Monday, February 29, 2016

“An Evening With Neil Young” Tonight At Virginia Center Commons

Double bill of “Human Highway” and “Rust Never Sleeps” plus live interview.

Posted By on Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 11:00 AM

Actress Charlotte Stewart (“Eraserhead”) and fellow “Twin Peaks”-cast member Kimmy Robertson at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery during last year’s inaugural Great Southern event. - BRENT BALDWIN
  • Brent Baldwin
  • Actress Charlotte Stewart (“Eraserhead”) and fellow “Twin Peaks”-cast member Kimmy Robertson at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery during last year’s inaugural Great Southern event.

Fans of Neil Young and cult cinema: Grab granny and rev up the hybrid caddy. Tonight, Monday, Feb. 29, there’s a national screening of newly restored and edited versions of Young’s bizarro cult film “Human Highway” (1982) and his more straightforward 16mm concert film “Rust Never Sleeps” (1979).

”An Evening With Neil Young” starts at 8 p.m. at Regal Virginia Center Stadium 20. No passes are accepted and tickets are $15.

The presentation also features a live interview with Young conducted by director Cameron Crowe (“Fast Times at Ridgemont High”). The interview also will feature actor Russ Tamblyn, Devo bassist Gerald Casale, and veteran actress Charlotte Stewart, a delightful lady I met last year when she came to Richmond for the inaugural “Twin Peaks” fest, the Great Southern (organizer Andrew Blossom tells me she will be returning this year as well). She turned 75 yesterday. Happy birthday, Charlotte!

Stewart told me the new version of “Human Highway” was her favorite yet – a sentiment echoed by members of Devo, who also star in the film along with a still crazed Dennis Hopper and Dean Stockwell. Some have speculated that “HH” was the secret inspiration for television series “The Simpsons” – though I haven’t heard Matt Groening weigh in on that, and you would think he would. He hasn’t been afraid of sharing his influences in the past.

A little description of “Human Highway” from its festival run:

One of the wilder visions Neil Young ever had, Human Highway is an anarchic satire conceived in the cauldron of Cold War America. It may also be the secret origin of The Simpsons.

Now recut and restored according to Young's own specifications, this fascinating but little-seen film was first released in 1982. Young had assembled a riotous band of players — Dennis Hopper, Dean Stockwell (who also co-directed the film), Sally Kirkland, and the members of Devo — whose combined energies produced a cinematic Molotov cocktail aimed straight at our society's own cluelessness.

Lionel Switch (Young) is an absolute nerd and the auto mechanic at a gas station owned by Otto (Stockwell). Otto also owns the adjacent diner, where the waitress (Kirkland) is unpredictable and the cook (Hopper) flat-out volatile. They all live in a town next door to a nuclear plant, but no one seems to worry. Lionel can't believe that radiation is a real threat, since he's worked on "almost every radiator in every car in town." Their ignorance won't matter much in the end, though, since this will be their last day on earth.

Once described as "The Wizard of Oz on acid," Human Highway plays like a Rowan & Martin pastiche with a wickedly radical core. Casting Mark Mothersbaugh and his Devo bandmates as nuclear plant workers was a master stroke, and it pays off in spades when they break into their own keening version of "Worried Man Blues."

It's also a thrill to see Young play not just the geeky Lionel but his rock-star alter ego Frankie Fontaine, who teams up with Devo for an epic version of "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)." Three decades have passed, but Human Highway remains a thermonuclear reminder of the crazy, chaotic energy to be found at the end of the road.

Here’s a trailer for “Rust Never Sleeps”

Local Father-and-Son Painters Featured On CNN

Features painting collection of African-American cultural figures.

Posted By on Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 12:30 AM

Richmond artists Jeromyah Jones, crooner Tony Bennett, and Jerome W. Jones, Jr.
  • Richmond artists Jeromyah Jones, crooner Tony Bennett, and Jerome W. Jones, Jr.

Plenty fathers and sons share a connection through sports.

But far fewer share a connection through a love of painting. And certainly not many with as much heartwarming, rhyming style as Richmond artists Jerome W. Jones, Jr. and his son, Jeromyah.

The father-and-son team has painted some of the most legendary figures in African-American cultural history and gotten to meet many celebrities along the way from Michael Jackson and Jesse Jackson to Stevie Wonder.

Their work was featured last week in a small profile segment on CNN that you can watch here.

