Friday, June 26, 2015

Byrd Theatre Buys New 4K Projector

Installation expected next week.

Posted By on Fri, Jun 26, 2015 at 11:30 AM

The Byrd's new 4K projector, a Barco DP4K-32B Digital Cinema Projector, will allow the historic theatre to show films with much clearer and brighter picture.
  • The Byrd's new 4K projector, a Barco DP4K-32B Digital Cinema Projector, will allow the historic theatre to show films with much clearer and brighter picture.

The Byrd Theatre has found its new projector.

The Byrd Theatre Foundation announced the purchase of a new Barco DP4K-32B Digital Cinema Projector, which is expected to be installed next week.

“The new 4K projector will provide a dramatically enhanced cinematic experience to the already unique treasure that is the Byrd Theatre,” said Gibson Worsham, president of the Byrd Theatre Foundation’s board of directors, in a release.

Of course, judging by their comments, what Richmonders are really watching is the "Journey to the Seats" campaign, which Style announced in this 2014 cover story.

Reached by e-mail, vice president of the board Grant Mizell says:

"As of May, we (the Board) have adopted a Strategic Plan for repositioning the theatre for the future. This will likely revise our current Journey to the Seats campaign, in a positive direction for ensuring the building and the business are sound, sustainable, and growing a community of supporters that take full advantage of the Byrd Theatre’s unique qualities."

Stay tuned for further coverage of any updates in Style.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Charles Bradley to Play Diamond

RVA Field of Dreams Fest scheduled for early October.

Posted By on Thu, Jun 25, 2015 at 1:25 AM

Three cheers: Soulful crooner Charles Bradley is playing the Diamond this fall.
  • Three cheers: Soulful crooner Charles Bradley is playing the Diamond this fall.

Well, this is good news.

One of the great near misses of past Friday Cheers shows occurred in 2013 when Daptone recording artist Charles Bradley -- a soul singer and performer not to be missed -- showed up at Brown's Island and was met by a torrential downpour. He was game though and played a short set as about 100 people cowered to the side of the stage, blasted by the rain.

Looks like Bradley will be returning with his band to Richmond on Friday, Oct. 2 as past of the RVA Field of Dreams Fest which is being held at the Diamond. The event also features former local band since gone to Colorado - the Congress - as well as the Neil Tibert Band and more groups to be announced.

If you haven't heard him before, here is Bradley singing the Black Sabbath tune "Changes" backed by the Budos Band and making it deeply soulful.

Proceeds go towards the betterment of Richmond's inner-city youth baseball facilities and the advancement of STEM learning opportunities in the community. Per the website: "Tickets range from $25-$100 depending on the level of amenities included with your ticket purchase." You can follow updates here.

Another summer show announced recently: Seattle drone doom group Earth will be playing with Brooklyn's Holy Suns at Strange Matter on Aug. 30. Expect tickets to move on that one. A little trivia: Earth, which takes its name from the original moniker for Black Sabbath, is fronted by Dylan Carlson, who some may recognize as Kurt Cobain's former roommate, who (sadly) lent his friend the shotgun that would claim his life.

Here's video of the band performing in the lovely German city of Stuttgart (I visited there once to watch a friend's band record an album and remember they had cool rock shows on abandoned old train cars). Nice place.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Eternal Teenager

Former Beatle Paul McCartney rocks out for nearly three hours in C'ville.

Posted By on Wed, Jun 24, 2015 at 3:45 AM

The floor crowd at the Paul McCartney show on June 23 at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville.
  • The floor crowd at the Paul McCartney show on June 23 at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville.

On Father's Day, when I told my pops I was going to see Paul McCartney in Charlottesville, he asked a pretty good question.

"So why on earth does a guy in his 70s, who has more money than he knows what to do with, still want to put himself through the rigors of touring, playing the same songs every night?" he asked me.

We both suspected it had something to do with an addiction to the adulation of fans who have worshipped the bassist since he was a young member of the Beatles, probably the most influential and revered band in pop music history.

