Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Virginia Film Festival Announces Lineup for Oct. 25-29

Charlottesville event features Bradley Cooper's "Maestro" as opening night film, plus guests including Riley Keough and poet Nikki Giovanni

Posted By on Wed, Sep 27, 2023 at 4:26 PM

The biggest film festival in the state, the Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville, announced the lineup for its 36th annual festival this week, which will take place at various venues from Oct. 25-29.

The festival's opening night film is "Maestro," written, produced and directed by Bradley Cooper, about the relationship between legendary conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein (Cooper) and his wife Felicia Montealegre (Carey Mulligan). The VAFF will welcome Academy Award-winning makeup effects artist Kazu Hiro to receive the VAFF Craft Award alongside the screening.

Another centerpiece for the festival will be the next film by writer/director Alexander Payne, "The Holdovers," starring Paul Giamatti as a New England prep school teacher who forms a bond with a wayward student over a vacation break. The film's producer Mark Johnson ("Rain Man" "Breaking Bad") will be on hand for a post-film discussion and Q&A.

The closing night film is "American Symphony" with Academy Award-nominated, and six- Emmy Award-winning-filmmaker Matthew Heineman and recording artist Jon Batiste presenting in person. Heineman will receive the VAFF Directorial Achievement Award, and Batiste will briefly perform, following a post-screening discussion.

Emmy winner Riley Keough (Elvis Presley's granddaughter) will be one of this year's guests.
  • Emmy winner Riley Keough (Elvis Presley's granddaughter) will be one of this year's guests.

According to the press release: "Other VAFF gala screenings include Todd Haynes’ "May December," starring Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore; a special presentation of "War Pony" with writer Franklin Sioux Bob and directors and writers Gina Gammell and Riley Keough (Emmy-nominated actor, "Daisy Jones" and the Six); and "Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project" featuring a post-screening conversation with Nikki Giovanni, who will receive the VAFF Changemaker Award.

The full 2023 VAFF program will be available on Thursday, Sept. 28. Tickets will go on sale at noon on Friday, Oct. 6 at virginiafilmfestival.org.

Tickets will go on sale to the public at noon on Friday, Oct. 6 online at virginiafilmfestival.org; in-person at the UVA Arts Box Office; and by phone at 434-924-3376. Beginning Oct. 23, tickets will also be available at VAFF’s downtown box office in the lobby of Violet Crown. For complete information regarding the 2023 Festival, visit virginiafilmfestival.org.

Poet Nikki Giovanni will receive the VAFF Changemaker Award.
  • Poet Nikki Giovanni will receive the VAFF Changemaker Award.

Here's more highlights directly from the press release, which you can also read on the festival website:

2023 Gala Screenings

"Origin," with director, producer, and writer Ava DuVernay. By the Academy Award-nominated DuVernay (When They See Us, 13th, Selma), Origin explores the life and work of the author Isabelle Wilkerson and the events that inspired her to write the groundbreaking and bestselling book Caste. DuVernay will receive the VAFF Visionary Award.

"American Fiction," with Emmy-winning director, producer, and writer Cord Jefferson (Succession, Watchmen). The film, starring Jeffrey Wright and fresh off winning the coveted People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, is an equally provocative and hilarious satire that skewers literary and Hollywood portrayals of Black culture. Jefferson will receive the VAFF Breakthrough Director Award.

"Rustin," with Academy Award-winning producer Bruce Cohen (Silver Linings Playbook). Rustin stars Colman Domingo as Bayard Rustin, a key organizer of the historic 1963 March on Washington, whose progressive politics and homosexuality forced him into the background of the movement and its history.

"Dream Scenario." Hapless family man Paul Matthews (Nicolas Cage) finds his life turned upside down when millions of strangers suddenly start seeing him in their dreams. But when his nighttime appearances take a nightmarish turn, Paul is forced to navigate his newfound stardom, in this wickedly entertaining comedy from writer-director Kristoffer Borgli (Sick of Myself) and producer Ari Aster.

Other VAFF Gala Screenings include Todd Haynes’ "May December," starring Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore; a special presentation of "War Pony" with writer Franklin Sioux Bob and directors and writers Gina Gammell and Riley Keough (Emmy-nominated actor, "Daisy Jones and the Six"); and "Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project" featuring a post-screening conversation with Nikki Giovanni, who will receive the VAFF Changemaker Award.