“To have my son follow in my footsteps is truly a blessing,” Jones says in the clip. “I’m blessed that I have a young man that listens to my counsel. We don’t always agree but that’s natural. But the blessing is he understands what I’m sharing with him.”

His son immediately follows with some Muhammad Ali-style verbal promotion for the duo: “From Dr. King to Coretta Scott King. From B.B. King to the King of Pop, the brush never stops.” Both of them share a knowing smile.

You can see their work locally in several locations. Fifteen paintings from their "Ingenious Artistic Minds (I AM)" portrait collection are currently on exhibit at the Governor's Office of Virginia (1111 East Broad St.) until March 15. Their work is also included in a group exhibition at VCU Medical Center and the Spotlight Gallery.

"Friends, Mentors, and Protégés" by Jerome W. Jones, Jr.
  • "Friends, Mentors, and Protégés" by Jerome W. Jones, Jr.

Fourteen of the elder Jones’s paintings are autographed: Martin Luther King, Jr. III, Dr. Dorothy I. Height, Dr. Wyatt T. Walker, Shirley Chisholm, Dr. Lerone Bennett, Dr. Melissa Harris Perry, Dr. Samuel DeWitt Proctor, Tayari Jones, Serena Williams, Miss America Caressa V Cameron, Wynton Marsalis, B.B. King , Xernona Clayton, and Oliver Hill. Jeromyah's portrait of Thurgood Marshall is also on view.

“There is an art to our marketing just like there is an art to creating our work through inspiration, information, and imagination,” Jones tells Style about the CNN appearance. “When it comes to things like the CNN piece and the people we meet, we believe, 'a man's gift makes room for him and brings him before great men.' [from Proverbs 18:16]."

Jones explained that the pair was building their BRAND, which stands for “bringing reflective art new dimensions. ”

“We are a two-man marketing team always brainstorming what we dream into living our visions everyday,” he adds.

Jones adds that they are currently working on putting together another exhibition of their "Ingenious Artistic Minds (I AM)" portrait collection of over 100 autographed paintings “depicting inspirational people from all walks of life. “

“We are contemplating the right location to exhibit this collection for the nation,” Jones adds.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Footlights: Illuminating the Richmond Theater Scene

This Week: Married acting duo, weekend openings + more.

Posted By on Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 7:00 AM

Want to spice up your long-term relationship? Try playing husband and wife on stage.

Larry Cook and Lauren Leinhaas-Cook are celebrated local actors, each with multiple award nominations from the Richmond Theatre Critics Circle, who fell in love and got married 29 years ago. But even though they’ve each appeared in dozens of productions in the past three decades, the two have rarely appeared onstage together. And they never played husband and wife until “Equus,” produced by Cadence earlier this season, in which they portrayed the beleaguered parents of the horse-mutilating lead character.

That production proved a warm-up for “I Do! I Do!” the musical that recently opened on Virginia Rep’s Hanover Tavern stage, where Mr. and Mrs. Cook blast through 19 songs in less than two hours. A recent Times-Dispatch article featured several other local theater couples, but omitted the Cooks, a weird oversight given that they’re appearing in a current show.

Like other couples in similar circumstances, “I Do! I Do!” has been illuminating for Lauren and Larry in many ways. “This is the first time we are truly playing opposite each other,” Lauren says. “After all these years, it’s interesting to just be discovering how we act.”

Though any show with a cast of just two is sure to be exhausting, Larry says the rehearsal process has been one of the easiest he’s experienced. “We’ve really been having a blast,” he says. “Working with someone you trust 150 percent makes everything go more smoothly.”

The play depicts the ups and downs of a 50-year marriage and, while the Cooks haven’t been together quite that long, they say their relationship has been invaluable in creating their characters. “There are times where it feels like we’re just playing ourselves,” Larry says.

Lauren concurs “There’s a fair amount of kissing and touching in the script,” she says, “and we don’t have to work at that. There’s an intimacy we bring so those scenes are very natural.”

Of course, no stage production would be complete without a little conflict. “Oh, there are some wonderful fights,” Larry says. “So that’s fun.”

“It lets us get it all out on stage,” Lauren echoes.

The Cooks are bracing for some long-term couples therapy: “I Do! I Do!” runs until the first weekend of April.

Running: Last chances this week to see “The Little Lion” at Swift Creek Mill, “Saturday, Sunday, Monday” at Virginia Repertory Theatre, and “Bad Jews” at TheatreLab.

