Sunday, October 30, 2016


Boomie Pederson on the challenge of drawing audiences.

Posted By on Sun, Oct 30, 2016 at 6:00 AM

TheatreLab's "Mother Courage" opened this weekend.
  • TheatreLab's "Mother Courage" opened this weekend.

The challenge of getting Richmonders to come out to locally produced stage productions is befuddling. Attendance for traveling shows like “Wicked” or “Book of Mormon” can number into the tens of thousands, while some local companies struggle to hit a single thousand for high-quality productions featuring talented professionals.

But if it’s a challenge here, it’s an epic battle in Charlottesville. For details, you can ask Boomie Pedersen, currently starring in Bertold Brecht’s “Mother Courage and her Children” that opened this weekend at TheatreLab. Pedersen is the founding artistic director of the Crozet-based Hamner Theatre, named in honor of Virginia author and creator of “The Waltons” TV show, Earl Hamner.

When I ask Pedersen about the current status of the company, she says, “Well, that’s a complicated question.” Founded in 2005, the Hamner operated out of the Rockfish Valley Community Center in Nelson County and became known for its annual production of Hamner’s “The Homecoming.” Pedersen and her co-founder Peter Coy also championed the development of original work, specifically through the Virginia Playwrights Initiative.

But drawing both audiences and community support was a constant struggle. “We were looking to people who were regulars at Wintergreen resort to be patrons and sponsors,” says Pedersen. “But we found out that they really didn’t give a damn about theater.”

In 2012, the company had to leave the Community Center and began touring local wineries and parks with Shakespeare productions. Last year, Pedersen decided to enroll at TheatreVCU where she is now an MFA candidate in Pedagogy and Performance and also teaches classes. “People still send me scripts,” she says. “After I complete graduate school, I hope to get the company started back up again.”

Until then, she’s living with one foot in Charlottesville and one in Richmond. Pedersen first appeared here in Richmond Triangle Players’ 2015 production of “Angels in America” and relishes the chance to play Brecht’s Mother Courage, which she calls “a real gift to an actor. I know it’s cliché but it really is an amazing role.” Set during Europe’s Thirty Years’ War from 1618-1648, the play follows Pedersen’s character as she tries to profit from the war but ends up endangering her children in the process. “She’s an epic character that’s not really just a human being,” Pedersen says. “It’s a part with a lot to say and it’s been interesting to discover how much of the play is applicable to today.”

She’s also the only actor in the cast older than 50, an interesting twist since her MFA thesis involves aging and art. “I call it my ‘grumpy old men doing Shakespeare’ project,” Pedersen says. “I’m going to stage ‘Comedy of Errors’ with older men playing all of the parts. I want to look at ageism but also at how people find themselves as they get older.”

With her thesis as well as with “Mother Courage,” she hopes the work gets audiences asking questions: “If theater can’t start a conversation, all is lost.”

“Mother Courage and her Children” runs through Nov. 12.

By the Way: Savannah Hatcher, who plays Mother Courage’s mute daughter, Kattrin, is making her professional theater debut in the show. She owns her own music studio and plays original music she wrote throughout the production.

Running: Cadence’s “John” haunts Virginia Rep’s Theatre Gym stage through Nov. 12.

On Deck: Continuing the focus on political history among local companies, Quill opens the Sondheim musical, “Assassins,” on Nov. 4.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Preview: Silent/Music Revival 10th Anniversary at Gallery5

Long-running local film series will screen "Vampyr" on Oct. 30.

Posted By on Wed, Oct 26, 2016 at 11:30 AM

A still from the 1932 film, "Vampyr" by Carl Theodor Dreyer.
  • A still from the 1932 film, "Vampyr" by Carl Theodor Dreyer.

It’s Halloween 2008 and Rumors Boutique is crammed with people watching silent movie “The Tell Tale Heart,” while down tempo screamo band, the Blue Letter, improvises an ear-bleeding soundtrack.

Welcome to the early years of the Silent/Music Revival.

Organizer Jameson Price started the friends-only event two years earlier with little more than a passion for silent films. Each month, he’d invite a friend to bring a record to his apartment as accompaniment to a surprise 8 mm film played on a vintage film projector.

Yes, it was a different world in 2006.

Before long, the event moved to Nonesuch, a funky shop on Grace Street now paved over by VCU, and he’d ask DJ friends such as Nathan Joyce, Mike Murphy and Devonne Harris to spin records to his choice of silent films. The first band he asked to play live there was local chamber pop legends, Mermaid Skeletons.

