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Friday, March 22, 2019

VIDEO: Trey Pollard's "Fixed Ideas"

Familiar Richmond locations featured with drone footage.

Posted By on Fri, Mar 22, 2019 at 11:53 AM

The second video from Spacebomb arrangement wizard/composer Trey Pollard is a mesmerizing, autumnal sequence of God’s eye drone footage set to “Fixed Ideas,” the opening cut of his recent recording “Antiphone.”

Familiar Richmond locations, the downtown bridges, islands in the rapids, the Luck Stone quarry, become dynamic abstractions in the sharply detailed, top-down view. The score sets modern classical piano played by Wells Hanley against a complex, ever-shifting string arrangement. About halfway through the natural view splits into mirrored images, separating and coming together, at one point becoming a trippy starburst of radiating train cars.

This is the second video by Pollard’s brother-in-law and Spacebomb videographer, Tony Forgey. The first was a perfect, stop-motion realization of “8 Pairs: Fugue 6. Very Slowly.”

The video for “Fixed Ideas” takes a more organic path, setting dynamic, flowing elements against fixed and frozen lines, then kaleidoscopes them all before almost settling down in the end. The penultimate shot still has a bit of lingering visual trickery. In both cases the visualization both complements and provides a charming way into brilliant and challenging music.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Interview: Richmond Authors Hold Institutional Bias Talk at South by Southwest

Posted By on Thu, Mar 14, 2019 at 2:30 PM

Richmond has its share of rising artists at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas this week, from musicians such as the Spacebomb crew and singer and songwriter Angelica Garcia, to filmmakers (indie auteur Rick Alverson showed his latest, "The Mountain" starring Jeff Goldblum) as well as authors.

We couldn't be there, but Style Weekly received a brief, e-mailed account of the week from Tiffany Jana and Ashley Diaz Mejias, authors of "Erasing Institutional Bias: How to Create Systemic Change for Organizational Inclusion" which was released last October by Penguin Random House.

The pair gave a SXSW workshop focusing on identifying and addressing systemic and institutional bias that often results from unconscious biases to which we are all vulnerable. Their workshop filled up two weeks before the internationally known festival started (its been running from March 8 to this Sunday, March 17).

Here's what they had to say about the experience:

How was the crowd?

Diaz Mejias: We didn’t get a head count but it was a good crowd.

What was it like working with the SXSW crowd?

Diaz Mejias: They were highly engaged and very aware of their unique needs regarding the subject matter. It was awesome hearing from leaders at well-known tech companies and people from as far away as Australia and South Africa.

Did they provide insights you didn't expect?

Tiffany Jana: There were so many international perspectives and different industry perspectives that it made for a rich session. We believe strongly in the wisdom of the crowd, and they really brought powerful case studies into the room.

How was the book being received throughout the event as well as by people in your workshop?

Diaz Mejias: They sold a bunch of our books this week [at the festival bookstore] before our session, but folks from the session bought books as well!

Have you had a chance to go to anything else featuring Richmonders?

Jana: I visited the Capital One House and attended Andreas Addison’s session. I also went to the Spacebomb Records concert last night. Everything was outstanding!

Live from Austin, Texas: Liz Doerr of Richmond Public School Board, author Tiffany Jana and Andreas Addison, Richmond City Council, 1st District.
  • Live from Austin, Texas: Liz Doerr of Richmond Public School Board, author Tiffany Jana and Andreas Addison, Richmond City Council, 1st District.

With an eye to the diversity and inclusion experience, how would you compare Austin to Richmond?

Diaz Mejias: The entire diversity, equity, and inclusion learning track was exceptional. Our session offered continuing education credits in the Future Workplace track. It was actually far more advanced than the purely diversity conferences.

Jana: SXSW is pretty diverse in the global sense, but the crowds aren’t really reflective of Austin. Austin has attracted diverse talent and great companies, but like the conference, these represent a higher socioeconomic strata. There is a lot of visible homelessness in Austin, juxtaposed to extreme wealth.

