Moe. the Band stand before a theater

Live Music upcoming in Charlottesville

Live in March 2023


March music in Charlottesville has a New York state of mind as two longstanding acts out of the hinterlands of the Empire State pay visits to our town. 

The month comes in like a buffalo when Trumansburg, New York’s own Donna the Buffalo visit the Jefferson Theater on Friday, March 3. This band has been on the trail for more than 30 years now and has built up a devoted following—the Herd—drawn to its upbeat dance rhythms and zydeco-inflected roots sound. Founding members Jeb Puryear and Tara Nevins write socially conscious lyrics to tunes that allow you to really trample the floor.

Look out for a mid-week March moe.down when fellow Buffalo-area musicians, moe., return to the Jefferson on Wednesday, March 22. Kind of a thinking person’s jam band, with a history nearly as long as DTB’s and a similarly devoted fan base—the moe.rons—the quintet has survived and thrived despite a pre-Covid hiatus following bassist Rob Derhak’s brush with throat cancer (he’s now cancer-free.) 

Speaking of bands from the hinterlands—this time from the Garden State—Hoboken, New Jersey legends Yo La Tengo return to the Jefferson for a sold-out show on Thursday, March 16. 

Don’t be fooled by their slightly nebbishy record-store geek appearance. These guys (and gal) are as close to indie rock royalty as it comes. Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley, and James McNew have been cranking out weirdly accessible, or accessibly weird, art rock for decades and show no signs of slowing down. Few bands can go from hushed whisper (Autumn Sweater) to screaming feedback (Pass the Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind) like YLT. They are also the masters of the eclectic deep cut. Recent shows have seen covers from artists as disparate as the Circle Jerks and Sandy Denny.  

Charlottesville has a special place in the band’s heart, too, as longtime bassist McNew lived here for a while, spinning records for WTJU-FM and working as a parking lot attendant at the equally legendary Corner Parking Lot. Look for his cameo in The Parking Lot Movie, a must-see for a loving portrait of the old, weird Charlottesville of years past. 

Don’t be discouraged by the lack of tickets, either. The rule of thumb for committed concertgoers is that there’s always a ticket available. Just commit yourself. Get to the venue a little early, hang out, observe the crowd. Look for the guy who’s nervously scrolling or checking his phone. Strike up a conversation. Chances are he’s got your ticket. 


Check out our complete guide to Charlottesville music venues HERE.

Check out more ideas for Charlottesville Experiences HERE.

Live in December 2022

Some of Charlottesville’s best live music comes from the hands and voices of locals. Since we can all use some warm fuzzies this time of year, let’s comfort ourselves by keeping it local and celebrate music that’s home-grown as we head into December. 

The Front Porch is a Charlottesville-based nonprofit dedicated to connecting people through music. It began in 2015 on a front porch in Belmont – really, it did. Since then, it’s grown into a staple of the Charlottesville music community, offering classes, presenting concerts, and providing community outreach. Its outdoor summer music series on the grounds of the Rivanna River Company is a welcome addition to the warm weather mix and is a much-appreciated throwback to the old school laid back Cville vibe.

On Sunday, Dec. 11, starting at 4 p.m., the Front Porch is teaming up the Rivanna River Company for a cold weather cozy time event, the 2nd Annual WinterSong. Dress in your puffiest puffy for an evening of holiday revelry with live music, warm fires, and tasty seasonal beverages. This event is free and family friendly. Tara Mills and Friends will play from 5-7 p.m., followed by caroling led by members of the Front Porch. 

And on Thursday, Dec. 15, the Front Porch is the beneficiary of this year’s Xmas Jam at The Jefferson Theater. Not to be confused with the Warren Haynes-led extravaganza of the same name (that’s in Asheville, N.C.), this homegrown jam, now in its 15th year, is sponsored by the Charlottesville Music Showcase. This is a night to celebrate the season with an eclectic lineup of talented local musicians, such as Andy Waldeck, Joe Lawlor, members of Ebony Groove, Sally Rose, John D’Earth, Travis Elliott, members of Disco Risque, Chamomile & Whiskey, Kristen Rae Bowden, and a whole bunch more. The event is hosted by Tucker Rogers and BJ Pendleton

Seasons greetings everyone!

