Photo by Kelsey Richmond
Wil B of Black Violin steals the spotlight during Saturday night's performance at the Ashland Armory.
Black Violin rocked the foundation of the Historic Ashland Armory Saturday night to a packed house of music fans.
Hosted by Southern Oregon University's Black Student Union in honor of Black History Month, the Florida-based duo had the entire audience pulsating to the beat of their mix of classical and hip-hop music.
But they had help. There were four performances throughout the night, including slam poet Claudia Alick. In addition to performing insightful and humorous poems, she also showcased her talents as an entertainer.
At one point she told the crowd, "If we have some time left I might just give you some cool urban haikus."
Though her poems often drew laughs from the enthusiastic audience, her work was not without its more serious themes. Her poem "Rooted in Oppression" in particular moved the audience with its powerful lyrics, "Multicultural, black, African-American, colored, I figure you can call me a nigger if you like"
Alick is also the community associate producer for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. She produces the "Green Show," and is also the producer of "OSF Hip-Hop Boot Camp."
Also performing was the Ashland-based hip-hop group One Movement, who got the crowd going with original pieces that will be on their new LP, "Dream for Today."
The night, however, belonged to Black Violin. The duo took the stage with thunderous cheers from a crowd who had been waiting all night to see them.
The group consists of classically trained violinist Kev Marcus and violist Wil B. The two musicians were inspired to fuse hip-hop, R&B, jazz and classical after discovering the legendary violinist Stuff Smith, who was one of the preeminent jazz performers of the swing era in the 1930s and 1940s. His last album, Black Violin, inspired the duo's name. In recent years, Black Violin has performed with international artists such as Alicia Keys, Linkin Park, P.Diddy, Kanye West, Aerosmith, Aretha Franklin and many others.
One of the pieces they performed was an original remix of Johann Sebastian Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G-major. Before playing the piece, Marcus asked the crowd, "Do you want to hear some classical music?" His question was answered by deafening cheers. While starting out simply with a rendition of the Brandenburg Concerto, it fused into a hip-hop improvisation.
Ellie Corso, a senior journalism major, expressed her excitement for the event. "Black Violin touched my soul. I'll never feel the same again. They rock my socks!"
Although he liked Black Violin, junior environmental studies major Benji Nagel liked One Movement best.
"It was really cool to see One Movement because they're local talent," said Nagel.
When asked why they chose to bring Black Violin to Ashland, BSU president and senior sociology major Nicole Jolly said, "The BSU brings a speaker or performer to campus every year for Black History Month. This year we have worked very hard to bring the group Black Violin because we wanted to do something that could appeal to a wide variety of people."
To learn more about Black Violin and listen to their music, visit www.blackviolin.net.