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Friday, January 30, 2015

Chain and the Gang to "Devitalize" Richmond

DC band joins locals the Ar-Kaics for Black Iris show.

Posted By on Fri, Jan 30, 2015 at 6:00 PM

DC's own Ian Svenonius, one of the great frontmen of this or any era, is returning with his latest band, Chain and the Gang, for a gig with local garage punkers the Ar-Kaics. The two groups should be bringing power back to the people at Black Iris Gallery on Tuesday, Feb. 24.

Lately, Svenonius and gang seem to be on a rocking spree of local libraries around the DC area, judging by former Richmonder Jim Thomson's Facebook page. But I can't recall if Chain and the Gang has ever played Richmond before this show. Svenonius, also an in-demand DJ, was recently in town spinning records at Steady Sounds for a party and I spoke with him for Style during his last book tour for "Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock 'n' Roll Group."

Here's a video for Chain and the Gang's hit single, "Devitalize." And shhhhh, keep it down . . . you're being too loud in the city.

Of course, this wouldn't be complete without some recent footage of Richmond's own Ar-Kaics rampaging in Orlando. Here they proceed to rock a place called Uncle Lou's.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

PREVIEW: Young and Artful Bash at VisArts

Posted By on Wed, Jan 28, 2015 at 12:30 PM

Young artist Angela Bacskocky in her studio. Bacskocky was a contestant on "Project Runway: Season 12," and has worked for designers Alexander McQueen and Felder Felder. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Fashion Design program in 2009.
  • Young artist Angela Bacskocky in her studio. Bacskocky was a contestant on "Project Runway: Season 12," and has worked for designers Alexander McQueen and Felder Felder. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Fashion Design program in 2009.

It might sound strange, but a group known as the Visual Arts Creative Ambassadors are taking their cues from a cow.

“‘VACA’ is Spanish for cow, and the VisArts Center is in the old Virginia Dairy building,” explains VACA’s staff liaison and the center’s outreach coordinator Jordan Roeder.

Two years ago, visiting artists from Spain created a paper mache cow for the Visual Arts Center of Richmond, which has since become the center’s unofficial mascot.

It also inspired the name of VACA, an eight-member group of emerging business and artistic professionals charged with getting a new generation involved with the center.

On Saturday, VACA will host “Young & Artful,” a fundraising event that will highlight young artists and raise money for the center’s youth outreach programs. Featured artists include Angela Bacskocky, Daniel Crawford, Julie Elkins and Tim Skirvin, whose work will be for sale.

The event will include heavy hors d’oeuvres by upcoming French-American restaurant Belle and James, signature cocktails by Bobby Kruger, and craft beer from Ardent, Strangeways and Center of the Universe breweries. The menu will include vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free fare.

The Upper East Side Big Band featuring Laura Ann Singh is scheduled to perform, and local artists Michael-Birch Pierce and Matt Lively will make live art. Pierce is sewing portraits of people to include in a large-scale collage; Lively will conduct an interactive drawing session.

The event will benefit three youth outreach programs, offered free of charge to segments of the community. Art After School is a free after-school program for school-aged kids in need. SOHO: Space of Her Own partners 12 pre-teen girls from East End public housing with women for nine months of mentoring, creating artwork that will eventually decorate their bedrooms. Engage gives children a free interactive tour of the center’s gallery exhibits, then lets them create art using the techniques they’ve learned.

“The proceeds that we make are going right back into local programming,” says Roeder.

Young and Arful Bash takes place Saturday, Jan. 31 from 8 to 11 p.m. at the Visual Arts Center located at 1812 W. Main Street. Cocktail attire is preferred. Tickets will be sold at the door for $50, or you can buy them here.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Westhampton Cinemas to Close

Property will be redeveloped with no specific plans yet.

Posted By on Mon, Jan 26, 2015 at 11:30 AM

The Westhampton Theater near the intersection of Libbie and Grove had been losing money for years on its two screens. Now Regal is closing the doors sometime this year and the property will be redeveloped by its owners.
  • The Westhampton Theater near the intersection of Libbie and Grove had been losing money for years on its two screens. Now Regal is closing the doors sometime this year and the property will be redeveloped by its owners.

Local movie fans are bummed.

