Tuesday, July 29, 2014
The national grocer Whole Foods and Richmond-based C.F. Sauer Co. go together like cinnamon and cloves. Or something. Last week Whole Foods announced signing a lease on a 40,000-square-foot hunk of property somewhere in what Sauer Properties terms as Sauer Center, a “mixed-use development consisting of new and historic buildings on West Broad Street and Hermitage Road.” If you’re corduroying your brow about the configuration, RVA News helpfully included a parcel map to show the general section.

In play here is the former Virginia Department of Taxation at 2220 W. Broad St. It also resembles the Justice League America headquarters where gather at times of crisis such heroes as Wonder Woman and Aquaman (voiced by Richmond actor Scott Wichmann from a Glen Weldon monologue about the deep sea superfriend, here).  And it bears a somewhat down market utilitarian similarity to the Gare du Nord transportation center in Paris

Nobody is giving the location of the store’s footprint or a potential opening date. The Taxation building is 133,000 square feet. Pleasants Hardware, in the Sauer constellation of properties since 1989, is 41,000 square feet. In addition, Sauer owns the former Sears store at Allen and Broad, out of which it runs three shifts a day that, among other things, make the containers that their spices go into. The company bought this almost featureless 163,000 square foot structure in 1981.

The image below, from the Vintage Richmond blog, not only shows the Sears building with its storefront windows filled with displays, but in the background, a flatiron-shaped building. That structure was demolished to widen Hermitage Road at the Broad Street intersection to better benefit Sears. Within a few years, the store closed in favor of the Cloverleaf Mall location. A-hem. 


Sauer, during the past decades, smartly invested in westward expansion. The firm’s real estate division created Sauer Gardens in the Near West End along Monument Avenue and acquired properties that eventually became such sites as the Cary Court Park and Shop (Carytown), Willow Lawn Shopping Center and Libbie Place.

But 2220 W. Broad St. is of particular interest, since when constructed during the early part of the 20th century, it symbolized Richmond’s robust manufacturing component. This served as location of the Stephen Putney Shoe Co

Samuel Putney traveled from Massachusetts to Richmond in 1817 to sell shoes. His nephew, Stephen Putney, joined the family business that carried his name after the Civil War. 

The company prospered, and after 1880 established an industrial plant at Ninth and Perry Streets in Manchester. (For this and following information I'm indebted to the work of the late Tyler Potterfield, historian and senior planner for the city)

Putney outgrew the Manchester plant by 1903 and purchased a piece of the former state fairgrounds, just north of the intersection of West Broad Street and Hermitage Road, that enjoyed convenience to road and rail. 

The firm commissioned Richmonder Walter D. Blair, who practiced in New York City, and J. Edwin R. Carpenter, a Norfolk native but Blair business partner, to design the new building.

Blair attended Richmond College (now the University of Richmond) for two years and transferred to the University of Virginia, where, in 1893, he earned bachelor's and master's degrees. The next year, Blair became accepted into the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Architecture. His 1899 competition proved successful for a place at the Écoles des Beaux Arts in Paris. He produced award-winning student work there and graduated in November 1902. 

His partnership with J.E.R. Carpenter — a fellow Beaux Arts graduate — commenced the following year in New York City. Blair also became an assistant professor of architecture at Cornell University.  Among their collaborations, in 1907 they executed the Stahlman Building in Nasville, Tenn., (converted today into apartments), the American National Bank Building in Pensacola, Florida, the Empire Building of Birmingham, Alabama, (proposed for apartments, too) and “Northway,” an almost identical replica of the Petite Trianon at Versailles, in 1910 for the immensely wealthy Laura Robinson.

 Blair had some relation to Putney executive vice president Lewis Harvie Blair. Though a Confederate veteran, Blair held firm opinions contrary to his fellows, such as supporting racial integration of blacks and whites in business and education. He wrote essays, letters and pamphlets expressing his views that dividing the races was neither cost effective and neither good for business prosperity nor citizenship. He wrote and spoke of such matters in 1880s-1890s Jim Crow Richmond. 

In 1913, Walter designed Lewis Blair’s Monument Avenue columned Colonial Revival mansion. He then became the only known Confederate veteran — though a contrary and conflicted one — to actually live on that particular street. 

Lewis Blair’s house stands, as do three residences of the Putney family, two amid the VCU Health System's Court End campus, the Stephen Putney house adorned by some of the most exquisite wrought iron work in the city, and another at 921 W. Franklin St., also used as offices by VCU. 

