Arlington County’s annual tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is moving online this year, forgoing all in-person experiences due to COVID-19.
This 52-year tradition was first organized in 1969, about ten months after King’s assassination, by local community members and county staff.
This year’s edition honoring the civil rights leader life and legacy will be held on Sunday, January 17 at 5 p.m. It will include a collection of online performances, music, spoken word, and dialogue that participants will be able to select from.
The tribute is being produced in partnership with Encore Stage & Studio.
All videos and content will go live at 5 p.m on the event’s website, but will continue to be available on the site into the coming months.
In addition, Volunteer Arlington’s annual MLK Day of Service will also be online this year. On Monday, January 18, starting at 9:30 a.m., residents can participate in 12 different service opportunities, engage in volunteer trainings, or learn more about their community.
There will also be collection sites for the Arlington Food Assistance Center outside of eleven community and fitness centers.
The current schedule of programming for Arlington’s MLK Day tribute is below:
At 5 p.m. on Sun., Jan. 17, visit the MLK Tribute webpage for a dynamic experience that allows the user to select the content they wish to view. The content will remain online for the coming months.
Specific program elements will include content sections with videos from past MLK Tributes and never-before-seen works:
A video compilation highlighting clips of music, dance, spoken word and dialogue from recent MLK Tributes, including:
- Duke Ellington School of the Arts Show Choir’s renditions of The Best Is Yet to Come and Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around
- Original work by spoken word artist Kim B. Miller, Your Calling
- Motherless Child and I’ll Rise Up, performed by the Duke Ellington School of the Arts Dance Ensemble
- Scene from the 51st MLK Tribute, performed by actor Deshawn Harris (as MLK) and Yancy Langston (voice of Benjamin Mays)
- Arlington native Joy Gardner solo rendition of A Change is Gonna Come
- Remarks from Arlington resident Joan Mulholland, activist and educator
- Lift Every Voice and Sing, produced by Balm in Gilead, Inc.
Specific Music Options
- I’ve Been Buked and Scorned, soloist James Gibson
- I Know I’ve Been Changed, soloist Karen D. Archer
- You’re All I Need To Get By, duet with Duke Ellington School of the Arts students Kianna Kelly-Futch and Kyree Allen
- Is My Living in Vain performed by local quartet The Four
- The Wall Between Us, performed by Kimberly D. Gordon and written by Anne Smith
- Arlington native Joy Gardner solo rendition of A Change is Gonna Come
Specific Dance Options
- Chains, performed by Worship Without Words
- Precious Lord Take My Hand and Glory, performed by the Inspire Arts Collective
- If I Could, performed by Kailah Doles
- Motherless Child and I’ll Rise Up, performed by the Duke Ellington School of the Arts Dance Ensemble
Specific Spoken Word Options
- New original work from spoken word artist Kim B. Miller
- Reflections from Encore Stage & Studio students
- Original work by spoken word artist Kim B. Miller, Break the Chains
- Original work, Stand, by Outspoken Poetress Audrey Perkins
Other options include historical footage and a presentation by Samia Byrd, Chief Race and Equity Officer for Arlington County.
About the Program
Arlington’s first tribute to Dr. King was in 1969, the year after his assassination. The goal of this program is to bring people together (virtually or in-person) to support the community’s vision of social justice and community. This year’s program is produced in partnership with Encore Stage & Studio.
Virtual Day of Service
Volunteer Arlington’s annual MLK Day of Service program has also pivoted to be online. On Mon., Jan. 18, from 9:30 a.m.-noon. Online volunteer opportunities include service projects, advocacy panels and volunteer trainings. Learn more and register by Thurs., Jan. 14. by visiting https://volunteer.leadercenter.org/mlk-day-service.
Food Donation Collection
Food donations to benefit Arlington Food Assistance Center clients will be collected outside at the centers below from Jan. 15-18.