Check out our complete guide to Charlottesville music venues HERE.

Check out more ideas for Charlottesville Experiences HERE.

Live in November 2022

It may be turning cold outside but rest assured, when Keller Williams plays The Jefferson on Nov. 5, he’ll
be barefoot. Unshod, shaggy, and shreddy, Williams—20-plus years into his regular-dude-makes-good
career—can still pull off that unmistakable ‘90s slacker vibe. You know, the one where it’s 1 a.m. and
you’re three bong hits into the flip side of “Dark Side of the Moon.” Remarkably, he’s still that guy, the
amiable goofball with the guitar and the loops, but for this show, the 20th anniversary of his album,
“Laugh,” he’ll bring along the original players Tye North (Leftover Salmon) and Dave Watts (The Motet)
to reprise the disc in its entirety. And no worries, man, he’ll do “Freeker by the Speaker” —it’s on the

Earlier in the week, on Nov. 2, Sarah Shook and the Disarmers play The Southern in a show that was
originally scheduled for May 2022. She and her Chapel Hill, N.C.-based band are another kind of ‘90s
throwback, but this time it’s more like the Great Alt-Country Scare of 1997 when groups like
Whiskeytown, the Bottle Rockets, the Backsliders, 6 String Drag, and Trailer Bride were traveling the
country in broke down vans and tearing up dingy rock clubs with a skronky, twangy sound that’s not
really in fashion anymore. Most of those long-gone bands hailed from the Tarheel State and Shook’s
roots remain there, but she’s created her own music that’s at once defiant, loud, and full of fractured
grace. Don’t miss the opener, Charlottesville’s own she-metal trio, Shagwüf.

Check out more ideas for Charlottesville Experiences HERE.

Live in October 2022

The days are getting crispy and cool with the advent of fall. Outdoor shows are shifting inside with the
changing season, but outdoor festivals still have a brief window before the chilly winds blow and the
temperatures plunge.

The Hoopla is one such small local music festival. Held in the shadow of Wintergreen ski resort at Devils
Backbone Basecamp in Roseland, Virginia, the Hoopla runs this year from Oct. 7-9. It’s a beautiful setting
to catch some tunes, quaff some brews, and bask in (fingers crossed) warm, sunny days and cool, get-
out-your-fleece nights.

The Saturday night headliner this year is Charley Crockett, a throwback country crooner with a mellow
baritone and mixing bowl of country blues influences that evoke Texas by way of New Orleans. He calls
his music “Gulf & Western” and he’s currently touring to support his new release, “The Man From

I recall a late September evening at the Hoopla in 2018 when I caught one of the last small venue
appearances from Tyler Childers. The air was electric that night. I expect it will be the same for
Crockett’s set.

Calexico, another evocative regional act that rarely makes it to our neck of the woods, will appear at The
Jefferson on Wednesday, Oct. 19. This Tucson, Arizona-based Americana, Tex-Mex, indie rock band is
the brainchild of its two main songwriters, Joey Burns and John Convertino, and they’ve been steadily
putting out a slew of records with a sound that’s best described as “high desert” since 1995. Burns and
Convertino have impeccable indie rock cred, first as members of the genuinely weird Howe Gelb project
Giant Sand, and later in the more accessible Calexico-like precursor, Friends of Dean Martinez. These
guys are pros, and this show is worth a Wednesday night.

Check out more ideas for Charlottesville Experiences HERE.

Live in September 2022

September is a month of transitions. Summer turns to fall. Summer vacation comes to an end and school begins in earnest. Days stay warm while the nights begin to cool. 

