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Thursday, August 16, 2018

A Video Celebration of Aretha Franklin

The Queen of Soul has died at 76.

Posted By on Thu, Aug 16, 2018 at 1:00 PM

It's been coming all week.

We knew the undisputed Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, was in hospice, so there's been some time to prepare. A steady stream of fans have posted memories, praise and well wishes (I recommend the New Yorker article "Aretha Franklin's American Soul" by David Remnick for more background on her life).

She died today from pancreatic cancer at the age of 76, surrounded by loved ones.

Fans of her transcendent, once-a-century talent are mourning -- and if you're like me and bought tickets to see her in Virginia in the past, only to have the concert cancelled, it stings a little extra. Of all the legendary performers on my bucket list to witness live, she ruled alone at the top.

But we do have those essential recordings (if you're new, start with "Amazing Grace" and "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Loved You)") plus a lot of video out there. And of course, there are the shining talents that she has inspired and will continue to inspire. But there will never be another quite like her.

In a way, it's hard to be too sad: This is a glorious day. Ms. Franklin was a person of faith and she's now set free. One can easily imagine that glorious voice, that soul-stirring spirit, alighting anew in the heavens, or across whatever timeless plain awaits.

As my friend Amanda Petrusich summed up for the New Yorker today, "To listen to Aretha Franklin now is to hear everything—everything that came before her, each strain of American blues and jazz and gospel and soul, all the musical traditions people leaned on to stay alive, and everything that exists now, all the singers she gave license to, everyone she taught. Her death is in all of us, as her songs are in all of us. She is as immortal as can be."

Monday, August 13, 2018

A List of Possible Interview Questions for Stormy Daniels

Famous porn star to appear at Paper Moon in Southside on Sept. 13.

Posted By on Mon, Aug 13, 2018 at 6:30 PM

The most famous porn star in America, Stormy Daniels, is coming to Paper Moon's Southside location on Thursday, Sept. 13.

Outside of porn circles, she is famous for having sex with the president of our country, Donald Trump. It happened in 2006, just after his wife gave birth.

Oh, and she’s famous for receiving a $130,000 payoff for a non-disclosure agreement arranged by Trump’s then lawyer, Michael Cohen. Trump first said in April he had no knowledge of the payoff – then his new attorney Rudy Giulani admitted in May that he did know about it.

Daniels has turned the publicity to her advantage, appearing on “Saturday Night Live” and numerous talk shows. We’re not sure yet if she’ll be available for a phone interview beforehand, but just in case, we’ve started on a few questions.

A List of Possible Questions for Stormy Daniels

1. So what was it like with…. Um, nevermind.

2. Did you know there’s a drink named after you at one of our finest restaurants, l’Opossum?

3. So who are you voting for in November?

4. Is Michael Cohen really as weasely as he seems?

5. What was the best thing you bought with all that hush money?

6. You’ve played roles from Baby Lee Johnson and Amber to Stripper #2 and the Virgin Mary, which one sticks out as the most demanding?

7. Have you ever just kicked back and had a beer with Monica Lewinsky?

8. How would you rate Bob Mueller on a sexy scale from “mouth vomit” to “toe curling”?

9. Do you think America will ever be great again?

10. Seriously, was there any one quirk that 45 did that was just …. Um, nevermind. I need some water. And mouthwash. Stat.

Review: Richmond Jazz Fest at Maymont

Posted By on Mon, Aug 13, 2018 at 2:45 PM

“Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?”

There were a lot of good, and some spectacular performances at the ninth annual Richmond Jazz Festival before the closing Sunday sets were washed out in a torrential thunderstorm. (According to Festival organizers JMI, discounted tickets for either day of next year’s event will be offered to qualified Sunday ticketholders. Details will be posted at www.richmondjazzfestival.com.)

Saturday was the festival at its sun-bleached best, from the local openers to the over-the-top closing set from George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic.

Parliament Funkadelic with George Clinton.
  • Parliament Funkadelic with George Clinton.