- Arlington Mill
- Aurora Hills
- Barcroft Sports & Fitness Center
- Lubber Run
- Thomas Jefferson
- Walter Reed
Learn more about the 2021 MLK Tribute event at https://parks.arlingtonva.us/mlk-tribute/
Photo via Adam Fagen/Flickr
Free T-Ball This Spring — “Arlington Babe Ruth (ABR) is now offering free T-Ball to boys and girls ages 4-6. ABR recognizes that young players will try multiple sports in order to see what sticks, so we’ve eliminated registration fees for the youngest players. The free ABR Blastball and T-Ball programs are excellent ways to introduce boys and girls to baseball, using simple drills, a soft ball and lightweight bats, and a fun-oriented approach that teaches the rules while building enjoyment for the game.” [Arlington Babe Ruth]
Most-Read Arlington Library Books — “These are the books Arlington readers turned to the most in 2020. Unsurprisingly, many top fiction titles were part of a series, and many top nonfiction titles reflect a yearning for social justice and a desire for human connection.” [Arlington Public Library]
Virtual Meetings Lead to More Participation — “The Electoral Board was actually in the midst of conducting a meeting in March when the county government began battening the hatches and closing facilities while the COVID crisis was taking hold. Its meetings since then have been conducted on an electronic platform. There is a plus side to that. ‘Attendance has certainly increased – it has more than tripled,’ county elections chief Gretchen Reinemeyer said.” [InsideNova]
GW Parkway Lane Change — “Years of side-swiping, rear-ending and near misses have prompted traffic pattern changes to crash-prone sections of the George Washington Memorial Parkway and Interstate 395. Northbound traffic on the George Washington Parkway is permanently narrowed into a single lane at the crosswalk near Memorial Bridge.” [WTOP]
New Year Video from Arlington Children’s Chorus — “Watch this video of a song we wrote and performed that we did to bring some good cheer to the local community this holiday season… After all our festive activities were cancelled, writing a song trying to capture a little bit of the spirit of the season was a way to let our children’s voices be heard. It’s been amazing how much joy has blossomed from such a difficult situation!” [YouTube]
Distinction for Arlington Biotech Firm — “[Arlington-based] Kerecis is the fastest growing company in the regenerative-tissue market in the United States according to SmartTRAK Business Intelligence, which compared industry-sales and market-share data for 3Q 2020 to 3Q 2019.” [Kerecis]
(Updated at 6 p.m.) This year, Arlingtonians spread Christmas cheer in new ways to bring hope to people virtually or from a distance.
Choir directors at Arlington Public Schools and Bishop O’Connell High School spent hundreds of hours stitching together student videos to create virtual Christmas concerts. A troop of Brownie Scouts virtually judged a gingerbread contest for folks at a local retirement home. And Santa is making special stops in Arlington in his pickup truck, visiting with children from a distance.
Bishop O’Connell choir director Kyra Stahr burned the midnight candle to publish videos to replace the Christmas concert, which is normally the most well-attended performance, she said.
“I feel like I got more creative in how to make that excitement and cheer possible,” she said, adding that she and her students donned Christmas sweaters and watched all the performances on Zoom.
“It worked out better than I could’ve hoped for,” DJO choir student and junior Tommy Green said. “It was a nice way to exit the year.”
Fellow junior Melanie Greig said “it was almost like we were actually singing together in a concert.”
Meanwhile, Glebe Elementary student and Brownie Scout Leah Meder virtually judged a gingerbread decorating contest at the Sunrise Senior Living facility near the school, on N. Glebe Road, along with other members of Troop 60095. From 11 participants, the young judges awarded the most festive, most creative and most delicious-looking houses, and also created a special holiday greeting for the residents.
“I still felt the spark of holiday spirit when we did this online,” said Meder, who is eight years old. “Since [the residents] are living away from people they know, and can only see them a couple times a year, they can probably have more holiday spirit.”
The festivity creativity in Arlington extends to visits by the jolly one himself.
This afternoon (Wednesday), Santa is parading his sleigh — a converted pickup truck — through Arlington neighborhoods from Foxcroft Heights to Columbia Forest, the final route after two mobile Santa visits through Lyon Park and Ashton Heights.
“It’s a tough year for everybody,” said Lyon Park resident Paul Showalter, who is playing the role of Santa. “It’s really fun to see the faces of the little kids as they see Santa drive up in his sleigh.”
This morning (Wednesday), Showalter said he made a special delivery to a boy named Charlie, who had asked Santa for boxes, thread and tape for Christmas. Neighbors and Glebe Appliance donated the boxes, and Charlie will use the supplies to make a British fleet ship.
Also spreading joy is the Yorktown High School choir, which sent the musical videos it produced to faculty, friends and family, reaching an even greater audience this year.
“That’s how it’s keeping my holidays alive,” she said.
