Alumni band rocks the Richmond music scene

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SUMMARY: The cover band Laburnum Park, comprised of JMU alumni and friends, was founded in the basement of a Richmond neighborhood home. The group performs a broad range of classic, alternative, pop and country-rock songs.

Beginning in the basement of a Richmond, Virginia, historic district of the same name, Laburnum Park is a five-member cover band that plays rock, country music and everything in between.

Laburnum Park band logoLaburnum Park’s members are all well-connected to JMU. Drummer Eric Bowlin (’02), guitarist Chuck Gould (’93) and vocalist/guitarist Barry Saadatmand (’94) are alumni. The other two members — Matt Cochran (bass) and Courtney Easley (vocals/keys/mandolin) — did not attend JMU, but are friends of the university.

Laburnum Park’s members, whose professional careers span from tech to the marine industry, met through an unexpected avenue — JMU tailgates. Saadatmand has been tailgating at JMU for the last 20 years, which is where he first met Bowlin through a mutual friend and where they later met Gould through his wife.

Despite knowing each other for more than a decade, the trio never really talked about playing music together. Bowlin was a percussionist in the Marching Royal Dukes, and Gould plays and owns an impressive collection of guitars.

Richmond-based Laburnum Park practices a set.

In the first half of 2021, they began to seriously talk about forming a band. “For like five years we would say, ‘Hey, we should get together sometime and play some music.’ But, we would never do it,” Saadatmand explained. When he finally asked Gould to play with him that summer, he said, “I mean it this time!”

As the three continued to play, they picked up some new members — Cochran and Easley — to fill the gaps in their sound, and they began regularly rehearsing in Saadatmand’s Laburnum Park basement. Easley was also introduced to the group through JMU, as her family tailgated for 15 years with Bowlin and Saadatmand.

The band enjoys performing. “We’re definitely not doing it for the money; we’re all just doing it for fun,” Saadatmand said. And fun they have had!

Laburnum Park keeps a busy schedule. Generally, the band books gigs at local bars and breweries in the Richmond area. Occasionally, they will play for events like the JMU vs. Utah State football watch party hosted by the Richmond Alumni Chapter, as well as private parties and OystoberFest — an annual oyster festival in Richmond in October.

You can find Laburnum Park’s performance dates, along with clips and images from past performances, on their Instagram profile: @laburnumpark.


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by Blake Tullos

Published: Monday, March 25, 2024

Last Updated: Wednesday, April 10, 2024

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