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Friday, April 29, 2016

Valentine Museum Launches Free Outdoor Concert Series

Style calendar editor Chris Bopst will book the new shows.

Posted By on Fri, Apr 29, 2016 at 1:40 AM

Cool as a cadillac with a snow plow, Harry Wilson, former Sun Ra vibes man, pictured here with his quartet.
  • Cool as a cadillac with a snow plow, Harry Wilson, former Sun Ra vibes man, pictured here with his quartet.

With Friday Cheers about to crank it up next week with the one-and-only Mighty Joshua, a new, more intimate outdoor concert series has been announced for the Valentine Museum called Music in the Garden, starting June 2.

Chris Bopst, Style's calendar editor and show booker at Balliceaux, is curating the patio series, which will run the first three Thursdays in June.

All concerts are free and run 6-8 p.m. in the Valentine Garden.

"I wanted to bring together different types of artists who represent different music but are uniquely Virginian," says Bopst, who's known for his love of cultural hodgepodges. "Their courtyard is gorgeous and I've known [Valentine's] Bill Martin, one of my favorite Richmonders, for years. We'll see how it goes."

Here's the initial line-up for Music in the Garden:

June 2 – Former Sun Ra vibraphonist Harry Wilson Quartet + Gull

June 9 – Kenneka Cook + The Ingramettes

June 16 – Classical Revolution + Rumput

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Local Twins Hope To Crowdsource Rare Royal Ballet Invite

Posted By on Wed, Apr 27, 2016 at 1:30 PM

Young Richmond twins Isadora and Odessa Bless are raising money to accept a rare invitation to study at the Royal Ballet this July.
  • Young Richmond twins Isadora and Odessa Bless are raising money to accept a rare invitation to study at the Royal Ballet this July.

When local musician Barry Bless heard that his twin daughters Isadora and Odessa were auditioning for two of the most exclusive ballet summer programs in the world, he assumed it would be an exercise in handling rejection.

The July program was run by the Royal Ballet in London, and they were also applying for a Kennedy Center program run by Suzanne Farrell, one of Balanchine’s “muses” who takes only a small group of students worldwide.

But to their credit, the Richmond girls made the cut at both camps.

"We're scrambling now to figure out how to make these experiences possible for them," says Bless, an accordion player known for his work in the Ululating Mummies, Richmond Indigenous Gourd Orchestra, and Happy Lucky Combo.

Considering this is 2016, the twins recently took matters into their own hands with a public fundraising campaign to cover the trip with a Youcaring crowdsourcing page. They need to raise $5,564 and are almost half-way there.

You can check out their video below and if so inclined help them on their way.

In the girls' own words:

Hi! We are Isadora and Odessa Bless … twin sisters from Richmond, VA. We are students at the School of Richmond Ballet and ARGS (Appomattox Regional Governor’s School for the Arts and Technology). We have been studying ballet and other forms of dance for five years. We dance 4-6 hours a day/6 days a week, attend high school (we’re in 9th grade) and perform with the Richmond Ballet and the School of Richmond Ballet throughout the year. We both aspire to become professional dancers, which we are very passionate about.

This is the first year that we auditioned for summer intensives … which are summer schools for students who study ballet and other forms of dance. Intensives last two-five weeks, and each day is packed with dance classes. Summer intensives will give us the opportunity to learn from well-known artists and study different dance techniques. These intensives can be quite expensive, but are well worth the time commitment and cost.

We were both accepted into: Royal Ballet Summer School, London ... two weeks Exploring Ballet with Suzanne Farrell, Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. ... three weeks

We are so excited to be given these opportunities!!

The Royal Ballet School is one of the top ballet schools in the world and it is a dream come true to be able to study there! Suzanne Farrell is a legendary ballerina who is considered Balanchine’s most famous muse. Hundreds of dancers from across the country audition to study with Ms. Farrell, and she personally chooses 25-28 students to take part in the Kennedy Center’s exclusive three-week ballet training program.

