Normally I have a lot of trouble singling out where to be in RVA; there is just too much going on in the boroughs to name one event. But this weekend is different because Dominion Riverrock is in town. If you’ve never been…I suggest you take the trip to Brown’s Island and bring your camera. River Rocks is a photographers dream. Last year, I was introduced to the slack line (pictured above), taking photos of that competition alone is worth the trip. But there is more – tons of extreme sport competitions, food, and live music. Galactic killed the stage last year…this year it’s the reggae legends Toots and the Maytals headlining the free concert Saturday night. River Rocks starts Friday and runs through Sunday. And I just go word that my family Photosynthesizers will be hitting the stage Sunday. It’s clearly where to be this weekend.
Brand new from the homie Chance Fischer directed by Soul Live Media AKA Smoothmatic AKA Rob Roby. I haven’t posted too much hip hop on the blog recently but I couldn’t let this video slide. Every time I see Chance Fischer on the mic, I am impressed with his ability to draw his audience closer to him and his style. He can do it all: rhyme, write, perform, you name it. And don’t get me started on the body of work Rob Roby is putting together in the RVA hip hop community. He gets the job done. Check out the RVA images in the video. I think shooting at the Cathedral was perfect for Chance. Also the B-Roll shots on Monument Avenue were a great selection for the duo. I hope they continue to work together in the future. There is no telling how far they can push the envelope in RVA’s hip hop community.
“I told em….didn’t I tell em…Those young boys ain’t got nothing on me. I’m old school.” Those were the words coming from the victorious point guard who’d just hit the game winning jumper to the dismay of his younger, high school age, opponents. His King’s Speech seemed to be directed to anyone who would listen, pretty much a general declaration of victory. Lucky for him, there was a fairly large audience for him to preach to.
On the outside of the basketball court, a line of African American senior citizens played music and sold Gatorade to the ballers. There was another set of sounds coming from the tennis courts,”Good stop….play up…..coming behind,” those where the songs coming from the bike polo players who were dominating the once tennis courts now bike polo arena.
I’ve been spending a lot of time in Jackson Ward shooting a music video from the group HaBits. And while I thought I had a good understanding of Jackson Ward and Abner Clay Park, I’ve been absolutely floored by the positive energy, diversity and harmony that seems to happen every Sunday in Abner Clay.
It’s not just the basketball players – playing some of the best pick-up games in the city. It’s not just the bike polo players, with skills I could only dream to own. What impressed me is the balance of the Ward….the balance of old and new, hipster and hoops, old Ward merging with the change of gentrification. It’s not lost on me that Abner Clay sets across the street from the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. I’m sure some of the older gentleman on the side of the court knew the Ward as a far different place. A place where the community thrived with Black Owned Business and legendary entertainment centers and hotels. They see a different Ward now – is just the latest in a long line of examples of change. It’s not lost on me that the Jackson Ward Neighborhood Association doesn’t necessarily want the bike polo players there (this according to some of the local players) and that it has little or nothing to do with history. Bike polo seems to be new version of skateboarding. Until it gets accepted there will certainly be detractors.
However, in face of those who may not want them there – they are there. Every Sunday afternoon building a new community of harmony and diversity. Centered around sports and backed with music and a grill, Jackson Ward is a special place. And it seems to be getting better one day at a time.
Last night at First Fridays, Art 180 introduced the Wheel of Kindness to the world. It was amazing! The wheel is the final product of our amazing Art 180 class. Check out some of the photos from last night. Please support Art 180. It is an amazing program and stay tuned for much more from my sister in crime Patience Salgado AKA Kindness Girl. #WESEEIT
So What is the Wheel of Kindenss? Well, a person spins the wheel and it lands on a color. You then receive the color of the balloon selected. You can either play with the balloon or pop it. When your balloon pops – there is a message or “Kindness task” inside. You then have to complete the task. Awesome right.
