1. Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings at Innsbrook, Aug. 10: Glad I got one more dance with the great Miss Sharon Jones. Coming hard with the funk, the Georgia-born queen of soul made everyone smile. I’m fairly sure I saw every show she ever did in Richmond, starting at Alley Katz, and each one was a life-affirming experience, but this one had extra meaning. Jones told the late-summer crowd that she just completed another round of chemo and wasn’t letting it keep her down. This was one of music’s true believers. Only three months later she was gone, leaving behind a cherished trove of music and sweet memories.
2. Violent Femmes at the National, June 15: An exhilarating, veteran performance by wily folk-punk musicians with an underappreciated catalog.
3. Richard Thompson at University of Richmond’s Modlin Center, Oct. 13: It’s tough to beat the legendary singer and songwriter Thompson when he’s in his element: simply being onstage with a guitar. A brilliant, wide-ranging set of acoustic music from a charming storyteller, plus a nice folk opener in Sam Amidon of Vermont.
4. Pylon Reenactment Society at Strange Matter, Sept. 21: The return of angular pop punk written by Athens greats Pylon, via a tribute featuring its original singer, Vanessa Briscoe Hay. In some regards, music that still sounds ahead of its time. The night also featured a guest cameo by Richmonder Armistead Wellford of Love Tractor.
5. Messer Chups at Bandito’s, Aug. 24: A rare show by the Russian kings of horror surf rock in the intimate Bandito’s Burrito Lounge. This one featured a crazy film backdrop, Vincent Price odes, plus a drummer doing shots and an instrumental take on Herbie Hancock’s “Rockitz.” Mwuah, ha, ha.
6. Kiss at Richmond Coliseum, Sept. 9: My first time seeing the original gangstas of shock rock and it delivered on the bombastic spectacle. You could feel the heat from the stage flames while sweating to the oldies and waiting for more brilliantly stupid Paul Stanley banter.
7. Lucy Dacus album launch at the Broadberry, March 4: Nobody had a bigger year in local music than Dacus, a 21-year-old who wowed national critics with her mature debut, “No Burden” (quickly reissued by Matador Records). Showcasing a warm, smoky voice and wry lyrics, the Maggie Walker grad brought preternatural poise, along with local friends Spooky Cool and Rikki Shay. Everything I’ve seen regarding her eagerly anticipated follow-up portends an uncompromising artist. As she told Style in May about the next album: “The big difference about the second album is it will be written with other instruments in mind. ... I’m inclined to say [all my albums] will be different.” Get it, girl.