For the Putney building, Blair and Carpenter adapted J.I. Hittorf’s 1859 Gare du Nord into a simpler three-part façade with a single, glazed entrance archway flanked by two low wings. The building combined a large industrial area as three linked, single-story spaces, illuminated  by clerestory windows. A two-story section behind the elevation immediately fronting on Broad Street contained the sales and administrative offices. A large arched opening at the rear of the building allowed entrance for two sections of rail. Two large side aisles, lit by windows and lightwells, were used for work and storage. Stephen Putney died prior to the new Putney building’s 1905 completion.
Strause Collection, Valentine Richmond History Center

The Putney Shoe Co. is an example of fireproof construction, featuring bearing walls of brick (with the primary elevation stuccoed) and poured concrete floors, roof and columns. The building’s fireproof construction, emphasis on abundant light, and immediate access to rail lines made it a model of efficiency and safety that the company praised in a hymn to itself: "The most economically arranged shoe plant in the country. Every facility for the saving of time, labor and expense employed. Built of concrete — insurance unnecessary. Entire business (except office) on one big floor — no elevator costs, less force required, systematic arrangement of stock. Double railroad tracks in building for receiving and shipping freight. Bright daylight on every side. Because of our greatly reduced costs of operation and the many Economical Advantages we possess, we can and do make Battle Axe Shoes of Superior Quality over other makes of shoes." Stephen Putney Shoe Co. shipped twice as many cases of shoes annually (over 100,000 cases in 1907) as its competition in Richmond (two private factories in Shockoe Valley and a shop located within the Virginia Penitentiary, near the Tredegar Ironworks). Company advertisements boasted that the plant contained more ground-floor space than any other factory in the South, and that it possessed “every feature known to modern science for the expeditious and economical conduct of our immense business.”  By 1909, Richmond was the fifth largest distributor of shoes in the United States (only Chicago, New York, St. Louis, and Baltimore had greater numbers). 
Strause Collection, Valentine Richmond History Center

Putney Shoe continued on Broad Street until a 1946 sale to retailer Miller and Rhoads to provide space for the store’s mail order center. M&R sold the building to the DMV. Kelly Kerney, a Valentine Richmond History Center researcher, adds that by 1955, Putney established an office and warehouse at 3900 Petersburg Pike. In 1965, the company counted 24 employees with 14 salesmen traveling throughout the South to market 400 styles of shoes. Putney went out of business by 1988 as large chains took over the shoe business and freight rates increased.

After the 2009 move of the Department of Taxation and subsequent purchase by Sauer, the building housed the production offices of the John Adams mini-series and other small films. And I can tell you as an eyewitness, some people of certain years still go by the front doors looking for the tax man.


Tyler Potterfield at Fort Pulaski near Savannah, Georgia
The Flashback column for May, the origin story of the Boulevard, carries a somber afterword. I quote Tyler Potterfield in the piece, both from his 2009 book Nonesuch Place: A History of the Richmond Landscape and from a telephone interview. He fulsomely agreed to speak about the topic "with the stipulation" that I mention the effort that he and fellow historian Selden Richardson were undertaking to place a marker honoring its designer, Wilfred Emory Cutshaw. 

This was the penultimate time I spoke with him, the last a few weeks ago at a James River Film Festival screening he attended with his wife, Maura Meinhardt.

I became acquainted with Tyler professionally through the years, both because of his historical knowledge, and in his capacity as a city planner. We had mutual acquaintances and interests, and ultimately became friends. I attended his wedding at St. Andrew's in Oregon Hill; like myself, he came to the matrimonial altar later in life. 

Tyler collapsed and expired Friday morning. I use these particular phrases because, honestly, I think he’d appreciate them. 

“Citizen!”

Thus Tyler hailed me whenever our paths crossed, often he on his bike or from the cab of his pickup truck. This became our standard greeting, usually accompanied by a firm hand shake. The term didn’t make oblique reference to the old Batman serial, but rather the archaic manner with which members of a city referred to each other – something like “brother,” but more formal. 

The description also referred to our collaboration to annotate, illustrate and index Samuel Mordecai’s Richmond In By-Gone Days, or, in its trundling evocative 1859 title, Virginia, especially Richmond, in by-gone days : with a glance at the present : being reminiscences and last words of an old citizen.