When the crowds outgrew Nonesuch, he moved it around the corner to Rumors Boutique where Antlers played, an ambient noise band whose sound necessitated Price handing out wads of toilet paper as makeshift earplugs. The music drew crowds so large people lined the sidewalk along Grace Street to watch and listen while the film played inside.

At one of the Rumors shows, he met someone connected to Firehouse Theater and soon the event had moved again, drawing a more diverse crowd of up to 300 people for the combination of an obscure silent movie with an improvised soundtrack by a band with no knowledge of what film they’d be accompanying.

“I had a decent eye for what film goes with what band,” Price admits of his unique preoccupation with silent film. “I’ll sit at home listening to a band over and over and I might go through as many as a dozen films before I see the best choice for the music. You’ve got to pace the bands to the music because it’s disruptive when the band is too slow or fast.”

Eventually the Silent/Music Revival found a permanent and supportive home at Gallery 5, where it remains today with a far more multi-generational audience that occasionally includes children. “As we’ve grown, the scene has gotten more representative of a larger demographic of cultural identity. The scene feels a lot more inclusive today than it used to.”

Now that a decade has passed and the event’s no longer monthly due to Price’s touring schedule with his band Lobo Marino, he’s celebrating with two Silent/Music Revival anniversary events, one Oct. 30 and another Dec. 18.

Showing this week is 1932 French horror film “Vampyr” - technically not silent, though most plot points are conveyed through title cards not dialog - with accompaniment by reunited noise rock duo Navi. The band was chosen, he says, because they represent the early days of Silent/Music Revival.

While only serious silent film buffs are likely to notice, the film’s speed will be increased by 21% because Price feels it needs to be faster to better work with Navi’s frenzied playing.

“For a lot of people, this is their gateway to interest in silent films. We’re already adding a new soundtrack, so we’re already manipulating the film, so why not speed it up, too? I want it to be accessible, so I’m unapologetically editing it.”

In past years, his editing caused a bit of controversy among film purists. But he defends it as necessary sometimes, whether to keep the audience’s attention or because of questionable content or inappropriate language, such as the n-word. Calling the edited 57-minute version a super-captivating film, it’s also one of the darkest he’s ever seen.

His role, as he sees it, is being a good connector, facilitating film and music. Silent/Music Revival knockoffs were created in Milwaukee and Buffalo with Price supplying the films after visitors saw an event here, but ultimately they petered out.

“I think Richmond provides the right type of people to witness this kind of thing,” he says smiling. “Richmond is willing to go to an experimental event and say, yea, I’m willing to get weird. That’s key.”

Silent/Music Revival 10-Year-Anniversary screening of “Vampyr” Oct. 30 at 8 p.m. sharp at Gallery 5, 200 W. Marshall Street.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Interview: Shonen Knife

Legendary Japanese band celebrates 35 years of fun pop punk.

Posted By on Tue, Oct 25, 2016 at 1:10 AM

Drummer Risa, guitarist Naoki and her bassist sister, Atsuko are Shonen Knife -- which translates to "Boy Knife" in Japanese.
  • Drummer Risa, guitarist Naoki and her bassist sister, Atsuko are Shonen Knife -- which translates to "Boy Knife" in Japanese.

It’s a little shocking at first: Osaka, Japan’s legendary pop-punk trio, Shonen Knife, is now in its 35th year of international touring.

Yep, 35 years of sugary-sweet, saccharine pop punk.

Since the early ‘80s, the all-female band has been credited with kicking open the door for many other underground Japanese acts to tour on the international scene. And its colorful, self-designed clothing style also has had an influence, especially after the band toured with Nirvana at the height of their fame.

Today, Shonen Knife features original members Naoko on vocals and guitar and her sister Atsuko (who just returned to the trio) on bass and vocals, as well as newest member, Risa, on drums and vocals. Their most recent album, “Adventure” was released in late 2015 and features ten typically carefree and simplistic party songs such as “Wasabi,” an ode to the green playdough-essque condiment bomb.

We caught up with Naoko by phone (and later e-mail) as the band was traveling the Pacific Northwest in a van with spotty cellphone reception.

Style Weekly: Was there a different approach for this new album in any ways?

Naoko: I produced by myself. I like '70s British hard rock and '70s American rock. I'm inspired by such music and a little bit of '60s music, too. For example, the Beatles, Judas Priest, Pilot, KISS, Black Sabbath, Rainbow and etc.

