In five years, Jonathan Vassar, Goldrush, and No BS! Brass Band have become major music forces in Richmond’s music scene.
JONATHAN VASSAR AND THE BADLANDS
Well before I started RVA Playlist and when I was only starting to pay attention to Richmond’s growing music scene, I was introduced to the musical stylings of Jonathan Vassar. At the time, he was part of a group called the Speckled Bird, which included his wife Antonia on accordion and Chris Edwards on mandolin. Jonathan Vassar’s music was full of imagery and somber, haunting folk melodies. It was after seeing Vassar perform that I knew the Richmond’s music scene was something to take a look at.
While the Speckled Bird is no longer playing together, Vassar continued his solo work and collaborated with many other musicians in groups like Ophelia and the brief Homemade Knives reunion. His latest group, the Badlands, are made up of various amazing musicians I encountered throughout the years: Grant Hunnicutt (formerly of Mermaid Skeletons and River City Band), Nate Mathews of the Richmanian Ramblers and the Moonbees, and Curtis Wayne Patton. The group has an EP due out this year.
I don’t remember exactly when I was introduced to Prabir Mehta, the lead singer of Goldrush. It was probably during his Substitutes days having shots of tequila and watching him go crazy on the guitar. I always remember him being frantic on stage and the coolest guy you’ll ever meet. At the time, the freshly-formed “Prabir/Goldrush” were eager to show off what they were working on. The music promised to be different since their styles ranged from the rock and roll of the Beatles to the classic symphonies of Mozart and Bach.
In five years, I’ve seen the band more times than I can remember and every time it’s been a fun ride. I’ve shared (more) tequila shots with band members and listened to their opinions on life. Through their songs, I’ve learned about broken relationships and scientific facts (seriously, I know six more digits of Pi because of them), and I’ve watched every band member go wild on stage. I’ve loved watching this band grow and achieve various successes and can’t wait for whatever comes next for them–because it will be awesome.
NO BS! BRASS BAND
I first met members of No BS! Brass Band through their other projects like Fight the Big Bull and Glows in the Dark. But I first encountered the band as a whole during a week sometime back in 2008. They played a show at the Camel and a night or two later, performed as the ringleaders for a Halloween parade through Oregon Hill. The first thing I noticed about them was that they had such a commanding presence and managed to get everyone into the music they were playing. Just hearing the opening notes of their cover of “Thriller” got everyone excited.
I could tell right away No BS! was a force to be reckoned with. But I don’t think anyone knew what a impact they would have not just on the growing music scene here in Richmond but also as an entry point to people outside the music community to experience more. And in the 5+ years, I’ve known them, they continue to make every time they play feel like it’s the end of the world and they have to go out with a bang.
Jonathan Vassar and the Badlands, Goldrush, and No BS! Brass Band will play the RVA Playlist 5th Anniversary at the Broadberry on June 4th at 7:00 PM. Pre-show entertainment includes music from Big Mama Shakes, raffle prizes from area businesses and more. Those who attend the event will receive a special RVA Playlist Anniversary CD featuring exclusive tracks from Richmond bands (supplies are limited). Buy tickets here.