and interior design at both locations. Did you approach your previous restaurants in the same way, when it comes to creating the concept? I feel like when you’re building a restaurant like NY Deli or Don’t Look Back, a place that you want to last for a while, you’re constrained with how insane you can get with regards to creativity of the theme. It would get old. Like the one in Charlottesville, the break up theme. If that 10 YEARS OF RVA 2005-2015 2005-2015 10 YEARS OFMAGAZINE RVA MAGAZINE

Why was this something you wanted to do and do you think it will take off?

You’ve been in the industry for over 10 years, how do you think you’ve managed to stay successful? The importance of your staff it’s not just an aspect of the business it is the business. I’m at the point now, I want to work with professionals, I want to work with good people and people with a work ethic. The reason Don’t Look Back has made it is not because of me it’s because of the crew here. Really importantly is separating myself out from it. Starting with the earliest restaurants I worked at in DC, I’d work there and hang out there’s that sort of clubhouse mentality. I’ve learned to detach myself a little bit. People compare their companies often times to being a family, it’s tough to fire your

sister or nephew whereas if you’re on a team you have that cohesive energy, you have to perform. I fired myself at the Deli at one point. I burnt myself out I looked at myself I was a manager, and I said that manager is not performing. I feel like a team mentality over a family mentality is the way to go. Every role is crucial. If the dishwasher or host doesn’t show up on Saturday night, the whole thing falls apart. What are some of things you’ve learned along the way as you’ve worked your way up? I read somewhere when I first getting into this that the two main reasons places fail are lack of knowledge and lack of capital. I was fortunate enough to, for the first couple years, not work as an investor, but as an assistant GM in DC. I could make mistakes so I was able to get a good knowledge base to start with so I wouldn’t make that fatal mistake in the first six months. And the second part is just making sure the place was financially secure enough to get through the waves in the beginning. Every one of my places at some point had an existential crisis. Every one, I was able to get through the slow times, occasionally have to strong pivot, but just making sure you have a safety cushion, some line of credit, and make all the mistakes before you try to start your own. FACEBOOK.COM/ELEVENMONTHS Editor's Note: Sorry It's Over is now open in Charlottesville, VA with Best Friend's Forever scheduled to open in Carytown sometime in April.



COMING UP AT THREE NOTCH’D Back in RVA Mag #25, we featured an interview with Dave Warwick and Stefan McFayden of Three Notch’d Brewing Company, one mainly focused on their plans for their Richmond location. They wanted to have a brewery with a small system that could make small batches of beer with Richmond-area collaborators on a frequent basis. It seems like things are going to plan: That Richmond location opened in Scott’s Addition at the end of September 2016, and has brewed twenty-eight beers at time of writing, twenty of those being collaborations and twenty-six of the brews being unique recipes (only two of their beers have been made more than once). I recently spoke with McFayden, and sampled several of his beers at the collab house, including There Will Be Braggot, a honey-infused Belgian tripel brewed in collaboration with Black Heath Meadery, a highly aromatic Belgian IPA made with the organizers of the Virginia Wine Expo, as well as originals like a tropical gose and a dry Irish stout. The stylistic diversity is partly just due to the collaborative nature of the facility -one collaborator is unlikely to come into the brewhouse with the same ideas or goals as another. Another factor is Stefan McFayden. He’s a natural fit for the mercurial nature of working with a host of different collaborators, as he likes to brew a wide range of styles and enjoys bringing intriguing ingredients into the process. McFayden brought up some past collaborations he’s particularly proud of, such as a blonde stout made with local musical artist Clair Morgan, the choice of that multifaceted style being a nod to Morgan’s diverse roles as bandmate, employee, and father. Also mentioned was a Hibiscus IPA made with 58


