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Monday, November 12, 2018

VIDEO: Watch Actress Claire Danes' Promotional Video for Richmond

Posted By on Mon, Nov 12, 2018 at 11:55 PM

Part of the partnership deal for filming season seven of the Showtime series "Homeland" in Richmond required the studio behind the Emmy-winning show (Fox21) to create a promotional video for the city.

So here you go. I feel like actress Claire Danes really puts a little extra lovin' into this, she clearly was feeling Richmond during her six months living here. Oh, and she was feeling that Proper Pie, boy. No doubt. She describes our restaurant scene as "unbelievably great."

But the key highlight comes a little later. Just imagine this bumper sticker on cars everywhere: "Richmond, Va: "Don't Even Get Us Started on the Yarn Stores!"

Danes has reportedly said that Season 8 of "Homeland" will be her last. She made no mention of ever giving up Proper Pie, though.

PICK: Trey Pollard with opening set by Matthew E. White at the Hof, Nov. 13

Posted By on Mon, Nov 12, 2018 at 12:33 PM

It’s no surprise that Trey Pollard would eventually get around to releasing an album on his own. He’s established a growing reputation for his cinematic work with artists like Foxygen and Natalie Prass, as well as playing jazz guitar on Rex Richardson’s “Blue Shift” and his co-led but non-eponymous “Old New Things."

Pollard was the arranger for most of the selections in the September 2017 RVA Live concert, featuring local artists accompanied by the Richmond Symphony. Maybe given the latter, and his affinity for string arrangements starting with Matthew E. White’s “Big Inner” and reaching an early apotheosis with Natalie Prass’ ravishing, album-closing “It Is You,” it should not be a surprise that “Antiphone” is an ambitious, classical chamber collection.

The recording consists of “Eight Pairs,” six preludes and seven fugues for string quintet, each clocking in at around two minutes. These are bookended by “Fixed Ideas,” a longer, two-part piece for piano and string orchestra. Some of the pieces are moodily introspective, others propulsive and upbeat. There are hints of Charles Ives Americana and Stravinsky rhythms, a whiff of melodic minimalism, and a bit of avant-garde spice. In all, it is a very approachable listening experience. The short running times ensure a concise, accessible focus.

The RVA launch of the recording, featuring members of Classical Revolution RVA, with an opening solo set by Spacebomb mastermind Matthew E. White, is at the Hof on Tuesday, Nov. 13. Tickets are $7 in advance, $10 at the door.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Strange Matter Announces It Is Closing In December

Posted By on Sat, Nov 10, 2018 at 5:30 PM

Well, this sucks. Very sad news for fans of punk and underground music: Strange Matter, formerly the Back Door, Twisters and Nanci Raygun, is closing.

The small and gritty venue at 929 W. Grace Street announced on social media it will be shutting down in mid-December. So many great bands have played there over the decades, from Bruce Springsteen's early groups to '90s noise rock legends, the Cows, to current acts such as Kurt Vile, Ty Segall and The Oh Sees.

And that's to say nothing of the hundreds of local bands who got their start there, or made this a home venue of sorts.

We'll update with new information when people respond. But for now, this was posted on their social media:

It is with a very heavy heart that after nearly a decade in operation, STRANGE MATTER will be closing the doors at 929 W. Grace Street in mid-December. All good things must come to an end, and the time is now for the owners to start new chapters in their lives and send the business out on a high note. Please respect the privacy of our hard-working staff while everybody processes this in their own way (unless, of course, you'd like to offer them work).

TO OUR CUSTOMERS AND FRIENDS: It has been a pleasure to continue the 929 tradition of showcasing local, regional, national, and international acts of every genre. It's been a pleasure to feed, inebriate, and provide you, the Richmond creative community, with a place to feel at home, to let loose, or simply to be yourself. It has been a pleasure to forge relationships with many of you on personal levels. It's humbling how many of you have wanted to have your wedding, reception, company party, anniversary dinners, and birthdays here, as well as the number of you who have met your life partners or your all-time favorite artists here. We wouldn't trade the last 9 years of experiences for the world and are happy you were here for a part of it.