VAFF Spotlight Screenings include "All of Us Strangers" starring Paul Mescal and Andrew Scott; Eileen featuring Anne Hathaway; "Fingernails" with Riz Ahmed and Jessie Buckley, and two Sundance heavyweights: Audience Award winner "The Persian Version," and "The Disappearance of Shere Hite," with Academy Award-nominated director Nicole Newnham on hand to receive the VAFF Chronicler Award.

The Virginia Film Festival continues its tradition of presenting some of the most acclaimed international films on the festival circuit. Toplining this lineup are eight official International Oscar Selections: 20 Days in Mariupol (Ukraine); About Dry Grasses (Turkey); Fallen Leaves (Finland); Four Daughters (Tunisia); Perfect Days (Japan); The Settlers (Chile); The Taste of Things (France); The Teachers’ Lounge (Germany); and Tótem (Mexico)


"Café Daughter": Inspired by actual events, Café Daughter tells the story of a nine-year-old, half-Chinese, half-Cree girl as she struggles to find her place in a small Saskatchewan community in the 1960s. Discussion with director and producer Shelley Niro.

"The Gilded Age: Season 2" sneak preview: A sneak peek of the first episode of season 2 of HBO’s hit historical drama. From the creators of "Downton Abbey," "The Gilded Age" follows a wide-eyed young scion of a conservative family as she embarks on a mission to infiltrate the wealthy neighboring clan. Discussion with director and executive producer Michael Engler and production designer Bob Shaw.

"The Mission": Directors Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine’s documentary chronicles the life of John Chau, an evangelist who repeatedly attempted to contact an isolated tribal nation, only to be killed by the tribe’s members.

"No Ordinary Campaign": ALS patient Brian Wallach and his wife Sandra Abrevaya build a wildly successful national movement to push through healthcare reform in Washington DC. Followed by a panel discussion and Q&A.

"OnBoard": Director Deborah Riley Draper’s documentary offers an insightful narrative about the ascent of Black women on American corporate boards, showcasing the determination and actions of a group of courageous women who united in 2020 to drive progress in board diversity. Discussion with executive producer Shannon Nash.

"The Space Race": Directors Lisa Cortés and Diego Hurtado de Mendoza’s documentary dives into the untold experiences of the inaugural Black pilots, scientists, and engineers of NASA, utilizing decades' worth of archived film footage and interviews to provide a reflective take on the challenges associated with the process of breaking social and scientific barriers. Discussion with executive producer and film subject Leland Melvin.

"Sometime, Somewhere" (world premiere): Ricardo Preve’s black-and-white documentary explores the unique journeys and shared struggles of Latino immigrants in Charlottesville, Virginia against the backdrop of changing perceptions due to 9/11 and the 2021 Capitol assault. Discussion with director and producer Ricardo Preve, who will receive the VAFF’s Gerald L. Baliles Founder’s Award.

Black Excellence - Presented by United Way of Greater Charlottesville: This series grew out of VAFF’s commitment to both expand and be more inclusive in its efforts to not only tell stories about challenges along racial boundaries, but also to celebrate, investigate, and deepen our understanding of how integral African-American culture and history has been, and continues to be, to American history. For more information, visit the website.

Friday, September 22, 2023

PICK: Tegan and Sara at the National, Sunday, Sept. 24

PrideFest is postponed, but there are still some events happening.

Posted By on Fri, Sep 22, 2023 at 11:00 AM

Hold on to your wigs, folks. A big ole’ storm is afoot in the area, enough to cancel the official Pridefest event on Brown’s Island, but there’s more than enough queer cheer and joy this weekend to keep the party going [Note: A press release from Virginia Pride said it hopes to reschedule the PrideFest event in the near future.]

Most notable among the events still taking place, powerhouse duo Tegan and Sara will still play RVA, but the show has moved from Brown’s Island to the National this Sunday; purchased tickets for the original show will be accepted at the new indoor venue.

Simply put, pop duo Tegan and Sara Quin are indie music icons. The Canadian twins have been openly out since they began their career back in 1998. They’ve snagged Junos, performed at the Oscars, and consistently been outspoken advocates for the LGBTQI+ community.

They’ve gone on to kick out a graphic novel series ("Junior High"), streaming Freevee show on Amazon, and founded the Tegan and Sara Foundation to “improve the lives of LGBTQ+ women and girls. This mission is founded on a commitment to feminism and racial, social and gender justice,” according to the statement posted on their site.