But after witnessing McCartney command the stage for nearly three hours last night at an almost sold-out John Paul Jones Arena, where he dug deep into his legendary catalog from rare Beatles tunes to Wings songs and more recent solo material, the answer seemed more simple: At 73 years young, McCartney simply loves to rock out. You can see it on his still boyish face. He was relaxed and having a grand 'ole time.

Forget about the Kanye collab -- that was probably just cooked up by some record exec in hopes of introducing Sir Paul's music to younger generations. The man himself knows where his bread is buttered.

Watching him lead his four-piece band as they tore through "Back in the U.S.S.R" it was evident that he could play any hipster dive bar in America and blow whomever he pleased off the stage, no matter what age they were. He can still sound like a kick-ass garage band whenever he wants -- the days at the Cavern Club aren't that long gone.

Earlier, outside of the arena, sweating in line at will call, I could hear McCartney and his band performing soundcheck inside, which sounded like a good show on its own. For setlist nuts, he played several songs that wouldn't appear later that night but might later this tour, including "Birthday," "I'll Follow The Sun," (Beatles) "Bluebird" (Wings) and a cover of "Midnight Special."

The concert started a little after 8 p.m., following the PA blasting remixed Beatles tunes and rarities (big band takes, jazzy covers, techno house versions) set to an artful montage of videos on the large screens flanking the stage. It was the first time I've seen an artist play his own songs before a concert, but if anyone could get away with it, this guy could -- so many stars have covered his music.

The long and hit-packed show then kicked into high gear and pretty much stayed there, settling into a formula of cherished rockers divided up by lovely, instantly familiar ballads.

Not surprising, all aspects of the production were top-notch from the sound and choreography to the lighting. But one thing you notice right away is how loud McCartney likes his drums. He has a a true beast behind the kit, Abe Laboriel, Jr. -- the second most entertaining person on stage, bobbing his head to the music and providing backup vocals. All the band members sang back-up throughout the show. That's not to say that McCartney's voice was not still strong -- it was impressive at times. He can't quite hit the high notes as well, but really you don't notice it much. He fades back a little on the really high parts and lets the others help out. Plus the mostly older audience never stops singing along as well.

The first set surprise came about four songs into the show, with a rollicking take on the Beatles song "One After 909" from "Let it Be" -- one of the first songs he wrote with John Lennon, he told the crowd. McCartney, who started the show in a blue jacket but quickly lost it -- noted that his wife was in attendance before dedicating the sultry piano slow number "My Valentine" to her. After some Wings classic rockers ("Maybe I'm Amazed" was a crowd favorite) McCartney played a wonderful version of the countrified Beatles number "I've Just Seen A Face" from the album "Help!"

Other personal favorites included the barrelhouse piano boogie of "Lady Madonna" and the soulful pop of "We Can Work It Out" -- which came close to being as good as Stevie Wonder's cover version.

The legendary bassist told stories between some songs, most of which he admitted, people had heard many times before. Of course, people in the crowd held up silly signs, hoping the singer might fart in their direction, but really the signs just blocked fans behind them, who had paid $300 a ticket, from seeing the band fully. McCartney noted the signs from the stage but also described them as mostly distracting from his performance.

Yes, this was an older crowd, but some of them still had that crazy, obsessed look from the Beatlemania days.

At one point, McCartney brought a couple fans up on stage: One woman from North Carolina had a sign saying something about her advancing "wrinkles" then she asked McCartney to sign her arm because it had fewer wrinkles. That wasn't weird at all. Then a mild-mannered gentlemen with a sign noting that it was his 100th show came up, got a hug and a handshake from Macca and left the stage looking very pleased, after thanking his wife for "100 hall passes."

There was an acoustic mid-section of the show, where McCartney performed the song "And I Love Her" with its lovely, haunting melody before a stage platform began to rise and he sang "Blackbird" which he noted he wrote as a response to civil rights abuses in America during the '60s.

