Arts & Entertainment

Arts & Entertainment, High Notes

“Move It” by Chuck Berry

By Ron Powers For this month’s Flashback article I’d like to shine a light on an unrecognized gem by the inventor of rock and roll himself. In 1979 Chuck Berry released “Move It”, the first track off his nineteenth studio album (Rockit). In spite of no chart success, and little critical recognition, “Move It” has all the appeal of hits like “Maybellene” and “Johnny B. Good”. The song has a ruthlessly catchy melody and a backbeat that gets your head bobbing straight away. Yes, “Move It” holds up with the best of them and remains one of my favorites by the legendary rock and roll pioneer. The song begins with one of Berry’s signature guitar licks and then blasts off into the verse with a full band arrangement. We hear a scat rhythm from the guitar while the bass bops along with the drums and the piano sprinkles boogie woogie magic all over the mix. The lyrics of the first verse describe a fifty-five Ford broken down on the side of a highway with traffic piled up and a police officer upset about it. Like many of Berry’s songs, the lyrics used employ classic rock and roll imagery that combines with the music to create a flavor as classic as McDonald’s hamburgers. Rather than a fixed melody and lyrics for the chorus, Chuck relies on the groove to hold the listener’s attention. This is probably why we hardly notice that the chorus does not obey the songwriting convention of repeating melody patterns. Instead, Chuck delivers a different melody variation during each of the three chorus sections of “Move It”. Although the words “move it” are repeated, the melody and lead guitar parts change each time. You would expect this to cause attention to wane, but for this particular song, it’s…

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Arts & Entertainment, Gallery Beat

Summertime in the Swamp…

By F. Lennox Campello …is often not a pleasant time for many, but for art lovers it is a perfect opportunity to go visit some local art galleries and support your area artists. If you also want to stroll around the very pleasant areas of Kensington, I want to give a plug to the Montgomery Art Association (MAA) 2022 Paint the Town (PTT) Art Show on Labor Day weekend. I will be jurying this very popular exhibition — attended by over 3,000 visitors each year — MAA is a nonprofit, volunteer-run organization that serves artists in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area. The event is co-hosted by the City of Kensington, MD, and takes place in the Kensington Armory. PTT features about 500 non-juried works in eight judged categories, plus a separate plein air competition with about 50 pieces. Judging of the main show takes place from 1 p.m. to approximately 4 p.m. on Friday, September 2. On Saturday, September 3, judging of the plein air show begins at 3 p.m. The Paint the Town Labor Day Show is one of the region’s largest and longest-running art shows composed of all local artists. The show will be open to the public Saturday-Monday, September 3-5 PM. I will be on site on Friday, September 2 for closed-door judging and Saturday, September 3 to judge the plein air competition and present awards. An easy way to spend most of a summer rainy afternoon is a visit to the Torpedo Factory, host to many art studios and some key galleries. While you’re there, go check out the current Open Exhibit, juried by artist Jessie Boyland. According to the Art League’s press release, Boyland “is a painter and has a BFA from VCU School of the Art, Painting and Printmaking. Jessie plans and curates all…

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Arts & Entertainment, Special Feature

Who Knew…

By Lani Gering Well….stupid covid (can’t bring myself to capitalize the word) put a couple of cogs in the Old Town Crier wheel this month. Just as we were finalizing the Personality Profile interview, our interviewee was hit hard by the virus and we had to reschedule for next month. In the scramble to get all of the parts to our designer – who, by the way, also got hit with it the weekend before our deadline – we had to come up something entertaining for this space. And what is more entertaining than knowing that there are really important things in August that many of us have never celebrated. I consulted calendar.com/united-states and who knew that there are 97 said celebrations I had never heard of. Obviously there are several things to celebrate on the same days. I picked the following since one is pretty self-serving and the other for the good of the order: National Lazy Day – August 10th If you have been very busy with work or school lately, and you just need a day to relax and do nothing, then August 10th is the perfect day for you as it is Lazy Day! A day to do no work, no house chores, and to just sit down and enjoy your favorite TV show, read your favorite book, or anything you want, just as long as it is a lazy activity. The best part is that you don’t have to feel guilty about it because this day is a celebration of laziness! Like many unofficial holidays, the origins of National Lazy Day are unknown. However, it sure seems to have become a popular day with people, probably because who doesn’t like a day that allows them to be a couch potato. Why Being Lazy Can Be Good. Even…

