Subscribe: Style Weekly - Richmond, VA local news, arts, and events., Style Weekly
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade A rated
album  april  cameras  food  made  music  new  people  play  richmond  school  song  style  time  virginia  work   
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: Style Weekly - Richmond, VA local news, arts, and events., Style Weekly

Style Weekly - Richmond, VA local news, arts, and events., Style Weekly

Style Weekly is your alternative for RVA news, arts, events, restaurant reviews and classifieds.

Published: Fri, 20 Apr 2018 00:00:01 -0400

Last Build Date: Fri, 20 Apr 2018 09:00:00 -0400

Copyright: Copyright 2018 Style Weekly. All rights reserved. This RSS file is offered to individuals, Style Weekly readers, and non-commercial organizations only. Any commercial websites wishing to use this RSS file, please contact Style Weekly.

Virginia Beach will soon be home to a floating food boat

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 20:15:00 -0400


Sure, food carts are nice, if you’re at a brewery. But can a food cart bring you an ice cream bubble cone when you’re out on your friend’s boat?

Starting May 1, three partners will open a kind of mobile restaurant they say has never been seen in Virginia Beach.

“The Barnacle,” says a sign painted on the floating eatery by local artist Sam Welty. “VB’s first and only food boat!”

Weather and scheduling permitting, the Barnacle will post up Thursdays to Sundays at the Narrows on 64th Street, at the edge of First Landing State Park. The boat will be open from 10:30 a.m. till sundown.

“We’ve always been under the idea that there’s never food out on the water,” says co-owner Bo Zinno, whose mother’s restaurant the Anchor Inn served crab cakes and steak for 30 years in Virginia Beach.

“We’re always out there, and there’s never anywhere to go eat because we’re on boats,” says partner Tracy Edwards, who runs a pair of country bars called the Eagle’s Nest with her husband, Shea. “But this’ll be in the water.”

The Barnacle will be mobile, and hireable for private parties at places like Bay Island.

But for now, its home base will be at the Narrows along Broad Bay near Virginia Beach’s northeastern tip, where the boat will be accessible to walk-up customers via a mobile dock. Boaters will also be able to pull up alongside and pick up food, bags of ice, ice cream bars or even sunscreen.

“The boating world is different from the regular world,” Tracy Edwards says. “You leave all your problems behind. You know how the ice cream man has ice cream man music? We’ll come up with reggae music. That’ll be our trademark.”

The food at the Barnacle will mostly come in a single shape: a cone.

“One is a pizza cone,” Edwards says. “We put the dough in this machine and it comes in the shape of a cone: It bakes it. We wanted to make the food, and hold it out the window and be like, ‘Here’s your cone!’ It’ll be pizza cones, taco cones, and waffle cones, made from scratch.”

But those ice cream waffle cones won’t be the familiar sort invented by Norfolk’s Abe Doumar over a century ago.

The cones served at the Barnacle will be the Hong Kong-style street snack that’s become an Instagram phenomenon over the past two years. Also called egg waffles, the bubble waffle cones are made fresh, stuffed with ice cream and topped with scads of whipped cream and often other toppings.

“The cones look just like bubble wrap,” says Edwards. “We’ve been tweaking that recipe. We use a tapioca base so it’s sweet. It’s so good.”

Zinno says a lot of locals have already seen the boat and are plenty excited.

“We keep it at Marina Shores,” he says. “We (floated the Barnacle) down past Dockside, Chick’s, Back Deck. We went by four different bars on the water. People were cheering. People were losing their minds. That’s the thing: It’s so unique.”

The Barnacle will open officially May 1, but Zinno said anybody who wants to should come out for a preview from noon to 5 p.m. on April 25 – especially if they happen to have a boat.

That’s when the Travel Channel and the Food Network are scheduled to be filming the Barnacle for a new show about food boats, he says.

“We’ve got 10 boats already confirmed,” Zinno says. “We’re trying to get as many people out there as we can. Anybody who wants to get on TV, come out on April 25.”

If You Go: The Barnacle will open May 1 at the Narrows on 64th Street, off U.S. route 60 in Virginia Beach, 757-618-5788, Weather permitting, planned opening hours are 10:30 am to sundown, Thursday to Sunday.

Style Weekly Wins Virginia Press Association Award for Journalistic Integrity and Community Service

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 11:55:00 -0400


Style Weekly was honored last weekend by the Virginia Press Association’s annual contest with 25 awards: 13 first place, four second place and seven third place finishes, in addition to one of the night’s major awards for journalistic integrity and community service.

In editorial, five of the first place finishes went to photographer Scott Elmquist, including his coverage of protests here and in Charlottesville, as well as a powerful slideshow of two teenagers remembered at Mosby Court. Also, Jackie Kruszewski won a first place for arts writing for her story “Richmond Noir” about local author Howard Owen, and a first place for general news writing. Creative Director Ed Harrington won a first place for informational graphics. The advertising team, led by Creative Advertising Director Joel Smith, won five first place awards and one third place.

Also we were presented this year’s award for journalistic integrity and community service for our staff’s work covering a wide range of protests and news events.

Here are some of the judges’ comments:

“They more than met the challenge they set for themselves, producing meaningful coverage of their community’s response to a historic election over a seven-month period, before turning their focus in August 2017 to the horrific events in Charlottesville.

“The SPJ Code of Ethics calls for journalists to 'give voice to the voiceless' and in their coverage of these events Style Weekly does just that. I was struck by the excellent balance of photo and voice – seeing the people and hearing them as well made for powerful storytelling. … I found myself being pulled into the story, into the lives of these people who had taken time from their own lives to make a statement, to get involved, to be seen, to be heard. … The excellent reporting of the Style Weekly staff – in reporting, photographing, editing and laying out stories with a pleasing consistency and continuity of style — made that possible. Excellent team effort — well done.”

Goldrush Reuniting to Benefit Those Injured Outside Cary St. Cafe

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 14:45:00 -0400


Four years ago, musician Prabir Mehta was severely injured in a brutal attack that required hospitalization and extensive physical therapy.

At the time, he was provided with financial support from the artistic community, particularly Cary St. Cafe owner Robyn Chandler, who rallied around the singer and guitarist. Now Mehta is doing the same for Chandler and her two employees injured in the Cary St. Café food truck fire.

Goldrush, which also features Matt and Treesa Gold from the Richmond Symphony and Virginia Orchestra, will be performing a rare show on Friday, April 20 at Cary St. Cafe.

"When Robyn put on the fundraiser for me during my recovery period I went over there to thank her once I was able to walk again," Mehta says via email. "She said 'We’ve got to look out for each other, that’s what we can do.' I remember just feeling incredibly grateful and happy to know that people like her exist in our community. She’s an amazing asset for our city and we’d love to help her out since she’s done so much for us musicians already."

Goldrush and its individual members have played Cary St. Cafe for many years, Mehta notes.

