Monday, August 22, 2016

CD Review: Richard Raw's "Word Warrior"

The opening track of artist and activist Richard Raw’s Word Warrior, called Intro: R.A.P, is a short and detailed history of rap, from Melle Mel to now. It’s a fitting intro, as Raw represents the now in every way --he speaks on racial injustice and the current climate of discord as Black Americans are once again standing up to systemic racism.

That may sound like bleak subject matter, but Raw goes for inspiration as he speaks directly to the Black Community of Wilmington and beyond to Rise Up, Don’t Let Them Take Your Crown, and Shine Yo Light, three melodic tracks that lead into the Afrocentric Chaka Zulu then on to the reggae beat of Word Warrior, featuring Jahiti of BrownFish. True to its name, the title track uses words and rhyme to spread his message of empowerment.

Word Warrior isn’t all about activism; about midway though, it shifts with Cool, followed by what should have been the hit of the summer, At the BBQ featuring Ann Letreece. It’s a celebration of Black culture and community (and, of course, food). Ain’t Nothing Like a Woman is all about respect and love, while Watch Your Health is a hip-hop PSA that reminds folks to eat healthy while still managing to groove. While the topics on the back end are less political, they still focus on the Black experience: Close-knit communities, faith, family, music, and culture.

Raw knows the history of those that came before him, both as a musician and an activist, and he weaves them into the stories he tells with humility. There’s no posturing, no glitz, no hype. In a time when using words against the status quo can be downright dangerous, Raw really is a warrior.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Serafin String Quartet Welcomes Violist Sheila Browne

Post content courtesy of press release from Serafin String Quartet...
Serafin String Quartet (SSQ) is pleased to welcome Shelia Browne as its new violist. Ms. Browne replaces Esme Allen-Creighton, who stepped down after four years with SSQ to pursue a degree in music therapy.

Ms. Browne has also recently been named the new Assistant Professor of Viola at University of Delaware's Department of Music. She joins both the University and the Quartet from her position at University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where she has been on the faculty for 10 years.

The Quartet is delighted that Ms. Browne has accepted the position. They will be working together this summer to prepare for an exciting first season, with performances at the University of Delaware, where the Quartet has recently accepted re-appointment as Quartet in Residence for the next three years.

A preview of SSQ's 2016-2017 season, including performance dates on local series at The Arts at Trinity and The Music School of Delaware, will be announced soon.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Candlelight (Re)Introduces You to the Classic, "The Music Man"

New Candlelight Theatre's production of The Music Man.
Photo by Ken Grant
By Guest Blogger, Ken Grant
Ken Grant has worked in Delaware media, politics and marketing for 25 years. He and his Lovely Bride enjoy Wilmington's arts and culture scene as much as they can.

Meredith Wilson was born in Mason City, Iowa in 1902 and played flute in John Philip Sousa's band from 1921-1923. He went on to a full and successful career in music, radio and film. This background and experience was clearly the inspiration behind his biggest hit 
– The Music Man.

The musical is based in the Summer of 1912 and centers on the exploits of a two-bit con man with no expertise who gets the town of River City, Iowa convinced that there's a danger to the town's future and their only hope is to buy what he's selling. Thank goodness we live in 2016 and everyone is too sophisticated to fall for such fear-mongering from such a blatantly dishonest and opportunistic fraud. :)

Fortunately, the good people at The Candlelight Theatre in Arden are able to transport us back in time to enjoy a summer of pageants in the small town that grows to to accept and even live the con man. The con man 
– "Professor" Harold Hill  is portrayed pitch-perfectly by Bob Miller. Through Miller, the audience can see the gears turning as he charms the town's women and convinces the men to join voices and divert attention away from his lack of credentials.

While the town's transformation occurs at a steady pace throughout the production, Hill's growth is more of a slow burn that reveals itself late in the second act.

The primary inspiration for that growth is the town's librarian and legitimate music teacher, Marion Paroo, played by Lauren Krigel. She exudes strength, smarts and clarity, seeing through Hill's deceptions, but also seeing a way to challenge him into becoming more than he expected.

The more than 20 cast members bring River City to life
 with voices and choreography that fills the entire theater space.

The heart and soul of The Music Man is, of course, music. With such iconic songs as Trouble, Seventy-Six Trombones, Gary, Indiana and Shipoopi (to name a few), the audience finds itself smiling and toe-tapping during the production.

Whether you've seen the film, enjoyed the cast album or have yet to experience Meredith Wilson's masterpiece, you should make your way to Arden to enjoy this fun production (and tasty buffet dinner included with your ticket price).

The Music Man plays through August 28 at The Candlelight Theatre.