Street sounds: Your guide to local street musicians and summer concerts

Photo: Caleb Briggs Photo: Caleb Briggs

There’s more than one type of music scene in Charlottesville—the kind where you wait months to see an act you’ve been wanting to cross of your bucket list, and the kind you happen upon while sitting outside for dinner on the Downtown Mall. Of course, buskers are like a box of chocolates—you never know what you’re gonna get. But here are eight familiar faces worth stopping for.—Caite White

David Kulund (above)

Typical spot: Patio near Grit Coffee

The Charlottesville native has been on the same bills as bands like Weezer and Coldplay, and had his first gig—at local former nightclub Trax—when he was 15. But after 20 years in New York and Boston, he recently returned home to get his Ramblin’ Davey children’s act started up down south. “Charlottesville’s the perfect place for some good time, family-style, ice cream-lickin’, barn-kickin’ music,” he says.

Photo: Bill LeSueur
Photo: Bill LeSueur

Dominic Isidore

Typical spot: Outside Splendora’s

A one-time recipient of a grant from the Boyd Tinsley Fund, Dominic knows that practice makes perfect. “I simply am addicted to the violin,” he says, which is why, in high school, the now 24-year-old would rest for one hour after school, then spend five more honing his skills at St. Paul’s Memorial Church before catching (and sometimes snoozing on) the bus home to finish his homework before bed.

Photo: Cramer Photo
Photo: Cramer Photo

Harmonica Dave

Typical spot: South First Street

Harmonica Dave got his first blues harp for $1.75 in 1964, hopping on the mid-’60s jug band craze, and never let up on what he calls “the poor man’s instrument.” You can hear him at First Street by Alakazam, wailing, trilling, shucking and jiving on his Hohner blues harp, amplified through a mini MusicMan he picked up during a stint at SXSW.

Photo: Caleb Briggs
Photo: Caleb Briggs

Irish Matthew

Typical spot: Near Rapture

Captivated by the old Irish folk songs he’d heard when he was little, the 23-year-old taught himself to play the accordion, banjo and the fiddle and says “Wave Over Wave,” a ’70s Canadian folk tune, is his favorite thing to play while busking. “It’s just a great song, and people react to that,” he says. “We entertainers often don’t give the folks listening enough credit. Music doesn’t always have to be familiar to strike a chord with people.”

Photo: Rammelkamp Foto
Photo: Rammelkamp Foto

Carmel Clavin

Typical spot: Central Place

Carmel, a Staunton resident, has been busking all over the U.S. for a year now. In addition to singing, the 29-year-old button accordion player also produces her own vaudeville shows, called Spectacle & Mirth, throughout the area. She calls it a Teacup Cabaret—” a mini mobile variety show that’s a swift kick in the sass!”

Photo: Rammelkamp Foto
Photo: Rammelkamp Foto

Jack Marcus and Eric Xu

Typical spot: Planters by Impeccable Pig

When Eric, 18, was accidentally signed up for a band class in fifth grade, he asked the teacher which instrument was played when royalty walked in the door—and he’s been playing trumpet ever since. And 17-year-old Jack? He learned guitar in a New Jersey music shop from a member of an ’80s hair metal band. Together, the two play many genres, but it’s pop, says Eric, that most folks request. “It always puts a smile on their faces.”

Photo: Rammelkamp Foto
Photo: Rammelkamp Foto

Jerry Wagers

Typical spot: Outside The Paramount Theater

Jerry comes to Charlottesville via the West Coast, where he was one half of folk/pop acoustic duo The Square Roots, which gained a cult following. He’s played shows with Train, Cake, The Flaming Lips and Counting Crows, and is working his way around the country, playing various venues (including local streets!).

Now hear this

Make the most of your summertime live music lineup with these nine shows—from local jams to classic rockers.Danielle Bricker

Alabama Shakes

Three years after their debut album catapulted these hard-driving roots rockers to fame, the band is back with more earnest lyrics and powerhouse vocals. Grab a beer and get down in true Southern style.

Tuesday, June 9. $39, 7pm. nTelos Wireless Pavilion, Downtown Mall. 245-4910.

Neko Case

America’s indie folk sweetheart has nearly two decades of catchy pop-inflected vocals and sweetly sorrowful alt-country melodies under her belt, and shows no signs of slowing down.

Thursday, June 18. $42, 8pm. The Paramount Theater, Downtown Mall. 979-1333.


Ben Jaffe and Suzanne Santo’s folk roots have exploded into a sonic kaleidoscope of blues, rock, hip-hop and experimental influences. Explore their menagerie of sound with an intimate live show.

Friday, June 26. $15, 6:30pm. The Southern Cafe & Music Hall, 103 S. First St. 977-5590.

The Eagles

Your summer playlist is already chock full of hits from these masters of laid-back, classic rock, so channel your inner child of the ’70s at this jam-packed gig.

Monday, July 13. $50-180, 8pm. John Paul Jones Arena, 395 Massie Rd. 243-4960.

Wiz Khalifa

This maverick M.C. was one of the first rappers to market not just through nightclubs but also to college kids, so what better time for his chart-topping hits than during UVA’s summer session?

Thursday, July 16. $45, 6pm. nTelos Wireless Pavilion.

Rockn’ to Lockn’

It’s never too early to get amped up for Arrington’s ultimate ode to the jam band. Four local groups will duke it out for a coveted spot on the Lockn’ stage (and other prizes).

Friday, July 24. $8-10, 7pm. The Jefferson Theater, Downtown Mall. 245-4948.

Howie Day

If you can’t indulge in a guilty pleasure in summertime, when can you? The soft rock earworm “Collide” has been stuck in your head for over 10 years. Just embrace it already, and see Day perform live.

Saturday, August 1. $17-20, 6pm. The Southern Cafe & Music Hall.

“A Prairie Home Companion”

Take a blast into the golden days of radio’s past with traditional folk music, tongue-in-cheek drama and Garrison Keillor’s trademark storytelling in “News from Lake Wobegon.”

Saturday, August 8. $39-59, 7pm. nTelos Wireless Pavilion.

Cole Swindell

Looking for country music’s next big thing? ACM’s Best New Artist is joining the ranks of patriotic songwriters penning tunes about love, life and whiskey.

Wednesday, August 26. $34-37, 7pm. The Jefferson Theater.

For more summer fun, continue reading here.

Posted In:     Arts


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