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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Virginia Film Festival to Feature Werner Herzog and Danny McBride

Update: "Loving" will premiere as opening night film.

Posted By on Tue, Sep 27, 2016 at 7:00 PM

If you're a fan of documentary film, it doesn't get much better than this guy.
  • If you're a fan of documentary film, it doesn't get much better than this guy.

Oh, hell yes. Thank you, Virginia Film Festival.

One of cinema's most provocative and challenging filmmakers, Werner Herzog -- as well as one of the great comedic actors, Virginia-native Danny McBride, are headlining this year's Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville.

The 29th annual Virginia Film Festival will take place from Nov. 3-6 at venues throughout Charlottesville. The VFF’s opening night film for this year will be announced by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe in a special event at the Executive Richmond on Thursday.

Also on the bill are Richmond-born actress Shirley MacLaine and Liv Ullman.

Tickets go on sale this Friday Sept. 30. To learn more, visit www.virginiafilmfestival.org.

Some other highlights of the fest include Thursday's opening night film, "Loving" with director Jeff Nichols and the premiere of the Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone musical, "La La Land" on Sunday night. You can see the full line-up and schedule at the fest website. Trust me, hotels are hard to find now.

Below is NSFW:

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Footlights

Firehouse's new political play, "Ubu 84" hopes to start new conversations.

Posted By on Sun, Sep 25, 2016 at 6:00 AM

Foster Solomon and Kimberly Jones Clark in Firehouse's "Ubu 84" -- a mash-up of the 19th century French play "Ubu Roi" with George Orwell's "1984." - ALFRED ORWELL
  • Alfred Orwell
  • Foster Solomon and Kimberly Jones Clark in Firehouse's "Ubu 84" -- a mash-up of the 19th century French play "Ubu Roi" with George Orwell's "1984."

As a critic, I’m always on the lookout for succinct, attention-getting descriptions, making me a fan of Chris Hardwick’s ongoing cavalcade of hilarious Donald Trump put-downs, for instance.

So I was delighted to come across a wonderfully terse little epithet when researching the French play "Ubu Roi." As reported by the Paris Review, British poet Arthur Symons called Ubu Roi an “inglorious slop-pail” of a play, which may help to explain why the show famously closed on the night of its premiere.

Local playwright and director James Ricks mashed this scandalous 19th century romp together with the text of George Orwell's 1984 to create "Ubu 84", a world premiere which opened at the Firehouse Theatre this weekend.

Unfamiliar with Ubu, I turned to Claire Boswell for insight. An adjunct professor at VCU and Randolph-Macon, Boswell is a fan of the play and, with a Master in Fine Arts in Fiction Writing from VCU, she has the academic cred to explain why. “The play began as a schoolboy’s joke, Les Polonais, written by friends of playwright Alfred Jarry and packed full of senseless violence, cursing and potty-humor,” she explains. “Jarry reworked it into a piece of social satire.”

“It parodies Shakespearean tragedies; the title is a reference to Oedipus Rex -- Oedipe Roi, en francais,” she continues. “Jarry was ahead of his time in 1896. With [Ubu’s] blatant attempts to confuse, shock and offend, he anticipates later movements like theater of the absurd.”

It was these characteristics that made Ricks think it would be perfect to pair with Orwell’s dystopian vision to provide commentary on the contemporary political world. “'Ubu 84' starts out based in the world of '1984,' very oppressive with an authoritative regime in control,” says Ricks. “The way we bring in 'Ubu' with its all of its buffoonery, it embodies the opposite of Orwell’s world.”

“But they’re actually two sides of the same coin,” he says. “They’re both representations of how power corrupts.”

Ricks says the genesis of "Ubu 84" was in conversation with Firehouse artistic director Joel Bassin. They both wanted to produce a political play but were frustrated with the options. “The titles we were suggesting, Joel said they were based in old conversations,” says Ricks. “We wanted to start a new conversation.”

Ricks hopes people particularly consider one of "1984"’s central questions: what is truth? “Orwell was prophetic about the destruction of language,” he says. “And how truth is regularly being distorted to suit a political agenda.”

As for how "Ubu Roi" bolsters "1984"’s themes, Boswell says it’s a perfect fit. “When I first read it in college, comparisons were made to 'South Park,'” she says. “Something seemingly childish and offensive that carries deeper messages about very adult topics.”