On deck: Act fast, because two short-running shows open this coming weekend -- HatTheatre’s “Creating Claire” and Heritage Ensemble’s ungainly titled repertory duo, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide…” / “For Black Boys Who Have Considered Homicide. …”

Friday, February 26, 2016

Interview: Grammy Winner Christopher King brings Primeval Greek Folk To Steady Sounds This Weekend

Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2016 at 11:20 PM

More recent Chris King photo provided by his wife, Charmagne Dutton.
  • More recent Chris King photo provided by his wife, Charmagne Dutton.

Lifelong record collector Christopher King returns to Richmond this Sunday -- which means it's time to party like a remote village in 1920s Greece.

The increasingly well-known Faber, Va. native, who is getting more and more national press for his work as a producer and sound engineer, is returning to Steady Sounds this Sunday, Feb. 28 at 1 p.m. to DJ from his latest project that explores a time and place where music was a “tool for survival.”

“Why The Mountains Are Black,” released on rock star Jack White’s Third Man Records label, features a two-disc collection of primal and unhinged Greek demotika or village folk music recorded between 1907 and 1960. This is the fourth release in King’s impressive seven-part series of Greek/Balkan music; he’s also working on a book for W.W. Norton & Co.

Remastered from the original 78 rpm discs, the new records contain 28 unissued tracks featuring wild, dramatic “Macedonian bagpipes, keening violins, shiver-inducing zournas and shepherd pipes” according to the label.

King, who is famously old-fashioned, says he’ll bring 30 copies of the album to sell at Steady Sounds. The following weekend he heads to emcee a similar event at Third Man Records, a shop which he’ll be visiting for the first time (“To me, the only good thing that ever took place [in Nashville] was the 1928 Brunswick session that had Uncle Dave Macon” King says in typical fashion).

The Grammy-winner is a philosopher by nature whose passion and love for older music is hard to overstate. As someone who has sat next to him at his Nelson County home and watched him listen to records, I can attest this is a man who believes in music as far more than mere entertainment. It makes him the perfect candidate for archivist, or producer-as-artist, rescuing lost sounds of the past.

King also sits on the Richmond Folk Festival programming board but says it’s too early to talk about any upcoming acts. Though he does sound excited about the possibilities, including one act he's been working for nine years to bring to Richmond.

Style Weekly: How did the partnership with Third Man Records come about?

It came about because Susan Archie who I’ve been working with for 19 years, who does all my graphic design, she had to make a visit to Third Man almost two years ago to discuss the design for the Paramount box set. She brought a box of our work and gave it to Jack White and the Third Man guys. Turned out most of them already had all the collections. But Susan basically said, “This is work I’ve done with Chris King and he’s having a hard time finding a home for his work.”

When you’re doing very difficult collections that are not the typical dog-bites-man story, things not easy to understand, easy to swallow, easy to comprehend, or easy to sell, as soon as you start articulating those projects then suddenly you find you really have no label that’s willing to put them out on your terms. Or to compensate you properly. Or not dinker with it or fuck you over.

So basically it’s been a constant struggle to find a label that values aesthetics over the almighty dollar and values the producer as an artist in-and-of themselves, i.e. a creator not a tool.

So you were confident based on her conversations you’d get that at Third Man? I figured you knew next to nothing about Jack White.

I wouldn’t know a Jack White song if I heard one. I have no awareness of that. I completely and totally block it out of my life. I don’t let any modern music into my life. And if I walk into a shoe store and they’re playing that stuff, I just walk right back out.

How can you avoid it? Modern music seems ubiquitous in America.

Well, it’s like ear torture. So you have to make really safe decisions, like never leaving your home . . . I have a lot of inner anger, Brent.

Yeah, I’ve only ever seen one amplified concert in my entire life: Boris -- which I did out of friendship. In fact, when I was in college my parents really wanted me to leave campus and just do something – so my mom sent me $40 bucks and told me she wanted me to go see Sonic Youth [at Brown’s Island in Richmond]. Instead I took that money and spent it on cartons of smokes.

So what was the process like for this collection?