Standouts randomly sampled in approximately eight miles of traipsing between stages included Charles Owen’s blazing opening set, Rudy Faulkner and F.R.E.N.S. all-star line-up, and the series of great acts at the farthest-out Dominion Stage - notably Evolution of the Groove, Deva Mahal and Butcher Brown.

Stage 3 was, as always, the most jazz-centric with phenomenal pianist Christian Sands, Kenyon Harrold, the very loud avant-garde trio, Harriet Tubman: The Band, and veteran Roy Ayers, whose signature song “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” was perhaps less true of an audience seeking shelter in an air-conditioned tent.

The big Virginia is for Lovers stage held a succession of celebrities: Joss Stone, Gladys Knight, and the O’Jays. All had polished, crowd-pleasing sets, but nothing like the ecstatic, one-of-a-kind weirdness of P-Funk. Seeing Knight was an event, being at the George Clinton stage was a happening.

Sunday started with the usual local sets. Pianist Calvin Brown’s group, featuring leading RVA vocalists Kenneka Cook and Sam Reed, was both soulful and stirring. Area demi-legend James Plunky Branch had a well-deserved mid-afternoon slot. The revelation was up-and-coming singer Jazzmeia Horn, whose set was full of vocal pyrotechnics, charisma, and seriousness of purpose reminiscent of Rene Marie.

There were, no doubt, notable things going on at other stages, but a densely-sequenced event involves tough decisions. The toughest on Sunday was around 5, when Red Baraat, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and Kurt Elling were all scheduled to start. Instead, a line of storms blasted in. Maymont was evacuated after at least one in-park lightning strike.

Not quite the electrifying conclusion the organizers were hoping for, but those who missed out are promised a head start on next year’s event.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Richmond Theater Critics Announce 2018 Artsie Nominations

Posted By on Tue, Aug 7, 2018 at 3:30 PM

According to a press release, the Richmond Theatre Critics Circle has announced the nominees for this year's Artsies, the community's recognition of excellence in Richmond-area theatre.

This year's event will take place at 7pm on Sunday, Oct. 7 at Virginia Rep's November Theatre. Tickets go on sale Sept. 1 and can be purchased by calling the Virginia Rep box office: 804.282.2620, according to the release.

Among this year's top nominees were Firehouse Theatre's "Preludes" (12 nominations) and Virginia Rep's "West Side Story" (11 nominations). Richmond Triangle Players has an impressive three plays ( "Cloud 9," "Corpus Christi" and "The Normal Heart" ) in competition for Best Play of the Year.

Here is your full list of nominees:

Best Musical

"Alice, A New Musical" - Firehouse/TheatreLAB

"Fun Home" - Cadence Theatre in partnership with Virginia Rep

"The Last Five Years - TheatreLAB/Yes, And! Entertainment

"Preludes" - Firehouse

"West Side Story" - Virginia Rep

Best Direction (Musical)

Adam Ferguson, "Alice"

Chase Kniffen, "Fun Home"

Billy-Christopher Maupin, "Preludes"

Nathaniel Shaw, "West Side Story"

Kerrigan Sullivan, "Wings"

Best Actor (Musical)

PJ Freebourn, "Preludes"

Duke Lafoon, "Fun Home"

Justin Luciano, "West Side Story"

Dale Sampson, "The View Upstairs," Richmond Triangle Players

Alexander Sapp, "The Last Five Years"

Best Actress (Musical)

Bianca Bryan, "Wings"

Alexa Cepeda, "A Chorus Line," Richmond Triangle Players

Christie Jackson, "The Last Five Years"

Brittany Santos, "West Side Story"

Debra Wagoner, "Tomfoolery," Swift Creek Mill

Best Supporting Actor (Musical)

Levi Meerovich, "Preludes"

Steven Rada, "A Chorus Line"

Morgan Reynolds, "Mary Poppins" Virginia Rep

Alexander Sapp, "A Chorus Line"

Travis West, "Preludes"

Best Supporting Actress (Musical)

Maggie Bavolack, "Alice"

Daria DeGaetano, "A Chorus Line"

