I love the holiday season for a number of reasons but one of the main reasons is because I get to witness RVA’s giving spirit. I’ve have been a volunteer at the Giving Heart Thanksgiving dinner from just over half of their 8 years and it’s such a rewarding experience. This year was even more special for me because I was joined by my wonderful wife. Together we took pictures of smiles, laughs, hugs, and pure joy.
The Giving Hearts Thanksgiving dinner is just one of many organizations doing great work during the holiday season. RVA Feed the City fed a record number of people this year in Monroe Park on what had to be one of the coldest days of the year. GiveThanksRVA, led by Prabir Mehta and Travis Tucker, is organizing RVA’s arts and music community to support local non-profits such as HomeAgain. It’s a great time of year to see RVA’s giving spirit and community focus.
This year’s Giving Heart Dinner had some very special guest, Mayor Dwight Jones address the over 800 volunteers in the morning and the VCU Men’s basketball team visited the Convention Center in the afternoon. But I have to say the real stars of the event were the volunteers, the Giving Heart leadership led by the amazing Vicki Neilson and the people that came out to communed together.
Here it is The Cheats Movement 2014 logo! Operating at the intersection of Community X Art X Culture. What do you think of the new logo?
Cheats Movement photos of the final Face Melt Friday of the year are now posted on The Cheats Movement Facebook Page. Visit the Cheats Movement Facebook page – Like the page and share the photos with your friends! Also, Sunday December 8th at Gallery 5 is RVA HOT SAUCE. It will feature a live hip hop cypher – if you want to get down buy a ticket – show up – and sign up on December 8th. WE SEE IT!
I took the Cheats Movement camera to document the early scene at yesterday’s March Against Mass Incarceration in the Jackson Ward neighborhood of Richmond. I didn’t know many details about the March besides it was organized by a Richmond activist group called Collective X. I must admit, I was very intrigued by the number of people that said they were planning to attend the rally on Facebook – it was nearly 300 before the event and I wanted to see if that number would hold.
While I certainly have my own opinions about the best way to improve the criminal justice system, most of them focus on funding successful rehabilitation programs, the parts of yesterday’s rally that I photographed were peaceful and educational. The Richmond Police were on scene and very respectful. The images tell the story themselves. The count number I saw was around 100 people – NBC news reported 150 at the max.
Coming live from the Southside, Radio B’s new album “Whole Foods” hit the streets yesterday. What started as “bridge the gap” album between “Live Good and Be Great” and the next installment of that series, “Whole Foods” was suppose to be a lower profile album – but in the true form of his click Association of Great Minds (AGM), Radio couldn’t just do “any” album, so Whole Foods organically turned into something much more.
I sat down with Radio at The Shop – in the Manchester section of RVA – earlier this summer – following AGM’s classic performance at Epic Fest – and he told me about the motivation he has to make good music and elevate the city’s hip hop scene.
One of the first things people need to understand is that Radio Blitz is a true fan of hip hop. His knowledge of classic records, beats, rhymes, and culture is something that most people won’t fully comprehend unless you draw it out of him – one on one. Our conversation ran the gambit: from Tribe to Jay to Nas to AZ – but what really struck me about Radio’s approach to Whole Foods was his goal of reaching a particular “classic” feeling, “I want to provide a pure, authentic and organic hip hop experience. Something nostalgic – that reminded you why you fell in love with hip hop and to remind me why I started rapping.”
The most appropriate review I can give of “Whole Foods” is that it’s quality hip hop from top to bottom. Radio really shows his range and diversity as an MC. The track, Live From the Southside – produced by Trac-Qaeda – gives you a real introduction to the record and Radio’s heady rhyme style. I think of Radio – both rhyme style and presence – as the AZ of Richmond. He’s not the most acclaimed feature on a record but it’s often his verse that you find yourself repeating over and over again.
Live From The Southside – Radio B
He gets his swag on talking – what MC’s talk on the Nickelus F produced track “Dixie Normus” and then gets his Nas/Slick Rick story telling on with his brother Nick F on the track, The Cart B4 The Horse.
Whole Foods is the first album that Radio has work with wide range of producers. Don’t worry – AGM super-producer NameBrand still has the title track – but production really comes from Cashby, Trac-Qaeda, and Nickelus F. Radio takes you into a “Public Service Announcement” moment – without the reintroduction – on the Ohbliv produced “Journal Entry.” Radio is clear on, “If you can’t see my motivation/I don’t need to bring you around…”.
