The Hampton Roads Show

O’Connoroo 2015

May 28th, 2015 at 11:23 am by under THRS Live Music

One of the best things to happen in Norfolk in the last decade was the creation of O’Connor Brewing Company.  Craft brewers were on the rise around the country and we just had two within a 60 mile radius.  Kevin O’Connor had a vision and a plan of producing fine ales in the Mermaid City and on St. Patrick’s Day of 2010, the first pint of Green Can was poured at A.W. Shucks.  Fast forward five years later and you can pretty much find an O’Connor brew in every restaurant and grocery store in the 757.  This weekend celebrates the 1st anniversary in their new building off of 24th Street with O’Connoroo 2015.  After an overwhelming attendance last year – this year’s event has been expanded to two days.  Double the beer, double the food, double the fun and, of course, double the music.

Since this is a music blog, I guess I should talk about the music.  A lot of great bands and Live Music Friday alums will be entertaining the crowds on their great inside stage and a stage outside.  Richmond’s Murphy’s Kids kick things off outside at 12:30 Saturday with funky jazz band Sharkophagus to follow.  Also playing are Live Music Friday’s DJP and MrT, Mike Lawson and Mimsy along with The Vir, The Framers and Kelsie McNair.  A plethora of great food trucks will keep your bellies full and lots of family entertainment.   Everything kicks off Saturday at 12p and goes until 9p and Sunday 12p – 6p.  Get out there and support your local brewery and local music.


12:30 : Murphy’s Kids
2:00 : Sharkophagus – Outside
3:00 : Mike Lawson – Inside
4:00 : DJP and MrT – Outside
5:00 : Kelsie McNair – Inside
6:30 : Mimsy – Outside


12:30: Kelsie McNair – Inside
2:30 : The Framers – Outside
4:30 : The Vir – Outside



Cinco de Mayo with X Ambassadors

May 5th, 2015 at 11:33 am by under THRS Live Music

It’s Cinco de Mayo! The day in which we Americans celebrate the victory Mexico put upon the mighty French in the Battle Of Puebla.  If you’re looking for a place to celebrate, head up to City Center at Oyster Point in Newport News and enjoy the great sounds of one of the best up and coming bands, X Ambassadors.  Hampton Roads is kind of a second home to the New York-based band as they have been immensely popular here ever since 96X played their first single, Litost, 3 years ago.  Originally just Ambassadors, they were signed by Interscope Records after Imagine Dragons heard an acoustic version of their tune, Unconsolable, on the radio.  They are touring in support of their upcoming debut full-length album, VHS, featuring the single Renegades.  

Tonight’s show at City Center is brought to you by our good friends at 96X and is absolutely FREE!  It kicks off at 5p with Robin Domingo’s Mariachi Band and the always fun AudioStrobeLight!  X Ambassadors will hit the stage at 8:15p.  Get there early, grab a good spot and a couple of cervezas and enjoy a great night of music.

Checkout the clip below of when the band stopped by our studios for a little acoustic performance.

Veer Magazine Local Music Awards Preview

February 10th, 2015 at 11:20 am by under THRS Live Music

microphoneOur localized version of the Grammys take place this week in Norfolk.  The 4th Veer Magazine Local Music Awards will be held Wednesday night at the historic Attucks Theater with a musical theme of Black Music In America.  Our good friends, The Fuzz Band will serve as the house band with a variety of singers and musicians joining them throughout the night.  Among the guests performers are Anthony Rosano , Major and The Monbacks and Myra Smith.

Awards will be handed out in categories ranging from Album Of The Year to Best Musical Retailer and this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award will go to Lenis Green, one of the biggest contributors to the Norfolk Sound.  Bruce Gray of the Bartones will perform Lenis’ hit “Working For My Baby” with The Fuzz Band.  The winners will be determined from 50% of the online votes from the public and 50% of votes from a panel of judges.  Tickets are available for $10 at Belmont House of Smoke, Colley Cantina, Cogans and Cogans North.  Doors open at 6p and the show starts at 7p. Official after parties will be held Belmont House of Smoke, Colley Cantina, Cogans and Cogans North immediately following the awards show.


