Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Check Out Some Videos By Recently Announced Folk Fest Performers

Posted By on Tue, Aug 22, 2017 at 4:20 PM

Memphis soul crooner Don Bryant will be performing at this year's Richmond Folk Fest this October.
  • Memphis soul crooner Don Bryant will be performing at this year's Richmond Folk Fest this October.

The Richmond Folk Fest, which will will be held along the riverfront downtown the weekend of Oct. 13 - 15, is beginning to take its complete shape with another exclusive announcement of musical performers today.

Below are a few of the artists we're excited about. Revel in some videos of what you will witness for free come October (of course, we hope you donate as well each day to the bucket brigade to keep this awesome fest going).

First, there's the old school Memphis soul of Don Bryant, whose new album is out on Fat Possum Records.

And one of our personal faves, the guy who Hank Williams III said does his granddaddy better than anybody, Wayne "The Train" Hancock. Only the finest purveyor of juke joint swing out there.

And no doubt, what will be one of the hottest parties at the fest -- the go-go inspired sounds of the all-female DC group, Be'la Dona. Drop that folk bomb on us, ladies!

Speaking of dancing your ass off, the always feet-friendly zydeco sounds of C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band will get the tent rocking in the moonlight.

Plus, if you love Persian tar music like we know you do, you won't want to miss Sahba Motallebi. Feed your head.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Review: Richmond Jazz Festival at Maymont

Large, friendly crowd turns out for some brilliant summer performances.

Posted By on Tue, Aug 15, 2017 at 3:30 PM

The legendary Taj Mahal (seated), his daughters, and Keb' Mo' at the Richmond Jazz Festival at Maymont.
  • The legendary Taj Mahal (seated), his daughters, and Keb' Mo' at the Richmond Jazz Festival at Maymont.

There are two ways to gauge the success of the Richmond Jazz Festival at Maymont: the overall ambiance of the event and the quality of the individual performances.

Practice makes perfect. Over the years the event has optimized its approach to notable effect. The Gold Circle seating is gone, creating a more egalitarian mood and leaving open space for dancing and quick photos at the front of the stage. A huge tent, with tables and oversized monitors, provided shade in the food truck section with moderate cooling provided by a device called a Big Ass Fan. There were Adirondack chairs set up at the Straight Ahead stage, the venue for less-attended but no less significant acts. It helped that the weather, while hot, was not as intense as 2016, when every shady spot filled with people chased from the sun-drenched grass.

Any selection of highlights is inevitably flawed. There is no way to do justice to all the acts performing simultaneously on three stages although things tended to come together at the end with Common’s powerful closing performance Saturday night accompanied by the Richmond Symphony, and soul queen Erykah Badu’s on Sunday. (However, even seeing all of those meant forgoing Peabo Bryson and the Isley Brothers.)

But with that said, some weekend highlights:

On Saturday, Joey DeFrancesco’s early set was powerful, gaining even more heft when his guitarist showed up and plugged in about one third of the way through. And with an ad-hoc quartet featuring Bill Steward on drums, Pat Metheny covered songs from across a 40-year career, including several from his early career-breakthrough “The Pat Metheny Group.” TajMo, featuring blues legends Taj Mahal and Keb' Mo', was funny, warm and beautifully accomplished. The Manhattan Transfer, viewed on the run, seemed very much on toe-tapping track.

On Sunday, the three Cuban-centric acts on the Straight Ahead stage were uniformly brilliant. Harold-Lopez Nussa was explosively propulsive. Jane Bunnett and the all-female Maqueque, a band that played Lincoln Center the following night, gave a spirited, killer performance. The Afro-Cuban All Stars’ Juan DeMarco had one of the most touching moments, a love song to his wife of 38 years while surrounded by many family members who are part of the band.

On the Virginia is for Lovers stage, 14-year-old Joey Alexander showed that being a prodigy didn’t require being graded on a curve. His performance was extraordinary for a pianist of any age. Robert Cray’s band was solid if unfortunately scheduled against a winning virtuoso bass history lesson from Marcus Miller at the Dominion Energy stage. (People who stayed at the Lovers stage after Cray saw a set from Larry Graham, one of the great soul-rock bassists of all time.)

Shuttling between stages meant running a gauntlet of food, wine, cigars, kettle corn and cold treats (looking at you Soul Ice.) It also required interacting with one of the friendliest crowds at any Richmond event. Whatever your taste in music, every year this is a great group of people with whom to enjoy it.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Video: Watch RVA Rapper Noah-O Blow Up Hot97 in New York

Posted By on Thu, Aug 10, 2017 at 2:50 PM


Monday, August 7, 2017

The Old Carytown Sign Is on Its Way Out

Local ad agency Love Affair is working on a replacement.