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Arts & Entertainment, Events

August Events & Tours

Sundays through September 4th Junior Docents at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum Admission: $5 per adult; $3 per child (ages 5 to 12) and free for city residents Gadsby’s Tavern Museum 134 N. Royal Street alexandriava.gov/GadsbysTavern Gadsby’s Tavern Museum’s Junior Docent Program is back with an exciting new offering this summer thanks to American Heritage Chocolate! Every Sunday, through Labor Day weekend, from 2 to 5 p.m. guests can meet Junior Docents (grades 4 and older) who will be stationed throughout the tavern. They will be sharing the history of the early America and the tavern, but also the history of chocolate, including a hands-on demonstration of historic chocolate-making in the ballroom. Through October 7th Potomac Paddle Club Booze Cruises Admission: $75 per person 107 N. Union Street seasuitecruises.com/locations/potomac-paddle-club-alexandria 202-656-3336 The nation’s capital’s only passenger pedal boat, the Potomac Paddle Club, is cruising its second season from Old Town Alexandria. Passengers have the option of cruising southbound underneath the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, past the Jones Point Lighthouse and around the channel markers to National Harbor and back or cruising northbound towards either DC’s Wharf or Navy Yard before circling back to Old Town for a total cruise time of two hours. The 20-passenger vessel is powered by ten cycle stations surrounding a mahogany bar. The party is bring-your-own-food and drink and is assisted by a captain and motor if needed, allowing guests to enjoy monumental views on an intimate cruise at their own pace. Through November 13th Lives Worth Celebrating: Stories of Resilience, Rebellion and Freedom at Lee-Fendall House Admission: $7 per person Lee-Fendall House 614 Oronoco Street 703-548-1789 leefendallhouse.org Explore a timeline of major events related to the history of slavery in the Americas as you learn about legendary African American leaders, stories of self-liberation and family legacies including the descendants…

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Arts & Entertainment, Last Word

A Bouquet of Beach Books

By Miriam R. Kramer What constitutes a beach book? It is different for all of us. This month many of us will be at the beach or the pool, traveling to see friends and family, or just hitting the deck or porch to snack on biographies, fiction, or history. Luckily I have been hitting some lighter books hard this past month to collect reading ideas for your own dog days of August, hopefully to be spent with a dog or two flopped at your feet and a glass of iced tea at hand. First up are two suspense thrillers with unpredictable story-telling. Verity, by Colleen Hoover, works not just as a thriller but also as a sly commentary on writing with a classic example of an unreliable narrator. A New York writer, Lowen Ashleigh, who has had moderate success with her books, meets a man after she sees an accidental death on a street. After he cleans the blood off her, they both head off in separate directions, only to end up in the same literary meeting. Jeremy Crawford’s wife, Verity, is the author of a highly successful series of books. After an unusual car crash, she is left almost comatose with constant nurse supervision at home. Jeremy seeks a writer to continue his wife’s series of novels. Verity had thought very highly of Lowen’s work. Therefore Jeremy wants her to author the novels, first doing research to pick up narrative threads and organize Verity’s outlines. Against her better instincts, Lowen moves into their Vermont home to put together Verity’s writings. When she finds Verity’s diaries, she is swallowed up in Verity’s version of the truth, which paints herself and her husband in a certain light. She also finds herself obsessed with Jeremy and haunted by Verity. I heard an…

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Arts & Entertainment, Special Feature

Happy 273rd Birthday Alexandria!