Any memorable moments from the workshop and the book signing?

Jana: A brilliant pediatric student drew the parallel between racism and alcoholism. She noted that the work of identifying and overcoming one’s own bias is like the work of battling addiction. It’s never cured. All you can do is work hard to manage the symptoms. And ignoring it doesn’t make you unbiased. It just makes you unaware.

You can see both authors next Wednesday, March 20, back in Richmond, when they take part in Local Author Night at the Barnes and Noble at Libbie Place, 5501 W. Broad St. The event, which runs from 6 to 8 p.m., is free and books will be available for purchase.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

REVIEW: “Humbug: The Great P.T. Barnum Séance”

Runs through March 16 at Branch Museum of Architecture and Design

Posted By on Tue, Mar 12, 2019 at 8:27 PM

One of my favorite bits of P.T. Barnum lore is a trick that the showman and businessman played on customers of his famed Barnum’s American Museum in Manhattan.

Long before Barnum began his circus career in 1871, he operated a five-story building that was part zoo, museum and freak show. One day, noticing that people were idling too long inside the museum, Barnum put up elaborate signs reading “This Way to the Egress.” Believing it was an attraction, customers left the museum through exit doors, which would lock behind them. To reenter, admission was another quarter.

In a country that so values drive and self-determination, there’s something uniquely American about making a buck from nothing but bluster. Confidence men and those of their ilk have long fascinated us, from Barnum through Fyre Festival’s Billy McFarland and even our current president.

But it’s a celebration of all things Barnum that has descended upon the Branch Museum of Architecture and Design for a weeklong run. Presented by magician and storyteller David London as a one-man show, “Humbug: The Great P.T. Barnum Séance” is billed as an experience that will “bring Barnum and his cast of characters back to life!”

This “Humbug” is long on visual appeal, but short on just about everything else. Entering a back room of the Tudor/Jacobean revivalist Branch Museum, audience members are greeted with plenty to draw the eye, including posters and artifacts of Barnum’s career and a custom-built séance table with a clover-shaped cutout in the center.

During the first hour of the show, London lectures about Barnum’s life with the aid of some of these artifacts. We learn about his beginnings as a newspaper publisher, his early shows and the founding of the museum and circus. Affecting some sort of quasi-English accent, London is tedious in his presentation, coming off as little more than a glorified Wikipedia entry.

Things improve little during the second half of the show. Around the séance table, London performs a few cheap magic tricks while attempting to conjure spirits from beyond. Without giving the ending away, this is abandoned before long. With little in the way of special effects and London’s wooden, faux-stammering presentation, the second half of the show is nearly as tedious as the first.

With seats at the séance table costing $40, Barnum would likely have been appalled by this show. While Barnum had no problem lying or exaggerating to his customers, he was only ok with it as long as you’d gotten your money’s worth. Sure, he might trick you into leaving his museum before you were ready, but by then you’d likely seen the first hippopotamus of your life, a bearded woman and all other manner of curiosities.

For a work that enlists the name of the world’s purported greatest showman in its title, this is a show severely lacking in showmanship.

“Humbug: The Great P.T. Barnum Séance,” runs through March 16 at the Branch Museum of Architecture and Design, 2501 Monument Ave. firehousetheatre.org.

REVIEW: Banda Magda at University of Richmond, Friday, March 8

"They don’t have to see me. They just have to hear me" -- lead singer Magda Giannikou

Posted By on Tue, Mar 12, 2019 at 5:55 PM

As impressive as Banda Magda’s global magpie approach is on record, it gives only a faint impression of the room-filling charm of their live performances.

Leader Magda Giannikou is a compact, ebullient bundle of creative energy. She sings with lovely emotional clarity in multiple languages, plays impressive accordion, dances barefoot across the stage, and off it, to elicit a chorus of individualistic birdsong from the audience.