Our family will be able to pay for some, but not all of the expenses (travel, tuition, room/board, dance uniforms, etc.) … that’s why we are asking for your financial help, which will be used towards tuition and pointe shoes. Tuition for the Royal Ballet is $1,084 ($2,164 for both of us) and tuition for the Kennedy Center is $1,100 ($2,200 for both of us). One pair of pointe shoes lasts about 6 hours of dancing and cost $100. Since classes will be all “on pointe” at the Kennedy Center, we will need twelve pairs of pointe shoes total.

Please consider making a donation to help us further our dance education and experience these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities … any amount will be much appreciated!!!!

Thank you!!!

Isadora and Odessa

Monday, April 25, 2016

Storm Drain Artists Needed

Submission deadline is May 30 at midnight.

Posted By on Mon, Apr 25, 2016 at 10:30 AM

Five storm drains downtown will get an artist makeover as part of a public awareness campaign regarding Richmond waterways.
  • Five storm drains downtown will get an artist makeover as part of a public awareness campaign regarding Richmond waterways.

The paint is barely dry at the RVA Street Art Festival and we've got a new contest call out for five artists (18 and over) to submit designs for stormwater drains downtown leading to the James River.

It's all part of a colorful initiative by the city of Richmond Department of Public Utilities (DPU) to raise awareness about the pollutants that go into storm drains and impact Richmond waterways. The goal is to achieve cleaner water faster for Richmond residents.

Interested artists can go here to submit your art and for all the rules and info. The deadline for submissions is May 30 at midnight.

The five winners selected by the Richmond Public Arts Commission will be announced in June. Each will receive $300 and "publicity for their artwork on drains in downtown Richmond" -- which could be priceless, you never know.

Somehow I've got a strange feeling the judges are going to see some gnarly stuff with a theme like "It All Drains to the James." The rules, however, say the artwork must be "public friendly." Who knows what that means anymore?

The five storm drains are located along Tredegar Street from the American Civil War Center at Tredegar to Brown’s Island.

"We established the Storm Drain Art project as a creative and visible way to bring public attention to the importance of keeping Richmond's storm drains free of bottles, cans, trash, grease, dog waste and other pollutants, because what goes into them may come out directly into the James River," says DPU Director, Robert Steidel; the locations were picked because they were in visible, highly pedestrian areas.

Organizers say this is the first storm drain art project for Richmond. Other cities which have successfully brought art and awareness to this issue include Baltimore and Bentonville.

Also, the public will vote via social media for the “RVA Choice” fan favorite.

Here's more from the press release:

The Storm Drain Art Project is part of RVAH2O (http://www.rvah2o.org/), a public education initiative dedicated to integrating drinking water, wastewater and stormwater under one watershed management program as a means of achieving cleaner water faster for Richmond residents. Through an online competition, five local artists will be selected to paint their designs on stormwater drains in downtown Richmond.

Stormwater is runoff from rain or snow that cannot be absorbed through surfaces like driveways, parking lots, roads, sidewalks or roofs. As water travels over these surfaces, it picks up dirt, trash, oil, grease, pesticides, fertilizers, pet waste and other pollutants, carrying them into Richmond’s waterways.

“Stormwater is our nation’s number-one source of surface water pollution,” said Robert Steidel, Director, Department of Public Utilities, City of Richmond. “The James River is Richmond’s greatest natural asset, and we hope the Storm Drain Art Project will help citizens visually understand the importance of clean water and the impact of stormwater.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Footlights

Illuminating the local stage scene.

Posted By on Sun, Apr 24, 2016 at 6:00 AM

blurb.jpg

Jesus in the House

For decades, playwrights in Richmond have been developing original works for young audiences. Heck, Swift Creek Mill presents a new holiday musical every year with its revered “Drifty the Snowman” series, and Virginia Repertory Theatre recently had a smash hit with the locally developed “Croaker: the Frog Prince Musical.”

