Presented by Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, Friday Cheers celebrates its 37th anniversary as the longest-running concert series in Richmond. The 2022 Friday Cheers season will showcase some of the nation’s hottest touring bands and all-time regional favorites like Japanese Breakfast, Cory Wong, Matthew E. White and many more!
A solo moniker for Philadelphia musician Michelle Zauner, Japanese Breakfast is known for her artfully experimental, deeply intimate brand of indie pop. Taking a break from her band Little Big League, she debuted in 2013 with the melodically lo-fi cassette release June. Along with further work with Little Big League, she has continued to expand her sonic palette, weaving in atmospheric synths, electric guitars, and electronics on 2016's Psychopomp and 2017's Soft Sounds from Another Planet. In 2021, Zauner hit number two on the New York Times nonfiction best-seller list with her memoir, Crying in H Mart, which found her exploring her Korean heritage in the wake of her mother's death from cancer. On the heels of her memoir, Japanese Breakfast released a companion album, Jubilee. Also that year, she supplied the score to the video game Sable. - Matt Collar
Songs to Check Out: Be Sweet
If you like Talking Heads, Arcade Fire, St. Vincent, you'll like Japanese Breakfast
Abby Huston is an interdisciplinary artist based in Richmond, VA. They began playing the Richmond circuit when they were 19, debuting songs from what became the collaborative album Rich, which featured different instrumentalists from their favorite local bands on each track. Since their first release in 2018, they have been honored to open for acts like SALES, Crumb and Kate Bollinger. They are deeply pulled and moved by vocalists of all kinds, and as of 2020 has been an in-studio writer for some of their favorite local vocalists. In 2021, they were signed to Egghunt Records, original label of local legend Lucy Dacus. That year they released their first record to vinyl, the album AH HA, featuring the latest and greatest Richmond legend, and fellow Friday Cheers artist, Benét and their producer Not Kevin.
Songs to Check Out: L Train
If you like Crumb, Raveena, Corrine Bailey Rae, you'll like Abby Huston
Recognized for his high-speed improvisational skills, fun-loving performance spirit, and a flexible right wrist, guitarist Cory Wong had a multifaceted music career in his base of Minneapolis, Minnesota before becoming better known for regular guest spots as rhythm guitarist for Ann Arbor R&B/funk outfit Vulfpeck in the mid-2010s. Often incorporating intricate, percussive picking into his rhythm playing, his style merges acoustic and electric techniques gleaned from years invested in both. Wong's second solo LP, a set of lighthearted jazz-funk titled The Optimist, debuted in the Top 20 of the Billboard Jazz Albums chart upon its release in 2018. He picked up a Grammy-nomination for his 2020 collaboration with Jon Batiste, Meditations, and returned in 2021 with another collaboration, Golden Hour, with saxophonist Dave Koz. - Marcy Donelson
Songs to Check Out: Golden
If you like Vulfpeck, Snarky Puppy, Dave Koz, you'll like Cory Wong
Pharaoh Sistare grew up in Richmond, Virginia, surrounded by influences that would directly impact his sound. You can feel the power of the greats like Michael Jackson, Prince, and James Brown in his vintage laced songs, but his love of Golden Age movies and dancers like Fred Astaire and Bob Fosse brings another dimension to his music and style. Sistare took to music production fast, but after spending his time creating beats for other artists, he stepped into his own path. The stellar production on his songs instantly hooks you. While you can quickly sense the nostalgic inspiration, there's so much going on in each track. His music transports you to a specific place and time, whether that's a beach party in the 60s, a disco dance floor, or an enchanted forest. Sistare says, "I like taking myself to such places in my imagination when I make beats or hear music from artists like Esquivel. He's a big inspiration in that area." He creates worlds around each song. At the core of each track is that danceable element. He says, "I think people should dance more. I want to make music that makes you want to dance and feel good." With only four singles out yet, he's amassed over 30k streams on Spotify. Sistare is showing off his prowess as a young artist, only going up from here. He plans on releasing a video for "Strobe Light" in April before releasing his debut EP "Once Upon a Groove." - EARMILK
Songs to Check Out: Strobe Light
If you like Michael Jackson, Prince, James Brown, you'll like Pharaoh Sistare
Matthew E. White
