Why Butcher Brown Knows No Boundaries

Loriane Willet

The versatile Richmond band comes to Austin in support of their latest album, ‘Solar Music’

The word ‘flow’ seems invented for a  band like Butcher Brown, the soul/hip-hop/jazz throwback unit who weld their influences with aerodynamic efficiency.

It helps that they are all versatile players. You can thank the Richmond VA scene for that.

When I confess that most of what I know about Richmond music is D’Angelo, both Marcus Tenney and Andy Randazzo break into laughter. 

“He’s not there,” Marcus says of his town’s famous one-time resident. “At all.”

What is there in Virginia Commonwealth University. If you’re wondering how such a skilled band came together in such a small talent pool (Richmond’s population is under 230,000), VCU’s well-regarded jazz department is a good place to start.

“That was the entity that brought us all to Richmond, more or less,” says Marcus.

Andrew Randazzo, Marcus Tenny and Corey Fonville

Andy (bass, vocals) and Marcus (trumpet, sax, MC) are sitting with me for a few minutes after their Studio 1A session, before rushing off to Antone’s for their soundcheck. They’ve had a long weekend, have come straight to KUTX from their gig at Utopia Fest. If their edges are a bit blurry, they sharpen when talking about their hometown.

I was talking to a buddy of mine who lives in Los Angeles,” Andy says, “because he was in Richmond for a while. Richmond is not a big town, so there’s not a ton of musicians, but there are really amazing musicians. So we’ve got a world class guitar player, Alan Parker, in our town, and you can catch him anywhere. You can catch him doing a club gig or a wedding gig or going out on tour with this band or that. That’s a good example of what Richmond’s like. You go somewhere like New York or Los Angeles, you’re not doing those gigs down there. [In Richmond], everybody does all the gigs, all the shows, and everyone has a real eclectic sensibility about music because of that. We just want to work. You can’t [just] play rock music and play country music. You got to play hip hop music and jazz and all of it, you know?”

But are there enough places to play?

COVID took a toll, for sure,” Andy says,”but it’s coming around. We’ve got a couple new clubs right now that are just getting started. It’s still coming back a little bit. But yeah, there’s places to play.”

Despite the odds, Richmond has developed a fertile scene.

Marcus explains why.I believe it’s because everyone takes every gig, like everyone. That in itself creates a routine of putting yourself outside of your comfort zone. The musicians in Richmond, [they] play because they love it. So they take the commercial side out of things, which is a plus. But also, [we’re] not afraid to take our instrument to a new area, even if it’s people you don’t know. We will follow the love of music into whatever and then end up wherever. A lot of the success that’s come to the Richmond musicians is because they were in a situation that was outside of what they normally do, but they performed at a high rate. That’s how this band… you know, I joined Butcher Brown because I could do vocals and play trumpet and saxophone. That comes from just working in Richmond, just finding ways to pay rent.”

It’s not just woodshedding that has turned Butcher Brown into such a powerful five-piece. The first most people heard of them was in 2020, when Monday Night Football selected their accelerated cover of Little Richard’s “Rip It Up” as their theme song, and when ‘#kingbutch‘, their first major-label record was released. But that was, by most counts, their eighth album. They’ve been doing this since 2013. Which means a lot of gigs.

Which explains their hard groove. Their flow.

Butcher Brown’s latest album, Solar Music, was released last fall. 

We did quite a stretch,” says Andy, “in and out of town, but mostly out around October, November, December. Last fall we did Europe. We did the East Coast and Midwest, the West Coast. And then, New Year hit and we sort of took a break and, and we’re just getting back to it.”

Despite all the road work, they’ve just released a great cover of Run DMC’s “Down With The King”. And it’s not just a one-off single.

“We’ve got the next album in the works. An album for us comes out of sessions for sure, but it also comes from things we’ve already recorded. It’s all going into one big pot and everything gets considered.”

But first things first. This evening they’re playing at Antones. If you don’t count an early 2015 SXSW appearance, it’s their first Austin show as a headliner. It may be a Sunday night, but the show must go on.

And they’ve just gotten word that brings a big smile to their faces – the show is sold out.  


Date: 4-7-24

Set List:



“No Way Around It”

Album: Solar Music (Concord Jazz 2023)

Devonne “DJ” Harrison – keys; Andrew Randazzo – bass; Marcus Tennishu – trumpet, vocal; Morgan Burrs – guitar; Corey Fonville – drums 

Producer: Deidre Gott; Production Assistant: Confucius Jones; Audio Engineer: Jake Perlman, Reyna Sevilla; Audio Mix: Jake Perlman; Cameras: Renee Dominguez, Lorianne Willett, Julius Shieh; Edit: Renee Dominguez; Host: Trina Quinn

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