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    Hear the full conversation in our podcast “Beyond the Fame with Jason Fraley.” toggle audio on and off change volume download audio WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Ben Folds at Kennedy Center (Part 1) The past two years have brought virtual concerts to provide music during a pandemic. Now, acclaimed musician Ben Folds brings his aptly-titled “In Actual Person Live for Real Tour” to the Kennedy Center Concert Hall to celebrate next Monday, Nov. 15 at 8 p.m. “I’m on the lucky side of the pandemic,” Folds told WTOP. “My son got COVID and was pretty sick for a while. … I’m trying to cram in all the stuff I didn’t do over the last 18 months. … When you look out and see this audience of people who some of them have really been through it, they’re the happiest ones there. We’re for real, in actual person!” It’s a homecoming of sorts for Folds, who became the first NSO artistic advisor in 2017. “The Kennedy Center is a super special place for me because I’ve spent so much time there …...
    toggle audio on and off change volume download audio WTOP's Jason Fraley salutes 'A Boy and His Soul' (Part 1) Have you ever heard a particular song that instantly triggered a childhood memory? That’s the premise of “A Boy and His Soul” at Round House Theatre, running through May 2. “The play is ultimately about Black joys, Black families and Black music,” actor Ro Boddie told WTOP. “The line is, ‘Keep a song in your heart and you will always find your way.'” The story follows Jay, who clears out his family’s West Philadelphia house to be sold. When he finds an old record collection of disco, R&B and classic soul albums, he is transported to various memories of coming of age and coming out in the 1970s and 1980s. “This music holds cherished memories with them,” Boddie said. “This music helps conjure up pivotal moments that helped to shape him: backyard memories with his mother, lectures about music from his stepdad, playful bickering back and forth with his brother and sister, and so on. The music takes the character...
    toggle audio on and off change volume download audio WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'Loving Frederick' (Part 1) Frederick, Maryland, has a very strong case as the coolest town in the state, and this weekend, Maryland Ensemble Theatre kicks off its virtual series “Loving Frederick.” The interactive Zoom show streams at 8 p.m. Saturdays: April 17, April 24 and May 1. “We had this idea back in January,” Producing Artistic Director Tad Janes told WTOP. “Having an interactive Zoom presentation where the audience could take polls, drop stickers visually on an image, where there could be a live chat. The Q&A feature in Zoom allows people to ask questions, so if we have guests on, we can do this interactive.” “Why is Frederick cool? Why do people like it?,” Janes said. “There’s a lot of history; there’s a lot of culture; there’s really great communities; it’s very diverse; the restaurants are great — so let’s ask people what they like about Frederick.” Which special guests might we see? “We’re bringing in Sen. [Ron] Young to talk about how the Carroll...
    toggle audio on and off change volume download audio WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Hollywood speaker series (Part 1) Do you have a creative movie idea but no idea how to actually get it made? Check out “The Journey of a Hollywood Idea,” a virtual speaker series by the Chesapeake Film Festival on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. “We are trying to find really creative ways to connect with our community,” Board Member Irene Magafan told WTOP. “We’d like to engage with people throughout the year, not just in October during our festival.” The event is hosted by Liza Moore Ledford, former executive at Amblin Entertainment. “Amblin Studios is really huge with Steven Spielberg having started it and ‘E.T.’ having come out of it,” Magafan said. “She said, ‘Let’s do some sort of Hollywood event where we bring media makers together, we bring Hollywood executives, we bring newcomers, people just starting out, students [to] talk about what it takes to get your story sent up to the top.” First, she’ll...
    toggle audio on and off change volume download audio WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Erin Jackson at DC Improv (Part 1) The DC Improv is reopening for live comedy after more than a year of virtual shows. Erin Jackson will perform three straight nights on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. “I’ve basically been sidelined for a year,” Jackson told WTOP. “You get rusty really quickly. I usually work every night, then nothing! Cold turkey. I was being responsible, so the shows I was doing — if you can call them shows — were on Zoom. Not the same. It’s been a hard year to be away from something as electrifying as comedy and being on stage.” Most shows are sold out due to the 50-person maximum of COVID-19 restrictions. “You feel kind of famous during quarantine, it’s a nice feeling, because you sell out everywhere,” Jackson said. “You’re like, ‘You know what? I am a draw at 33% capacity.'” Everyone who comes Thursday will get a D.C. Improv mask and souvenir pint glass. “I’m going to talk a little bit obviously...
    toggle audio on and off change volume download audio WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Fredericksburg arts and crafts (Part 1) During a unique pandemic year, folks got creative at home making various arts and crafts. Now, they join the Fredericksburg Arts & Crafts Faire at the Fredericksburg Expo Center. “It is one of the few craft shows occurring this weekend pretty much in the entire country,” Marketing Director Dave Kerper told WTOP. “The vendors [are] coming from pretty much all over. We’re proud to have over 125 handmade craft vendors. That means you will meet the artisans and the crafters who actually have that product right in front of you in their display booth.” The event will be held Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. “You never really know exactly what you’ll see until you get there,” Kerper said. “There’s people that make their own handmade pens, there’s people that make special bags from Zimbabwe … furnishings for baby dolls, a woman that makes art out of oyster shells, we have a...