Maria Cristina Slye, "West Side Story"

Debra Wagoner, "Mary Poppins"

Elizabeth Wyld, "Fun Home"

Best Musical Direction

Susan Randolph Braden, "Preludes"

Paul Deiss, "Tomfoolery"

Leilani Fenick/Michael Knowles, "To Damascus," Firehouse

Kim Fox, "Wings"

Anthony Smith, "West Side Story"

Best Choreography

Kikau Alvaro, "Fun Home"

Justin Amellio, "A Chorus Line"

Emily Dandridge, "Preludes"

Alissa Pagnotti, "Dames at Sea"

Lisa Rumbauskas, "Mary Poppins"

Special Achievement in Dance

Matthew Couvillon for recreating Jerome Robbins' choreography for Virginia Rep's "West Side Story."

Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design (Musical)

Leslie Cook-Day, "Preludes"

Sarah Grady, "West Side Story"

Sue Griffin and Jeanne Nugent, "Mary Poppins"

Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Design (Musical)

Christian DeAngelis, "Preludes"

Joe Doran, "Fun Home"

Michael Jarett, "The Last Five Years"

Bill Miller, "Wings"

BJ Wilkinson, "West Side Story"

Outstanding Achievement in Set Design (Musical)

Scott Bradley, "West Side Story"

Tennessee Dixon, "Preludes"

Adam Ferguson, "Alice"

Vinnie Gonzalez, "Wings"

David Melton, "The View Upstairs"

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design (Musical)

Derek Dumais, "Fun Home"

Derek Dumais, "Mary Poppins"

Derek Dumais, "West Side Story"

Ryan Dygert, "Preludes"

Jason Blue Herbert, "Wings"

Best Play

"Appropriate," Cadence Theatre in partnership with Virginia Rep

"Cloud 9," Richmond Triangle Players

"Corpus Christi," Richmond Triangle Players

"Hand to God," 5th Wall/TheatreLAB

"The Normal Heart," Richmond Triangle Players

"Top Dog/Underdog," TheatreLAB

Best Direction (Play)

Josh Chenard, "Desire under the Elms," Firehouse

Gary C. Hopper, "Hand to God"

Anna Senechal Johnson, "Appropriate"

Katrinah Carol Lewis, "Top Dog/Underdog"

James Ricks, "Lysistrata," Quill

Best Actor (Play)

Matt Bloch, "Cloud 9"

Bostin Christopher, "The Christians," Cadence Theatre in partnership with Virginia Rep

Jim Morgan, "The Normal Heart"

Jeremy V. Morris, "Top Dog/Underdog"

Adam Turck, "Hand to God"

Best Actress (Play)

Trazana Beverley, "A Raisin in the Sun"

Kimberly Jones Clark, "Hand to God"

Maggie Roop, "Crimes of the Heart," Virginia Rep (Hanover Tavern)

Susan Sanford, "Appropriate"

Laine Satterfield, "Cloud 9"

Catherine Shaffner, Erma Bombeck: "At Wit’s End," Virginia Rep (Hanover Tavern)

Best Supporting Actor (Play)

Chandler Hubbard, "Corpus Christi"

Happy Mahaney, "Appropriate"

John Mincks, "Miracle on South Division Street," Virginia Rep (Hanover Tavern)

Matt Shofner, "Romeo & Juliet" (VMFA), Quill

Adam Valentine, "Hand to God"

Best Supporting Actress (Play)

Maggie Bavolack, "Lysistrata"

Jasmine Coles, "A Raisin in the Sun"

Donna Marie Miller, "Food, Clothing, and Shelter," Firehouse

Melissa Johnston Price, "Romeo & Juliet"

Jill Bari Steinberg, "Appropriate"

Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design (Play)

Cora Delbridge, "As You Like It," Quill

Cora Delbridge, "Romeo & Juliet"

Aaron Mastin, "Shakespeare in Love," Virginia Rep

Sheila Russ, "The Normal Heart"

Emily Tappan, "A Raisin in the Sun"

Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Design (Play)

