Teachers and doctors. Moms and sisters. The River City Rollergirls don't really care who you are, as long as you're ready to hit someone—and foster an environment that values diversity and gender equity in the process.
The skater- and volunteer-operated league sprouted in early 2006 as Richmond's first all-women's flat-track roller-derby association. At the start, the league featured just two teams—Poe's Punishers and the Uncivil Warriors—but has since expanded to include new members, including the Carytown Cadets, the Hollywood Undertakers, and the Jackson Wardens. All teams take falls and crack skulls as part of the Eastern region of the Women's Flat Track Derby Association. But off the track, players put away their growling game faces when participating in community-outreach programs.
Barksdale Theatre has staged professional productions of groundbreaking plays—including world premieres and Broadway musicals—for nearly 60 years. Lauded by critics, Steven Dietz’s play Becky's New Car uses witty dialogue to plunge viewers into a woman's midlife crisis. When a millionaire mistakes Becky for a widow during a moment of flirtation, she doesn't correct him, sparking an accidental extramarital affair that grants her access to an opulent, unfamiliar world. Throughout the play, Becky engages the audience by soliciting opinions or enlisting their help.
Hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle as a singer who "takes the stage as if it belongs to her and belts out the blues like a force of nature," Sandra Reaves-Phillips dishes out a medley of jazz, blues, and soul honed through a lifetime on the stage. Reaves-Phillips has lent her pipes and dramatic skills to both the acclaimed 1986 jazz drama 'Round Midnight and 1989's Lean On Me, for which she sang the title track. During a show that barrels along on laughter and playful banter, her clear vibrato turns into a brassy growl as she uses standards such as "Let the Good Times Roll" to explore the heights and depths of her range. Her slower, sensual tunes seethe with swagger and knowing glances, building up to energetic versions of blues classics. Showstoppers from past performances include renditions of "Me and My Shadow," "St. Louis Blues," and "Two Wrongs," a country-blues ballad that confirms the conventional wisdom that two wrongs make one long civil lawsuit.
In 2009, The New York Times named The Camel Richmond's "premier venue" for "up-and-coming Southern rock and bluegrass bands, acoustic singer-songwriters, and jazz and funk musicians." So far, nothing's changed: The Camel still hosts local and nationally touring acts such as Ben Kweller and James McCartney, who, unlike his father, has never toured with a band named after icky bugs. But even though it's lauded for providing live music seven nights a week, The Camel makes a space for all art, including occasional film screenings.
Like its entertainment lineup, The Camel's cuisine is an eclectic mix of American flavors. The culinary team, lead by executive chef Xavier Beverly, whips up gourmet vegan risottos, grills fresh seafood, and tops flatbreads with spinach, mushrooms, and hummus. But they also keep things casual with finger foods such as the popular sausage stars and housemade beef burgers crowned with horseradish mayo. Served until 2 a.m. nightly, each dish can be paired with local or craft beers, which fill the 28 taps lining The Camel's exposed brick wall.
The Camel is open for lunch Monday through Saturday, and brunch on Sunday.
Considered by many to be the queen of Southern comfort food, Paula Deen is a best-selling author, television show host, retail mogul, and restaurateur. She brings her nourishment know-how to Richmond for a 2.5-hour cooking and chatting extravaganza sure to tickle eardrums and stir up jealousy in fellow chefs. Listen as Paula shares life stories alongside her husband, Michael Groover, and answers questions from the audience members—be they gastro-gurus or green-behind-the-ear gourmands. There will, of course, be some cooking demonstrations as well, so be prepared to potentially pick up some new recipes to try out at upcoming holiday dinners or social events.
Elegantly lit and plushly upholstered, The Byrd Theatre looks much the same as it did on its opening day in 1928—and sounds much the same, too, thanks to its centerpiece, the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ. Every Saturday night, resident organist Bob Gulledge takes his seat at the orchestra-pit console and might preface the evening's second-run screening of a blockbuster film with selections from Phantom of the Opera or a rousing rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." The antique pipes and bells—which occupy four rooms above the stage—roar back to life with a candy-colored sonority that triggers nostalgia and wakes up any vaudeville performers napping inside.
Since 2007, The Byrd Theatre Foundation has helped facilitate the restoration and preservation of the 1,300-seat auditorium and its organ, making sure it stays State and National Historic Landmark it is today. The Byrd Theatre supplements regular screenings with year-round events, ranging from film and comedy festivals to public-arts forums.