"For quite a long time now this venue has been the hub for Richmond’s working musicians," Mehta adds. "Beyond that, Robyn has also been a friend to these musicians ... Proceeds from the show will go directly to them to use as they need for the many items that will need to be addressed to get everyone and everything up and running again.

Goldrush performs on Friday, April 20 at Cary St. Cafe with Kenneka Cook opening. Goldrush will be doing all of our favorite originals and our favorite Beatles tunes to close out the night. $10 at the door and there will be opportunities inside to donate to the Cary St Cafe team’s recovery efforts as well.

width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen>

Trailblazing composer Mason Bates returns home to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Richmond Symphony with a world premiere

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 01:00:00 -0400

Mason Bates hears music everywhere. Not long ago at the Arizona Musicfest, he was given a helicopter ride over the desert, with organizers hoping to inspire the Richmond native and "most-performed living composer of his generation" into writing about the landscape. "I ended up writing about the landscape and the helicopter," Bates says with a little laugh. "I called it 'Desert Transport.' You can absolutely hear the spinning of the rotors and the expansiveness of the desert." That's because on field trips like these, Bates carries a Zoom recorder that he uses to document sounds such as a particle accelerator starting up, or more recently, sheets of money being printed during a tour of the United States Mint in Washington. "I don't exactly know where that's going, but I'm writing a piece for the Kennedy Center (where he's the inaugural composer-in-residence) for December," he says. "You never really know until you get the sounds and have the experience." At 41, Bates already is considered a savior of classical music, widening its possibilities and pushing it into the 21st century by incorporating electronic and improvisational music within his "concert experiences." He also performs as a club DJ under the name DJ Masonic. And he'll be returning to Richmond on May 12 with a world premiere for chorus and orchestra titled "Children of Adam," in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Richmond Symphony. "He's really one of the leading composers of his generation and has grown up listening and being connected to a wide variety of music," says the symphony's music director, Steven Smith. "It's enormously exciting. He puts things together in unusual and interesting ways. … And he has a lot of great work ahead of him." Bates explains that his journey started with the Richmond Symphony, where he first heard and studied orchestral concerts before graduating from St. Christopher's School in the mid-'90s, attending Julliard School, and becoming an in-demand composer and curator who also has written a film score for director Gus Van Sant ("Sea of Trees") and a popular opera about Steve Jobs that premiered last year at the Santa Fe Opera. However, he's never written for chorus and orchestra, he says, which often is associated with requiems or ponderous, weighty music: "I liked the idea of approaching it in a way that is more bright and uplifting," he says. The title "Children of Adam" comes from a Walt Whitman poem celebrating the connection between the spirit and the body. Lyrically, there also are selections from the Psalms, the book of Genesis, a Native American song and American poet Carl Sandburg. "Essentially this is an exploration of different texts, whether sacred or secular, about creation and rebirth," Bates explains. "The Whitman poem comes in these fanfare choruses, or interludes. … The more imagery in there, the more you can put musically. There is something profoundly spiritual about all of it." Bates started out looking for subject matter about creation and rebirth, but was unsure how to relate that to Virginia. That's when he called his former St. Christopher's music teacher, Hope Armstrong Erb, who played a key role. Erb was driving back from viewing the solar eclipse in South Carolina when she got the call, she says. She stopped the car and took a 45-minute walk while telling him about the Mattaponi Indians based near Bates' own family farm in King and Queen County, in his family since 1850. Erb insisted Bates visit the tribe, where he wound up hearing their creation story of Tolepe Menenak, or Turtle Island, from an Algonquian-language song shared by Sharon Sun Eagle, who runs the Spirit Rising nonprofit. It would become the centerpiece of Bates' new work. "I don't know anybody more spiritual than Native Americans," Erb says. "That's what I'm most excited about. This work will be helping resurrect a culture and lift up a wonderful people." Nearly a dozen rel[...]

Survivor: Longtime Richmond recording figure John Morand finally releases a solo album

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 01:00:00 -0400

For about 30 years, John Morand has been accustomed to being on one side of the recording studio booth. As a co-founder and co-owner of Richmond's legendary Sound of Music recording studio, Morand has racked up production or engineering credits on albums for a staggering number of bands, ranging from studio-affiliated groups Cracker, Camper Van Beethoven and Sparklehorse to local acts like Gwar, Susan Greenbaum and Carbon Leaf, to top European acts and even hit pop trio Hanson. He's occasionally contributed his talents as a performer too, playing drums on a Sparklehorse track or adding percussion to a Cracker song or two, but it's been a long time since Morand's been in bands himself. From 1988 through 1994 he drummed in a female-fronted band called Burst into Flames, which played South by Southwest and New York nightclubs. As Sound of Music became more successful, he says, "It got harder to balance. … I had to choose: Do I want to go to New York and make $50 tonight playing a show or do I want to stay and record the Black Crowes and make $500?" About two years ago, with what he jokingly says began as "slightly drunk demos in the middle of the night," he started writing songs for what would become his first solo album, "Scotts Addiction," which launches April 27 with a listening party and performance at Sound of Music as part of the Richmond International Film Festival. A pun on Richmond's ultra-hot Scotts Addition district where Sound of Music is located, "Scotts Addiction" features performances by performers connected to Sound of Music including Cracker frontman and Sound of Music co-founder David Lowery, James Jackson Toth of Wooden Wand, and members of local bands the Smirks, Toward Space and Wrinkle Neck Mules. It is mixed by local musician Bob Strickler, who has engineered albums for the Hold Steady, the War on Drugs and Awolnation. Influences on this album include Sparklehorse Cracker, Neil Young and the Bangles, Morand says. In addition to writing the songs, he sings and plays guitar, drums and keyboards on several songs. Toth, also a contributor for Style, provides vocals on "I Feel You Coming," a wistful, mellow song heavily influenced by Sparklehorse with a soupçon of Fleet Foxes. Charlottesville singer-songwriter Lauren Hoffman, one of Sound of Music's first clients, fronts Morand's song "Could Have Gone Gold" with Lowery on bass and former Sound of Music co-owner Miguel Urbiztondo playing drums. The video for the album's poppy garage-punk track "Needs of the Narcissist" stars album bassist Danica Wetzel portraying presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway as enabler for the falsehoods of the commander-in-chief. "It's about people who have to serve for the needs of narcissists, lie for them, cover for them," Morand says, "and just about the current political climate, the concept of fake news and that everything we used to believe in has been turned on its head by a president, who dated a porn star, being elected by evangelicals." Addiction is a theme of the album, including being addicted to making music and "not being able to give it up and go on like most grown-ups have," Morand says. "People who can quit the music business, do. If you can't figure out a way to quit, you keep going and that's who we call survivors." And it's about talented friends such as the late Mark Linkous of the critically acclaimed Sparklehorse, who struggled and lost battles with addiction and depression. It's also a nod to the entertainment and residential boom in the increasingly gentrified Scotts Addition, largely fueled by craft breweries. "This neighborhood is entirely based around alcohol more or less. It's like an entire city-sponsored industry of basically selling depressants to people. … These depressant factories that litter our neighborhoods," Morand grumbles. He notes with a laugh that he is fully aware of his hypocrisy because Sound of Music help[...]