Andrew Bonniwell, "I Am My Own Wife," Richmond Triangle Players/5th Wall

Michael Jarett, "Moth," TheatreLAB

Bill Miller, "Desire under the Elms"

Outstanding Achievement in Set Design (Play)

Katherine Field, "A Raisin in the Sun"

Rich Mason, "Appropriate"

Rich Mason, "The Christians"

Terrie Powers, "Crimes of the Heart"

Chris Raintree, "Desire under the Elms"

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design (Play)

Paul Deiss, "The Woman in Black," Swift Creek Mill

Derek Dumais, "A Raisin in the Sun"

Robbie Kinter, "An Oak Tree," Firehouse

Ernie McClintock Best Ensemble Acting

"Alice," TheatreLAB

"Cloud 9," Richmond Triangle Players

"Corpus Christi," Richmond Triangle Players

"Miracle on South Division Street," Virginia Rep

"Preludes," Firehouse

Promising Newcomer

Mara Barrett, "Free Man of Color," Heritage Ensemble Theatre Company

Stone Casey, "The Diviners," Chamberlayne Actors Theatre

Violet Craghead-Way, "Fun Home"

Jordan Pearson,"Akeelah and the Bee," Virginia Rep Children’s Theatre

Keisha Wallace, "Food, Clothing, and Shelter"

Best Original Work

"The Dream Seller and the Forest Dwellers" by Jerry Maple Jr., Heritage

"Food, Clothing, and Shelter" by Bo Wilson, Firehouse

"River Ditty" by Matthew Mooney Keuter, Virginia Rep

"To Damascus" by Walter Braxton, Firehouse

Monday, August 6, 2018

SPARC Students To Appear With Jason Mraz On NBC's "Today" Show This Friday, Aug. 10

Posted By on Mon, Aug 6, 2018 at 7:00 PM

For those who watch the morning "Today Show" on NBC comes this online announcement from the School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community:

We’re thrilled to announce that 20 of SPARC’s LIVE ART students will appear on NBC’s "Today Show" this Friday, Aug. 10!

SPARC alumnus Jason Mraz is performing live on TODAY’s Citi Concert Series, promoting the release of his new album, Know. Following his recent experiences in SPARC’s LIVE ART concert in Richmond, and our collaboration in Chicago for Special Olympics International’s 50th Anniversary celebration, Jason invited LIVE ART students to join him at Rockefeller Center for the TODAY performance.

The event marks the first time in SPARC’s 37-year history that our students have performed on national television.

Tune in this Friday on your local NBC station (NBC12 in Richmond), 8:00-9:00 a.m. Eastern Time, and cheer loud enough for us to hear you in NYC!

Style caught up with Mraz, who lives on an avocado farm in San Diego, last time he filmed a video in Richmond. You can read that story here.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

PICK: Glenn Wilson at the Camel, Sunday, July 29

Posted By on Sat, Jul 28, 2018 at 4:50 PM

This weekend offers a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it opportunity to hear one of the extraordinary players in Richmond’s semi-recent history.

After moving here from New York City to raise a family, baritone sax player Glenn Wilson was a fixture on the local scene through the '90s. His quartet, the Jazzmaniacs had a standing biweekly or monthly gig at Bogart’s (now Flora) where they played with high-level virtuosity and humor. (One of Wilson’s compositions is a mashup of Coltrane’s “Giant Steps,” “Seven Steps to Heaven,” and “If I Only Had a Brain” from “The Wizard of Oz.” It was titled, naturally, “If I Only Had Seven Giant Brains.”)

Sunday’s late-afternoon gig at the Camel brings back two thirds of the Jazzmaniacs, bassist Jimmy Masters, drummer Tony Martucci, along with Tidewater pianist John Toomey and frequent Jazzmaniacs collaborator (and fellow NYC-scene expatriate) trumpeter John D’Earth.