A spilled water bottle becomes a chance to do the twist while wiping it up with a wad of paper towels under her feet. She dedicates a song to an audience member who requested it in her pre-meeting interview and ends the song with a percussion solo on the squeaky pig toys her drummer calls his “porkestra.”

The multi-continental band, all friends from her graduate studies at Berklee College of Music, matched her in virtuosity, joy and imagination. Each was given ample opportunity to shine, with Giannikou beaming from the sidelines, or, during a bass solo, from the floor.

When she left the stage for her foray into the audience, the house lights started to brighten. “Turn them off,” Giannikou called out. “Turn off the stage lights too. They don’t have to see me. They just have to hear me.”

Based on Friday’s performance, if you get the chance, you do have to see her.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Lamb of God's Randy Blythe Leading Kazoo Party to Drown Out Westboro Baptist Church Protest

Will be happening Monday morning at the Virginia State Capitol.

Posted By on Fri, Mar 8, 2019 at 5:04 PM

The notorious Westboro Baptist Church is planning to protest Danica Roem, the first trans person to serve in Virginia's legislature, on Monday, March 11 at 9 a.m. at the Virginia State Capitol. But it won't happen without some resistance in the form of a kazoo party.

Metal star and singer for Lamb of God, Randy Blythe, has announced that he will be staging a "counter-party" of the group in defense of his friend and fellow metal fan and musician, Roem.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has called the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) "arguably the most obnoxious and rabid hate group in America."

Blythe has posted a call to action asking Richmonders to join him and play kazoos to drown out the group (see below). He's also offering a $100 cash prize to the counter-protester with the best costume.

Speaking as a former childhood campmate of Blythe's at the University of Virginia, I once watched him give a solo kazoo performance of a popular '80s song that held hundreds of people entranced in a large auditorium.

In other words, the man can rock a kazoo. No question in my mind.

ATTENTION! PEOPLE OF RICHMOND! CALLING ALL FREAKS, WEIRDOS, MISFITS, & REGULAR PEOPLE OF GOOD CONSCIOUS!

This coming Monday, March 11, 2019, the buffoons of the #WESTBOROBAPTISTCHURCH (AKA the “God Hates Fags” losers) are coming to our fair city of Richmond, VA. They will be at our state Capitol at 9 am, then over by VCU at 9:45, spreading their bizarre brand of hate mongering.

Why? They are protesting my friend, a fairly elected member of the Virginia House of Delegates, Danica Roem- Danica is an award-winning journalist, a heavy metal musician & all-around #RIPPER (who happens to be a trans-woman.) These “Christians” are always picketing military funerals, Kansas City Chiefs football games, the funerals of people killed by natural disasters– their insane activities are too many to list.

They even picketed at the funerals of #FredRogers & tried to find the funereal of #LeonardNimoy (but they failed- ha!) – WHO PROTESTS THE FUNERALS OF THOSE TWO GREATEST OF AMERICAN MISTERS, MISTER ROGERS & MISTER SPOCK?!?!? THEY EVEN PICKETED DIO’S FUNEREAL- oh, HELL NO.

And these people are coming to MY TOWN?!?? They have left me no choice – in the name of all that is GOOD & JUST in this world, in the name of PUNK ROCK & HEAVY METAL, in the name of #MISTERROGERS & #MISTERSPOCK, IN THE NAME OF MY BELOVED FRIEND #DAVEBROCKIE (R.I.P.)… I COMMAND YOU TO JOIN ME FOR A COUNTER-PARTY!!!