TO THE BANDS AND ARTISTS WHO PERFORMED HERE: Without you, this pipe dream wouldn't have made a bit of sense. The creative energy you brought here, the amount of people you familiarized with the space, and the folks who continue to come because they wanted to support you helped keep this place going for what we believe is the third longest stint at 929 W. Grace (behind the legendary Back Door and Twisters incarnations). We can only hope that the building will again be a home for creatives and used for what we feel it should be, but only time will tell. For now, the Richmond music landscape couldn't be stronger, with more new venues than ever and more killer locals than ever before--please continue to support this community!

SOME FAQs:

-As of Sunday 11/10, we will be opening on limited hours. Bar and kitchen will be open starting at 6pm nightly (unless we have an early show). Our kitchen will be operating on a reduced menu--delivery of this menu will happen only through the Quickness RVA website.

-Our talent buyer of 8 years, Mark Osborne, will still continue to book talent of all varieties in a number of rooms and can still be reached at strangematterbooking@gmail.com for the foreseeable future.

-If you have a show on the books, you should have already gotten an e-mail or phone call explaining the status of your event. If not, you should follow up with the email address in the prior section.

-Our head sound tech JK will still be doing live sound at a number of places around town and can be reached at strangemattersound@gmail.com for the time being.

-If your band has played here a lot and has strong ties to the room, we'd love to include you in the closing month going-out-of-business party series. Please e-mail stangematterbooking@gmail.com with ALL DATES you are available for between 11/15 and 12/13, and we will try our best to get you one final performance here. That being said, please understand that tens of thousands of performances have happened here and we're gonna fill in as much as we can, but first-serve must be given to those with long-standing relationship with the club and underplays from some of our favorite local and regional acts. Subscribe to our Facebook events to watch the closing series announcements!

-The final event is currently planned for 12/15 with Punks for Presents--make it count!

If you've read this far, know that we appreciate you more than a quick closing statement could begin to summarize. Please POST IN THE COMMENTS with your favorite memories of Strange Matter. Let's make this next month a celebration of life and not a funeral! STRANGE MATTER LOVES YOU!!!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Richmond Native's Book Snatched Up By Reese Witherspoon For Film

Update: Author says exhibit which inspired the book is coming to Richmond.

Posted By on Fri, Nov 9, 2018 at 3:20 PM

According to the Hollywood Reporter, actress Reese Witherspoon's shop Hello Sunshine has optioned the film rights to an upcoming book "The League of Wives" written by Richmond-raised author Heath Lee.

Lee, who graduated from St. Catherine's School and the University of Virginia, wrote the book about a collective of women who came together as lobbyists after their husbands were captured in Vietnam. It is scheduled to be published by St. Martin's Press in April 2019.

According to her bio, Lee has worked as a museum educator around the country and now lives in Roanoke with her family. In fact, the book was inspired by a League of Wives museum exhibit that Lee says is coming to Richmond.

“I’m so thrilled and pleased that Reese and Hello Sunshine saw the value in this story," Lee says by e-mail to Style. "These ladies in the 'League of Wives' need their place in the history books! Between the book and the film and the museum exhibit I can give them the biggest platform possible so everyone is aware of their amazing story.” She adds that hometown girl Phyllis Galanti is involved as well as Jane Deton and Louise Mulligan of Virginia Beach.

Lee notes that the League of Wives museum exhibit will premiere at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture on March 2.

Here's some more from the Hollywood Reporter on what's it about.

The book tells of a group of women — wives of military men who would never describe themselves as feminists — that banded together to save their husbands. When their fighter pilot husbands were shot down, captured and imprisoned for years under deplorable conditions during the Vietnam War, the group of well-educated military wives transformed into a league of take-charge lobbyists, human rights activists and even spies determined to do everything in their power to bring their POW and MIA spouses home. By 1973, the group had brought back 115 men.

“At Hello Sunshine, we strive to showcase brave, brilliant female characters, and the women of League of Wives are all of that and more,” Witherspoon, who will produce with Hello Sunshine exec Lauren Levy Neustadter, said Wednesday in a statement. “From the minute I heard about this inspiring true story, I knew it was a perfect fit for us. I’m excited to be partnering with the team at Fox 2000 to bring this special book to life onscreen, and to be giving audiences a glimpse at this meaningful moment in American history.”