The Cheats Movement Blog got some serious love in Style Weekly’s 12th Annual Music Issue. Since I spend most of my time covering music and events, it is very cool to be interviewed and have the blog recognized in this way. I do consider it an honor and motivation to keep the blog going in its current form. I have to take a moment to S/O Andrew Cothern AKA RVA Playlist. Andrew has always giving love to The Cheats Movement Blog from day 1 and being a music blogger himself – he didn’t have to do that. RVA Playlist is one of my favorite music blogs and Andrew is really at the top of his game right now. S/O to Patience Salgado AKA Kindness Girl for the photo used in Style. The multi-talented kindness worker has so much going on – and with that she takes some of the most soulful photos that I have ever seen. I also want to S/O Sounds of RVA and One Way Richmond – I read their blogs as much as I can and it’s very awesome to read their interviews in Style.
The thing about press in general – like everything else in 2013 – it is really about momentum: one day you’re hot – the next day you are not. I understand that Style Weekly or any other “press” type situation may not be there next week let alone next year but that doesn’t mean that the city stops moving forward. The goal is to take in good press – in the spirit that it’s meant to be – and use it to push forward. So the blog moves forward – the grind moves forward – the family moves forward – we are already working on what’s next. To every person that reads the blog and supports what’s happening on the blog and around the city — all I can say is Thank you & of course #WESEEIT!
Anthony Bourdain at the Landmark Theater in RVA last night.
Art 180 are my people. Go out and chalk something with Love, Peace and Kindness. This is Our Richmond!
Shout out to the homie Brian McDaniel. When I started The Cheats Movement, Brian was one of the first people willing to meet up and chat about blogging in RVA – that was about three years ago. Since that time, I’ve watched him, and his projects, grow to unbelievable heights. His Tumblr Dirty Richmond killed the game for over two years – then he made the move to Ledbury to further his passion for art, fashion, and creativity. His Tumblr: BRIAN MCDINOSAUR is definitely a weekly read. And he just recently drop his first featured Ledbury video: Renovating Richmond: 14th Street Showroom. #WESEEIT
I’m so grateful to Kendra for giving me the opportunity to bring The Cheats Movement vibe to Ipanema Cafe last night. A huge thanks to Allen for working with me through all of the planning and S/O to PJ for the dope poster and photographing the night. Sam Reed has been family for a minute and I never take that for granted. Many more projects coming from her in the near future. I’ve been a fan of The Low Branches for about a year and even more so now – so much love for them. I can’t wait to see what they have planned of this summer.
We did it again Richmond. It is a true family vibe. Bringing RVA together to enjoy music – enjoy each other and build community. It sounds a bit unrealistic – but if you were there last night – I bet you felt the family vibe. If you missed it – I challenge you to come out to the next Cheats Movement Blog event (don’t know what that is yet…but I’ll think of something). For those that did come out last night: THANK YOU! #WESEEIT
Sam’s B-Boy Stance – S/O Brother Manifest and Blasco
WE SEE IT!
Check out this KickStarter video from my family at the Richmond Comedy Coalition. If you have followed The Cheats Movement Blog than you know the RCC is very special to me and to the new wave of positivity happening in Greater Richmond. They have worked very hard since their debut in 2009 to present a platform of improv comedy that had almost completely faded away in RVA. In addition to the amazing shows they create, they teach classes for inspiring improver (like myself), host workshops, and partner with other positive movements in RVA to foster a new wave of community. Check out the video and please do what you can to help them move into their brand new home in the Arts District. Click HERE to check out the Kickstarter.
What guy? The guy that will hit up my cell phone next week and say, “Ah Cheats, I heard the show Saturday at Ipanema was great. I wish I had come out” or the guy that I run into next week and says, “RVA is just so boring, there is nothing to do.”