NOT a counter-PROTEST, because that would entail arguing with these idiots (which is USELESS), but a COUNTER-PARTY. I WILL BE BRINGING 100 KAZOOS- WE WILL HAVE A #KAZOO #CHAMPAGNEJAM. WE WILL PLAY THE “BENNY HILL” & “SANFORD & SONS” THEME SONGS. WE WILL DROWN THEM OUT WITH CHEAP BUZZING PLASTIC NOISE MAKERS. I will also be bringing a BRAND NEW 100 DOLLAR BILL as a CASH PRIZE for BEST COSTUME worn to the #COUNTERPARTY. A hundred kazoos AND a hundred dollar prize?!?? IT’S ALMOST TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. So Monday, MARCH 11, 2019, 9 AM, VIRGINIA STATE CAPITOL- PUT ON YOUR CORPSEPAINT, YOUR RAINBOW WIG, YOUR INFLATABLE SUMO WRESTLER COSTUME. FLY YOUR FREAK FLAG HIGH! LET’S PARTY!!!!!

Update: Westboro Baptist Church has issued a response of sorts on its Twitter site: "Your caps lock is sticky, Randy Blythe, but we'll gladly use the kazooing #counterparty as backdrop to sing "Oh Lamb of God" parody & preach the gospel of Jesus Christ against greed-fueled perversion." We're not providing a link, sorry.

Blythe sent this email message to Style:

Why bother throwing a kazoo counterparty when the loonies of the Westboro Baptist Church show up? Well, first and foremost, Danica is my friend– I don’t like people who mess with my friends. Second, their “message” sucks- they do have the right to preach it, but we also have the right to drown it out with kazoos. Third, it’s too good of an opportunity to pass up- who doesn’t want to hear a few hundred people playing the “Sanford & Son” theme on kazoos? Only a truly godless and un-American puppy-kicking troglodyte, that’s who.

Why let a perfectly good chance for some harmless and hilarious mischief pass by? Some people say “Just ignore them, you’re only giving them more publicity to raise money with.” I disagree. From the Southern Poverty Law Center website: “Fred Phelps and his small congregation provide WBC's funding; the group neither solicits nor accepts outside donations.” Phelps is dead and gone, but many members of this “church” are lawyers, and they fund their activities from lawsuits– someone loses their cool and punches one of them, and then they sue the pants off of the aggressor. Or a city won’t let them protest, and then they sue the city– this has substantially increased their coffers several times.

So let them come with their signs and nonsense- as long as everyone remains cool, ignores these mental cripples, and plays ripping kazoo tunes, then all the Westboro Baptist will have accomplished is burning some of the funds in their travel bank account. I’m not interested in arguing with these morons, getting upset, yelling at them– I’m interested in having a good time at their expense. That’s why this is a counter-party, NOT a counter-protest. See y’all there.

PICK: Analog Suspects album release show, Friday, March 8 at the Hofheimer Building's Darkroom

Check out a video of "Analog Suspects Theme" from the new album.

Posted By on Fri, Mar 8, 2019 at 4:01 PM

Local hip-hop fans know the names Noah-O and DJ Mentos, both accomplished veterans of the scene. Together as Analog Suspects they've been called Richmond's own version of Run the Jewels.

Tonight they're joining forces for their first joint project since "The Rain" -- the 15-track "Transmission 001" which will see its album release at the Hofheimer's The Darkroom. Music starts at 9 p.m. and it costs $10.

Hosted by Gigi Broadway (co-host of Cheats Movement on WRIR) and the Richmond MC Cole Hicks, the showcase also features J. Slim, Santana Brothers (from NYC), and Cadillac Cat. Hip Hop Henry (Nighttime Maneuvers on WRIR) will be DJing the night.

Come check out their new album being performed in full and hear what all the fuss is about. You can hear other music here: https://analogsuspects.bandcamp.com/releases.

The Hofheimer (Dark Room) is located at 1621 West Broad St.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

VIDEO: Watch Chesterfield student bring Lionel Richie to tears

After losing her sight, Shayla Winn is headed to Hollywood for "American Idol."

Posted By on Thu, Mar 7, 2019 at 6:20 PM

Thomas Dale High School senior Shayla "Shayy" Winn wowed the "American Idol" judges and won her golden ticket to Hollywood's "American Idol" this week.