"Ubu 84" runs through Oct. 22. Look for more from Boswell as she joins Style Weekly this week as a regular theater reviewer.

Running: Both Quill’s “Dracula” and 5th Wall’s “Rapture, Blister, Burn” run for two more weekends, while there’s almost a full month left in the run of “Almost, Maine” at Swift Creek Mill, closing Oct. 22.

On Deck: It’s still a month until Halloween but get ready for the lavender scare, the witch hunt for homosexuals in the federal government during the 1950s, providing the context for Richmond Triangle Players’ “Perfect Arrangement,” opening Sept. 29.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Interview: Pylon's Vanessa Briscoe Hay

Legendary Athens frontwoman pays tribute to her trailblazing band.

Posted By on Tue, Sep 20, 2016 at 12:05 PM

The original Athens, Ga. band, Pylon. A new double-live album has been released featuring a show from 1983.
  • The original Athens, Ga. band, Pylon. A new double-live album has been released featuring a show from 1983.

What people used to call the “college rock” genre back in the '80s didn’t start with those great early R.E.M. albums. You know, the ones before Michael Stipe and crew started annunciating, graduating to global fame and increasingly adventurous facial hair.

A whole lot more shaking was going on in the small college town of Athens, Ga. during that same period. There were so many unique bands down there - including Stipe’s personal favorite, Pylon – it makes you wonder if someone was tampering with the water fountains. Or maybe the record stores.

Pylon was a southern band, but not one you would associate with American rock by any stretch. Their songs were taut, bass-heavy, angular affairs played in steamy clubs filled with pogoing fans; the group was inspired by fellow townies, the B-52s, as well as British post-punk such as Gang of Four, who they later toured alongside.

“Taking the most common pop line-up, bass-drums-vocal-guitar, and turning it on its head, they managed to create a sound and songs that were distinctly theirs and incapable of being mimicked or copied," Stipe wrote in the liner notes to a reissue of the band’s seminal 1980 debut, “Gyrate." "Believe me, because I tried.”

And they were not named after the Faulkner novel, I've learned.

“I don't know where that started . . . We were artists and the idea of having a visual element to the name appealed to us," says lead singer Vanessa Briscoe Hay. "At first we were going to call ourselves diagonal, but use the symbol and not the word. Pylon probably had more in common with bands from Manchester and Leeds at the time.”

After releasing two classic albums, Pylon broke up early in 1983 when they said things stopped being fun. They regrouped a couple times before the death of original guitarist Randy Bewley, who helped forge their sound with his alternate tunings.

“Pylon was the four original members: Randy Bewley, Michael Lachowski, Curtis Crowe and me,” says Briscoe Hay. “When he died, that was the end of Pylon. None of us were considered replaceable. Randy was an amazing guitarist and not really like anyone else. We miss him tremendously.”

If you missed any version of the band, you’ll get a unique chance this week (thanks to Steady Sounds) to hear their music when Pylon Reenactment Society, featuring Briscoe Hay, shares a bill with Denver's Dressy Bessy and locals Positive No at Strange Matter on Wednesday. Other band members in PRS include Athens musicians Jason NeSmith and Kay Stanton from Casper & the Cookies and Joe Rowe from the Glands.

Richmond's Armistead Wellford, bassist and multi-instrumentalist with the Athens band, Love Tractor, was a card-carrying fan from their musical heyday together. Lately, he says he put together a version of Love Tractor called We Love Tractor that played with PRS in Atlanta and Athens at the end of July.

"They were awesome gigs and we shared drummers --Joe Rowe from the Glands, absolutely fabulous drummer. PRS has the same explosive energy that Pylon had in 1980-83," Wellford recalls. "When I tell people about the show this Wednesday, I just call them Pylon 'cause it will be like seeing Pylon dynamic wise, but now there's two girls in the band instead of just Vanessa. I predict a great show, especially for people that never had the chance to see Pylon- it's timeless."

Style caught up with Briscoe Hay by e-mail yesterday for a few last-minute questions before the show.

Style Weekly: So how are the shows going so far?

Briscoe Hay: They have been going really well. It is just amazing the response that we have received so far. People have very fond memories of Pylon. We have been steadily adding songs to our setlist from the first two albums by Pylon since we first performed for 15 minutes at Art Rocks Athens Foundation event a little more than two years ago. We have a keyboardist, but he won't be able to make it for this short tour.

