Friday nights during the summer almost always found thousands of music lovers attending the popular Fridays at Sunset concert series.
But after an 18-year run for the series that brought some of the hottest soul, r&b, go-go and jazz acts to Richmond… the party is over.
Johnson Inc., the marketing and communications firm that produced the May-to-August concert series, announced Thursday that it is ending the Richmond event.
“A lot of people have a tough time going out at the right time. It’s just time to transition. It’s not a funeral,” said Johnson Inc. President Ken Johnson.
Over the years, the series drew acts such as Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Jaheim, Ledisi, Boney James, John Legend and Chuck Brown.
Johnson said the decision to discontinue the series had nothing to do with concert attendance or the city of Richmond’s decision in 2011 to reduce its financial support for the series. Admission for the concerts generally ranged from $20 to $30 or more, with each concert drawing anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 or more people.
“At some point you have to move on to the next thing. How do we become innovative?” Johnson said.
“When we started doing Fridays at Sunset there was nothing in Shockoe Bottom. Now you have all these wonderful nightclubs,” Johnson said.
He said that while there has been some talk about doing the series in other cities, there are no plans for that.
Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones released a brief statement through a spokesman that said, “Fridays at Sunset has been a great event for the city and the region. I’m disappointed that the event will not continue, but I’m interested to see what Johnson Inc. may have on the horizon for the future.”
Last year, Richmond City Council members reduced support for the event from the $125,000 initially proposed to $50,000. There was concern that the city was supporting a for-profit venture.