Their CryBaby tour stopping here is sure to be a banger. According to Tegan in a previous interview, the band hasn’t really toured behind an album in five years. They’ll toss in a few of the old fan favorites as well.

Other events about town include Friday’s official Pride After Dark party at Ember Music Hall (Moore Kismet) at 8 p.m. and an indoor maker’s market at Fallout on Saturday, Sept. 23 from 2 p.m. - 8 p.m., followed by performances from Zee Machine and Trapcry. A late night dance shindig follows that’ll surely knock your kinky boots off. Stay curious and check the socials, because there’s much, much more on the docket. The River City is proving that pride persists.

Tegan and Sara play the National on Sunday, Sept. 24 at 7 p.m. All ages. For more information and tickets (still available) visit thenationalrva.com.

How to Get Free Tickets for Broadway in Richmond Shows

Richmond Performing Arts Alliance is sponsoring at least 100 free tickets for each show.

Posted By on Fri, Sep 22, 2023 at 4:00 AM

They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Perhaps that’s true, but there are free tickets.

Thanks to the Richmond Performing Arts Alliance, at least 100 free tickets will be available to the public for each production of Broadway in Richmond’s 2023-24 season.

This year’s season includes live performances of “Frozen,” “Six,” “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical,” “Annie,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical” and “Beetlejuice” at the Altria Theater. Each “RPAA Night” will be held on selected Wednesdays.

Who gets the tickets? Ashley Moore, a spokesperson for RPAA, says they’ll “determine the targeted audience based on the theme and age appropriateness of the show. Some shows will have specific school partnership opportunities (for students and teachers) while others may be better suited for partnerships with nonprofit organizations that serve adult populations. There will certainly be opportunities for the public at large to request tickets, outside of these partnerships.”

Asked if these tickets are intended solely for school-age children, Moore says the age range will depend on the show. “Frozen,” and “Annie” are more family-friendly than “Tina,” for example.

Potential theatergoers will have to apply on a show-by-show basis for the free tickets, and the application for each show will be launched roughly one month before the curtain. The application for free “Frozen” tickets is currently available. Go here to download the application form.

In addition to receiving free tickets, those chosen will be able to participate in pre-show events with an educational focus, such as “lectures, guided discussions, chatbacks, masterclasses/workshops, panels, mini-performances or even a resource fair,” according to a press release. “Further educational supplements will also be provided by distributing lesson plans and study guides revolving around the show’s themes, plot and history to teachers through RPAA’s school district partners.”

Moore says it’s possible that more than 100 tickets will be available per show, depending on price and availability.

RPAA was founded as the Virginia Performing Arts Foundation in 2001 to build what is now the Dominion Energy Center for the Performing Arts. It currently oversees that center and the Altria Theatre. The nonprofit is fully funding the tickets and pre-show events while working in collaboration with Broadway in Richmond.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

PICK: Sam Reed Sings Jazz: Nina Simone at Gallery5

Thursday, Sept. 21

Posted By on Thu, Sep 21, 2023 at 4:00 AM

Singer Sam Reed continues her monthly residency at Gallery5 this week with a program centered around the music of 1960s icon Nina Simone. The show is billed as a jazz session, which is at once fair and simplistic. Simone’s music was not limited to any one genre. Her music combines much folk, classical, blues, and R&B into an individualistic, commanding style that struck out against the myriad racist and social ills of its era. It is, alas, just as timely today.

Reed, whose credits include holding her own against the massed horns of the boys in NoBS! Brass and singing multiple generations of soul and R&B hits with Dance Candy, showed her affinity for Simone’s music in the jam-packed first edition of this program in the pre-COVID era Vagabond Rabbit Hole. Once again, she will play the night backed by Calvin Brown, who has the chops to pull off Simone’s classically honed keyboard skills. In last month’s great Janis Joplin tribute, the first set was the tribute and the second was full of guests and surprises covering a wider, but still relevant, range of material. So it may not be an early night.

Sam Reed Sings Jazz: Nina Simone is at Gallery 5 on Thursday, Sept. 21. Doors are at 7 p.m., music at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Review: Doug Richards Orchestra – “Through a Sonic Prism: The Music of Antônio Carlos Jobim”

Posted By on Mon, Sep 18, 2023 at 12:01 PM

Richmond musical giant Doug Richards’s take on Antônio Carlos Jobim reinterprets the Brazilian composer’s gently flowing bossa nova music in his own idiosyncratic musical concept. The result is at once traditionally lyrical and bracingly radical, chock full of contrasting contrapuntal melodies rich in harmony, shaded by dissonance, and floating above it all the assured, impeccable vocals of Laura Ann Singh. The musical choices are a mix of the familiar- “Insensatez,” “One Note Samba,” and deeper cuts.