Even so, the Heritage Ensemble Theatre’s “Sweet Chocolate and the Seven Christians” stands out as unique. The modern retelling of the Snow White story, with black characters and a faith-driven message, was written by the company’s artistic director, Margarette Joyner.

“There’s just not that many fairy tales specifically geared for African-American audiences,” Joyner says. “I think it’s important that children see stories like this on stage that have characters that look like them.”

Joyner laughs when asked why she put a religious spin on the story. “You have a female living in a house with seven men,” she says. “In a situation like that, I just thought Jesus needed to be there.”

Joyner had some fun reworking the classic character names -- Sleepy is now Dozey and Happy goes by Jubey, short for “jubilant.” Her cast won’t be peopled with little people, though. “It’s almost exactly the opposite,” she says. “All of the men in the cast are 5-feet-8 or above.”

Tackling such a classic story wasn’t particularly daunting for Joyner but coming up with music was more of a challenge. She ended up turning to Keith Wallace, a member of the Quintessential Jazz Ensemble.

“I came up with the lyrics and some simple melodies but Keith really came to our rescue,” Joyner says. “He arranged all of the music.” The show also includes some traditional hymns such as “Peace Like a River” and “A Little Talk With Jesus.”

As a fledgling theater company, Heritage Ensemble requires its principals to wear many hats: Joyner not only wrote the book and lyrics for “Sweet Chocolate,” but also designed the costumes. “I’m knee-deep in fabric right now,” she says by phone. “Our little company has our struggles but we are hoping what we do is good and we know it is necessary.”

“Sweet Chocolate and the Seven Christians” will play through April 30 on Virginia Union University’s Belgian Theatre stage.

By the way:Virginia Rep opened “Summer and Smoke” this weekend, marking director Bruce Miller’s final show as artistic director. Also, if you go to the Richmond Triangle Players’ “Body Awareness,” budget some extra time to check out the incredible images captured by local photographers Hayes and Fisk.

Running:The goddess still reigns in “Venus in Fur,” the co-production of TheatreLab and Yes, And Entertainment, while the alien Audrey invasion continues at Swift Creek Mill’s “Little Shop of Horrors.”

On deck:Cadence Theatre Company, in partnership with Virginia Rep, rolls out “4000 Miles” this weekend, starring local favorite Irene Ziegler as a feisty grandmother.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Dave's Comics To Have Toy Sale This Weekend

Store likely to continue on with a renewed focus on comics.

Posted By on Thu, Apr 21, 2016 at 4:20 PM

Dave Luebke of the Richmond institution, Dave's Comics, passed away on April 16.
  • Dave Luebke of the Richmond institution, Dave's Comics, passed away on April 16.

If there was one world Dave Luebke loved more than comics, it was toys.

In his memory, there will be a special toy liquidation this weekend being operated by VA Comicon on Saturday, April 23. The sale, which should draw large crowds, will be held at Dave's Comics store location in the Village Shopping Center at 7019 Three Chopt Rd. from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

According to a press release, the sale will feature "toys, statues, t-shirts, games, magic tricks, comics, graphic novels, sports cards, non-sports cards, posters, marbles, pokemon and much more!"

Dave's Comics is Virginia's longest running comic book store at 32 years, according to Brett Carreras, president of Comicon. The store was run by Luebke, who died on April 16, and his widow Sheryl, who has asked the Comicon to operate a huge 40 percent off toy sale this weekend.

Two weeks ago, many of Luebke's comics and other items were sold with over a thousand people attending. It was their biggest sales day ever, says his longtime friend Carreras.

"This weekend is just a toy liquidation. Really what Dave loved most were the toys," says Carreras. "Action figures, Star Wars stuff, Marvel legends, stuffed animals, games."

The good news for fans? Carreras says that it's likely Dave's Comics will remain a Richmond institution for years to come. Luebke's wife was a partner, and Marlon Cohn has remained the manager for many years.

