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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:

CASYM

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.

Balla

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.”

The original version:

Monday, August 12, 2019

Major Edward Hopper Show Coming to VMFA in October

Exhibition offers the opportunity to stay overnight at the museum through an immersive hotel experience.

Posted By on Mon, Aug 12, 2019 at 4:00 AM

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has announced that "Edward Hopper and the American Hotel" will premiere at the museum on Oct. 26, the only East Coast venue for this major loan exhibition.

The exhibition, which is in partnership with the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, will showcase more than 60 of the famous 20th century artist's paintings, drawings, watercolors and illustrations. The exhibition also features a rare opportunity to stay overnight at the museum through an immersive hotel experience.

Style will have much more on this show, including how guests can score passes to stay overnight, as soon as VMFA lets us know.

One of the cool things about Hopper's work, an office artist tells us, is that if you squint past his figures in the foreground, you can see how great an impressionistic painter he was by the background shapes.

We're down for this exhibit.

Read more in the lengthy press release from the museum:

Edward Hopper and the American Hotel represents the first investigation of the artist’s canonical images of hotels, motels and other hospitality settings, thus expanding the terms of alienation and fragmentation in which Hopper’s art is often discussed. Also included are 35 works by American artists that similarly explore the visual culture of hotels, travel and mobility from the early 20th century to the present. Curated by Dr. Leo G. Mazow, VMFA’s Louise B. and J. Harwood Cochrane Curator of American Art, Edward Hopper and the American Hotel will be on view Oct. 26, 2019–Feb. 23, 2020.

As part of this exhibition, VMFA will recreate Western Motel, one of Hopper’s best-known paintings, as a three-dimensional simulated motel space, giving visitors the chance to “step inside” his work. Through the “Hopper Hotel Experience,” guests will have the opportunity to stay at the museum overnight in a room inspired by Western Motel. There will be a variety of packages available at different price points. Some of the “Hopper Hotel Experience” packages consist of dinner at VMFA’s fine dining restaurant Amuse, a guided tour by the curator and an exhibition catalogue, among other options. Reservation details for the “Hopper Hotel Experience” will be released later this month. This is the first time that VMFA has recreated a work of art in a three-dimensional space and made it available to stay in overnight.

VMFA has had a long relationship with Hopper, starting with his role as chairman of the jury for the museum’s first biennial exhibition in 1938. In 1953, the artist returned to VMFA as a juror for that year’s biennale exhibition. At that time, the museum purchased Hopper’s 1935 painting House at Dusk, which will be on view as part of the exhibition, along with loans from New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art and Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, Spain; and numerous other museums and private collections. Among the private lenders are Grammy-award winning musician Bruce Hornsby and his wife Kathy, who are lending six never-before-exhibited Hopper drawings to the exhibition.

“Each of our curators is tasked with creating exhibitions that provide new narratives about the collection and engage visitors with works of art in a unique way,” says Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Director Alex Nyerges. “We are thrilled that through this historic exhibition, VMFA’s visitors will be able to interact with and learn from extraordinary paintings, drawings and illustrations by Hopper, as well as works by renowned artists such as Richard Caton Woodville, John Singer Sargent, Charles Demuth, Reginald Marsh, Edward Ruscha and Cindy Sherman.”

Edward Hopper and the American Hotel also features selected diaries written by Hopper’s wife and fellow artist, Josephine “Jo” Hopper, which were only recently made available to the public by the Provincetown Art Association and Museum. Jo’s diaries describe not only the drive between their homes in New York and Cape Cod but also their numerous extended road trips throughout the United States and Mexico. Along with her diary entries, the exhibition showcases hotel postcards from the 1920s through the 1950s featuring places that the couple visited together. The postcards and diary entries are rarely seen primary sources that humanize the artist and his wife, providing detailed accounts of their travels in their own words and personal responses to the places they visited, their experiences there and how these trips informed their art.

