Friday, September 20, 2019

Local Artists Join Global Day of Action Against Climate Change

Billboard by Noah Scalin and Daniel Calder will go up Sept. 21.

Posted By on Fri, Sep 20, 2019 at 11:00 AM

Finally there seems to be the slightest bit of momentum from folks wondering whether we should be concerned that most scientists don't see things going too well for humanity (to say nothing of a million other species) over the next few decades.

To coincide with the U.N Climate Summit and Youth Climate Summit 2019, global arts initiative Micro Galleries is holding a global day of creative action on Saturday, Sept. 21 against climate change. And at least one pair of Richmond artists will be participating.

Noah Scalin ("Skull-A-Day" project) and Daniel Calder have created an image that will be shown for 24 hours on the billboard located at 5912 W. Broad St. (near Hamstead Ave.) The message takes the form of a landscape image of Richmond inundated by a flooded James River coupled with inspirational text from Richmond's own Arthur Ashe: "Did I make the best use of the time I had?"

The image sent to Style (shown above) was titled "New Atlantis, Old Dominion."

"Noah and I have been talking about working together for years," Calder told Style in an email message. "We both have a history of collaboration in a wide range of media. When this project came along, it seemed like a perfect opportunity."

Both artists released a joint statement via press release:

“As artists we feel we have a great platform through our art to connect with the local community about the impact climate disruption will have on their way of life. And, we can’t sit back and wait for others to do something."

They also noted a quote by environmentalist Bill McKibben: "When Bill heard about this global day of art action he threw his support behind it stating, ‘environmentalists are good at bar graphs and statistical tables.. but that’s only half of the human brain. We also need art and music to reach our more visceral core. That’s why this initiative from Micro Galleries is so vital.’

Also from the release: "Noah and Daniel’s work in Richmond will be live streamed over 24 hours, followed by its inclusion in an online exhibition at www.microgalleries.org. To find out how you can support this day of action and watch the art unfold, head to www.microgalleries.org/dayofaction.

For a more philosophical take: "Perhaps the most important philosophical question we face today is how to commit to some notion of human flourishing in the face of such an existential threat," check out this article "We Broke The World" at the Baffler.

Oh, and go Team Greta.

Virginia Folklife Stage and Area to feature "Hot Rods and Hot Licks"

Posted By on Fri, Sep 20, 2019 at 7:00 AM

There's something new this year at the Richmond Folk Fest's Virginia Folklife Stage and Area that fans of folk music and Nascar can love.

From a press release this morning:

The Virginia Folklife Program’s 2019 presentation of Hot Rods and Hot Licks will celebrate and showcase some of the Commonwealth’s most skilled and innovative automotive magicians today.

Audiences will witness the intricate art of pinstriping, custom form sculpting, bead rolling and stretching, and much more, while getting up close and personal with the prized rolling wonders of local hot rodders and collectors. And while we won’t be racing these beauties on the street, speed will definitely be on display, as audiences will be able to witness the complete disassembly and reassembly of a small block Chevy engine in world record time by our own Hot Rodders of Tomorrow national youth champions from Roanoke County Schools.

While Team Vibrant Performance breaks down engines in record times, young contestants will dazzle the judges with their own lightening quick banjo breakdowns in the 5th Annual Scott Street Five String Finals. As master custom car designer Marty Martino demonstrates the sculpting of whimsical curves on a hot rod’s fins, master Mongolian contortionist Mandkhai Erdembat will bend her own body into equally elegant yet seemingly impossible forms.

Much in the way that Virginians turn local lots into cruise ins and drag strips, audiences will marvel at the remarkable artistic expressions and aesthetic cultures that arose from the urban parking lots of Hampton Roads with the dazzling hip hop dance moves of Washington, D.C.-area arts collective Urban Artistry.

Here is a list of performers and material culture demonstrators:


Bryan Bowers Band (autoharp virtuoso/folk)

Danny Knicely (multi-instrumentalist and dancer)

Deborah Pratt and Clementine Macon Boyd (oyster shucking champions)

Dr. Levine and the Dreaded BluesLady with Andrew Alli (blues)

Frank Newsome (Old Regular Baptist hymns)

J Pope (vocalist and lyricist)

Legendary Ingramettes (gospel)

Linda Lay and Springfield Exit (bluegrass)

Mandkhai Erdembat (Mongolian contortion)

Urban Artistry (house dance and hip hop)

Whitetop Mountain Band (old time)

Wild Ponies (Americana)

Willard Gayheart featuring Dori Freeman (Appalachian singer/songwriter)