The project, with roots in the hothouse isolation of the COVID shutdown, is dense with musical detail. But despite the density of ideas, there is warmth and space in the arrangements. It is at once true to Jobim’s samba concept and utterly unique.

Through a Sonic Prism - Teaser from Doug Richards on Vimeo.

A lot of credit goes to the dedication of the all-star band, mostly Richmond players along with wider area stalwarts including Charlottesville trumpeter John D’earth and guitarist Adam Larabee, and Tidewater’s John Toomey, who swaps the keyboard role with Daniel Clarke. Whether past students at Virginia Commonwealth University or former collaborators, all wanted to be involved. It was anything but sight-reading, show-up-and-play gig, the highly technical, not always intuitive, twists and turns in the arrangements required individual and section preparation before the tracks were recorded over three sessions at Spacebomb Studio. (Full disclosure: Style Weekly was there, and some of our photos were used in the album packaging.)

There may be something quixotic about releasing an innovative ensemble collaboration in an era of amplified grooves, sampling, and the primacy of individual expression. “Through a Sonic Prism” is too challenging for the swing era big band enthusiasts, and too superficially conventional for the avant-garde, even if there may be more iconoclastic moves in any five minutes of Richards’ work than an album of impassioned, expressionist blowing.

There is a lot to listen to in the multilayered charts, from moments of pastoral reflection to the intense section contrapuntal finale, to “One Note Samba.” On one level it is an album stuffed to the brim with beauty and ideas. On another it is an epochal statement of legacy, not just of the composer, but of a multigenerational wellspring of the RVA scene. In this vision of what a modern big band can be, Richards isn’t just swinging, he’s swinging for the fences.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

PICK: Flynn Fest at Main Line Brewery on Saturday, Sept. 16

Featuring Agents of Good Roots, Scattered, Smothered and Covered, the Signature Move and Spring Street Hotel.

Posted By on Wed, Sep 13, 2023 at 3:53 PM

They couldn’t have made a music fest for a nicer guy. Now in its second year, Flynn Fest returns this time to the outdoor Main Line Brewery venue with a whole new slate of bands and right now, the forecast is looking just about perfect: 83 and sunny, clear skies.

The festival, named in honor of former Moody Middle School teacher Fletcher Flynn Wyche, who was a huge fan of bands like the Grateful Dead, Steely Dan, and Tedeschi Trucks Band, will showcase a number of "jammy" bands featuring his old friends and roommates. Headlining the show is Agents of Good Roots, who need little introduction around these parts, a band made up of some talented, veteran musicians led by guitarist and vocalist Andrew Winn and Brian Jones on percussion, with J.C. Kuhl (sax) and Stewart Myers (bass) rounding out the lineup. You can read our 2018 interview with Winn to learn more about that band.

The three other bands on this daytime bill are acoustic roots band, Scattered, Smothered and Covered (featuring former members of the Mills Family Band); The Signature Move (a funky rock band based out of Richmond playing covers by the likes of Little Feat and others); and (the Dead tune-friendly) Spring Street Hotel.

The Signature Move
  • The Signature Move
Spring Street Hotel
  • Spring Street Hotel

There will be food trucks on hand including Legendary Provisions, La Boot, and Kobop plus Fireside Pizze from 4 to 8:30 p.m. as well as a wide selection of craft beers. The event will benefit the Anna Julia Cooper School, an independent faith-based school providing full tuition scholarships to K-8th grade students of limited economic resources from Richmond's East End. The mission of Anna Julia Cooper School is “to love, educate, and uplift its students.”

Scattered, Smothered and Covered
  • Scattered, Smothered and Covered

The second annual Flynn Fest takes place on Saturday, Sept. 16 from 1 to 7 p.m. at Main Line Brewery. Tickets are $30 in advance or $40 at the door and you can buy them here. But get them quick, ticket sales end soon. Main Line Brewey is located at 1603 Ownby Lane.