the organizers of the First Fridays Art Walk, which came out pink thanks to the hibiscus, and of course RVA’s own collaboration with No BS Brass Band, The Broadberry, and Three Notch’d: the No BS Cream Ale. Coming soon is Heroes PrevAle, a collaboration with non-profit Connor’s Heroes, an organization that provides support to youngsters that are undergoing cancer treatment. The cream ale is being made in support of a Connor’s Heroes art ball, and some of the pieces from that art ball will be put up in the collab house. After that will come a collaboration with the Library of Virginia, an imperial brown ale (some of which will be barrel-aged for a few months) made to coincide with a library exhibition called Moonshiners and Teetotalers, which documents the history of prohibition in Virginia. If it sounds like Three Notch’d is busy, that’s because they are -- the brewery is booked solid through June or July with no shortage of willing collaborators likely waiting in the wings. If you are interested in working with Three Notch’d on a beer, a form can be found under the “About” tab of the Richmond location’s Facebook page. McFayden noted that past collaborators have all enjoyed learning about the brewing process and that collaborators have also enjoyed coming into the brewery for beer release days. The head brewer also commented that he’s been happy to be able to work with a diverse assortment of groups so far, and that he hopes each collaboration is a good representation of the collaborator involved in making it. The Three Notch’d slogan is “Leave Your Mark,” so it’s only natural that these liquid storytellers want to allow others to do just that with their own totally unique brews. THREENOTCHDBREWING.COM


Since opening in December of last year, Triple Crossing’s Fulton Hill location has been pumping out fresh cans on a steady basis, both flagships like Falcon Smash and limited releases like Fulton Rising Double IPA, a collaboration with Stone that benefitted the Fulton Neighborhood Resource Center. We can expect more of that goodness to continue through April with can releases of Clever Girl IPA as well as Nectar and Knife Double IPA, two fan-favorite hop bombs. On April 15th, Triple Crossing will celebrate the third anniversary of their downtown location on Foushee Street. That location will also host a happy hour on April 20th to benefit Home Again, an organization that helps homeless individuals and families find housing. Carytown’s Garden Grove also has some April offerings, hoppy and otherwise. April 20th marks the release of their appropriately named Stick Icky Double IPA, a beer made with hop hash AKA lupulin powder, a by-product of the hop pelletization process that provides massive flavor and aroma. The following week, on the 24th, Garden Grove will host a five-course dinner with a menu created by Chef Scott Lewis (The Roosevelt, Laura Lee’s, Southbound, Six Burner) and the team at Laura Lee’s, with beer pairings for each dish. Also in April, Garden Grove will release a collaboration with David Achkio of Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery, a fruit-forward spring ale that uses rosehips, currants, rooibos tea, orange peel, cranberries, blueberries, hibiscus, passionfruit, mango, and bing cherries. Also in the way of light spring offerings, Final Gravity recently released Lakeside for Spring, a German Pilsner that’s mostly made to style, except for the fact that it’s dry-hopped with German hops for extra aroma. Also on the way from Final Gravity is the return of Ain’t the Devil Happy, their Belgian Strong Golden Ale. You can celebrate the return of spring with a few outdoor events coming up at Hardywood: their Food Truck Court starts up again on April 6th and continues each Thursday throughout the season, with a mix of sixteen new and returning vendors. Bark and Brew Fest is on the 9th, a free, dog- and family-friendly festival with dog-centric vendors and entertainment, as well as adoptable rescues from Bark. Late spring should see the return of the Peach Tripel, a Belgian-style tripel ale that’s re-fermented on peaches, apricots, and nectarines. Also be on the lookout for Ütebier from Legend, a spring seasonal inspired by the Norwegian Ütepils (which translates to something like “the first beer you drink outside on a sunny day”). A honeyed malt character and a mild hop profile translate to an easy-drinking ale that’s fit to be enjoyed outside on a nice spring day. Be sure to grab a pint of it at Legend’s twenty-third anniversary party on April fifteenth. The party will feature a pig roast and a full buffet of other southern comfort foods, as well as live folk and bluegrass performances.