    toggle audio on and off change volume download audio WTOP's Jason Fraley salutes 25 years of 'Fargo' (Part 1) On this day, April 5, 1996, audiences first saw a pregnant cop encounter a wood chipper. Today, “Fargo” celebrates 25 years as the Coen Brothers’ masterpiece, combining the comedy of “The Big Lebowski” (1998) with the drama of “No Country for Old Men” (2007) for a genre-bending yarn about much more than “funny-looking” folks with quirky accents. The story follows Jerry Lundegaard, a bankrupt used-car salesman in Minneapolis who seeks a financial investment from his father-in-law. When he’s refused, Jerry hires two criminals in Fargo, North Dakota, to kidnap his wife for her father’s ransom money. The plan backfires and the bodies pile up as clues for pregnant detective Marge Gunderson.   You won’t find a better slimeball than William H. Macy as Jerry, fudging the numbers with a worn pencil and throwing temper tantrums with his ice scraper. His weasel chops are best on display during a concerned phone call off screen, only to realize that he’s just...
    toggle audio on and off change volume download audio WTOP's Jason Fraley salutes the NSO's 'Lullaby Hour' (Part 1) Local musicians are coming together to cheer up children battling serious illnesses. The National Symphony Orchestra is partnering with Children’s National Hospital for a special project called The Lullaby Hour every Wednesday at 7 p.m. from March to May. “The National Symphony has long had a program called Sound Health, which explores the connection between music and wellness,” NSO Executive Director Gary Ginstling said. “We thought we would invite the music community from around the D.C. area to record performances of lullabies and meditative pieces to share with Children’s National.” Volunteers are invited to submit videos of themselves singing lullabies, meditations or soothing songs for patients. Submissions must be 2-5 minutes long and appropriate for children ages 0-18 and their families. Songs can be original works or existing pieces. “We’ve put out a call and gotten over 20 submissions from musicians around the DMV,” Ginstling said. “We are getting a wide range of submissions that range from Beethoven by National Symphony...
    toggle audio on and off change volume download audio WTOP's Jason Fraley previews the Calvert County drive-in (Part 1) The Calvert County Fairgrounds is hosting a drive-in movie series this weekend, sponsored by Running Hare Vineyard in Prince Frederick. “We’ve been doing drive-in movies, just trying to adapt to COVID conditions while still providing fun for the community,” vineyard co-owner and Chief Operations Officer Matt Scarborough told WTOP. The films will be projected on an 18-by-24-foot inflatable screen by Fantasy World Entertainment, and the event will include local food, beer and wine vendors. The lineup kicks off with “The Wizard of Oz” at 7:30 p.m. Friday. “We wanted to pick something that would appeal to both adults and kids,” Scarborough said. “It’s sentimental no matter how old you are. If you’re 24 or 74, you remember the first time you saw it. We’re hoping to bring back that memory in a different setting.” It continues with “The Breakfast Club” at 9:45 p.m. Friday. “It’s certainly appealing to the demographic that we tend to address with the vineyard,” Scarborough said. “That...
    toggle audio on and off change volume download audio WTOP's Jason Fraley reports on this year's inductees (Part 1) A fresh crop of iconic tunes are forever enshrined in the annals of our nation’s history. On Wednesday, the Library of Congress added 25 audio selections to the National Recording Registry, including a range of pop, hip-hop, country, Latin, Hawaiian, jazz, blues, gospel, classical and children’s music spanning from 1878 to 2008. “The National Recording Registry will preserve our history through these vibrant recordings of music and voices that have reflected our humanity and shaped our culture from the past 143 years,” Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said. The new class includes Janet Jackson’s album “Rhythm Nation 1814″ (1989), connecting “The Star Spangled Banner” to modern-day protests against racism. “We wanted ‘Rhythm Nation’ to really communicate empowerment,” producer James Harris III said. “It was making an observation, but it was also a call to action. … The lyrics of ‘Rhythm Nation’ and ‘State of the World’ — some of those resonate just as powerfully, if not more so, as a...
    A scene from “The Falconer.” (Courtesy DCEFF) toggle audio on and off change volume download audio WTOP's Jason Fraley previews the DC Environmental Film Fest (Part 1) It was the first local film festival to go virtual at the outset of COVID-19 last March. This year, the D.C. Environmental Film Festival is streaming again from March 18-28. “We were days away from opening the festival and canceled,” programming director Brad Forder told WTOP of last year’s festival. “We’ve had to pivot like everyone else into this new virtual space. The upcoming festival … looks different this year because it’s all virtual.” The 29th annual festival includes over 100 screenings with a dozen free programs. “The goals for the festival have been the same: to support filmmakers and great films,” Forder said. “The biggest conversation we’ve had over the past year is how to engage with our audience. … We will have live engagements using Zoom and Facebook Live.” The lineup kicks off Thursday with the opening night screening of “Youth v. Gov.” “It follows 21 plaintiffs all under the age...