Alexandria, founded in 1749, has a fascinating history, and many of its historic buildings are still preserved today. During its long history, Alexandria was a tobacco trading post, one of the ten busiest ports in America, a part of the District of Columbia, home to both the largest slave-trading firm in the country and a large free-black community, a Civil War supply center for Union troops, and a street-car suburb for Federal workers. Alexandria was also the hometown of George Washington, Robert E. Lee, Jim Morrison and Mama Cass. Much of present-day Alexandria was included in a 6,000-acre land grant from Sir William Berkeley, Governor of Virginia, which was awarded to Robert Howson, an English ship captain, on October 21, 1669. This land overlapped a 700-acre patent that had previously been issued to Dame Margaret Brent in 1654. The Howson tract extended along the Potomac River, from Hunting Creek on the south to the Little Falls on the north. The grant was made by authority of King Charles II in recognition of Captain Howson’s bringing 120 people to live in Virginia. Less than a month later, Howson sold the land to John Alexander for 6,000 pounds of tobacco. During the late 17th and early 18th centuries, plantations were established along both sides of the Potomac River and settlement began to spread further into northern Virginia. When Fredericksburg was founded in 1728, it was the northernmost town in Virginia but was still located in the tidewater, where tobacco production was profitable. By 1732, Hugh West had established a tobacco warehouse on high bluffs overlooking a small but deep bay, at what is today the foot of Oronoco Street in Alexandria. Philip and John Alexander farmed much of the surrounding land and Hugh West oversaw the warehouse along with a ferry and…

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Arts & Entertainment, Last Word

Happy-Go-Lucky

By Miriam R. Kramer In the last twenty-five years the writer David Sedaris has gained what could oddly be called a mainstream cult following not only in the United States, Canada, and other English-speaking countries, but also all over the world. After starting out reading essays on NPR in the 1990s, Sedaris continued with books such as Barrel Fever, Me Talk Pretty One Day, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, and Calypso. With his extensive book tours followed by long, conversational book signings, he has even made his self-promotion fun and collaborative. We long-time readers consider ourselves honorary members of his family, who are often the subject of his satirical essays. So where has his mordant wit taken us in Happy-Go-Lucky, his most recent release? In this case, you should judge a book by its cover. Happy-Go-Lucky features a shudder-inducing clown and cheerful little girl on its book jacket and even in its electronic versions. The cover is peak Sedaris. He has always been interested in the unusual and freakish aspects of human nature, and somehow makes them acceptable and accessible to a mass audience. His public follows his lead in enjoying, or at least experiencing, a frisson of weirdness and distaste from looking at the bizarre. In this book, he takes a sobering look at life in the pandemic and late middle age, but leavens it with the appreciation of the absurd and grotesque, along with the superficial lightness that gilds much of his work. With the recent publications of his two collections of diary entries, Theft by Finding and A Carnival of Snackery, he allowed readers to trace the evolution of his writing from 1977 to 2020. Sedaris is no longer the edgy young New York City writer who lives downtown and cleans houses or moves furniture…

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Arts & Entertainment, High Notes

Lonely Road by Paul McCartney

by Ron Powers This month I’m bringing you the first of a series of articles I’m doing called “Flashback”. In this series, I’ll discuss some of the lesser-known work by the biggest names in music. First on the list is a song called “Lonely Road” by Paul McCartney. “Lonely Road” is the first track off McCartney’s 2001 album “Driving Rain”. It mixes mid-tempo rock-n-roll with a spooky vocal melody to create a sophisticated and cool feeling that is both energetic and relaxed. “Lonely Road” didn’t get much recognition upon its release, but it remains one of my favorite songs by the legendary Beatle and I’m happy to have a chance to share it with you here. The song begins with a round stumbling bass line followed by a mix of drawn-out electric guitar notes and chords played through a high-quality tube amp. We also hear faint acoustic guitar chords mixing with tambourine and kick drum to create an intriguing rhythm that supports the topline nicely. With a cool and laidback melody, McCartney delivers the simple but relatable lines “I tried to get over you / I tried to find something new / but all I could ever do / was fill / my time / with thoughts / of you”. As the verse progresses organ chords are added along with a snare drum and other percussive elements. At the tail end of the verse, Paul delivers “Chuck Berry style” octave bends that create a classically cool feeling leading into the chorus. McCartney’s guitar work is particularly remarkable during the chorus of “Lonely Road”. The rhythm is interesting and unpredictable: One second we hear swooping notes that ring out for a full measure and the next thing you know Paul is attacking the strings with vigorous strumming. A second guitar is…

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Arts & Entertainment, Gallery Beat

Wanna See Some Pictures??

