Fredericksburg is full of young talent, but these musicians didn’t become a fixture in the growing downtown music community until Fredericksburg All Ages (FAA) formed in 2006.
For those under 21, finding a place that isn’t a bar where they can socialize and enjoy local music can be quite a challenge.
FAA is a youth-directed and youth-empowered organization focused on highlighting local artists and bands at various venues, while giving kids the opportunity to get connected. It is the only group of its kind in the region, according to the FAA website.
One of the group’s primary goals is to encourage a healthy, safe and affordable atmosphere for high school and college students.
“What we are trying to do is use music and art, which are strong cultural forces, to provide youth with opportunities to be involved in the community,” said founder and director of FAA Adam Bray.
Bray started the organization so the younger residents of Fredericksburg could perform and discover new music without having to travel to Washington D.C. or Richmond.
Most FAA shows are hosted at Eyeclopes on Charlotte Street. and Read All Over Books on William Street.
According to Bray, FAA doesn’t currently have its own space due to lack of funding, but support is steadily growing.
In 2010, FAA received the Youth and Philanthropy Grant from the Community Foundation of the Rappahannock River Region. According to FAA’s website, the grant allowed the organization to become a 501 (c)(3) tax-deductible non-profit organization.
Saturday Jan. 15 marked FAA’s 100th show and featured local bands and FAA regulars Carlos I’m Pregnant, Elby Brass and Typefighter.
The event was Carlos I’m Pregnant’s 19th show with FAA and their last show as a band, which got its start in high school at early FAA functions.
“I’ve been around since [FAA’s] beginning and it was the greatest thing that they could have done at the time,” said Ben Wood, the band’s lead singer.
Recent UMW graduate Jeremy Flax, who is the Vice President of Program Operations and Event Coordinator, explained that giving high school bands opportunities to play is the heart of the FAA.
“Part of our whole ethos is giving local bands a venue that’s not a bar,” said Flax, who supports the sober environment that FAA offers.
Flax explained that precedence goes to local bands when deciding who to book, but nationally touring bands also top the bill from time to time. Ra Ra Riot and Jukebox The Ghost have both added FAA shows to their stops on tour.
Bands that are just starting out are given the opportunity to learn first-hand from professional musicians. According to Bray, it is a chance for older bands to mentor a younger generation and give musical tips.
It is important for Bray to provide a setting in which people of all ages can interact and learn from each other.
“We see value in bringing people together around music and being connected face-to-face,” said Bray.
FAA is currently in the process of reapplying for the Youth and Philanthropy Grant while also pursuing other sponsors and supporters.
Additional support will allow FAA to do more fundraising and plan events supporting local music and art.
Within the next five years FAA hopes to secure a permanent place where they can hold their events, explained Bray.
FAA is also in the works of establishing its own record label as another way to continue giving local bands an opportunity for their music to be heard. Bray said that everything is in place, but when the label gets up and running depends on future grants and financial support.
Grants or no grants, Bray joked, the record label is going to happen.
As FAA gains momentum, shows continue to sell out, averaging 100 attendees per show, according to its website.
“You can expect a lot from us in the next few years,” said Flax.