Monday, September 11, 2023

Richmond Ballet moving Studio series into VMFA

Posted By on Mon, Sep 11, 2023 at 4:00 AM

Sometimes a production is so big, you need a partner to help pull it off.

Richmond Ballet is staging “Carmina Burana,” one of its most popular pieces, Sept. 22-24 in a co-presentation with the Richmond Symphony. While the ballet and symphony perform together all the time, this co-presentation will allow an expanded production featuring 16 dancers, 60 musicians and up to 150 singers from the Richmond Symphony Chorus.

According to Richmond Ballet’s Managing Director Brett Bonda, putting together this kind of a collaboration was “a no-brainer.” “We think it’s great for the Richmond community to see two of the area’s largest arts organizations working together in a collaborative way,” he explains. “We just thought this was a win-win.”

The enduring popularity of “Carmina” has everything to do with the music, according to Bonda. “The music is so dramatic that it gets used in a lot of movies,” he says. “I watch a lot of football and sometimes I’ll hear it on a preview for an upcoming game and I’m like, ‘this is everywhere!’”

Some of the most exciting developments for the Ballet extend well beyond this fall, however. The company announced plans in partnership with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to bring its Studio series to the VMFA’s Leslie Cheek Theatre. “If all goes according to plan, we will be staging our repertory-style productions on a newly renovated stage there next fall,” Bonda says. “Construction should start in the next couple of months.”

The renovation is necessary to accommodate the breadth of some of the Ballet’s productions. “The width of this stage is currently 33 feet and we like to have somewhere between 37 and 40 feet,” Bonda explains.

“[Associate Artistic Director] Ma Cong has so many ideas about ballets he wants to choreograph based on the museum’s artwork,” he says. “Next year we’re going to have a lot to talk about.”

PICK: Deau Eyes Tour De Richmond: Spaghetti Dinner + Strings

Posted By on Mon, Sep 11, 2023 at 4:00 AM

“Legacies” is the gift that keeps on giving.

The album has already given Ali Thibodeau, the singer-songwriter and multidisciplinary creative force who performs as Deau Eyes, a Newlin Music Prize win, as “Legacies” was honored as the top album released in the Richmond-Petersburg area last year. The 2022 LP also provided vividly rendered videos for standout tracks “Moscow in the Spring” and “Haven’t You Had Quite Enough.”

The title track now gets a turn in the spotlight. The video for “Legacies” will be screened for the first time at a special Spaghetti Dinner + Strings event being held on Wednesday, Sept. 13 at the Unity of Richmond church.

In addition to dinner and a show, attendees can expect a dream-like take on the song’s grand romantic vision, which is crystallized in the chorus: “I want a love like the legends all have spoken of / In an age where legacies are coming to an end.” The clip was directed by Thibodeau’s brother, Michael Thibodeau, with whom Ali has been collaborating audio-visually since childhood. “Our whole lives,” Ali says, “Michael has followed me around with a camcorder and I used to create songs on our karaoke machine tape deck. We'd make home videos and alternate as the subject in every scene directed and every piece choreographed.”

For this one, the Thibodeau siblings and the Sunroom production outfit Michael founded with twins Alec and Ryan Gary enlisted an all-ages cast in order to stage a haunting depiction of a wedding. Think nuptials at the end of the world.

A still from the "Legacies" video premiere.
  • A still from the "Legacies" video premiere.

“We spitballed on awkward bits of our childhood,” Ali says, “the beautiful melodrama of tradition, and all the unlikely characters that we have crossed paths with over the years … With a great community effort and the skills we’ve picked up over the years, we brought this video to life with misty-eyed nostalgia, giggling in disbelief.”

To mark the occasion, Ali will be giving a special performance with a string quartet, complemented by a differently stringy dinner of spaghetti and the video’s premiere. The event is part of Deau Eyes’ 10-shows-in-12-days Tour De Richmond, a tradition that began last year as a way to discover new venues and try new approaches to engaging with listeners. This time around, she’ll have passports fans can take from show to show to get stamped, as well as special merchandise to commemorate each event.

“There are so many talented RVA musicians and I'm lucky to be collaborating with so many of them on this tour,” Thibodeau says. “Every show and venue will be so different … It feels like I've been preparing for this all year and I can't wait.”

The Deau Eyes Spaghetti Dinner + Strings event will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 13 at the Unity of Richmond church. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., dinner starts at 6 p.m. and music starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at linktr.ee/xodeau. To hear and purchase “Legacies,” visit deaueyes.com.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Songs of Comfort

New book recounts DJ's experience working in retirement homes during lockdown.

