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Sunday, September 24, 2017

Review: Nancy Murphy Spicer, Page Bond Gallery

Posted By on Sun, Sep 24, 2017 at 3:10 PM

Nancy Murphy Spicer's "You Always Overdo It"  (2016) Acrylic on canvas 72 x 60 inches.
  • Nancy Murphy Spicer's "You Always Overdo It" (2016) Acrylic on canvas 72 x 60 inches.

"Hiding in Plain Sight" is a group of seven paintings by Nancy Murphy Spicer that confront visitors with tongue-in-cheek statements, including “Why” or “Luck,” written in large handwritten print.

Each painting is made by layering thin washes of paint and all include a statement, with the exception of the diptych, “Untitled (green with loops),” and the smallest work, “Scrambled Head” (both 2017). While some words in the paintings are legible, others are obscured by large swaths of organic forms, thereby forcing visitors to look at the title for the full statement.

There is a pleasantness to the color palette, comprised of mostly warm and vibrant colors, that belies the confrontational air of some statements like “You always overdo it.” While “I have no idea” seems offhanded and flippant, “These are not just words” brings with it a sense of gravitas that summons broader undertones of language and its implications. Yet simultaneously, because of their quick gestural paint stroke and garish color combinations, the works have a cartoonish quality. Spicer makes clear asides to graffiti and Abstract Expressionist painting as evidenced by the drips, gestural paint strokes, and sense of action.

If the words are, as the title describes, “hiding in plain sight” then is there another meaning or context concealed beneath the surface of the thin layers of paint? While the statements are straightforward and direct, the paintings offer only further questions.

Nancy Murphy Spicer's "Hiding in Plain Sight" is at Page Bond Gallery through Sept. 30.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Preview: The Breakfast Cabaret Celebrates 100th Show at Crossroads Coffee and Tea

Posted By on Tue, Sep 19, 2017 at 10:45 AM

Barry Bless and Twila Sikorski's Breakfast Cabaret "is as close a recreation of a idealized Rive Gauche Parisienne café as a Forrest Hills coffee and ice cream shop is likely to come."
  • Barry Bless and Twila Sikorski's Breakfast Cabaret "is as close a recreation of a idealized Rive Gauche Parisienne café as a Forrest Hills coffee and ice cream shop is likely to come."

At 9 a.m., the band is still coalescing, but there is a healthy crowd at Crossroads Coffee and Ice Cream.

There are still a few good seats, if you don’t mind sitting with strangers. They won’t be strangers long, which is sort of the point. Breakfast Cabaret ringleader Barry Bless describes the South Side neighborhood as Richmond’s Left Bank. The atmosphere is friendly, multiethnic, and as gently leftist as a Bernie sticker on a Mac laptop.

With his accordion, waxed mustache and pointed beard, and a black top hat adorned with a red carnation, paisley shirt and black-on-black striped pants, Bless looks like he just stepped out of an Henri Toulouse-Lautrec poster. Singer and dancer Twila Sikorski is wearing a short, flowered dress, a layered, pleated pink apron with a cupcake motif and calf-high, brown cowboy boots. It is at once eclectic and down-home.

When the music kicks off into a rousing “Bella Ciao,” a 1940s anti-fascist, Italian partisan anthem, accompanied by violin, mandolin, bass and Cajun box drum, the evocation of an idealized bohemian cafe is complete. There is nothing else like it in Richmond.

On Friday, Sept. 22, the group celebrates its 100th performance. Coincidentally, it is also the 15th anniversary of Crossroads. That’s enough shows to be a local institution, albeit one that is more the result of quirky organic contingency than long-term planning.

“Twila and I have been working together on multiple projects for seven years,” Bless says. "We’re like an old married couple. We are both morning people, and both have children in school, so we rehearsed early in the day. Since that was when we were at the top of our game, we decided to move our rehearsals down to Crossroads.”

They started in September 2013 as a duo, Professor Bless and the Dancing Madwoman. There were no expectations, just shows once a month. Then twice. Then other players asked to join in and the audience grew. Ultimately, Crossroads owner Will Herring asked them to make it a weekly event.

