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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Tavis Smiley's Tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. Announced for March

Posted By on Tue, Oct 31, 2017 at 3:05 PM

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In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s death, Dominion Arts Center will be hosting popular broadcaster and author Tavis Smiley when he brings his "Death of a King: A Live Theatrical Experience" to Richmond.

Smiley will present a live multimedia stage presentation on March 22, 2018 based on his New York Times bestselling book, "Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Final Year." Jazz pianist Marcus Roberts will accompany Smiley with a live original score to illustrate the story of one of the country's greatest civil rights leaders.

Tickets go on sale Friday, Nov. 17 at 10 a.m. Presale info will be provided at a later date. For now, you can go here for more.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Preview: Christian McBride at the Tin Pan, Oct. 26

Posted By on Thu, Oct 26, 2017 at 7:45 PM

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Christian McBride’s gig at The Tin Pan is the most surprising gig of the season. The smallish Near-West-End listening room hosts a variety of local and niche national acts- NRBQ, David Bromberg, the Yellowjackets, Najee. But McBride is one of the biggest names in jazz, a five-time Grammy winner, the voice of jazz on Public Broadcasting, and leader and sideman on over 300 recordings.

A frequent visitor to Richmond, he ran the summer jazz series at UR for five years around 2000, and has been back multiple times since with his own groups and the Pat Metheny Trio. But those have been at the Modlin Center and the Jazz Festival, and even in those larger venues he fills the room with charismatic personality and a huge, incredibly virtuosic sound. To see him in an intimate venue like the Tin Pan is a rare opportunity.

The program is billed as “Remembering Ray Brown,” a tribute to the late bassist who recorded with Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson and, in the 90s and early 2000s, with the Super Bass, a trio with McBride and John Clayton. Tickets are $55 in advance. $60 at the door. Show is at 8 PM

Friday, October 20, 2017

Video: Watch the Rick Alverson-directed documentary on William Eggleston

Legendary 20th century photographer has a new album of synth music.

Posted By on Fri, Oct 20, 2017 at 12:30 PM

Acclaimed photographer William Eggleston has a new instrumental album made using an 88-key Korg synthesizer.
  • Acclaimed photographer William Eggleston has a new instrumental album made using an 88-key Korg synthesizer.

One of the great photographers of the 20th century, William Eggleston is just now, at 78, releasing his debut music album on Secretly Canadian.

"Musik" showcases the Memphis native's synthesizer playing ("a retro sound somewhere between Tomita and Tangerine Dream" according to NPR). Plus there's a new documentary which premiered today on NPR that was created by acclaimed Richmond filmmaker, Rick Alverson, who lives in Church Hill.

Watch below.

In more Alverson-related news, the director tells Style that he is currently in New York to begin shooting on his new feature, "The Mountain." A recent article in the Hollywood Reporter said that actor Jeff Goldblum ("The Fly") was attached.

“It reminds me in tone of P.T. Anderson’s There Will Be Blood or The Master, metaphorical critiques of the American psyche, in the vein of Death of a Salesman," says Goldblum in the article. "It’s not for everybody, but I really like it, I keep working on it, and I like him."

Stay tuned for an article next week on Alverson's new music project, Lean Year, who will be performing at Black Iris on Oct. 25.

Here's more from a press release about the Eggleston album:

It was during Eggleston’s Sumner, Mississippi childhood, where he discovered the piano in the parlor that ignited in him a lifelong passion for music. It was a passion he carried forth his entire life, playing quite adeptly when a piano was handy. In the 1980's, Eggleston, who disdained digital cameras and modernity in general, became surprisingly fascinated with a synthesizer, the Korg OW/1 FD Pro, which had 88 piano-like keys, and in addition to being able to emulate the sound of any instrument, also contained a four-track sequencer that allowed him to expand the palette of his music, letting him create improvised symphonic pieces, stored on 49 floppy discs, encompassing some 60 hours of music from which this 13 track recording was assembled.

The music, which he refers to as "Musik", adopting the German spelling of his hero, JS Bach, is highly emotional, whether he's improvising a Bach-like organ fanfare out of whole cloth, using a Korg patch titled "guitar feedback" to create a dirge, or playing Lerner and Lowe's "On The Street Where You Live" as a dramatic overture.

You can buy or stream the album here.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

ZZ Top Concert at Altria on Oct. 21 Postponed

Posted By on Tue, Oct 17, 2017 at 2:20 PM

The three sombreros of ZZ Top.
  • The three sombreros of ZZ Top.

This just in from the press release desk:

ZZ TOP TONNAGE TOUR CONCLUDES.