Has doing this tribute group surprised you or given you any insight or greater appreciation for Pylon that you may have missed back in the day?

It has made me think about the creative process and how unusual and different it is for different people. Pylon worked differently, but we were not trained musicians. I think it is more important to have the spirit of Pylon than play note perfect. The people that I am working with now are exceptional musicians and they have the greatest respect for the music that Pylon created. Back in the day, I had the insight even at that time, that some nights when we were performing live, we were greater that the sum of our parts. I felt lucky then and I do now to have the opportunity to play this music.

If you had to drop it in a nutshell, what made Athens special back then, and how would you say it’s changed today?

There was a real connection between the art and music scene. I think that still exists, but it is maybe skewed by the sheer number of bands who only view themselves as musicians. It was a slower paced place and there weren't as many clubs. We only had a few back then. It was more of a house party scene. Athens was a smaller community. But, I have visited many places across the US and it's still one of my favorite places anywhere and it's my home.

Pylon Reenactment Society cranks up the Victrola.
  • Pylon Reenactment Society cranks up the Victrola.

If you could curate one night of live music by any of your friends – Athens or elsewhere – who would you book?

If I could curate it, I would have R.E.M., the B-52's, Love Tractor, the Side Effects, Oh-OK, Limbo District, Pylon, Method Actors play in a small steamy club with about 100 people there. Everyone would be dancing!

Do you recall Pylon playing Richmond back in the day? Or do you have any Richmond memories or associations?

I don't recall ever having performed in Richmond before with Pylon. My recording project Supercluster did play in Richmond back in 2009. When we were here Armistead Wellford [of Love Tractor] took us on a short tour of downtown. I thought that it was really cool.

Speaking of Mr. Wellford, he is showing up for a special appearance on Wed. What is your fondest memory of his band Love Tractor?

Love Tractor were and are one of my favorite bands ever. Armistead has always been a true gentleman and is a really fun guy. Love Tractor recently played a reunion show at the Georgia Theatre in Athens, GA for Athens Popfest and it was like no time had passed whatsoever. I know that they are reissuing their catalogue and if you have a chance to see them you should. It was an amazing show.

Did adding a keyboard in PRS fundamentally change the Pylon sound in the live setting? Have you guys written anything new for this group or would you like to?

Not really, the keys play parts that always existed on the studio albums. We haven't written anything new because of time constraints. We do perform a Supercluster song "Peace Disco Song" which is the most Pylon-like of that material. I would like to write some more material. We'll see!

Watching the documentary “Athens, Ga. Inside/Out” – it sounds so unusual to hear you guys say that you just wanted to have fun and, after opening some shows for U2, you decided it wasn’t fun anymore and quit . . . Today, many bands seem focused on making a career, first and foremost . . . the whole idea of college rock and indie music is much different than it was, more corporatized. But I can’t think of many current college bands who create their own sound/or manage to be as vibrant and alive as you guys were. Do you still find many younger groups exciting today?

I have heard several younger groups in my hometown who are doing amazing things, like Tunabunny and Monsoon. My older daughter had a cool short-lived band called Green Thrift Grocery. I think that if you are willing to take the risk of just being yourself and playing what you want to play and bring your own energy to it, anyone of any age, background can make something fresh and exciting. There is no formula and no path other than the one you make for yourself . . . We were a product of those particular times and those particular people and in that particular place.

I’m sure you’ve had musicians thank you for inspiring them . . . What did you think of the Riot Grrrl movement and associated bands that are still reverberating today (that was my time in college, early 90s, bands like Bikini Kill, Nation of Ulysses, and Teenbeat artists would perform at our house parties in Harrisonburg, Va.) Do you consider yourself a feminist?

I consider myself a humanist first and that is not a cop out. Ultimately, isn't that where we want to be? No labels, everyone being respected for who they truly are and their talents regardless of their outer appearance. I thought by now, that we would be past so many things. When I was young, I really thought that the future would be like the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. That said, I have two daughters and the older one subscribed to Riot Grrrl magazine and I love that whole movement. I took Hana to see Sleater-Kinney at the 40 Watt and I would have to say on that night and on that stage, they were the best band in America. You were very lucky to see Bikini Kill, Nation of Ulyssess and the Teenbeat artists.

If Pylon has one song you’re most known for, I guess that would be “Crazy.” Great song – what are your memories of its genesis? What did you think when you first heard R.E.M.’s cover of it?

