Home Arts-Entertainment Things to do SCENE & HERD – JAN. 19, 2000

SCENE & HERD – JAN. 19, 2000


A World alternative to Sinbad? About this time last year, St. Thomas was starting to buzz with rumors that Sinbad might, just might, be considering bringing his 5th annual Soul Music Festival here over the Memorial Day weekend. At the moment, anyone who knows anything about whether he's re-eyeing the island for Soul Fest No. 6 is keeping mighty quiet. And there never has been a public accounting of how profitable the 1999 event was from either the local business or government perspective.
Enter Steve Bornn, who thinks we all need something out of the usual to do on Memorial Day. Head on out to Magens Bay for World Jam, he says — "We haven't heard of anyone else coming in that weekend."
Bornn, a publicist before he became an impresario, teamed up with Bill Grogan two years ago, after Barnacle Bill's bit the dust, to form a not-for-profit entity they called CEAP and pronounced "keep." The initials stand for Cause Effective Arts Program, and their idea was to produce performance events as a means of raising funds for other not-for-profit organizations. Its big splash was the Magens Beach Jam last Martin Luther King Day with daylong live music including performances by Tito Puente and his band and Zydeco Express out of New Orleans. It turned out not to be a money maker, but it generated lots of goodwill and public awareness of the arboretum by the beach. Later in the year, CEAP brought in the Danish Polcalypso Orchestra for a series of mostly free performances around the islands.
World Jam is still very much in the planning stages, Bornn admits. He's not ready to name any names and is actively appealing for more corporate sponsors. But, hey, that's more than impresario Mark Adkins, publicist Donna Adkins and their big brother Sinbad are doing. Far as we know.
Shades of ebony and ivories: Pianist Awadagin Pratt, who has recital dates at Tillett Gardens Wednesday, Jan. 26, and at Nazareth Lutheran Church on St. John the night after that, is the epitome of the introspective, intellectual classical musician. At the age of 26, he won the most prestigious piano competition around, the Naumberg, which is considered more of an indicator of professional promise these days than the venerable Van Clyburn playoffs. He's been hailed by top music critics of the world for his sensitivity as well as his strength, his careful research as well as his unique interpretations.
His parents didn't ask him if he wanted to study piano as a child; they told him. They made him take violin and tennis lessons, too, and he turned out to be better than good at all three. He grew up listening almost exclusively to classical music at home and says that's still 80 percent of what he tunes in to today. His heroes include Glenn Gould, Leonard Bernstein and Bishop Desmond Tutu. And he's been quoted in interviews as saying he finds popular music "boring."
A role model any mother would love her son to emulate.
However, the sons may already be ahead of them.
Today, at 33, for better or for worse, the imposing Pratt is still known as much for his flowing locks, informal fashions and custom-built low piano stool — years after he added them to his repertoire — as he is for his music. Turns out he's a real person in other respects, too. He notes matter-of-factly in an interview on his web page (www.awadagin.com) that he often practices the piano at home with the radio and/or the television going at the same time. And he confessed to Piano & Keyboard magazine last year that about a week and a half before the Naumberg competition began he was having allergy problems as well as practicing problems and said to heck with it and went out drinking with friends. Upshot: "When I got up the next morning, my nose was clear, and the music was there."
If the kids want to go hear him, though, it's okay. It will be a lot like listening to Mozart or Glenn Gould in their time — nobody can accuse them of being conformists, but their credentials are tough to top.
Tickets for the Jan. 26 performance at Tillett Gardens are $25, with optional dinner available for $30 more. Call 775-1929 or e-mail to [email protected] for reservations. Tickets for the Jan. 27 recital at Nazareth Church are $15 for students $25 for others. Call 779-4322 or 776- 6777 for reservations. And take that part about reservations seriously.
Read any good books lately? If one of them happens to have been Tom Wolfe's "A Man in Full," you are in luck! That's the tome that will be the topic of discussion at this month's meeting of the St. Thomas Book Club, on Friday, Jan. 27, at the Frenchtown Deli cafe.