The complete title of the book is "The League of Wives: The Untold Story of the Women Who Took on the President, the Pentagon and the Rest of the US Government to Bring Their Husbands Home."

Thursday, November 8, 2018

PICK: David Dominique at Little Dumbo

Richmond-based composer and trumpeter's "Mask" is a surprise-laden blast.

Posted By on Thu, Nov 8, 2018 at 12:45 PM

“Mask,” the new release by RVA-based composer/trumpeter David Dominique, is a surprise-laden, humorous, and occasionally pensive blast.

There are straight-ahead Mingus-inflected sections, fluidly changing time, and spicy bits of acerbic punkish cacophony, all integrated into an almost classically discipline architecture.

The marketing narrative explains that these pieces were created in a period of tragedy and loss, which explains the cathartic intensity although it short-changes the frequently almost goofy cheeriness of the result. There is no way to reverse-engineer this music back to grief.

In the time that he has been in Richmond, Dominique has been a regular presence, not only at jazz performances, but at punk and noise shows. His omnivorous taste is reflected in the music, which has the energy and range of NYCs ‘90s downtown music scene, albeit with a bit more Zappa-esque rock and roll muscle.

He’ll be performing this music with a stellar band, including RVA stalwarts, guitarist Scott Burton and trumpeter Victor Haskins at Little Dumbo, the new South 15th Street club that is a promising semi-expansion of the Black Iris’s adventurous approach.

David Dominique Ensemble and Rural Tourniquet perform Saturday, Nov. 10 at 8 p.m. at Little Dumbo, 13 S 15th St Ste A. $10

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

VCU Rams Men's Basketball Preview

Season tips off tonight at 7 p.m. at home against Gardner-Webb

Posted By on Tue, Nov 6, 2018 at 12:50 PM

After crushing UVA-Wise by the score of 87-41 in a preseason exhibition game at the Siegel Center, on Oct. 30, Mike Rhoades knew better than to dwell too much on how pleased he was with his team's performance. After all, record-wise, VCU's men's head basketball coach knew it was a meaningless outing. So did the players. Nonetheless, entering his second campaign on West Broad Street, Coach Rhoades had to enjoy showing Rams fans that this team seems deeper than last season's 18-15 squad.

Rhoades' 2018-19 Rams don't have an established star player, as last year's team did with Justin Tillman, who was named to the all-Atlantic 10 first-team. Yet, at first glance, VCU appears to be blessed with a higher level of overall athleticism this year. That factor will be on display in the Rams regular season opener, on Nov. 6, when they host the Runnin' Bulldogs of Gardner-Webb from the Big South Conference (7 p.m., MASN).

Five returning players started the exhibition game: De'Riante Jenkins, 6-5; Sean Mobley, 6-8; Malik Crowfield 6-4; Marcus Santos-Silva, 6-7; Issac Vann, 6-6. In particular, Jenkins and Santos-Silva turned in solid performances. Running at point guard, Crowfield was steady. He will likely be counted on to fill in with that role until Marcus Evans, 6-2, fully recovers from surgeries on both Achilles tendons.

Evans sat out last year, having transferred from Rice, where he played for two seasons under Rhoades. Averaging 20.1 points per game, Evans was an all-Conference USA selection in both of those years before transferring to VCU. Asked when he will be ready to play, Rhoades said, “Sooner than later.”

Corey Douglas, 6-8, a transfer from Tallahassee CC, also played briefly for Rhoades at Rice, before receiving a medical redshirt from the NCAA. In 15 minutes on the floor Douglas scored 10 points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked four shots.

Of the newcomers a second name pops off of the game's statistics sheet – KeShawn Curry, 6-4, who also came off the bench for 15 minutes. He scored 15 points, got four rebounds and made three steals. After the game, De'Riante Jenkins chuckled as he suggested that Curry's contributions were, “just a sneak peak.”

Rhoades has said he wants to use 10 or 11 players in his regular rotation. Look for both Douglas, a sophomore, and Curry, a freshman, to press the returning starters for minutes of playing time.