“Over 30 performers have been part of the show,” Bless says. “Our motto is ‘Breakfast Cabaret, ruining the reputations of Richmond’s finest musicians.”

On this day, for 90 minutes on a perfect morning, the band capably navigates songs about love, about coffee and about trains. It will play a Kurt Weill song about the murderous fantasies of a waitress. There is a Russian song with a Led Zeppelin-like intro, and a surreal birthday song, originally performed by a cartoon crocodile, that Bless says has become the Russian equivalent of “Happy Birthday to You.”

The performance is interspersed with jokes, audience interaction, and intimate surprises, such as the news that the violinist has just learned she is pregnant. People come and go on the covered patio. A cheerfully racy song about going to a Chinese go-go is followed by Herring’s dramatic reading of an astoundingly bleak Yiddish tale about a death-haunted orphan selling small goods in a cold rain. Visible up the hill, at Patrick Henry School of Science and the Arts, children at recess play on sunlit swings.

It ends with a selection from the Cowgirl Suite, a long-gestating soundtrack for an imaginary black-and-white TV show “The Adventures of Twila Jane.” For a cowboy song, the melody has some sharp turns and a decidedly Eastern modality. But it’s pretty, and it explains, at long last, Sikorski’s pointed-toe, stitch-patterned boots.

It’s all charming, and with a steady audience and an ever-growing repertoire of more than a hundred songs, it is no surprise that the gig has prospered. But it is so laid back, it is hard to imagine how anyone kept count.

“I just count the posters,” Bless says. “I do one every week, while I am relaxing on Saturday night or Sunday afternoon. I try to include all the members, maybe the whole group, maybe just the rhythm section. A lot of artists stop by. Sometimes I use a sketch or photo from the audience.”

The continuum between performer and audience is essential to a place like Crossroads.

“Their product isn’t coffee,” Bless says, "it’s conversation. The coffee house tradition goes back centuries. There were plays, arguments, pamphleteers. It is a real community space, and it wouldn’t work unless somebody like Will was the proprietor. In a lot of coffee shops everyone is hiding behind their screens. At Crossroads, people look up.”

Bless has deep roots in the neighborhood. He’s lived in a house around the corner since he was 19 and raised a family here. Friday’s performances are not just a gig, but a calling.

“When I am [at Crossroads] I am doing what I am meant to be doing, at this place and time, in this particular community. Even when we are slam-packed, the audience isn’t a distraction. I want this to be something that people come to see when they come into town. See the river. Go to a movie at the Byrd Theatre, and come to the Breakfast Cabaret.”

It’s cheaper than a trip to Paris, and it is as close a re-creation of a idealized Rive Gauche Parisienne cafe as a Forest Hill coffee and ice cream shop is likely to come.

Which is, surprisingly, refreshingly close.

Breakfeast Cabaret celebrates 100 shows this Friday, Sept. 22, from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at Crossroads Coffee and Tea, 3600 Forest Hill Ave. Free.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Bijou Film Center Leaving Space

Will continue to hold pop-ups as it reassesses future.

Posted By on Fri, Sep 15, 2017 at 11:00 AM

The Bijou Film Center will no longer have a physical location at 304 E. Broad St.
  • The Bijou Film Center will no longer have a physical location at 304 E. Broad St.

The organizers behind the Bijou Film Center have announced on its Facebook page that after operating for a year at 304 E. Broad St., they will be taking time off from operating a physical space to "focus on building a stronger, more sustainable Bioju that will continue bringing important films, media voices and conversations to Richmond."

This Saturday, Sept. 16 will be the last day of screenings as the Bijou hosts the second annual Afrikana Independent Film Festival, as well as Monster Movie night with Jim Stramel.

"After an amazing year of learning the ups and downs of running an art house cinema on Broad Street, thanks to so many Bijou members and patrons and an amazing landlord [Matt Bauserman]," co-founder James Parrish tells Style, "I'm really excited about the opportunity to shift gears and focus on building a better Bijou for our community. Look for the Bijou to pop-up in some unexpected places."