When speaking about his peers in RVA hip hop and, particularly those in AGM, Radio was candid, “It’s healthy competition within our group – I see what my brothers are doing and it motivates me to work harder – go further. My brothers in AGM is who I look at and listen to – to really spark that fire within me.” He went on to say, “sometimes we (AGM) can come across as misunderstood a bit – like we are too into our own movements – and that’s not really the case. We really motivate each other and that competition pushes us to the next level. We’re never pulling others down – we’re about elevating our music.” That sentiment comes across in Whole Foods because the real highlight of the album is the Whole Foods cyphers – 3 editions – spread throughout the album that features 17 local spittas. I’ve never seen anything like it on record in RVA hip hop. The cyphers alone is reason enough to support the album but the album itself is the real gem. Radio B delivers a classic for RVA. #WE SEE IT
I’ve never rated an album before – so this is a Cheats Movement first: 4.6 mics out of 5. The best Radio B album to date – and in my 2013 RVA Hip Hop classic albums of the year.
Radio B will be performing at The RETURN OF RVA HOT SAUCE on December 8th at Gallery 5. Tickets are available right now at: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-return-of-rva-hot-sauce-tickets-9233715291?aff=eac2
My homegirl Sarah Moore Lindsey is the powerhouse behind Sounds of RVA – one of my favorite music blogs in the city. I hope you can join Sounds of RVA this Wednesday at The Camel to celebrate the site’s 3rd Birthday and hear music from Canary oh Canary, Negative Gemini, and Imaginary Sons. RSVP on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/202056016638534/ and share this event. WE SEE IT!
My brother Mikemetic put in serious work on this documentary short featuring his son Meechi – and their trip to Graffiti Mecca 5 Pointz in NYC. Mike has been putting in work all over RVA social media and is making a splash with his newest social media project NATIVES – make sure to visit the site. WE SEE IT!
“About 6 months ago Meech and I took a trip to NYC to visit the international graffiti museum 5 Pointz. The building has been in a legal struggle the past couple of months as developers and the owner of the property want to demolish it and turn it into high rise condos. I put this short vid together in support of 5 pointz and as a preview to a more expansive street art retrospective coming out December 2013. Check it out and visit 5ptz.com to see how you can help.”
TICKETS ON SALE NOW!!!! http://www.eventbrite.com/event/9233715291/es2?rank=1&sid=a16d1b8f487211e3acdd22000aa821d4
I’m so excited to announce the return of RVA HOT SAUCE! RVA HOT SAUCE is one of the best live events in Richmond, hosted by The Cheats Movement Blog. Think RVA David Letterman on steroids. HOT SAUCE was first done in 2011 at The Shop. This year we are taking the event to Gallery 5 and it’s already shaping up to be one of the best live events of the year.
(SO FAR) The event will feature live performances by: Photosynthesizers, Anousheh, J.D. Haze, Ohbliv, Radio B, Michael Millions, and Noah O. Along with a performance by the Coalition Theater, a kindness mission from Kindness Girl Patience Salgado, and in HOT SAUCE fashion – an open mic hip hop cypher. And that’s not all, there will be information available and commentary presented by some of the most active community organizations in RVA. RVA HOT SAUCE is a can’t miss event so mark your calendar for Sunday December 8th.
WHEN: Sunday, December 8, 2013 – Doors open at 6:30 PM
WHERE: Gallery 5, 200 West Marshall Street, Richmond, VA 23220
PRICE: $10 at the door – $8 in advance
To view the entire photo album – visit the Cheats Movement Facebook Page - Share & Follow! WE SEE IT!
History was made last night at the Old Towne Civic Center in Petersburg. The God Emcee Rakim was in the building. Thanks to Soul Logistics Radio – S/O the brothers J.D. Haze – Doug Evans – Rodney “Soul Singer” – and everyone that work so hard to make a historic night happen. In addition to Rakim the night featured performances by Narubi Selah, Rodney “Soul Singer”, J.D. Haze, & Jasmine.
The evening was hosted by Doug Evans. I had a minute to catch up with Doug after the show and asked him why it was so important that this event came to the Burg, “There is a a lot of shooting – a lot of killing – and a lot of wanna be rappers in our community – so I thought if I bring the God Emcee – the best of the best Rakim – he would enlighten the town and give people hope an inspiration.”
