Summer in the city

Summer in the city

On a rainy and sticky Tuesday evening Feedback joined a stream of people heading into the Paramount Theater for the first performance of the Charlottesville Municipal Band’s (free!) Summer Concert Series. We snagged a program and found ourselves a comfortable seat on the balcony. “Man, it’s nice in here,” we thought to ourselves while waiting for the music to begin. “It’s cool and dry, and the space is bright and serene.”

We imagine the others in the room, including the band members themselves, were having similar thoughts. In the past few years the band has held its summer concerts outdoors at the Charlottesville Pavilion. “We’ve had some problems when it has rained with running water on stage, so it will save me from being electrocuted,” Director Steve Layman says of the change in venue. The summer heat at the Pavilion didn’t help either. “It’s been over 100 degrees under the lights for the members of the group,” says Layman. So he and the band were happy to move the concerts to the Paramount.

The Charlottesville Municipal Band will perform the second of their six free summer concerts at The Paramount Theater on June 17.
C-VILLE Playlist
What we’re listening to

“Blue Moon,” by Big Star (from Third/Sister Loves)­­—Like the grown-up counterpart to #1 Record’s “Thirteen,” this nocturnal tune whispers its thoughts of love in your ear.

“Meeting of the Spirits,” by The Mahavishnu Orchestra with John McLaughlin (from The Inner Mounting Flame)—John and the Orchestra bring things to a scorching and swirling frenzy right from the start of this opening track.

“The Message,” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five (from The Message)

“Romantic Rights,” by Death from Above 1979 (from You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine)

“Going Back West,” by Jimmy Cliff (from Struggling Man)

“Don’t Hold Me Close,” by Spiritualized (from Songs in A&E)

It’s not the first time that the Municipal Band performed on the theater’s stage, but it’s been quite a while. Before the music began last Tuesday, James Simmons, a former director of the band, revealed to the audience that the band, founded in 1922, first performed at the Paramount in the 1930s. Back then the theater was the first air-conditioned building in Charlottesville. And thankfully, seven decades later, the room is still cool and comfortable.

A fine performance followed, with pieces ranging from a Frédéric Chopin prelude to the world premiere of “The New Paramount,” a piece written by trumpet player Paul T. Richards to commemorate the band’s new affiliation with the theater. Debuting such a piece is one of his favorite things to do with the group, says Layman, who first joined the band in 1977 as a tuba player. “We’ve got three composers in the band who write for us on a fairly regular basis,” he tells us, “and it’s really nice to do a world premier with the group.” In addition to Richards, percussionist Gary Fagan and oboist Charles Torian have also written pieces for the band.

The band’s annual appearance at Monticello’s Fourth of July Naturalization Ceremony is another highlight, Layman tells us. “We’ve had the opportunity over the years to play for some presidents and the Queen of England,” he says. Most of all, though, the band delights in being able to provide a wide variety of melodies. “We just like to be able to do lots of different music for the folks in the audience,” Layman says.

The band will continue doing just that at the next night of their series on Tuesday, June 17. While the program for the evening wasn’t completely set when we spoke with Layman, he did tell us that it will include Assistant Director Charles Torian’s arrangement of a Shaker tune, three movements from Clifton WilliamsSymphonic Suite and a cover of The Beatles“When I’m 64” by the band’s saxophone ensemble. All of the band’s Paramount summer performances, which take place every other Tuesday, won’t cost you a dime, so don’t hesitate to come get your fill of brasses, woodwinds, snare drums and more. Did we mentioned it’s air conditioned?

We love the ’80s

Though Feedback will admit that we are a wee bit too young to have attended prom in the ’80s, we had a blast at last year’s inaugural Planned Parenthood Benefit ’80s Prom at Satellite Ballroom. We donned a Risky Business-esque wardrobe of Wayfarer shades, shorts and a long-sleeved dress shirt, danced to DJ Steve Richmond’s nonstop stream of the decade’s hits and came home with a Polaroid photo as a souvenir of the night. With the Ballroom no more, this year’s prom will take place in the Old Michie Building on Market Street on June 14. We’re sure it will be just as much fun as last year, and Steve Richmond will be bringing the tunes once again, so find yourself a date (going stag is cool, too) and have the night of your life. For more information about the prom, go to

Get ready for prom with Blondie’ "Heart of Glass."

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