Parrish notes that good films bring people out, but good films alone won't insure the Bijou's success.

"We need a bigger and better location (which we knew) to allow for multiple sources of revenue," he explains. "A cafe/bar for more concession sales, space for film transfer business, classrooms, better parking/access to the Bijou, listing in Fandango, and more community partnerships like we had for "Citizen Jane." The Bijou will be most successful as a community-based film center, not as a movie theater."

Parrish believes they have a solid business plan in place to sustain the center, including a large base of annual members, donors, grants, and partnerships.

"Small is beautiful and we need to focus on our ability to be nimble and responsive to the needs and wants of our community," he adds.

The below message was posted online earlier today by Parrish:

Over the next year, we will present a series of pop-up events in various locations around Richmond while we develop a strategic plan, establish our non-profit board of directors (we got our non-profit status in April), strengthen our financial position (through membership renewals, fundraising, applying for grants, and events), establish stronger partnerships with community organizations, and look for a location large enough to house a 50-100 seats, a cafe/bar, administrative offices, film to video transfer and editing workstations, and classrooms.

We've already got two pop-up events scheduled at the Richmond Public Library-Main Branch -- "Voices from Charlottesville" with the Richmond Peace Education Center on Sept. 28 and Home Movie Day 2017 on Oct. 21. For more info on these and other upcoming Bijou events, visit the Bijou's FB page: https://www.facebook.com/bijoufilmcenter/ and click on Events.

Now, as we make our next big Bijou move, we need your help again. Please consider renewing your Bijou membership, becoming a new member or making a gift, attracting new members, finding a new location, and volunteering!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Event Pick: the Dead Boys "Young, Loud and Snotty" at Strange Matter

Sept. 15

Posted By on Thu, Sep 14, 2017 at 3:45 PM

The new version of the Dead Boys featuring original members Cheetah Chrome and Johnny Blitz. See if you can guess which two of these were recording punk records 40 years ago.
  • The new version of the Dead Boys featuring original members Cheetah Chrome and Johnny Blitz. See if you can guess which two of these were recording punk records 40 years ago.

Plenty of great bands reunite to play their old classic albums for people who never got a chance to see them performed, or more accurately in most cases, for the money.

But few are playing the same gritty punk clubs they would've played back in the day. There is something refreshingly authentic about that.

Fans of the legendary Cleveland punk band, the Dead Boys, and their classic 1977 album "Young, Loud and Snotty," are in for a treat as original guitarist Cheetah Chrome and drummer Johnny Blitz have assembled a new band and are bringing their seminal record's 40th anniversary tour to Strange Matter on Friday night.

Formed in the mid-1970s, the Dead Boys built on the Stooges' raw power and the New York Dolls' downtown dirt, adding an infusion of spiked midwest energy that helped inspire the rise of hardcore music. Original vocalist Stiv Bators died in 1990 after being hit by a taxi in Paris.

Here's the original album in all it's sweaty, spit-tastic glory:

Quoted from a recent news release, Chrome explains the idea behind this current North American tour for a re-recording of the album, "Still Snotty: Young, Loud and Snotty at 40!"

“I've had my solo band for the last 10 years, and Dead Boys songs have always been included in my shows and over time the right mix of people came together to pull off and at times enhance the Dead Boys sound. With the 40th anniversary of the Dead Boys on the horizon and a solid band that could interpret and deliver the performance and sound needed to maintain the authenticity of the Dead Boys, I reached out to Johnny Blitz about an anniversary tour and he said 'yes' and we began the journey of what would become Still Snotty.”

With Jason Kottwitz on guitar, Detroit punk legend Ricky Rat on bass and vocalist Jake Hout from a zombie Dead Boys tribute band, the Undead Boys, the Dead Boys' 40th anniversary tour started taking shape. “I've been singing the Dead Boys songs myself for 20 years because I couldn't find another singer I trusted enough to hand it to,” Chrome says. “The first gig with Jake, it was like, ‘You got it, man!’ I think Stiv would be very proud of our choice.”