J. D. Haze echoed those comments, “Us being emcees and inspiring emcees, Rakim defiantly had an impact on us by having a righteous posture and keeping it funky for the people. With all the negativity that goes on in our community it is important that we can show that we can have fun in hip-hop in the original way it was intended: peace, love, unity, and having fun, and that’s what we did tonight.
Twitter: @CheatsMWC Email via the FB page!
Kids and Cameras
No matter the time
No matter the place
There are no language barriers
There are no communication breakdowns
Smiles are universal
Laughs are universal
Love crosses all boundaries
I took the Cheats Movement camera to the heart of the Dominican Republic, the historic city of Santo Domingo. It was there that I found school children wearing Knicks and Red Sox hats . They all stopped, smiled, and stunted for photos. They all ran the streets with happiness – glad to be on a field trip. I couldn’t help myself to break-off from my tour group and join them in the universal language of fun. WE SEE IT!
Thank you for supporting the Cheats Movement Photography! The movement is growing – WE SEE IT!
It all started with a completely random tweet:
And it ended with me rappelling 400 feet down the SunTrust Building in the heart of RVA.
“Never again,” I yelled as my feet touched the ground. I could not believe I had just done something that I told myself I would never do. Ya see – I don’t understand those folks that do “extreme” adventures for fun. I don’t really understand those who pay money (a lot of money) to run marathons. I don’t knock them but I just don’t get it. And now – thanks to that random tweet (which I later found out I have Paul Spicer of Richmond Grid to thank for that) I am one of those people, rappelling 400 feet in the middle of the morning. And though I yelled, “Never again,” I’ll just have to wait and see what the future holds.
So why did I do it? Two reasons: 1. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. I’ve never had such an amazing opportunity before and that is important to me to share the experience on behalf of the Cheats Movement fam. I don’t take that for granted. 2. The cause is just too good not to be involved. I went Over the Edge – to highlight Over the Edge. It is an annual fundraiser for Special Olympics Virginia. Special Olympics VA started Over the Edge Richmond in 2009 as their inaugural Over the Edge event.
Over 100 people are going Over the Edge during the two-day event and all of them have a great story & connection to the amazing work of Special Olympics VA. Following my trip Over the Edge, I was able to speak with Rick Jeffrey, the President of Special Olympics Virginia, who put the entire event in the right perspective, “These events will challenge (you) but also remind you that our (Special Olympic) athletes face incredible challenges everyday: rejection, discrimination and others and their challenges last a lifetime.”
I met and visited with so many great people this morning – way too many to S/O but a very special S/O to: my dude Grid Guy, Holly Claytor, Columbus (and the entire team that hooked me up on the roof), Checkout Girl, Paige Stevens, Karen Phel and all the amazing cats on the 20th floor. #WESEEIT
Family, This weekend was amazing. I married the love of my life and now we are taking a brief break to recover from all the epic activities of the weekend However, have no fear. The Cheats Movement Blog (and family) is growing stronger and upon our return will be even more dedicated to promoting the positive aspects of RVA to the fullest. There is so much epicness ahead. It is my prayer that all of you will continue and share in the crazy ride with us. This blog may be hosted by me but it’s truly a shared activity. Words cannot express how much both Aria and I love RVA – the people that make greatest place for us to be. We Love You! WE SEE IT!
I was not able to spend a lot of time at this year’s Street Art Festival but here are a few photos from my visit Sunday. Let me know which mural you think is the best.
For more photos check out and follow: The Cheats Movement on FB. #WESEEIT
I hope you have heard by now about TEDxGraceStreet happening this Friday, September 20th from 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM at the Richmond Times-Dispatch building at 300 E. Franklin Street. Tickets are available and only $25.
Earlier this year, I was introduced to TEDx events by TEDXRVA. The event made a huge splash in RVA , taking over the Power Plant Building and producing a TEDx on par with some of the best in the nation. I was there, got to know some of the organizers, and was glad to be a part of the online community at the event. And while I look forward to the next TEDxRVA let me tell you a little bit why I’m excited about TEDxGraceStreet.
1: I’m speaking! I’ll just get that out the way first. I am one of the 12 speakers so far announced for the event. While I’m still working on my talk right now, it will be about the project we did early his year on the Cheats Movement, where nearly 50 Richmonders posted about what community means to them. I’m excited to highlight some of the answers and focus on what we can learn from these answers to move RVA forward. I’ve wonder since March how to keep the project alive and I think TEDxGraceStreet will be an amazing boost for this project.