I read somewhere that, I think it was Metallica or some band – had an initiation rite where they made their new bass player snort tons of Wasabi. You have a song about that delightful substance on the new album. So do Americans use too much or too little?

I like Wasabi on the side in America so I can control.

Do you have any other food in your contract rider here?

Uhhh [sisters speak Japanese between each other] I ask for banana for me. Yes. Excellence. It helps my energy very quickly.

What’s the rarest Shonen Knife release out there?

It's a cassette album called 'Minna Tanoshiku Shonen Knife' which was released in 1982. I remember that it was recorded at home and limited edition. We made only 40 pieces.

Do you remember the first songs that made you passionate about music?

'Love Bites' by Buzzcocks and 'Ramones' by Ramones

Do you think its better to write songs fast?

I'm lazy and I can't write songs at my spare time. I usually start writing songs when we decide the release of a new album and reserve recording studio. I wrote 10 songs in a month and I spent a month to complete them.

What do you most remember from touring with Nirvana at the height of their success?

I was scared before the tour started because they look wild by pictures. But after I met them I found that they were very gentlemen. One day Kurt said to me that he wants to cover our song 'Twist Barbie' at a secret gig and asked the guitar chords. I taught it and he learned very quickly.

What do you think of Japanese pop culture?

Japan is an islands country and far from other countries. That's why Japanese pop culture became very special. I travel overseas a lot and I always think Japanese pop culture is very unique. I've even write a song called 'Anime Phenomenon' which is about the popularity of Japanese Anime and Manga.

Do you like being filmed on cellphones live?

Many people filming many concerts but many of them never watch again. I think [to] do filming make people satisfied their desire. For me I can't enjoy concerts if I filmed.

Is there a song you’ve always wanted to cover in Shonen Knife?

'Sweet Home Osaka' by Funny Company

What’s the best thing about touring America?

To see our fans. People in America are very friendly. I try not to overeat and not to drink much alcohol. In 90's I often buy snowballs of local edition [assume this means snowglobes]. Now I buy Rock’n’roll T-shirts every time I came to the U. S.

How do you keep things fresh going on four decades?

Even if many years have passed, all things regarding Shonen Knife are always fresh and exciting for me.

So any goals left to accomplish?

Touring in a camping car.

Shonen Knife performs Thursday, Oct. 27 at Strange Matter with special guests. Doors open at 7 p.m. $15 cover. All ages.

James River Film Society Bringing Stooges Doc To Byrd

Posted By on Tue, Oct 25, 2016 at 1:05 AM

Despised in their time, the Stooges wound up being one of the only rock bands that ever really mattered.
  • Despised in their time, the Stooges wound up being one of the only rock bands that ever really mattered.

The latest documentary by filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, "Gimme Danger: The Story of Iggy Pop and the Stooges" will be screening on Sunday, Nov. 13 at the Byrd at 7 p.m. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. They can be purchased at Plan 9 or at jamesriverfilm.org.

The film, which is being underwritten by Chop Suey Books and Plan 9 Records, follows the roller-coaster story of Detroit's highly influential, punk rock progenitors. Here's a trailer:

I've heard nothing but good things about this doc -- the latest being a thumbs up on Facebook from scribe Mike McGonigal, music editor for the Detroit Metro Times, where the film was screened with Jarmusch and Pop as guests.

Richmond has its own unique history with Mr. Pop -- including the infamous Mosque riot on Halloween in 1981 as well as a local girl (whose name I won't include here) who used to date the punk legend and has lots of interesting stories about his habits and proclivities. In fact, Jarmusch should've come to Richmond for interviews while making this doc -- just for those two reasons.

My own experience with Pop is as follows: First, he jumped on my head during an outdoor Stooges comeback show in Long Beach, Ca. at the Matt-Groening-curated All Tomorrow's Parties.

Later, I saw him in NYC at Randall's Island during Little Steven's Underground Garage Rock Fest (which also featured Nancy Sinatra, Bo Diddley, the New York Dolls, etc.). I had to leave that set a little early because I was driving back to Richmond into a hurricane.

Then there was the last time -- and probably the best -- when I went to a late-night Stooges show at the 9:30 Club in DC. Great show, but my car threw a rod at 3 a.m. just outside of DC and I had to get towed back to Richmond, which meant I got home just as morning joggers and power walkers were headed out.