Trust me on this..there is something to do this Saturday night (10 PM) and it’s FREE. Come out to Live at Ipanema Cafe. The show is featuring great music by The Low Branches and Sam Reed. Bring a friend (or two or six), hang out with the blog family, be apart of the positive, diverse culture that is connecting RVA as family. RSVP for the show HERE – Get there early because it may fill up – then I’m sure to hear, “Man, I tried to get in but it was full.” Even though that one I understand. #WESEEIT
Poster by PJ Sykes
Photos by PJ Sykes
Words & Photos by Cheats – Follow the Cheats Movement Blog on FB
It’s called the Bill Conference but it is truly an unconference. Compelled by the free-flowing format and the recent attention these events are getting in RVA, I broke out the Cheats Movement camera yesterday for Bill Conference 2 at 804RVA.
Attending the event, I must say that organizers Wren Lainer and Sam Davies have a great concept. Speakers sign up at the start of the conference, they speak about whatever topic they want, and audience can ask questions at any time. Bill Conference was open to all speakers and topic. That alone truly made Bill a “unconference.”
I enjoyed the presentation that I was able to see (I had to break out early): Casey spoke about Healthcare transparency, Adam spoke about the power of language and using it to work with autistic children, Andrew spoke about the challenges of making a video game, and Bryan about using Yoga, Meditation, and running to fight anxiety and depression.
All of the speaker were very interesting and knowledgeable about their topics, they all spoke from 1st person experience. Like most conferences, the best part of Bill was meeting new friends, creatives, and fellow bloggers. I enjoyed the time I spent speaking to other Richmonders on our breaks.
One half of the Bill Dream Team Wren Lainer
Moving forward, I think events like the Bill Conference and TEDxRVA have the potential to make a lasting affect on RVA’s future. I’d like to see them work together – I think a presentation from the TEDx organizers at the Bill Conference would be have been awesome – and in turn – Sam and Wren presenting their unconference platform on the TEDx stage would have been a great fit and well received at TEDxRVA.
Overall, diversity was a challenge for both events. I would have like to seen more people of color participating in both TEDxRVA and the Bill Conference. I understand these thing take time and there is no magic bullet to curate a truly diverse event. Nevertheless, there has to be a better way to have these wonderful events marketed to communities that do not normally attend, and do not have access.
With that said, I love the energy and vibe of the Bill Conference. Hopefully, I will have the guts to present sometime in the future.
Adam speaking about his work with autistic children
TO VIEW ALL OF THE CHEATS MOVEMENT BILL CONFERENCE PHOTOS – LIKE THE CHEATS MOVEMENT ON FACEBOOK AND CLICK HERE…
The Cheats Movement Book of Tags just keeps getting better. Last night I went to 1708 Gallery to see if I could add OBEY GIANT himself Shepard Fairey. Fairey is in town for the 1708 Gallery’s 23rd Annual Art Auction called Mixology. He was at the gallery for about an hour and was very cool to chat with. He tagged the book and handed me a few stickers. I was there with Tony Harris of RVA Mag and a few other city do-gooders. I hope Fairey takes some time to see the G40 mural in the city. #WESEEIT
Last Saturday night, the Cheats Movement Blog joined a sold-out crowd at Baliceaux for the first ever RCC’s Battledecks. Battledecks is a comedic presentation using never seen before slides by daring and hilarious presenters; improv at its finest. I knew from the time the first slide was reveled, “Raving in your 30′s” it was going to be a great night. Congrats to the nine brave souls that took the stage (2 were selected randomly from the audience). The night was a massive success. Scott Beckett was the winner of Battledecks and also a new laser-etched iPad Mini. The night was hosted by the owner of BIG SECRET Jason Lefton with slide presentation assistance from his good friends at the Richmond Comedy Coalition. The slides along with comedic courage of each presenter made the night fantastic. I look forward to many more Battledecks at Balliceaux. CLICK HERE FOR ALL THE PHOTOS FROM LAST SATURDAY NIGHT
CLICK HERE for all the photos from Battledecks and make sure to follow: the Richmond Comedy Coalition, BIG SECRET, and the Cheats Movement Blog on Facebook.
I’m paraphrasing but my brief part of my conversation with songstress Nickey McMullen before her Easter Sunday night set at the Camel went something like this:
Cheats: Are you nervous?
