Friday, August 16, 2013

The Best of What's Around

Hello there friends, I’m Paul Strader, a rising third-year at the University of Virginia studying History and American Studies. As a lover of anything with a backbeat, melody, and rhythm you can groove to, I’m here to share my favorite thing about Charlottesville, Virginia: the music scene. When not on the golf course, growing up, I would either be listening to Dave Matthews Band or trying to learn to play their songs on an old guitar my brother had given me after he went off to college. I grew up listening to almost nothing but Dave Matthews, however, I will do my best to make this post not a historical tale of their beginnings, but rather provide useful insight to one of Charlottesville’s best assets.
An artsy (read: blurry) picture of my and my favorite earthly possession.
A small town, nestled at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Charlottesville and its music venues are far cries from the bustling metropolises and nationally known centers of all things music. You won’t find Red Rocks, SPAC, The Gorge, or MSG in Charlottesville, Virginia, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find good music. Charlottesville had always been home for good jazz and bluegrass but it was our most famous sons who made Charlottesville known for more than just the University. When the Dave Matthews Band formed in downtown Charlottesville twenty-three years ago, Charlottesville’s music scene was born. As the band grew more and more people began to see Charlottesville as more than just a University town and other big time bands began to flock to the birthplace of the Dave Matthews Band. “Cville” can now boast a music scene with a variety rivaling even the biggest of venues.
Whatever your taste, there is something for you in Charlottesville. If you like jazz, numerous restaurants in the heart of downtown Charlottesville have free jazz most nights. If it’s bluegrass or country you’re after, Railroad Earth and Luke Bryan make regular trips to the area. Rock fan? Bruce Springsteen was here last year. Every year more and more big name groups start coming through. This fall, Taylor Swift, Fun., Phoenix, and Willie Nelson will make stops at our main venues. Fun., Phoenix and Willie Nelson will come to our main outdoor venue, the nTelos Wireless Pavilion in historic downtown. Also downtown is our main indoor venue, the Jefferson Theater, home to concerts throughout the school year, including frequent visitors and UVA alumni, Parachute. Finally, our biggest venue, the University’s own John Paul Johns Arena, home of Cavalier basketball and for one night this fall, Taylor Swift. JPJ draws our biggest acts and its location on grounds makes access for students incredibly easy. On a yearly basis names such as Blake Shelton, Pearl Jam, and Bruce Springsteen make stops at our very own basketball stadium. When John Paul Jones Arena first opened 2006, Charlottesville’s breakout group, Dave Matthews Band, came home to play the official grand opening. They now make JPJ a yearly homecoming.
Charlottesville Pavilion.
Jefferson Theater.
If you are like me, and from time to time prefer to take a break from big name acts, and big-time ticket prices, Charlottesville is home to plenty of up and coming bands. The nTelos Pavilion downtown hosts a free concert series every summer, Fridays after Five, that highlights some of our local bands, every Friday during the summer. These concerts always draw good numbers and it is a great way to spend a Friday evening after a long week of work. Beyond Fridays after Five, Downtown Charlottesville is also home to several restaurants with jazz regulars.  Places such as Miller’s will host weekly jazz performances from well-known musicians who bring in promising young players to sit in with them. For example, John D’Earth, a member of the UVA music department faculty and well-known trumpeter, plays every Thursday night at Miller’s with a rotating group of musicians. Some times you get to hear young musicians just starting their careers, other times you get to hear legends like one time keyboard player for Dave Matthews, Butch Taylor. So if you love music, but don’t love large ticket prices, Charlottesville has a lot to offer.
Downtown Mall, home to Fridays After Five.
Street performers on the Downtown Mall.
I first came to Charlottesville for a concert back in November of 2010 for a Dave Matthews Concert at John Paul Jones Arena. At the time I had no idea Charlottesville was such a hot spot for such a wide variety of musical styles, all I knew was that Dave Matthews Band got their start here. When I began my studies here at UVA the following fall, I assumed I would spend most of my time on grounds, studying and going to sporting events. Little did I know that now two years later, I would be spending my weekends embracing genres I had never listened to before, like jazz. Charlottesville has made this music lover more adventurous in his listening. The depth of the music scene here has made me look for new groups to listen to, and inspired me in my own musical endeavors. I never would have thought that I could find such a rich musical culture in this town, but certainly have been glad to embrace it. If you are a music lover like me, Charlottesville has seat waiting for you. So when you get the chance, come check out the scene down here in Hooville where the streets “are full of dancing, full of singing and romancing” and where the music never stops.

1 comment:

  1. Charlottesville sounds like a lovely place, would be nice to be a part of the thriving music scene... interesting post.