It always seems to get interesting when Mr. Pop is around.

Sunday, October 23, 2016


Local musicians tackle ambitious score for playwright Annie Baker's latest.

Posted By on Sun, Oct 23, 2016 at 6:00 AM

Cadence's "John" was written by Annie Baker and is directed by Rusty Wilson.
  • Cadence's "John" was written by Annie Baker and is directed by Rusty Wilson.

Those looking for new frontiers in theater may not find it in what they see on stage but instead in what they hear.

Cadence Theatre Company first employed the sound design team of Robbie Kinter and Ryan Jones for its ambitious production of “Equus” last season. The two have collaborated on a number of original scores for dance productions and choreographer Scott Putnam brought them in to do the same for the intense story of a troubled boy accused of blinding horses.

“We went through the script page by page and Scott told us exactly where he wanted every sound cue and how long he wanted it,” recalls Kinter. “We wrote 23 pieces of music, scoring the play like you would a film or a dance.”

Given that they mostly developed new music for “Equus,” the pair was confused when Cadence called them to work on “John,” the uneasy drama the company just opened this weekend. “The playwright, Annie Baker, specifies most of the music and it is mostly pieces by Bach,” says Kinter. Instead of original work, director Rusty Wilson was looking for an ambitious environmental sound design and the team accepted the challenge with gusto.

“Sound design sometimes gets thrown together as an afterthought with all of the sounds coming through a couple of house speakers,” says Jones, who has done sound design in the past both for Firehouse Theatre and Theatre IV before it was merged into Virginia Rep. “But for ‘John’ there will be at least 10 different sources of sounds on stage or in the theater, including cell phones, a jukebox and even a player piano.”

Jones describes a device made with 2x4s and a broomstick to replicate the creaking of floorboards and another that generates an authentic screen door squeak. Actors will activate three or four of the noisemaking devices during the show, manually creating effects in the manner of old-style foley. “When I hear bad sound, it really takes me out of the experience,” says Jones. “None of these effects will come out of house speakers.”

It makes sense that director Wilson brought in a particularly adept team given that sound is an integral aspect of the play. “John” explores the troubled relationship between a New York couple visiting a possibly haunted bed-and-breakfast where they meet a blind woman who regularly hears strange noises inaudible to anyone else.

Kinter, well-known to many Richmonders as a percussionist for the band Rattlemouth and a professor in VCU’s Department of Dance and Choreography, gained an appreciation for Baker through the process. “She has done an incredible amount of research,” he says. “Almost every sound cue has a deeper meaning that you wouldn’t know unless you had Google going through the whole show.”

Noting that this is only the second theater production they have worked on, Kinter acknowledges they are still learning. “We had huge dreams about what we could do but had to dial those back because of the expense.” Jones says that the company had to go over budget to buy the player piano used in the show. “Tell people to talk to [scenic designer] Rich Mason if they are interested in having one,” he says. “I’m sure he’ll sell it to you.”

“John” runs through Nov. 12 and is being produced in partnership with Virginia Rep.

Running: Chamberlayne Actors Theatre’s "I'll Be Back Before Midnight" won’t be back after it closes October 29th.

On Deck: TheatreLab kicks off its season of “Women at War” stories with “Mother Courage and her Children,” opening Oct. 28.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

PICK: The Central Virginia Celtic Festival and Highland Games at RIR

Posted By on Thu, Oct 20, 2016 at 10:00 PM

The annual Celtic Fest is this weekend on Saturday and Sunday.
  • The annual Celtic Fest is this weekend on Saturday and Sunday.

Of all the ways to support worthy local causes, one of the most unlikely has to be a 10:30 a.m. whisky tasting at this weekend’s Central Virginia Celtic Festival and Highland Games.

Sipping whisky is just one small part of the multi-faceted two-day festival, the latest iteration of a Highland games event that’s been happening in Richmond for decades, originally at Scotchtown, then at Richmond International Raceway, in Caroline County for a while and now back at RIR.

Each of the past four years, the festival has raised upwards of $100,000, which has been donated in large part to the Cullather Brain Tumor Center at Bon Secours, a resource center for families dealing with brain cancer and tumors, as well as Richmond Children’s Hospital’s RIR Cares program. Appropriately, all proceeds from the Irish coffee stand go to St. Patrick’s Church.

