For his full-length documentary debut, Aleksandr M. Vinogradov set out to capture the makings and inner-workings of Anima Ardens, an all-nude, all-male dance piece by avant-garde Belgian choreographer Thierry Smits. Vinogradov opts to show everything leading up to but not including the actual finished performance and the result is a stunning and original 90-minute film exploring concepts of masculinity, from male sexuality to male bonding, power, and voyeurism in a way that is far more artful and evocative than sexual and erotic. Bare is as pleasing to the eye as it is provocative to the mind.
DOC NYC, billed as America’s largest documentary film festival, offers a virtual screening of Bare as part of this year’s 11th edition, which begins Wednesday, Nov. 11, and runs to Nov. 19. Other titles of LGBTQ interest among over 200 films and events include Can You Bring It: Bill T. Jones and D-Man in the Waters, a chronicle of the love story between dancers Jones and Arnie Zane; No Ordinary Man, a look at the life and legacy of trans masculine icon Billy Tipton, an American jazz musician; Things We Dare Not Do and its portrait of a brave trans youth in a remote Mexican coastal village; Unapologetic and its focus on two millennial Black female activsts in Chicago; Origin of the Species, which introduces a Black lesbian robot named BINA48 as part of an A.I. examination; and Wojnarowicz, an elegy to the late rebellious queer artist.
Tickets for a 48-hour stream are $12 per film, or $199 for a DOC NYC All Access Film Pass. Visit www.docnyc.net.
Signature Vinyl: Mark G. Meadows and Nova Y. Payton. Photo by Bonnie Feld.
Signature Vinyl: Cinematic Concert
In lieu of in-person cabaret performances in its ARK Theatre, Signature Theatre offers a new cinematic concert featuring 26 local singers and musicians filmed safely at outdoor locations in and around D.C. A tribute to the golden age of the turntable conceived and directed by Matthew Gardiner, Signature Vinyl is a showcase of contemporary stars from the Shirlington show palace, covering some of pop music’s most celebrated singer-songwriters and musical acts. The cast includes Nova Y. Payton, Natascia Diaz, Tracy Lynn Olivera, Jade Jones, Kevin McAllister, Maria Rizzo, Solomon Parker III, Awa Sal Secka, Rachel Zampelli, Rayshun Lamarr, Inès Nassara, Robbie Schaefer, Christian Douglas, Shayna Blass, Crystal Mosser, Katie Mariko Murray, and Kanysha Williams, accompanied by the six-piece band Mark G. Meadows and the Movement. Songs include “September,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” “Signed Sealed Delivered (I’m Yours),” and “Up On The Roof.”
“We are so proud to be back producing music again with our favorite artists,” says Maggie Boland, the company’s managing director. “We are also incredibly grateful for the tremendous support from Signature’s community during this closure that has allowed us to pivot into film while maintaining the excellent artistic quality our audiences have known. Signature Vinyl is only the first of the many exciting projects that we will be announcing in the upcoming months and we look forward to sharing the rest soon.”
Now available for streaming with suggested donation of $25 or more. Visit www.sigtheatre.org.
My Protest: Jared Lee In Recital
Bass-baritone Jared Lee has teamed with pianist Scott Patterson for a program celebrating Black artists in classical music. Presented by the IN Series, the recital includes compositions by Margaret Bonds, Leslie Adams, Robert Owens, and Keith Cosby Brown, with poetry by Langston Hughes, plus a world-premiere piano sonata from Patterson billed as “a profoundly moving eight-minute, 46-second musical-video commemoration of Black lives loves to police violence.”
“Starting out in classical music, I thought my concerts, recitals, operas would be filled with lieder, catchy tunes from the American Songbook, and Mozart, but I realized I wasn’t completely fulfilled with myself and the content I had the privilege to perform,” Lee says in an official statement. Taking a page from Nina Simone, Lee decided to “reflect the times” by “showing folks how I am dealing with my present world, and the injustices and consistent effects of systemic racism, white privilege, and what that means for me as a Black artist in classical music.” Lee enlisted assistance from additional Black creatives including Tom Minter of Afro House Baltimore and Terri Allen of the Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts. “I hope this concert with IN Series inspires others to continue the work in dismantling white supremacy in and out of classical music,” he says.
Lee’s recital, which debuted on Sunday, Nov. 1, is the second installment of a new monthly series of intimate artist-curated recitals dubbed “INvision IN Recital.” The series launched in October with mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Mondragon accompanied by IN Series founder Carla Hübner and continues with recitals from Natalie Conte and Byron Jones, Dr. Carl DuPont, Teresa Ferrara, Melissa Wimbish, Kristin Young, and Candace Potts. The series is available to paying IN Series subscribers through the local organization’s recently launched digital platform INVISION: The Logan Opera House Without Walls,” touted as “a first-of-its-kind multi-venue virtual performing arts center” offering innovative works of opera theater. Annual Premium membership is $99 and grants access to all IN Series concerts and recordings as well as invitations to in-person live events when those become feasible again. Visit invision.inseries.org.
Emmylou Harris & Friends
Twelve-time Grammy-winner Emmylou Harris offers three livestreams benefiting “Bonaparte’s Retreat,” a dog rescue organization in Nashville. Presented by the City Winery chain of concert venues, including the multi-story complex in D.C.’s Ivy City neighborhood, the “Woofstock at the Wine Garden” series will stream from Nashville’s Music City Wine Garden through the company’s exclusive CWTV series. The first two concerts feature Harris supported by her longtime backing band The Red Dirt Boys — a lineup that generally includes Phil Madeira on accordion, guitar, and keyboards, Colin Linden on guitar and banjo, Rickie Simpkins on mandolin and fiddle, Chris Donohue on bass, and Bryan Owings on drums — on Sunday, Nov. 9, and Monday, Nov. 10, at 8 p.m. It’s followed by a concert with Harris and fellow Country Music Hall of Famer Marty Stuart on Monday, Nov. 16, at 8 p.m. A link to each livestream costs $15.