Check out the below video where the 18-year-old student from Chesterfield sings an emotional rendition of Andra Day's "Rise Up" and brings legendary pop star Lionel Richie to tears.

For more on Winn, read this story in the Chesterfield Observer by Style contributor Rich Griset:

Winn is a young woman with a story to tell. A year and a half ago, she experienced a sudden deterioration of her vision. Her mother initially thought all she needed was a pair of glasses; it turned out to be an epidermoid cyst in her brain, with one doctor expressing surprise that she wasn’t in a coma. After surgery, recovery and therapy, Winn remains legally blind with 20/800 visual acuity.

Preview: Banda Magda at University of Richmond on Friday, March 8

"The Swiss army knife of world music" performs at 7:30 p.m. at Alice Jepson Theatre.

Posted By on Thu, Mar 7, 2019 at 2:28 PM

With a rotating lineup from at least nine countries and songs in six languages, Banda Magda is the Swiss army knife of world music.

The group coalesced in informal communal food and music gatherings among students at Boston’s Berklee College. Its organizer and namesake, Magda Giannikou, was studying film scoring after graduating from classical studies at the National Conservatory of Greece and additional studies at the Nakes Jazz School in her native Athens.

“It was my first time in a such a diverse environment,” Giannikou says. “My father was a music collector, with records of French chansons, Brazilian samba, Malian music. I grew up with all these sounds. When I met these people from all corners of the world, I found a sense of home.”

The various influences come together in their records in ways both familiar and bracingly original. At one moment quiet as a sigh, the next lush with cinematic strings or waves of percussive rhythm. The closest inadequate comparison is the stylistically omnivorous Brazilian Tropicalia.

Giannikou is a charismatic vocalist, shifting from style to style, language to language with a charming and assured intimacy.

“The point is to have influences and use them in a way that is unique and honest,” says Giannikou. “We aren’t trying to play perfectly, but to have respect for the cultures, internalize them, and have them effortlessly become part of our music.”

That vision links the cloud of 20-25 musicians of an extended group that includes five bassists and four drummers, who come together in varying configurations around Giannikou and Argentinian guitarist/band manager Ignacio Hernandez.

“He’s usually in all the shows,” Giannikou confides. “When he is not, everything collapses.” They’ve kept things together over the years at venues from Carnegie Hall to the Kennedy Center to WOMAD, the premier world music festival.

Even if the lineups shift, the band is founded on strong relationships. The players are all close friends with a long shared musical history, and an ethos of engagement.

“Our shows are very interactive,” Giannikou says. “You won’t know until you see us. You can’t tell from the recordings of videos. We work to create an environment where people feel comfort. Even if the songs are in different languages, the deep emotion comes through. It is more than just music, it is all a healing, transportive journey. Sometimes even the shyest will be singing along."

Banda Magda performs at the University of Richmond's Alice Jepson Theatre in the Modlin Center for the Arts on Friday, March 8 at 7:30 p.m. modlin.richmond.edu

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Friday Cheers Announces Concert Lineup

Runs from May 3 to June 28 at Brown's Island.

Posted By on Tue, Mar 5, 2019 at 10:45 AM

Venture Richmond's Friday Cheers announced it's 35th summer lineup today.

The popular Friday event on Brown's Island, presented this year by Pacifico, draws thousands from 6 to 9:30 p.m. to listen to music, drink and frolic in a lovely setting by the James River. All shows are $10 unless otherwise noted.

And here you go:

May 3: Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real with Landon Elliott and the Goods

May 10: Chicano Batman with the Mikrowaves

May 24: RVA Music Night featuring Illiterate Light, Calvin Presents and Tinnarose. $5

May 31: Colter Wall and Thorp Jenson

June 7: The War and Treaty with the Teskey Brothers

June 14: The Budos Band and Piranha Rama.

