From Richmond, With Love

 In Features, News


Having spent roughly half of the last ten Valentine’s Days single, I started making an annual playlist a few years back to send to friends on February 14th. The goal of the playlist is to break through the noise of this Hallmark holiday, highlight the ever-expanding corners of love (think Cat Power’s “Metal Heart,” Mitski’s “I Bet on Losing Dogs”), and let my friends know I love them. In 2019, Bob Boilen asked Twitter, “Is there a song that can be both a great love song and a great breakup song?” The answer is yes, and we need songs that span the entire human experience.

This year, I decided to center the playlist around a constant source of love in my life–Richmond’s music scene. I find that few things consistently move me more than live music and I’m grateful we live in a city where we get to see a lot of it. I know I’m not alone in that sentiment; I recently witnessed a date become fully self-actualized at the feet of Piranha Rama with the help of a few PBR tall boys. The playlist features love (or love adjacent) songs by Richmond artists from the last few years. It’s not perfect, and it’s certainly not exhaustive, but it’s a roughly 69-minute gift; from Richmond, with love.


I first heard many of the artists featured at The Camel, our very own music portal. Last Spring, I was looking for events to stay busy and I bought a last-minute ticket to Palmyra’s album release show, per the suggestion of a friend who grew up with their bass player. Deau Eyes opened and the show transformed me, spanning genres and volumes–from a steamy cover of “Vampire Blues” to an unmiked “Saratoga” performed in the middle of the crowd. If you too are looking for something to do, several bands on the playlist are playing at The Camel today and tomorrow.

Speaking of Deau Eyes, have you ever seen someone with as much stamina or joie de vivre as Ali Thibodeau? Late last summer, she launched her second Tour de Richmond, ten shows all over the city in 12 days! And if that wasn’t enough, she, along with her brother Michael and a large cast of characters, put on an Annual Holiday Party that should honestly be on TV. It’s clear Ali is committed to the cause of supporting other local artists. Her Holiday Party featured guest appearances by Mackenzie Roark, Sam Reed, and others in the fully decked-out Hoffheimer building. During one song, fake snow started to fall, and for a brief, pure moment, I never wanted to leave Scott’s Addition.


An advantage of our beloved mid-sized city is the ability to unexpectedly come across the next up-and-coming band or artist. This was the case for me with two bands on the playlist, Dhemo and Lobby Boy, who I discovered at a Gallery 5 First Friday and Union Market Block Party respectively. You’re also likely to run into artists outside a show. Recently, I got to chat music with Hotspit’s Avery Fogarty when I recognized them at a restaurant. We swapped recommendations–Wednesday and Goth Babe from them, Sadurn and Slow Pulp from me. I went home and immediately bought a ticket to this week’s Squirrel Flower show.

We have a great group of diverse venues right now, though I understand those with more tenure and a penchant for nostalgia may disagree! Newer and perhaps coziest to the scene is The Listening Room, run by Jeannie-Mae Skinner and David Shultz. If you work downtown, you likely know Jeannie serves the best cup of coffee at Sefton, and her space now includes The Listening Room below. Once a month you can catch Richmond artists (Sun V Set, Andy Jenkins, Ms. Jaylin Brown, for example) playing shorter sets in an intimate subterranean setting–a nod to an earlier basement concert series. Come for the music, but don’t miss Jeannie’s curated wine selection on your way downstairs. There’s a show this Thursday.

So, my Valentine, I hope you enjoy the playlist. I hope you get to a show soon. I hope if you’re feeling lonely today, or ever, you know there is connection in music. And in Richmond, a whole community of talented folks waiting for you to take part.

Take care,

Top Photo Credit: Jessica Camilli / Rapid Eyes

You can find Allie Atkeson on Instagram by clicking here.


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