Wolfe's irreverently insightful 1998 novel, his first since "The Bonfires of the Vanities" 11 years earlier, is a return to his Southern roots, focusing on a former Georgia football star who's become a middle-aged conglomerate king with a young and demanding second wife and a staggering load of debt. Sub-plots involve a young father laid off from one of the magnate's companies and a present-day black football hero accused of date-raping the daughter of a pillar of the Atlanta white establishment. "Networks of illegal Asian immigrants crisscrossing the continent, daily life behind bars, shady real estate syndicates, the cast-off first wives of the corporate elite" and other Wolfe originals also populate the work.
Actually, you needn't have read all — or any — of the 744-page (hardcover) bestselling novel to join in the discussion or just listen. The club meets on the last Thursday of each month at the cafe, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., and the public is always welcome. You can buy a cup of coffee or deli fare, or not, as you choose. There's always an opportunity for trading or borrowing others' recently read books, too. To learn more, call Diane Moody at 777-6244 or e-mail to her at [email protected].
A jam for all tastes: Even though New Year's is a bit old, coming up Saturday at the Reichhold Center for the Arts is not one but two shows being collectively called a "Turn of the Century Jam." And a most tasteful jam it is being touted to be.
Top music of the Caribbean by top bands of the Caribbean is the emphasis, with three of the latter on tap: St. Thomas' own Jam Band, St. Croix's China Dan and Square One out of Barbados. There are shows at 6:30 ("if you're an early bird") and 11 ("if you can party all night") p.m. Clearly aiming for a crossover audience, ads are emphasizing the Reichhold as "a place to party" with "an atmosphere that's safe." Tickets are $25 for the whole house, both shows, open seating.
Budweiser and Knight Quality Stations are the sponsors, and the spots running on KQS flagship station WVWI are clearly targeting the non-traditional band jam attendee. Things like "I lose my balance on a barge," and "If you are curious why the awesome Jam Band is awesome, what Square One mean when they say Faloma ding, ding, ding, or why China Dan makes you scream. . ." Assuming the usual awesome army of Jam Band devotees will also be there (well, for the second show, anyhow), this may be quite a night to remember.
Tickets outlets are the Reichhold box office, Nisky Pharmacy, International Records & Tapes, and Rave and Footlocker in Tutu Park Mall.
Play at Cinnamon Bay: Carabana Ensemble Theater Company's production of artistic director Clarence Cuthbertson's play "Tituba: A Slave Story," will be presented each Thursday night, Jan. 27 through April 27, at the Cinnamon Bay amphitheater in the V.I. National Park on St. John.
The one-woman "monodrama with music" is a portrayal by Carabana co-founder Carla Sewer of a historical figure, Tituba, an Afro-Caribbean woman whose seemingly supernatural powers triggered the infamous Salem witch hunts in New England in the 17th Century. Cuthbertson also directs the drama. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. and
last about 50 minutes, with discussion held afterward. Admission is free and open to the public.
Playing at "Cinema Sunday": This weekend's Sunday movie at the Reichhold Center is a 1998 French film written and directed by Francis Veber, who co-wrote the screenplay for La Cage aux Folles. The picture is titled The Dinner Game in English, a polite translation of the French Le Diner de cons, which one New York reviewer translated as "The Schmuck's Dinner." The premise of the film is politically appalling — that a group of bored upper-class elitists get together at one another's homes regularly for dinner, taking turns inviting a guest who is unaware that he or she is a candidate for dim bulb of the decade.
Happily, the film does not subject the viewer to any such atrocity, because the hotshot whose turn it is to lead the lamb to slaughter throws his back out and has to cancel. His guest arrives as scheduled, and, flattered at having been invited even if the dinner is off, proceeds to settle in and "help" his hapless host. What ensues is, by all accounts, quintessential French farce — wry, slapstick humor that knows no bounds and nothing of subtlety.
The film proved to be a huge hit at home, ranking as the second-biggest box-office draw in France last year (after "Titanic"). In America, where Dreamworks has already signed on to produce a remake, it's an "art house" attraction. It's in French with English subtitles. Showtime Sunday is 7:30 p.m. Gates open at 7. Admission is $5.
Green cookbook food for thought: The reference is not to St. Patrick's Day, which is still the better part of two months away. What we're talking about here is the annual "Afternoon on the Green" food fest at the University of the Virgin Islands, which is a mere three and a half weeks off, even though it's traditionally been held in August.