LEGENDARY GROUP PLANNING EXTENSIVE TOURING IN 2018:

Richmond, VA (Oct. 17)- Upcoming scheduled dates on ZZ Top’s current tour, including the October 21, 2017 date at Altria Theater, have been suspended and will be rescheduled. ZZ Top’s cornerstone bass guitarist, Dusty Hill, is addressing a stomach ailment and is following medical directive to lay low for the next few weeks.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Interview: Tim Timberlake Talks About This Year's Banjo Competition at Richmond Folk Fest

Posted By on Fri, Oct 13, 2017 at 2:30 PM

A photo of the young finalists from last year's Scott Street Five String banjo competition at the Richmond Folk Fest.
  • A photo of the young finalists from last year's Scott Street Five String banjo competition at the Richmond Folk Fest.

Banjo fans and talent scouts: It's the third annual competition known as the Scott Street Five String Finals this Saturday, Oct. 14 at 4 p.m. at the CarMax Family Stage during the Richmond Folk Festival.

This is a banjo competition co-presented by JAMinc and the Virginia Folklife Program for musicians 18 and under which will be judged by legendary Virginia banjoist Sammy Shelor. There are two playing style categories, bluegrass and clawhammer, and the winners in each division get a $1,000 cash prize plus a demo session at In Your Ear Studios.

This year organizers were pleased to receive more than twice the number of applicants they had last year. The kids submit YouTube videos in the application process which are selected by the judges, so all of the finalists will be worth seeing live onstage.

"We worked a lot harder and got the word out a lot more extensively for contestants," says Tim Timberlake, noting there were articles in Bluegrass Unlimited and other national outlets. "Plus we were able to contact all the youth contestants from Galax [Fiddlers Convention], 19 of them. So we got 21 entries and the talent level is amazing."

Timberlake says that there are six finalists, some who are coming from as far away as Arkansas and Ohio. The runners up will also take home some money so that everyone walks away a winner.

The prize money is due to the family of former attorney and banjo player, Scott Street, as well as some beautiful crystal trophies that were provided.

"Lead judge Sammy Shelor is iconic, he's won the IBMA Bluegrass banjo player of the year five times. He's also won the Steve Martin prize [$50,000], a very distinguished award," Timberlake explains. "Another amazing judge is a kid from Galax, Victor Furtado, who could've been eligible himself but he would've probably walked away with it. He's great."

Timberlake hopes that the competition continues to grow and notes that there are not many like it around the country.

"There are a lot of talented kids out there and now that we've got their attention we feel like word of mouth will kind of sustain it," Timberlake adds. "It's great to remember Scott Street in this way. He was passionate about the banjo and a distinguished attorney, head of the state bar, who did a heck of a lot of pro bono work for musicians all over the country. His family are very happy that his name is on something he would really be pleased with."

Here are your contestants this weekend:

Bluegrass

Taylor Parks (13) Bloxom, VA

G Rockwell (15) Bridgeport, CT

Johnny White (15) Glen Allen, VA

Clawhammer

Alanna Brewer (17) Mountain View, AK

Henry Coatney (13) Boone, NC

Christiana Joneikis (16) Shreve, OH

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Preview: Virginia Jazz: the Early Years at the Valentine

Also at Capital Ale House on Oct. 10, drummer Al Foster's Heads of State band.

Posted By on Tue, Oct 10, 2017 at 3:45 PM

Roy Johnson’s Happy Pals Orchestra at the Savoy Ballroom in New York – 1929. (L to R): Harold “Pops” Griffin (clarinet/sax), Emmitt “Lic” Johnson (clarinet/sax), Nathaniel “Buster” McPherson (clarinet/sax), Roy F. Johnson (drums, leader), Edward “Pickles” Humes (trumpet), Leroy “Fess” Wyche (piano), Percy Trent (trumpet), Fleming “Beans” Edwards (trombone), William “Mama” Allen (bass, tuba), Edward “Skinny” Trent (banjo)
  • Roy Johnson’s Happy Pals Orchestra at the Savoy Ballroom in New York – 1929. (L to R): Harold “Pops” Griffin (clarinet/sax), Emmitt “Lic” Johnson (clarinet/sax), Nathaniel “Buster” McPherson (clarinet/sax), Roy F. Johnson (drums, leader), Edward “Pickles” Humes (trumpet), Leroy “Fess” Wyche (piano), Percy Trent (trumpet), Fleming “Beans” Edwards (trombone), William “Mama” Allen (bass, tuba), Edward “Skinny” Trent (banjo)

Virginia Jazz: the Early Years celebrates the key role this state played in the first century of America’s classical music.

Famous artists like Richmond-born Bill "Bojangles" Robinson and Newport News native Ella Fitzgerald share the bill with lesser known but still pivotal artists whose contributions have faded into the lo-fi mists of old 78 rpm recordings. It’s a rich legacy that has been dusted off and mounted with loving care by the Richmond Jazz Society in a downstairs hall at the Valentine museum.