Some Richmond Hip-Hop Names to Watch in 2018

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 01:00:00 -0400

X000 YunG (Tyler Bond and Stephen Jones) Style: Jones and Bond, collectively known as X000 YunG, explore the dark hip-hop sub-genre of horror core, fusing sinister melodic sounds with 808 drum-machine beats. As producers, the two have made music for years, Bond in the punk-rock world and Jones in the hip-hop scene. Their shared interest in 1980s slasher films and musicians like Three 6 Mafia and the Cocteau Twins helped create the duo's eerie lo-fi sound.   Latest releases: In a time when beats from different mainstream artists sound remarkably similar and lyricism is limited to repetitive catchy hooks, X000 YunG offers a much-needed change in pace. Previous releases "The Hideaway EP" and "Seven Princes of Hell" display a preferred ambient trap sound with tracks such as "Mammon: Greed" and "Vultures" being exemplars. But their latest project, the 11-song LP "Fxxx How You Feel," breaks from the signature dark sound, like on the song "Burgundy" with the lyrics "the devil shit is played so switchin' deals and for the hater mother fuck how you feel," poking fun at their previous work while showing creative range. Where to hear: X000 YunG has performed at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery and home venue Crystal Palace as well as various pop-up events around the city. News of any live dates can be found on its Bandcamp page.   Alfred Style: Aaron Brown, aka Alfred, calls this genre dark gospel, defined as a soundscape of vocals, screaming, whispers and close and distant chatter that immerses audiences into an intense listening experience. Brown uses the term to acknowledge Baptist religious influences and situate the music within hip-hop while carving space to exist comfortably as a self-identified "queer rap scallion." Traditional fans would say the music is not hip-hop, but tradition makes it hard to define the music in the same way it makes it hard for people to be themselves. width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen> Latest releases: Fresh off tour with Citrus City records for the album "So Sensitive" featuring producer Yung Pocket$, Alfred's newest EP "Like You" challenges traditional stereotyping. The EP features a song titled "Tales of a Queer Rap-Scallion" speaking directly to Brown's experience in hip-hop. The project casually addresses homophobia and speaks to people Brown cares about. Similar to the So Sensitive project, the project stays empathetic to outsiders. But it feels connected to people, for better or worse, and the intensity of these emotions comes through in the songs. Where to hear: Strange Matter is one of Alfred's favorite venues. You can check out the music on Souncloud. Dial.333 Style: In angel numerology, the number 333 is a sign from divine beings that you are protected, loved and on the correct path. Rapper and producer Dial.333 embraces and manifests this celestial message with euphonic sync-wave tones and gentle beats. This is more experimental hip-hop, a genre that breaks traditional rules of quantized or precise beats with rhythms that are free to break, switch and mix at will. Latest releases: Dial.333's music is a seamless blend of emotive lyrics and smooth yet unpredictable beats. His song "Don't You Need Me" shows his skills for storytelling and weird instrumentals. For 333 the beat comes usually from a melody or sample that eventually becomes a full song. The tone of the beats evokes an emotion or memory and the words follow if the songs call for it. Tracks such as "U Can Be" featuring Richmond producers VonnBoyd exist without lyrics, but they're no less emotive or sensual. His next project, "Planet 333," is his first complete album. Where to hear: The artist's album is still in the works so there are no upcoming shows, but he frequents Strange Matter and pop-up performances around the c[...]

Legendary folk guitarist Richard Royall “Duck” Baker talks about recording demos in Richmond back in the early 1970s

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 01:00:00 -0400

"Les Blues Du Richmond" to be released on Tompkins Square for Record Store Day, April 21. To describe Duck Baker as a well-rounded musician would be a understatement. Equally comfortable playing ragtime, blues, acoustic finger-style or jazz, the legendary Baker is what's commonly known as a guitarist's guitarist. This Record Store Day on Saturday, April 21, the Tompkins Square label will release Baker's "Les Blues Du Richmond," an archival album of early demos and outtakes, many of which were recorded here in Richmond. The author of a dozen books of guitar transcriptions and host of an almost equal number of instructional finger-style guitar DVDs, the versatile Baker has released albums of Thelonious Monk arrangements for acoustic guitar alongside collections of Irish fiddle music. He may also be the only person on earth to have collaborated with John Zorn and released a Christmas album. A virtuoso in every sense of the word, the 68-year old Baker, who now lives in San Francisco, isn't resting on his laurels—he has already released three LPs in 2018 alone and says he plans on getting back to Richmond sometime in the next year. Style: You grew up in Richmond. Were you born here? Baker: I was born in D.C. When I was seven we moved to Warsaw, Virginia, because my dad was the preacher at St. James's Episcopal Church on Franklin Street. I lived in Richmond from the late '60s until about 1973. The photos on the front and back sleeve of "Les Blues Du Richmond" were taken here in town, right? Yes, not very far from Maymont, by a photographer named Lynn Abbot. Your early records appeared on Stefan Grossman's seminal Kicking Mule label. How did you hook up with Grossman? In the spring of 1973, when I was living in Richmond, I made this demo. Later that year, after moving out to San Francisco, I sent it to Stefan Grossman at Kicking Mule, and he said "Yeah, we'll make a record." And I thought "Oh wow, my life is gonna change now." And it did, but not in the way I envisioned it. I was making less money [with music] than I did working construction, but I think that's part of it, and that kind of thing tempers the steel a bit. A lot of people want to be musicians, but a lot of them come to their senses. Well, I'm glad you didn't come to your senses. Ah, well, by the time I might have, it was way too late. So I had this demo tape, some of which I later rerecorded for the early Kicking Mule records. Then a few years ago I got in touch with Josh [Rosenthal] at the Tompkins Square label and pitched him some more recent things, but he said "Ah, I like archival stuff. Whaddya got?" So I told him about this demo tape. width="100%" height="300" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" allow="autoplay" src=""> Artists like Pentangle and Sandy Bull were flirting with jazz as early as the mid-'60s, but Kicking Mule to my ears was one of the first labels to seriously explore traditional jazz within the larger context of acoustic guitar music. What were you listening to around the time you made your first records? Well, when I was a kid, you had jazz on the radio: "Take Five," Lee Morgan, things like that. Growing up in the South you could hear all the music you could have wanted at the switch of a dial. My first experience was playing in rock and blues bands in Richmond, but then I started getting into more acoustic music. A ragtime piano player named Buck Evans got me listening to early jazz. And then a year later, around 1967, I started getting into free jazz. I thought Archie Shepp was the greatest thing in the world. And then everybody started talking about Thelonious Monk, so [...]

Shockoe Bottom Gets a Used Record and Book Shop

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 01:00:00 -0400


Record stores will be stocked with exclusive releases, giveaways and other limited edition nerd bait for national Record Store Day on Saturday, April 21.