Champion Brewing Company planted its feet in downtown Richmond in late January of this year, and according to Taproom Manager Cary Carpenter and Head Brewer Ken Rayher, the reception from local businesses and customers has been quite warm. This branch of the Charlottesville-based brewery is still getting its beer from the Cville location at time of writing, but they hope to start making some of their own very soon. Construction on a brewing system and a kitchen is underway, and the brewery has some exciting plans for both of those in the future. Rayher intends to brew a variety of beers in Richmond that compliments Champion’s already strong lineup. The lineup for the next few months is fairly stacked, as they intend to make a Saison (plus dry-hopped and fruited variants), a Biere de Garde (a malty Belgian style), a Zwickel (a rare, traditionally unfiltered German Lager style), a Dunkel (sort of a double Hefeweizen), some kettle sours (more fruited variants), and some small batch IPAs. The plan is to have half of the downtown location’s twelve taps dedicated to those Richmond-brewed beers. As of now, there are no plans to do any extensive packaging at the brewpub, although the brewery does offer growlers to go. In terms of food, southernstyle tacos and tortas will be offered by the kitchen, which will be managed by Jason Alley (of Pasture, Flora, and Comfort) and Michelle Jones. Carpenter and Rayher hope to be serving food and Richmond-brewed beers by the end of April.

Although Scott’s Addition is now well known for its breweries, one of its mainstay alcohol producers makes another sort of brew -- one of honey. Black Heath Meadery just celebrated two years of making mead (also known as honey wine) in Scott’s Addition this March, and they definitely seem to be prospering. The meadery also recently took home a gold medal in the Cyser (mead-cider hybrid) category for Blue Angel, a collaboration with Blue Bee Cidery, who just recently set up shop in Scott’s Addition. Speaking to Mead Maker Bill Cavender recently, his enthusiasm for the area that he works in was clear: He’s enjoyed seeing the growth of alcohol producers and restaurants in the area, and often finds that people visiting his meadery are coming from visiting other local businesses. He also added that he’s met quite a number of out-of-town visitors that are in Richmond specifically to visit Scott’s Addition. Cavender said that it’s important to note that all of the Scott’s Addition alcohol producers, although technically competitors, all work together. Monthly meetings of the Scott’s Addition Social Club have allowed Bill and other alcohol producers in the area to sample one another’s products, and talk about ways to make business in Scott’s Addition even better.



made with passionfruit. Cavender obviously stays busy, and has made quite a few different meads since opening up two years ago. Looking back on those two years and thinking about meads that he’d like to see make a return, he mentioned Hiver, which was made with a Saison beer yeast and aged in gin barrels. Hiver, French for “winter,” was only available once, at Black Heath’s opening. Hopefully Hiver and some other barrel-aged meads will make an appearance at the next anniversary. Until then, we’ve got a lot to look forward to from Black Heath. BLACKHEATHMEADERY.COM

So, obviously, Black Heath is no stranger to collaboration. They certainly have plenty coming in the near future: The Veil is working on a beer made with some bourbon barrelaged honey and vanilla beans from Black Heath, a Cyser is in the works with Buskey Cider, and another Cyser is being made with Potter’s Craft Cider, some of which will be barrel-aged with Brettanomyces (wild yeast beloved for its sour, funky, and fruity qualities) and more fruit. In the spring, the meadery will release their Sour Cherry mead, made with Montmorency cherries, and their Ginger Honeywine, made with baby ginger root from Casselmonte Farm in Powhatan. Summer releases will include Proserpine, a pomegranate mead, and Passiflora, which is 59





Have You Been to The Branch Lately? New tours of our historic building Exciting exhibitions and programs Internship, volunteer, and docent opportunities

The Branch

Museum of Architecture and Design Open Tuesday–Friday 10 a.m.–5 p.m. | Saturday & Sunday 1–5 p.m.

2501 Monument Avenue | Richmond, VA 23220 | www.BranchMuseum.org



Quickness RVA is not just Richmond’s only bicycle-based delivery service. It’s a network that connects you to over 30 locally-owned restaurants and retailers, inviting you to become part of the community of independent businesses that make our city a great place to live. I10WILL YEARS NEVER OF RVA FORGET MAGAZINE VEGAS 2005-2015 MIKE. - TONY When you keep it local, you keep it quick!

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FYI -- RVA MAGAZINE has endorsed Jon Baliles for Mayor of Richmond.