Powered by Mandolin, a livestream platform offering “industry-leading concert-quality audio” and full HD video, other notable CWTV concerts this month include Julian Lage and Margaret Glaspy on Nov. 11, Martha Wainwright on Nov. 13, Chanté Moore Live from City Winery Atlanta on Nov. 14, and Lucinda Williams in two “Lu’s Jukebox: In Studio Concerts” on Nov. 12 and Nov. 19. Visit www.citywinery.com/washingtondc.
The Birchmere – Tab Benoit
November at the Birchmere
From online concerts powered by Zoom to shows at drive-in theaters and beyond, many performers and performing arts presenters have been experimenting with safe and socially distant ways to connect with audiences during the pandemic — chiefly because the primary and preferred method of live, in-person, and indoor performances is still not an option for most venues and in most locales and jurisdictions. One local exception is the Birchmere, the legendary Alexandria concert hall, which reopened for live concerts back in July. In addition to limiting the number of concerts, the Birchmere has limited the number of attendees per concert as well as instituted social distancing requirements and enhanced cleaning procedures including the use of “Biocide 100 Fog,” a 30-day treatment reportedly effective against COVID-19.
November promises to be a busy month at the venue, with shows most nights every weekend and packed with cover bands and comedians. For example, this weekend offers KASHMIR, “the Live Led Zeppelin Show,” on Friday, Nov. 6, and Romeo Delight, “The Ultimate Van Halen Tribute Band” performing in honor of recently departed Eddie Van Halen on Sunday, Nov. 8, while next weekend brings two nights of stand-up from the hilarious and insightful Paula Poundstone (Nov. 13 and 14).
Other notable shows include two nights of Tab Benoit (Nov. 18 and 19), Bobby Thompson & Friends’ “50th Birthday Celebration” (Nov. 20), the “Al Green Tribute Experience: Love & Happiness” featuring Jerome Mackall with The Unit Band & the NWO Horns (Nov. 22), D.C.’s all-female band Bela Dona (Nov. 25), the annual Black Friday double-bill of bluegrass veterans the Seldom Scene & Dry Branch Fire Squad (Nov. 27), and country music artist Charles “Chip” Esten, better known as Deacon Claybourne from CMT’s Nashville (Nov. 28). Doors open at 5 p.m. with the availability of food and beverages. All shows start at 7:30 p.m.
The Birchmere is at 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. Ticket prices vary. Call 703-549-7500 or visit www.birchmere.com.
Last winter, before the pandemic and the protests for greater racial equity and justice, the National Philharmonic had initiated plans to diversify its classical music offerings, partly as a result of a major overhaul that effectively resuscitated the organization. “Classical music, as a genre, basically relies on music written in history…by white men,” Piotr Gajewski, the Philharmonic’s music director and conductor, told Metro Weekly in February. Acknowledging that “the concert world has been maybe a little bit slow to adapt,” he added that the National Philharmonic is “looking to change all that…. We’ll be mainstreaming works of women, African-Americans, Latino-Americans. We’re looking forward to really just kind of becoming more of a mirror of our community in that way.”
Later this month comes a perfect case in point, with the “All American Composers” program featuring works by the young composer and violinist Jessie Montgomery, long affiliated with the Black-focused Sphinx Organization, the heralded “Dean of Afro-American Composers” William Grant Still, and the 1999 Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Melinda Wagner. Gajewski will conduct principal flutist David Whiteside and an orchestra culled to 34 musicians, who will perform wearing masks in a socially distanced way in the Music Center at Strathmore. The concert will be livestreamed on Sunday, Nov. 22, as part of a season of free, digitally broadcast concerts programmed every other Sunday at 2 p.m., all interspersed with talks contextualizing the music.
The 2020/21 Chamber Series kicks off this Sunday, Nov. 8, with a “Music That Suspends Time” program led by the organization’s newly appointed Concertmaster Laura Colgate, who will perform as part of a string quartet accompanied by pianist Elizabeth Hill. This one-hour concert, livestreamed from the AMP by Strathmore, “promises to take viewers to a place where troubles and challenges fall away to open up space for good ideas to present themselves.” Works by Hildegard von Bingen, Joseph Bologne, Johann Sebastian Bach, Tomaso Albinoni, Arvo Pärt, Judith Lang Zaimont, and Astor Piazzolla are featured. Visit www.NationalPhilharmonic.org.
Christopher Chambers with Louis Bayard
With his newest work Scavenger: A Mystery, novelist Christopher Chambers (A Prayer for Deliverance, Sympathy for the Devil) offers a 21st-century thriller underscored by race, homelessness, and hustling — as set in the lively D.C. underbelly. The focus is on Dickie Cornish, a Black survivor living in a homeless camp near the Museum of Natural History who is facing life in prison for a crime he did not commit. Cornish is given a chance at a new life after crossing paths with a wealthy former director of the Department of Homeland Security — if only he can become an underground sleuth and uncover a prize that the ex-government official will stop at nothing to acquire.
A professor and regular commentator on media and culture issues on SiriusXM Radio and ABC News, Chambers will discuss Scavenger with Louis Bayard, the George Washington University instructor and acclaimed author of historical fiction (Courting Mr. Lincoln). Chambers and Bayard will be in conversation at a virtual event on Thursday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. presented by East City Bookshop and Three Rooms Press. Tickets are free, or $19.96 (plus fees) for admission as well as a copy of Scavenger; registration is required via Eventbrite.
East City Bookshop is at 645 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Call 202-290-1636 or visit www.eastcitybookshop.com.