The city's newest vinyl shop, Small Friend Records and Books at 105 N. 17th St., just past the downtown farmers market, won't bother with special releases, but will be having a sale. It just opened a little more than a week ago and carries mostly used records and some new ones.

The store is owned and operated by the husband-and-wife team of Zoe Golden, a Richmond native, and Jordan Pulaski. The two 20-somethings had been living in Asheville, North Carolina, for the past year, where Golden worked for the excellent Harvest Records, but they missed Richmond.

"We loved this space. I don't think there is anything like this (used record and book shop) in the East End," Golden says. "People in Church Hill and this area have said they're excited to have something close by."

Luckily for the couple, no physical changes were needed to the high-ceilinged, cozy split-level space, so the entire opening took only two months. "It felt like forever to us," Golden says. "But when we got our business license, the person told me it was the fastest she'd ever seen someone complete the process."

Right now they're focused on variety and obscure records. Golden says that her tastes include garage rock, soul and gospel, while her husband likes "screamy" punk and metal, and even Bob Dylan. You may have heard Golden's radio show, the Tuesday morning "Breakfast Blend" on WRIR for a couple years, as well as a longer-running show "We're a Happy Family" on WDCE at University of Richmond.

They do buy records for cash and trade. "We're still feeling out what's going to sell here," says Pulaski, who is more focused on the book side.

"I wanted to have a place where people could get lost," he says. "I tend to read more stuff in the radical tradition: the anarchist histories of Paul Avrich, Nanni Balestrini. I gravitate towards anything that pushes back. We try to have a lot of authors who aren't white men -- or who traditionally have been left out."

Golden adds that her husband is more nonfiction, while she's more fiction – "a lot of horror lately," she says.

They don't have a huge collection yet, and the records vary in price and condition, but there's good stuff. Flipping through the bins, I notice a Wendy Rene soul album and a rocker by the Oblivians. Golden says she worked with that band's singer and guitarist, Greg Cartwright, in Asheville and hopes to have him perform at Small Friend.

"We want to make this a community space and have events," Pulaski says.

Nearby construction is scheduled to be finished next month, Golden says, and they're hoping foot traffic will increase. "I don't feel like I'm in competition with other record stores," she adds. "We love those stores, we just wanted to do our own."

And where did they get the store's name? It's a nickname for their dog, a tiny 4-pound Yorkipoo named Peluga.

"The joke is she's our smallest friend, so. …" Golden says. "She's just a teeny dog with an enormous personality." And now she has her own cool T-shirt, too.

Singing Saw: Justin “Saw” Black branches out on his second album

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 01:00:00 -0400

Sitting in the dining room of his South Side home, surrounded by old-school recording equipment and his adored dog Birdie at his side, Justin "Saw" Black is all smiles. "She's getting used to the attention," he says. His pup has been a staple of local music videos and photos since the former art handler at the Virginia Museum of fine Arts decided make music full-time a few years ago. Saw, a nickname with "a back story too long to tell," is reeling off a few taco-charged stories from Austin, Texas, at South by Southwest. His excitement isn't because of the overhyped hoopla on Rainey Street downtown, but rather he beams when talking about catching up with old Richmond pals and Austin transplants such as the Diamond Center, photographer Craig Zirpolo and his marathon of small gigs. That's the kind of vibe Saw Black embodies: authentic, down-home and fueled by a legit love of music and good company. And he promises, he's not just "another boring guy with a guitar." That's even more clear with Black's second album, "Water Tower," which comes out on May 18 and marks significant growth for the songwriter. If his memorable debut, "Azalea Days," was his breakup album, this one is about self-reflection and transition. Recorded between three studios with multiple band lineups, the sound is bigger and more textured, thanks in part to masterful engineers Russell Lacey at Virginia Moonwalker and Adrian Olsen at Montrose Recording. style="border: 0; width: 100%; height: 120px;" src="" seamless>Water Tower by Saw Black Over 14 songs, Black tackles everything from addiction to finding love again, and shows a bona fide appreciation for the little things that anyone who grew up in Richmond and points south might appreciate. Like water towers. It's Americana in the nonroll-your-eyes sense — an album you could confidently share with your Neil Young-loving uncle and get a little respect. Virginia born and bred, Black laughs while recalling his earliest music memories. "I used to love going to my grandfather's house because he had a piano and would play the "Batman" theme," he says. His grandfather was James W. Black, a renowned jazz musician who has a building named after him at Virginia Commonwealth University and the Community School of Performing Arts. "He'd ask me, 'How does that go?' He obviously knew, but he'd play along with me. And then, he just took off. That music had only ever come from the television, so it just blew my mind," he says. Saw picked up an electric guitar when he was about 11, but didn't immediately fall in love with any style. "I was super into all kinds of music. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. … and I was obsessed with Jay-Z. He knew how to tell a story," he says. It's no surprise that Black can tell a hell of a good tale with that kind of taste, and it explains his appreciation for a range of genres. Look no further than the bands on his label Crystal Pistol Records, which he co-owns with musician Pete Curry: names such as Dharma Bombs, Dogwood Tales and the You Go Girls. Speaking of labels, "Water Tower" will be available on Crystal Pistol and Charlottesville's Warhen Records. For now, Black remains committed to the do-it-yourself way of getting his music heard, emailing media and booking folks relentlessly. "It's hard work, but I think it resonates to get a personal email from someone about their music," he says. It paid off for one big gig. This summer at Friday Cheers he'll open for Tyler Childers, recently named one of Rolling Stone's top new country artists. "I just kept bugging [Festival Manager Stephen] Lecky, reminding him that 'Azalea Days' was the most-played album on WRIR [...]

Miss Mix-a-Lot: The Marketing Mixtape’s chief executive explains how she took the plunge on her boutique agency

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 01:00:00 -0400


In 2014, Whitney Asher went to intern at Capitol Records in Nashville, "not knowing a soul." She returned to Richmond with a newfound network of artists hungry for representation and branding advice.

She made sure to bring back the plaque she always carried with her, which reads: "Chase your dreams." A year later, she launched a boutique agency called the Marketing Mixtape, because she believed that "nothing should keep a musician from chasing their dreams, especially the business side of the industry.

"I'm motivated by the idea of helping bands no matter where they are," she says. "We work with every single band that comes to us, no matter what genre or stage in their career."

Hence the "mix" in Asher's mix tape, since she works with people as varied as Chinese pop celebrities, "The Voice" contestant Evan McKeel and unknown artists. Now she's turned this side hustle into a full-time gig, and has begun digging into Richmond's music scene. Her local roster includes rising stars like Thorp Jenson, as well as artists such as Kenneka Cooke and Colin and Caroline. She says "inspiration analysis" is one of the most interesting services she's recently provided to local musicians. "I do market research reports for bands on their fan base and help them design their perfect fan," she says, which can be crucial in a scene with niche genres.