One of the city's oldest and most cherished local movie theaters, the Westhampton Theater, is closing its doors later this year.

The property, at 5702 Grove Ave., was bought for $1.75 million in March by Westhampton LLC, a holding company controlled by the Cametas family. Last week the family also spent $2 million to purchase the 6,300-square-foot office next door to the Westhampton, which houses the Long & Foster offices (separated by the Continental Westhampton restaurant).

The Cametas family was leasing the Westhampton property back to Regal Cinemas; it hired Jason Guillot, first vice president of Cushman & Wakefield/Thalhimer, to explore options for future redevelopment.

"When the theater moves out, that will present an option for something else and we don't have any specific plans yet," Guillot says. "I'm sure we'll be approached by neighbors with ideas, and we plan to meet with the Westhampton Citizens Association and the Libbie, Grove, Patterson business associations and hear their thoughts, as well as working with City Councilman Jon Baliles to see what his thoughts are about the property."

Local Facebook feeds were blowing up all morning with Richmonders bemoaning the loss of the theater which was built in 1938 and had been a two-screen home to more artistic cinema for decades. But two-screen theaters have fast become a thing of the past, unable to compete financially in the age of the multiplex.

"Stefan [Cametas] and I both have a passion for this area and we want to see something everyone is pleased with," Guillot adds. "Nothing can replace the Westhampton, but if [Regal's] going to move out we want something that adds value to the neighborhood and provides an amenity."

The Cametas family released the following statement:

"The property owners understand and appreciate the rich and unique history of the Westhampton neighborhood, and the value this property has to the community. In the coming months, we plan to engage the surrounding community, including neighborhood associations and area businesses, and the City to develop a plan for the property that honors the historical significance of the Westhampton Theater and the Libbie and Grove corridor.”

Current staff at the Westhampton will have the option to work at one of the six other Regal cinemas in the area.

Friday, January 23, 2015

"Why Don't You Play In Hell?" Seriously.

Japanese cult film coming to the Byrd with Richmonder's poster.

Posted By on Fri, Jan 23, 2015 at 10:00 AM

The poster for the Western release of the Japanese film "Why Don't You Play in Hell? (Drafthouse Films) was designed by Richmond artist James Callahan.
  • The poster for the Western release of the Japanese film "Why Don't You Play in Hell? (Drafthouse Films) was designed by Richmond artist James Callahan.

The Byrd is getting a little bloody next month.

Acclaimed Japanese director Sion Sono's "Why Don't You Play In Hell?" is screening at the Byrd Theatre on Saturday, Feb. 21 at 1:30 p.m. And there's a local connection: Richmond artist James Callahan designed the poster for the film's western release (see above) and he'll be on hand to sign limited edition poster prints after the premiere.

Tickets will probably go fast for this one, based on the orgiastic mayhem of the trailer.

A press release from Barf Comics notes that "Callahan was chosen for the project because of the film's kindred subjects with Callahan's most recent graphic novel: "The Auteur: Volume One", written by Richmond graphic novel author, Rick Spears."

"The amount of overlapping concepts in 'The Auteur' and 'Why Don't You Play In Hell' are astonishing. Simultaneously, they are so remarkably similar and yet strikingly different. It is as if a gateway between parallel dimensions has opened up and two separate universes of psychotic slapstick have collided in the last movie theater on earth. It was really great to get to create art for my newest favorite film after completing this book," Callahan says in the release.

Tickets for this bloodfest are $5 each and will be available at the door on the day of the show; advance tickets can be purchased at Vinyl Conflict. Rick Spears and James Callahan will be signing copies of "The Auteur" and Callahan will be signing posters in the lobby afterward.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Lights on the Lake

Guest artist from Argentina to project installation over Westhampton Lake.

Posted By on Thu, Jan 22, 2015 at 12:05 PM

Martin Bonadeo, a native of Argentina and professor of Latin American and Argentine contemporary art at Universidad Catolica Argentina (UCA), is installing a light show at University of Richmond that will reflect onto Westhampton Lake.
  • Martin Bonadeo, a native of Argentina and professor of Latin American and Argentine contemporary art at Universidad Catolica Argentina (UCA), is installing a light show at University of Richmond that will reflect onto Westhampton Lake.