With the outdoor concert season winding down, the Ting Pavilion presents three strong shows spanning the month—from Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit (Sept. 4) to My Morning Jacket (Sept. 19) and Gary Clark Jr. (Sept. 28). 

Befitting the transition to harvest season, many local wineries and cideries offer music through September and well into the fall. Most shows are acoustic or lightly amplified and the agricultural atmosphere lends itself nicely to a mellow, golden afternoon with a glass, a few friends, and perhaps a bottle to share.

Knight’s Gambit Vineyard in western Albemarle has sweeping views of the White Hall area of the county and the Blue Ridge mountains beyond. It has a robust lineup that stresses full bands rather than solo or duo acts. The Jon Spear Band begins the month on Sept. 3 and local power pop veterans, The Gladstones, will play a benefit for ovarian cancer research on Sept. 25. 

The Glass House Winery near Free Union features a stage inside of a large tropical conservatory that is a welcome refuge when the weather is on the cool side. Local indie-pop band Boxed Lunch is scheduled for Sept. 9.  

Potter’s Craft Cider is just a hop, skip, and a jump from the Charlottesville city limits on Rt. 29 South. The restored stone building has an English country house feel to it and its location on a wooded hill beside the railroad tracks evokes a bygone era. Watch out for and rock steady with The Cows on Sept. 10.

And a cidery that uses vintage apple varieties to evoke the fruit’s heyday in these parts, Albemarle CiderWorks, is located a bit further south on Rt. 29. It hosts singer-songwriter Tara Mills on Sept. 11. 

Check out more ideas for Charlottesville Experiences HERE.

August 2022

These days, the final dog days of summer invariably coincide with the Days Between—the equally celebratory and poignant nine days (Aug. 1-9) that mark the time between Jerry Garcia’s birthday and the date he died in 1995. Named after the mournful, late-period Garcia/Hunter tune, “Days Between,” Deadheads know that early August means they can depend on a few local bands to play Grateful Dead music somewhere in their town. Charlottesville is no exception.

On August 5, Fridays After Five hosts Mama Tried, a local Dead cover band composed of Cville musical stalwarts Susan Munson, Charlie Pastorfield, Stuart Holme, Kent Raine, and Sam Johnston. While they’ve recently introduced a batch of catchy original songs to their set, they can still knock out a mean “Brown Eyed Women” when they want to. The vibes continue Saturday, August 6 with a dose of pure Jerry from Sisters and Brothers as it brings its interpretation of the Garcia Band to The Southern

But that’s not all, folks. The rest of the month has a full slate of excellent shows around town. On Wednesday, August 17 Greensky Bluegrass and The Wood Brothers team up for an evening of Americana at the Ting Pavilion. On Tuesday, August 30, Hiss Golden Messenger returns to the Jefferson. Spearheaded by prolific songwriter M.C. Taylor, master of soulful mid-tempo roots rock, Hiss is one of the best and most consistently excellent touring bands out there.

The August show to be on the lookout for, in this writer’s humble opinion, is Town Mountain at The Southern on Friday, August 19. This Asheville, N.C.-based band started out as a nimble bluegrass unit with a touch of outlaw country. With the recent addition of Sturgill Simpson’s drummer Miles Miller, Town Mountain may be on the verge of a big-time break out in much the same way as Billy Strings and Tyler Childers did in the last few years. They may not be playing small venues like the Southern in the future, so catch ‘em while you can. 

Check out more ideas for Charlottesville Experiences HERE.

July 2022

What a summer. By mid-June, it was already hotter than Hades, as my mom used to say. Don’t be surprised, if, by mid-July, it’s fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk-hot outside.