Nickey: No. I’m doing what I love to do…I’m just going to go up there and have fun with it.
And have fun she did! There is no doubt that RVA has a lot of talented singers BUT Nickey McMullen possess intangibles that go beyond just vocal ability. I believe it’s the difference between, what I consider, “young adults” and “grown folks.” It comes down to knowledge of self, knowledge of musical direction, and happiness. On stage, Nickey knows who she is, she knows where she wants to go (and take the audience), and she is having a great time performing. She has found her pocket, mixing original Jazz, Blues & Soul numbers with her unique contemporary versions. Her voice has the power that you expect but when she hits particular notes – there is a genuine moment of whoa….I didn’t see that one coming. Nickey is a staple at Tuesday Verses and rocks with Lyric Ave. I hope you get a chance to she her perform this summer. Check out her Facebook Page: CLICK HERE #WESEEIT
Photos and Words by Cheats
Face Melt Friday has a special place in my heart. It’s the first show I ever shot and I give a lot of love to the people that invited me (Azreal & Black Liq). I’ve been away for a minute – working on other project in RVA, and build The Cheats Movement Presents live concerts, but last Friday I was able to break out the camera and get some photos of some up and coming hip hop artists working in RVA.
I’m starting to feel that FMF is kind of rite of passage for RVA hip hop. Everyone hits the stage a Strange Matter and Black Liq orchestrates the whole thing. I hope it becomes sort of like the Tunnel in NYC or the 8 mile battles in Detroit. RVA is not at that level just yet but I enjoy the fact that the stage is open to all types of hip hop at both Face Melt and at the Rebirth.
Black Liq host FMF once a month at Strange Matter
I always leave FMF with a couple of reflections from the night. Who killed the stage, who I need to see next time, etc. Friday night was a big night for my dude Ice James. He did killed it solo and with Big Ty. I could tell he was just having a good time performing on stage. Big Ty killed the stage – good to see him perform with features from: J-Nero, Lil Omar, Ice James, and Sam Reed, my favorite set of the night. S/O to Official Freeze, Tatum and the homie Spazz. Spazz – I will catch your set next time ( it got too late).
Much luv to YFD (always) and TNJC (always), and my brother Sleaze (always) for holding it down. Keep up with the most diverse blog in RVA. Click here to view all the photos from FMF and support the blog on Facebook.
Last Friday, TEDxRVA took over downtown Richmond. I was there (at the invitation of curator Andy Stefanovich) to take in the day of creativity. I was also pulling some afternoon double duty blogging for WRIR at the invitation of RVA Open Source host Chris Dovi. The event was a clear success for the TEDxRVA organizers and, I believe, RVA as whole. While there was a bit of hoopla leading up to the event – who was speaking – how long they had to speak – were the speakers diverse – reflecting back on this massive undertaking – I want to take a quick moment to reflect on my personal takeaways from the inaugural TEDxRVA…..wrote a song about it – like to hear it-hear it go:
#6 WHO NEEDS NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS WHEN YOU’VE MET ZOE ROMANO
So my new year’s resolution – like many people – was to get outside and run more….well – as you know – RVA weather is very unpredictable hence the epic snow this week alone. I’ve been off to a slow start BUT I plan to pick it up — I have time right? Then at TEXxRVA, I met and heard the story of Zoe Romano. Zoe has literally run across the US. During this “odyssey run” she ran over a marathon day, about 30 miles everyday. She did this despite the weather (my key excuse), Knicks games on TV (my second key excuse), being hunger (my third key excuse) and being too tired (I use that pretty much as my default). Zoe is now preparing tor run the route of the Tour de France. Just thinking about that challenge makes me want to get dress and run a 5K– but I think there is a new R. Kelly trapped in the closet coming on TV in the next week so that will affect my training time — Okay, I can do this I’m going to run now. Oh snap – the Voice is back…never mind.