I was going through a difficult time personally when the band created the music. I wrote the lyrics as sort of a self-help guide. Michael Stipe was there the night when we first performed it and complimented us on the song. It was a major surprise after we had broken up the first time, all the wonderful props and support that they were giving us. R.E.M. were tremendous cheerleaders, not only for us, but for other bands like Mission of Burma. They asked for the lyrics, but by the time I got those to them, they had already recorded it. I guess they aren't that hard to figure out. I got a copy of the single “Driver 8” and “Crazy” was the b-side. It was so neat to hear another band that I liked so much cover our bands song.

Have you guys had any strange commercial offers for that song or "Stop It"? The latter is so visceral, a classic gritty rock vocal that feels instantly familiar, but few people can probably place it.

Yes, actually we agreed for it to be used for background music in the Showtime series “Billions.” Someone has some great music taste! Look at the other bands -- This is the episode: Music from "Billions S1E07." No one is interested in "Stop It," so far. We take these things on a case-by-case basis.

What else is going on in your life? Any future plans that fans should be on the look out for?

Right now, I don't have any current plans other than this tour and another in December with PRS. I have been busy for the last year helping with the release of Pylon Live. It is a double record set of a complete Pylon performance from the first time that we broke up. December 1, 1983. It has been a long saga, but it is finally here and we are all very happy with it. Henry Owings from Chunklet, Michael Lachowski who did all the graphics and Derek Almstead who worked on the tape restoration/mixing have all been an absolute delight to work with.

Steady Sounds presents Pylon Reenactment Society, Dressy Bessy, and Positive No on Wednesday, Sept. 21 at Strange Matter. 8 p.m. doors. $10 cover.

Preview: Roxane Gay at University of Richmond

Writer on Gender, Race and Vocal Feminist Comes to UR.

Posted By on Tue, Sep 20, 2016 at 1:00 AM

Rising feminist voice Roxane Gay will talk body politics on Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. in the Alice Haynes Room in Tyler Haynes Commons.
  • Rising feminist voice Roxane Gay will talk body politics on Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. in the Alice Haynes Room in Tyler Haynes Commons.

Body politics indeed.

On Sept. 21 feminist writer Roxane Gay comes to the same room at the University of Richmond that was filled with frustrated members of the campus community just a few weeks prior.

Gay, an associate professor of English at Purdue University, has been an outspoken advocate on women’s issues, racism and gender. And her talk is called “Body Politics,” a good description of the recent controversy that has led to calls for some deans’ resignations.

The annual “It Ends Now” event on Sept. 8 included two hours of questions about a students’ allegation that the college botched the investigation of her rape, and that her admitted rapist, an athlete, remains on campus.

Gay is the first in a speaker series this academic year put on by the women, gender and sexuality studies department. She is a versatile writer of novels, short stories, essays, memoir, as well as a prominent presence on social media. She’s a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times.

Her essay collection, “Bad Feminist,” was a bestseller, touching on sexism, racism and gender issues. She uses popular culture and her own personal experiences to discuss rape culture, among other topics.

“The students are super enthusiastic about her,” says Brian Henry, professor of English and creative writing, who organized the speaker series this year. “‘Bad Feminist’ is one of those books students are reading without professors telling them to.”

Henry says he expects discussion about the recent controversy. “We notified her of all the horrible things that happened at the university last week because she will certainly get some questions about that,” he says. “The faculty is not happy with whole situation at all, at least those I’ve talked to.”

The event was initially timed around the release of Gay’s forthcoming memoir, “Hunger,” but that release was delayed. “I’m guessing it’s going to be a mix of giving a talk and reading, a combination of self-image, body image and probably sexual assault and the university’s responsibility,” says Henry. “Her booking agent says she never does anything twice, which is amazing, so it’s kind of hard to predict.”

Gay has a number of projects coming out in the next year. Her novel, “Untamed State,” is being turned into a movie, a “Black Panther” comic book will be out soon, and two books are forthcoming.

Roxane Gay will be at the Alice Haynes Room of Tyler Haynes Commons at the University of Richmond on Wednesday, September 21 at 7 p.m.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Footlights

Two local productions offer a different take on how love hurts.

Posted By on Sun, Sep 18, 2016 at 6:00 AM

Axle Burtness in the title role of "Dracula" at Quill. - CHRIS SMITH
  • Chris Smith
  • Axle Burtness in the title role of "Dracula" at Quill.

