Examining the music “scene” or lack of scene in Williamsburg

For my final project, I am interested in researching music in Williamsburg, looking both at the modern “scene” (or lack of scene) and historicizing what the “scene” has looked like in the past and how things have changed. In terms of my potential resources for this project, I have started off so far looking at past Williamsburg Documentary Projects to see what questions and conclusions have been raised about music in Williamsburg, and that has been a good jumping off point. One project, focusing on the late 60s and early 70s, gave me a good idea of what the “scene” looked like at that time and potential factors to the decline, and I would like to continue that research and examine the music and performances that went on from the end of the 70’s to modern day.

To get a more in-depth timeline and framework, I want to look at archives in The Flat Hat, The Virginia Gazette, and possibly Colonial Echo (William & Mary yearbook). I would also like to meet with students who work for the student organization, AMP, on the Music Productions Committee, since they are responsible for bringing in local and national musical acts to the college community. I certainly want to visit local music venues to see what sort of performances are going on in town, who attends such events, and try to talk to some owners and performers that I may be able to interview later on this semester. I would also like to see if any local musicians (past or present) who reside in Williamsburg would be willing to do an interview with me, in addition to contacting musicians who have gone elsewhere.

This brings me to one particular point of interest, which is why people have left Williamsburg and the (possibly once vibrant) music scene, which could provide insight into what may be lacking in Williamsburg- whether it be venues, music stores, or fragmentation of taste, and so on- and I could provide a unique perspective from those who did not stay. In Kevin Leslie’s past WDP on music, he spoke of a national and local spirit that contributes to the decline of the music scene; “not only is there no longer unanimity of taste, but people have become more and more confined within their own worlds”. The community aspect of music, including going out and hearing other artists, “drinking beer and talking about music”, as Mr. Hornsby said in an interview, has been a major piece missing from the scene today. I hope to uncover some reasons as to why this communal aspect is missing and whether or not that can ever be recovered in our individualized society today.


The Williamsburg Documentary Project (WDP) strives to collect and preserve the rich past of Williamsburg, Virginia. By conducting oral history interviews, building physical and digital archives, and creating online exhibits, the WDP interprets Williamsburg’s recent past. The WDP works towards developing a better understanding of Williamsburg by bringing together individuals, local groups, Colonial Williamsburg, and the College of William & Mary.

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