We were only a few sessions in to what would be a daunting and time-consuming project. We ate well, suppers often made for us by Maura, using ingredients from their garden. We then convened to the book-lined front room where, as the evening shadows deepened, we read portions of the book back and forth to each other and took notes as we went along.  

Pushing into middle age, Tyler joked about our being “old citizens,” although Mordecai compiled his delightfully chatty book on the outside of his allotted “three score and 10” years, at about age 73. His was a long memory and one preserved for posterity. 

Tyler contributed in many ways, but one legacy he left is his book, which I often consult. That’s one tangible example among many others, but Tyler was denied giving us his own “Memories of an Old Citizen,” as I’m sure he would’ve. 

The suddenness of this event has caught me bereft; the mind stalls against not seeing him fill a doorway and not hearing that energetic greeting, “Citizen!” 

He was a true citizen, active in the community and his church and as a planner for the city of Richmond, where he brought a sensitivity about historic preservation and the smart and imaginative use of existing resources. We became acquainted somewhat slowly through professional contact — he was the first person I called when embarking on a story about the city’s current plans for one corner or another — but grew through mutual interests. He possessed, at first, an old school reserve, but it warmed toward a dry humor and wry observational nature.

Some of my two best memories of Tyler occurred on unusually damp, windy and jacket-worthy afternoons, much as the one we experienced in Richmond today. 

You need to understand that Tyler possessed a genuine enthusiasm — glee is perhaps more accurate —  about history. He was as nerdy about Richmond’s stories as any fan of Star Trek or Dr. Who. His voluminous knowledge exceeded mine and his capacity to share it was greater. Riding around poking about at the city’s nooks and crannies was as fun for me as it apparently was for him. He took delight in pointing out to me, during one harried expedition, a clutch of early 20th-century tobacco barns in Manchester that he hope to see preserved. "People just think, 'Eh!,' but it's a vital part of what happened here," he said, as though trying to convince me.

One gray day in later 2012, he took me on a tour of some East End cemeteries to look at unusual monuments. Like these at Oakwood, entwined trees — trimmed to indicate cut-off life — of married couple Eugene T. Coghill and Cora Coghill Schleif. I knew nothing of them, nor now, but want to.
A memorial for Eugene Coghill and
Cora Coghill Schleif at Oakwood Cemetery

Then there's the high columned marker of stonemason James Netherwood. Tyler remarked how unusual this was in Richmond to have a facsimile of the person atop a graveyard monument. We're used to angels and allegorical figures. 

Netherwood, wearing his Masonic apron and holding his stoneworker's tools, stands proud peering into the distance from underneath the floppy brim of his weathered hat. Netherwood’s achievements include supervising the placement of stone at Old City Hall, the Planter’s Bank and the Chamber of Commerce building that was torn down barely 20 years after its construction. The column probably came from a demolished building, either the the post-fire Jefferson Hotel or another. “Ever written anything about Netherwood?” Tyler asked me. Nope. I hadn’t really heard his name until that day.

Netherwood's wife received a smaller marker topped by an idealized classical figure. 

Another monument, this on Shockoe Hill Cemetery, another of our city’s older and often neglected graveyards, belonged to Robert Hutchison of Savannah, Georgia, and his third wife, Ellen Laura Caskie. The elemental stained funereal columns, their incised words of memoriam fading, hinted at a mystery within the Spanish-mossed streets of old Savannah. I’d never visited there, a place that Tyler knew well from growing up in and around the town, and in April 2013, I tagged along with him for the purpose of writing a travel piece for the magazine and getting to the bottom of the Hutchison story. 

Savannah greeted us with rain and wind. At certain times a strange bitter stink clung in the humid air from the nearby paper mill. “The Chamber of Commerce folks say it’s the smell of money,” Tyler informed. I don’t recall this ever fitting into a Savannah travelogue, including, later, mine. Tyler took great pleasure in showing off the town to me – the Crystal Beer Parlor with its walls decorated by photographs and paraphernalia of its past and the Massie Heritage Center, one of the best historical architectural museums I’ve visited, Forsyth Park and Fort Pulaski. We ambled the streets even in fine drizzle.We split our overnights between his parents, who lived nearby, and a hotel. 

When a hotel accommodation didn’t go well, the management upgraded us to the splendid River Street Inn, a former cotton sorting center, five stories wrapped around an atrium with a tavern in its basement and a view of the boat-busied river and Hutchinson Island. “We’re livin’ large now, my friend,” Tyler said.
Tyler and I posed in front of a defunct tavern
on Tybee Island that I thought we should reopen.