Drawing from a deep well of regional influences like Randy Newman, Allen Toussaint, and Alan Lomax, Richmond, Virginia-based singer/songwriter/arranger Matthew E. White specializes in a meticulously crafted blend of reggae-infused folk-gospel, Tropicalia, swirling indie pop, and Stax-era R&B. The founder of the Spacebomb label and management group, White has collaborated with like-minded artists such as Megafaun, Sharon Van Etten, the Mountain Goats, Ken Vandermark, and Justin Vernon, as well as toured and recorded as the leader of avant-garde jazz band Fight the Big Bull. He made his solo debut with the innovative Big Inner in 2012 and saw U.K. chart success with 2015's Fresh Blood. He issued his third solo effort, the reliably eclectic K Bay, in 2021, and has released full-lengths with Flo Morrissey (2017's Gentlewoman, Ruby Man) and Lonnie Holley (2021's Broken Mirror: A Selfie Reflection). - James Christopher Monger
Songs to Check Out: Look at What the Light Did Now
If you like Sly & the Family Stone, Carol King, King Tubby, you'll like Matthew E. White
From a young age, Benét was drawn to creative means of expression, immersing themselves in their local scene and dipping their toes in mediums across the board. Fast forward to 21 years old, Benét is acutely aware of the ways their upbringing, both in Virginia and on the Internet have impacted their music. Social media has not only informed the way they create, but who they create with. Connecting with artists online has allowed them to expand their musical bounds, and make friends along the way. Previous releases from Benét include “Stan Account” a double single released last year with Richmond-imprint Citrus City.
Songs to Check Out: Funny
If you like Cautious Clay, Omar Apollo, Faye Webster, you'll like Benét
The Last Real Circus
The Last Real Circus are an Indie rock band based out of Richmond, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Members include: Jason Farlow (Lead Vocals, Guitar) Ian Atchison (Piano & Synthesizer/Sound Engineer, Kevin Vorhis (Drums & Percussion/Sound Engineer), John Liebenthal (Bass), Michael Lamp (Lead Guitar). The band has quickly gained a big following with loyal fans from all over, with their soulful heartbeat singles, “Chaplin’s Life,” and “Nottoway.” With the addition of their new originals “Diana (Ooh La La)”, “Hard Times“ and “Stoned (On A Different Kind of Love)" to the set list, The Last Real Circus are coming into their own as an act! Currently, The Last Real Circus are coming off of last year's tour, along with adding some additional members to the band during the break. They are known for their energetic stage presence, storytelling and overall musicianship.
Songs to Check Out: Nottoway
If you like The Lumineers, Shovels and Rope, Kings of Leon, you'll like The Last Real Circus
Meditative and earthy, Niger-based musician Bombino conjures the expansiveness of the Sahara landscape with his dazzling guitar work and entrancing vocals. Championed by the Rolling Stones before he'd even released an album, he embraced the nomadic nature of his Tuareg roots and throughout the 2010s recorded a series of critically lauded albums in various locations around the world including Nashville, Niger, New York, and Morocco. Infusing his mesmeric desert blues with hints of psychedelia and American traditions, Bombino continued to build his reputation with albums like Nomad and Deran, the latter of which earned him a 2019 Grammy nomination. He released his first live outing in 2020. - Chrysta Cherrie
Songs to Check Out: Tamiditine
If you like Tinariwen, Songoy Blues, Mdou Moctar, you'll like Bombino
Under the name Pachyman, Puerto Rican singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Pachy García crafts rugged, old-school dub, dancehall, and roots reggae in the tradition of pioneers like Scientist and Lee "Scratch" Perry. Based in Los Angeles, Pachyman issued a pair of independent records in 2019 and 2020 before signing with ATO Records, which released The Return of Pachyman the following year. - Timothy Monger
Songs to Check Out: Guy Goodwin
If you like Scientist, Sly & Robbie, King Tubby, you'll like Pachyman
Goth Babe is Griff Washburn enjoying himself. Originally from Tennessee, Griff currently lives in a Tiny House with his pup Sadie in the mountains of Washington. When not on the road touring, Griff and Sadie are off enjoying the outdoors in the great Pacific Northwest. Snow, surf, and trails are plenty to occupy them in their offseason. Griff has seemed to have picked up on the brighter parts of life. Parting ways with social status and relevance, he's discovered how wonderful living day by day is. Making music to Griff is less a climb to the top, as it is a form of free thinking and enjoyment.