Basically what you hold in your hands I first articulated six years ago. After I had found that stack of Greek and Albanian 78s in Istanbul [where he had gone because his wife Charmagne wanted to see a concert by Leonard Cohen] I basically sat down a year after that and mapped out these philosophical themes that relate to the Balkan music, Greek music and Albanian music. I fleshed out this idea for “Why the Mountains are Black.” Then it basically took me a solid two years of writing, researching and working with the sound and getting everything exactly how I wanted. And when I had actually completely and totally finished everything – notes, design, remastering – then in my lap in the course of ten days I acquired two brand new test pressings for two of the songs I had already remastered in average shape. So I had to redo two whole sides of the collection to make those sounds fit better together.

Do you remember your first reaction to hearing these 78s?

Oh shit. I write about it in the first chapter of the book. I didn’t even have time to brush my teeth. I ran into the kitchen and washed the records. Charmagne and Riley had fallen asleep on the floor exhausted from the flight [from Turkey]. I spent the next six hours completely and totally entranced in my record room playing these sides over and over again because I’d never heard anything like it.

I like playing these songs with my Polk subwoofer up, so I can hear more bass.

That’s smart, because one of the real shortcomings of the 78 format by its very physical nature, it produces less real bass frequencies than say a 33 and a third, or a 45, because the faster a disc rotates the more treble acuteness you get, but less bass acuteness. The slower it goes, the more bass.

Some Americans probably first think of "Zorba the Greek" when they think of Greek music. One of the things that struck me here on first listen was it seemed like there’s a lot Arabic influence.

There’s a lot of what I would call Turko-Arabic music theory going on in the tracks and it’s a reflection not only of the roughly 400 years the Turks ruled mainland Greece but also most of Greek intellectual thought was not from Athens but from Constantinople which is in Asia Minor.

I’ll probably post one of your favorite songs from this collection, "Selfos" (“Nightingale”) by Demitrios Halkias with the Q&A. It’s got that amazing sound – almost like Charles Mingus dropping below the bridge – where the playing becomes percussive, and really sounds like birds chirping.

Those are string effects; but in the case of Epirotic style it goes from being a novelty to an extraordinarily difficult technical move that even classical violinists are afraid to do.

Have you ever wanted to get an advanced degree in musicology or anything? Seems like just one of your album projects would qualify as a thesis. The liner notes are great and I hope they earn you another Grammy nod.

Thanks -- But no, I have no desire to be identified with the world of academia or scholarship. But I will say doing these collections it’s been extraordinarily helpful, especially in writing this book for W. W. Norton on Epirotic music. Essentially the way I write are these 2,500 word essays where I explore this artist, or this regional music, or this vast notion of Greek folk music. When you start writing chapters for the book, you’ve already got a firm grasp of how this should go and it’s just a matter of adding documentation.

Basically [what I’m doing] is what the old notion of what ethnomusicology was – back in the '30s when it was coined it was a merging of music studies and anthropology. I’m attracted to this very curious notion about the origin and development of the music. Why does it exist, what’s its function? Nowadays they don’t even bother asking those questions because they figure they’re too hard to answer.

Amanda [Petrusich] was quoted in the LA Times piece by Sasha Frere Jones as saying about you: “I think he hears better, hears more, than the average person. But I also think he's someone whose heart and mind is open to music in a way that would shut down a less courageous figure. He is a person who wants all of a thing. He wants to inhabit a song, he wants it to possess him, he wants to find a way to lessen whatever distance might exist between him and art.” When did you notice you heard things differently?

My father was a music teacher and musician and collector of 78s. It’s really hard for me to put a finger on the transformation to the way I heard things. But I would certainly say it’s not necessarily a good thing. If 99 percent of population hears something completely differently from what you hear – that’s kind of a problem. It’s like having X-ray vision or something. Which maybe wouldn’t be a bad thing as long as you could stop before you got to the bones.

But if you pick up on certain frequencies, or detect things that others don’t between the lines . . . I know a lot of really talented, gifted writers who hear voices in their heads. Modern psychiatrists would call it schizophrenia, or some form of dysfunctionality, which may be what I have but it’s oracular.

But for these musicians and this culture, it was really a tool of survival back then during harsh conditions. Did you experience any of this while you were there?

Oh, fuck yeah. I was played into in Epirus three separate instances. And have lots of documentation about others. Essentially the actual psychological transformation that takes place when they get right up in your ear, right in your head, playing the clarinet exactly the way it should be played, and you’re surrounded by people you trust, and all the other psychological elements are perfectly in place. The transformation you undergo is essentially what Plato and Aristotle would have characterized as a musical catharsis. You actually undergo a release. It’s the result of a mechanism of music as a tool for survival.