During the darkness of winter, we just can't get enough colorful lights.

If lately you've found yourself missing the dazzling displays of the Christmas season, you're in luck. Martin Bonadeo, a guest artist from Argentina, will unveil a new installation, "Reflection," at the University of Richmond on Feb. 5 at 6 p.m.

Bonadeo is installing blue electroluminescent wires representing the shapes of rivers in Latin America on a window in the school's Commons building, which overlooks its picturesque Westhampton Lake. The image on the window will be inverted so the lights reflect right side up on the lake, while the sound of a lightning storm plays.

"The idea of this project is to play around with the concept of water and its importance in our life," Bonadeo says in a press release from UR.

The event is free and open to the campus and general community and the artist will deliver a few brief remarks. The artwork will remain up until Feb. 11.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Ryan Adams Playing Charlottesville in May

Jenny Lewis opens the show at nTelos Wireless Pavilion.

Posted By on Wed, Jan 21, 2015 at 1:30 PM

Former Whiskeytown frontman Ryan Adams will be bringing his latest tour to nTelos Wireless Pavilion in Charlottesville on May 3 at 7 p.m. The show also will feature opener Jenny Lewis.

Of interest to locals is the heavy presence of Richmonder Daniel Clarke (KD Lang) in Adams' current touring band. Clarke plays keys and sings back-up, which you can see here in this live version of lead single "Gimme Something Good," performed on "The Late Show with David Letterman."

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, Jan. 23. They cost $55 for lower orchestra and $38 for upper orchestra and lawn. For tickets and details, visit the nTelos website.

Adams picked up three Grammy Award nominations for his latest work and you can watch him perform on "Austin City Limits" television program this weekend on Jan. 24.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Street Angel Rides Again

Skate comic gets repackaged for Richmond release.

Posted By on Tue, Jan 20, 2015 at 12:15 PM

Jesse "Street Angel" Sanchez faces ninja street gangs, evil geologists, Satan worshippers, and anything else that messes with her hood in the comic "Street Angel," being republished in Richmond by AdHouse books.
  • Jesse "Street Angel" Sanchez faces ninja street gangs, evil geologists, Satan worshippers, and anything else that messes with her hood in the comic "Street Angel," being republished in Richmond by AdHouse books.

Ninjas! Conquistadors! Pre-algebra!

These are the foes faced daily by Jesse “Street Angel” Sanchez, the world’s greatest homeless skateboarder and 12-year-old martial artist. Originally published as a comic book limited series, Richmond-based AdHouse Books has re-released this collection of Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca’s work in a single volume, this time colored in pink and purple.

Armed with a skateboard and sweet kung fu skills, Street Angel goes to town on the baddies, kicking ass and beheading plenty of ninjas. With her independent and devilish nature, in some ways Street Angel seems like a “Tank Girl” for a younger generation of readers. Unlike “Tank Girl” there are no references to sex, though Street Angel does enjoy a good 40 oz.

Action sequences take on the cinematic quality of Jack Kirby, street scenes have the gritty feel of Will Eisner’s “A Contract With God,” and the episodic stories have a dash of Hernandez brothers absurdity. This is, after all, a world where Incan gods can initiate a street rumble between Captain Hernán Cortés and ninjas, mad scientists scheme to recreate Pangea, and ninja dads throw backyard birthday parties for their ninja sons.

Near the end, Pittsburgh-based Rugg and Maruca’s other great creation Afrodisiac gets a cameo. The Blaxploitation hero originally appeared within the pages of “Street Angel” comics, and here the duo join forces to take on an army of rednecks. Aged and no longer the sex machine who fought Dracula and Richard Nixon, it’s the Princess of Poverty who saves the day and kicks this round of asses.

Monday, January 19, 2015

VIDEO: Maggie Ingram and The Ingramettes: "I Have A Dream"

Legendary gospel group to play First Friday event at VMFA.

Posted By on Mon, Jan 19, 2015 at 3:15 PM

I've said it before, but if my church had music like this growing up, I'd still be going every Sunday.

Here is a cellphone video shot last Saturday at the Second Baptist Church at 1400 Idlewood Avenue featuring the legendary local gospel performer Maggie Ingram and the Ingramettes in rehearsal. They are performing a run-through of "I Have A Dream (A Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King)" -- which Maggie wrote the night he was murdered in 1968.

