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Friday Cheers Preview: RVA Music Night featuring Butcher Brown, Dharma Bombs, and Piranha Rama

Friday Cheers continues its mission to bring local flavor to the ears of the River City with RVA Music Night on Friday, May 25th. The lineup features a slew of scene stalwarts and familiar faces in new formations.

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Friday Cheers continues its mission to bring local flavor to the ears of the River City with RVA Music Night on Friday, May 25th. The lineup features a slew of scene stalwarts and familiar faces in new formations.

Piranha Rama is a venerable super-group of seasoned scene talent wrapped in a brand new package. Former and current members of Lady God, The Milkstains, Bad Magic, and Talking Heads cover band Fear of Music combine to form an outfit with a psychedelic surf-rock vibe that will feel right at home on a sun-soaked evening on the water. The band just released their first two-track EP “Beach Body” (maybe Texas Beach?).

Check out “Sure Enough” here:

Dharma Bombs dub themselves “authentic Appalachian Dixieland” and possess both the talent, charm, and the musical arrangement to prove that claim true multiple times over. Featuring genre staples banjo and mandolin along trumpet and saxophone, this group is not shy about their desire to get their audience dancing to their jaunty melodies. The band played The Camel on the first Thursday of every month in 2017 and is ready for a little sunshine along the skyline.

Speaking of sun, check out their track “Sunny Always” here:

Finally, Jellowstone Records’ own Butcher Brown will close out the evening with their signature “garage punk jazz funk” that’s guaranteed to keep you on your feet. The group seamlessly weaves complex melodies and harmonies full of syncopation across multiple keys and time signatures (often within a single song) to give their audience an undeniable auditory experience that will keep them vibing long after the ensemble has taken their bow.

Listen to a live recording of their song “Fiat” and just try to deny that groove from the bass and keys:

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Scott Castro is a local politico, writer, and unabashed supporter of the Richmond music scene. You've probably seen his signature white hair near the front row of the last local concert you attended. If you ever want to talk at length about the finer points of Conor Oberst: he's you man. Follow him on Twitter at @ScottCastro.

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Arts & Entertainment

The Nutcracker Returns

Richmond Ballet and its beloved holiday tradition The Nutcracker return to Dominion Energy Center December 11-23, with the Richmond Symphony playing Tchaikovsky’s magnificent score.

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Richmond Ballet and its beloved holiday tradition The Nutcracker return to Dominion Energy Center December 11-23, with the Richmond Symphony playing Tchaikovsky’s magnificent score. Clara, her adoring Nutcracker, the glittering butterfly, and the dancing Russian bear will once again charm audience members of all ages.

Choreographed by Artistic Director Stoner Winslett, the Richmond Ballet holiday classic has been heralded as “one of the country’s most perfect [Nutcracker productions]” by The New York Times, and this season will mark the final year to celebrate the current production as updated costumes and dazzling new sets will premiere in December of 2022.

“The Nutcracker is a multigenerational experience, with parents, grandparents, and children alike entranced by the magical story. We were heartbroken to not have been able to bring the live theatre experience to the community last year” notes Winslett. “We look forward to welcoming audiences back to Dominion Energy Center this December where the holiday tradition will carry on and new memories will be created.”

Tickets to The Nutcracker start at $25. Tickets may be purchased online at etix.com, by phone at 804.344.0906 x224 or in person at the Richmond Ballet Box Office, 407 East Canal Street, Monday – Friday, 11:00am – 6:00pm.

The Nutcracker – December 11-23, 2021 | Carpenter Theatre at Dominion Energy Center, 600 E Grace St, Richmond, VA 23219

  • Saturday, December 11th, 2021 2:00pm and 7:00pm
  • Sunday, December 12th, 2021 1:00pm and 4:30pm
  • Saturday, December 18th, 2021 2:00pm and 7:00pm
  • Sunday, December 19th, 2021 1:00pm and 4:30pm
  • Wednesday, December 22nd, 2021 7:00pm
  • Thursday, December 23rd, 2021 2:00pm

Health & Safety Protocols
Upon entering the theatre, all audience members ages 12 and above are required to show printed or digital proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 or of a professionally-administered negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of the performance. Patrons ages 18 and above will also need to show a photo ID. All patrons ages 2 and above are required to wear a mask at all times while in Dominion Energy Center, except when eating and drinking in specified locations. Please note that proof of vaccination or of a negative COVID test is not required for children under the age of 12.

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Arts & Entertainment

VMFA acquires work by abstract painter Alma Thomas

Painting complements works by African American and women artists and artists of the Washington Color School.

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The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) recently acquired Forsythia and Pussy Willows Begin Spring (1970), a painting by African American artist Alma Thomas (1891–1978).

“We are delighted that Forsythia and Pussy Willows Begin Spring has joined VMFA’s Modern and Contemporary art holdings,” said Alex Nyerges, VMFA’s Director and CEO. “Alma Thomas was a major contributor to 20th-century art. Her nature-based paintings significantly influenced artists who came after her, and her vibrantly colored canvases resonate with viewers today.”

