Presented by Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, Friday Cheers celebrates its 38th anniversary in 2023 as the longest-running concert series in Richmond. The 2023 Friday Cheers season showcases some of the nation’s hottest touring bands and all-time regional favorites like Snail Mail, Sierra Ferrell, Butcher Brown and many more!
When singer, songwriter, and guitarist Lindsey Jordan emerged with her first Snail Mail EP in 2016, it was with an unsettled, candidly introspective lo-fi rock whose moody textures also defined her 2018 breakout debut album, Lush. Adding components like samples, synthesizers, and strings, she both polished and coarsened surfaces on the follow up, Valentine, in 2021. At the age of 16 she released her debut EP, Habit. An NPR Tiny Desk concert and an Audiotree Live EP followed in 2017. Before the year was through, Snail Mail signed a record deal with Matador. Snail Mail's full-length debut, Lush, arrived in June 2018. Lush eventually landed on the Billboard independent, alternative, and rock charts, reaching as high as number two on the Heatseekers Albums chart. Jordan's sudden fame, a breakup, and some time away from music all informed Snail Mail's second full-length, Valentine. - Marcy Donelson
Songs to Check Out: Pristine, Valentine
If you like Lucy Dacus, Soccer Mommy, Mitski, you'll like Snail Mail.
Water From Your Eyes
Water From Your Eyes’ Nate Amos and Rachel Brown have been making music since 2016, and are also in the band Thanks for Coming together. But while Water From Your Eyes started as a post-punk and indietronica band, they’ve grown into something much less definable. Their 2021 release, Somebody Else’s Song, was already beginning to push these limits; “Break”, the standout track, is a shuffling nine-minute alt-dance song. And then they released 33:44, an EP of spoken word death industrial. All of this new, stranger creative energy has been channeled into Structure, the band’s most recent release.
Songs to Check Out: Quotation, When You’re Around
If you like Strange Ranger, Peel Dream Magazine, Palm, you'll like Water From Your Eyes.
A powerful mélange of great melodies and pop-friendly hooks, Dazy is the brainchild of musician and publicist James Goodson. Based in Richmond, where he's been living since he was 18, Goodson's adventures in music go back to the 2010s, when he was a member of the Richmond punk band Teen Death. He later played bass and sang in the band Bashful, who put out the album Driving in 2020, but during this period he was making his living as a publicist. He also hosted a podcast, The Best Good Band Podcast, where he discussed bands and albums he loved and what made them memorable. Throughout it all, Goodson had been writing songs, many of which didn't suit his bands of the moment, and when the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 gave him some unexpected free time, he began working some of them up with his home recording rig. - Mark Deming
Songs to Check Out: Out of Body, Rollercaster Ride
If you like Illuminati Hotties, Superchunk, Guided By Voices, you'll like Dazy.
Nashville-based musician Sierra Ferrell showcases her winsomely nimble, bluesy voice on a spirited, distinct blend of country, jazz, folk, and blues. After living as a nomadic touring musician for years, she put down roots in Nashville and recorded her solo debut. Featuring guest spots by the likes of Sarah Jarosz and Jerry Douglas, Long Time Coming saw release in 2021. Ferrell left home to tour with a group of transient musicians throughout her twenties, setting up temporary bases in places between shows at truck stops, on boxcars, and busking in city centers, until she settled down in Nashville. Rounder Records then signed her based on her live sets. - Marcy Donelson
Songs to Check Out: In Dreams, The Sea
If you like Margo Price, Whitney Rose, Billy Strings, you'll like Sierra Ferrell.
Chris Leggett & The Copper Line
Raised in Richmond, Chris Leggett absorbed the influence of storied Virginian songwriters like Dave Matthews and Jason Mraz, as well as timeless favorites like James Taylor and John Prine. First came a pair of EPs, both on his Mush Brain Records label: 2017’s self-titled effort and its 2018 follow-up, Some Odd Years, where he renewed the partnership with guitarist Matt Elgin that started with their middle school garage band.
Leggett’s debut full-length, From the Idle Mind, marks the start of an exciting new chapter. The Copper Line took shape as a fully fledged rock group in 2019, when bassist Tucker Dean and drummer Dave Pierandri joined up, allowing early pop-punk and jam influences to shine through Leggett’s sharp Americana songwriting for a unique sound that harkens back to alt-country’s raucous inception.
Songs to Check Out: Waste Away, Rocket
If you like Futurebirds, Turnpike Troubadours, Rayland Baxter, you'll like Chris Leggett & The Copper Line.