You remember that discovery they made 15 years ago of that mummy they found in the Alps? He had a medicine bag on his person with herbs and fungi, early Neolithic nomads knew if you chewed on this root or bark it would treat X ailment. In that time we started to open up nature and find its secret -- I think we also discovered sound itself could be a curative thing.

I know you don’t listen to modern music, and it’s easy to see how a lot of it has become disposable and increasingly formulaic. On the other hand, you could see how a young kid might say that music -- whether its Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber or whatever -- is crucial to being able to deal, with high school for instance. It still plays a major role as a rite of passage for many.

I understand what you’re saying, but the music that’s available to the mass public is a pale derivative shadow of what’s available out there, i.e. this music. But I think there's something in the way in which humans have been hardwired over hundreds of thousands of years to seek this out, or basically control the environment outside us. Even on a deep biological level, we’re going to seek out something that resembles musical catharsis, musical comfort. Even if that which we seek out happens to be Justin Bieber.

The television doctor, Dr. Drew, once told me that kids spinning on the playground are seeking to alter their consciousness no differently than an early, aboriginal tribe that licks a frog’s eyeball to hallucinate. Throughout history, people seek to alter their reality.

As I write in this book, anthropologists have known for years now that there has never been a culture or society that has not had music. So, it could be safe to say its more universal than language or complex human emotions such as love.

Who has been the most valuable resource to you as you’ve traveled to Greece a bunch of times now?

The linguistic barrier is obviously a high hurdle. But there’s also the access and travel hurdle. I would say that nothing I’ve done in last few years could have possibly been done without the assistance of my friend Jim Potts and his wife Maria. They have a home there and he drives me around. And he’s just as intellectually curious about this music as I am.

And you know this, but obviously none of this would be possible without [his wife] Charmagne. It’s one thing to be a rabid monomaniac about things, but not being able to cook and clean and take care of yourself and organize things. I would be living in a cardboard box.

Where are you on your book?

I’m over half way done. For me, because I’m more accustomed to writing vignettes, those 2,500 word essays – this is more like 80 to 100,000 words. What would take a writer six months is probably going to take me two years. I’ll probably have a final manuscript available summer of this year, and it will probably be in print in 2017.

The editor Tom Mayer approached me because he had attended a book release party for Amanda at a bookstore in Brooklyn. She had asked me to play some music. I played the Alexis Zoumbas’ “Epirotiko Mirologi” and what started out as your typical barroom buzz just went fucking silent. Crickets could be heard. My editor was kind of slack jawed. So I talked to him briefly, he bought three LPs. I didn’t even know who he was. He basically emailed when he got home two days later, said he played in an old time music band for fun, but his day job was as senior editor and vice president of W.W. Norton -- and he asked me if I had ever considered writing a book about this music. So it was pure serendipity.

A lot of national writers note that the music you love and collect is often extremely sad music—dark, mournful stuff. Where does that come from? To me, having known you for years now, you’re funny as hell - with a biting sense of humor.

I don’t know where the impulse comes from. Charmagne and a lot of close friends all comment that I'm really fucking dark. I would probably venture to say that I have a lot of sadness inside of me, and it’s probably a build up of nostalgia for what I did know versus the reality of what exists now. People say I’m a softie, and still really nostalgic and sentimental. But I really long for the way things used to be – and the fact that they never will be again is really sad.

I’m like the opposite of a moth, not attracted to the light.

But listening to the music doesn't make anything worse

It’s a curative sadness-- more liberating. It’s like a really great cry.

Christopher King will be appearing at Steady Sounds at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 28 to play his original 78s and talk about the album.

Local Mural to Accompany Richmond Group to South by Southwest

Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2016 at 1:30 PM

Mickael Broth works in the wind and cold on his portable mural outside of Casa del Barco.
  • Mickael Broth works in the wind and cold on his portable mural outside of Casa del Barco.

On a cold Thursday evening, local artist Mickael Broth is spray-painting a mural in high winds just above the Canal Walk.

"This is harder than a wall I did in Scott's Addition during snowmaggedon last year," he says, while his wife, Brionna, huddles from the cold, below. The two had a baby a couple of weeks ago.