So what could be better than a night of red hot Texas blues in a cool, classic theater? Jimmie Vaughan comes to The Jefferson on Saturday, July 16. If his name isn’t immediately familiar, it may be due to the fact that his little brother was a guy named Stevie Ray. Yeah, THAT Stevie Ray

Nevertheless, the elder Vaughan is no slouch on the Stratocaster and is considered one of the best blues guitarists in the business. With a signature Fender Strat in his name, a recent tour opening for (and playing with) Eric Clapton, and four Grammys under his belt, Vaughan has little to prove – and a lot to play.

Never as flashy as his late brother, Vaughan was the rock-solid center of The Fabulous Thunderbirds, an ‘80s-era Austin band that had a taste of commercial success with the 1986 album, “Tuff Enuf.” He’s been on his own since 1990 and continues to uphold the jazz and rock-influenced Texas blues tradition of legends such as T-Bone Walker, as well as the Three Kings (Albert, Freddie, and B.B.)

Vaughan recently released “The Jimmie Vaughan Story,” a career-spanning five-CD box set. The current set of shows, titled “The Story Tour,” should draw from all phases of his career. 

I remember seeing the Fabulous Thunderbirds in the spring of 1982. They played an outdoor show in the gravel parking lot in front of the gym at my small Virginia college. Vaughan, his hair slicked back, in jeans, white t-shirt, and shades, was the epitome of cool. At 71, he’s still cool enough—and tough enough—to catch on a hot summer’s night. 

Check out more ideas for Charlottesville Experiences here.


A few weeks ago, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, or Jazz Fest, made a triumphant return to the Crescent City after a two-year hiatus. If you were fortunate enough to make it down there, you know what I’m talking about when I say there ain’t no place like NOLA for a healthy dose of musical funkification. And red beans and rice, of course.

It’s no exaggeration to say that New Orleans is foundational to American music. It’s more than just the birthplace of jazz, it’s where that most indigenous of American art forms gets all mixed up with the blues, R&B, rock, funk, and hip hop to create its own mélange of styles, which is just a fancy way of saying a gumbo of influences. 

That’s why it’s so exciting that the Ting Pavilion is hosting Trombone Shorty’s Voodoo Threauxdown on Sunday, June 19th. This mini-Jazz Fest, curated by Troy Andrews, aka Trombone Shorty, is a blast from the Big Easy, with enough meat on the bone to satisfy even the most devoted fans of New Orleans music.

With Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue as the headliners, the bill also includes a range of musicians associated with the past, present, and future of the city’s traditions. The other artists on the Threauxdown include Tank and the Bangas, Big Freedia, Cyril Neville the Uptown Ruler, and The Soul Rebels

But the act I’m most stoked to see is George Porter, Jr. and Dumpstaphunk playing the music of The Meters. If N’awlins is where it all began, then The Meters were there at the Big Bang, and George Porter, Jr. was holding down the bottom end on bass. Dumpstaphunk, headed by Ivan Neville, is the spiritual heir to The Meters and the band that best captures their pioneering sound. It’s a dream pairing of New Orleans musical royalty that may not be repeated any time soon, so if you want to seriously funkify your life, be sure you make it to the Pavilion on June 19.

Check out more ideas for Charlottesville Experiences here.


May has sprung.

Outdoor shows flourish in the sweet spot before the summer heat drives us all inside again. With old standby Fridays After Five in full swing, look for a fledgling concert series to keep the river of vibes flowing into Saturday evening. 

Rivanna Roots is a concert collaboration between local music collective The Front Porch, Rivanna River Company, and Sun Tribe Solar, held on the banks of the Rivanna River. In keeping with The Front Porch’s nonprofit status, the concerts will support Roots & Wings, a comprehensive music education program for children. The inaugural lineup, which begins in May and runs into sweater weather in October, is an impressive cross-section of local talent. We Are Star Children kicks things off in style on Saturday, May 21. Rivanna Roots is a welcome addition to Charlottesville’s summer scene.

If lazing on a blanket by the river is a little too mellow for you, the Southern Café & Music Hall has several options for breaking out the black t-shirts and Keds sneakers. May is packed with good stuff. 