After several new songs from his most recent album in 2013 that went over well, especially "New," McCartney began the big finale before the long encore. As I mentioned, "Back in the U.S.S.R" was exceptionally rocking, then came a moving version of the classic "Let It Be" that had the crowd swaying in unison. I shot some video mostly of the video screens below.

"Live and Let Die" had some major pyrotechnics added to the mix, with what sounded like canons going off and constant balls of flame being shot into the air. Then a perfunctory "Hey Jude" with orchestrated sing-a-long from the crowd led the main set to a close.

The eight-song encore opened with another Beatles rarity, "Another Girl," and soon featured a raw "Helter Skelter" that, probably wisely, avoided any bloody imagery from Charles Manson murder scenes on the video screens; that would've harshed everyone out. He then closed with the trilogy that finishes off the Beatles "Abbey Road" album, allowing him to conclude the night with his simple but poignant lyric from "The End": "And in the end/the love you take is equal to the love you make."

Then the confetti came raining down like a championship sports game had just ended.

"I think we had fun tonight, didn't we?" McCartney asked the crowd.


Eight Days a Week

Save Us

Got to Get You into My Life

One After 909

Temporary Secretary

Let Me Roll It (w/ "Foxy Lady" snippet)

Paperback Writer

My Valentine

Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five

The Long and Winding Road

Maybe I'm Amazed

I've Just Seen a Face

We Can Work It Out

Another Day

Hope for the Future

And I Love Her


Here Today


Queenie Eye

Lady Madonna

All Together Now

Lovely Rita

Eleanor Rigby

Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!


Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Band on the Run

Back in the U.S.S.R.

Let It Be

Live and Let Die

Hey Jude


Another Girl

Hi, Hi, Hi

Can't Buy Me Love


Helter Skelter

Golden Slumbers

Carry That Weight

The End

Monday, June 22, 2015

Rosie Soul to Retire From Performing

Singer also announces that she has breast cancer.

Posted By on Mon, Jun 22, 2015 at 12:30 PM

Singer Rosie Soul and her band were voted best local rock band in Style Weekly's annual Best Of poll for three years straight.
  • Singer Rosie Soul and her band were voted best local rock band in Style Weekly's annual Best Of poll for three years straight.

Rosie Soul, the lead singer of the Rock and Roll Cowboys, has announced via YouTube that she's undergoing breast cancer treatment and will retire from live performance after her July 11 show at the Marks and Harrison pavilion at Richmond Harley Davidson.

She explains that the two things were just strange coincidences and that she already wanted to stop performing to spend more time with her loved ones. You can watch the video below.

The band is known for its devoted fans, who voted Rosie Soul and the Rock and Roll Cowboys as "Best Local Rock Band" for three years in Style's annual Best of Richmond poll -- until the musicians asked that fans not vote for them this year.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Byrd Theatre Needs New Projector

Plus bike film festival and legendary director John Waters coming in fall.

Posted By on Wed, Jun 10, 2015 at 1:55 PM

Legendary trash director John Waters has signed a contract to appear at the Byrd in the fall.
  • Legendary trash director John Waters has signed a contract to appear at the Byrd in the fall.

You may have noticed that the Byrd Theatre was closed last week. That's because its DP100 digital projector was on its last legs and it had to switch over to the old 35 mm projector while waiting on a print of "Cinderella."

Now, sooner than expected, the Byrd Foundation will need to spend between $40,000 and $75,000 to secure a new digital projector.

"We do not want anyone to think we weren’t planning for this, or ill-equipped to handle it," says Grant Mizell, vice president and marketing co-chair of the foundation. "We have put in a lot of development work and fundraising effort over the last several years to strategically and proactively restore the theater. The projector’s untimely loss is coming out of order, but we are excited we can purchase new equipment immediately without any impact to theatre operations."

These expenses, included in the Journey to the Seats, are funded by donations -- and the foundation has hired a development group, the Monument Group, to help. Mizell says that a new projector, once they find one, should last between 8 to 12 years and the picture will be much brighter and clearer than current standards at the Byrd.