June 21: Robert Glasper with Kenneka Cook

June 29: Lucy Dacus with Deau Eyes

Monday, March 4, 2019

Pharrell to headline diverse lineup at his first music festival in Virginia Beach

Posted By on Mon, Mar 4, 2019 at 1:50 PM

Pharrell Williams and at least two-dozen acts will take the stage at the first music festival planned for College Beach Weekend in Virginia Beach.

Williams, a Virginia Beach megastar known for his singing and songwriting, will be joined by Travis Scott, Migos, Dave Matthews Band and Missy Elliott at the Oceanfront. Virginia Beach rapper Pusha T also will perform.

The multi-cultural, multi-generational event will be held April 26 to 28, the same weekend college students are visiting the resort area for spring break.

For the last five years, no organized events have been planned during College Beach Weekend. The festival will be the first time the city is endorsing programs.

Tickets for the festival, dubbed Something in the Water, will go on sale beginning Friday at 12 p.m. at somethinginthewater.com. Early bird pricing for three-day admission is $150. Three-day VIP passes are $450, early bird pricing, according to the website.

"It’s unlike anything anyone’s ever seen before," Williams said in a phone interview from Los Angeles recently. He floated the idea for a festival in October.

After just a few months of planning, Williams' production team submitted final permit applications last week.

On Tuesday, the City Council will vote on whether to allocate $250,000 from a tourism fund to pay for festival logistics and marketing. The city spent about $190,000 on the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon last year.

"It’s so cool because you’re seeing the local government get involved and help in these efforts," Williams said. "You need [the] scaffolding of the city to be involved. It’s crazy the kind of support we’re getting from the Police Department and Fire Department."

Bringing top performers and brands to Virginia Beach was easy, Williams said.

"Yes, we are known as second-tier market," he said, adding, "we have the ability to operate on a much higher level."

Williams' sales pitch worked.

"It wasn’t hard to get the artists to come because all I had to do was say, 'Virginia buys your product. Virginia buys your music. ... They watch your films.'"

The name of the festival stemmed from how many notable artists and performers hail from the region and how many more are coming up through the ranks, he said.

Williams noted that Missy Elliott, a Portsmouth native who will perform at the festival next month, was recently inducted in the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

"It’s time for Virginians to be acknowledged on that level," he said.

Besides music acts, the weekend will feature a basketball tournament and programs focused on art, technology and health throughout the resort area and the Convention Center.

There will also be an evening screening on the beach of "The Burial of Kojo," set in Ghana and premiering on Netflix on March 31. Cultural activities will include speaking events with author Deepak Chopra and Geoffrey Canada as well as a pop-up church service and TRAP karaoke, an interactive concert experience.

Festival partners include Adidas, Sony, Uber Eats and Billionaire Boys Club. Live Nation is producing it.

For Williams, the festival is just another example of his ongoing contributions to his hometown.

Williams has often given back, visiting schools and providing programs for at-risk students. He recently published a children's book, "Happy." He's also a partner in the multi-faceted surf park project planned for the old Dome site.

The April festival — which he envisions becoming an annual attraction on the scale of other well-known music and conference events like South By Southwest in Austin, Texas — is another opportunity for him to leave a legacy in his city.

"I don’t know if it’s about giving back as it’s about paying it forward," he said.

One of the hardest aspects has been keeping quiet about the details over the last several weeks, he said.

"What feels good to me is the activation," he said. "The excitement and the activation around me; everyone getting involved. ... All hands on deck."

He added: "If I’m glowing it’s because of the light that Virginia sheds on me.

"It really is something in the water, and the world needs to come to find out what it is."

  • Re: REVIEW: “Humbug: The Great P.T. Barnum Séance”

    • Is the author of this article serious? Its almost like hes upset that old PT…

    • on March 13, 2019
  • Re: Lamb of God's Randy Blythe Leading Kazoo Party to Drown Out Westboro Baptist Church Protest

    • Rock on, Randy! Rock on!

    • on March 12, 2019
  • More »
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