On Sunday, May 8, old skool wild man Jon Spencer brings his latest band The Hitmakers to town. 

Spencer has played his patented brand of distorted fuzz-rawk with everyone from The Sadies (RIP Dallas Good) to R.L. Burnside. When Spencer (with the Blues Explosion) teamed up with Burnside for the 1996 classic “A Ass Pocket of Whiskey,” the planet shifted slightly on its axis. I still put this one on for maximum-volume R&R therapy. Bonus: On the skins with the Hitmakers and opening band Quasi is none other than Sleater-Kinney alum Janet Weiss. I do not plan to miss this Sunday show. 

And if that doesn’t satisfy your girl power jones, Sarah Shook & the Disarmers, with Shagwuf, are at the Southern on Friday, May 27. Shook, whose popularity continues to rise, may not be playing clubs this size for much longer. Catch her while you can.


Wow. Spring has sprung and shows are popping up  just like daffodils as two years of pent-up demand, from both performers and patrons, brings live music back to bars, clubs, theaters, and larger venues.

Shows Not to Miss

April at the Ting Pavilion promises three great shows within 10 days – Modest Mouse (4/19), The String Cheese Incident (4/21), and Old Crow Medicine Show (4/28). On Saturday, April 30, Pro Re Nata brewery in Crozet will host New Potato Caboose in its airy and spacious performance space. This reunion gig from the ‘80s jam band pioneers (they are contemporaries of homegrown heroes Indecision) promises to bring in a crowd that’s older, not necessarily wiser, but definitely ready for an excuse to trip down memory lane.

Old Venue, New Life

Speaking of crowds, I ventured out to local dive bar Dürty Nelly’s on St. Patrick’s Day. I realize the day that honors the patron saint of the Emerald Isle can turn into a green beer amateur hour headache, but I was curious to check out the pub’s new outdoor patio. Sure enough, a steady stream of honorary Irish lads and lasses packed the bar three deep as happy hour turned into dinner hour and beyond. The patio is located smack on the corner of Fontaine and Jefferson Park Ave and it’s a great place to people-watch as well as a highly visible advertisement for what I’m calling the Nelly’s renaissance, or Nelly-sance.

The new management has taken a beloved, but (if we’re being honest here) declining, establishment and breathed new life into the old girl. The old-school regulars still haunt happy hour, but Nelly’s now has added a patina of cool to go along with the layer of beer, grease, and old cigarette smoke. The patrons sport more ink, piercings, lumberjack beards, dreads, and high-water skinny jeans (what’s up with that look anyway?) than before. That’s a good thing because dive bars are not to be taken for granted. This town already has precious few. By tweaking around the edges without changing the essential nature of what made this joint unique, the new owners have made Nelly’s into a throwback place where locals, hipsters, undergrads, grad students, and assorted ne’er-do-wells can feel at home. And don’t forget the working fireplace, the only bar that has one (that I know of) in Charlottesville. 

Even better, with a brand-new house PA system, Nelly’s has improved what was already one of the best-sounding small room music venues in town. They’ve been steadily building up the live music bookings and now have offerings most nights and on weekends. I’m psyched to see the Silas Frayser Band on the lineup for April 16. Frayser is a singer-songwriter in the bluegrass vein of Tyler Childers, but with a more hippie country feel. It should be a great evening to celebrate the Nelly-sance.

Viva Nelly’s!


Okay, I’m going to get this one out of the way right up front: Southern Culture on the Skids is NOT the title of a Ph.D. dissertation on the decline and fall of a depraved Faulknerian family dynasty. It’s the name of a long-running band out of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, that might just be the most fun you can have without getting nekkid. They hit The Southern on Friday, March 4.