The course of love rarely runs smoothly. You might ask a girlfriend to marry you and have to wait more than 10 years for the answer. Or a mysterious stranger might turn your fiancé into a vampire.

Such are the scenarios posed by two stage productions that opened this weekend. The quirky, comedic “Almost, Maine” debuted at Swift Creek Mill in a Richmond premiere and Quill unveiled the stage adaptation of “Dracula” on the Gottwald stage at the Dominion Arts Center (also known as CenterStage). While one is a show you've likely never heard of and one is a story almost everyone knows, both productions explore different ways love can go awry.

To be fair, “Almost, Maine” also presents some of the ways love can go right. “It’s a mix of happy, funny, sad, and genuinely sweet moments,” explains Matt Hackman, one of the stars of the show. Instead of just telling one story, the play presents eight different vignettes that all take place at nine o’clock on the same night in a small town, each scene featuring different characters. “Some don't end in the happiest fashion,” says Hackman. “Others you may end up asking, ‘where will they go now?’”

Adding spice to the experience for Hackman: one of his co-stars is his wife, Louise Mason. The couple has worked in many shows in the past, co-starring in “The Little Lion” last season at the Mill, for instance. “As many shows as we’ve done, we haven’t shared much stage time,” says Hackman. “In ‘Lion,’ we never spoke to each other.”

That’s not the case in “Almost, Maine,” as they are play romantic partners in a few of the vignettes, including the marriage proposal with the extended gap between offer and answer. “It’s a scene where, at the end, some people will think ‘oh that’s sad,’ while others will go ‘that’s terrible!’” says Hackman.

“Dracula” is another story that garners a variety of reactions, a reality director Daniel Moore has been distinctly aware of. “The novel is fairly melodramatic and today we are an ironic people not predisposed to melodrama,” Moore says.

“While it’s a horrifying story, the question is ‘how do we make it scary?’” he continues. “I focused on the fear of being controlled by forces that can’t be controlled.” He says the love stories are also key. “You have two couples tossed into an extreme scenario,” Moore says. “What does that do to their relationships?”

Moore thinks his staging will have a lot of appeal for a modern audience. “The Gottwald is a contemporary, open space where I can break down the wall between the audience and the actors,” he says. “And there will be some spectacular special effects.” He's also cast a woman, Melissa Johnston Price, in the typically male role of vampire-hunter Van Helsing.

A director for nearly 40 years, Moore relishes bringing challenging stories to the stage. “I love the process of tearing a script down, finding the problems and figuring out ‘how do I bring this to life?’” he says. That may be an ironic sentiment when it comes to “Dracula,” but one that should result in an exciting stage experience.

Running: “Dracula” runs until Oct. 8, “Almost, Maine” until Oct. 22. 5th Wall’s “Rapture, Blister, Burn” continues to smolder on the HATTheatre stage until Oct. 8.

On Deck: The Firehouse debuts world premiere “UBU 84” on Sept. 24, a mash-up of the incendiary texts of “UBU ROI” and “1984.”

Friday, September 16, 2016

New York Filmmaker In Talks To Release Doc About Powhatan Prison Band

Posted By on Fri, Sep 16, 2016 at 3:25 PM

The soul group Edge of Daybreak made some noise last year with the reissue of their "Eyes of Love," an album recorded in Powhatan jail. - CORNELIUS CADE
  • Cornelius Cade
  • The soul group Edge of Daybreak made some noise last year with the reissue of their "Eyes of Love," an album recorded in Powhatan jail.

Local music fans may remember the story from a year ago about a rare 1979 soul album recorded in a Powhatan jail by a group called Edge of Daybreak.

Reissued by respected Chicago archival label, Numero Group, “Eyes of Love” was praised by critics as a lost soul classic and its inspirational story received widespread local and national coverage.

Now the richly detailed story of redemption has become a documentary short film, tentatively titled "Edge of Daybreak," with further room to expand.

The short was directed by New York-based filmmaker, producer and writer, Alix Lambert, best known for her feature doc, “The Mark of Cain” about the Russian prison system, which was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award. She also co-directed “Bayou Blue” about a serial killer in Southeast Louisiana and made a feature “Mentor” set in a Ohio school with a high number of teen suicides.

