Arts & Entertainment

Northern Virginia Art Beat

The 16th Annual Capital Jazz Festival

Friday through Sunday, June 6 – 8, at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia MD. Peformers include Average White Band, Chris Botti, Jonathan Butler, Randy Crawford and Joe Sample, Brian Culbertson and the Funk Experience, Down to the Bone, Roberta Flack, Ken Ford, Four80East, Howard Hewett, Boney James, Jazz Soul Collective, Billy Kilson and BK Groove, Ledisi, Loose Ends, Maysa, Frank McComb, Brian McKnight, Jeffrey Osborne, Plunky, Dianne Reeves, Rick Braun and Richard Elliot, Eric Roberson, Spyro Gyra, Carl Thomas, Wayman Tisdale, Kim Waters. For a complete list of performers, ticket information, directions, etc. see www.capitaljazz.com/2008/talent.asp.
 

‘The Chittlin Circuit Review; Narrative Paintings on the History of the Blues, by Rik Freeman’

Through June 14 at the Greater Reston Arts Center (12001 Market St, Suite 103 — the ground floor corner suite — Reston, Va.). Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. For further information, call 703-471-9242 or see www.restonarts.org.

Washington, D.C.-based artist Rik Freeman presents 20 of his mostly large-scale narrative paintings dealing with the history of the Blues and the African-American experience as a whole. The work spans some 14 years and represents the first portion of a planned 25 to 40 paintings.

Working in a style reminiscent of Thomas Hart Benton, Freeman paints mural-sized canvases that draw a thread back to Africa, though most often in a fairly subdued fashion. The actual depictions are somewhat over-the-top exaggerations of stereotypical characters Freeman has created. Most notably Mud Paw Willie, the traveling Blues guitarist, and Critter Gitter, the hoary, wizened voice of experience who at times howls with outrage.

As one would expect, Freeman’s technical abilities and style vary over the 14-year period when these canvases were produced. For me, the best of them retain a raw edge. The more polished works seem a tad too slick to convey the spirit of the Blues. As any fan of the Blues will tell you, it gets its visceral power from a certain raw honesty and directness. There is nothing polished about the Blues. Recalling a documentary about John Lee Hooker, a day spent in the recording studio had the sound crew hiding Hooker’s guitar to keep from losing anything. They knew that as soon as they handed the man his axe he was going to start messing around, and what he did would be lost if they weren’t ready to roll tape.

There is no ‘take two’ in the Blues, you get it, or you lose it. Hooker, and his brethren, could make you feel alive with nothing so much as a syncopated series of guttural utterances and shuffling of his feet. Slick that is not, but it’s a spirit and vibe that’s hard to find in any other musical genre. Rik Freeman does a good job of capturing the essence of it all.

An excellent documentary video about Rik Freeman, and his work, accompanies the exhibit.

This Thursday, June 5, Greater Reston Art Center hosts a Beer, Barbeque,and the Blues event titled “Art with a Twist: A Chittlin’ Circuit Juke Joint” from 7:30 – 9 p.m. Admission is $15 for members, and $20 for non-members. It is co-sponsored by Clyde’s of Reston.

Lastly, there is an Artist Family Workshop is this Saturday, June 7, from 2 – 4 p.m.

‘Doo-Wop: From the Street Corner to the Stage’

An exhibit documenting the history of early Rhythm and Blues from the 1950s and early 1960s presented by Falls Church Arts comes to Art and Frame (111 Park Ave, Falls Church). Gallery Hours: Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

This exhibit is mostly comprised of Doo-Wop group PR photographs on loan from the Atlanta Doo-Wop Association and will be up through June 30. Opening Night is First Friday, June 6, from 6 – 8 p.m.

The exhibit’s curator, Beverly Lindsay-Johnson, will talk about the history of an important genre of African American music and its contribution to American popular culture.

Tinner Hills Blues Festival

Mark your calendars for next week’s Tinner Hill Blues Festival right here in Falls Church. It all begins with a screening of the documentary film “John Jackson: A Blues Treasure” Friday, June 13, 7 p.m. at the State Theatre, followed by a performance by the Tommy Castro band.

Saturday features blues bands playing at various venues all over town from 8 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. This is all based around the main event in Cherry Hill Park from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Sunday closes off the Festival with two more bands playing at Ireland’s Four Provinces, and Bangkok Blues, both on Broad Street. For complete details about venues, times, and performers see www.tinnerhill.net.
 

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