“The original album was actually a demo,” Chrome says. “None of us had been in a studio before, and we figured we would go back in and do it right, but the label said no. It has stood up, but 40 years later we can do a ‘What if?’ What would it have sounded like if we could have gone back in? So that's what this is about. It's not better. It's just different.”

The band has gotten some good reviews for its performances at South by Southwest in Austin, with their set named by Paste Magazine as one of the best of the festival in 2017. "Still Snotty: Young, Loud and Snotty at 40!" was produced in three days in Nashville by Plowboy Records head Shannon Pollard.

The Dead Boys perform with Southside Stranglers, the Brass, Urchin, Cloak/Dagger, Slump, Stake at Strange Matter on Friday, Sept. 15, with doors opening at 6 p.m. and the show at 7 p.m. $20. You can buy tickets here.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Longtime James Brown Singer Brings Her New Book to Union Bistro and Jazz

Posted By on Wed, Sep 13, 2017 at 1:15 PM

Virginia native and longtime James Brown singer, Martha High.
  • Virginia native and longtime James Brown singer, Martha High.

A native of Victoria in Lunenburg County, Martha High rose to perform across the world's stages as a backup singer for the Godfather of Soul, James Brown.

Growing up, High attended Roosevelt High School in Washington where her girl singing group, the Jewels, was discovered. Produced by Bo Diddley, the group scored a deal with Dimension Records, owned by Carole King, and in 1964 released the single, "Opportunity," which you can hear below.

High left the Jewels when she was 18 to work full-time for the James Brown Revue.

Now you can hear her personal stories when she signs and talks about her new book, "He's a Funny Cat, Ms High: My 32 Years Singing With James Brown" on Friday, Sept. 15, at 6 and 8 p.m. at Union Bistro and Jazz at 2400 Northumberland Ave. in Richmond.

"The secret behind my longevity is putting God first," High says via email. "Mr. Brown's discipline was tantamount in making him what he was and it carried over to me. Even today, I will not go onstage if the band has not had a rehearsal."

High added that "its important to look our best on stage because its a reflection of who we are."

So what does she miss most about the Godfather of Soul?

"I miss Mr. Brown's sense of humor and his laughter," she says.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Video: First Day of "Homeland" Shooting Begins at James Center

Posted By on Mon, Sep 11, 2017 at 2:55 PM

A view from behind the cameras in the parking garage of the James Center, as actress Claire Danes walks to her car for a scene of the Showtime drama, "Homeland." - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • A view from behind the cameras in the parking garage of the James Center, as actress Claire Danes walks to her car for a scene of the Showtime drama, "Homeland."

I'm standing in the parking garage of the James Center downtown, which today is doubling for the Ritz Carlton in Washington.

It's the first day of shooting for season seven of Showtime's drama, "Homeland," and I'm talking to a woman named Faith who is the aptly named double for lead actress Claire Danes. She's standing alone near some elevators.

From the side and back, she looks just like the actress: same size, same blond hair and cut style, same tailored, familiar-looking gray suit.

"[This job] is really fun," she tells me. "So in this scene, I'm just walking to that car over there and driving out." She explains that she started doing the work last season in New York and was asked if she wanted to continue in central Virginia, where the series is shooting its penultimate season.

The double for Claire Danes is named Faith.
  • The double for Claire Danes is named Faith.

Things move quickly on set and just when we start talking, she has to jump right back into a run-through. A big part of her job seems to be staying ready to move at a moment's notice.

The small- to medium-sized crew is busy scurrying around and setting up shots and the lighting needed for this somewhat darkened garage scene. Virginia Film Office Director Andy Edmunds is here, as is Rita McClenny, president and chief executive of Virginia Tourism Corp.

We're sitting to the left, out of the shot, when a member of the crew walks over and says, "you guys may want to move over closer to the crew. Claire's going to be driving right by there, and she's from New York, so. ... maybe not the best place to be."

Soon, Danes comes out of the elevator, as ready and businesslike as you would expect of a three-time Emmy winner. She doesn't look much like her double, with what appears in the dim lighting to be brown hair and a dark business suit.