Formed in 1983, the band consists of Rick Miller on guitar, Dave Hartman on drums, and Mary Huff on bass. This southern-fried power trio serves up an adult portion of some of the funkiest, slinkiest, greasiest tunes this side of the wrong side of the tracks. Their manic stage show is a sight to behold and makes the best use of a bucket of Wayco fried chicken I’ve ever seen (Eight Piece Box). The music itself exists in a dimension all its own way out where surf, punk, garage, and psychobilly intersect. 

Over the years, I’ve seen SCOTS (as most fans know them) more times than I can count. Once, at The Jefferson, I witnessed two drunk frat boys catch pieces of fried chicken and hurl them back at Mary Huff way harder than they should have. Huff, in all her badassery, sized them up, made the V-shaped, in front the eyes “I see you” sign, gave them the finger, and never lost the beat. I worship her to this day. 

Fried chicken mischief aside, SCOTS loves Charlottesville. They’ve passed through here many times, making regular stops at long-gone venues such as the Outback Lodge and Zippers. Don’t miss them when they descend on the Southern.

Later in the month at The Southern, check out a record release show from Nelson County’s finest, Lord Nelson (March 12) The Wooks (March 16) for some bluegrass, and, at the Jefferson, a two-night run with jamgrass stalwarts Railroad Earth (March 25 and 26).

Check out more ideas for Charlottesville Experiences here.

February 2022

It’s a good thing that February is the shortest month. It’s consistently cold, it still gets dark early, and we’re all genuinely fed up with winter. So, in honor of the season, this month’s entry will be brief.

And to add to the season’s misery, covid is still with us and is playing havoc with concert scheduling. At least two shows at The JeffersonYola (Feb. 13) and The Cadillac Three (Feb. 17)—have been postponed. So be advised to check the venue’s website before you go out.

The show that really grabbed my ear this month is Mdou Moctar at the Jefferson on Feb. 26. This left-handed guitar shredder is an ethnic Tuareg who hails from a tiny village in Niger. Inspired as a kid by Eddie Van Halen, Moctar and his band weave hypnotic textures of psychedelic Afro-pop, traditional melodies, flat-out guitar pyrotechnics, and socially conscious lyrics (in Tuareg, natch). 

When I listened to his latest release, Afrique Victime, I heard echoes of another mesmeric guitarist, Philadelphia-based Steve Gunn. I’ve been a fan of Gunn’s music for several years, and his hooky songs conjure up a dreamlike state with catchy, repeated melodies. He’s a prolific artist, and sure enough, when I checked his website, I found that he’s just released an EP, Nakama, with bassist Mikey Coltun and rhythm guitarist Ahmoudou Madassane from Moctar’s band. Kindred spirits, indeed. 

Moctar’s music is as expansive as his native Sahel, that vast region of Africa just south of the Sahara Desert. The opener, Emily Robb, is a one-woman guitar whirlwind whose squalling, feedback drenched instrumentals should be the perfect lead into the main act. I can’t think of a better way to spend a bitter February evening. 

January 2022

Omicron willing, January is a good month to go underground. It’s cold outside and even the hardiest music fans find that layering up only gets you so far. And besides, numb fingers can make musicians a bit grumpy.

At the Jefferson, check out the dark country tones of Lost Dog Street Band on Sunday, Jan. 30. Starting out as buskers, guitarist/vocalist Benjamin Tod and fiddle player Ashley Mae (with bassist Jeff Loops) delve deep into a ghostly Americana sound that evokes rough living, hard roads, and the redemptive power of song. Their upcoming album, Glory, echoes the stripped-down old time folk ballad direction the band will likely follow when it takes the stage. This show was moved from the Southern, so the buzz seems to be strong on this one. Also check out their cover of Warren Zevon’s classic junkie lament, Carmelita, from The Magnolia Sessions, a disc of originals and covers recorded live under the shade of a Southern magnolia on a hot, humid summer evening in Nashville.