Monday Musical Happenings

February 9th, 2015 at 8:59 am by under THRS Live Music

microphoneGood morning Monday! It’s the start of a new week and if you’re any thing like me, you’re probably on your 3rd or 5th cup of coffee.  So let’s get that caffeinated brain rolling with a little local music news.

The 57th Grammy Awards were held in LA last night and our hometown star, Pharrell Williams, took home three golden victrolas for Best Pop Solo Performance, Best Urban Contemporary Album and Best Music Video.  Former Norfolk police officer turned record producer Mark Carman was nominated for his work on T. Graham Brown’s Forever Change in the Best Roots Gospel Album category but lost to Mike Farris’ Shine for All The People.  

Our localized version of the Grammy Awards take place this week in Norfolk.  The 4th Veer Magazine Local Music Awards will be held Wednesday night at the historic Attucks Theater.  Awards will be handed out in categories ranging from Album Of The Year to Best Musical Retailer.  The winners will be determined from 50% of the online votes from the public and 50% of votes from a panel of judges.  Tickets are available for $10 at Belmont House of Smoke, Colley Cantina, Cogans and Cogans North.  Doors open at 6p and the show starts at 7p. Official after parties will be held Belmont House of Smoke, Colley Cantina, Cogans and Cogans North immediately following the awards show.


Fire and Steel

February 4th, 2015 at 11:41 am by under THRS Live Music

microphoneSeth Stainback and Roosterfoot have just released a video for the song, Fire and Steel, off their fantastic record of the same name.  The video was recorded during the recording of the album at Dockside Studios in Maurice, LA and at their release show this summer at the NorVa.  The album was released in July and produced by the great Anders Osborne and is nominated for Album Of The Year in the Veer Magazine Local Music Awards.

You can Seth and the band perform this Saturday at Calypso in Virginia Beach.

New Year, New Music

January 13th, 2015 at 11:48 am by under THRS Live Music

microphoneHow does the old saying go; “Out with the old and in with the new”.  Well, we’re at Day 13 of 2015 and brand new music is already emerging with a lot more on the way.  So let’s get started with a few of my favorites.vir

Following the breakup of Pawn Shop Lifters last summer, bassist Jeff Pierce wasted no time in starting a new venture.  The Vir is a new Americana, coffee shop-style band that features Pierce on bass, Mike Lawson on vocals and guitar and William Swafford on drums.  They self-recorded their debut EP which was mastered by local engineer Matt Katherman and will release the 3 song collection TODAY at Noon on iTunes.  Click this link to get it.  Trust me, you’ll want to add it to your collection.

Mae just comdemonspleted a small run of shows celebrating the 10th Anniversary of their album, “The Everglow”.  They are taking a little break before heading off to Australia and then on to a full US tour and in the meantime, two members are working on their new projects.  Guitarist Zach Gehring has been working on Demons for the last year and it is in the middle of being pressed for vinyl.  His Indigogo supporters get first dibs and the snippets I’ve heard on the Demons Instagram have been a great little tease of what’s to come.mygod

Keyboardist Rob Sweitzer has been busy as well with his new project, My God It’s Full Of Stars.  Rob spent a few weeks in Nashville at Dave Elkins studio tracking drums, keys and guitars.  Dave is producing this EP titled, M29.  Rob is currently tracking strings and will start mixing soon.  This is going to be good….really good.

The 2015 Veer Magazine Local Music Awards nomination have been released and open for voting.  The Hampton Roads Show has been honored once again for Best Media Program (Promoting Local Music) and the album I produced for the band, Revery, is nominated for Album Of The Year.  A lot of fantastic artists have been selected and many our Live Music Friday members have been graced with nominations.  Click this link to vote.  The awards will be held at the historic Attucks Theater Wednesday, February 11.

