The Pioneer Arts Previews: Tomtoberfest Cheat Sheet

The names you need to know and the music you need to hear ahead of this weekend’s Tomtoberfest.

You know the feeling: You find yourself in a conversation with the artsy kid from your class discussion or you snag a Facebook invite to a downtown Charlottesville event and you’re feeling, at the very least, a bit culturally unsophisticated. You’re feeling like a n00b. So before you pretend you’ve actually heard of that indie artist or smile and nod your way through a discussion on today’s hottest podcasts, let us be of assistance. We get it, we feel you, we’ve been you, and we’re here to help.

Introducing The Pioneer Arts Previews, a series of articles in conjunction with a Spotify account dedicated to giving you the “what’s what” and “who’s who” in the Charlottesville arts community and beyond by curating playlists to preview concerts, festivals, and the general Charlottesville arts scene.

Our first preview comes in anticipation of Tomtoberfest, a two-day festival bringing together artists, entrepreneurs, and innovative creators, which will take place September 22-23 in Emancipation Park. The entire weekend, as the first city-wide event since the tragedy of August 12th, promises to be a community-focused display of positivity and inclusion.

In order to prep you for the many free(!!!) concerts this weekend, here’s your Tomtoberfest Cheat Sheet on the 11 artists and bands that will be in attendance and what to listen to in preparation.  

The Movement

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  • Self-described “alternative reggae” band from South, Carolina
  • Joshua Swain (Guitar/Vocals), Jason “Smiles” Schmidt (Bass), Gary Jackson (Drums), Ross Bogan (Keys)
  • Their 2016 album GOLDEN  hit #1 on iTunes and Billboard Reggae charts and was voted 2016 Album Of The Year by Surf Roots Radio


  • Diverse group hailing from the DMV that combines Indie Pop, R&B and Rap to create a unique sound
  • Kyle (Vocals), Melissa (Vocals), Teddi (keys) Eric (Percussion) Fern (Bass) Josh (Drums)
  • Named ‘DC’s Best Emerging Band’ by Deli Magazine

Aztec Sun

  • DC based funk/soul band modeled in the Funk and Soul traditions which includes horns, group singing, coordinated outfits and synchronized dance moves
  • Released their debut studio EP, Set you Free, last year
  • Named ‘Best Local Original Band’ by the Washington City Paper

Hamish Anderson

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  • Australian Blues Rock artist
  • His debut album Trouble (2016) was recorded predominately live with no auto-tune
  • Named as a Top 10 “Best New Artists in 2016” by Yahoo! Music

The Big Takeover

  • Six-piece band from New York that mixes Jamaican pop with the soulful Motown genre
  • Neenee Rushie (Vocals), Rob Kissner (Bass), Andrew Vogt (Trombone), Chas Montrose (Sax), Kerry Shaw (Guitar), Batu Attila (Drums)
  • Released their fourth full-length record Silly Girl at the beginning of 2017 to critical acclaim

South Hill Banks

  • Progressive Bluegrass band from Richmond, VA
  • Lance Thomas (Vocals, Guitar), Eric Horrocks (Mandolin, Vocals), Ryan Horrocks (Banjo), Dan Fiasconaro (Guitar, Vocals), and Matt Eversole (Upright Bass) are currently performers-in-residence at The Camel in Richmond, Virginia
  • Floydfest 17 ‘On The Rise’ Competition Winner


  • Indie/Alternative rock band from Huntington, West Virginia 
  • Bradley Jenkins, Zach Johnston, Max Nolte, Zack Owens, and Brad Goodall
  • How they describe their music: “It feels like getting your tennis shoes wet walking along the banks of the river. It feels like catching a buzz off a bottle your buddy stole from his brother and skipping track practice. It feels like taking a long walk into the trees when you can still hear them arguing inside the house.”


  • This group of childhood friends have been playing together since middle school, developing their unique blend of reggae, rock, funk, and jazz influences
  • Andrew Pfeiffer (Vocals/Guitar/Trombone), Evan Hulehan (Guitars/Vocals/Production), and Jack Kilby (Drums), Garret Clausen (Bass/Vocals/Saxophone), and Colin Cantfil (Trumpet)
  • Currently working on their second full-length album

New Kingston

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  • Family group that fuses their Jamaican roots with the hip-hop and R&B influences of their New York lifestyle
  • Tahir (Keys/Vocals), Courtney Jr. (Drums/Vocals), and Stephen (Guitar/Vocals) along with their father, Courtney Panton, Sr (Bass) and Kris Harmon (Percussion)
  • Third album Kingston City (2015) reached No. 1 on the Billboard Top Reggae Albums chart

Virginia Man

  • Indie group from Fredericksburg, VA with an alternative rock/Americana style
  • Kristian Lietzan, Jacob Keller, Andrew Burlingame, Jack Rutherford, and Jason Ross
  • Their first single “Paper Shields” (2016) charted on Spotify’s US Viral 50 playlist

Devon Gilfillian

  • Blues and Soul solo artist from right outside Philadelphia
  • Now based in Nashville where he released his self-titled album, Devon Gilfillian (2016)
  • Headlining the Official Tomtoberfest Afterparty at Rapture, Friday night

If you enjoyed this playlist, give us a follow on Spotify (@thepioneer_)!

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