2: TEDxGraceStreet is “clearly” Richmond Focused: TEDxGraceStreet is described as a special TEDxCity2.o event that will showcase local experts and innovators in arts, education, urban planning, civic engagement, social justice and economic development. The key word here is local. Friday’s event is not a national event featuring a mixture of local speakers, it’s entirely focused on the Greater Richmond area. I think that is very important that we support events that are focused on improving Richmond from within.
3. The speakers are outstanding! I’m a huge fan of the speakers announced so far. If you haven’t heard about Angela Patton and her work with Camp Diva, you should come Friday. If you are not familiar with Ross Catrow and how he is moving the needle at RVANews.com, you should come Friday. if you are not familiar with Damon Jiggetts, Prabir Mehta, and Christy Coleman, you should come this Friday. The speakers are amazing and again based right here in RVA. National speakers will come – make a splash – and then go. You’ll be lucky if some of them follow you back or twitter but these speakers not only will you be able to see after this event, you should be able to actually meet with them and work with them to improve RVA.
4. Ticket price! I was fairly vocal about ticket price before TEDxRVA so I feel it’s necessary to mention it here. The tickets for TEDxGraceStreet are $25. I’m okay with that – I’m actually really good with that. I would love for it to be free but I understand there is a cost and I think $25 is worth it. I’m also very happy to know TEDxGraceStreet is setting aside tickets for non-profits. I won’t revisit the past with regard to ticket price at other TED events but I think $25 is a very reasonable price for attendance.
5. Finally, I’m excited about TEDxGraceStreet because it is yet another opportunity for Richmond to continue this crazy/amazing momentum that we have created and held over the last 2 years or so that RVA is a place we are proud to call home. As we transition from summer and move solidly into fall, think about all that is happening in RVA, the public events, the festivals, the art, the music. The creative culture of Richmond is thriving and TEDxGraceStreet provides another opportunity for us as Richmonders to capture what’s happening and keep it going.
Family, tickets are going fast for Friday. The limit in the room is 100 people so please log-on to the TEDxGraceStreet site and buy your ticket now. See you there #WESEEIT.
The interactive Light of Human Kindness mural debuted last night as a part of the RVA Street Art Festival. Richmonders from all over came out to test out the first of its kind mural project created by Richmond’s Kindness Hero Patience Salgado.
Strangers, friends, and family joined hands last night to activate 1,000 LED lights on the Light of Human Kindness mural. The technology was produced by the Martin Agency and the mural design was completed by HAM?, along with a great number of volunteers.
After nearly a year of planning and fundraising, Patience Salgado turned her idea into a reality with the first of its kind interactive mural in RVA; powered by kindness missions and human connection.
The LOHK mural is located at: 2401 W. Cary Street. The RVA Street Art Festival started yesterday and is going all weekend. Please visit both the Light of Human Kindness website and The RVA Street Art Festival site for updates. #WESEEIT
Why I Love RVA Today: The Horn RVA’s video on this weekend’s Fall Line Fest. There will be more recap and photos to come this week on The Cheats Movement and The Cheats Movement Facebook Page. WE SEE IT.
With Fall Line Fest (FLF) fast approaching (this Friday and Saturday), I am very excited about the potential of this new festival. The highlight of the weekend will certainly be the music: 5 venues and over forty bands – headlined by Big Freedia. There has been a lot of media behind this festival and I’m really excited to do my part in spreading the word. Yet with so much information out there I want to boil down a few points – just for my Cheats Movement Family. Here are a few points I want to make about this weekend’s Fall Line Fest:
1. BUY NOW TO SAVE: If you buy a FLF ticket online (before Thursday at midnight) you save enough for 10 McDoubles. That’s right. If you buy a ticket now online it’s $20 for the entire weekend and $15 for a day pass. If you wait until the weekend the price goes up to $30 for a weekend pass and $20 for a day pass. I know there are “reasons” not to get a day pass BUT if you’re in RVA this weekend – there is not a good reason. Even if there is nothing that appeals to you on one of the two days – buy the weekend pass. It’s a better deal and it gives you the opportunity to challenge yourself and see a new band.