Exodus: Gods and Kings a bold attempt by Ridley Scott

December 15th, 2014 at 12:18 pm by under THRS Movie Reviews

CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for Exodus: Gods and Kings

Director Ridley Scott is back with the story of Moses in a sweeping epic of a movie.  Exodus: Gods and Kings begins post basket-in-the-Nile with Moses (Christian Bale) and Ramses (Joel Edgerton) as grown men treated nearly as brothers by the Pharoah Seti (John Turturro).

Seti clearly recognizes that Moses is a better person, family member, and leader than even his own actual son could be.  We see him long to leave their kingdom to Moses, but blood lines won’t allow it, since he isn’t actually his son — even though he was raised as such… The story, of course, is that Moses was the son of a general left to be raised by him.

After Seti dies and Ramses gains power — using it for greed and nothing more, Moses learns the truth about his liniage from Nun (Ben Kingsly) a Hebrew slave.  He doesn’t believe it, and so he hides from what he has learned — that the person he knew as Miriam (Tara Fitzgerald) — a servant — is actually his sister who brought him to Seti as a babe.

Meanwhile Ramses gets wind of this wild tale — and endeavors to get to the truth about the man who had saved his life and won his father’s trust more than he ever could have.   The result is Moses being exiled and nearly killed before finding his way, talking with God (Malak – a vision appearing as a child to Moses), and learning his path.  The film follows Moses to his end days, including the amazing re-imagined scene of the parting of waters at the Red Sea and the show down among once-brothers on it’s barren sea floor.

Christian Bale as Moses is sometimes captivating and some times mysterious.  He falters with accents here and there but maintains the spirit, wonder and conflict of Moses throughout the film.  The quiet scenes with his wife (also named Miriam played by Indira Varma) are touching and tender and — played so well by Bale — really allow us to see into Moses.

Joel Edgerton as Ramses is effective in scenes with Bale but again, the accents are distracting.  There are so many accents coming in and out – even within the characters themselves.

Exodus: Gods and Kings recalls Ridley Scott’s Oscar-winning Gladiator but fails to live up to it’s build and finish.  The screen play is wobbly and the film has fits and starts.  But the grandeur of some of the scenes and Bale’s portrayal of the conflict of Moses makes it worth seeing for me.

Rated PG-13 for violence including battle sequences and intense images. 

Did you see the movie? What did you think? What movie should I review next week?
Tweet me @HRShowEPSteph and let’s talk movies!


Horrible Bosses 2 not horrible

December 1st, 2014 at 5:38 pm by under THRS Movie Reviews

CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for Horrible Bosses 2.

It has been three years since Horrible Bosses prompted laughs at the box office.  Now Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis are back in Horrible Bosses 2.

The sequel picks up with Nick, Dale, and Kurt ready to launch their own business with a product they think is going to rocket them to success. Of course none of the three of them have any idea how to mass produce their product let alone run a business.
What should they do?

They turn to their ex boss (Oscar-WInner Kevin Spacey) now in prison.  They pay him a visit looking for advice before pursuing a partnership with a wealthy investor (Ocscar-winner Christoph Waltz).  He takes advantage of them in a big way. His son (Chris Pine) is quite disenfranchised with his father and wants to get back at him. So he devises a plan involving the trio – of course, without their knowledge.  But the trio have a plan of their own.  Let the hilarity ensue.

Bateman, Sudeikis, and Day have these characters so locked down, it’s impossible to tell where they stop and the acting begins.  Pine is great in this funny role — not surprising for me though, because I found his Captain Kirk funny as well in Star Trek:Into Darkness. Spacey’s screen time is short but awesome as he always is (forgetting KPax)…  And Christoph Waltz, while dastardly, is so much better than this role.

Jennifer Aniston is back in the sex addicted role she played in the first film.  Her acting here is just as awkward as it was in the first.  Also back as (ahem) “Mr.” Jones is Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx — the character still hilarious in his interactions with the guys.  And he is involved in a self-serving pivotal twist that is also quite funny!

Of course some of the dialogue is trite, the jokes tired and juvenile, and the situations familiar, but that does not take away from the fact there are some plain old hilarious moments in this film.
If you liked the first horrible bosses you will love the second one.  I found the second one funnier than the first.  It’s not great, but it’s not horrible.