Posted By on Mon, Aug 7, 2017 at 1:35 PM

The old Carytown sign just across the overpass at the entrance to the popular shopping district.
  • The old Carytown sign just across the overpass at the entrance to the popular shopping district.

Since Cary Court was first built in in 1938, Richmond’s best-known shopping district has seen a lot of change, and highlighting that change is part of the new planned sign set for the West-entrance of the district.

“Carytown’s unique shops and restaurants add charm and activity,” says Camille Bird, former president of the Carytown Merchants Association. “It deserves an entrance that embraces the past while acknowledging the incredible growth and bright future of the neighborhood.”

To that end, the association is working with the local ad agency Love Affair to plan, develop and build a new sign replacing the old one located at the southeast corner of Cary and North Thompson streets.

“Carytown has grown and really blossomed and city officials and CMA members noticed the sign was becoming antiquated,” says Hilton Graham, founder of Love Affair.

This isn’t the first time the city and neighborhood has considered a new sign. Back in 2014, the city offered a $250,000 plan to build a grand entrance piece but resistance regarding the cost forced the idea onto the back burner.

But Bird kept at it. A meeting with a Carytown resident Kimmie Lockett, a creative director for Love Affair, helped connect the groups so they could form a more reasonable placard.

“We’re going to do this thing privately funded and at a fraction of the cost,” Hilton says. A fundraising link has been set up through the association’s website (you can donate here). The campaign will also be prominent at this weekend’s 34th annual Watermelon Festival.

While Love Affair and the association have bounced design ideas around internally, they’re not quite ready to release a rendering of the new sign. Graham says he has received lots of input from the association and thinks all parties involved, business owners and patrons, will be impressed.

“We’re trying to think about not only what will make the CMA happy, but also what’s going to feel welcoming and do a good job representing what Carytown is,” he said. “It’s not going to be big and flashy, and we’re not going to let this overpower what Carytown is. We want it to be a good [representation] of the charm and warmth and diversity of Carytown.”

The sign is set to debut sometime in mid-October. Keep an eye out during this weekend’s Watermelon Fesivalt for information.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

D.J. Williams Tells High Times of Human Rights Abuse in Middle East

Former Richmond musician gives a fuller account of his arrest for "vape pen."

Posted By on Thu, Aug 3, 2017 at 4:29 PM


Longtime Richmond musician D.J. Williams, who now lives in Los Angeles, was detained last April while visiting his sister in the Middle East.

Rumors were circulating at the time, but now Williams is giving a fuller picture of what happened to High Times magazine, and it isn't pretty.

He was arrested for having a vape pen and thrown in truly deplorable conditions, where he was beaten by other prisoners who called him "Donald Trump," placed in solitary confinement and pushed to his limits before the charges were reduced and he was deported.

Below are just some of the conditions he experienced in an Abu Dhabi prison which have left him with "slight PTSD," not to mention a totally changed perspective on the rights we have in America.

Around the corner from his cell was a prayer room, and next to that, the dining hall. Flies hovered over a collection of half-eaten fruit, stale rice and chicken. The drinking water was brown, and there were only three or four cups everyone shared.

One day, the guards brought in a man named Abdullah. He was covered in sweat, his skin ghostly white. He slept on the floor, and when the prosecutor called upon him, he wouldn’t budge.

“I went to nudge him. His body was cold, and his eyes were open,” said Williams. “He had died. The guards made jokes as they put him in a body bag as if nothing had happened.”

More to the Story: Devonne Harris Just Recorded With Jack White

Posted By on Thu, Aug 3, 2017 at 11:35 AM

Jack White posted this photo on a social media page featuring Richmond musician Devonne Harris to his right.
  • Jack White posted this photo on a social media page featuring Richmond musician Devonne Harris to his right.

Our cover story this week is about one of the Richmond music scene's most unique musicians, Devonne Harris. But there's a new bit of news that had to be left out of that feature:

In a late breaking development, Jack White posted a photo on social media showing Devonne Harris at recording session for the guitarist’s third solo record after leaving the seminal White Stripes. The session took place last week, while the cover story was in final edits. Harris says that he has no idea how he was recommended. He was approached via email, and asked to keep it a secret. While such confidentiality fits with the resolutely non-self-promoting Harris, it is further validation of his growing visibility in the wider musical world.

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