Mizell also mentioned a couple exciting events coming up at the Byrd: Because of Chop Suey Books, legendary trash film director John Waters is slated to appear at the Byrd in the fall, and also the foundation is planning a bike film festival to coincide with the Richmond 2015 UCI Road World Championship in September.

"It's going to be an active summer," Mizell says.

Monday, June 8, 2015

TheatreLAB Announces 2015-2016 Season

Includes secondary season, The Cellar Series, to launch in fall.

Posted By on Mon, Jun 8, 2015 at 1:45 PM

Matt Shofner gave a memorable performance last year in "Hedwig and the Angry Inch."
  • Matt Shofner gave a memorable performance last year in "Hedwig and the Angry Inch."

From the press release department: TheatreLAB has announced its 2015-16 season, “A Vivid Impression of Reality.”

Here's the rundown:

Katrinah Carol Lewis is Billie Holiday in "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill" by Lanie Robertson; The time is 1959. The place is a seedy bar in Philadelphia. You’re invited to spend an evening filled with personal tales of difficult choices, bad breaks, worse men, and some of the most glorious songs ever written. It’s an intimate evening, up close with a legend – so pull up a chair and order a drink, because she’s got a life to sing. Directed by Deejay Gray; Musical Direction by Anthony Smith; November 12 – December 12, 2015.

"Bad Jews" by Joshua Harmon; The night after their grandfather's funeral, three cousins engage in a verbal - and sometimes physical - battle. In one corner is Daphna Feygenbam, a "Real Jew" who is volatile, self-assured, and unbending. In the other is her equally stubborn cousin Liam who has his shiksa girlfriend, Melody, in tow. Stuck in the middle is Liam's brother, Jonah, who tries to stay out of the fray. When Liam stakes claim to their grandfather's Chai necklace, a vicious and hilarious brawl over family, faith, and legacy ensues. Directed by Debra Clinton; produced in partnership with the Weinstein JCC as part of the 2016 Acts of Faith Festival; February 18 – March 5, 2016.

"Venus in Fur" by David Ives; Thomas, a beleaguered playwright/director, is desperate to find an actress to play Vanda, the female lead in his adaptation of the classic sadomasochistic tale Venus in Fur. Into his empty audition room bursts a vulgar and equally desperate actress - oddly enough, named Vanda. As the two work through the script, they blur the line between play and reality, entering into an increasingly serious game of submission and domination that only one of them can win. Directed by Matt Shofner; co-produced with Spin, Spit & Swear; Featuring Maggie Roop as Vanda; April 14 – May 7, 2016.

"Tribes" by Nina Raine; Billy was born deaf into a hearing family. He was raised inside its fiercely idiosyncratic and politically incorrect cocoon. He has adapted brilliantly to his family's unconventional ways, but they've never bothered to return the favor. It's not until he meets Sylvia, a young woman on the brink of deafness, that he finally understands what it means to be understood. Directed by Deejay Gray; July 14 – August 6, 2016.

In addition to a four show main stage season, TheatreLAB is proud to announce The Cellar Series, a second season of four shows with shorter runs, smaller budgets, and edgier, unknown or new scripts. Material will be pulled from local playwrights and fringe festivals worldwide to find the stories that can be successfully produced with minimalist design elements without sacrificing intrigue or possibility. The Cellar Series will be used as a springboard for actors, designers, and directors in the early stages of their careers to broaden the number of artists working professionally in our community. The Cellar Series will be a platform for bringing eclectic performance art to The Basement, as well as revive old Richmond favorites, like the “Six Block Series” from the beloved Sycamore Rouge. As always, TheatreLAB strives to encourage emerging artists and provide quality theatre to the greater Richmond area and The Cellar Series is the perfect addition to the growing company’s artistic endeavors.

In an additional effort to give back to the community, the artwork created for each show by TheatreLAB Associate Artistic Director, McLean Jesse, will be auctioned off during the run with proceeds benefitting the community partner attached to the project.