Although she's 85 and suffering from Alzheimer's, Maggie Ingram still seems to have plenty of joy in her heart. And amazingly, she still remembers every word of the music that has sustained her throughout her incredible life of service to her fellow human beings. Her group will be performing on First Fridays at VMFA in February (Feb. 6 starting at 6 pm). Look for more coverage from Style Weekly.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

REVIEW: "Million Dollar Quartet" at Altria Theater

Posted By on Sun, Jan 18, 2015 at 5:00 PM

"Million Dollar Quartet" is the musical inspired by the famed recording session that brought together rock ‘n’ roll icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins for the first and only time.
  • "Million Dollar Quartet" is the musical inspired by the famed recording session that brought together rock ‘n’ roll icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins for the first and only time.

We’ve all seen the photo. Walk into the dorm room of every other freshman music major and you’ll find a poster of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins gathered around a piano.

It’s the so-called Million Dollar Quartet, taken during a spontaneous jam session at the legendary Sun Studio, where all four got their start. This photo is the inspiration for “Million Dollar Quartet,” the traveling Broadway musical in town Friday and Saturday at the Altria Theater.

While the actual quartet primarily covered country and gospel songs in the session, here they’ve used the meeting to run through the musicians’ greatest hits, creating a jukebox musical of songs from the era of jukeboxes.

The cast standouts are Scott Moreau as Johnny Cash and Gabe Bowling as Carl Perkins. Like Cash, Moreau’s deep bass-baritone sounds like it’s coming from the bottom of a well, and Bowling has the guitar licks and perfect voice for Perkins. Understudy James Scheider has the moves and piano chops of Lewis, but his voice doesn’t quite match The Killer. Jacob Rowley’s Elvis is disappointing, coming across as caricature.

The show’s only whiff of a plot concerns Sun Records owner Sam Phillips and how, after making stars out of these country boys, they would all eventually leave him for bigger deals with bigger record companies. The conflict feels like an afterthought and is luckily kept short.

The biggest problem with the show is one that plagues virtually every show at the Altria Theater: You can’t understand the dialogue. The venue has always had the acoustics of a tile bathroom, and theatergoers had hoped that the recent renovations would fix this problem. Sitting in the orchestra section, the actor’s southern accents were incomprehensible half the time, sounding like Gomer Pyle attempting scat.

In short, “Million Dollar Quartet” is a fun and energetic reworking of early rock hits. The plot is trivial, but the group’s big sound and toe-tapping numbers will have you singing “That’s All Right, Mama.”

Friday, January 16, 2015

PREVIEW: The Second City in the River City

Famed comedy troupe performs at Modlin Center again tonight.

Posted By on Fri, Jan 16, 2015 at 12:30 PM

When it comes to improvisational comedy, no group holds a candle to the Second City.

Founded in Chicago in 1959, its impressive list of alumni includes Mike Nichols, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray, John Belushi, Mike Myers, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, Keegan-Michael Key and Tina Fey.

The comedy troupe is playing two shows in Richmond, the second of which opens Friday night at the University of Richmond’s Modlin Center for the Arts.

On opening night, the six touring company members tackled Richmond’s quirks with written and improvised sketches. Fielding suggestions from the audience, the mayor, the ballpark debate and the re-opening of Buddy’s all received a skewering. Those sitting near the aisles should prep themselves to be pulled on stage.

Police interrogations, inquisitive children and gay astronauts (“The Eagle has landed”) proved fodder for the performers, and though the group’s written sketches were quite funny, it was their on-the-fly creations that received the most laughs.

Considering how many of the Second City’s alumni have gone on to “Saturday Night Live,” it’s hard not to draw comparisons between the two, but it’s reasonable to believe that any of these six may soon appear on the NBC institution.

As Dan Akyroyd once said, the Second City is where comedians get their bachelor’s degree and “SNL” is where they get their master’s. If so, this touring show must be their senior project.

“The Second City: The Second City Hits Home” plays 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Modlin Center for the Arts, 28 Westhampton Way. For more information, call 289-8980 or visit modlin.richmond.edu.

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