The rest of the month belongs to The Southern. Jocelyn & Chris (Jan. 13) are brother/sister rockers with a big outdoor summer festival sound. This one promises to be loud and sweaty. Ryley Walker (Jan. 23) is an adept fingerstyle guitarist with roots in the flourishing Chicago indie scene. Palindromic jam band Dopapod cranks it up on Jan. 28 and the following night (Jan. 29), Nellie McKay, who has been making records since 2003, brings her torchy cabaret-style act to this small venue. 

And if you’re willing to go further afield, Crozet’s Pro Re Nata Brewery has a full schedule slated for January. PRN has plenty of room for music with a spacious main hall and a smaller outdoor side stage. On Jan. 7, local Grateful Dead tribute band, the ‘77z, pays homage to the sound of the Dead in and around their late ‘70s, mid-career heyday, and usually open the second set with a killer Help/Slipknot/Franklin’s.

December 2021

The spirit of the season is upon us. Robert Earl Keen is back in town on Wednesday, Dec. 8th at The Jefferson with his annual Christmas show, this year titled, “The Road to Christmas.” Keen’s signature holiday song, referenced below, has become a kind of country-fried, three-sheets-to-the-wind, Yuletide singalong and a staple of his live show. 

…Carve the turkey, turn the ball game on

Make Bloody Marys ’cause we all want one

Send somebody to the Stop ‘N Go

We need some celery and a can of fake snow…

  • Robert Earl Keen, “Merry Christmas From the Family”

Several years ago, he began structuring a holiday-themed tour centered around subjects ranging from the Apollo moon landing to ‘70s outlaw country. The evening showcases a selection of songs from each band member, a cluster of Keen classics, and features elaborate stage sets. But the centerpiece is “Merry Christmas From the Family” and its irreverent evocation of fractured – yet loving – family dynamics. The song is like a good-natured second cousin to fellow Texan James McMurtry’s more barbed and cynical “Choctaw Bingo.”

While Keen is a serious songwriter and a well, keen, observer of human nature, he’s also a master of the boozy party anthem. Keen always enlists a solid Texas-based opening act for this tour. In 2019, it was Shinyribs, and this year it’s singer-songwriter Waylon Payne. If you really want to get into the holiday spirit, don’t miss this show. Just remember to call an Uber and consider calling in a sick day on Thursday.

At the Southern, check out North Carolina-based Zack Mexico with New Boss and Piranha Rama on Saturday, Dec. 11. Signed to local label, Warhen Records, Zack Mexico has an interesting psychedelic surf sound anchored by two drummers. The band opened for Future Islands on a 2017 European tour. 

And that’s it for the month. See you next year!

…A bag of lemons and some Diet Sprites

A box of tampons and some Salem Lights

Hallelujah, everybody say “Cheese”

Merry Christmas from the family

Feliz Navidad!

November 2021

The live music lineup for November looks promising. See our top recommendations below. But first, allow me to riff a tad…

On Friday nights, the Champion Brewing Company taproom is punk AF. 

Tucked away just off the Downtown Mall at 324 6th St. SE, this local brewery has more of a dive bar feel than others in the area. The sidewalk-level entrance leads to a basic barstool, a handful of tables facing two TVs and a big picture window of the brewing operation. The walls are decorated with framed black-and-white photos of historic, and in many cases, long vanished Charlottesville street scenes. But the real action is found on the outdoor patio area, a pandemic-era addition that includes a covered stage and ample picnic table seating. 

On a recent Friday, a friend and I checked out a trio of local bands – Linda., Girl Choir, and the XSmashcasters – and it was a blast. Each band played a short set and the music ranged from indie rock to power pop crunch to punk yowl. It was loud, fast, and over by 10 p.m. 

It was also a reminder that Charlottesville used to have small venues like Tokyo Rose, the Outback Lodge, the Annex, and a succession of others that hosted bands just venturing out from the garage. The Southern, the Front Porch, Miller’s, the Looking Glass space at Ix Art Park, and, well, the Garage are still out there, but the Champion taproom shows seem like a welcome throwback to the kind of indie rock showcase gigs that should exist in every respectable college town. Check out the apt pairing of Boxed Lunch and 7th Grade Girl Fight on Friday, Nov. 5th.  