Posted By on Wed, Sep 6, 2023 at 11:25 AM

What song would you play to brighten someone’s day? How about to brighten someone’s pandemic?

Musician, DJ and author Josh Urban had plenty of opportunities to contemplate those questions — and to absorb the stories of those around him — while providing entertainment at a retirement home during the lockdowns precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Urban spent much of 2020 and 2021 working with the elderly at a facility he renamed “Statler Place” for his book, “Cities on a Hill,” which recounts his experiences getting to know residents and filling the air with songs that brought comfort during a uniquely difficult time.

Before the pandemic started, Urban found regular gigs playing music for older audiences, combining his teenage experience volunteering at nursing homes with his skills as a DJ. “I was on the road pretty much every day,” he says, “spinning shows and getting to meet really cool people — people who had danced to James Brown the first time, and people who had seen Frank Sinatra in concert.”

After COVID hit and retirement communities instituted protocols to mitigate the spread of the virus, morale suddenly took on a new level of importance, and Statler Place hired Urban as the staff entertainer. “I made a DJ cart and a played, I think, a thousand shows, at least, in the halls, because everyone was confined to their rooms,” Urban says. “‘Blueberry Hill’ was the number-one song of the lockdown — the Fats Domino version.”

But “Cities on a Hill” doesn’t just share which tracks resonated with seniors in isolation. The book aims to capture the richness of the personal narratives he was privileged to intersect with near their conclusions, from the widower who loved hearing “Unforgettable” because it reminded him of his late wife to the resident who had a dream about Urban writing a book chronicling their time together. “It was hard to finish the chapter sometimes,” he says, “because I love these people so much, and I want to write a whole book about each person.”

“It really hammered the point home about how much meaning there is in every moment should we choose to engage with it,” he adds.

Urban also describes getting a clearer sense for how music can be of service to people. “It’s more than just about me playing guitar and having fun,” he notes. “It’s like, ‘Wow, this can really make a difference to people.’”

Josh Urban will sign copies of “Cities on a Hill” at the W. Broad Street 2nd and Charles in Richmond from 12 - 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 10. It is located at 9004 W. Broad St. Admission is free. For more information, visit eventbrite.com/e/book-signing-cities-on-a-hill-tickets-708737281287.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Criminal Record

Rap song references Virginia prisoner’s recent escape from custody at St. Mary’s Hospital.

Posted By on Wed, Aug 30, 2023 at 10:04 AM

As the United States Marshals service continues its search for Naseem Roulack, who escaped from custody on Aug. 12 during a medical appointment at a Henrico hospital, his story has already shown up in a new rap song released last week.

Northern Virginia rapper Fawzi Malaika’s album, “Hoodbridge,” is available on YouTube and streaming services. Hoodbridge is a moniker for the area of Prince William County called Woodbridge, where Roulack lived. The 22-track album includes a cut titled “Escaped” which features a guest turn by “FreeLilNas,” an alias similar to the “Lil Nas” nickname Roulack uses, according to the department of corrections. A line in the song also refers to an “escapee,” before closing with a news report about Roulack’s escape from Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital, during which a reporter urges listeners not to approach him and to “just call 911."


Prior to his escape, Roulack, 21, was serving a 13-year sentence at Greensville Correctional Facility in Southside Virginia for aggravated malicious wounding, grand larceny and hit and run. WTVR CBS6 News reported that the officers guarding him at the hospital had fallen asleep. A freelance writer for Style reached out to the department of corrections for comment but had not received a response; we will update the story if he does.

Rappers releasing music while on the run isn’t a new concept. Perhaps the best-known example is Tay-K, who in 2017 was captured the day his song, “The Race,” was released. That song went platinum and, after a murder conviction, Tay-K remains in prison.

Local rapper Chance Fischer says the idea of a rapper recording music while a fugitive is indicative of a generation of artists focused on living in the moment and using social media to generate attention.

“I think it's a thing that's occurring particularly because of where we are in society,” he says. “It's just a constant reminder of the territory that we're in … [and] just how cautious or how reckless a person can be. Both things are going to have an immediate impact on you.”

The U.S. Marshals Service is offering $5,000 for information that leads to Roulack’s capture. Calls are being accepted at 1-877-WANTED2 and tips can also be sent via the United States Marshals Service tips app.

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