“Edward Hopper is one the best-known 20th-century American artists, yet the public’s conception of him has largely been filtered through a time-worn biographical formula that explains his art as the product of a sullen, isolated introvert,” says Mazow. “Edward Hopper and the American Hotel endeavors to consider hotels, motels and other transient dwellings as vital subject matter for Hopper and as a framework with which to understand his entire body of work.”

On Oct. 25, Mazow will provide an overview of Edward Hopper and the American Hotel during the exhibition’s opening lecture in VMFA’s Leslie Cheek Theater. The museum will also host “Edward Hopper: Hotels and Other Spaces” Nov. 15–16—a symposium featuring lectures by a distinguished group of scholars, offering new insights into one of the most celebrated American artists of the 20th century. Additional exhibition related programming can be found at VMFA.museum.

The accompanying 200-page, fully illustrated exhibition catalogue is the first publication to show that the artist and his contemporaries found artistic inspiration and culturally revealing metaphors in the American hotel and related rental lodgings. The catalogue contains critical essays on hotel, motel and allied subject matter in Hopper’s work. In addition to Mazow’s introduction and two essays, the catalogue includes essays by contributing authors Sarah G. Powers, Jason Weems, Carmenita Higginbotham, David Brody, Erika Doss and Kirsten M. Jensen. The hardcover catalogue can be ordered online (VMFA.museum/shop) or by contacting the VMFA shop at 804.340.1525.

After the Richmond show, the exhibition will travel to the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, Indianapolis.

"Edward Hopper and the American Hotel" is organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, in partnership with the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields. The exhibition program at the museum is supported by the Julia Louise Reynolds Fund. Sponsors include the Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Exhibition Endowment, Lilli and William Beyer, the Dr. Donald S. and Beejay Brown Endowment, Birch Douglass, Mrs. Frances Massey Dulaney, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas F. Garner, Jr., Dr. and Mrs. William V. Garner, Hamilton Family Foundation, Mr. R. Keith Kissee, Robert Lehman Foundation, Norfolk Southern Corp., Northern Trust, Richard S. Reynolds Foundation, the Anne Carter and Walter R. Robins Jr. Foundation, Don and Mary Shockey, Wyeth Foundation for American Art and YouDecide.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

VIDEO: Sid Kingsley "Bar Room Queen"

Posted By on Thu, Aug 8, 2019 at 4:00 AM

The function of a music video is to enhance the song. Most of the time, as in the great video for Johnny Cash’s cover of “Hurt,” it is by reinforcing and deepening the context of the lyrics. Or you can cheerfully subvert them, as in the case of “Bar Room Queen.”

The lyrics concern a dominatrix bartender whose existence is encompassed in a dungeon of a bar, grubbing money from submissive customers. She is, as rhyme dictates, mean. By the end of three verses, she is revealed as a faded beauty “way downtown on Cary.” While the words are dark, the music is cheery, a brightly rolling, syncopated piano accompaniment.

Taken on its face, it’s a catchy, if vaguely misogynistic revenge song- akin to Robbin Thompson’s “All Alone in the End Zone.” But Kingsley is just having fun, not settling scores. With his polished vocals and NOLA accompaniment, “Bar Room Queen” goes down as easily as a rail cocktail. It could even be top shelf, with the right twist of self-awareness or a dash of sympathy.

Which is exactly what the video provides. It starts with two nattily-dressed guys (Kingsley and drummer Jordan Stoll) getting a cold welcome at an anything but dank establishment- the urbane, well-lit Savory Grain. They get rejected and ejected with a two-for-one Three Stooges face slap from the “mean” bartender of the song. Contrary to the lyric, she is not a “victim of father time” but a pretty girl with long dark hair (The Folly’s Anneliese Grant) who’s shown dancing and doing shots with her friends.

In case anyone misses the point, it ends with Grant’s cold glare brightening into a big smile, followed by outtakes of cast and crew partying, with Kingsley, in his signature diving bell helmet. If the song was written in the burning heat of anger, it’s faded to heat lightning on a midsummer evening.

  • Re: Roundup: Richmond Forum, International Violin Competition, Stone's Throw Down, GBV, plus Violent Femmes return with Echo and the Bunnymen

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