Support Zoe’s new challenge at: http://zoegoesrunning.wordpress.com/
#5 DEAD BIKES RUNNING RAMPANT IN RVA
I’ve lived in RVA my whole life and I’ve never run across a dead bike cover. I feel so robbed. Dead bikes are a problem people! So much that my dude Brother Manifest live tweeted this: “I didn’t know Richmond had a rampant abandoned bike problem. Someone should definitely call city hall about this…” RVA has it share of serious problems: crime, education, taxes, abandon homes, let me tell you what is no longer a problem — Dead Bikes. The Dead Bike problem has been solved….next up The Diamond and Richmond Coliseum. You think I’m joking…I’m one step away from writing in James Walker for City Council. He did solve one problem.
RVA we had a problem – who knew? www.deadbicycles.com
#4 TWO NAMES ARE OVERRATED
Madonna, Beyoncé, Prince, heck even Cher….they’ve proved one thing to me — two names are overrated. My theory was proven again at TEDxRVA by the one and only Elew. Elew was so dope he didn’t need a last name. I didn’t even ask him. The man has toured the world and on the TEDxRVA staged killed a his very own version on Nirvana on the piano. I’ve tried people…I tell everyone to call me Cheats — but it’s not the same. Elew, you have long surpassed whatever old fashion two names you once had.
Elew – I should have known he was great by the name….elewrockjazz.com
#3 CHEATS AND BROTHER MANIFEST KICKED OUT OF THE QUIET SECTION OF TEDXRVA
So as I mentioned earlier, I was doing so live blogging at the request of my friend Chris Dovi (WRIR). Well, along with me was my dude Brother Manifest. Now, neither one of us were on our “best” behavior – honestly, we often talk about going to “similar” style events and forums and being the only person of color in the room – that was not the case at TEDx – and probably just the near sight of each other caused us to cut up more than usual. Little did we know that we were in a “no talking zone” enforced by a very young lady we didn’t know but she looked serious. She went as far as slapping Manifest’s hand when he reached for the TEDx program. It could have been the greatest moment of the day until I realized this girl was serious – then both of us were like – hold up – we are grown –”little girl” have lost your mind? Man, you can’t take us anywhere. I had to break out of that section and blog from the rafters — sorry Nicole!
I can’t hang out with this trouble maker! Future RVA event makers, Manifest and I cannot be in the same room – it’s just too much – even in a room as large as the power plant – we found trouble. Plymouth Rock landed on US!
#2 THE ANDY STEFANOVICH DRINKING GAME – A MUST FOR THE NEXT TEDXRVA
As I mentioned earlier, the only reason I was at TEDxRVA was because of the invitation and generosity of TEDxRVA curator Andy Stefanovich. About a month ago, I attended a meeting with Andy and a small group of friends to discuss some of the challenges the TEDx team was facing leading up to the event. It was my first time meeting him but I could tell he was a sincere and passionate man. Little did I know just how passionate. Andy is a bit of crier. To his credit, he told us this in the TEDxRVA intro. He told us he would be moved to tears – probably several time during the day, and he was. Andy actually teared up before the first speaker said a word. As an emotional guy myself, I know where he is coming from but with that said…I’m a bit upset I didn’t think of the Andy drinking game. It will be on deck next time.
#1 MY UNBORN CHILDREN WILL PLAY THE VIOLIN…TEDxRVA HAS CHANGED THE FUTURE!
In my opinion, the most powerful moment of the entire conference was when locals Rob Gibsun & Eric Stanley performed a collaboration matching Rob’s spoken word with Eric’s violin. It was powerful, it was creative, and really well done. Immediately after I stop cheering, one thing was pretty clear – my unborn children will be forced by me to play the violin! I may have to adopt children just to make them violin players…way to go TEDxRVA – you did changed the future already…even if my unborn, (& not planned) child doesn’t know it. WE ALL WIN!
Rob Gibsun and Eric Stanley
Photos of this blog post are courtesy of the TEDxRVA Flickr – Dead Bike photos from DeadBicycles.com – Manifest photo from Style Weekly.
