If you’re in the DC area, you may have heard about the Intersections festival going on at the Atlas. If you haven’t, or for some reason haven’t gone by, you’re missing out. Thus far I’ve attended two ‘cafe concerts,’ a performance of Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha by the Washington Savoyards, Christyles Bacon’s autobiographical “hip-opera” entitled ‘In Pursuit of Me,’ and a dance concert by DCypher- followed by a dance party with the performers.
Quick review of the various events I’ve seen:
Cafe Concert #1, Og Ceol:
The musicians may be young, but they clearly know what they’re doing. Og Ceol is an Irish Flute and fiddle duet that, when I came to listen, was accompanied by a guitarist and drummer. Not only did they have an excellent program, but they took requests. I had them play my personal favorite tune, Morisson’s Jig, but they also played My Darling Asleep and a few others by request. They played John Ryan’s, also known as the ‘Dum Dum’ polka on their own initiative, and it was the hit of the evening.
Cafe Concert #2, Lulu Fall:
While a solid vocal performer (accompanied by an acoustic guitar), Lulu came second to Og Ceol in my mind. Then again, I may be biased- I prefer Irish tunes to… well, a great number of things. None the less, Lulu’s rendition of India Arie’s ‘Good Man’ tugged at my heart strings. That may have been more due to the content of the song, which I had never heard before but have since acquired, than the merits of the performance, but there’s no way to be sure and I’m more than happy to give Lulu the credit.
I certainly would like to see both sets of performers at more gigs around town. If I learn that either of them is performing at an even halfway decent restaurant, I’ll probably try to make my way there for dinner. Hint, hint, restaurateurs.
The performance was solid. This is to be expected. I’ve seen the Washington Savoyards in other productions, most notably Pirates of Penzance, and they’ve been impressive to say the least.
The script of Treemonisha, however, was about as subtle as an operatic brick to the head. Scott Joplin had to pay for it to be published, and there was never a performance of it during his lifetime. Well, there was a reason for that. The best summary of the dialogue is this verbatim quote, “Do not do wrong, because it is wrong.” Opera is rarely subtle, but Treemonisha crosses the line. No troupe can do much with that material.
I only saw half of “In Pursuit of Me” due to embarrassing personal mishaps such as my physical inability to herald a cab. What I saw was impressive. More impressive than the show itself, however, was the fact that when the crowd began singing ‘happy birthday’ to Christyles after the show, he came back out for an encore that was so brilliantly improvised that I have my doubts that it was improvised at all. But how could he have known that the crowd would start singing? In any case, it tied up a loose end from the show and was brilliant in all ways. If it was actually improvised, my mind is blown. If it wasn’t improvised, it was brilliantly staged, and my mind is blown in any case.
Anyone who follows me on Twitter (@lucidlunatic) knows that I’ve recently become enamored of this video of the Korean-Chinese pop group Super Junior-M performing their hit song, ‘Supergirl.’ The choreography is impressive. Or so I thought right up until I watched DCypher, who put the Asiatic boy band to shame. There were a number of pieces performed during the concert, including some guest artists. Some of them were less engaging than others, and one was fascinating and downright weird (but made me look up ‘Agent Zero Comes for Logan’ when I got home), but the best was when all the members of DCypher just came out on stage and got down.
At the end of the concert they invited the audience to come out and dance with them. So I did, thoroughly embarrassing those in the audience who knew me. That segue took us right into the dance party that was, if anything, better than the performance. There’s nothing quite like watching performers show off for each other. I witnessed at least one standing back flip.
Forget Youtube, I’m spending more time watching live performances. The nearly five million viewers of ‘Super Girl’ clearly don’t know what they’re missing. Well, except for this one. Then again, most of them are probably on the wrong continent.
For those of you who reside in or near D.C., Intersections isn’t over yet! There is more to see all today and tomorrow. I might stop by Sunday to see another Joy of Motion (DCypher is associated with them) group perform. Or Tom Chapin. Whatever hits me.