Sunday, October 24, 2010

Richmond's Dark Side: Music and Books

With creepy season in full swing, there's no shortage of ways to indulge an All Hallows' Eve urge.

Tonight's was Chop Suey's Halloween celebration, "The Dark Side of Richmond" at (where else?) the site of the former Richmond Gallows, none other than G5.

The evening began with one of my favorite Halloween traditions, local band Glows in the Dark, performing music inspired by and taken from John Carpenter movies.

Yes, The Fog, The Thing and of course Halloween came to life with a lot of improvisation in between at the hands of these free jazz masters.

And as you may recall (I didn't and had to be told), Carpenter's movie music was written mainly for keyboards, necessitating a lot of work to bring it around to guitar, upright bass, sax, trombone and drums, but once gain GitD pulled it off in the eeriest possible way.

I first saw them do this music a couple of years ago at Commercial Taphouse and tonight's audience was even more into it.

Word must have gotten around about what an audio treat it was.

A seasonably-suitable reading followed, featuring two of the writers from Richmond Noir, the short story collection where each features a different Richmond neighborhood.

Nothing says Halloween season quite like death, so Tom de Haven read the "money scene" from his story based in Manchester (three-way sex and shots fired on southside) and Dennis Danvers read his tale of Texas Beach (a dead dog and a dead illegal immigrant).

Beth Brown, author of Wicked Richmond, a book about RVA's dark underbelly, read the chapter on old Richmond's boy gangs, apparently quite a force from the time of the Civil War and for some 50 years afterwards.

Rocks, slingshots and eventually pistols were the weapons of choice for boys (some as young as four!) to stake out their territory in this town.

Thumbing through Brown's book, it looks to be a catalog of the debauchery that defined our fair city's history; clearly it wasn't all moonlight and magnolias.

Billed as the spookiest reading of the season (and I know of no other Halloween readings, so it undoubtedly was), the audience of music and book lovers geeked out afterwards talking about the intricacies of the music and the macabre nature of the stories.

Before long, conversation moved on to clever costumes and upcoming parties.

And just for the record, I've never seen a John Carpenter movie.

There, I said it.

Still enjoyed the hell out of it.

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