The coach expressed his hope that this team's depth will allow for a more aggressive defense, especially in the paint. “If you don't play 'D,'” Rhoades said, “the bench is an awesome teacher.”

In its 13-game schedule prior to commencing with 18 conference games, VCU will need its apparent upgrade in depth and athleticism in two noteworthy road games. They are Texas on Dec. 5 and (No. 5) Virginia on Dec. 9. On Dec. 22, the Rams will be visited by Wichita State. All three of those opponents are regular participants in the NCAA postseason championship tournament.

In the A-10's preseason media poll VCU was tapped as No. 7 in the conference, which is understandable for a team that lost 44 percent of its scoring and 46 percent of its rebounding from three players who graduated.

Prior to last season VCU went to seven straight NCAA postseason tournaments. The Rams have notched 18 consecutive seasons with winning records. But Coach Rhoades is well aware that his won/loss mark in his first season guiding the VCU program was the worst in that string. Speaking of records, when the Rams face the Runnin' Bulldogs VCU hopes to record its 118th straight sell-out.

Monday, November 5, 2018

PICK: Orquesta de Reciclados Cateura at Steward School

Free screening of documentary on Nov. 5, performance on Nov. 14.

Posted By on Mon, Nov 5, 2018 at 12:50 PM

Orquesta de Reciclados Cateura (roughly “the recycled orchestra”) is an idealistic, real-world post-apocalyptic musical ensemble. A youth orchestra playing instruments hand-crafted mostly from garbage picked from the vast Cateura, Paraguay trash heap, the group has played Beethoven in concert halls in addition to collaborations with jazz musicians like Paquito D’Rivera and heavy metal legends Megadeath and Motorhead.

With drum heads constructed of tape and x-ray film, steel drum cellos, and tin violins with hand-carved necks. It’s not the New York Philharmonic- and if it were there would be a rush to replace million-dollar Stradivariuses- but that is not really the point. Their performances are a triumph of spirit and dedication over material limitations.

The Steward School has two events celebrating the band. On Monday, Nov. 5, there is a free showing at 7 p.m. of “Landfill Harmonic”, an award-winning 2015 documentary about the ensemble. Nine days later, on Nov. 14, the orchestra’s founder/director Favio Chávez and filmmaker Juliana Penaranda-Loftus take part in the school’s Bryan Innovation Lab Visiting Innovator Program. In the morning they will give a talk and performance, featuring some of the children in the ensemble. In the afternoon they will take part in a Music Maker fair, where both adults and students will have the opportunity to craft their own instruments.

Stay tuned for more on the event in Style Weekly.

Landfill Harmonic from Landfill Harmonic on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

PICK: Rex Richardson's Trumpet Spectacular at Sonia Vlahcevic Concert Hall, Nov. 5

Posted By on Sun, Nov 4, 2018 at 1:45 PM

In the past few months, Richmond-based trumpet virtuoso Rex Richardson has been pinballing around the world. There have been concerts in Russia, Tokyo, Melbourne, and the United Kingdom, a youth program in Uganda, as well as featured events across the country.

His new CD, “Freedom of Movement: 21st Century Trumpet Concertos,” featuring compositions from major modern composers leveraging Richardson’s astonishing technique, has been garnering critical praise. And he brings it all home for a free performance at Virginia Commonwealth University on Monday night.

Richardson’s singular ability to precisely manipulate the vibration of air in a short length of metal tubing is an extraordinary feat of focused athleticism. VCU trumpet professor Dr. Taylor Barnett has described his facility in playing fiendishly difficult passages as "Crazy target practice … like always hitting the bull's-eye on a moving target while doing jumping jacks."

The program, titled “Trumpet Spectacular,” also features Barnett along with fellow trumpeter University of Richmond professor/jazz music director/Latin music champion Mike Davison and the VCU Trumpet Ensemble. Magda Adamek and Russell Wilson provide piano accompaniment.

There are few opportunities to experience playing on Richardson’s level. Fewer still are free.