Broth is working on a 20-by-10-foot canvas mural that will accompany the Greater Richmond Partnership when it travels to South by Southwest Interactive next month in Austin, Texas, March 11-15.

"I'm trying to add some stuff from different localities," Broth says, noting that a jumping figure at the top of the mural is Lamb of God's Randy Blythe.

A well-known Richmond street artist, Broth has playful work across town, including Richmond's Welcoming Walls and the Mellow Mushroom in Carytown. He also has a more serious show of abstract collages inspired by World War I, "La Voie Sacree," running through March 25 at Black Iris Gallery.

Attending industry-specific trade shows is part of the Greater Richmond Partnership's marketing strategy as it tries to spread the word about the creative community in Richmond. VCU Brandcenter students competed to pitch the winning concept of the interactive trade show booth, which will host the mural [Style publisher Lori Collier Waran served as one of the judges]. The team of Stanley Hines, Mario Bibian and Xia Du won for their concept called the Urban Oasis.

"We constantly hear how cool Boulder and Austin and Portland are," says Michael Ivey, communications director for the partnership, noting that many creative types and entrepreneurs work from home these days and choose cities based on lifestyles.

"We don't have a show like 'Portlandia' or a big quirky festival to show off how we are in Richmond," he says. "But a lot of people say Richmond is the closest family-friendly city to the Northeast, that it's more affordable, has less traffic and has this great dining scene. We have all these advantages and accolades, we just have to make sure we get them across to the right people."

The partnership will be accompanied on its trip to Austin by economic development representatives from partner localities: Chesterfield and Henrico counties and Richmond are each sending a staff person; additionally representatives from Capital One, Altria, the VCU Brandcenter, the VCU School of Engineering, the Virginia Biotechnology Research Park, the University of Richmond and Richmond Region Tourism all will be along and in the booth. Funding comes from a number of sources including Capital One, Altria, Whitlock and other in-kind support such as donations of time from three Brandcenter students and faculty, valued at $40,000.

The winning student team was registered for SXSW Interactive and will help staff the booth. Each student will receive a $300 stipend to help cover the costs of travel and lodging from the partnership. Organizers say in a press release that "the faux urban streetscape will offer a welcomed alternative to the tech-heavy designs of many of the other displays we expect to slather the trade show floor."

They'll also be handing out T-shirts and cups with an RVA logo by Broth at the event during SXSW.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Richmond Chosen For New "Joys of Snail Mail" Ad Campaign

Posted By on Tue, Feb 23, 2016 at 3:30 PM

Film crews were set up at Sub Rosa Bakery in Church Hill on Monday.
  • Film crews were set up at Sub Rosa Bakery in Church Hill on Monday.

Don’t be surprised if a film crew rolls up to your favorite spot this week. The United States Postal Service has selected Richmond as its location for a series of commercials about the joys of snail mail.

The lighthearted skits will be targeted towards mom-and-pop print shops as well as bigger outfits, like those that manufacture direct mail equipment. The core idea is to teach business how to serve better mail products to customers.

Corporate Communications Manager Tom Ouellette says they’ll premiere first through countrywide trade shows called the National Postal Forum. After that, he says they’ll appear online, mainly targeting print and mailing businesses which rely on the US Postal Service.

During a shoot at Sub Rosa Bakery, producer Matthew Gottshalk said his team was in Richmond for the week, choosing locations and writing up scripts. He planned to hit the Richmond Ballet next, with views of the city’s downtown area. Gottshalk said Richmond resonated with him culturally and architecturally.

“We looked at cities from Seattle to Philadelphia,” he says. “Richmond just evoked the feel we’re going for. It’s got a distinctive character like those other places, and it’s cheaper to shoot here. I didn’t feel I was sacrificing anything, aesthetically.”

Dollars will pour into Richmond in other ways, too: the majority of staff was hired locally, including freelance film crew and acting talent.

The commercials come at a time when some critics are saying the US government should pull out of the mail monopoly business, as alternative mailing services proliferate. Last year the USPS lost $5.1 billion – its ninth consecutive annual loss. Expected price increases arrived last month on commercial package shipping, including for Parcel Select products, which are also used by UPS, FedEx, and Amazon. Such competitors offer reduced rates if your package can be dropped at the local post office, leaving your trusty mailperson to ensure it reaches your doorstep.