"I think refocusing on comics might be a good trend for [the shop]," Carreras adds, noting that Luebke was the one with the greatest passion for toys. "He went bonkers on the toys. He loved learning toys, Melissa and Doug, these high quality wooden toys. And he has such a cool collection of marbles. Anything a child could reach up and get and take home."

Carreras estimates the store is now about 65 percent toys, the rest comics.

The organizers of the sale ask that you RSVP and you can join the Facebook event page here. According to the release, "lines will begin at 9:30am, and the doors will open at 10am. Once occupancy is hit, we will let one person in for every one person out, so please arrive early. Multiple staff members will be there to help.

One of Prince's Last Tweets Was A Shout-Out To Plan 9

Plus you really ought to watch the Broadway cast of "Color Purple" sing "Purple Rain" last night.

Posted By on Thu, Apr 21, 2016 at 2:40 PM

R.I.P. Prince Rogers Nelson.
  • R.I.P. Prince Rogers Nelson.

The world is mourning the loss of music icon, Prince.

Social media feeds are overloading with people trying to express their feelings. At Style, we shared a story about when Prince suddenly showed up at a local club in the late '80s.

Online at WTVR6, they saw that one of Prince's last tweets was giving props to Plan 9 Records in Richmond with a photo of a fan buying his new CD.

Breaking news anchor at MSNBC, disgraced Brian Williams chatted with former Times Dispatch arts editor Melissa Ruggieri, now an Atlanta journalist, about whether people could've "even handled Prince getting his AARP card when he turned 60."

Over at CNN, Wolf Blitzer mourned the loss of the guy who wrote "Purple Haze." Close, Wolf. So close. They both did play guitar and have songs with the color purple in the title. Now wipe that drool from your mouth.

Many music fans are noting how we've already lost David Bowie, Merle Haggard, Lemmy, and now certainly the most prodigiously gifted, Prince. And sorry to point this out, but it's only April.

Closing out the day, there was this stunning, impromptu version of "Purple Rain" performed by the Broadway cast of "The Color Purple" that is worth checking out:

In the coming weeks there will be more moving tributes and writers weighing in on the loss of the pop icon. From my own perspective, I will always love Prince's vocals the most out of his many gifts: Their soulfulness, dynamic phrasing and eternal youthfulness. He seemed to be aging in reverse.

And I'll always remember that early summer of 1984, one of the greatest in pop music history. All us kids we're singing "Let's Go Crazy" and "Purple Rain" at the Brighton Green pool, or using the heels of our palms and fingertips ("boom- tip tip - boom") to slap out the beat to "When Doves Cry" on every desktop we could find. Ever heard a whole class of kids do that in unison? It's awesome.

Between hits by the Cars and Van Halen, it was the Purple One who reigned supreme with the number one song, album, and movie. Sadly, I could never convince one of the older lifeguards to get me into a showing of the R-rated "Purple Rain" over at Midlothian Cinemas, next to Putt-Putt. She was responsible, that lifeguard.

Dammit, the important thing is I tried to get funky with my 12-year-old self. And all of us danced around that pool, joyously alive that entire summer. Thank you, Prince: If that was all you ever did, I would be grateful.

Of course, he did a lot more: There will be many releases to come from his archives, probably a few masterpieces. But now more than anything I'd love to own a top-notch recording of one of his final solo piano shows. One that allows you to hear that voice in all its sexy, teasing, soaring glory.

Let's go crazy, record people.

So just what did Prince play at his last concert a week ago at the Fox theater in Atlanta on April 14? You'll find it below.

He played two shows on his last night live (the first show even featured a cover of David Bowie's "Heroes.") At the end of his second show, his final song played live publicly was a medley: "Purple Rain" into "The Beautiful Ones" into "Diamonds and Pearls." That was the end to two concerts, three encores and a show that began with a gospel number.