Founded in 2009, Richmond's Butcher Brown is a throwback to the great progressive jazz-funk bands of the 1970s with a 21st century twist that makes room for hip-hop, garage punk, and future funk. They released All Purpose Music in 2014, and followed a year later with the internationally acclaimed Grown Folk. That summer, they cut The Healer at their own studio and released it via Bandcamp in 2017, alongside the Gearbox album Live At Vagabond. In 2019 the EP AfroKuti: A Tribute To Fela was released by WarHen, then Concord Jazz signed them for 2020's #KingButch. 2022's Butcher Brown Presents Triple Trey featuring Tennishu and R4ND4ZZO BIGB4ND also appeared on the label. It was written by the band's MC as a hip hop record, but evolved during the recording process to become an eclectic ode to big band jazz. - Thom Jurek
Songs to Check Out: VA Noir, Broad Rock
If you like Braxton Cook, Snarky Puppy, Soulive, you'll like Butcher Brown.
Celler Dwellers is a Richmond based indie rock band that got its start (and name) in an old disheveled basement. These 5 fellas are on a mission to cover as much ground as possible in the short time they’ve got. Their debut album, Spare Time, was released in 2020, and they dropped their first single, Taste, the same year. They’ve released 8 killer singles since their first in 2020, and they just dropped their latest release, Hearts on Fire, in January of this year.
Songs to Check Out: Apologizing, Stuck
If you like Sea of Lettuce, Babe Rainbow, Surf Curse, you'll like Celler Dwellers.
Cassidy Snider & The Wranglers
Cassidy Snider & The Wranglers is a band with roots firmly planted in the riverbank soil of Richmond.
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: Cheers to the Ground, Mama Said
If you like JJ Cale, Wanda Jackson, Etta James, you'll like Cassidy Snider & The Wranglers.
Sampa The Great
Sampa The Great is a poet, songwriter, and visual artist whose introspective, socially conscious music strives to uplift, empower, and inspire positive change. Her delivery flows between aggressive, confident rapping, smooth soul-jazz singing, and poetic reflections, and her music is a similarly eclectic brew of abstract hip-hop beats, African influences, spiritual neo-soul, and other styles. Following her Australian Music Prize-winning 2017 mixtape Birds and the BEE9, she released her soul-searching debut album, The Return, in 2019. As Above, So Below, influenced by the music Sampa heard as a child as well as modern styles like Afrobeats and amapiano, appeared in 2022. - Paul Simpson
Songs to Check Out: Energy, Healer
If you like Rapsody, Noname, Fela Kuti, you'll like Sampa The Great.
Kenneka Cook combines classic jazz, neo-soul, and cosmopolitan pop in a melodically rich manner that reflects inspirations including Billie Holiday, Erykah Badu, the Cardigans, and Vampire Weekend. As a youngster, the Richmond native nurtured her talent at school and in church. During college, she started recording a cappella material with a laptop, and later had something of a creative epiphany after seeing Reggie Watts perform with a looping pedal. Acquiring a pedal of her own enabled her to layer multiple vocal and percussion tracks for recordings, including a version of Cole Porter's "Night and Day," and performances. During the summer of 2017 Cook recorded her first album. A couple tracks from the sessions, "Don't Ask Me" and "Moonchild," were out by the end of the year. Moonchild, the parent album, was released the following February on the Richmond-based American Paradox label. - Andy Kellman
Songs to Check Out: Don’t Ask Me, Moonchild
If you like Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Moses Sumney, you'll like Kenneka Cook.
Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz - who over the past decade have achieved success as Mandolin Orange, going from coffee shop performers to festival headliners -are starting fresh with a new name: Watchhouse. Watchhouse’s self-titled release, and the first by their new name, tells stories about growing up without growing old, about experiencing the world and letting it change you. Watchhouse is a perfect link between their longtime allure as Mandolin Orange and an unwritten future as the band Watchhouse, one that’s only as hopeful as they can imagine it might be.
Songs to Check Out: Old Ties and Companions, Daylight
If you like The Wood Brothers, Shovels & Rope, Iron and Wine, you'll like Watchhouse.
Established in the Shenandoah Valley, Palmyra’s set explores the fusion of traditional folk string instruments, three part harmonies and foot percussion. Palmyra’s songs are intimate and contemplative, with arrangements that allow them to create the illusion of a full, larger-than-three ensemble. The trio's sound is a nod to Appalachia and Midwestern Americana, apparent through their stirring craftsmanship and dedication to a folk-driven, innovative experience throughout each live performance. In 2022, Palmyra made their Newport Folk Festival debut, were named the FloydFest 2022 On The Rise Winner, and performed over 150 tour dates on acclaimed stages up and down the east coast, including a support tour with national headlining act, Illiterate Light.
Songs to Check Out: Saratoga, Medicine
If you like CAAMP, The Avett Brothers, Dogwood Tales, you'll like Palmyra.