Currently, Lambert is in negotiations and couldn't say where we’ll be able to watch the film, but she’ll let us know. Style caught up with her briefly today by phone to learn more:

[*Below, hit play and imagine producing something this smooth -- all on first takes -- with guards standing over you. The album is full of such minor miracles]

Style Weekly: How did you first hear about this story?

I heard about it through a friend who works in the music industry. I was talking to a lot of people about cassette tapes in prison - and why they continue to be in prison - for a podcast I was producing. I usually have more stories and material than I need for a podcast. And I felt like this story was better served as a film.

So what can you tell us about your version?

It’s an approximately 13-minute film that focuses on Jon Kirby of Numero Group and [band founder] James Carrington. You do hear voices of the other band members, some from the release party [at Steady Sounds].

If you know the story, you know the interesting full-circle thing. Jon was a customer of James [at his music store], who had never said anything about the album for years. When Jon found out, James didn’t really want to re-release it because it was a throwback to a part of his life that he didn’t want to remember [Carrington felt he was targeted by law officials in Farmville because he was dating a white woman in the early 1970s].

James had been getting albums sent to him in prison from Milton Hogue [owner of Bohannon’s Records and Tapes]. When he got out of prison he got a work release job there and ultimately bought that location and changed it to Carrington’s. And Jon has since had requests from inmates for this album as well. So there’s something about the full circle of this story – apart from the fact the album is incredibly beautiful and it’s just amazing it could be made under those circumstances.

Is this a pitch for a longer documentary about the subject?

I think the short film is a piece in and of itself. I’m always open to expanding shorter stories – there are certainly more characters. But I wanted to make it short because I wanted to get it out now, since the album is fairly recent. I’m never against expanding.

Definitely what you see in “Mark of Cain” is that I’m interested in being able to find something that tells a bigger story. This album offers a way into a larger story of the importance of say, creativity in a situation where you’re incarcerated -- or to be able to have some expression in that circumstance.

So are those kinds of music programs in prison rare today?

I’m not an expert on the US prison system. He [James] did get his instruments in there and organize rehearsals. But the production was quite challenging. They weren’t given day releases, the guards were standing there and they had five hours to record the entire album [it was all first takes]. On one hand, they were allowed to play music and that was important, but I don’t know if it was a rehabilitative program per se.

It certainly seems like a story that could be an interesting full-length film following each of the band members lives, “Rashoman”-style, and how they changed since then.

Oh definitely it could be– the issue for me is always financing. And I have other full-length projects in production. I’m open to that idea. One band member has passed away but the other members are all alive and would participate. But at the moment I’m offering this as a complete short – any future conversation past that would have to involve somebody stepping up and supporting a longer version . . .

There are a lot of different organizations offering short docs online that range from news reportage to more auteur-driven pieces. I did a series called “Crime: The Animated series”– that went up on MOCAtv – that’s a good example of being able to reach a broader audience with shorter subject matter. Not everybody will go to a documentary in the theater or buy one online. I really like these new formats that reach a lot of people, who can see it in a different way.

I guess maybe Numero could also release it with a deluxe future version of the CD?

Exactly. It's exiting to me that there are all these opportunities for short-form film that there haven’t been in the past.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Bijou To Screen Documentary On Ramones Manager

Posted By on Tue, Sep 13, 2016 at 3:20 PM

Andy Warhol, Lou Reed and Danny Fields in a still from "Danny Says."
  • Andy Warhol, Lou Reed and Danny Fields in a still from "Danny Says."

The Bijou Film Center is presenting the documentary "Danny Says" in its screening room at 304 E. Broad St. on Saturday, Sept. 24. The film follows the life of Danny Fields, a major pop culture figure associated with the Ramones, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed and many others.

The screening takes place on the first national Art House Theater Day, which the Bijou will be celebrating with cinemas coast-to-coast, according to a press release. “Danny Says” will play one day only, a week before its national theatrical release. Admission: $9 at the door. No advance tickets. Show times: 5 p.m., 7:25 p.m., 9:45 p.m.

Here's the trailer:

From the press release:

“Danny Says” (2016): Color. 104 minutes. Directed by Brendan Toller. Cast: Danny Fields, Iggy Pop, the Ramones, MC 5, Alice Cooper, Judy Collins, Andy Warhol, Nico, Jann Wenner and more.