Prince's late show at the Fox Theater: April 14, 2016

Setlist:

1. "When Will We Be Paid" (Staples Singers cover)

2. "The Max"

3. "Black Sweat"

4. "Girl"

5. "All Day, All Night" (Jill Jones cover)

6. "I Would Die 4 U"

7. "Baby Im A Star"

8. "The Ballad of Dorothy Parker"

9. "Eye Love You But Eye Don't Trust You Anymore"

10. "Little Red Corvette/Dirty Mind"

11. "Linus and Lucy" (Vince Guaraldi)

12. "Nothing Compares 2 U"

13. ENCORE: "Cream"

14. "Black Muse"

15. "How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore"

16. ENCORE 2: "Waiting in Vain" (Bob Marley cover)

17. "If I Was You Girlfriend"

18. "Sometimes it Snows in April"

19. "Purple Rain"/"The Beautiful Ones"/Diamonds and Pearls"

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Jackson Out, Harriet Tubman In For New $20 Bills

Changes to new bills don't start until 2020.

Posted By on Wed, Apr 20, 2016 at 2:20 PM

21currency-web2-popup.jpg

We don't have the image yet, but social media was starting to celebrate the news today that abolitionist African-American Harriet Tubman is going to replace slave-holding former President Andrew Jackson as the face of the American $20 bill.

The AP reports that the Treasury is expected to make the announcement this afternoon. But the changes won't even start until 2020, with CNN reporting the Tubman bills won't be available until 2030.

Andrew Hamilton will remain on the $10 bill, in part due to the popularity of a recent Broadway hit named after him.

From the New York Times:

"The new designs, from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, would be made public in 2020 in time for the centennial of woman’s suffrage and the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. None of the bills, including a new $5 note, would reach circulation until the next decade."

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Footlights

Illuminating the local stage scene.

Posted By on Sun, Apr 17, 2016 at 6:00 AM

Former artistic director of Henley Street Theatre, James Ricks stars in TheatreLab's "Venus in Fur."
  • Former artistic director of Henley Street Theatre, James Ricks stars in TheatreLab's "Venus in Fur."

Finding Venus

Richmond is a sticky town, and by that I don’t mean that glue gums up the sidewalks. It’s more that demographic, geographic and economic factors make the River City a hard place to leave and an easy place to come back to.

In 2013, James Ricks left his job as artistic director of Henley Street Theatre, the company that ultimately merged with Richmond Shakespeare and form Quill Theatre. He set off planning to develop his academic résumé, which he did with stints as an adjunct professor at West Virginia Wesleyan and Davis and Elkins colleges.

But he kept on coming back to Richmond. He directed “No Exit” at the Firehouse last summer and now stars in “Venus in Fur,” an evocative drama being produced by TheatreLab and Yes, And Entertainment.

“Adjunct positions have an expiration date so it has been helpful to have a base camp here in Richmond,” Ricks says. “I’m still looking for a more permanent situation.”

Ricks had another compelling reason to keep returning: an intensifying relationship with Louise Keaton, actress, playwright and founder of Ashland’s Whistle Stop Theatre, a bond that was punctuated by their wedding last weekend.

When asked if prepping a play right before such a big event was stressful, Ricks says: “It’s actually been nice to have the wedding to pull focus. I’ve been too preoccupied to get worried about acting again.”

Ricks has a long list of acting credits and a master’s degree in fine arts from the Shakespeare Theatre’s Academy of Classical Acting. But his focus on directing and teaching has kept him behind the scenes for more than four years. The role in “Venus” of a director locked in a power struggle with an actress lured him back on stage.

“Every actor has their bucket list of dream roles,” Ricks says, “but they might not align with what you get offered. There are only a few roles that, because of your type or your experience, make you feel, ‘Oh, I need to play this role.’” “Venus” may titillate notoriously conservative Richmond audiences because of its sexual subtext. The play is inspired by a novella written by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, whose name is the source of the term masochism.

