If you did a Richmond version of the Voyager Golden Record, you’d have to include No BS! Brass Band. They’re an inseparable part of our beloved music scene, and they epitomize some of the best aspects of it. The tremendous depth of Richmond’s musical talent pool. The musicivic (Can we make that a word?) pride here that seems to reach new heights with each passing year. The way our Friday and Saturday nights seem to gravitate toward a crowded room and group of people with instruments. That’s the feeling I get when I listen to their last album, RVA All Day. “Look at what we have here. Isn’t it amazing?”
I don’t think No BS! will stop acting as ambassadors of Richmond fun anytime soon, but judging by their new album, Brass Knuckles, they have their eyes set on an even bigger role. By taking up the banner of social justice in songs like “Act Like You Know” and “Tyrannis,” the group is using their force-of-nature arrangements and abilities to amplify the voices of those in the community who are taking progressive stances on issues related to race, inequality, and policing.
This strikes me as a wildly exciting exciting moment, and it’s not just because what they’re making is thrilling, moving music. It feels like a time of cultivation. A time to take all the pride and unity that’s welled up as a result of the music scene’s success and direct that coordinated energy toward meaningful change. A time to trumpet (literally and figuratively) what we have here in Richmond while also deciding what the future should look like.
Brass Knuckles is a great album, and I hope it’s the start of something even bigger. Join in by sampling the title track below and checking out the schedule for this weekend’s ongoing release celebration at Balliceaux.