Songs to Check Out: Weekend Friend
If you like Hippo Campus, MGMT, Louis the Child, you'll like Goth Babe
Growing up in Richmond, VA, she was obsessed with the moon, staring out her window at the night sky in awe of its mystery. Her debut record Moonchild (2018 on American Paradox) is both a product of her intense connection with the cosmos, as well as a tribute to the embracing of celestial feminine energy. Musically, Cook bridges the gap between beat-driven sonics and melodic jazz in a brazenly colorful debut album. Cook's early training took place in church choir and school chorus. Her tastes eventually shifted towards heavyweights like Billie Holiday, Erykah Badu, and The Cardigans, informing her confidently playful, harmony-heavy, atmospheric style. Initially she was making acapella songs with a microphone and laptop in college out of necessity, describing her voice as “the only instrument I truly had access to” at the time. She discovered live looping through Reggie Watts and honed her looping skills by arranging old jazz standards. From there, she began to fully explore writing and creating music, welcoming a variety of live players into the fold to flush out and widen her solo arrangements. Moonchild is a glimpse through Cook’s lens, exhibiting heartfelt lyrics and melodic themes on spirituality, technology, and social interaction.
Songs to Check Out: Don't Ask Me
If you like Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Moses Sumney, you'll like Kenneka Cook
Brooklyn born Cory Henry is a R&B/soul artist, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, songwriter and producer who, as a child prodigy, began playing the piano and organ at the age of 2. At the age of 6, her made his debut at the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York. In 2012, he joined the experimental jazz and funk ensemble Snarky Puppy, with whom he won a 2014 Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance and a 2015 Grammy for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album. He left the group in 2018 to pursue his solo career; his debut independent album, Art of Love, was released that same year, followed by his sophomore effort Something to Say in October 2020.
Songs to Check Out: Happy Days
If you like Snarky Puppy, Tank & the Bangas, Jacob Collier, you'll like Cory Henry
Shormey is the recording project of Virginia native Shormey Adumuah. She frequently draws inspiration from the sonic influences of 70’s disco, soul, and psychedelic music. It’s all exemplified in The Boogie Tape Vol. 1, Shormey’s first cassette project released via Citrus City Records. Staying true to the relaxed and carefree vibes of the tape, Shormey recorded the entire project within the confines of her bedroom. This tape is a testament to her desire to create music that doesn’t put any pressure on the listener to feel any one particular feeling, but to just enjoy it as an upbeat experience.
Songs to Check Out: Boogie Island
If you like Toro y Moi, Crumb, Washed Out, you'll like Shormey
Alt-country soul from the heart of Appalachia in Russell County, VA. 49 Winchester delivers the poetically straightforward songs of singer/guitarist Isaac Gibson in a soulful electric live show. Rock & roll with roots planted firmly in the traditions of mountain music. "Gibson and his compatriots have made it a point to keep to the basics, be it a blazing combination of drive and defiance, or tears-in-their-beers balladry flush with seething emotion. That’s especially true on the band’s latest outing III, a confident collection that gives voice to the band’s pure, unfettered intents." - American Songwriter
Songs to Check Out: Everlasting Lover
If you like Tyler Childers, Sturgil Simpson, Margo Price, you'll like 49 Winchester
Cassidy Snider & The Wranglers
Cassidy Snider & The Wranglers is a band with roots firmly planted in the riverbank soil of Richmond, Virginia. Led by the traveling troubadour, Cassidy Snider, this folk outlet is a grassy assortment of her wanderlust-filled soul with sounds of the New Orleans bayou, the blue ridge mountains, and every accent between. From dive bar corners to venue bright lights, each song kicks dirt off the dance floor with story-filled twang. Blending genres, yet always tinged in Cassidy's blues, they have developed a unique sound that morphs the musical styles of the American past with a voicing that can only be sung by this band's bright future.
Songs to Check Out: Devil Tracks
If you like JJ Cale, Wanda Jackson, Etta James, you'll like Cassidy Snider & The Wranglers