Material Culture Demonstrators

Jack Harris – Custom Metal Work

Kent Writtenberry – Autobody Metal Work and Custom Restoration

Tom Van Nortwick – Automobile Pinstriping

Marty Martino – Custom Auto Design and Shaping

Roddy Moore – Curator of Virginia Folklife Area

Team Vibrant Performance: Burton Center for Arts and Technology Motor Sports Team, Chris Overfelt, Coach – Engine Assembly and Disassembly

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

PICK: Les Filles de Illighadad at the International Center @ University of Richmond, Wednesday, Sept. 18

Posted By on Wed, Sep 18, 2019 at 1:00 AM

Hailing from a secluded commune in central Niger, Les Filles de Illighadad take their group's name from a goat skin drum.

A nomadic people living in the Sahara Desert, these groundbreaking women musicians are known for their "tende," or mortar drum played with traditional folk guitar. Their hypnotic, softly sung songs are beautiful and quietly powerful, a pre-modern desert sound building through communal vocals, handclaps and percussion. The backbeat is a pounded calabash, a drum partly submerged in water.

In demand across the U.S. thanks to the explosion in interest around Tuareg guitar music, as well as the passionate work of Christopher Kirkley of Saheel Sounds who recorded them, the women are in the middle of a highly anticipated east coast tour. I'm betting former Richmond musician Jim Thomson is somehow involved, too (I sent him a message to find out).

Indeed, Richmond should count its lucky stars to get this amazing group at the International Center at University of Richmond on Wednesday, Sept. 18 at 7:30 p.m. Better yet, the show is free and open to the public.

Check it out:

From a press release:

Fatou Seidi Ghali, lead vocalist and performer of Les Filles de Illighadad is one of the only Tuareg female guitarists in Niger. Sneaking away with her older brother’s guitar, she taught herself to play. While Fatou’s role as the first female Tuareg guitarist is groundbreaking, it is just as interesting for her musical direction.

In a place where gender norms have created two divergent musics, Fatou and Les Filles de Illighadad are reasserting the role of tende in Tuareg guitar. In lieu of the djembe or the drum kit, Les Filles de Illighadad incorporate the traditional drum and the pounding calabash, half buried in water. The forgotten inspiration of Tuareg guitar, they are reclaiming its importance in the genre and reclaiming the music of tende.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Bob Dylan Playing Virginia State University, Nov. 13

Posted By on Mon, Sep 9, 2019 at 12:20 PM

Arguably the most legendary American songwriter of all-time is coming to South Chesterfield. Bob Dylan and his Band will be performing at Virginia State University's Multi-Purpose Center on Wednesday, Nov. 13.

Tickets go on sale Friday, Sept. 20 and range from $52.50 to $82.50 and students save $25. Tickets will be available at www.bobdylan.com, www.ticketmaster.com, or at the Tri-City Design Box Office.

The venue is located at 20809 2nd Ave, and holds 6,100 people for events.

Also announced today at the same venue: Monica, Ashanti, Keri Hilson, Amerie and Lil Mo will be performing on Oct. 11. This is part of a new series highlighting female visionaries. From the press release that just arrived:

Live Nation Urban announced today, Femme it Forward, a mulit-format series of events spotlighting the entertainment industry’s most creative and accomplished female visionaries, both on the stage and behind the scenes at VSU Multi-Purpose Center at Virginia State University on Friday, Oct. 11th. Tickets go on sale for the inaugural series of events Friday, Sept. 13 at 10:00 a.m. EST, at the Tri-City Designs Box Office at VSU Multi-Purpose Center www.ticketmaster.com or www.FemmeItForward.com.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Review: PhotoSynthesizers “Apollogy”

Release party at Fuzzy Cactus on Saturday, Sept. 7

Posted By on Fri, Sep 6, 2019 at 4:30 PM

Smart, mesmerizingly melodic, often funny, occasionally heartbreaking, “Apollogy” is the first official studio album from RVA hip-hop group PhotoSynthesizers.

It’s been a long time coming, the band has been together for 11 years. According to an online biography, the band founders, lead vocalist BarCodez and guitarist/vocalist Joshua Bryant, connected via a Style Weekly ad.

Over that time, they’ve delivered some memorable cross-genre performances, released self-released a handful of EPs and singles, occasionally dropped out of sight and reappeared as if they had never been anywhere but right around the corner.

There is a lot of history that informs the deeply engaging “Apollogy,” an album whose title blends regret, the Moon missions, and myth in a single clever misspelling.