But Ouellette argues that the USPS is becoming more convenient, affordable, and even sophisticated. With these River City skits, he can now add quirky to the list.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Memorial for Jay Moritz Tonight at Hardywood (Feb. 22)

Posted By on Mon, Feb 22, 2016 at 12:05 PM

Local musician Jay Moritz played in bands Snack Truck, Brainworms, Little Master, Antlers and Whoa!
  • Local musician Jay Moritz played in bands Snack Truck, Brainworms, Little Master, Antlers and Whoa!

The local music community has been grieving of late.

Tonight, there will be a celebratory memorial service (Feb. 22) at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery for the much-beloved local musician, Jay Moritz, who recently passed away after a two-year battle with melanoma. The event starts at 7:30 p.m.

His wife Elizabeth, with whom he ran the Seven Hills Studio Salon in Church Hill, told me on Saturday that the memorial will feature a professionally edited video of a live performance by Moritz’s former group, Snack Truck.

"We hope to begin the tradition of donating towards cancer research in Jay's honor with a party celebrating his life," she says, noting that they will have a merchandise table of buttons, tapes, t-shirts, and posters, all given in exchange for donations towards Massey Cancer Center.

The festivities also include dinner, provided by generous donations from Richmond's finest dining establishments, a DJ spinning exclusively from Jay's vinyl collection, an open-mic hour, an interactive shrine, Photo Booth, possibly kittens for adoption ("not my idea, but Jay would love that, so I let it slide" she says) and the aforementioned video premiere. "For those who can't make it in person, the event will be live streamed," she says.

To continue his legacy, a non-profit record label, Moritz Music, is on course to set up it's home base. A portion of the proceeds, again, would go towards cancer research.

To stay up to date with the progress of all things Jay including live streaming of this party, please visit www.gentlemanjay.org.

And if you missed the obituary that ran about Moritz, here it is:

"Ladies and Sirs, May we now present to you the late Gentleman Jay Moritz in permanent form. We know you are going to like him. He is a jolly fellow, one of those rare individuals, everlastingly young, a distinct personality and famous throughout the land for his sterling qualities and genuine good fellowship. His friends number in the millions- those who are great and those who are near great as you and I. He is jovial and ever ready to accept the difficult role of "Life of the Party," a sympathetic friend who may be relied upon in any emergency. Follow his advice and there will be many pleasant times in store for you."

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Footlights: Illuminating the Richmond theater Scene

This week in local theater news: Judaism and Acts of Faith, Traveling Dreamcoat + More

Posted By on Sun, Feb 21, 2016 at 7:00 AM

The annual Acts of Faith theater festival, a Richmond institution celebrating its 12th iteration, seems to have a distinctly Jewish bent this year. In five of the festival’s 16 productions, the characters’ Judaism is either a main theme (as in Swift Creek Mill’s Holocaust drama, “The Little Lion”) or a significant grace note (5th Wall and CAT’s co-pro “Unexpected Tenderness”).

The majority of the actors playing Jewish characters in these shows aren’t themselves adherents to the faith. When it comes to race, an actor and character mismatch can generate a boatload of controversy -- as per the recent Joseph Fiennes as Michael Jackson kerfuffle -- but does it matter when it comes to religion?

“It’s an interesting question,” says Debra Clinton, who is Jewish and also the director of TheatreLab’s latest production, “Bad Jews.”

“From a technical standpoint,” she says, “it’s good to have a Jew in the room to interpret the cultural references and get the pronunciation of certain words right. But in a play about identity the important thing is for actors to discover who these characters are, and then we can layer on the Jewish thing.”

One actor in “Bad Jews” is Jewish and Clinton says that his perspective helps ground the cast in the appropriate milieu. Still, that doesn’t necessarily give him an advantage over his castmates.

“Each actor has to do their homework and build their character, whether from the inside-out or the outside-in,” Clinton says. “In this cast, everyone is passionate about the show and committed to getting it right.”

Keith Fitzgerald is directing “The Lazarus Syndrome,” which opens at Richmond Triangle Players this week, and while his mother is Jewish, none of his cast members is. Like Clinton, he doesn’t think that’s an issue.

“I believe Judaism is as much or maybe even more a cultural experience than a religious experience for some people,” he says. “If an actor can capture an inherent Jewishness, their background doesn’t matter to me.”

Fitzgerald quotes a line from “Lazarus” that he says hints at those inherent qualities: “Jews suffer. That’s what we do. We suffer and we wander. And eat. Suffer, wander and eat. And worry.”

