Friday, June 1, 2018

Straight Edge on the Tube

Straight Edge music on public television. That's not something you see every day.

I recently wrote about "sXe," a new documentary by student filmmakers at Virginia Commonwealth University that takes a look at Richmond, Virginia's thriving straight edge punk scene. It gets an airing on local WCVW-TV on June 1.

Read my Richmond Magazine piece on the doc right here.

(Photo: Virginia Commonwealth University)

Bound to the Fire: Virginia's Enslaved Cooks

Kelley Fanto Deetz says she’s “restoring culinary justice” with her new book, "Bound to the Fire: How Virginia's Enslaved Cooks Helped Invent American Cuisine." 

“I think food is an important part of everyone’s culture, and it’s a topic that allows you to segue into talking about other issues, like race,” she says. “Everybody eats.”

The book, published by University Press of Kentucky, explores the lasting contributions of the early slave kitchens of Virginia—tracing everything from okra stew to collard greens to gumbo back to West African roots. Deetz pieces together the lives of the colony’s enslaved cooks, detailing their back-breaking labor and ingenuity, and her book includes centuries-only recipes created by slaves and passed down from generation to generation by white masters.

Some of the dishes that came out of the early slave kitchens will be familiar indeed. You probably ate them last night. My Savor Virginia Magazine interview with the Randolph College professor, and former chef, is now online. (And, yes, it does include recipes). Read the article here.

And for more on "Bound to the Fire: How Virginia's Enslaved Cooks Helped Invent American Cuisine, go right here.

The World of Saw Black

Saw Black's warbly, idiosyncratic voice and plaintive country-rock brings to mind the best of Neil Young, and he doesn’t hide the stylistic influence. “My dad was always listening to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; my mom also loved Neil Young,” Black recalls. “But ‘Harvest’ was it. It was the lyrics and the sound of the acoustic [guitar] and the drums. When I heard it, I said, ‘This is what I want to do.’ ”

My feature profile of the singer-songwriter is now online at the Richmond Magazine website. The Richmond-based performer has a new album, “Water Tower,”  on the local label he co-founded, Crystal Pistol Records. Awash in rustic atmospherics and a yearning pedal steel, "Water Tower "is already garnering raves and listeners beyond Richmond, Virginia, where Black has a growing fan base.

Find out more about the World of Saw by clicking here.

And for more on his music, go here.

(Photo by the mighty Joey Wharton!).

Dangerous History at Blackbeard's Festival

"What people know about pirates is what they've seen in the movies, and that's as far from reality as you can get," says Randy Gnatowsky. "Like walking the plank. That wasn't done until the movies came out."

Gnatowsky, a retired 30-year veteran of the Hampton, Virginia Police Department, is better known under his pirate alias, "Constable Heartless." He's the captain of Blackbeard's Crew, a group of living history interpreters who partner with the City of Hampton to throw the annual Blackbeard Pirate Festival.

A two-day exploration of eyepatches, peg legs and cannon fire from tall ships,  this festival invades Hampton's downtown waterfront this weekend every June, projecting visitors back in time to the early 18th century when Virginia was awash in thieving buccaneers.

My article on Blackbeard's Crew, the Blackbeard festival, and the early days of piracy in Hampton Roads, is online at the Coastal Virginia Magazine website. You'll lose your head over it.

Sail here and steal it.    

And find out more about the festival right here.

(Photo: Hampton History Museum)