The city unfolded like a massive magnolia blossom, although it’s smaller than Richmond and designed like a jeweled heirloom cameo. A guided intelligent plan made Savannah work for most of its history but the 20th century presented problems and a terrible attrition to many grand structures, usually for parking lots and highways. That's the kind of “bulldozer brotherhood” attitude that Tyler opposed, and he had Savannah as an object lesson. 

The weather cleared. We took in some performances of the Savannah Music Festival, including Lake Street Dive, now of some renown. I spent some of our final day’s hours at the Georgia Historical Society researching our man Hutchison. And on our way home, we rolled into Bonaventure Cemetery, though the “Bird Girl” sculpture on the cover of the John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil  is removed to the Telfair Museum.

But Conrad Aiken’s bench remains, along with the cryptic inscription, “COSMOS MARINER – DESTINATION UNKNOWN.” Berendt repeated a story that Aiken saw the ship’s name as he watched the vessel pass Bonaventure. He made a point of tracking the ship’s record at the city’s port office. And he found that wonderful entry.
Conrad Aikenís memorial in Bonaventure Cemetery
bears this cryptic inscription.

Here in Richmond, this afternoon, hard rains resumed.

Hail to thee, Brother Citizen! Bon voyage, to your own destination.

And here is the Flashback about "The Man from Savannah." 

Sarah Price, who sang with Tyler in the St. Thomas choir, wrote this moving tribute and captured him well.

Armistead Wellford, aka Armistead Spottswoode
It came from the Carriage Department of Maymont Park. Midnight Frights, which for the past year and a half has aired over  Richmond PBS station WCVE on the last Saturday of each month, emerged from the fervid imaginations of Eric Miller and Armistead Wellford. By day, they worked together driving carriages and caring for horses, but after dark, they turned into late-night horror show producers.





Their lively interstitials that break up the old and usually so-bad-they’re-good movies are filmed on location at the Byrd Theatre, a downtown Richmond studio and various locations. Wellford appears as his self-important raconteur alter ego, movie title-mangling Armistead Spottswoode. The character, who takes credit for everything from building the Byrd Theatre and Bacon’s Castle to actually being Jack Nicholson, is often joined by Polly and Marco — who are a pair of heckling skull heads — a grave digger who labors in the Byrd’s basement, an annoying bird who plops subtitles that contradict the host, and spectral appearances of Ghost Girls, portrayed by several of the women from the Byrd Theatre staff. For a taste, watch the first few minutes of this early episode, and then scootch the bar along until you find them again. 




And this weekend, in the interpolations during the Mad Men-era film The Undertaker And His Pals,  you’ll be treated to an appearance by Bill Bowman, one of the true originals of this peculiar niche performance type.

During the 1970s as The Bowman Body, host of WXEX-TV’s Shock Theatre, his sneaker-first coffin emerging, and signature deadpan delivery in a reedy voice, made Bowman a regional pop culture figure. He won’t be in the white face and raccoon eyes make-up, but he’ll join Armistead and two later generation hosts, Dr. Gruesome and his sidekick, Skeeter. Also appearing to add plotting to the, um, plot will be “Bizzaremistead,” as portrayed by Don Drakulich, also known as Sleazy P. Martini, the erstwhile manager of GWAR.

If you are caught between staying up and watching the Midnight Frights broadcast and attending this weekend’s Ravencon, rest uneasy.  According to Eric Miller, at the comic book and sci-fi/horror/oddity convention, Midnight Fright will have a special room  — perhaps #820 — where people can come and watch the show. “We did it last year and showed movies all night,” Miller says. “It was a blast.”

Here's a Midnight Frights celebration of last year's Ravencon. Doctor Who was not injured, but confused.




The origin story for Midnight Frights is almost as unlikely as a monster mutation movie —  without the freak nuclear accident. Rather, it was a chance carriage ride taken by Janet Campbell, who just happens to be the director of programming for WCVE-TV, Richmond’s Community Idea Station and PBS affiliate. Miller had the reins and when he learned of Campbell’s position, he broached the subject of a locally-produced late night scary movie broadcast like those of their youth. This sounded like a good idea to Campbell.

And she got something like this, wrapped around The Spaceman's Grave Done Got Dugged Up, or, actually,  Plan 9 From Outer Space. 