Rated R for strong crude sexual content and language throughout.


The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is beginning of the end

December 1st, 2014 at 5:32 pm by under THRS Movie Reviews

CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 1.

The film series based on the best-selling The Hunger Games book Trilogy by Suzanne Collins hit the box office this weekend with the third film… It’s the third book – Mockingjay – split into two parts.  This is the first.  Mockingjay-Part 1, is just that… the first part of the end.  For watchers of the last film, you’ll remember as Catching Fire ended… Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) had just taken her arrow to the electronic field surrounding the games and been rescued.

Mockingjay-Part 1 picks up with the Katniss waking up to find herself being held underground by the rebellion… her District destroyed and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) nowhere to be found.

As she mourns the loss of Peeta — she listens to the friends she trusts and President Coin (Julianne Moore), she begins to understand that she needs to be the voice of the rebellion — the Mockingjay.

But it’s not until she learns the truth about Peeta, that she knows what she has to do.  With Peeta alive and being held by the Capitol, Katniss summons the courage to fight again.  To fight the Capitol, to fight to rescue Peeta and the other tributes, and in the process, fight for those that believe in her ability to bring about democracy.

The acting is fine — though it did remind me that Jennifer Lawrence is much better than this role.   The set design is dark and bleak as is the tone of the film.  None of the ostentatiousness of the previous two here. And there are few of the action scenes that movie-goers have come to love in the film series.  No actual Hunger Games in this one.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 1 is directed by Francis Lawrence from a screenplay by Danny Strong and Peter Craig. In Mockingjay-Part 1, the plot is truly the set up.  … certainly not a stand-alone film.

It had to be a business decision to break this third book into two parts.  I crave a beginning, a middle and an end in all films.  Otherwise I feel no closure walking out of the film.  there is no end.

With 65 million copies of the book series in print in the U.S. alone it has a built in audience that will just love it.  I, on the other hand, really didn’t.  Love it.


Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images and thematic material. 

Beyond the Lights: Beyond expectations

December 1st, 2014 at 5:26 pm by under THRS Movie Reviews

CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for Beyond the Lights.

Beyond the Lights may have been a distant fourth at the box office this weekend (earning just 6.5 million compared to Interstellar at number three with 29 million.

Beyond the Lights stars Gugu Mbatha Raw as Noni, a breakout superstar the likes of Rihanna but with self-esteem issues galore as the movie begins.

Noni’s album is about to drop and after a huge performance at an awards show we find her perched on the edge of her hotel room balcony ready to jump. That’s when the cop assigned to stand guard outside, Kaz Nicol (played by Nate Parker) comes to her rescue.

In “The Bodyguard” style, only here the cop is saving the star from herself, the love story is set in motion. As love stories always do, there are some hurdles to overcome, and the plot in beyond the lights is no different.

Kaz’s father (Danny Glover) is the driving force behind Kaz’s political aspirations. He only sees bad things to come of the relationship between Kaz and Noni.

Nonies mother (Minnie Driver) is the classic stage mom and driving force behind Noni’s stardom. She wants Noni to have nothing to do with Kaz.  And she is pushing her daughter to places neither of them want to go.

Writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love and Basketball) is on her game developing the characters of Kaz and Noni.
The characters are complex and vulnerable amid the cheesy romance.  But it is worth noting that Prince-Bythewood has her finger on the pulse of what the music industry does to objectify women.

Noni finally finds herself and fights her mother and the record company to put her clothes on and sing the songs she feels she is supposed to be singing.

The acting is what pulls it all together for me. Parker is perfect in this role.  We know him from The Great Debaters and more recently Red Tails.  I hope we see more of him on the big screen.  I first heard of Gugu Mbatha Raw earlier this year in Belle – which was well-received. With this emotional performance and her stunning appearance she is definitely making noise in Hollywood.  She looks and vibes the part  of a superstar — beyond the lights.

The film is two hours of romance and cheese with some acting performances worth taking a look at!
Beyond the Lights was beyond my expectations.


Rated PG-13 for sexual content including suggestive gestures, partial nudity, language and thematic elements.