Trumpet Spectacular takes place Monday, Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. at Sonia Vlacecvic Concert Hall, W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts, 922 Park Avenue, Richmond VA. Free admission.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Byrd Theatre to Host Original “Suspiria” Screening with Goblin Performing Live Soundtrack

Posted By on Fri, Nov 2, 2018 at 1:45 AM

Horror fans rejoice: It’s been revealed on social media that there will be a Richmond screening of the original 1977 Dario Argento cult horror classic, “Suspiria,” accompanied by a live performance of the soundtrack by Goblin, a new incarnation of the group that performed the original creepy score.

It all goes down at the Byrd Theatre on Friday, Dec. 7, brought to you by Broadberry Entertainment Group with a portion of proceeds going to benefit the Byrd Theatre Foundation. Legendary horror composer Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin will perform the live score during the screening (remastered version) and an additional live set.

Movie Club Richmond founder Andrew Blossom sounded excited.

“It’s a dream! 'Suspiria' is a horror movie like no other. It’s a beautiful mind-bender of a film and wonderfully scary. And it’s incredible to look at – a true work of art,” he says. “Goblin’s score is hands down one of the greatest soundtracks of all time. So, for me, this feels like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The chance to see [it] performed live by the man who wrote it, and who also provided the score’s wonderfully witchy vocals – and to do so in the splendor of the Byrd Theatre. I can’t wait.”

The only bummer is it’s the same night as metal greats Sleep at the National – but, oh well, it's a pleasant dilemma for certain Richmonders out there.

Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin performs “Suspiria” score live on Friday, Dec. 7 at the Byrd Theatre. Doors at 9:30 p.m. Show at 10:30 p.m. $35.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

How to Vote for More Richmond Artists to Receive Grammy Nominations

Posted By on Wed, Oct 31, 2018 at 12:15 PM

Voting for the first round of the Grammy Awards ended Sunday, and so has the blizzard of For Your Consideration posts on social media.

If past is prologue, it's likely that the lion’s share of attention will go to the people allied with those throwing the party: the major label artists with big sales and advertising dollars to burn. The Grammys have always been far more about commerce than art.

But Richmond is the city that can rock a poll. In 2012 Outside Magazine named us the best river city in the United States. The Mekong was the best beer bar in America, year after year. This is not to suggest that the James River Parks are anything but wonderful, or that An Bui doesn’t run an exemplary operation. But the reason Richmond won was organization and group effort.

While it is nowhere near as easy to impact the Grammy process as it is an online poll, much less an online poll that allows multiple voting, it is an interesting thought experiment to see if there is a way to increase visibility in this high-profile contest. Record labels have a strategy, why shouldn’t we?

The first step is getting as many Richmond artists as voting members of the Recording Academy. This requires professional or technical credits on six commercially-released tracks within the last five years. The cost starts at $100 annually. Everyone in Richmond who is eligible should be a member, at least in this hypothetical approach. There are about 12,000 eligible voting members, so the more who participate, the better.

Next, they need something to vote for. There is an element of luck here, as 20,000 entries submitted by either media companies or voting members are screened by 350 experts before being eligible for consideration. There are a number of Richmond artists whose work made the first cut in 2019. These include Hector Barez for “El Laberinto Del Coco,” Christina Gleixner for "Yeni Nostalgi," and both Scott Clark and Alan Parker for the Standing Rock-influenced “Tonow.”

The next phase --nominating-- is the one most open to direct influence. Every voting member can vote in as many as to 15 categories. The question is how to most strategically use those votes? Split among all the local nominees, any potential influence would be lost. It is probably against the spirit of the awards for multiple voters to strategize allocation to maximize effect. So anything like this should be kept on the down-low. The good news is that in some categories, jazz and world, for example, the voting is likely to be lighter than for new artist or album of the year.

The top five nominees with the most support end up on the final ballot, which is again sent out to voting members. There is security in place to prevent refreshing the screen and voting again, a technique that worked in some early online polls. But Richmond’s winning streak at online polls continued even after those running them clamped down.

It seems like a long shot to get a local artist without a major label deal in that elite final mix. But what is the downside of trying? According to Bio Ritmo and Miramar pianist Marlysse Rose Simmons, there is at least a potential upside.

“I used to not care about this crap, but to have a nomination means you can actually maybe make some money off a few gigs. So why not play the game?” Simmons says. “I have seen it work for small-time bands too, especially if the community is strong.”

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