Not that her mission came fully formed, straight out of the box. Exploration was required. "It was not as articulate as it is now," she says. "I've come to find what people need." Some bands, after letting her take the reins on a publicity campaign, come back and ask to be taught how to run their own. In an industry that often values viral overnight fame above all else, Asher says she wants to empower bands and help them pursue their own success, "without having to wait on the industry to recognize them."

Asher even decided to assist bands with a no budget. The idea is to not only to be a sounding board for shoestring bands, but to be an information resource for them on topics such as copyright law. It's about creating an oasis of trust in a competitive industry, she says.

As for taking her own leap of faith by going full-time in February, Asher was as surprised as anyone else. She had previously been working as a strategist at ChildFund International, building on her Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter graduate school experience. She now has three interns , and a part-time team of five that works in cities as far away as Boston.

Events are lining up to be the next track on Asher's mix tape. On March 6, she sponsored the latest in the Shockoe Sessions series, which was founded by producer Carlos Chafin. Audiophiles came to In Your Ear studios to hear some Americana by Sid Kingsley (and quaff some Hardywood beers, of course). On May 5, Asher will hold a workshop at Black Iris for a closer look at how to market in a changing industry.

What advice can Asher tease for budding local artists wondering how to get their names out?

"A lot of bands don't think of themselves as business owners," she says. "Business doesn't have to be boring, it can be fun and take you where you want to go."

The New GRTC Pulse System Will Bring Round-The-Clock Cameras to More Than 7 Miles of Broad Street

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 01:00:00 -0400

Look closely at the new Pulse rapid bus transit stops being installed along Broad Street and you might notice something previously unseen at GRTC bus stops: cameras. Each of the 26 new stops, built to accommodate the bus line's need for more efficient transit, includes about four cameras, making for more than 100 new surveillance devices on the roughly 7.5-mile stretch of Broad Street from Shockoe Bottom to Willow Lawn. These stationary cameras will always be on, day and night, and their live feeds will be viewable from 911 headquarters, through the city's Department of Emergency Communications, as well as at GRTC's radio room. The cameras were funded with money from a federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant, which paid for about half of the $49.8 million project. They are required as part of the grant and are installed and maintained under American Public Transportation Association standards. This new system will bring the total number of easily accessible, city or government-owned cameras available to police and other authorities to more than 300, including roughly 200 stationary cameras Richmond police already have easy access to, and 32 cameras owned by city police. At a time when private companies like Facebook come under renewed scrutiny about their collection of private information, this new Pulse camera system has privacy advocates, such as the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, concerned. "Generally, the use of government-operated or -sanctioned video surveillance cameras in public spaces is troubling in a democratic society," says Bill Farrar, director of strategic communications for the Virginia ACLU. "In practice, the use of these systems and the data they collect is almost always expanded, giving law enforcement more information than they need or should have about the personal lives of law-abiding people." While GRTC officials say they're unable to divulge the technical specifics of the cameras, including how much, how far and at what resolution the cameras capture activities around the bus stops, they did say the cameras exist to maintain "station security and operations viewing." They also say the cameras don't have facial recognition technology. There will be a public education campaign as well as signs about the cameras at the stops. Carrie Rose Pace, director of communications for GRTC Transit System, says these cameras will be the first set of stationary cameras for the publicly owned company, but most of the system's 115 buses already have about four mounted cameras each. Their storage policy for the new cameras is the same for the old ones. The transit company will hold the footage on their servers for seven days and will cooperate "with any police/government investigations, and can upon request and approval make viewing available for private individuals or civil matters." "Security cameras are a critical element of successful and safe BRT operations," Pace says in an email. She stresses the cameras will help assess immediate safety needs of patrons as they use the new transit system. "We can immediately see the need and respond accordingly." Dana Schrad, executive director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, says her group, which advocates for police departments across the Commonwealth, welcomes the addition of these cameras, which could play an important role in future police work. "[Cameras can aid] in the search for missing children, abducted persons and wanted offenders," she says by email. "Video from transit surveillance could be key in determining the location of an individual who is either wanted or missing and in danger." She also stresses the legality of placing cameras in areas that are considered p[...]

Word & Image: Sonya Clarke

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 01:00:00 -0400

(image) Artist and chairwoman of craft and material studies at Virginia Commonwealth University.

On her piece "Edifice and Mortar," featured prominently in the new Institute for Contemporary Art opening Saturday, April 21. — as told to Brent Baldwin

So I was in Rome and I was thinking about the idea of empire building. Rome, Italy, and so much of that empire was built on the backs of slaves in the same way that the United States of America's empire was built on those backs as well. I wanted to acknowledge that in multiple ways: First, who are the hands of the people making the bricks, the edifice, the structure? Also tying that to the language of the Declaration of Independence [with the individual words on the bricks]:"We hold these truths to be self-evident."

These are hand-stamped, handmade bricks and the mortar is [made] from a gathering up from local salons of African-American hair, and some of my own hair is in there. So it's what holds the bricks together, not only who made the bricks. Then it's an inverted flag, 13 bricks high. The blue [glass] implies all of us — we are reflected back into the flag. I also think of that blue glass as musical, like the blues as well. I was very particular about what color blue.

But what I'm really happy about is this maker's mark stamp. There's a tradition in ancient Rome of having a maker's mark that showed who made the brick. You knew an enslaved person had made it. They're often crescent shaped, so I turned that into an Afro that says "Schiavo." In Venice, which was one of the major trade and slave ports, the way that word is pronounced is slightly different. … It's where we get "ciao" from. So when we're saying hello and goodbye to one another, we're saying "I'm your slave." And look, when you pull out the word "ciao" [from schiavo], you're left with s h v, which means shareholder value. In the etymology, there's so much tied to this idea of empire and the invisible labor. Also how language lives on our tongue: Rome lives on your tongue unwittingly.

I feel like there is a chorus of voices here [in the Institute for Contemporary Art]. They did a fantastic job.

I work with hair a lot, I think of hair being a stand-in for African-Americans and all of us. Our hair has our DNA, it's recording all the people before us — not just my hair, my mother's, my father. … It's all in there. Ultimately, I find hair a very interesting material because it is both individual, such as how I wear my hair, plus the texture puts us in racial categorizations. But then there's the DNA of my hair: You pluck mine and pluck yours and we're the same. We're the same.

