Charlottesville Music Scene

Charlottesville MusicCharlottesville is often touted for having a big city-in-a-small town vibe. That is to say it offers up metropolitan amenities without sacrificing a local atmosphere. Nothing demonstrates this duality better than the thriving music scene, in which a plethora of venues—ranging from gritty, 100 person dives to massive arenas like John Paul Jones Arena and Scott Stadium—attracts and maintains a diverse roster of young, up-and-coming musicians, seasoned veterans, and everything in between. Imagine a night on the Downtown Mall, going to see nationally touring acts like the Alabama Shakes, Beck or Snoop Dogg at the spacious, outdoor nTelos Wire Pavilion. After the show, you might hear a lumbering upright bass or the mellow croon of an alto sax and pop into the premier jazz spot, Miller’s, where Charlottesville’s own Dave Matthews used to bartend before he hit it big. Between the John Paul Jones Arena and Scott Stadium (UVA’s basketball and football venues respectively), you will be able to see a number of true legends; acts like Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones and Fleetwood Mac are never more than a few miles away. Cville’s location—about an hour away from Richmond and a couple hours from Washington, D.C.—affords it the luxury of attention from both big and burgeoning musical acts. You get the option to see amazing acts without compromising the ability to go to sleep before 2am.

Like folk music? Check out the soothing stylings of Devon Sproule or the relaxed thump of the Sally Rose Band. Venues like Garage across from Lee Park or the Whiskey Jar during the day are ideal venues for this type of music. For acoustic music with a harder edge, check out Hound Dog Hill, playin’ a mix of bluegrass standards, Appalachian fiddle tunes and originals or the incredible Love Canon who play all your favorite 80s tunes re-interpreted with traditional bluegrass instrumentation. If you prefer a more modern sound, stop by the Main Street Annex: bands like the Astronomers offer up searing leads and full harmonies. The jangly, reverb-laden guitar sounds of White Laces blend modern rock with 90s nostalgia, and Two Ton Trapezoid combines round, mellow trumpet, smooth electric piano, distorted, riffy guitar and earnest vocals into an extra-planetary affair. There are plenty of places that offer up straight-ahead rock and roll…pop by places like Rapture or Durty Nelly’s. The soaring vocals and intuitive songwriting of Erin Lunsford and her group Erin and the Wildfire have been a Charlottesville mainstay for years. Lunsford and her tight, bluesy rhythm section have even graced the stage of Lockn Music Festival (about half an hour away in the beautiful Nelson County). Hard rock heroes Rooster Blood pioneer the genre of psychedelic funkgrass through infectious grooves and ripping leads. And finally, Charlottesville’s jazz scene is no joke. Miller’s boasts tenorman Jeff Decker and guitarist Mike Rosensky who play their driving, straight-ahead brand of hard bop every Wednesday night and trumpeter John D’earth, whose multi-faceted group has featured just about every horn player in Charlottesville at one time or another. The drummer from this group fronts Butcher Brown, the new cats who meld jazz sensibilities with funk rhythms and open-ended improvisation. The ville truly has something for everyone.