Ohbliv Performs at 7:30 PM on Saturday at the Hippodrome
2. THIS IS YEAR ONE SO THE LOGISTICS OF THE FESTIVAL WILL NOT BE PERFECT: I know you think that every festival is run by super-professionals that never screw anything up. Well, I got news for you. This is the first year of FLF and there will undoubtedly be “something” screwed up. I don’t know what it is but I’m telling you now – don’t let any minor thing throw you off your mission of having a good time. The organizers of FLF are bringing an amazing festival – SXSW style – to RVA. We’re going to have to roll with the punches and enjoy the ride.
Dead Fame Performs Friday at 7 PM at the Hippodrome
3. THERE IS SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE: Look at the FLF schedule. There is just about every musical genre covered. There are a ton of local bands and some cool national performers. If you’re a fan of music, you should be able to find something you like on both days. With that said – there are amazing local bands that are not on this year’s bill and there are some genres not covered ie. R&B/Neo Soul to name a few. To that – I again say, “this is year one.” I”m not sure how everything will work down the line but for year one, I am excited about the make-up of the festival.
Black Liquid performs on Friday at 10:15 PM at Love RVA
4. FALL LINE FEST IS NOT JUST MUSIC: In addition, to the live music shows, there are a number of restaurant deals (Pasture, Sasion, Ipanema, Rappannock, The Well), visual art exhibits – including a live mural installation by Hamilton Glass, and a food panel on Saturday at 1 PM at the Camel. In addition there are a number of “unofficial” events – associated with the FLF this weekend. The First Friday’s art walk on Friday. Live at Ipanema hosted by RVA Playlist on Sunday. And so much more throughout the weekend.
Mikemetic (Left) will be bringing his Afro Beta energy to Love RVA on Friday.
5. YOU GET WHAT YOU GIVE: I think most people don’t get the most out of festival because they are locked into one venue or a few events. That is a formula for a good time but not an amazing time. In order to get an amazing time – you need to move – you need to explore – you need to turn up. What do I mean? Get your ticket early on Friday – hit the First Fridays art walk – hit Love RVA to see Mikemetic, Rattlemouth, and Black Liquid – hit the Hippodrome to see Dead Fame and White Laces – take in the live art on Saturday – hit the restaurant panel – hit a restaurant deal for dinner – and then hit not just one venue but several venues. That is the path to get an amazing return on investment.
HAM? will be painting a live mural all weekend.
There it is family – some family talk about this weekend’s Fall Line Fest. I think Fall Line Fest is going to be amazing. Hit me up on The Cheats Movement Blog and let me know your thoughts.
I have to give full credit where credit is due, my good friend Matt Newman from the Coalition Theater tipped me to an amazing online comic strip that reviews the lineage of hip hop. He sent me the link to Ed Piskor’s Hip Hop Family Tree and I was hooked. I have to admit – Hip Hop Family Tree is the best comic strip I have read since the run of The Boondocks. Not just the for the history lessons (and there are several), Ed Piskor is an amazing artist. He visually captures the grittiness of NYC in the late 70s and early 80s. He has worked with giants in the industry and has an impressive run of projects himself. Hip Hop Family Tree is solid on so many levels and I set out to find out some background and details about the comic. Lucky for us, Ed is not hard to track down and was willing to be interviewed for The Cheats Movement. Huge shout to Ed for taking the time. WE SEE IT!
Cheats: Hip Hop Family Tree is amazing. As a hip hop fan, I can’t stop reading it. How did it all come about?
Ed Piskor: It started by accident really. I’ve wanted to do a comic where old school Hip Hop would be an aesthetic backdrop for years. Even as far back as high school. I couldn’t figure out what the story would be. A crime story? A Love and Rockets slice of life tale? Ultimately just doing a straight-up narrative about the history of Hip Hop was the way to go.
When were you introduced to hip hop and how has hip hop culture made an impression on your life?
Ed Piskor: I grew up in Pittsburgh in the 80s and Hip Hop was everywhere I looked. My house was nestled in between 3 major parks in my neighborhood and at any given time you would see breakdancing or you’d see guys in a circle rapping while they waited their turn to play basketball. The fliest drug dealers looked like Eric B and Rakim. There were old-ass pimps who still dressed the part and talked with that rap patter.
Hip Hop Family Tree serves as a true history lesson. How do you determine the stories you want to tell and in what order?
I literally don’t know exactly how the strips will flow from week to week. I have to keep it fun for myself. I have a basic structure of things thanks to the release of the records so that’s how I keep my linearity. Other than that, each Sunday and/or Monday I sit around reading everything I can to unearth some really cool, hopefully visually interesting anecdotes. It is best when dealing with a situation that involves a group because you can find interviews with sometimes five people recalling events in different ways and I almost have to go by consensus at times.