I'm never going to stop using hair. S

Canadian Musician Bruce Cockburn Reflects on Awards, Political Songwriting and Faith

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 01:00:00 -0400

Bruce Cockburn was woke before many of us were born. Throughout an enormously successful career spanning almost 50 years, 33 albums, a DVD, and an autobiography, the Canadian icon has used his music to advance humanitarian causes and support social change. Back when pop radio was dominated by songs about uptown girls, Caribbean queens and wearing sunglasses at night, the politically outspoken Cockburn was writing controversial songs about imperialism and refugee camps. His latest album, "Bone on Bone," released in September, finds him comfortably taking on the role of elder statesman, his voice a little growlier but his writing and performing sharper than ever. Style Weekly: Congratulations on your 13th Juno Award. Do career milestones still mean something to you? Cockburn: They never really did. I like getting the attention that the awards bring, and as a measure of the fact that people are still paying attention after all this time. But I can't say that the work I do is done with the aim of getting awards. (Laughs.) Your songs have often been very political, even during periods when it was considered unfashionable to sing about causes. We're at a cultural moment in which artists feel more comfortable than ever speaking out against social injustice. What's changed? Circumstances. But the music doesn't go away. It does come and go slightly according to fashion, but the serious songwriters that take on issues have always been doing that. You could always go to coffeehouses or little bars and hear people singing songs about causes. Right now because of circumstances and general level of horror, there's a lot of room for that. width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen> The lyrics to "False River" read very much like a poem, and you also have a song on the new record that is a kind of posthumous collaboration with Canadian poet Al Purdy. How important is poetry to you? Very important. I discovered a love of poetry when I was in the sixth grade and it never left, and the way I choose to write my lyrics is very much influenced by the poetry I've read, and by what I've drawn from it in terms of putting words together. Al Purdy was a great discovery because I was aware of him for some time as part of the Canadian scene, but I never got into his work until the invitation came to write a song for this documentary (2015's "Al Purdy Was Here.") So I got a book of his collected work, and it was incredible. There is something so quintessentially Canadian about Purdy's poetry. It's not obvious in all of his poems, but it's certainly there, and I suppose that may have tapped some nostalgia button in me, having moved to San Francisco. It really resonated. I know that song in particular was a catalyst for the writing of "Bone on Bone," after experiencing something of a dry spell while writing your memoir, "Rumours of Glory." Well, it wasn't exactly a dry spell because there was a book, but there was about a four-year period where I didn't write any songs, and at the end of it, I wasn't sure I would write any. Not because I didn't want to, but because I just didn't know if the idea or the motivation or whatever it took to write songs was still there. But it turns out the invitation to do the Al Purdy song kick-started the writing process. Once I'd gotten that together, the rest of them just kind of came, in the old-fashioned way that they do. You are a Christian living in a time of major societal upheaval. Does the state of the world ever test your faith? My faith is constantly being tested, but it has more to do with me than the state of the world[...]

Virginia Rep Stages World Premier of “River Ditty,” Based on a Poem Shared Between Brothers

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 01:00:00 -0400

Set in New Orleans in 1892, Virginia Repertory Theatre's new play, "River Ditty" tells the tale of siblings Arlo and Sunshine and their journey up the Mississippi River to escape the violence and bigotry of the American South. It's a story about America's troubled past, but its themes and message carry weight in the modern world. "It's a parable for the times that we live in," says Matt Polson, who plays Arlo. "Our protagonists are actively, literally and metaphorically, running away from the darkness of their family backgrounds." It's fitting that the play should revolve around family and a strong sibling relationship in particular, as "River Ditty," began as a poem shared between brothers. "I believe he first wrote the poem in 2011," says the theater's artistic director, Nathaniel Shaw, whose brother, Matthew Keuter, is also the playwright. "There were just these incredibly theatrical seeds planted within that poetry that felt like it needed a life much larger than a single sheet of paper," Shaw says. He and Keuter began working on the play together, as playwright and director, in 2012. From there, the play was work-shopped at the Active Theater in New York and later at the Fulton Theatre in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Finally, Shaw worked with Glass Half Full Production Company, which sponsored a two-week workshop at Virginia Rep in December 2016. Now, with the added sponsorship of the Muriel McAuley Fund for New Works and Contemporary Theatre, "River Ditty" will have its world premiere at the November Theatre on April 20. "It's been a long time coming for the playwright and for myself," Shaw says. "It's incredibly exciting and satisfying, yet slightly surreal to feel that we are finally here. To have a remarkable cast breathing life into these characters, in a far richer way than you can ever imagine when just reading the script, is certainly a gift." Although the play is not a musical, music will feature heavily into the production by way of Michigan-based folk duo Red Tail Ring ( Playwright Jane Mattingly introduced Shaw to the duo, and he says it was exactly what he'd been seeking. He commissioned a new recording of a Stephen Foster song, "Some Folks Do," from Red Tail Ring for the production, as well as some of the band's original songs and traditional songs. "It felt absolutely right," Shaw says, "an old-timey male and female duo, so when they sing together it is evocative of Arlo and Sunshine." Shaw says that the play deliberately looks at contemporary issues through the lens of 1892 in hopes of shedding light on our current situation. "It's funny," Polson says. "Matthew and Nathaniel have been working on this play for six years, but it seems even more relevant now." "Can we ever, as a society, break these patterns, break these habits of hatred and violence and bigotry that are passed down through the generations?" Shaw asks. "We are looking at that American habit through the lens of something that feels like classic folklore, asking: 'Can the next generation, or the next, or the next, move beyond this pattern?'." But Polson says the play isn't heavy-handed with its themes. "What I love about this play is how complex these relationships are," he says. "It's all based in relationships and what people do when it comes to love. We see at least three different relationships and how the hardships of the time and the ignorance of the time can affect them. It's really kind of a dark love story. It's a beautiful play." S Virginia Repertory Theatre's "River Ditty" runs from April 20 to May 6 at the November Theatre. Tickets cost $30-$50. [...]

In Time for Historic Garden Week, Our Architecture Critic Revisits the Seminary Avenue of His Youth

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 01:00:00 -0400

In summer 1960 my parents, five siblings and I moved to an old red brick house at 3218 Seminary Ave. Built in 1905, it provided more space, some architectural élan and if-the-walls-could-talk atmosphere. Sitting on a half acre, it was bordered with privet hedge, had shade trees and scattered clumps of daffodils. There was plenty of room to romp but neighbors didn't mind us cutting across their backyards to friends' houses or for hide and seek. There was plenty of crisscrossing those yards back then since some 50 kids lived in the 3100 and 3200 blocks of Seminary. "Ginter Park is where the big families used to live," maintained Peachy Fleet, a doyenne of old Richmond, who died in 1986 at 97. Most of the rear gardens had seen their peaks in the 1920s and '30s. These included the grounds at the Samuel Love and Lucien Curry residences at 3201 and 3205, respectively. By the 1960s there was no pressure to "keep up with the Joneses." Well, maybe one family set a high bar. They were the first to dramatically transform their house by replacing the columned front porch with something New Orleans-esque. And when they placed a discreet sign along the driveway, "Please make all deliveries in the rear" even this 11- year old found that was arch for a neighborhood where cutting grass was the minimum yard care required. Three places I knew from my childhood in the 3200 block, and three homes in the 3500 and 3600 blocks of Seminary, will be open for Historic Garden Week in Virginia on Wednesday, April 25. The tour is co-sponsored by the Council of the Historic Richmond Foundation. Houses in two West End neighborhoods — Mooreland Farms on Wednesday, April 26, and Westmoreland Place the next day — will also be featured. Proceeds underwrite restoration of Virginia gardens that are publically accessible. In Richmond, beneficiaries since the 1920s include the Poe Museum, St. John's Mews on Church Hill, Wilton and the Grace Arents Garden at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens. Of the three featured places in the 3200 block of Seminary where I lived, two were always immaculately well-kept. Charles Wilson, an elegant old gentleman who lived at 3202 still maintained the original privet hedges that Lewis Ginter and his developers had planted in the late 1890s to unify the broad lots and disparate house styles along Seminary as well as the other Ginter Park streets of Chamberlayne, Hawthorne, Noble and Moss Side avenues. He kept his hedge at 4 feet and one entered his yard via a picket gate and followed a brick walk to the wide front porch of the white clapboard house. He was addressed as "Judge" (although he may not have been of the law) as he took his daily stride — impeccably dressed, cane in hand, fedora on head and always in suit and tie. Katherine Wetzel, a Richmond photographer who grew up next door to Wilson, says her bedroom overlooked his backyard, which was lush with trees and scrubs. Those touring the garden this month will find the yard changed. Current owners Myrna and Joseph Morrissey have added a large swimming pool with an outdoor kitchen that's adaptable for gatherings large and small. A few doors up, at 3210 Seminary, the home of Jennifer and Andrew Clark will also be open. Built in 1908, I knew it as the Watt house. It is a finely-detailed colonial revival brick house and has also been meticulously maintained. The curved front walkway and driveway, once paved in finely-chopped gravel, were always raked. The rear, oval lawn was surrounded by flowering trees and bordered with tulips. The Watts were old-school. "Miss Lizzie" Watt, who lived there with her brother and sister-in-law an[...]

