Farm Vegas
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Farm Vegas

Richmond, Virginia, United States | SELF

Richmond, Virginia, United States | SELF
Band Rock Jam


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


"Sowing Seeds of Rock"

Farm Vegas is a Richmond-based band that is the portrait of a group in transition. The move from the Virginia college circuit to the Richmond bar scene is no small undertaking, and demands a certain level of commitment and professionalism that most groups are unable to provide. But this band has made the jump and they plan on continuing their grueling search for new audiences and the success that validates the sacrifices.

Farm Vegas came together about a year ago to play a one-time charity event. Since then, the guys have become local fraternity party regulars, playing their own unapologetic brand of rock-n-roll. You can catch the six-piece ensemble this Friday at the Bleu Bistro

In a recent interview with, the band sat down and talked about the demands of trying to make it onto the Richmond music scene, their personal aspirations and what it takes to succeed.

"We practice for about eight hours a week, but its not just playing," said JL Hodges, guitarist and vocalist for the group. "We spend about four additional hours making posters and booking shows, it comes to something like 12 hours a week, that's significant. You can never stop working on it, whoever has time has to pitch in, otherwise you'll have a month where you don't get anything."

Band members are also facing periods of transition in their personal lives and this has meant evaluating and prioritizing.

"The biggest hurdle that we face right now is still having four guys in school. You have to juggle whether you want to do the band thing or whether you want to do the responsible thing and move on," percussionist Mark McDonald said.

Farm Vegas is not doing the responsible thing; they are doing the thing that they love and the thing that seems to make every one of them tick.

Hodges couldn't help but chuckle, saying: "The more I work my day job, the more I realize that I want to play music for a living. Right now I work a nine to five but I make time to play music because it's something I love to do."

But all of the love and enthusiasm in the world doesn't make a successful band, it takes more, and these guys understand just what that is.

"You have to treat it like your job, you have to go in every night and put forth a product that is worth the money they are paying you" McDonald said. "People are shelling out their hard-earned money to hear us play, I'm not interested in letting them down".
Hodges added: "When you get to the point where people are paying you money to play, you better take it seriously and bring you're 'A' game, otherwise you just look and feel like a joke.

"You have to develop personal relationships when it's a new crowd every time you play. It's about making the people forget about the shit they have to deal with during their normal lives and give them a chance just to get down."

He continued, "If you want it to be your job, you damned well better be able to convey your passion for the music through the performance, otherwise no one else in the house is going to feel any of it"

The key to success thus far has been trust and a levelheaded realism that is truly refreshing.

"Everyone has their own background, Justin [Paciocco, keyboardist] and I write the songs and bring them in," Hodges said. "We trust and respect the others enough to listen to the song as I heard it in my head and then hash through it collectively, adding and altering as we feel it."

The band has added 10 original songs to its lineup.

"We still have to play a four-hour slot. It's asking a lot of people to stay with it when they hear that much music they don't know," bassist Brian Hill said. "The covers that we play are also indicative of our own personal style; it gives people something to grasp onto."

When asked about that style, the guys were as straight-forward as the music they love.

"We want to play whatever the six of us decide is our brand of rock-n-roll," Hodges said. "I mean everyone has listened to and dug different music, I think it's cool that we can come together and create music that we all think is special".

New audiences is what Farm Vegas craves and if they keep doing things right, that's exactly what they are going to get.

"We're going to do whatever we have to do, if it has to be my second job then that's what it will be," Hodges said.


"Viva Farm Vegas"

On Saturday, six musicians in their early twenties known collectively as Farm Vegas will release their debut album, On A Wire. For a band that still has to contend with a full class load, they are all anxious to spend more time on the music. They’re looking forward to more time writing songs and playing on the road. But most of all, they’ll be glad when their first collection of 12 songs is let loose on the world.

“It reflects our individual influences,” says lead guitarist, Phil Agee. “It has everything: funk, Allman Brothers, Rolling Stones and even straight up blues.”

Justin Paciocco (keyboards and vocals) calls the record “original” and simply says, “It’s just a good batch of tunes.”

They recorded the dozen tracks in just three days at The Etching Tin Recording Studio here in Richmond. If their songs can be described as “a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll,” then The Etching Tin definitely helped with the latter. Local hell-raisers such as Lycosa, PCP Roadblock and RPG have rattled the walls at the Brook Road studio. But with a limited schedule, nobody in Farm Vegas was worried about who came before or after them.

“We practiced everything to a T before we went in,” adds Agee. “With that much recording in that limited amount of time, we had to.”

Rhythm guitarist and vocalist, James Lloyd Hodges, says that recording all the tracks in three days can actually be an advantage, “Sometimes you listen to an album and the first five songs have one feel to them, and the next five sound completely different because they were recorded six months later in an entirely different city.”

A longer recording session would have been difficult for the six. Some of them are still working on graduating from Hampton-Sydney College near Farmville, the town that lent its name to the band. In addition to Agee, Hodges and Paciocco, Farm Vegas includes bassist Brian Hill, Andrew O’Brien on drums and Mark McDonald on bongos and congas.