My grandmother always says, “If they are talking about you – you must be doing something right.” Well grandma, in the new issue of Greater Richmond Grid, they’re not just talking about The Cheats Movement Blog - they are talking about the Family…deep. Before I go any further I need to fill you in a little bit about what’s been happening this year and how I’ve been processing everything. I hope you’ve been following on the blog and on Facebook but in case you haven’t, this year has been amazing so far: new job, bigger shows, new projects, and I’m getting married in October. It’s definitely been a new level of stress. All of this was happening before Greater Richmond GRID, TEDxRVA, and the Meaning of Community Project.
Then everything centering around RVA and Community just started taking off. Greater Richmond Grid and TEDxRVA played a major role in bringing this discussion to the forefront. Basically overnight everything went into overdrive regarding RVA’s community and I found myself and virtually the entire family right in the middle of it. There were weeks – after working full days - I would then attend a dinner, meeting, or gathering every night – go home, kiss the fiancee, and then sit at the computer for hours working on editing or posting. It is not an ideal plan for work, blogging, or life.
My saving grace has been my family – both my blood family & my Cheats Movement Family. The fact that I know I’m not riding alone gives me energy – too much energy and motivation to keep everything going. And then there are days like yesterday. While at TEDxRVA, a wonderful lady, that I met once while doing a community project with my boss at Trinity Baptist Church, walked up to me and gave me a Greater Richmond Grid and said, “I’m so proud of you.” I open the magazine and not only did I see The Cheats Movement, I saw Brother Manifest, Hamilton Glass, and Tony Harris. I feel like a brother to those dudes (a little brother – they’ve been putting in work for years)…we are always working together – bouncing ideas -and trying to move this city forward. The fact that Greater Richmond Grid put us in their issue about “Makers” motivates me to no end. S/O Paul Spicer for putting this level of detail about Community in your magazine – you didn’t have to.
I would be lying to you if I didn’t mention that I’m still trying to process the growth of the blog. And I’m tying to “process” it while the blog is growing – and I’m encouraging it go grow. That sounds crazy right? I’m “processing” the blog’s current growth – while hoping that you will share it to everyone you know and it continues to grow bigger….I know right. Here is the thing - I know The Cheats Movement Family has what it takes to play a part in positive change in RVA. None of us are going to sit it out. None of us are gong to miss out on the energy that buzzing around the city right now. We are moving forward. Go get that Greater Richmond Grid and see what we see it! #WESEEIT
One week of breaking down Community was just not enough. After the finale of the series, I got a few more amazing post that I have to share – and when one of those are from the Mayor of RVA – well it just can’t wait. I’m truly honored that Mayor Jones heard about what was happening on The Cheats Movement Blog and was willing to add his voice to the project. #Amazing. Along with Mayor Jones, I so pleased to have Meg Medina, Kaity Kasper, Patience Salgado and Tiffany Jana in this bonus edition of breaking down the Meaning of Community. WE SEE IT
“…In good times, we celebrate together as a community and in tough times, we fight back together as a community.” Mayor Dwight Jones…CLICK HERE to read more from Mayor Jones
“When I think of “community” I think of addition vs. subtraction. Community means being willing to add something you value to the place where you live and work…” CLICK HERE to read more from Meg
“Community. It’s that group of people that rallies around you. That lifts you up. That shows up when you least expect it to lend support you didn’t now you needed…” CLICK HERE to read more from Kaity
“…I am a global thinker having worked, lived on, and traveled to 5 continents, I see the WORLD as a community…OUR community, ONE community. Anyone who fails to see the interconnectedness between ourselves and our brothers and sisters on the other side of the planet, or just down the street, is missing the point….” CLICK HERE to read more from Tiffany
“…Community is the defining moment when we hold and see that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, and we give ourselves over to it….” CLICK HERE to read more from Patience
This has been an amazing experience for me – Thank you all for participating and please keep following The Cheats Movement Blog on Facebook.