The New Joaquin Phoenix Movie, “You Were Never Really Here,” Digs Beneath the Surface of A Violent Revenge Fantasy

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 01:00:00 -0400

"You Were Never Really Here" looks at first glance like a violent fantasy: A story about a killer for hire made unusual, or maybe just more campy, because the killing tool of choice is a solid-steel ball-peen hammer. The reality is a little different. The film follows war veteran Joe (Joaquin Phoenix at his most scruffy and stocky) doing unusual night duty as hired muscle to track down lost kids as he deals with traumas from his own past, including his childhood, that appear to have culminated in severe post-traumatic stress disorder and a career putting an end to child abusers. The hammer in this context becomes not a theatrical embellishment, but a symbol, the simple tool for a dead-inside guy for whom violence has become second nature. Joe doesn't bother finding a special hammer. He casually picks up whatever is on the shelf at the local hardware store. Any sturdy handle with a solid, skull-crushing load will do. Joe finds these freelance gigs through a handler (John Doman), hired by worried parents, usually wealthy, whose kids have either run away, been abducted or something in between. "You Were Never Really Here" is unusual from the start. The first time we see Joe on such a case, he comports himself with the casual demeanor of a pest control technician. "I'm just here about the roaches," wouldn't be surprising to hear him say as he enters a Manhattan townhouse functioning as a child brothel, before exterminating the human bugs running it. Things could and probably will get messy, but Joe doesn't appear concerned. width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen> But before you race off to the nearest movie theater to watch Joe play hammer time on gross child molesters: "You Were Never Really Here" is not "Death Wish" with a hammer. While it has genre elements, and we do see Joe at work, moments of on-screen violence are surprisingly scarce and fleeting. There's more beneath the surface, and beneath the surface is where "You Were Never Really Here" really wants to go. An interwoven narrative deals, in flashback, with numerous sorrows skulking in Joe's mind as he cares for his elderly mother (Judith Roberts). Something happened to him during the war, something that compounded an extremely abusive childhood, whose memories remain raw and out of control. Scottish filmmaker Lynne Ramsay ("We Need to Talk about Kevin") adapted the movie from an equally fast-paced book by Jonathan Ames. Lynne proves a perfect intermediary for it, with her ability to turn mere seconds of footage into powerful suggestions about her characters and their back stories. This loose, enigmatic quality also means this is not as instantly gratifying as a straight vigilante film. Ramsey is a frugal storyteller. Sometimes we witness Joe's work firsthand, other times we see only the aftermath. Shot choices are often suggestive rather than explicit. Usually — and maybe a little disappointingly — hammer time is always just a bit out of frame, or within too few of them, to provide a full-throttle vicarious thrill. Leaving violence off-screen often augments its power. But here the technique has the opposite effect, deadening moments of fierce tension. Joe is just going through the motions, and we feel that as a result of what Ramsay chooses to show. Audiences expecting neat structures and clever resolutions might also disappointed. Clocking in at a brisk 95 minutes, "You Were Never Really Here" paints Joe impressionistically. Questions linger. How is he able to conduct full-scale search an[...]

Nicole Atkins at Capital Ale House

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 01:00:00 -0400

(image) Tuesday, April 24 New Jersey-born crooner Nicole Atkins has earned kudos for her sparkling fourth studio album, “Goodnight Rhonda Lee,” which has drawn comparisons to Dusty Springfield with its theatrical and soulful country-politan ballads backed by a full string section and tasteful horns. She wrote it after grappling with the bottle and the loss of her father to lung cancer. She faces it all with dark humor and inspired verve. $12-$15.

Double Feature: “My Uncle John Is a Zombie” and “Night of the Living Dead” with John A. Russo and guests at Strange Matter

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 01:00:00 -0400

(image) Sunday, April 22 Movie Club Richmond presents horror icon John A. Russo, writer of “Night of the Living Dead,” appears for a screening of his new film “My Uncle John is a Zombie” with producer Gary Lee Vincent (“My Friend Dahmer”) and several cast members. A Q&A will follow the film, followed by a restored version of the classic movie. $8-$10. Tickets available at Runs from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

ICA Grand Opening and Block Party

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 01:00:00 -0400

(image) Saturday, April 21 Start your celebratory spring Saturday early with the grand opening of Richmond’s premiere architectural gem, the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU. Not only is there a site-wide exhibition, “Declaration,” but it’s a day-long block party featuring artists, makers, interactive activities, music including Chance Fischer and Photosynthesizers, and food trucks, held outdoors on the Markel Center grounds. The party is free. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

RVA Earth Day in Manchester

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 01:00:00 -0400

(image) Saturday, April 21 Join a fun-filled day of celebration aimed at honoring Mother Earth and discovering sustainable practices for our daily lives. The all-day Earth party, expanded this year to include Fourth Street, features music by the lovely Lobo Marino (noon to 1 p.m.); an R.E.M tribute band, Dead Letter Officers, (1:15 to 2:45 p.m.); Neil Diamond tribute band Diamond Heist (3:15 to 4:45 p.m.) and Richmond’s top reggae ambassador, Mighty Joshua (5:15 to 6:45 p.m.). There will be local brews, including many Legend options, plus a plethora of food vendors and environmental and holistic products and groups. The Children’s Museum of Richmond is providing the kid zone activities and well-behaved pets are allowed. Free. Noon to 7 p.m.