“Mark Stepanian of Loveland Distributing and I both lost several people close to us to brain cancer and brain tumors,” co-organizer Stokes McCune says of the all-volunteer, Guinness-sponsored event. “Our main focus is combining these games and traditions with a huge fundraiser for the Cullather Center.”

Both days are packed with activities, from piping and drumming competitions to theatrical swordplay displays, ax-throwing contests and dancing competitions, along with a British car show and music from the Fighting Jamesons, Glasgow Kiss, Church Hill Music Group and Tuatha Dea.

In the tradition of their solidly-built ancestors, professional and amateurs will compete in the heavy athletics competitions involving bag toss, hammer weights and caber toss. “That’s the thing that looks like telephone pole,” McCune explains.

Food skews both thematic – haggis, fish and chips, Scotch eggs, corned beef – and reliably festival-like. You can count on Mrs. Yoder’s doughnuts, too. Dogs are welcome as long as owners bring proof of a rabies shot and Sunday at 3:15, there’ll be a blessing of the animals on the Guinness games field. Herding fans, take note, there’s a sheepdog demonstration Saturday.

And yes, for an extra fee, there’ll be single malt Scotch whisky tastings with whisky expert Kenneth Blankenship that offer a chance to sip Glenfidich, Balvenie and Monkey Shoulder, among others. Five sessions per day will be held, but McCune advises signing up early because each session is limited to 30 people so they quickly fill up.

Kilt-clad legs will be judged at the St. Andrews “Bonnie Knees competition” not long before the parade of the clans begins. “A representative for each clan will be part of the parade, marching around the game field with their flags and tartans,” McCune says.

Inquiring minds want to know if they’ll be wearing anything underneath those kilts.

McCune laughs out loud. “Some do!”

Central Virginia Celtic Festival and Highland Games Oct. 22 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Oct. 23 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at RIR. For more information, http://vacelticfestival.com/

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Cast Your Vote For Bad Brains In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

Posted By on Tue, Oct 18, 2016 at 4:30 PM

Electronic pioneers Kraftwerk rocking away.
  • Electronic pioneers Kraftwerk rocking away.

It's true that most people think the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a joke. Some even point to the strange coincidence of rock starting to really suck right when the Hall of Fame opened up back in 1986.

However, music nerds love lists. They love it when their favorite band gets the honor and has to show up somewhere, get drunk and make a rambling speech. And sometimes, the actual televised award show on HBO contains its fair share of golden moments. From unusual performances to that time when Steve Miller lost his shit.

Anyway, they announced the list of potential 2016 class nominees today. It includes: Journey, Tupac Shakur, Janet Jackson, Jane's Addiction, Yes, Joan Baez, and some other headscratchers. You can go right here to the website and vote by clicking on the band, then sign-in with email and submit.

You get to pick five and mine were pretty easy: The MC5, Washington DC's own Bad Brains, The Zombies, Kraftwerk and Chaka Khan (or Joe Tex as an alternate). Those are my faves on there. And the two hardest rocking bands on the entire list are easily Bad Brains and MC5. Those are no-brainers.

But you should do your part. It's easy -- and we all need another excuse to get junk mail.

I'll make my case with a few well-placed videos.

Sunday, October 16, 2016


Busy local actress Katherine Wright found a different route to work.

Posted By on Sun, Oct 16, 2016 at 11:54 AM

Katherine Wright in Chamberlayne Actors Theatre's "I'll Be Back Before Midnight" which runs through Oct. 29.
  • Katherine Wright in Chamberlayne Actors Theatre's "I'll Be Back Before Midnight" which runs through Oct. 29.

TheatreVCU could be considered the farm team for the Richmond pro theater scene with many students from the University's top-notch program finding work around town.

But it's not the only collegiate gateway onto local stages.

Katherine Wright found her way in through John Tyler Community College, where she studied under Kerrigan Sullivan. Sullivan has taught at Tyler for over a decade, but she has also directed plays like last season's "The Fourth Wall" for the Firehouse Theatre. Wright's first professional role was as an ensemble player in the Firehouse's 2012 production of "Rocky Horror Picture Show" and, ever since, she's shown up in local shows with increasing frequency. This weekend, she began a starring run in Chamberlayne Actors Theatre's thriller, "I'll Be Back Before Midnight," playing a fragile young wife recovering from a nervous disorder.

