What does Richmond sound like? Train whistles — and almost any genre of music you can imagine. Any night of the week, concerts are playing on stages large and small around the city. Downtown, the National, a historic 1923 music hall turned concert venue, presents performances by nationally known musicians on tour. Classical music enthusiasts can get their fix at CenterStage, which hosts traveling opera and concerts by the Richmond Symphony, as well as select performances from the University’s Modlin Center for the Arts.
Other notable establishments to catch both out-of-town and local musicians include The Camel, Strange Matter, Capital Ale House, Balliceaux, Emilio’s (where on Friday nights you can enjoy the jazz stylings of Doc Branch and the Keynotes, who have been playing at the same location for over 30 years), Ipanema, and Gallery 5. Local talent can also be heard over the air on weekends and after 5 p.m. weekdays on WRIR, Richmond’s independent radio station. The Listening Room offers a semi-regular concert series at the Firehouse Theatre to showcase talented musicians in a quiet environment.
A number of music festivals also dot the calendar throughout the year, the largest being the Richmond Folk Festival, which attracted over 200,000 people to its multiple stages on and around Brown’s Island in 2012. The 2nd Street Festival in historic Jackson Ward has offered attendees a weekend of high-quality tunes for over 25 years, while the more recent Richmond Jazz Festival brings a wide range of jazz headliners to its stages at Maymont Park and the iconic Hippodrome, a stage that once regularly hosted performers like Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington. During the summer, Venture Richmond hosts the popular Friday Cheers concert series on Brown’s Island, where listeners can kick back and enjoy the music while the sun sets over the James.