A decision was made last summer to relocate the event to the winter part of the calendar, and it's scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 13. You can wait awhile to decide whether to attend — or even whether to contribute a favorite dish or local beverage. But you're fast running out of time if you want to do the latter and also get your contribution documented in the annual cookbook of Green recipes. The cookbook is sold at the event, and it has to be produced and printed first, so while the deadline has yet to be announced, it's not far off.
"Afternoon on the Green" emphasizes ethnic cuisine — and the more ethnicities represented, the better! For a "per taste" fee, attendees make their way along table after table of soups, entrees, vegetable dishes, breads, desserts and other taste treats from all corners of the world. And that's before you even get to the drinks. So if you have a time-tested family favorite recipe, consider sharing it with the rest of the world community of St. Thomas, while getting into print in the process. To find out more, call UVI special events coordinator Dion Carty at 693- 1053.
After 40 years, a Cuban opening: On Feb. 18, when the Charlie Musselwhite Blues Band will be playing a nightclub date in Tillett Gardens, the Tillett Gallery will preview an art exhibition that should attract a lot of attention. It's a showing of original works by five contemporary artists who still live and work in Cuba. Now, if this were Miami, you know what would happen. Of course, it's not. After the preview, there will be an evening opening reception on Feb. 19 and a tea time reception on Sunday the 20th. The show is a joint presentation of Arts Alive and the Society for Latin American Art and Culture.
Hispanic art dealer Gloria Frank, of New York and St. Croix, brought the artwork out of Cuba with U.S. Treasury permission and will be at the receptions to discuss the artists and their work.
A festival of film and video: The Reichhold Center has released a tentative schedule for its Virgin Islands Film and Video Festival set for Feb. 6-12. The offerings, from or about themes of Africa, the Americas and the Caribbean, are intended to "foster better understanding among different peoples and cultures," according to Reichhold staff member Pamela Toussaint.
There'll be a premier screening of a film version of Oliver Samuel's "Oliver & Pinocchio" for openers. The rest of the week will featuring viewings of the film documentaries "Speaking in Strings" and "Soul in the Hole" both by Lilibet Foster, the video features "Natural Forces" by Erik Zucker and "In Black and White" by Jon Gold, the video documentary "Ninth Street" by Rick Cowen, the short subjects "Hair Stories" by Yvette Smalls and "Street Stories" by George Cox, the works-in-progress "Bomba" by Ashley James and "Sunday Driver" by Leah DiBernardo, and the feature films "If You Only Understood" by Rolando Diaz and "Fawns" by The Still Bros.
Last-minute reminders:
* Thursday brings the first full moon of 2000 and the last total lunar eclipse until 2003. There's a party at Coral World capitalizing on these phenomena, with Kary "Starman" Williams and his powerful but portable telescope as a main attraction. He'll be set up on the upper deck of the Underwater Observatory to let guests have a look at the moon and other heavenly bodies, with color commentary on the "totality phase" from 12:05 to 1:23 a.m. There'll be moonlight music by the Starlites and Dominica's Brisbane and his Soukous Fire, with local reggae artists Phantom Cat, Steely Man and Zaba adding to the entertainment. Party time is 8 p.m. Admission's $15 at the gate.
* Rhythm 'n' blues artist Chanté ("This Moment in Time") Moore headlines a show Friday at Palms Court Harbourview that will also feature singer Gina Thompson and Def Comedy Jam/BET Star Circuit comedians Paul Deese and Rod Thompson. The local talent will be comics Allan Haynes and Sasso and St. Croix vocalists Terrance Gumbs and Sonia Rivera. Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance, $35 at the door; outlets are the hotel, both Modern Music shops, Champs, 3 G's Jewelry Repair and Winston's Barber Shop. As an alternative to taking your car up or down Solberg hill, you can park on the waterfront by Local Bodyz, where there's to be shuttle service every 15 minutes beginning at 7 p.m.
To be seen by the herd: With this installment, Scene & Herd returns to weekly Wednesday publication. It will be posted in the Source each Wednesday night with previews of arts and entertainment events open to the public on St. Thomas and St. John. To have material considered for inclusion, submit it in written form by Monday of the week preceding desired publication date. Fax to 776-4812, e-mail to [email protected], or leave a telephone message at 776-4812 for a callback.


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