Have you worked directly with any hip hop pioneers in making the comic?
Not really, though many people have reached out to express appreciation. Lots of rappers have tweeted and retweeted strips, etc. I’ll get wild phone calls every now and again.
What is the strangest response/reaction you have received regarding the comic?
There was one lame-o who didn’t like the comic and had a million reasons for it. He is one of those computer science professors from Carnegie Mellon University who also happens to be white. I told him that I would sacrifice every one of him as a reader if it continues to mean that DMC, Chuck D, Grandmaster Flash, DJ Kool Herc, Biz Markie, MC Shan, The Furious Five, etc continue to promote the work by sharing it on their Facebook accounts and twitter pages.
You do a great job at capturing the vibrancy and grittiness of NYC during the birth of hip hop. Is there any part of you that wishes that time could come back?
Not really. We should constantly move forward but it doesn’t hurt to look back and learn from history.
What is next for you and Hip Hop Family Tree?
I’ve really been thinking a lot about doing another Wizzywig comic. This is the computer hacker comic I did before HHFT. There’s so much insane shit going on with Whistleblowers, Wikileaks, Snowden, Manning, etc. That’s years away though. I’m doing the HHFT comics as at least a 5 book series. Book 1 will be available in October/November. Book 2 is almost done and will be out next Summer. Then the rest of the books will stabilize and be released annually or so.
How can we keep up with your work moving forward?
All the Hip Hop comics are online starting with strip 1 here: http://boingboing.net/2012/01/10/brain-rot-hip-hop-family-tree.html
Twitter.com/edpiskor would probably be a good place to keep updated. Edpiskor on tumblr too.
Thanks Ed. Please support his work!
I’m sure by now you have heard about and seen the signs about Fall Line Fest. The Cheats Movement Blog is pleased to be a small part of this “new” effort and hope that everyone will take advantage of this inaugural event. So what is in store? What do you need to know? In short:
The first annual Fall Line Fest will be taking place in Richmond, Virginia on September 6th and 7th, 2013. Featuring 42 bands across four venues on two nights, as well as various events at nationally recognized restaurants and art galleries, Fall Line Fest plans to bring attention to the increasingly impressive cultural offerings of Richmond.
Born out of a shared love of their city, the organizers of Fall Line Fest first and foremost set out to showcase many of the aspects that make Richmond great. With a focus on music, art, and food, the event will balance national / regional talent alongside the best and brightest hometown favorites, all presented within a walkable portion of the downtown area.
· September 6 and 7
· 4 Venues (Hippodrome, The Camel, Gallery 5, Strange Matter, Love RVA)
· 42 Bands
· 8 Art Galleries – in partnership with First Fridays
· 5 Restaurants
· $20 Weekend Pass
There is a considerable amount of local flair brought to this year’s festival: Photosynthesizers, No BS! Brass Band, Ohbliv, Black Liquid, Ms. Proper, DOE the Paperboy, Mikemetic, Dead Fame, White Laces and more.
Big Shout to the homie Jonathan Martin (Love RVA Gallery) for this great video of the Richmond Mural Project. WE SEE IT!
Fans poured into RVA from all over the east coast this weekend to attend the 2013 Richmond Jazz Festival. This year’s festival featured several Grammy award winning musicians, headlined by an electric performance from Jill Scott and a soulful performance given by Michael McDonald to close out the weekend at Maymont Park.
Thanks to the great team at Johnson Inc. S/O to Ken Johnson, Torrence Hampton, Jasmine Roberts – and my girl (who had me dying with laughter all weekend) Maressa Dawn – for the opportunity to attend and photograph what is clearly a growing enterprise of success.
Despite a Saturday afternoon thunderstorm that temporarily cleared the park, the organizers kept the music lovers safe and festival operating smooth. It’s important to note that the Jazz Festival is not just about the amazing music, it is a festival operating at the highest level in retail and food. Homegrown eatery Croaker’s Spot is always a fan favorite with their fried fish dinners but there was variety of different types of food and beer and wine vendors operating at the festival. The combinations of activities really made the festival special on all levels.
Another great aspect about the Richmond Jazz Fest is the access fans have to their favorite musicians. Just about every artist at this year’s festival visited the media tent,met with fans, signed autographs and took pictures.
