For ten years, the Artomatic festival in D.C. has presented visual and performing artists from the District and beyond in free exhibitions over the span of a month. Its 10th anniversary this year is expected to be bigger than any other year. Washington, D.C. events often pass us by here in Richmond. The Duke Ellington […]
For ten years, the Artomatic festival in D.C. has presented visual and performing artists from the District and beyond in free exhibitions over the span of a month. Its 10th anniversary this year is expected to be bigger than any other year. Washington, D.C. events often pass us by here in Richmond. The Duke Ellington Jazz Festival, for example, is happening right now in various clubs and on the National Mall, but it is not necessarily the talk of the town in Richmond. So why talk about Artomatic?
Marlysse Simmons, keyboardist for Bio Ritmo and Os Magrelos, is a D.C. native who is now active on the Richmond scene. With ties to Artomatic, it was her idea to book an “RVA Band Day” at the festival, which will take place on Sunday, June 14.
Marlysse: “I actually played one of the very first Artomatics when I lived up there about 10 years ago. It since has grown in to this gigantor operation. I haven’t been to this one yet, but someone told me it’s like 8 floors of art, and very overwhelming. Bio Ritmo had also played it a few years back and we were looking into playing it again, and it was early enough into the operation where I actually found a stage that was open for the whole day. So the Artomatic folks were cool with making it an RVA band day. Basically I approached bands that I know who have an overlap of players. To make it a real RVA band day we’d need to reserve a couple days and a couple of stages (maybe we can do that next year).”
From 4-10 on the festival’s main “electric stage,” Richmond bands will be doing their thing in succession for new crowds. Marlysse’s samba-rock and Brazilian group Os Magrelos begins at 4, followed by salsa band Bio Ritmo at 5.
At 6, Ilad performs, followed by Glows in the Dark at 7.
Glows’ Scott Burton: “I have a friend in D.C. that has gone to Artomatic a few times and assures me that it’s real cool and fairly gigantic in size. I’m excited. I think it’s gonna be sweet and hopefully something we can expand on in the future.”
Amazing Ghost plays at 8. The Great White Jenkins with Fight the Big Bull goes on at 9.
FTBB’s Matt White, like the other band leaders Burton and Ilad’s Gabe Churray, are rather unsure of what to expect, surrendering responsibility to Marlysse. White refers to RVA Day at the festival as the first “Richmond Revue.” With that thought and Marlysse’s suggestion of one day making it bigger, a true spotlight on the RVA scene does not seem so far away.
Marlysse on D.C.’s impression of RVA: “I don’t know what D.C. thinks about Richmond. I think some folks are hip to it, but I know when I lived up there my whole life I never thought about Richmond having any type of scene, especially a salsa band, so I’m sure we’ll make an impression on some folks. I know the Richmond jazz scene kicks D.C.’s butt, because up there more people have the opportunity to play more private things, so there’s no time for creative stuff. Probably most of those dudes make more money, but so many of them are miserable cause it’s the same shit over and over again. So I think RVA Band day is a great way to show off Richmond stuff and that would be my hope. I know recently at the Black Cat they had a big night of music featuring Chicago bands, so maybe after this, we can try the same thing at a club.”