By F. Lennox Campello You can put money on this: a thousand years from now, there will still be photographers who still use the techniques of that profession that were invented at the beginning of photography itself.  There is something so attractive to the masters of the darkroom about photographic processes such as handmade prints from glass negatives, and other 19th century processes such as Platinum Palladium, Cyanotype, Oil, Carbon, Gum Bichromate, VanDyke Brown, Salted Prints, Tintypes, and Ambrotypes. Virginia’s Sally Mann, not only one of the planet’s top photographers, but also someone who has been a contemporary pioneer in revitalizing some of these archaic techniques, often speaks of “old-time, folksy, soulful, artisanal processes”… that “slicker technologies have displaced.” She labels these processes “holistic.” Wanna see some of these holistic processes and the gorgeous works that they yield? At Glen Echo Park’s Photoworks Gallery, “a group of likeminded photographers presents work that is more than just nostalgia. Each photographer lends her/his own voice with their unique, hand-made images, some of which are augmented by hand tinting. While the images are contemporary, the artisanal nature of the images harkens to an earlier age. The tension between these qualities makes them TIMELESS.” Represented in the exhibit are works by Rodrigo Barrera-Sagastume, Paige Billin-Frye, Mac Cosgrove-Davies, Scott Davis, Sebastian Hesse-Kastein, William Shelton and Redeat Wondemu. In addition to the opening, Photoworks will be offering related demonstration and hands-on events during the exhibition: Zoom Artist Talk (Friday, July 15, 7-8pm) – for those unable to attend the opening, this is an opportunity to hear from and interact with the artists. Learn about the artist and their vision, their chosen photographic processes and related classes offered at Photoworks. Champagne and Platinum (Friday, July 22, 7-10pm at Photoworks) – spend a delightful evening with the Alt-Photo…

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Arts & Entertainment, Events

Outdoor Festivals, Historical Happenings and More

4th An American Celebration at George Washington’s Mount Vernon 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission: Included with general admission ($28 for adults; $15 for youth ages 6 to 11; free for children); free for members George Washington’s Mount Vernon 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway 703-780-2000 mountvernon.org/july4 Salute the first commander-in-chief during Mount Vernon’s annual Independence Day event. Meet George Washington, watch made-for-daytime fireworks, and observe a moving ceremony in which people from across the world become U.S. citizens. July 9th Alexandria’s 273rd Birthday Celebration 6 to 9:45 p.m. Admission: Free Oronoco Bay Park 100 Madison Street alexandriava.gov The City of Alexandria celebrates its 273rd birthday and the USA’s 246th birthday on Saturday, July 9, with a performance by the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra and a grand finale fireworks display at 9:30 p.m. Enjoy the return of the big birthday experience of years past with cupcakes, local vendors, live music and an extended runtime. More Summer Events & Tours For more summer events and activities in Alexandria, see the listings below and explore more at VisitAlexandria.com/Summer. Through August First Thursdays in Del Ray 6 p.m. Admission: Free Various locations in Del Ray visitdelray.com Held the first Thursday from April to August along Mount Vernon Avenue in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, First Thursday is a series of free outdoor street festivals that bring the community together around a fun theme, benefiting a local nonprofit. This summer’s themes include “Unmask Your Superhero First Thursday,” “First Thursday Red, White & Blue,” “First Thursday Aloha Thursday” and “First Thursday Show Your Spirit,” respectively. Sundays Through September 4th Junior Docents at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum Admission: $5 per adult; $3 per child (ages 5 to 12) and free for city residents Gadsby’s Tavern Museum 134 N. Royal Street alexandriava.gov/GadsbysTavern Gadsby’s Tavern Museum’s Junior Docent Program is back with an exciting new offering this summer thanks to American Heritage Chocolate!…

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