October 16, 2002 News & Features » Cover Story


10 Richmond musicians who got noticed 

1. Firehouse

If you can remember crying over a yearbook picture in your bedroom to "Love of a Lifetime," well, you'd just better keep that to yourself, buddy. The Richmond hair-band's other radio hit, "Don't Treat Me Bad," didn't come near the Top 10 success that "Lifetime" did in 1991, but Firehouse is still at it and still making '80s-style rock: Did you check 2000's "O2"?

2. Amiee Mann

Keep it down now: 'Til Tuesday's smash hit "Voices Carry" carried this former Richmonder to fame and a guaranteed spot on VH-1's one-hit-wonders program. Mann's career got another boost when her music was featured in the film "Magnolia."

3. Carbon Leaf

Over the years, lots of musicians have sent in notices claiming to be nominated for this and that, but then all of a sudden, there's Carbon Leaf actually winning the thing on national television. They became local media darlings overnight after winning the Coca-Cola New Music Award during 2001's American Music Awards. That's not the only notice the band has received. Don't forget, lead singer Barry Privett was named Virginia's most eligible bachelor by Cosmopolitan magazine.

4. Cracker

David Lowery and Johnny Hickman are big names, around here, at least, with plenty of studio clout and presumably enough royalties to keep them in fancy sneakers for years to come. Cracker hit its high with "Low" when Lowery was taking that ringside beating from comedian Sandra Bernhard.

5. D'Angelo

This guy's a big one, credited, along with Maxwell and Lauryn Hill, as one of the leaders in the return to classic R&B in the late '90s. D'Angelo, whose father was a Pentecostal minister, was born Michael D'Angelo Archer here in Richmond. He grew up with the music and at age 18 won the amateur competition at Harlem's Apollo Theater three weeks in a row. Perhaps the only Richmonder with serious staying power, and the only one so far to survive longer than one album as a hit-maker, D'Angelo is still in his prime.


The undead kings of schlock rock turned Richmond into the capital of bloody rock 'n' roll mayhem with their musical horror shows. Dressing up as violently freakish otherworldly characters with names like Oderus Urungus and Slymenstra Hymen, this band of former VCU artists and musicians put on shows so perversely wicked they were excoriated in England's Parliament.

7. Agents of Good Roots

With Andrew Winn's signature scratchy voice, this jazz-rock band cranked out some college-radio hits and looked poised to make it big during the acoustic-rock boom of the mid-'90s. Following on the heels of such contemporaries as Hootie and the Blowfish, Edwin McCain and especially fellow Virginians The Dave Matthews Band, Agents hit it biggest with "Smiling Up the Frown," which peaked at No. 2 on Billboard's modern-rock chart.

8. Sparklehorse

He hasn't had a hit like "Voices Carry" or "Love of a Lifetime," but Mark Linkous probably wouldn't have his success any other way. Besides, he has to keep his reputation as a reclusive, eccentric genius-artist. His three albums as Sparklehorse have wowed critics and won him an obsessive cult following. Linkous prefers to make his critically acclaimed recordings of scratchy, avant-garde folk in the do-it-yerself style at his backwoods home in Bremo Bluff.

9. Greta Brinkman

Maybe some readers from our early days remember bands like Hurlie Girlie, Dead Blind Gone and Burst Into Flames. Greta Brinkman held up the four-string in them all and more, before heading to New York to try her hand at the big time. After many years working with Deborah Harry and L7, she finally found a spot in Moby's band. When not traveling the world, she keeps a home in Oregon Hill.

10. Fighting Gravity

This group of Virginia Tech friends formed at the school in the mid-'80s, first as the band Boy O Boy, and boy-oh-boy did they tour a lot, especially after they morphed into Fighting Gravity. Relentlessly bombarding frat houses, college parties and music festivals up and down the East Coast with their ska-influenced rock as many as 200 times a year, FG made it all the way to Mercury Records, releasing the 1998 album "You and Everybody Else."


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