Who were my favorite performances of the festival? Of course, I’m not just going to name one – here is my list of the best of the best: Jill Scott is amazing and can do no wrong. A very fitting headliner, she did an amazing job. Jill looked and sounded amazing. The Wailers headlined Sunday night on the Dominion Stage and they were fantastic. Keeping reggae music alive and holding down the spirit of the late Bob Marley, they had the massive crowd skanking to classic Wailers music. Michael McDonald has a ton of hits and he played them with spirit and bravado. He was fantastic. I honestly forgot how many great songs McDonald has in his catalog, from his time with the Doobie Brothers to the Motown remakes – his was great.
The surprise of the festival was the three-time Grammy nominated band from Cuba Tiempo Libre. Wow! They had the Virginia is for Lovers stage on fire Sunday. Their performance was so high energy that the crowd even broke out into a conga line. It was one of my favorite performances of the festival.
There were so many more memorable performances: Dr. John, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Robert Glasper, Dee Dee Bridgewater – I honestly can’t name them all – but I do have photos. For all of my photos from the 2013 Richmond Jazz Festival – click HERE and follow The Cheats Movement Blog on Facebook. I will be uploading more photos only on my The Cheats Movement Facebook Page. WE SEE IT
20 YEARS STRONG: THE HAROLD M. MARSH, SR. CONNECTIONS INSTITUTE CONTINUES TO CHANGE LIVES IN RVA AND BEYOND
Over the course of of my life there have been a handful of moments/decisions/experiences that I credit as life changing; a single experience that influenced how I see the world and the values I hold dear. Of course, there are factors that I had no control over – the character and values of my parents and siblings – the loving and supportive environment I was born into – I was just blessed and fortunate in those regards – but there were other decisions, some I knew would be significant – like enlisting in the Marine Corps after high school – and others that I had no clue would still have a strong hold on me today – like attending a four day summer camp when I was 14 years old called Metrotown Institute. Twenty years later Metrotown is now called the Harold M. Marsh, Sr. Connections Institute and I can say – without a doubt – that being a part of that experience, from very first camp held at St. Christopher School in 1993, to today that it has been one of the most life changing and powerful experiences of my life. It has helped shape my values and character, and along the way I have met some great friends and life-long mentors.
The Harold M. Marsh, Sr. Connections Institute teaches high school student leaders about diversity and inclusion. It sounds simple but trust me it’s hard work. I remember being 14 years old, the last thing I was thinking about during the summer of my freshman and sophomore year was how I could make my high school more inclusive and tolerant. Through Connections, I learned community building skills and values that are still with me today – values I apply in every aspect of my life – including The Cheats Movement Blog. The most principled being: unity and inclusion will always triumph over division and exclusion.
Over the next few days, I will post message from other fellow Connections Institute graduates reflecting on their experience and 20 years of the program in an effort to raise awareness for our “20/20 Campaign: A Vision for a More Inclusive Virginia”. I will lead this effort with a message from Jonathan Zur, the President and CEO of the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communicates. Please take a look at the VCIC website and get familiar with not just Connections Institute but all the amazing programs done throughout the year. It really is life changing. WE SEE IT!
Jonathan Zur, President and CEO of the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities
Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Harold M. Marsh, Sr. Connections Institute
It has been described by program graduates as “life changing,” “powerful,” and “the most meaningful experience of their lives.”
Back in 1993, community leaders in Richmond launched a new effort to help high school students learn about the diversity around them and build skills to foster inclusion in their schools. Program leaders promoted it as more than just another camp or summer learning experience. By all accounts, they were right.
For twenty years, the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities’ Harold M. Marsh, Sr. Connections Institute (known in its early years as the Metrotown Institute) has helped students to break barriers, learn effective strategies to deal with biased behavior, and develop action plans to reduce prejudice in their schools. What started as a weeklong experience in Richmond has developed into a body of programming that reaches thousands of students and adults across Virginia each year. And program alumni are sharing what they have learned locally, nationally, and around the world.
Indeed, this program has been a catalyst for twenty years, helping participants move from awareness to action as they continue on their journeys through life. To celebrate this anniversary, alumni and friends are participating in the “20/20 Campaign: A Vision for a More Inclusive Virginia” to raise funds to sustain the program’s future.
The Cheats Movement and VCIC invited program alumni from the Richmond area to share their reflections. Over the next few days you will see these reflections on The Cheats Movement Blog.