Note: Toller's cleverly edited film is about the rock 'n' roll life of Danny Fields, who crossed paths with legendary pop culture characters and managed some edgy, well known acts. The shaping role Fields played in the development of punk rock is fascinating. This doc should win awards. (Trailer)

More Background: For more information pertaining to the Bijou Film Center please go to The Bijou's website, The Bijou's Facebook page and its Bijou Backlight blogzine.

Artist Noah Scalin Chats About His New VCU Business Appointment

Posted By on Tue, Sep 13, 2016 at 9:00 AM

A portrait of legendary Richmonder Mr. Bojangles made with pennies by artist Noah Scalin. - NOAH SCALIN
  • Noah Scalin
  • A portrait of legendary Richmonder Mr. Bojangles made with pennies by artist Noah Scalin.

A few weeks ago, it was announced that the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business will host its first ever artist-in-residence during the upcoming 2016­–2017 academic year. That artist is celebrated local Noah Scalin, whom you may remember from his Skull-a-Day project and book, published by Chop Suey.

Scalin's duties will include helping the school institute its new strategic plan, which aims to "drive the future of business through the power of creativity." To that end, he'll be conducting creative-thinking seminars as well as guest lecturing and creating large-scale installations with students; there will also be a 30-day Creative Sprint challenge in October and during the spring semester which he'll have details on soon, he says.

Scalin told Style that he was extremely honored to be selected and he believes it was a forward-thinking move by the school.

"It’s a recognition that fostering creative business cultures leads to more consistent innovations," he says. "This isn’t about adding some creative frosting on a finished cake, this is about recognizing that creativity is an ingredient that needs to be baked into all businesses if they’re to be successful in the 21st century."

Scalin's appointment is the result of art and innovation consulting he's been doing over the last six years with Fortune 500 companies.

"This work is built directly on the lessons I learned from my own yearlong Skull-A-Day creativity practice," he explains. "The process of reigniting my own creative fires helped me discover that creative is a practice. And not only is creativity something that you can can develop over time, but it’s something anyone can practice and benefit from."

Scalin notes that what he heard most consistently from his corporate clients was that there was a real need for a more creative workforce -- right now.

"It doesn’t matter the job title, every single employee is being required to think differently about the way they get their job done to stay competitive in today’s volatile business world," he says.

"The sad thing is, I’m frequently talking to a room of extremely talented and successful people who say things like, 'I don’t have a creative bone in my body.' And they’re being asked to pivot the way they think and act and they just don’t have the tools to do it. What’s great is that artists are some of the most consistent innovators in the world and the tools and practices we’ve developed are actually incredibly valuable in this business setting as well. The most progressive businesses are recognizing this and understand why they need artist consultants."

The VCU School of Business touts that it ranks in the top 5 percent of business schools worldwide due to its AACSB International-accreditation.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Footlights

5th Wall's "Rapture, Blister, Burn" Features a Familiar Face.

Posted By on Sun, Sep 11, 2016 at 6:00 AM

Aiden Orr plays Avery, and Sara Heifetz as Gwen, and Linda Beringer as Alice in 5th Wall Theatre's 2016 - 2017 Season opening production "Rapture, Blister, Burn." - DANNY HOLCOMB
  • Danny Holcomb
  • Aiden Orr plays Avery, and Sara Heifetz as Gwen, and Linda Beringer as Alice in 5th Wall Theatre's 2016 - 2017 Season opening production "Rapture, Blister, Burn."

Much like teachers, many theater pros spend the last weeks of summer preparing for the rush of activity that kicks off after Labor Day. Six productions will open in town before September ends, three of them next weekend, and Footlights is back to offer stories from backstage, topical tidbits, and insider insight into what's new and notable on local stages.

Blasting out of the gate is 5th Wall Theatre Company, returning to the HATTheatre stage in the west end where it produced the searing modern war story "The Human Terrain" back in spring of 2015. The battles in its latest production, “Rapture, Blister, Burn,” will also be explosive as two women rekindle a romantic rivalry in the midst of broader arguments about their life choices. The New York Times called a 2012 off-Broadway production of the play “intensely smart” and “immensely funny” and director Carol Piersol has assembled a great cast, including Sarah Heifetz who won a Richmond Theatre Critics Circle award for “Terrain.”