The show is at an uncommonly early 4 p.m.This is not a typical RVA “arrive late and miss nothing” situation. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

PICK: Marcus Tenney at Vagabond on Wednesday, July 25

Posted By on Wed, Jul 25, 2018 at 4:00 AM

Tonight, Marcus Tenney debuts his new recording at Vagabond, next to the National.

“Moment” is the first edition of Richmond Jazz, a new series from American Paradox Records recorded in Scott Lane's home studio.

Tenney (NoBS! Brass, Butcher Brown) is a triple threat, highly accomplished on trumpet, tenor sax and microphone as a soulfully gruff rapper. But it is all trumpet on this recording, backed by bassist Andrew Randazzo (Butcher Brown), guitarist Alan Parker (Matthew E. White, Natalie Prass), and drummer Billy Williams (who plays in a host of national jazz acts.)

The four songs on the 28-minute recording are alternately classic and bluesy. Tenney’s themes are simple enough to be remembered yet rich enough to support adventurous soloing.

The setting is intimate and informal, literally starting with someone clearing their throat. The title is accurate, it is a snapshot of the artist at a very specific juncture in his career, still grounded at home but starting to reach a far wider audience.

The music is available via streaming services or as a cassette tape for those with a taste for retro sonics. Or you could catch it live tonight, downstairs in the Vagabond's Rabbit Hole, free admission, starting at 9 p.m.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Video: Sacha Baron Cohen Gets Virginia Citizens Defense League President To Teach Toddlers How To Shoot "Bad Men"

Posted By on Sun, Jul 15, 2018 at 7:55 PM

Sacha Baron Cohen, the prankster behind the 2006 comedy film "Borat," has been getting a lot of media attention lately thanks to the big-names who are mad at him about his new Showtime series, "Who is America?" (premieres tonight at 10 p.m.)

Everyone from former Vice President Dick Cheney to former Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin to disgraced GOP senate candidate Roy Moore have been venting their anger about being tricked into appearing on what they thought was a legitimate political documentary.

In the first episode, Cohen interviews Virginia's most extreme gun lobbyist, Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, which has been fighting for more lenient gun laws in the commonwealth since 1994. Style interviewed him back in 2013 after the Newtown shootings.

Posing as Israeli "anti-terror" expert, Col. Erran Moran, Cohen looks for a solution to the school shooting problem and, as the Washington Post notes, gets Van Cleave to create a partially animated children’s video, "replete with gunimals (guns that look like stuffed animals) and even a nursery rhyme about the best part of the body to strike (“Aim at the head, shoulders, not the toes, not the toes,” Van Cleave sings, punctuated by Cohen-as-Morad rhythmically yelling “fire!”).

Yep, that's right. Using a pistol disguised as a puppet, Van Cleave teaches children under four how "to stop these naughty men and have them take a long nap." First he shows toddlers how to load the weapon and "point Puppy Pistol's mouth right at the middle of the bad man. If he has a big fat tummy, point at that." Unbelievable.

If that sounds too insane or disgusting to be true, just watch the video below.

Cohen must love coming to Virginia. He found another highlight moment here in "Borat" when he filmed a rodeo at the civic center in Salem, Virginia. Appearing as Borat Sagdiyev from Kazakhstan, Cohen butchered the national anthem and nearly caused a riot (but only after a chilling scene when the rodeo producer says he'd love to see gays hanged here and was "working on it.") The film grossed over $261 million on an $18 million dollar budget.

Just remember, Van Cleave is the head of a group that the Roanoke Times called "the commonwealth's dominant gun lobby" in 2013, and they've actually been successful at preventing meaningful gun-control in the state.

Listening to some of these well-known politicians support the idea of toddlers with guns, or first-graders with grenades and a "rudimentary knowledge of mortars," you should come to the conclusion that we are currently doomed.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Preview: Local Fulbright Scholar's Doc Sounds Alarm on Global Refugee Crisis and Rising Fascism

Screens on Monday, July 23 at Richmond Public Library

Posted By on Wed, Jul 11, 2018 at 12:40 PM

A local filmmaker who was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in 2015 to live with refugees in Sicily is screening her documentary, "Fata Morgana," at the Main Library of the Richmond Public Library on Monday, July 23.

