Cheers to 30 years!

Cheers to 30 years!
Cheers to 30 years!
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Stephan Lecky cropped

Stephen Lecky, Festival Manager

It’s not getting older; it’s getting better and better. RVA’s longest running outdoor party reached middle age, when Friday Cheers celebrated its 30th birthday this past week (with about 2,500 of its closest friends on downtown’s Brown’s Island). Like any 30-year-old, it’s gone through changes since its first show in 1984 at Festival Park (next to the Coliseum). Other than location, one of the biggest changes is the caliber of the bands. Thirty years ago it was mostly local acts like AAE, Fighting Gravity and Carbon Leaf. Gradually bigger regional tours were added. Today, Friday Cheers can be counted on, as Venture Richmond’s festival manager Stephen Lecky points out, to showcase acts you may never have heard, but are on the verge of breaking out nationally.



Another recent change (and a big reason why bigger acts can be booked) is the typical ticket price of 5-10 dollars (children under 12 free, season pass available $35). By charging a small fee the organizers can better manage the crowds and create a truly all-ages atmosphere. Families and their kids make up a healthy percentage. Many who attended in their younger days and are now turning their own kids on to the experience.


Overall, Friday Cheers is as much a social event as it is about the music. Planning by Venture Richmond starts 6 months in advance (bands, food, libations, volunteers) and lessons learned – both the good and the bad – pay off in the current mellow, have-a-good time atmosphere that Richmonders have always embraced.


There are seven more Friday Cheers scheduled featuring touring acts as well as Local RVA Music Night (May 23rd) that will showcase Todd Herrington’s Things, Avers and The Green Boys. The series will wrap June 27th with nationally known, and Virginia born, Neko Case.



Nicki Bluhm

Friday night kicked off with Nicki Bluhm and the Gamblers. Nicki’s sultry but energetic vocals are influenced by the likes of Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt. The band backs her up with a funky vibe that channels diverse genres, including the Rolling Stones, bluegrass and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. They rocked the crowd.


Vintage Trouble followed with a fun blend of 50’s and 60’s blues rock lead by Ty Taylor, who seems to have dipped into James Brown’s gene pool. The quartet put on an animated show that had the down front crowd dancing all through their set.


Ty Taylor









Being down front is where you’ll always find me. There’s no place better to catch the energy of the band and the groove of the audience. See for yourself:


Watch Video


Photos by Dave Parrish Photography

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