But Ricks didn’t have to visit any dungeons to prepare. “The play is more complicated than that,” he says. “It’s not gratuitous; it’s more about the struggle for control. It’s also very witty and has a great payoff at the end. I’m sure Richmond is grown-up enough to handle it.” “Venus in Fur” plays through May 7.

Running: Quill’s “King Lear” closes Saturday, while Swift Creek Mill’s “Little Shop of Horrors” continues into May.

On deck: A springtime rush starts this week. First, the Broadway in Richmond tour, “Disney’s the Lion King,” roars into town Tuesday. Then, this weekend, the Richmond Triangle Players and 5th Wall unveil “Body Awareness,” Virginia Repertory Theatre lights up Tennessee Williams’ “Summer and Smoke” and the Heritage Ensemble Theatre Company re-imagines Snow White with “Sweet Chocolate and the Seven Christians.”

Thursday, April 14, 2016

What to Look For on Record Store Day '16

Posted By on Thu, Apr 14, 2016 at 12:10 AM

Justin Bieber meditates on being so young, rich and gangsta. The superstar has a release "Purpose"  for this year's Record Store Day on Saturday, April 16.
  • Justin Bieber meditates on being so young, rich and gangsta. The superstar has a release "Purpose" for this year's Record Store Day on Saturday, April 16.

Like all events, movements, and happenings in this time of social media and cultural microscopy, Record Store Day has become a contentious mixed bag.

Yes, a day celebrating the local record store is something most music lovers can easily get behind. But with all the nostalgic re-releases of major label acts, it's easy to feel the original impetus has been co-opted by the same corporate greed that mortally wounded the industry RSD sought to nurse back to health.

Case in point: one of this year’s releases is a 12” Justin Bieber picture disc.

Of course, the picture on the disc is of the Bieb, posed in his predictable wannabe gangsta style: Black-and-white photo, ol’ boy looking down in thought, mind on his money, money on his mind, fingertips touching like some gratuitously tattooed 20-something version of Mr. Burns. Is this what the music industry needs right now? Is this what anyone needs right now? Are Beliebers turntable owners? Are they even CD player owners?

Justin Bieber is low-hanging fruit. You can’t judge the entire bushel by one bad apple, right? Well, after looking over the full list of RSD releases, one can feel a bit more confident in saying that the bushel is on its way to being apple cider vinegar.

The industry’s long, cold fingers are in a rigor mortis grip, still desperately holding on to the Monkeys, the Doors, the Animals, Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac, David Bowie (too soon?), the Grateful Dead, Madonna, Metallica, A-Ha (“Take On Me” live, just what you’ve been waiting for!), the Sex Pistols, the Bee Gees, etc. Here's a full special release list to check out.

To be fair, there are some releases worth celebrating. RSD isn’t all top-40 acts attempting to hip themselves up to cash-in.

Two gems recommended by Steady Sounds and Plan 9 are the “Heartworn Highways” soundtrack 40th anniversary box set and “Scumdogs of the Universe,” the second LP from hometown heroes, Gwar.

Along with more modern acts, Blitzen Trapper, Chvrches, Man Man et al., there are many representatives of the old guard of art freaks, punks and “alternative” bands: The Residents, the Fall, Blonde Redhead, Sun Volt, Green River, Anti-Flag, Joe Strummer, Buzzcocks etc. Classic heavies Anthrax, KMFDM, and Death, keep the older aggro-heads happy, and a handful of top-40 rappers (along with a few ultra-standard “world music” and jazz releases) prevent RSD from being almost completely white. Considering the state of contemporary radio, streaming channels, and music festivals, not to mention the impossibility of pleasing everyone, the list is quite commendable.

Below is a breakdown of some of local store happenings for Record Store Day this Saturday, April 16:

Plan 9 Records (3017 W. Cary St.)