Mushroom Market at Champion Brewing

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 01:00:00 -0400

(image) Friday, April 20 Time to celebrate ‘shrooms. At this event organized by Richmond Moon Market you’ll get a panel discussion from Megan Jones, eastern regional territory manager of Host Defense and Fungi Perfecti, chef Douglas Andrae, mycologist Charlie Aller from Mush Luv and former minister Ian F. Wesley, known for publishing work about the presence of entheogens and psychedelics in the Bible. Also free food from Rudy’s Exotic Mushrooms and Produce and greens from Meadow Acre Gardens, and many community projects and vendors. 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Forest Hill’s cheeky Tiki spot, Little Nickel, brings vacation vibes to South Side

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 01:00:00 -0400

Personality is an important element of any restaurant. When done well, the interior design and its flourishes perform in concert with the menu. Little Nickel gets this and knows how to do it well. Designer Dean Giavos, son of prolific restaurateurs Johnny and Katrina Giavos, is a master when it comes to lovingly creating a space that is not bashful about its personality or sense of humor. That includes clever menu jokes, like at Continental and Perly's, and signs like one in Little Nickel's pink bathrooms that warn visitors not to flush Chainsmokers' CDs, fidget spinners or Cleveland Browns jerseys down the toilet. Little Nickel's name nods to the now Seven-Nickel Bridge and adds to the impressive Giavos restaurant empire with a Tiki-inspired vibe. Chef Loretta Montano, also of Stella's Grocery, crafted a menu that artfully blends a wide range of culinary influences including Philippine, Hawaiian, and Mediterranean with a base of classic diner. It's the kind of place where you expect to hear "Mele Kalikimaka" playing unironically at the holidays. A lot of fusion is happening here, and I recommend avoiding the impulse to analyze it all, lest you miss a good meal from a range of options under the umbrella of "vacation food," in the words of Dean Giavos. Think of the Nickel as a place that has a creative flavor palette and knows how to play well thanks to Montano's imaginative spirit and breadth of experience. For starters, you can't go wrong with the lumpia ($6), a Philippine spring roll good for date-night splitting. It passed the toughest authenticity test, says chef Loretta Montano, who asked her husband how she fared in recreating a dish she first ate at his family gatherings. Our table also tried the Hawaiian nachos ($11) with pork, which came in an incredibly generous portion, fit to feed either a large happy hour party or the Virginia National Guard. Pineapple, you might have guessed, made these nachos Hawaiian, but the white cheddar and queso made them memorably delicious. If you're feeling adventurous, the pu-pu platters range from General Tso's wings to pineapple skewers. Pay attention to the sandwich menu. The options are wallet-friendly and include some intentional pairings between breads. The lamb cheese steak ($11) is served on a hoagie roll from local baker Flour Garden. Other sandwiches — like the patty melt club ($10) — are on breads from Lyon Bakery in Washington. The Ipanema ($9), a vegetarian option, was my personal favorite with its melt of Gruyere cheese and lemon aioli with sweet potato, kale and caramelized onion on multigrain. The beverage menu includes some of the most entertaining glassware I've seen in town. Cocktails ($9-12) like the Saturn, served in a faux coconut shell, are easy to savor with a heavier container. Bail Money and Naval Base Baby also have great flavor profiles. The Winterspice Painkiller ($12) reigns over the menu in price and comes in an imposing dark Tiki glass. For my taste, it was a tad strong and a hint medicinal, but I can understand the appeal for folks who prefer a spice-forward libation, especially on a cold night. And it's executed well in the true Tiki tradition of house-made syrups. As for main courses, the salmon l'orange ($15), one of several gluten-free options, was sumptuous, prepared with an orange-honey-ginger glaze. The dish felt slightly shortchanged, coming with only a bed of rice. Adding a green vegetable would have rounded i[...]

OPINION: A Case for Integration

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 01:00:00 -0400

After a half-century of on-and-off effort, the nation still has not successfully integrated its schools or neighborhoods. The two Virginians in the small brain trust that executed the national assault on school segregation in the early 1950s disagreed about where to start. Spottswood Robinson III believed the first line of attack should be classrooms themselves. Oliver Hill preferred tackling segregated housing first. As the nation weighs race relations at the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination in April 1968, the chicken-or-egg dilemma facing Robinson, Hill, Thurgood Marshall and their colleagues at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund has an updated answer. Despite well over half a century of on-and-off effort, the nation has not successfully integrated either its schools or its neighborhoods. Strategies going forward need to press for both. Tactical differences aside, neither Robinson nor Hill doubted that a racially integrated society served democracy best. The accomplished Richmonders — Robinson would go on to serve as chief judge of the federal appeals court in Washington and Hill would garner a Presidential Medal of Freedom — believed that all children and adults deserve equal access to the levers of power. "I never believed Negro children had to go to school with white children in order to learn," Hill said in the years after Brown v. Board of Education struck down state laws mandating segregated education. "But I fought for school integration because I believed that for the Negro to enjoy the full advantages of our culture, he needed to be associated with people who run that culture." For many, in the ensuing decades, integration has become a dated word, reflecting a quaintly noble, but impossible dream. In this season of re-examination, it is time to reject that defeatism and reclaim a goal that is not only desirable, but essential to a well-functioning democracy. School boards, city councils, lawyers and advocacy groups all need to focus their best efforts on spreading that gospel and dismantling barriers to integration. There is no time to waste. A report three years in the making, issued last fall, found that the average black child in the Richmond area attends a school where two out of every three students are low-income. In contrast, only one of four students is low income in schools attended by the typical white child. Meanwhile, nationally, 48 percent of Hispanic students and 30 percent of black students attend high-poverty schools, compared with just 15 percent of whites and 4 percent of Asians, according to 2016 federal data. This matters because, indisputably, lower school achievement tracks school poverty. Numerous academic studies have concluded that the single most successful strategy for improving the school performance of low-income students is enrollment in a middle-class school. More advantaged students benefit as well from a racially and economically diverse setting. Yet, in all too many cases, housing patterns and school assignment zones governed by race and class dictate against integrated classrooms. The advantages of middle-class schools are obvious: more motivated peers, more demanding and equipped parents, and, on balance, a superior teaching force. Individual classrooms and individual schools may provide poor children with quality learning. However, much as we might wish it to be othe[...]

Your Weekly "Homeland" Screenshot Dump of Richmond Locations, Episode Ten

Mon, 16 Apr 2018 19:20:00 -0400


Well, there's only two episodes left for season seven of Showtime's "Homeland," filmed right here in RVA.

Here's hoping there is some knock-down, drag-out action and Carrie gets to whack somebody with a baton again.

Last Sunday's episode number ten, "Clarity," was a wee bit slow. Where the heck did all the Russians go? Why does the CIA keep employing someone who is having psychotic breaks? And what the heck is Beau Bridges doing in here?

But hey, it had some nice RVA vibes, yet again.

Without further adieu, here are our memorable screenshots. Most of these are fairly obvious, except for the church funeral scene. Who can name that spot? You win nothing but self-satisfaction.