The 13-piece ensemble Brunswick will give the opening performance at WRIR's "Party for the Rest of Us." (Photo by Lauren Serpa)
Expect Donald Trump jokes, modern jazz (or is it?) and a killer DJ/MC in a celebration that gives voice to “The Rest of Us," as independent radio station WRIR-97.3 FM throws a party that will also help support its operations.
The line-up of musical talent includes Lucy Dacus, tagged by Rolling Stone as one of "10 new artists you need to know," along with Brunswick (featuring Reggie Pace of No BS! Brass), Manzara, The Cheats Movement podcast hosting Gritty City Records, Afro-Zen Allstars, Christi, Half Bascule, a "Silent Music Revival" featuring Night Idea, an RVA Noise Showcase with Coteries, Toner War and The New Loft, and stand-up comedy starring Sarah Ahmed, Charles Ellis, Tom Hall and James Isaiah Munoz.
Events will get under way at 7 p.m. during the First Fridays Art Walk tomorrow (Feb. 5) and continue until midnight at The Renaissance conference center at 107 W. Broad St. Tickets are $15 at the door.
“WRIR’s mission is to air underreported news, music and talk,” says Lindsey Spurrier, WRIR’s events committee chair. More than 200 people, whose only payment has come in the form of fulfilling their passions, have volunteered their time to amplify unheard voices of Richmond.
The opening performance of the night will highlight the flexibility and intrigue of the station's music programming, without attempting to “outsmart the audience,” says John Hulley, trombonist and founder of the 13-piece ensemble Brunswick. Sometimes, he says, he has difficulty explaining his indie rock band that is “jazz, but is not jazz, but is not not jazz.”
This hard-to-define style of music fits perfectly with WRIR, which wants to “change it up every year, to show a different mix of the creative scene in the music industry,” says Spurrier.
DJ Phil D will return to spin tunes at this year's event, which for the first time adds stand-up comedy to the set list.
Sarah Ahmed, a self-labeled amateur comedian, didn't hesitate to get involved. “I was asked to perform comedy and I said yes, because that’s the life of a comedian, but when I found out it was the WRIR party I said, 'Hell yes!' ”
WRIR’s biggest party of the year is expecting more than 1,000 guests, whose ticket purchases will help support the station, which receives 70 percent of its funding through donations.
Ahmed credits Richmond with being willing to embrace different kinds of creativity within WRIR’s daily recordings and the party's line-up. Hipster may not be a negative term after all.
“The essence of a hipster is always looking for something different, but never limiting yourself to a perspective or point of view,” says Ahmed, “that’s the essence of Richmond – it thrives on being eclectic.”
Hulley adds three more reasons that set Richmond’s creative scene apart: 1) The cost of living is so cheap that people can make time commitments without big returns 2) the network of playing music has so many talented players 3) there are so many open places to play.
“This all makes a perfect lineup so you can make crazy things happen — like walking into a bar and seeing a 13-piece ensemble band playing,” he says.