Tank and the Bangas
Tank and the Bangas are a Grammy-nominated, New Orleans-based R&B band capable of shifting from classic soul and funk to hip-hop, reggae, and rock. Established with their highly energized live show and a handful of independent releases beginning with Think Tank (2013), they won NPR's Tiny Desk Contest in 2017, leading to a major-label contract with Verve that has yielded the albums Green Balloon (2019) and Red Balloon (2022), and the intermediary Friend Goals EP. Tank and the Bangas signed with major-label Verve and made their major-label debut with Live Vibes in 2018. Live Vibes 2 followed in 2019, as did Green Balloon. - Andy Kellman
Songs to Check Out: No ID, Stolen Fruit
If you like Trombone Shorty, Snarky Puppy, Janelle Monáe, you'll like Tank and the Bangas.
After Piranha Rama’s formation in 2017, the genre-bending outfit’s numbers quickly grew, developing a spirit of community that drives their brilliant experimental-pop endeavors. On their third LP, Omniscient Cloud Cover, Piranha Rama dive headfirst into maximalism with a rotating cast of twelve different players performing eight psych-pop tracks that defy categorization while exploring humanity’s need for connection and the importance of community.
Songs to Check Out: Bunny Man, Golden Blues
If you like The SNL Band, the Ronettes, Link Wray, you'll like Piranha Rama.
The Alabama-born, Tennessee-bred Southern rock band, The Vegabonds got their start in Alabama, after meeting and playing the college circuit across the Southeastern United States. From Ole Miss to South Carolina, students buzzed about The Vegabonds authentic sound and their seemingly effortless ability to bring the house down. Through word of mouth, the group’s fan base rapidly grew, and the guys learned they had something distinctive with their eclectic mix of Southern Rock, Country, and earnest songwriting. Their DIY efforts delivered three full-length albums and an EP before partnering with Blue Élan Records. Their hard work and unbridled talents have not gone unnoticed; the group has opened for such notable acts as Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blackberry Smoke, and the late Gregg Allman and delivered rousing performances at festivals like Peach Festival, Sweetwater 420, Magnolia Fest, Sunfest and Taste of Randolph. In addition to countless dates throughout the Southeast, the band has toured Europe three times, played multiple dates in Canada and have visited every corner of the US.
Songs to Check Out: Shaky Hands, Georgia Fire
If you like Allman Brothers Band, Futurebirds, Tom Petty, you'll like The Vegabonds.
Kind Hearted Strangers
Hailing from all corners of the country, Kind Hearted Strangers began in the foothills of Colorado - where an impromptu open mic performance quickly evolved into something much bigger. Kind Hearted Strangers has become a dynamic full band capable of bridging the gap between all out rock n’ roll and their harmony-driven acoustic roots. Their debut record “East // West” (2021) digs into the places they’ve come from and explores the places they’re going to, with a diverse sound that reflects the broad influences each member brings to the band. Recorded in Denver, CO, mixed in Richmond, VA and mastered in Seattle, WA - the album shares a wide-ranging influence and perspective on the relationships the bandmates have with one another and the places they call home.
Songs to Check Out: Redwood, El Cariño
If you like My Morning Jacket, Wilco, Neal Young, you'll like Kind Hearted Strangers.
Flipturn makes indie music for endless summers, sun-streaked days, and introspective nights. It's a cinematic sound rooted not only in the Florida towns where the musicians first banded together as teenagers, but also in the anthemic live show that's taken Flipturn from coast to coast. With over 60 million streams on Spotify alone, countless sold-out headline shows across the US, and tours with Mt. Joy, Rainbow Kitten Surprise and Wilderado, the band has more than proven their place in the indie scene. Since then, Flipturn has joined the prestigious lineups of Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Shaky Knees, Hangout, SunFest, and Levitate. Flipturn recently signed with Dualtone Records, joining their legendary roster of the likes of The Lumineers, Chuck Berry and Shakey Graves.
Songs to Check Out: August, Chicago
If you like The Backseat Lovers, Hippo Campus, Rainbow Kitten Surprise, you'll like Flipturn.
With roots dug deep in rock, americana, soul, and country, Richmond based Holy Roller brings a sound that’s as much new as it is a welcome home after too long spent away. Beautiful harmonies that seem to cry out like the rivers they were written for are paired with honest songs of love, loss, home, and heartache. Holy Roller is a compelling live performance and their recordings are both intimate and exciting, from the homesick, “Oh, Virginia”, to the R&B steamroller, “Muscle Up.”
Songs to Check Out: Honey, Where’d You Sleep?, American Engine
If you like The Black Crowes, My Morning Jacket, Tyler Childers, you'll like Holy Roller.