There could be no better guide than Jazz Society Executive Director and event curator B.J. Brown, whose enthusiasm and depth of knowledge illuminate the interconnected lives sketched out in the exhibits.

It starts at a time when a traffic light to provide safe crossing to the black students at Armstrong High School needed to be purchased by funds donated by Robinson. The Bojangles statue at Adams and Leigh streets now marks the site. Brown says the famous star tap-danced backwards down Leigh street at the dedication.

Then there is the bandleader whose early Dixieland compositions were stolen by his self-promoting pianist, Jelly Roll Morton, with credit restored many decades later. Or the Richmond orchestra that bested Duke Ellington in a Harlem battle of the bands but chose returning home over hitting the road with Cab Calloway. Or the great Ruth Brown, whose soulful singing built Atlantic Records, a label she had to fight to get the credit and money it tried to deny her. There are stories of artist after artist, saints, sinners, expatriates and local heroes like the late Joe Kennedy Jr., known to jazz aficionados worldwide as a premier violinist, and to local students as a gentle, supportive teacher.

There are related events over the course of the exhibit. Mercedes Ellington, Duke’s granddaughter on Oct. 15. Cecelia Calloway, Cab’s daughter on Nov. 7 at Capital Ale House. Ellington biographer John Edward Hasse presents “Ella Fitzgerald at 100” on Nov. 19 . Virginia Commonwealth University jazz program founder Doug Richards pays tribute to the Richmond-born Dean of Jazz Critics, Martin Williams, on March 18. And finally, B.J. Brown moderates Family Day at the museum April 22.

And for those who want to see a great Richmond-born jazzman in his prime, who is featured in modern addendum to the exhibit, drummer Al Foster appears with fellow stellar veterans Gary Bartz, Larry Wills and David Williams for two shows in the all-star Heads of State band at the Richmond Jazz Society October Guest Educator event at Capital Ale House tonight: Oct. 10.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Event Pick: Tom Petty Tribute Band Playing For Puerto Rico Oct. 6 at the Broadberry

Posted By on Tue, Oct 3, 2017 at 1:45 PM

Prabir Mehta rocking out in Full Moon Fever while performing the music of one of his favorite pop songwriters, Tom Petty, who passed this week.
  • Prabir Mehta rocking out in Full Moon Fever while performing the music of one of his favorite pop songwriters, Tom Petty, who passed this week.

So Monday sucked.

We all woke up to the worst mass shooting in modern American history in Las Vegas, then had to watch all the predictable responses which will do nothing to slow down the next record-breaker.

Then freaking Tom Petty dies from a heart attack. Or is brain dead all day. Then dies.

In the interest of finding some good news in at least one of these sad events: Local singer and songwriter Prabir Mehta let me know that his excellent Tom Petty tribute band, Full Moon Fever, will be performing at the Broadberry this Friday, Oct. 6 from 9 p.m. to midnight. The concert is being staged not only to celebrate Petty's music but also to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Tickets are $10 to $12 (at door) and the money will go to United for Puerto Rico.

Mehta talked about what Petty's music meant to him:

"For me, as an immigrant kid, Tom Petty was kind of an ambassador to all things America. I was able to dial right into his music and somehow get context to rock and roll, California, road trips, cars, and so on," he says. "While growing up everyone had their guitar heroes. Mine was always Tom Petty. He never tore it up on lead guitar, but he was always cool and delivered incredibly meaningful lyrics in the simplest, most direct way possible. I honestly think his music had more impact on my learning to communicate than anything else."

As Mehta grew up and started playing with more serious musicians, he says he would lean back on Petty for awesome tricks of the trade in songwriting, "little things you could do to make three chords sound amazing for four minutes at a time."

"The simplicity, the sincerity, and the ability to get right to the point have always set him apart in my book," he adds.

Here is the Facebook event page, let 'em know you're coming.

Now a few videos to get you in the mood.

This is some rough footage from my own personal favorite Petty moment, when I saw him play Neil Young's Bridge School Benefit in Northern California back in October of 2000. Great little acoustic set that closed with this memorable version of "Breakdown."

And here's Richmond's own Full Moon Fever doing "Running Down a Dream."

Full Moon Fever - Runnin' Down the Dream from Todd Raviotta on Vimeo.

Finally, here's the last two songs Tom Petty ever performed live a few weeks ago at the Hollywood Bowl. Fittingly, it all ended with one of his best efforts, the nearly perfect pop song, "American Girl." Sniff. We'll miss that sun-kissed, not-from-concentrate, Florida-raised voice.

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