One thing that makes Richmond such a strong local music town is its army of self-promoters who volunteer their time and energy to get homegrown music heard. One of them is musician, writer and WRIR radio host Shannon Cleary.
His weekly radio program, "The Commonwealth of Notions," focuses on the music scene in Richmond. And this weekend is the third annual installment of its live-music series, WRIR and the Commonwealth of Notions Presents, in which he features a variety of 20 local bands that caught his attention during the past year.
Cleary's expanded the festival to a four-day, multi-venue event. The weekend kicks off Thursday, July 18, with a showcase at Strange Matter with Wolf//Goat, Sea of Storms, Clair Morgan, and Zac Hryciak and the Jungle Beat.
Friday celebrates the return of the Diamond Center to Balliceaux along with DJ sets by WRIR DJs Paul Ginder and Jamie Lay and Revolt of the Apes. On Saturday, Gallery5 is host of an all-day show featuring an eclectic lineup of artists including the reunion of Baby Help Me Forget, Warren Hixson, Navi, Negative Gemini, Flossed in Paradise, Tungs, Adah, Way Shape or Form, Herro Sugar, Lobo Marino, Dumb Waiter and Dave Watkins.
The weekend closes out with Heavy Midgets, Hoax Hunters and Tyrannosaurus Awesome playing at Bandito's on Sunday, July 21.
The series, which started in 2011, also served as a fundraiser for WRIR and Gallery5. "From the beginning of planning the first year, I wanted this to be a festival," Cleary says. "I wanted it to take place across town and just run the gamut of possibilities."
During the past year he paid attention to Richmond bands that haven't played in a while. "The Diamond Center hadn't played since last July and took time off," he says. "They are my downstairs neighbors and I would run into them and constantly bug them about playing."
Other motives include getting bands that normally wouldn't play together on the same bill, he says.
It wasn't difficult for him to decide on the venues. "I knew Gallery5 would be involved again for the third year in a row," he says. "I love what they bring to this city's arts and culture scene. Strange Matter is just history. It has a legacy within its walls. And Bandito's is slowly developing a strong reputation for being a huge supporter of the local music scene. Bands consider it a great spot to spend a Sunday night." S
"WRIR and the Commonwealth of Notions Presents" takes place July 18-21 at Strange Matter ($5), Balliceaux ($5), Gallery5 ($10) and Bandito's (free). Information at wrir.org.