Jen Lawhorne, who received a masters in film studies from Virginia Commonwealth University, lived for a year in Sicily and says that she hopes to educate the public on problems facing refugees in Europe.

The 45-minute documentary, “Fata Morgana,” which roughly translates in Italian to "mirage," was co-produced by Lawhorne and Ebrima and Toumani, two young men from Gambia and Mali trying to establish themselves in the northeast Sicilian city of Messina, who she discovered through a local refugee solidarity group.

As noted in a press release: "The documentary shifts the cinematic gaze over to the eyes of the refugees who filmed more than half of the documentary’s footage."

Lawhorne tells Style that the documentary is a little bit about her experience, why she chose to explore the topic, and mostly about how her life intersects with Toumani and Ebrima. It also covers the return of Italian fascism in the form of the extreme right wing group, La Lega Nord, which shares power in the Italian government.

"It's not a good sign for the future of the European union," she says, noting that she uses visual parallels with the United States and Trump's use of America First (similar to Italy First). "There are a lot of similarities between the refugee crisis there and here," she says.

The filmmaker has covered similar topics before. Her 2009 documentary, “The Little Trip of a Dream,” explored the lives of undocumented kitchen workers in Richmond and what they left behind in Mexico, according to a release. Lawhorne currently works as media specialist for a political advocacy organization, Progress VA, and teaches documentary filmmaking to area young people through ART 180.

She adds that "now is an alarming time with rise of xenophobia and the Republican Party catering to white nationalists." She hopes her film will be a call for people to make an effort to open themselves outward.

"There are millions of people living in really bad situations throughout the world, it's the responsibility of people in more developed countries to figure out ways to help them," she says. "The world is a small place and it doesn't do us any good to close ourselves off to other people."

"It's time for people to reject efforts to close ourselves off to other people. We all live on this planet together and we need to work together to find positive solutions," she says. "If we build walls, we're only making our situation worse for ourselves."

Lawhorne, who is influenced by artists such as Werner Herzog and Ava Duvernay, says she was sitting on the film for a couple years now, but realized with current news events she couldn't wait any longer. There will likely be more local screenings, as well as an online and DVD release.

“Fata Morgana” premieres Monday, July 23 at 6 p.m. at the Main Library of the Richmond Public Library.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Free Benefit Show at Hardywood West - Friday, July 6

Featuring Lucy Dacus, Deau Eyes, Angelica Garcia and DJ Rattan

Posted By on Fri, Jul 6, 2018 at 3:20 PM

If you're looking for something to do this Friday, and you've wanted to check out the new Hardywood West Creek taproom overlooking Tuckahoe Creek, today might be the day.

Acclaimed Richmond-based singer/songwriter Lucy Dacus will be performing a free show with Deau Eyes (Ali Thibodeau) and Angelica Garcia, with DJ Rattan on the wheels of steel. The event is a benefit for RAICES, a nonprofit that provides free and low-cost legal services to immigrant children, families and refugees in Central and Southern Texas.

According to the venue website, "a limited number of signed show posters will be available for sale [with] all proceeds donated to RAICES along with a portion of merchandise sales from the performers. Be sure to stop by the donation table in the taproom if you are moved to offer a direct donation to RAICES through their website."

The show is all ages and here's the schedule:

5:30 p.m.: DJ Rattan (Rei from Bio Ritmo) spins Latin music.

6 p.m.: Angelica Garcia is a super-talented singer and performer who mixes folk, blues, alt. rock, probably more.

7 p.m.: Deau Eyes is the project of indie singer and songwriter Ali Thibodeau which the website describes as featuring "soulful siren-like melodies and cleverly crafted lyrics."

8 p.m.: Lucy Dacus, whose sophomore album, "No Burden" has been called one of the top 50 albums of 2018 by Rolling Stone magazine, if you're familiar with that.

  • Re: Review: "Sweetheart of the Rodeo 50th Anniversary Tour" at the Beacon Theatre, Sept. 20

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    • Gene is dead

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