Fresh Tracks – June: Meet The Southern Belles – Virginia’s High Rising Southern-Psychedelic Rockers
Words by Sarah Bourque
Published June 15, 2016
Over the past few years, Virginia seems to have become a virtual hot bed of impressive music emerging from the region. This month’s Fresh Tracks featured artist comes straight out of the land of lovers, as The Southern Belles call Richmond their home base. The group consists of original founding member, Adrian Ciucci, on guitar, Tommy Booker on keys, Andrew Carper on bass, and Aaron Zarrow on drums.
The Belles have come a long way in a short time. Formed back in 2010, their first gig was at a Halloween party, that was also an engagement party unbeknownst to the band. They played for an hour with a mix of a few originals, and a couple of Beatles tunes thrown in. The band then went their separate ways. It wasn’t until 2011 that they started down a true path of musical direction, and they haven’t looked back. With monthly residencies set in place at that time, in both Richmond and Charlottesville, the Belles started to gain a following, as fans ventured from afar to catch their shows.
2012 brought the release of their first album, Sharp As A Knife. With a heavy touring schedule, the band kept the momentum going by capturing national attention. In 2014, they entered to compete in Lockn Festival’s Rockn’ to Lockn’ debut contest. Rockn’ to Lockn’ is only open to bands from Virginia, allowing them to compete for a chance to play on the main stage during the Lockn’ Festival. However, due to miscommunication and crossed paths of information, the Belles missed their chance at entering the contest during the competition’s debut year.
Last year, however, brought a different story. While Ciucci was unloading gear from his car, a random stranger stopped to ask if he was in a band. Turns out the man wasn’t such a stranger to the Lockn’ festival. Jerry Stone, of Flat 5 Productions, was involved with the Rockn’ to Lockn’ competition and suggested his band enter the contest. The Southern Belles made sure to get their entry in on time. Fast forward to the showcase, and the Southern Belles ended up winning. The crowd response was electric, and practically drowned out the band due to the excitement in the room. Six weeks later, the group found themselves playing Lockn’ in front of a crowd of thousands, and performing on the same stage as such notable acts as Robert Plant and Jimmy Herring.
The band has experienced a few line-up changes, the most recent being a switch of drummers. Drummer Raphael Katchinoff moved on to join The Congress, making way for Zarrow to be a part of the group. Formerly of The Royal Noise, he didn’t hesitate to come on board, and it’s been a solid act since his joining.
With festival season in full swing, the band recently played at Rooster Walk Arts & Music Festival in Martinsville, VA. They will be performing on the main stage at The Mad Tea Party Jam in Artemas, PA on Saturday, June 18th. July will include performances at The Big What? in North Carolina, and at Pasture Palooza in Virginia.
The fall is also stacked, however, announcements remain forthcoming for that time frame. Until then, you can catch The Southern Belles every First Friday, as they continue with their monthly residency at The Camel in Richmond. In addition, they are ramping up for pre-production of their third record, with recording expected to begin in January, following a fall tour. To learn more about The Southern Belles, as well as a full listing of tour dates, please visit their official website.