The road between "Rocky Horror" and "Midnight" was paved with a lot of work. "I did backstage work, running props, assistant stage managing," Wright recalls. "I also auditioned for everything and started going to a lot of shows. I'd walk up to actors afterwards and introduce myself and tell them all the shows I'd seen them in, just totally 'fan girl' out."

While I had seen her onstage several times, Wright really grabbed my attention thanks to the John Tyler production of "Extremities" this past summer. The infrequently-produced play tells the story of a woman that turns the tables on a would-be rapist and famously starred Farrah Fawcett when it played off-Broadway back in the early 80s. "It was an extremely difficult show," says Wright. "Unfortunately, it's about a topic that's always going to be relevant. It reflects many people's experience."

"Midnight" puts her character in a reportedly haunted house in the middle of the woods with people who may or may not be plotting against her. "Our director, Stephen Ryan, worried that I was going to get typecast as the woman who gets preyed upon," Wright says. "But this is a completely different show. It's really a satirical thriller: it pokes fun at itself and at thriller clichés but also has some genuinely scary moments."

Wright has branched out beyond the stage, landing background work in the PBS TV series "Mercy Street" and a speaking role opposite Rainn Wilson and Patricia Arquette in "Permanent," a movie that recently filmed in Richmond. She's an accomplished dancer, appearing with the Starr Foster Dance Troupe, and has been exploring her skills as a visual artist as well. "I think some people may have more of a plan," she says. "My career has been more like, 'hey, let me figure this out.'"

It's working out pretty well for her given her steady stream of projects. "I've been so busy and working non-stop, that after [Richmond Triangle Players'] "The Boy From Oz" closed in July, I thought I might take a break," she says. "But right after that, I got cast in 'Midnight.' I was telling my dad and he said, 'So, how'd that break go?'"

"I'll Be Back Before Midnight" runs through Oct. 29.

Running: The sound of curtains coming down around town gets deafening next weekend, with Firehouse’s “Ubu 84,” Swift Creek Mill’s “Almost, Maine,” Virginia Rep’s “1776,” and Richmond Triangle Players’ “Perfect Arrangement” all closing. Don’t dawdle if you’re hoping for tickets: closing weekend performances often sell out.

On Deck: Another “couple at odds with their surroundings” show opens this weekend as Cadence Theatre in cooperation with Virginia Rep presents Annie Baker’s “John.”

Friday, October 14, 2016

Review: Richard Thompson at Modlin, Oct. 13

Posted By on Fri, Oct 14, 2016 at 11:30 AM

A publicity image of British singer and songwriter, Richard Thompson, who played a near two-hour solo acoustic show at the University of Richmond.
  • A publicity image of British singer and songwriter, Richard Thompson, who played a near two-hour solo acoustic show at the University of Richmond.

Epic is not typically the first word that comes to mind when talking about a solo singer-songwriter performance.

However, the term fits for Richard Thompson, who held the stage for at least two hours with a full bore unpredictable set combining almost 50 years of great songs and astoundingly orchestral acoustic guitar playing.

The material ranged across his entire career, from the late '60s Fairport Convention (“Meet on the Ledge”) to his days with Linda Thompson (“Walking on a Wire”) to several songs from his latest recording “Still [Beeswing].” His dryly funny banter between songs was quick-witted and self-deprecating.

Thompson’s assured, bravura performance was so responsive to the audience that for an extended period, he played nothing but shouted requests -- “Persuasion,” “Beeswing” and his surprisingly effective cover of Brittney Spears' “Oops, I Did it Again.” (Whose chord progressions he compared to late medieval Italian songs.) That he would play the rocking “Vincent Black Lightning” was signaled by a beautifully restored 1947 Vincent motorcycle off the Modlin Center lobby.

“You are very good,” an audience member called out to him toward the end.

“You are not supposed to be so surprised,” said Thomson with a smile.

The set ended with two extended encores, including “Woods of Darny,” a lovely, sad song that through artistic alchemy left the audience happy.

Vermont multi-instrumentalist Sam Amidon opened with a smart, skillful, but decidedly non-epic solo set of tradition-tinged songs.