Along with great deals, the store will feature the soulful live sounds of producer Ohbliv (3 p.m.), the psychedelic rock of Lady God (4:30 p.m.), and the improvisational debut of avant rockers Zgomot (5:30 p.m.) featuring local drumming legend Pippin Barnett and Tim Harding [full disclosure: this writer also performs with the group].

Vinyl Conflict (324 S. Pine St.)

In a classy twist of punk oppositionality, this Oregon Hill shop is calling their non-RSD-related event "Customer Appreciation Day," and will have live music in their parking lot along with barbecue from Cultured Swine, a dunk tank, bouncy castle, and snow cones.

Deep Groove (317 N. Robinson)

Veteran collector and owner Jay Leavitt will have some of their select used records available, along with Sugar Shack donuts, a raffle for a Music Hall turntable provided by Audio Exchange, as well as DJ Nico Doreste spinning out front. The evening before, they have an unofficial pre-party at Triple Crossing Brewing with a free show by Generic w/Nico.

Steady Sounds (322 W. Broad)

Owner Marty Key has his pal, DC legend, musician and deejay, Ian Svenonious on the tables from 1 to 4 p.m – and the store is offering a sidewalk sale with $1 albums and free giveaways with certain purchase levels (free tote with $50 or more). Some of their other select releases will include J. Dilla, Matthew E. White, and Suicide. Other live deejays on hand include Mike Murphy (11 a.m to 1 p.m.) Adam Against of Life’s Blood fame (4 to 6 p.m.) and an unidentified Danville native from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

For record fans who need (thousands) more releases, there's also the Stand Still record show at Quality Inn and Suites at 3200 W. Broad St. which runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

From the Facebook page: "Early Bird admission @ 8:30 is $5, drops to $3 after 9:30. Dealers from out state as well as local RVA dealers. Tens of thousands of quality, curated used and new records as well as CDs, memorabilia and more. Live DJs all day and free ample parking in the lot behind the hotel."

And there are a lot more shops out there worth checking out: While you’re at it, stick your heads into BK Music (2833 Hathaway Rd), Turnstyle (102 W. Broad) and Memory Lane (8609 Sanford Dr. in Henrico), and see what offerings they have that might turn your table.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Pick: Matt Ulery Trio and Eighth Blackbird at University of Richmond, Wed. April 13

Posted By on Tue, Apr 12, 2016 at 3:10 PM

Matt Ulery will be joining the local Grammy-winning classical ensemble, eighth blackbird.
  • Matt Ulery will be joining the local Grammy-winning classical ensemble, eighth blackbird.

At once individualistic and innovative and melodically approachable, composer/bassist Matt Ulery is an ideal collaborator with the University of Richmond’s four-time, Grammy-winning, ensemble-in-residence eighth blackbird.

They’ve recorded two widely lauded albums of Ulery’s work: 2012’s “By a Little Light” and 2014’s “In the Ivory,” both on Dave Douglas’ exemplary Greenleaf label. The music blurs the boundaries between jazz and classical music, ranging from cinematic sweep to introspective intimacy, drawing on a wide range of genres and styles.

It’s beautiful stuff, but the demands of separate careers -- and the cost of assembling the additional players for the full ensemble -- make the logistics for performance difficult outside of their shared home base of Chicago. The concert on Wednesday, April 13th at the Modlin Center is a relatively rare opportunity.

As an additional incentive to head to UR on Wednesday, the annual John Cage Musicircus takes place in the building immediately following the concert.

An unpredictable Richmond tradition, the event gathers a wide cross section of Richmond musician and scatters them throughout the building for exactly one hour of simultaneous playing. It’s an opportunity to see some of RVA’s best players up close, and to experience the uncanny frisson of moving between radically different styles. Or just standing where free jazz, samba, bluegrass and Balinese gamelan run together in a multiplexed collision of perfect noise.

Matt Ulery Trio and eighth blackbird play the University of Richmond Camp Concert Hall on Wednesday, April 13 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20. The John Cage Music Circus starts immediately after the concert. Admission is free.

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