Fast forward: when the show reached its year benchmark, Miller and Wellford met with WCVE general manager John Felton and Campbell to thank them for the opportunity,  Wellford recalls, “She told us, ‘The show's up half a point in the ratings, and that’s just under the Mel Brooks American Masters episode.’ ” They were concerned that Miller and Wellford might not want to do the show anymore. “I was like, ‘You’re kidding,’ ” Wellford chuckles. The show now airs in Roanoke and Charlottesville. 

For Wellford, this is just another phase of his career in the business of show, which has mostly concerned music. He credits some of it to staying up late to watch Bowman Body, which led him to watch the music review Soul Train. Though a Richmonder — and with that luxurious sliding Richmond diphthong accent to prove it — he played in the alt-rock Athens, Georgia, band Love Tractor, later in Gutterball, and today in Richmond's good-time party R & B group, NRG Krysys. Miller has made an indie horror movie, Mark of the Damned, “a shape-shifting kaleidoscope of monochromatic frenzy” eight years in the making. While he was shooting the film and using Maymont as a location, Wellford and Miller met and their fates ever since been intertwined.





They learned of a mutual interest in old, and usually bad, horror movies. “I loved that stuff,” Wellford says. “The Invisible Man and The Mummy, The Haunting of Hill House, and ghosty things that he’d incorporate into his films. And I told him about the Bowman Body, which we grew up watching.”

The key to a successful late-night horror movie show, Wellford says, is different and entertaining guests — and Ghost Girls.  “We’d be in the Carriage House at Maymont cleaning out the horse’s shoes and I’d say to Eric, ‘I hope I’m not ruining your show.’ And Eric would say, ‘What do you mean? You’re fine.’” For a long while, Wellford couldn’t bear to watch his horror host personality.

Thus, in the words of Armistead Spottswoode, get the popcorn popped, the snacks snacked, sit back and enjoy this month's creeper feature. Remember, they always show the best movies when everybody else is asleep.

But first, this send up of the familiar Byrd Litter Trailer. It's sssssick!



And now, the Ravencon 2014 advert. Remember if you go, tell'em Armistead Spottswoode sent you. And they'll laugh.



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Yesterday my partner-in-art, Amie Oliver, and I joined the massive lawn party that is the Monument Avenue Easter Parade that started in 1973 (see a history of the event, and slide show, here). 

An exquisite Richmond afternoon brought out all the lovely spring fashions, big bonnets and dogs wearing bunny ears. The enjoyment is the conviviality and meeting and greeting as one meanders. In this way, we welcome renewal and new life.

Some Easter Parades have occurred in misty cold and others in near brutal heat. But the weather got it exactly right on Sunday. The Monument Avenue Easter is among the best things we get right here — like Broad Appétit (this will be its seventh year) the Two Street Festival, that last fall passed its quarter century mark, and the Richmond Folk Festival that will reach a decade since the National Folk Festival came here. These events came not from councilmanic fiat, either, or by decree, but because people wanted them to happen. All this, and Manchester's own Legend Brewery turned 20 this weekend, too. 

And under that astounding sky a unique and great Richmond moment occurred. 
Photo by Amie Oliver


The energetic Samson Trinh and members of the Upper East Side Big Band played the B-side of the Beatles Abbey Road. The magnificent and spirited rendition got me right there, and for reasons other than how few of those lads remain among us, and how long and short the time passed, more than that, how the music seemed tailored to the day and circumstances. 

If you live here any length of time, you make mental adjustments. You either enjoy the juxtapositions offered by our city — or they make you crazy. 

While the band played, north of the green medallion, the Virginia Blood Bank recruited for its Easter Blood Drive. A big red drop of the life-sustaining stuff danced its bloody heart out.
 

South of the bandstand, protesters of the Shockoe ball park proposal and the Monroe Park conservancy made their views known. They, too, danced. Around us, small children ran in the grass, tumbled, twirled and shrieked in their enjoyment. Some of them moved to the music, too. 

Overlooking the entire wonderful scene, the imposing and unmoving monument. A bystander asked me, “Is that Robert E. Lee?”

“Yes,” I said, and indicated he plaque.

She laughed. “Oh, it’s in the shadow, I couldn’t read it.”

“Well, it’s not as long or as obvious and some others that have text-heavy memorials."

“What does all four hooves of the horse on the ground mean?”

“That he’s sitting on a stable platform.”

“Oh, I thought that meant he died in battle.”