What follows are four or five different takes of the same basic scene of her walking to the car and driving away. As anyone knows who has been on a film set, there's a lot of repetition. Musician and actor Tom Waits said once: "In terms of your time, it’s like making 50 pounds of dough in order to make one biscuit. Then you throw the dough away."

In the shaky cell phone video below, you can watch Danes' character, Carrie Mathison, walking stridently, purposefully, in keeping with her serious CIA character, to the car. Kinda seems to be in a hurry. Maybe to stop a terrorist attack or something. We won't know until the show debuts in fall of 2018.

Someone on set tells me that there won't be much more shooting at the James Center, but there's another place on Main Street that will be a reoccurring location. So if you're into celebrity watching, or the business of creating a prestige drama television show, keep an eye out.

Bob Dylan and Neil DeGrasse Tyson Shows Announced

Posted By on Mon, Sep 11, 2017 at 10:20 AM

dyloan_tyson.jpg

Songwriting legend and Nobel laureate, Bob Dylan, will be performing on Friday, Nov. 10 at the Richmond Coliseum with his longtime friend, gospel and soul singer Mavis Staples. Also, popular scientist Neil DeGrasse Tyson will be appearing at Altria Theater on Wednesday, Nov. 15 as part of "An Astrophysicist Goes to the Movies."

Regarding the Dylan show, tickets go on sale this Friday, Sept. 15, at 10 a.m. at Ticketmaster.com, 800-745-3000, and the box office at Richmond Coliseum.

The Tyson appearance will feature him reviewing the stuff that our favorite science fiction movies, like "Star Wars," got horribly wrong. It starts at 7:30 p.m. and tickets also go on sale this Friday at 10 a.m. at Altria Theater and Dominion Arts Center box offices, or charge by phone 800-514-Etix, or etix.com/livenation.com.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Video: Activist Group Hangs KKK Clowns in Bryan Park

Posted By on Thu, Sep 7, 2017 at 1:42 PM

A still from the video by non-profit art collective, Indecline.
  • A still from the video by non-profit art collective, Indecline.

As major hurricanes line up in the warming Atlantic one after another, a social justice tempest continues to swirl here in Richmond.

Last night, an international activist group of artists known as Indecline hung effigies of Ku Klux Klan members in clown masks in Bryan Park, an area that was cordoned off this morning by police, according to the Times-Dispatch.

The story reports that the group issued a news release saying that it chose Richmond because it was the former capital of the Confederacy. And it chose Bryan Park because it's the site where the slave Gabriel plotted a rebellion in 1800.

From a critique perspective: The provocative gesture flips the terrorism tactics of the KKK hate group, albeit with an odd note of humor via clown masks which makes it almost seem like an early Hollywood promotion for Stephen King's "It," a horror movie opening Friday in theaters nationwide.

Local online commenters are already calling the display "triggering" and "insensitive" to African-Americans, and frightening for children. Others are applauding its message. Several city leaders condemned the display in an update to the TD story.

You can watch the video posted by the group on its Instagram page for a behind-the-scenes look at this activist art happening as it was in progress.

Is the whole thing meant to be humorous or instill fear in would-be racists? Regardless of whether you consider this art or an activist prank gone wrong, there has been consternation lately among the left regarding whether direct-action tactics, such as those employed by Antifa, the self-proclaimed anti-fascist group, are good strategies to stop what is widely believed to be a rising tide of hate groups. Some posit art, humor or non-violent engagement as ways to educate bigots — or at least belittle and shame them.

Another school of thought, often voiced in online comments, believes that fringe hate groups would be less effective if ignored by the media and the public who read and comment on the stories. The online clicks garnered encourage the media to cover the topic more often while giving relatively small hate groups the attention and wider forum they crave.

Columnist Michael Paul Williams makes a good point in his column by labeling the Bryan Park act as too "flippant" and divisive, or missing its mark. He quotes VCU political science professor Ravi Perry as saying that the goal of activism should be to "educate people on these issues and how we can move forward as a country."