Thompson setlist:

1. When the Spell Is Broken

2. Walking on a Wire (Richard & Linda Thompson cover)

3. Valerie

4. Josephine

5. Beatnik Walking

6. For Shame of Doing Wrong (Richard & Linda Thompson cover)

7. 1952 Vincent Black Lightning

8. Dry My Tears and Move On

9. I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight (Richard & Linda Thompson cover)

10. Meet on the Ledge (Fairport Convention song)

11. Good Things Happen to Bad People

12. Persuasion

13. Hots for the Smarts

14. Oops!... I Did It Again (Britney Spears cover)

15. Beeswing

16. Wall of Death (Richard & Linda Thompson cover)

17. I Misunderstood


18. Woods of Darney

19. I Feel So Good

Encore 2

20. Broken Doll

21. One Door Opens

Thursday, October 13, 2016

HBO's "Westworld" Offers Another Entertaining Warning About Technology

Posted By on Thu, Oct 13, 2016 at 12:25 PM

The farmer's daughter, played by Evan Rachel Wood, and her friendly, mysterious stranger in HBO's "Westworld."
  • The farmer's daughter, played by Evan Rachel Wood, and her friendly, mysterious stranger in HBO's "Westworld."

Beneath the brutal violence of HBO’s new series “Westworld,” a staff plays God with clients ("guests" or "newcomers" as they're called) in a digital-reality theme park run by a corporation. The show, Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy's revisit of Michael Crichton's 1973 sci-fi hit, introduces a new route west, through neurons rather than highways, spurred by the same sentiments that drove the 19th century American West: life, love and playing without rules.

Without any new outward American geographical West to attend beyond the beaches of the Pacific Ocean, the show looks inward, into the mind of the viewer and into the repairable minds of the theme park’s hosts -- robots on the verge of rebellion, coming to terms with their own existence in an almost spiritual way.

Artificial emotion -- not artificial intelligence -- fuels the narratives spun by the park’s creative director, Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) and his assistant programmer, Bernard Lowe (Jeffery Wright). The lawless park delivers to high-paying guests whatever they fancy: murder, treasure trails and prostitution. The guests are legion, as are the profits.

Also there’s a grim visitor who has been frequenting the park for 30 years - known as the Man in Black (Ed Harris); Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood), the farmer’s daughter caught lying to programmers; and a mysterious, handsome host killed and repaired three times in the show’s first two episodes, whose name we do not yet know. Such omissions of plot material are common in Nolan’s productions, but can add some early confusion.

Between Nolan's lifetime obsession with psychological thrillers and Crichton's tendency to end his tragedies with technology undermining humanity, it may surprise no one when chaos erupts in the fictional theme park later in the series. Most significant is the obvious foreshadowing phrase from "Romeo and Juliet" whispered into Dolores’ ear in episode two: "These violent delights have violent ends.” While the guests are promised they cannot be hurt by hosts, this moment prompts suspicion and recalls Crichton’s devices from the similarly-designed “Jurrasic Park.”

With a no-limit budget and one of today's most talented cinematographers (Paul Cameron), the show delivers breathtaking natural landscapes and fluid, smooth transitions between the series’ only other setting, the highly advanced, spaceshiplike controls of the corporation and its rows of bodies in various states of repair.

A talented cast, led by veteran star Hopkins’ standout performance as the godlike Ford, makes it easy to forgive the scattered script and sometimes difficult-to-follow narratives woven by Nolan and Joy. Ford, the mysterious, brilliant designer of human emotion, seems set to act as foil to the villainous Man in Black, who is all too eager to reach into Ford's imagination for the "deeper levels to this world." The Man in Black scalps his victims, looking for clues written on the insides of their skulls, ending the lives of characters created by Ford and creating dysfunction among the hosts. Is the Man in Black at odds with Ford, or is he perhaps the owner of the park? We don't know yet.

Like most of Crichton’s work, the show is yet another entertaining warning to humanity that artificial intelligence can be a serious threat, made more threatening by artificial emotion and the profit motive behind modern technologies crafted in today’s American West.

"Westworld" airs on HBO on Sundays at 9 p.m.

  • Re: Tenacious D Performing in Richmond on Oct. 5

    • Advice to save your marriage and get your Ex Boyfriend/girlfriend back ,contact drsolutionspellcaster@gmail.com for Urgent…

    • on May 29, 2020
  • Re: Richmonder Creates "Efficient Map" To Viewing Our Murals

    • I want to offer a bit of advice to anyone looking to find help on…

    • on May 29, 2020
  • Re: Richmonder Creates "Efficient Map" To Viewing Our Murals

    • I want to offer a bit of advice to anyone looking to find help on…

    • on May 29, 2020
  • More »
  • Copyright © 2020 Style Weekly
    Richmond's alternative for news, arts, culture and opinion
    All rights reserved
    Powered by Foundation