“Well, he didn’t, and there’s no such iconography on the Monument Avenue statues, and by the way, that’s not Traveller he’s sitting on.”

“What? It’s gotta be.”

“No. The French sculptor Antonin Mercié decided that Traveller wasn’t heroic enough a steed, so he switched him out for a French thoroughbred who’d run off at the sound of a pop gun, much less cannon fire.”

“Well.”


I pointed, “And you’ll notice, he’s a gelding. The masculine undercarriage was considered, eh, inappropriate.” 

“Oh. Well, but Lee could’ve ridden a gelding.”

“But he didn’t.”

“Huh. I guess I asked the right person.”

“Maybe unfortunately,” I replied.

(By the way, a few years ago, I attempted to spend 24 hours at the Lee Statue.)

Then the band started in on the final medley of Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/This Is The End. I got goose bumps — and tears. From the beauty and from the ugliness, too.

I imagined how a camera might swoop over Monument Avenue, over the heads of thousands of people, all colors, all types, gathered under one splendid sun, and then move out over the glistening, rushing river that birthed this place and turn back and seeing us all there, and rejoicing in the possibilties that make failures so much more disappointing. 

Richmond, since we must carry that peculiar weight, then underneath its burden — and given that we are blessed with such fantastic music — we ought to dance.

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No BS! Brass Band cheers the new music venue.
Photo by Amie Oliver
From the stage of the new Broadberry music venue, the No BS! Brass Band charged their cups  to inaugurate the beginning of what The Hat hopes is a beautiful relationship. For a long while, Richmond has suffered the Goldilocks problem in terms of its medium-sized entertainment venues.

Since The Floodzone  in Shockoe, through a serious of unfortunate events during the mid-1990s, transformed into the Have A Nice Day Cafe, the city that hasn't wanted for performance groups and organizations nonetheless hasn't always offered a good, accessible 300- to 500-seat capacity room. The National is for larger acts, The Camel gets quite crowded and Balliceaux is intimate. The rest are bars sometimes with tiny stages, other times not. Other spaces in Shockoe took up some of the slack, and the Jackson Ward Hippodrome Theater is another newer and needed venue, but as of Thursday  night, a page has turned in the Richmond chronicle of early 21st-century entertainment. 

It's appropriate in a city of historical layers that Broadberry occupies the space of The Cellar Door and Much More which blazed in night life and youthful energy of the 1980s. Rand Burgess, who created The Camel and is co-operator here, told me that at the soft opening earlier in the week, a couple told him that they actually met at Much More, got married and are back to see what's happening there. Judging from a few members of the audience — some with gray ponytails and glasses at least thick as mine — they were pulled in by the tractor beam of nostalgia and perhaps, as they gazed from a raised seating platform, were replaying in their mental movie houses clips from a little of the glory. The chandeliers illumiinating that section conveyed from the Nu Nightclub, which was the most recent tenant. 

Bartender and server Claire Schoew
totals up the reckoning.
But that was then and this is now. The Broadberry, situated on Broad near the end of Mulberry Street, comes with a large smoking section/patio that during good weather will surely get used and even in the unseasonable chill provided a needed dose of fresh air — you can see the Movieland marquee from that spot and, presumably, the Diamond's fireworks, too (for however long that continues). Inside, the beer and wine lists and menu are shown on the wall behind the bar. Smart. Watch that space, and with the near future, expect to see imagery from recent shows. 

The long room with the stage at the far end offers an excellent sound system and nearly unobstructed views though be aware party-goers, the bathrooms are toward the stage side and it could get crowded if you aren't close by when the need arises.
Goldrush performs as part of a triple bill.

Whether this presented a problem for anybody, really, I couldn't tell. The crowd rolled in for a powerhouse triple bill of Goldrush, Black Girls (on the last stop of their latest tour) and No BS! Saturday night's show will feature the electric and funk stylings of  The Silo Effect, The Former Champions, and the Polychrons.

Last night, some of the younger ladies, and a few guys, gingerly stepped onto the light-alternating go-go boxes to display their moves. This'll be interesting to see develop.

The Black Girls
An aspect of being in a place near its beginnings, especially a venue such as this, is that it is an invitation to the future. The past brought Pat Benatar, John Prine, The Ramones and a slew of regional and local acts. With this full-service restaurant and performance space, Richmond's future for regional and rising national acts is … free as a bird. Yeah. I really said that.
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