All productions will run at TheatreLAB’s new home, The Basement, at 300 East Broad Street in Richmond’s Arts District.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Vanity Fair Kneels Before Richmond Bands

Runs list compiled by author and musician Jon Fine of Bitch Magnet.

Posted By on Wed, Jun 3, 2015 at 12:30 PM

Author Jon Fine is currently on a book tour behind his memoir, "Your Band Sucks."
  • Author Jon Fine is currently on a book tour behind his memoir, "Your Band Sucks."

Just in case today passes without Richmond making another top 10 list written by someone who's never visited the city, here's some kudos to stroke our egos -- in Vanity Fair of all places -- for legendary Richmond bands Honor Role and Breadwinner.

The piece, titled "10 Bands You Weren't Cool Enough to Like in the '80s and '90s" was written by musician and author Jon Fine, whose recent memoir, "Your Band Sucks: What I Saw at The Indie Revolution but Can No Longer Hear," has been receiving critical acclaim.

About the bands, he writes:

These bands are from Richmond, Virginia. Not D.C., not Philly, not Chapel Hill, not N.Y.C. or Boston. Richmond, Virginia. Both featured the majestic guitar of Pen Rollings. In Honor Role, Rollings served that band’s very thinky take -- if I understand the lyrics correctly, “Listening to Sally” could be written from the point of view of a guy in an office who’s been hired to serve as psychologist for a lonely co-worker -- on aggressive indie rock of the moment. In Breadwinner, he drove an absolutely crushing example of what could be done once a band decides all that matters is riffs and the rhythm section, and by the way, how bad can we mess up the audience by constantly changing time signatures? I can’t write about Breadwinner without getting all beatnik-rock critic-y on you. “Brutal ever-shifting extrapolation of theorems underpinning that which makes a godhead rhythm section.” “Tooth-grinding metallic minimalism as they dig their very specific ditch.” Etc. and etc. I’m having a hard time finishing this because I’m headbanging, but I’m bald and so it looks like I’m having a seizure and my wife is giving me funny looks.

Props also go to my old friend Trish, whose Chico, California, band, Vomit Launch, came in at No. 5. It contributed to a sampler by the Virginia label Teen Beat back in the day.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Ownership Shift at Broadberry

Rand Burgess sells his share to two co-owners.

Posted By on Tue, Jun 2, 2015 at 2:10 PM

Matt McDonald and Rand Burgess at the Broadberry. Burgess will continue as owner of the Camel music venue. - SCOTT ELMQUIST / FILE
  • Scott Elmquist / file
  • Matt McDonald and Rand Burgess at the Broadberry. Burgess will continue as owner of the Camel music venue.

A little more than a year after opening, Rand Burgess is selling his share in the Broadberry music venue to co-founders Matt McDonald of Joe's Inn and Lucas Fritz.

Burgess, who will continue to run his other venue, the smaller-sized Camel, declined to elaborate on his reasons, other than saying the time was right to sell his share. The 350-seat Broadberry usually books between three to five concerts a week.

"It was an opportunity that neither of us could turn down," says Fritz, who adds that things won't change much at the venue considering that he'll remain in the day-to-day general manager role. "It will, more or less, be business as usual going forward."

The Broadberry has had a strong first year, highlighted by memorable concerts by artists such as Natalie Prass, the Swans and High on Fire, with some shows booked by outside promoter Mark Osborne of Strange Matter. Fritz says he'll continue to occasionally work with local promoters.

"We've had a great 13 months and exceeded our expectations," McDonald says. "Rand helped out because he had the experience in running the Camel, but [Lucas] was the manager."

"I've learned a lot this first year, everything from how to fix a toilet to managing people," Fritz says, noting this was his first time running a venue.

Fritz, who also books shows at the Camel, says that the Broadberry hopes to expand its catering jobs outside of the venue. "We did a lot of infrastructure investment in our first year," he says. "We have this great kitchen here that is underutilized, so we're hoping to maximize our assets."

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