    toggle audio on and off change volume download audio WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Dropkick Murphys (Part 1) COVID-19 vaccines are rolling out, but for many, it’s still a socially distanced life. Not to worry, you can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day from the comfort of your own home. On Wednesday night, the beloved American Celtic punk band Dropkick Murphys will hold a free livestream concert at 7 p.m. fittingly dubbed “Still Locked Down.” It follows last year’s free virtual concert “Streaming Up From Boston,” marking the first time in 24 years that the band didn’t play in public on St. Patrick’s Day weekend. Formed in Quincy, Massachusetts, in 1996, Dropkick Murphys released five albums under the indie punk label Hellcat Records. Since then, they’ve released four more albums under their own label Born & Bred, courtesy of Alternative Distribution Alliance. The band is best known for its hit song “I’m Shipping Up to Boston,” made famous by Martin Scorsese’s gangster flick “The Departed” (2006). The raucous song combines electric guitar, banjo, accordion and drums to tell of a “sailor peg” pirate searching for the...
    toggle audio on and off change volume download audio WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'Inherit the Windbag' (Part 1) Politicians have long sold their souls for power, but when did it become entertainment? Mosaic Theater in Northeast D.C. suggests it was during the 1968 political debates between liberal author Gore Vidal and conservative pundit William F. Buckley Jr., a rivalry that was recently chronicled in the documentary “Best of Enemies” (2015). Mosaic gives those debates a supernatural twist in the eight-part web series “Inherit the Windbag,” spoofing the title of the 1955 play and 1960 film “Inherit the Wind.” The latest episode just dropped Tuesday with new episodes every two weeks. “Mosaic decided to put these on what we call a Zoom Movie,” Director Lee Mikeska Gardner told WTOP. “They sent all the actors green screens, cameras and microphones. During August, we recorded everything from our homes.” The show finds Vidal and Buckley squaring off in the afterlife of political purgatory. “The premise is they find themselves in a hell hosted by Richard Nixon,” Gardner said. “They’re forced to recreate the debates...
    toggle audio on and off change volume download audio WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'OutLoud!' LGBTQI+ panel (Part 1) The music industry has made progress toward inclusivity, but still can go further. The D.C. Jazz Festival and Embassies of Finland and Sweden are co-hosting the free virtual panel “OutLoud! LGBTQI+ Experiences in the Music Industry” on Thursday at 1 p.m. “We always participate in Pride events,” Suvi Järvelä-Hagström, of the Embassy of Finland, told WTOP. “We started talking about this last summer. We came up with this idea of connecting it to the music industry. We already had artists in mind as panelists.” The Zoom panel will feature eight artists calling in from around the world: Tove Styrke – Swedish pop artist known for her single “Say My Name.” Saara Aalto – Finnish pop star who was runner-up on the UK’s “X-Factor” and a musical co-star of Kylie Minogue, Andrea Bocelli and Adam Lambert. Dave Koz – American jazz saxophonist and critically acclaimed DJ radio host. Lea DeLaria – American actress, singer and first openly gay comedian to appear...
    “Have you ever dreamt of stepping in a painting? Now you can!” That’s the teaser for the interactive exhibit Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience. Tickets will go on sale at noon Friday for a “secret location in Washington D.C.” WTOP reached out for comment, but all inquires have gone unanswered.  Other American locations include Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Miami, New York and Philadelphia, as well as overseas locations in Brussels, Naples, Leicester, Linz, Antwerp, York, Tel Aviv, Holon, Beijing and Hangzhou. The event is a 20,000-square-foot light and sound extravaganza, featuring two-story projections of Vincent Van Gogh’s most famous works reaching from floor to ceiling. The 360-degree projections are mapped onto screens stretching 15,000 square feet. A virtual reality component will guide you on a 10-minute journey through “A Day in the Life of the Artist.” Walk alongside Van Gogh to see what inspired eight of his iconic works, from “Vincent’s Bedroom at Arles” to “Starry Night Over The Rhone River.” The indoor exhibit is billed as “all digital, hands free and perfect for our socially distant world,” hoping that the coronavirus...
    WTOP’s entertainment editor, film critic and screenwriter Jason Fraley has been named a finalist in a competition that is considered among Hollywood’s most prestigious of its kind. Fraley was one of about 1,600 people who entered the ScreenCraft Sci-Fi and Fantasy Screenwriting Competition, and he has now secured a spot in the Top 50. “I think it’s exciting, and congrats to all the 50 writers that have made it so far. Screenwriting is hard. Many people work at it for many years,” Fraley said. The screenplay that got him there is called “Cinemagic.” Fraley wrote it in 2010, when he was a graduate student at American University. He recently made some changes, adding in scenes he had previously taken out. “I love movie history, and this was sort of my way to turn that into a script that celebrates it, but also weaves in some more fantasy elements,” Fraley said. “Back when I wrote it, I was thinking of the first movie theater I ever went to, which was the Druid in Damascus, Maryland, because that’s where my grandparents lived...
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