BarCodez’s incisive, word-drunk flow is the central thread through a cantilevered array of musical settings, a touch of metal here, full-on soul torch vocals there, and even a lovely Brazilian interlude featuring vocalist Laura Ann Singh (Miramar).

There are interconnections between songs, punning refrains- “Kiss my Asstrology”- and the blistering “No Rams,” whose closing refrain evolves from melodic regret to raw, desolate anger.

The plentiful surface pleasures in this album lead to depths that reward repeated listening.

The “Appollogy” release party is Saturday night, Sept. 7, at Fuzzy Cactus on Brookland Park Boulevard. DJ Set by Billy Nguyen. Show is at 9 p.m., admission is $10.

INTERVIEW: Snarky Puppy, live at the National, Sept. 13

Posted By on Fri, Sep 6, 2019 at 3:30 PM

Snarky Puppy is a swiss army knife of a band, not so much transcending genres as folding them all into a tightly crafted, multipurpose package.

Combining immediate pop appeal, booty-shaking funk, cinematic compositions, and focused jazz chops, the mix recalls the mélange of 70s fusion, minus the aggressively extended hyper-virtuosic solos.

The band is very much a collective, over time including as many as 50 players, many with roots in the great music program at North Texas University, centered on somewhat self-effacing leader bassist Michael League.

“Never call us a jam band,” League says, a request that belies a swarm of online classifications. “We are not in that category. It’s thoughtful music that grooves. I wouldn’t describe us as jazz, but it’s jazz-based.”

The three Grammys they’ve won were in contemporary instrumental and R&B performance categories.

“It took us ten years to be an overnight success,” he says. “It’s the result of a lot of little goals, baby-stepping. If you have organic growth, then it’s sustainable.”

League is the constant in the rotating lineup, although several others make most of the band’s 100-plus gigs a year. They played the Camel in 2012 and UR in 2014, and various members have appeared here in other groups.

“We’ve never played the National,” League says. “And we’ve released two CDs since the last time we were here. There’s a whole lot of new material, and even so we see a lot of growth from night to night as we get ever more in tune with what we enjoy doing."

After 15 years, League feels they’ve built trust in their audience, which frees them to take chances.

“We don’t need to please everyone every time,” he says. “If they don’t like a record, they will wait for the next one.”

They may not be a jam band, but they do attract an audience open to expecting something other than mere recreation of their recording.

“It’s fun to play in a nice room for a lot of people,” he says. “And it is all part of the journey.”

Snarky Puppy plays the National Friday, Sept. 13 at 8 p.m.. Tickets are $36 advance, $40 at the door. The bizarre art funk Breastfist opens.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Cobra Cabana Announces Kool Keith for One-Year Anniversary Party, Oct. 19

Posted By on Thu, Sep 5, 2019 at 1:20 PM

Fans of the real quirky stuff, get ready for the notorious rapper Kool Keith, who is apparently scheduled to perform for free at the one-year party for restaurant Cobra Cabana on Saturday, Oct. 19.

The restaurant located at 901 W. Marshall St. posted this on social media:

We’ve been about to burst to spill the beans on this one. COBRA CABANA ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY. Kool Keith on the extended patio. FREE. FIRST COME FIRST SERVED. Meaning this will be tight. No tickets. No guest lists. No dickheads. This is only the first announcement. More to come.

We look forward to hearing more.

Friday, August 30, 2019

IMAGE: Dave Brockie Memorial Unveiled in Hollywood Cemetery

Posted By on Fri, Aug 30, 2019 at 4:00 AM

Today would've been David Brockie's 56th birthday, instead it was the day that his beautiful memorial marker was unveiled in Hollywood Cemetery.

The unforgettable lead singer of Gwar died on Sunday, March 23, 2014 from a heroin overdose. But he is still fondly remembered by thousands of fans and friends. His was a life filled with creating art and challenging the status quo.

Many locals and out-of-towners showed up to see his memorial unveiled on Confederate Avenue, near the entrance to Hollywood Cemetery.

"It's been way too long, five years in the coming," said Gwar band member Mike Derks. "We finally have a place to come remember Dave, so thanks everyone. Here it is."

A wee bit reminiscent of Han Solo encased in carbonite, the memorial features Brockie's human visage set within ornate Gwar artwork of his alien character, Oderus Urungus, next to the inscription of his lyric: "Life is painful/Life is long/Life's too short/It's like a song."