Both The Jefferson and The Southern have full slates in November. At the Jeff, join the Herd (as the fans are known) as jam band pioneers Donna the Buffalo (Nov. 6) trample their way through town. On Nov. 10, Circles Around the Sun play instrumental psychedelic jams, and to continue the Grateful Dead-adjacent theme, Lettuce roll into town on the 14th. Their Jerry Garcia Band-focused throwdown with members of Dead and Company at Lockn 2018 has gone down as one of that festival’s hottest sets ever. And to top off the licorice sundae (Deadheads will get the reference) Bigfoot County with Brothers and Sisters do a full-on pre-Thanksgiving Dead tribute on Nov. 24.

At The Southern, November has more of an Americana vibe. Chris Smither (Nov. 3) and Martin Sexton (Nov. 12) check the singer-songwriter box, while all-woman string band Della Mae (Nov. 14) and post-Old Crow Medicine Show Willie Watson (Nov. 16) check the folk and bluegrass boxes. Happy Thanksgiving!

October 2021

Say a warm goodbye to the 2021 season at the Ting Pavilion as folkie stalwarts the Indigo Girls take the stage on Oct. 26.

But Wait! This just in: Management has just announced a crowd-pleasing Halloween show! Chamomile & Whiskey is already one of the best live acts in Charlottesville, hands down. The band’s Halloween Bash, like its St. Patrick’s Day throwdown, is the stuff of local legend. Don’t miss this show!

Then winter will have its way with this outdoor venue. Never fear! With spring shows already scheduled for the String Cheese Incident and Leon Bridges, here’s hoping for a full 2022 slate—heralding a return to normal—to be announced soon.

The action shifts inside as the fashion slides into flannel and fleece. The Jefferson opens the month with a one-two punch of Tennessee-based bands. I’ve got a soft spot for Boy Named Banjo (Oct. 7) — Note: this show has been moved to The Southern — because two of the founding members went to Sewanee, where I grew up, and the band’s gentle, Avett-style Americana is a great choice for date night. 

Lucero (Oct. 17), on the other hand, hails from Memphis. These guys have been playing greasy, punky, Southern alt-rock for a long time and are the perfect choice for when your date bails, or better yet, if she shows up in cowboy boots, ripped jeans, Sun Records t-shirt, and a trucker hat. Yowza!

The shows come fast and furious the last week of the month, with two jam-heavy bands (Spafford, Oct 26; Tauk, Oct. 30) bookending a couple of rootsier alternatives. Lubbock-based Flatland Cavalry (Oct. 28) showcase fiddle-heavy tunes full of Texas twang and ‘tude. On Oct, 29, literate and long-lived The Mountain Goats bring the kind of indie cred that’s possible when your front man, John Darnielle, is a New York Times bestselling author and your drummer Jon Wurster’s other gig is with Superchunk

Down at the Southern, two shows stand out. Chatham County Line sprang out of the Great Alt-Country Scare of the late 1990s and has had several discs released on Yep Roc Records. The Raleigh-based quartet recently added a drummer to its mostly stringed instrument lineup. The band’s 2019 all covers release, Sharing the Covers, included a great version of Wilco’s I Got You (At the End of the Century). Politely request that one at their Oct. 16 show. 

On Oct. 24, Austin-based Emily Wolfe brings her skronky, effects-heavy guitar rawk to the club, with a show that should please all the gear heads out there. The Southern is one of the last underground (literally) clubs left in Charlottesville, (RIP The Mineshaft and Tokyo Rose) and it’s a great place to see a band that’s really loud. Wear your ear plugs for this one or stand right next to the speaker. It’s your choice. 

See our comprehensive list of Live Performance venues here.