Farm Vegas started with a fraternity’s tsunami relief benefit two years ago. “Someone contacted me about it and we didn’t have a band, but I lied and said we did,” says Hodges.

“So we practiced a couple times and then played,” adds Paciocco. “It actually sounded pretty good.”

There isn’t a story etched in stone as to what the name Farm Vegas means, but the band members more or less agree that the paradox describes their music well.

“We’re trying to move in a more modern rock direction,” says Paciocco, “but what makes our sound more unique is the fact that we play a lot of vintage instruments.” Others in the band chime in with their own descriptions of Farm Vegas music, “classic but refreshing” and “familiar but new.”

Hodges adds that their sound has not yet fully developed, but he says of the album, “These 12 songs represent what we’re trying to do.”

On Saturday at Alley Katz, the band expects a big crowd of family and friends as well as random Richmonders who want to come out and see what Farm Vegas has to offer.

“Foolish,” one of the songs on On a Wire, features the voice of Hodges. At times he has hints of a Chris Robinson crackle to his voice. But as someone offers that compliment to Hodges, he laughs and McDonald breaks in, “The funny part is that when we play ‘Jealous Again’(sung by Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes) he makes me sing it.”

Other songs on the album feature frantic keyboard phrases joined by first-rate, well-developed guitar solos that end before they get tiresome or monotonous.

This summer they plan to go on the road and play as much as possible. In addition to once a week gigs in Richmond, shows are in the works for the Outer Banks and a handful of festivals including Camp Barefoot in Gore, Va. and Buffalo Creek in Lexington.

Of course, they have to graduate first.

- Brick Weekly

"Farm Aid"

Despite any inspiration you may draw from the local rock band Farm Vegas, we do not recommend setting off for Las Vegas to sate your agricultural needs. Vegas tends to be a crummy locale for farming, unless you're planning to grow crippling personal debts or an addiction to buffet foods. Luckily, the guys behind Farm Vegas seem more interested in growing their fan base. They've tilled the fertile soil locally with a seemingly endless string of gigs in the region, but they've also made their mark nationally. Last summer, a Farm Vegas track ("Sweet Lies and Alibis") was selected for a companion CD with an issue of the jam-band-centric RELIX Magazine. - Richmond Times-Dispatch


On a Wire, 2007.
Heavy Skies, 2009.
Split Open Wide, 2010.



Farm Vegas is an up-and-coming rock and roll quintet from the music-rich riverbeds of Richmond Virginia. Weaving elements of rock, soul, Americana, and blues into a musical tapestry all their own, Farm Vegas has crafted a unique sound that is at once modern yet classic, refreshing yet familiar. In a day and age when musical careers are launched by TV placements and best-selling singers don’t actually sing at all, Farm Vegas has avoided the shortcuts that jump-start but ultimately compromise a band’s career. Shying away from the traditional help of big management, radio airplay, and label support, the band has put together a fiercely-loyal regional following the old-fashion way-- by delivering electrifying live shows night after night-- one college at a time, one club at a time, one city at a time. Farm Vegas is a reminder that bands can still have successful careers away from the glare of the national spotlight.

Formed in 2005 while the guys were still in college, the band cut its teeth playing beer-soaked fraternity parties in basements and living rooms across Virginia. After graduation, the guys moved to Richmond, fine-tuned their craft, and quickly became one of the city’s biggest draws. In a short time, the band went from packing bars and mid-sized clubs in Richmond to headlining and nearly selling-out the city’s premiere venue – the 1500-capacity National Theater. Today, Farm Vegas is one of the most in-demand acts on college scene, playing nearly 100 dates a year. As the band has expanded regionally, they’ve been able to share the stage w/ notable peers like Drive-by-Truckers, Pat Green, Mofro, Carbon Leaf, Lucero, Pat McGee Band, Tea Leaf Green, and more.

Farm Vegas released their first album – On a Wire – in the winter of 2007. Although the CD was recorded “live-in-studio” with a minimal budget in just 3 days, it nevertheless captures the contagious, raw energy that has become synonymous with the band, particular their live show. And the industry took notice. called the CD “one of the most promising debuts of 2007” and national jam-centric magazine RELIX featured the track “Sweet Lies and Alibis” on their “On the Rise” CD Sampler.

The band’s sophomore effort Heavy Skies, the slick EP produced by Chris Keup and Stewart Myers (Jason Mraz, Lifehouse, OAR) and mastered by Fred Kavorkian (Ryan Adams, Phish, Willie Nelson), captures a band reinventing their sound and making it all their own. The sonic textures are especially refreshing, thanks in part to the 15 different instruments the band played and recorded on the album. Heavy Skies also reveals a more thoughtful, song-oriented side to the band. The songwriting is smart, and the content --as the title suggests-- is heavy, shedding new light on themes of love, loss, regret, and renewal.

Taking a do-it-yourself grassroots approach, the band has thrived on the energy and support of its wide network of friends and fans, and is very grateful for anyone who has seen a show, seen 50 shows, bought a CD, turned-on a friend, opened a new door, and/or offered support in any way.