Nicely situated as the only man in a cast full of strong women is Dean Knight, an actor who will prompt regular theater-goers to wonder, “Hey, wasn't he that guy in that show…?” And whatever they come up with, they’re likely to be right as Knight has worked almost constantly since he debuted in Sycamore Rouge’s "Lee’s Miserables" back in 2006. The impressive array of characters he’s played includes the lovesick Trigorin in Henley Street Theatre's "The Seagull," the spooky Boo Radley in Virginia Rep's "To Kill A Mockingbird," and the hard-assed but thoughtful Captain Alford in "Human Terrain."

“I like mid-sized character roles,” says Knight. “I wouldn’t want to be someone like Cary Grant who is always playing a leading man type. That’s harder than it looks but still, I prefer to be someone like Robert Duvall. I want to be different people.”

Ironically, Knight never planned to be an actor. Born and raised in Richmond, he was in a middle school drama club but ultimately eschewed acting for writing and earned a degree in English at New York University. After brief sojourns to England and Korea, he returned home in his late 20s realizing he wasn’t going to be William Faulkner. With a propensity for voices and accents, he started going to plays with an analyst’s eye. “I was trying to determine if acting was something I could actually do,” Knight remembers. He started auditioning and was cast in the 2nd show he tried out for.

Knight proudly recalls landing roles in the first five shows produced by Henley Street, one of the precursor companies to today’s Quill. “I still consider myself a literary person and enjoy rich theatrical language,” he says. “I loved that Henley Street was doing shows like ‘The Spanish Tragedy,’ a show well-known in literary circles but not so much in the theater world.”

In “Rapture,” Knight says he’s playing a character very much like himself: “I’m 42 now and have more perspective on the roads not taken.” He demurs on suggestions that being the object of two women’s affections isn’t such a bad thing. “It doesn’t go so well,” he says. “It’s a reminder that there may only be so far you can stray from a path.”

On Deck: “Rapture, Blister, Burn” opens Thursday, Sept. 15 and runs through Oct. 8. It shares its opening night with Quill’s “Dracula,” reanimating at the Dominion Arts Center (also known as CenterStage) until Oct. 8, and with Swift Creek Mill’s “Almost, Maine,” which will run until Oct. 22.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Hopscotch Bands Stopping By Steady Sounds

Several of Philly's finest will be performing in-stores this weekend.

Posted By on Fri, Sep 9, 2016 at 4:20 PM

Philly's Watery Love is gonna rain down on Steady Sounds on Saturday, Sept. 10.
  • Philly's Watery Love is gonna rain down on Steady Sounds on Saturday, Sept. 10.

If you couldn't make it to Hopscotch this weekend in Raleigh, fear not.

Richmond may not have Fall Line Fest anymore, but we've still got Steady Sounds booking great in-stores. To wit: Several cool Philly bands will be performing there this weekend, starting with Amanda X today, Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. with Richmond's own Bad Magic.

On Saturday, Philly's Watery Love will be cruising through town on their way back from Hopscotch for a live in-store at Steady Sounds from 6 to 7 p.m. This is the band Vice called "the ultimate party band for the true blue anti-social misfit."

The group features drummer Ben Leaphart (Birds of Maya, Purling Hiss) and I heard via message from the man himself, guitarist Michael Polizze, who will be traveling with them; whether this means the Hiss frontman and songwriter will perform, I don't know. He said he was at the 3 Lobed Day party, which looks like a great line-up if you're near Raleigh.

Speaking of those guys: I can say without hesitation that the new Purling Hiss album, "High Bias," slated to drop on Oct. 14 via Drag City, is the best rock album I've heard all year. It's full of Polizze's ripping guitar and melodic, post-Dino Jr. tune-age. There's not a bad track on that record and the final, anthemic 11-minute plus shredder, "Everybody in the USA" might capture the zeitgeist better than anyone with the lyric: "Save me, I'm afraid of . . . everybody in the USA!!!" Don't sleep on that one, folks.

As Steady Sounds owner Marty Key noted earlier today: "Philly has such a great scene, people are making music because they're into it, not because they're trying to be like any other scene, or 'make it big.'" Of course, Mister Marty has been around the block and he's right, you should be true to yourself and be happy with your sound before anything else. As they used to say on Saturday morning cartoons, that's one to grow on.

(Oh, and if you're only in it for the lavish paydays and rock lifestyle, might I suggest doing what my old college buddy Kembrew did: Sell your soul in an empty jar on Ebay. They're enough freaks out there, you can do pretty good.)

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