Prankster art or rioting in the streets can come across to some as fairly ineffective and self-congratulatory, unless it crosses over into what Perry calls "policy arenas, courthouses, and legislatures."

A recent article in the Atlantic suggests that Charlottesville may have been a major turning point for the so-called alt-right. A researcher who has studied it for years tells Ezra Klein:

I believe that chapter of the alt-right story that my book was about—the anonymous online trolling culture, the constant evasions and ironic styles, the hodge-podge of disparate groups united by the “anti-PC” crusade—is over and a new one has begun. The alt-right in the strict sense will now become more isolated, more focused, and unambiguous, and perhaps more militant. But the part of the movement that is willing to go all the way is still very small.

On Sept. 25, author Mark Bray will be reading from his book "The Antifa Handbook" at Babes of Carytown, 3166 W. Cary St.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Free Megastar Concert for Charlottesville Announced at Scott Stadium

Posted By on Wed, Sep 6, 2017 at 10:10 AM

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If you're looking to help out in Charlottesville, and you're a pop music fan, you might be very interested in this news release that just went out:

On Sunday, Sept. 24, there's going to be a free concert at Scott Stadium featuring a bunch of well-known names. Only issue is, C'ville residents get first dibs though there will be limited tickets available for fans outside of the immediate area. The online period for free ticket requests already is underway. See below:

In response to the recent events in their hometown of Charlottesville, VA, Dave Matthews Band will host an evening of music and unity that will be FREE for members of the Charlottesville and University of Virginia communities through an online request process. The event – produced by Live Nation, Starr Hill Presents and the University of Virginia – will take place on Sunday, September 24, at UVA’s Scott Stadium in Charlottesville.

“A Concert for Charlottesville” will feature Dave Matthews Band, Pharrell Williams, Justin Timberlake, Chris Stapleton, Ariana Grande, Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes, The Roots, Cage the Elephant and special guests.

While tickets are free, attendees are encouraged to make a donation to the “Concert for Charlottesville Fund” at the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation. Beneficiaries of the fund will include victims of the events in Charlottesville on August 11 and 12, and their families, first responders, and organizations devoted to the promotion of healing, unity and justice locally and nationwide. Donations can be made HERE.

Tickets will be allocated initially to residents of the greater Charlottesville area, and also to UVA students, faculty and staff. An online ticket request period is currently underway at www.concertforcharlottesville.com and will end on Monday, Sept. 11, at Noon ET. A limited number of tickets will also be available at a walk-up, no service charge box office at John Paul Jones Arena on Friday, September 15, at 10AM ET.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Musician Tim Barry Debuts Solo Video Filmed By His 4-Year-Old Daughter

Posted By on Tue, Sep 5, 2017 at 4:20 PM

A still from the new solo video for "High On 95" by veteran Richmond artist, Tim Barry.
  • A still from the new solo video for "High On 95" by veteran Richmond artist, Tim Barry.

The folks at Noisey have a small piece today celebrating former Avail frontman Tim Barry's new solo video release for the song, "High On 95" off his upcoming album of the same name, due out Sept. 8.

Proud daddy Barry had one of his daughters, 4-year-old Lela Jane, shoot some of the footage using an old VHS recorder. Check it out at the link above.

Barry will have his music interpreted by the Richmond Symphony as part of the Broadberry Presents: RVA Live show on Sept. 23 at Carpenter Theater. He then leaves for a national tour starting in Washington, DC at DC9 and ending in San Fran at the legendary Bottom of the Hill venue.

  • Re: Bijou Film Center Leaving Space

    • Find a home in the old Bellevue theater on MacArthur Ave!

    • on September 16, 2017
  • Re: Video: Activist Group Hangs KKK Clowns in Bryan Park

    • '....there has been consternation lately among the left regarding whether direct-action tactics, such as those…

    • on September 12, 2017
  • Re: Video: First Day of "Homeland" Shooting Begins at James Center

    • That's so so cool! Love Claire Danes!!

    • on September 12, 2017
  • More »
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