Born in Columbus, Georgia, during the Jim Crow Era, Alma Woodsey Thomas and her family moved to Washington D.C., where more educational and economic opportunities were available for African Americans. By 1921, Thomas enrolled in art instruction courses at Howard University and, by 1924, became the program’s first graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in fine arts. After receiving her Master of Arts degree in education from Columbia University in the 1930s, Thomas taught at Shaw Junior High School in Washington D.C. for 35 years before retiring in 1960 and devoting herself to painting full time.

Thomas had earlier eschewed abstract art in favor of figurative and still life painting. By the 1960s however, when studying at American University in Washington D.C., she admired and responded to the abstract paintings created by Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland and other contemporaries in the Washington Color School. This loosely affiliated group of painters applied luminous colorful hues by staining and soaking their raw canvases with thinned oil or acrylic paint.

In 1972, Thomas became the first African American woman artist to have a solo exhibition at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art. She was also the first African American woman artist to have her work acquired and displayed in the White House after former First Lady Michelle Obama selected two paintings, Watusi (Hard Edge) and Sky Light, installed on loan to the White House in 2009, before the landmark acquisition in 2015 of Thomas’s 1966 painting Resurrection. Thomas’s works are featured in many museum collections including the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the National Gallery of Art. Her work is the subject of the current nationally touring retrospective entitled Alma Thomas: Everything Is Beautiful.

“Acquiring a painting by Alma Thomas has long been a priority for the museum. We patiently waited for an iconic work and are delighted to bring this vibrant visual echo of Thomas’ garden into our collection,” said Valerie Cassel Oliver, VMFA’s Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. “Forsythia and Pussy Willows Begin Spring will complement VMFA’s existing holdings of work by African American and women artists, artists of the Washington Color School, as well as the canon’s celebrated masters of abstraction Norman Lewis, Henri Matisse and Wassily Kandinsky, whom Thomas noted as significant influences.”

The painting, from Thomas’s Earth series, is a classic example of the unique painting style she developed after encountering the work of the Washington Color School. Her technique of placing precise dabs of vibrant color in a succession of vertical, hyphenated stripes conveys the beauty of a colorful flower garden. The palette of warm browns, fresh greens, bright blues and sunny yellows evokes the blooming flowers, petals, grass, tree trunks and clear skies the artist could see from her bay window, which overlooked the garden at her home at 1530 Fifteenth Street in Washington D.C.

“Alma Thomas applied her radiant colors in a series of vertical, staccato brushstrokes in Forsythia and Pussy Willows Begin Spring to capture, in abstract terms, the beauty and rhythms of the natural world, including the flowers in her garden,” said Dr. Michael Taylor, VMFA’s Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Art and Education. “The white gesso ground that breaks up both the lines and bold touches of color not only helps to organize the composition’s rendering of the diverse shapes and colors of the natural environment, but also illuminates the scene and suggests sunlight peeking through the flowers and leaves. We believe that this joyful painting will be a landmark purchase for VMFA and an iconic work for our visitors to see and enjoy.”

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Arts & Entertainment

Dominion Energy Christmas Parade is this Saturday

The weather forecast is looking pretty perfect for Saturday. It’s predicted to be mostly sunny with highs in the 60s.

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The Dominion Energy Christmas Parade kicks off at the Science Museum of Virginia at 10:15 AM. Traveling eastbound on Broad Street, the parade will conclude at 7th Street near the Richmond Coliseum. The parade also airs LIVE on WTVR CBS6.

Over the years, the Richmond Christmas Parade has been known by several names. From the 1950s to 1974, the event was known as the Thalhimers’ Toy Parade. After a 15-year hiatus, the parade was resurrected by the Richmond Jaycees. For 17 years, Ukrop’s Supermarket was the title sponsor until the beloved Richmond icon was sold in 2009. Dominion Energy saved the Christmas Parade in 2010, becoming the next title sponsor, and the parade has been known as the Dominion Energy Christmas Parade ever since.

Over the years, the Richmond Christmas Parade has celebrated a fabulous lineup of grand marshals! Numerous Richmond locals have been featured including NFL Football Player Willie Lanier (1984), The Walking Dead Actor Chad Coleman (2014), and American Idol Finalist Rayvon Owen (2015). Childhood favorites have also made appearances, such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse (2000), Spongebob Squarepants (2002), Disney’s Aaron Carter (2004), and the Harlem Globetrotters (2009). And who could forget when Paul Simon, Steve Martin, and Chevy Chase took over the Christmas Parade to film a music video in 1991?

This year Snoopy is the Grand Marshall and the parade theme is “Bringing Back the Fun in 2021!” The lineup will feature the usual colorful floats, giant helium balloons, college marching bands, local dance troupes, Legendary Santa, and much more! Honorary Grand Marshals include JMU Softball Pitcher Odicci Alexander and Coach Loren LaPorte. Alexander was the starting pitcher for James Madison University from 2017 to 2021, leading the team to their first-ever Women’s College World Series in 2021. She was also named Softball America’s 2021 NCAA Pitcher of the Year.

The route of the parade is below so start planning your ideal viewing spot.

No conversation about the parade would be complete without showing this video of Rudolph meeting a tragic end in 2010.

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