As current Gwar lead singer Michael Bishop (pictured below) told Style Weekly the night that Brockie died: "Dave was one of the funniest, smartest, most creative and energetic persons I've known ... He was brash sometimes, always crass, irreverent, he was hilarious in every way. But he was also deeply intelligent and interested in life, history, politics and art."

On Saturday, the celebration starts in earnest as Rawg (Gwar unmasked, or as they said online, the “cheapest available Gwar tribute act”) will perform a free show at GwarBar with a host of other heavy acts including Battlemaster, Occultist, Hewold and Enhailer (Ohio). Runs from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Free.

Gwar member Mike Bishop pays respect to his departed friend and one of the craziest lead singers in the history of heavy metal. - ASH DANIEL
  • Ash Daniel
  • Gwar member Mike Bishop pays respect to his departed friend and one of the craziest lead singers in the history of heavy metal.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

VIDEOS: Richmond Folk Fest Announces 12 More Artists

Posted By on Tue, Aug 27, 2019 at 4:00 AM

This morning, the Richmond Folk Festival announced a dozen more artists for its 15th annual festival to be held the weekend of Oct. 11 - 13 along the downtown riverfront.

Check out the full list below with video samples of the artists (CASYM the steel orchestra looks like the bomb.com, as a friend says). Among the new additions is Richmond's own Plunky & the Oneness of Juju, a jazz fixture in the city.

The annual poster reveal and listening party will be held on Thursday, Sept. 12 at Glave Kocen Gallery from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

Volunteer recruitment for the festival is currently in high gear, according to publicist Kelly Vance. She mentioned the Beer and Bucket Challenge where groups of four volunteers can get extra perks when they sign up to pour beer or man the all-important bucket brigade. If you're thinking about it, might as well bring your friends.

Themes for the Richmond Times-Dispatch Virginia Folklife Area and Stage and CarMax Family Area and Stage will be announced in September, according to a press release.

Here are the 12 newly-announced Richmond Folk Festival artists:


Steel Orchestra (steel pan orchestra) from New York, New York.

Conjunto Guantanamo

Afro-Cuban from New York, New York.

Petroloukas - Halkias & Vasilis Kostas

Traditional music from Epirus, Greece. The artists are from Boston, Massachusetts, and Epirus, Greece

Mangum & Company

Gospel brass “shout band" from Charlotte, North Carolina

Aleppo Ensemble

Aleppian wasla music and whirling dervish dance from Syria.

The performers are from New York, New York.


Kouyaté & Mamadou Diabaté (balafon masters) from Boston, Mass., and Vienna, Austria

Julie Fowlis

Traditional Scottish songs, pipes and whistles from North Uist, Scotland.

Native Pride Dancers

Powwow dance traditions from St. Paul, Minnesota

Plunky & the Oneness of Juju

Funk and go-go orchestra from Richmond, Virginia

Riley Baugus

Appalachian songs and ballads from Walkertown, North Carolina

Saraswathi Ranganathan

Carnatic veena from Chicago, Illinois

Stax Music Academy Alumni Band

Memphis soul from Memphis, Tennessee

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

AUDIO: Listen to Bonnie 'Prince' Billy Collaboration with Eighth Blackbird

New album from the singer and UR ensemble-in-residence due Aug. 30

Posted By on Wed, Aug 14, 2019 at 10:20 PM

Renowned singer and actor Will Oldham, aka Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, University of Richmond ensemble-in-residence Eighth Blackbird and Bryce Dessner will release a collaborative album, "When We Are Inhuman," on Aug. 30 via Secretly Canadian Records.

For those who missed Oldham and the Grammy-winning Eighth Blackbird at VMFA in 2017, when they performed this lovely Oldham song, “One with the Birds," you can hear it as the second single from the forthcoming album below.

“I think of Will’s songs as the closest thing we have now to classic, traditional folk music,” says Bryce Dessner in a press release. “I imagine people will still be singing them in 300 years.”

The new version of “One with the Birds” arranged by Eighth Blackbird pianist Lisa Kaplan, “is very different from the original,” she notes in the press release. “We used the birdcalls of all the different birds named in the song. And the extended piano intro was inspired by my friend Thomas Bartlett whom I had seen perform with The Gloaming just before making this arrangement.”

Style Weekly spoke to Oldham and Kaplan last time they performed together in Richmond.

Kaplan, founding pianist of Eighth Blackbird, told Style that it's been a pleasure performing with Oldham because he takes risks.

“Once recently we were rehearsing a new tune with him and I said, ‘Is that the way you usually do it in this spot?’ And he just said, ‘there is no usual way.’ That about sums Will up.”

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