“We are trying to communicate universal truths,” Clinton says. “To do that, a play has to be about more than being Jewish.”

By the way: Blink and you’ll miss the traveling show “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” hitting the Altria for three performances, Feb. 26-27.

Running: The theater season is seriously heating up with four productions on the boards: “The Little Lion” at Swift Creek Mill, “Saturday, Sunday, Monday” at Virginia Rep, “Bad Jews” at TheatreLab, and Cadence’s “The Mountaintop” at Virginia Rep’s TheatreGym space.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Radio DJs Team Up With Virginia Blood Services for Sickle Cell Awareness

Posted By on Fri, Feb 19, 2016 at 11:15 AM

Six-year-old twins Noah and Gabriel Cypress have undergone 20 blood transfusions since birth.
  • Six-year-old twins Noah and Gabriel Cypress have undergone 20 blood transfusions since birth.

Six years ago, LaToya and Brett Cypress welcomed their twin sons, Noah and Gabriel, into the world.

Six months later, they were informed that both children had sickle cell anemia, an inherited group of disorders that cause red blood cells to contort into a sickle shape and quickly die, leaving a shortage of healthy red blood cells which block blood flow and cause pain and discomfort.

More than 100,000 Americans are affected by the disease, which disproportionately affects 1 in 13 blacks.

The condition means that the Cypresses are familiar with the blood-donor process. Their children have undergone more than 20 blood transfusions since birth, often four-hour procedures.

To that end, and to honor Black History Month, several of the city's popular radio hosts from iPower 92.1, KISS 99.3, Praise 104.7 and Newstalk 1240 will be taking part in a blood drive at White Oak Village, 4500 S. Laburnum Ave. on Monday, Feb. 29, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“Blood donors mean the world to me,” LaToya Cypress says. “The simple and selfless act of donating blood means that in less than 24 hours, my boys experience a complete turnaround health-wise following a blood transfusion."

The radio personalities will be positioned along with blood drive officials in a storefront where they will join in efforts to collect blood. Complimentary food will be provided for donors along with prize raffles.

In preparation for donation Feb. 29, blood donors are asked to eat well, stay hydrated and arrive with proper identification. Blood donors must be at least 17 (or 16 with parental consent). For more information, visit vablood.org, or call 800-989-4438.

As mentioned in a press release, the process of blood collection, storage and transfusion was pioneered by Washington native Dr. Charles Richard Drew, a black doctor who pioneered large-scale blood banks during World War II and who envisioned blood drives and the use of refrigerated "bloodmobiles."

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Bernie and Trump Square off in RVA

Comedians bring pitch-perfect impersonations to Broadberry.

Posted By on Thu, Feb 18, 2016 at 4:00 PM

The comedians James Adomian (Sanders) and Anthony Atamanuik (Trump)  recently appeared on CNN with host Brooke Baldwin.
  • The comedians James Adomian (Sanders) and Anthony Atamanuik (Trump) recently appeared on CNN with host Brooke Baldwin.

We've all seen good Donald Trump imitations before, even from A-list Hollywood actors like Johnny Depp.

But with big respect to Larry David on "SNL," there have been few other memorable Bernie clones. That ends this Sunday in Richmond.

James Adomian ("Last Comic Standing") will be appearing in a comic debate as Bernie Sanders versus Anthony Atamanuik ("30 Rock") as Donald Trump at the Broadberry -- just in time for Super Tuesday.

Check out the blustering Adomian in a clip.

The unsanctioned, bipartisan, fake debate is being brought to Richmond by the comedy folks at Coalition Theater.

"It's a national tour with national press [they just did a five-minute segment on CNN]," says Matt Newman, executive director at Coalition Theater. "It's also timely for Virginia, right before Super Tuesday, and a bit of comic relief right in the middle of a contentious primary cycle."

Trump vs. Bernie 2016 Debate will be held at The Broadberry, Feb. 21 at 8pm. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 the day of the show.

  • Re: Yo, Check Out This Photo of Adam Sandler's Wedding Crashing T-shirt

    • I want to use this medium to thank JOYCE NORA who help me with an…

    • on April 22, 2019
  • More »
  • Top Commenters

    Copyright © 2019 Style Weekly
    Richmond's alternative for news, arts, culture and opinion
    All rights reserved
    Powered by Foundation