In the depths of the Durham Arts Council building last week, the Durham Symphony Orchestra gathered to rehearse its upcoming “A Musical Tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.”
It was a weeknight, and the musicians who came were volunteers and paid professionals, some in jeans and T-shirts, others in the business casual they wore all day at an office.
Themes attached to group shows make it much easier for the visitor to be a part of the process, and trees are a perfect example. We know what a tree should look like, and we can weigh our ideas against those of the artist; there is also the chance to compare one artist’s vision with another’s. And then there are the unending numbers of ways to present a tree through the medium of art.
A benefit concert to be held this weekend for NCCU’s Jazz Studies Program will draw attention to alumni who make their living playing drums and percussion, instruments so vital to so much American music, but arguably taken for granted.
The development of WNCU FM is “full of very interesting stories,” said Donald Baker, the station’s first general manager, at a reception this week to kick off the jazz station’s 20th year on the air. Baker told a few of those stories. The call letters for WNCU came from a decommissioned U.S. Navy U-boat, he said. And the late Jesse Helms, the longtime senator, also had a hand in expediting the station’s license, Baker said.
The Triangle has always had a hip-hop scene, but Durham hasn’t reached the national level beyond Grammy-winning producer 9th Wonder and Little Brother. The Durm Hip Hop Summit is working to change that. It will be held at four locations Saturday in downtown Durham.
Three years ago, the annual summit grew out of a conversation with hip-hop artist Professor Toon’s fellow performer The Real Laww and a friend who did the booking for Casbah back when it was a music venue. They talked about the lack of large hip-hop festivals in the area, and how maybe they should be the ones to do it.
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"To Be Takei,” a documentary film about “Star Trek” actor George Takei, and “Born to Fly,” a documentary about choreographer Elizabeth Streb, are among the many films to be screened at the 2014 North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. Documentaries, feature films and short films will be screened during the 10-day festival, which begins Friday and continues through Aug. 24 at the Carolina Theatre.
“Star Trek” fans know George Takei as Mr. Sulu, the pilot of the Star Ship Enterprise (or, as Takei says in this documentary, “the greatest helmsman of the galaxy”). In Jennifer M. Kroot’s documentary, we see Takei signing pictures at Comicon events, and we hear reminiscences from his “Star Trek” colleagues. But Kroot also shows Takei discussing his work as a public servant (he has served on several committees in Los Angeles government), as an advocate for marriage equality rights and for reparations for Japanese-American interned on the West Coast in World War II. His husband, Brad Altman, is his constant companion in this film, serving as his master of detail at Comicon and other events.
Jesse James DeConto, discussing the composing process of the band The Pinkerton Raid, said he writes a melody with some chords, “and then they start complaining about it.” His siblings, Katie DeConto and Steven DeConto laugh good-naturedly at his jest.
“Usually it involves changing minor chords to major,” Jesse DeConto said. “We tell him to stop whining so much,” Katie DeConto replied. From that point, the process of writings songs is “more of a hybrid,” Jesse added.
Found objects: stuff from scrap stores, flea markets, Dumpsters, abandoned houses and yard sales have found their way into art galleries by way of both highly trained artists and those who are self-taught.
Picture it: Chapel Hill, the 1980s. Prominent on the music scene was The Pressure Boys, a high energy ska-pop band that made it big in and out of town. They broke up in 1988 and moved on, reuniting just two times in the decades since – first in 2008 for a benefit concert, and now, this weekend for a different benefit concert.
The address 300 E. Main St. in Carrboro is a familiar one to music fans from near and far. It’s the location of Cat’s Cradle, the renowned music venue. The ArtsCenter is there, too, serving as a hub for performances. And there’s Amante Gourmet Pizza for the hungry artists and concertgoers. Several bands that include members who have worked at all three businesses have come together for a benefit concert that will be performed, naturally, at Cat’s Cradle.
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Eric Monte, who has written scripts for the film “Cooley High,” and television shows “Good Times” and “The Jeffersons,” will be honored for his work at the 2nd annual Bull City Music Awards.