Nine Things We’ll Remember About Fridays at Sunset 

Critics' Pick

click to enlarge STEPHEN SALPUKAS

After years of great music and good times, Fridays at Sunset organizers say they're going out on top. But the unexpected end to the series, coupled with the city's reduction in funding for the event, makes it seem like the rug was pulled out from the bottom. The memories live on:

1. Did you get that? Natalie Cole's offer to come into the audience and personally stop a concertgoer from filming her.

2. D' tease: Erykah Badu introducing reclusive R&B singer D'Angelo to a stunned audience. "Just playin'!" she said, laughing, a moment later.

3. Nights like this: Corrine Bailey Rae singing a reggae version of "I Only Have Eyes for You," with her eyes shut, under an August moon.

4. Infinite gratitude: The reading of the sponsor list seemed to get longer and more frequent in the latter years. Maybe they should have read the names of 50 randomly selected taxpayers from the city — we were helping paying for it too, after all.

5. Nas: A rare Richmond appearance by hip-hop's greatest lyricist. 

6. Safety dance: According to organizer Ken Johnson, there never was an "incident" at Fridays at Sunset, after almost two decades of concerts that included hip-hop, R&B and jazz. Well, who wants to get thrown out for fisticuffs after you've paid $40 to occupy Kanawha Plaza for a few hours?

7. Me, Myself & Skillz: Richmond's home-grown rap veteran, Mad Skillz, joining De La Soul on stage for a song in 2003.

8. Selling point: The Roots, working a protest song into their routine after realizing that the Intermediate Terminal, where they were performing, once was a marketplace for enslaved Africans. 

9. Short circuit: The diminutive singer Chrisette Michelle was forced to finish her concert without most of her band after someone forgot to cover her equipment during an afternoon storm. Fortunately, her most important instrument, her voice, was fully operational.

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