Day Laborer Site Now Closed — “Although not unexpected, mid-November nonetheless brought something of an end of an era to the Shirlington Employment and Education Center, better known as SEEC. The pavilion area in Shirlington that the organization had used since 2003 to connect day-laborers with contractors and homeowners who sought their services has been fenced off in preparation for changes to Jennie Dean Park, where it is located.” [InsideNova]
Tonight: Outdoor Art in Crystal City — “Walk along Crystal Drive on December 2nd from 6-9PM to see the words of Luisa A. Igloria, Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia projected onto the facade of 2011 Crystal Drive as the opening installation of Arlington Art’s Visual Verse. Their work will be brought to life by noted artist Robin Bell.” [National Landing BID]
Beyer Blasts Proposed Metro Cuts — From Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.): “The proposed WMATA budget cuts would be apocalyptic for Metro service and devastate its workforce. This catastrophe must not be allowed to happen, and Congress can prevent it by passing a new aid package. WMATA is not alone in its massive funding shortfall, which is a direct result of the pandemic. Cuts like this will hit across the country without robust aid for state and local governments and specific targeted funding for transit.” [Press Release]
Rosslyn Tree Lighting — “Thanks @ABC7Kidd for starting the countdown at tonight’s neighborhood tree lighting!” [Twitter]
Library Director’s Xmas Playlist — “For the past 13 years, I have published a ‘Too Cool for Yule’ playlist, as my love letter to the County and the people we serve. And while (sadly) Spotify has replaced the cassette tape, making the process easier, like much of 2020, this playlist was more difficult than ever to create.” [Arlington Public Library]
Protest Outside Westover Post Office — About 15 protesters held a “Save the U.S. Postal Service” rally outside the Post Office at 5877 Washington Blvd in Westover yesterday. The two-hour lunchtime demonstration was organized as part of the American Postal Worker Union National Day of Action. [@KalinaNewman/Twitter]
Historic Review Board Likes Shirlington Plan — “The Arlington County government’s historic-preservation advisory body seems generally satisfied that retention of historic features will be seen as an important component of the redevelopment of the Village at Shirlington. In particular, the low-slung storefronts along Campbell Avenue are expected to be protected from the wrecking ball, even as taller and more dense development likely will be allowed immediately behind them.” [InsideNova]
New BBQ Restaurant Opens Patio — “Smokecraft Modern Barbecue is excited to debut its much-anticipated patio, now open daily for outdoor dining and drinking. Arlington residents and visitors can now enjoy Smokecraft’s award-winning barbecue outside on a socially distant patio, consisting of 38 seats.” [Press Release]
TTT in Clarendon to Host Virtual DJ — Updated at 9:30 a.m. — “Beginning Friday, September 4… TTT (Tacos, Tortas & Tequila) known for its casual Mexican-influenced fare is adding an exciting bit of fun on Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons with virtual DJs. Guests dining on the first floor and on the third floor TTT Rooftop, which seats 82 and offers wonderful views on the city, will enjoy watching and listening to live streaming DJ performances via large screen projection.” [Press Release]
Family Pushing for Arlington House Change — “Descendants of Charles Syphax have been courting lawmakers for the past few months to make the change, said Syphax family historian Steve Hammond, who lives in Sterling, Va. The family’s effort is motivated as much by a desire to accurately honor the full history of the property and the enslaved people who lived there as it is by any antipathy toward Lee.” [Washington Post]
Nearby: Back to School in Falls Church — Students have started the fall semester, virtually, in Falls Church. A TV news segment shows teachers conducting their virtual classes from their actual, physical classrooms. [NBC 4]
A local cellist recently went viral on TikTok for his classical covers of pop songs.
Musician Andrew Savoia began posting TikToks under the username @savoiboi earlier this month. Each day, Savoia’s content continues to gain more traction. Arlingtonians may recognize several outdoor spaces around town as filming locations for the short-form music videos.
@savoiboiYou might be Supalonely sometimes but your Kings and Queens are out there ##TikTokTaughtMe ##foryoupage ##fyp ##music ##cello ##supalonely♬ original sound – savoiboi
Savoia’s recent cello cover of the song “Come Get Her,” originally by hip-hop artist Rae Sremmurd, has more than 1.5 million views and counting. According to his profile, the page currently has roughly 92,000 followers and 646 “likes.”
In recent months, TikTok made headlines as a social media platform for politically active youth but the app is moreso used as a platform for comedy and entertainment.
In a post from July 12 (above), which featured a cover of “Supalonely,” viewers can spot the Washington Monument and portions of Arlington’s Rosslyn-Ballston corridor in the background. Savoia said he and his friend filmed it on the rooftop of his mom’s apartment building in Ballston.
Other filming locations include public open spaces around town and a bridge near Navy Yard in D.C.
“What I’ve been doing is choosing a song that I really want to play and picking a background that fits with that song,” he told ARLnow.
So far, four out of Savoia’s eight viral videos have been filmed in Arlington.
Other covers by Savoia include “Roses” by SAINt JHN, “Blinding Lights” by The Weeknd and other songs topping charts globally. Many of the hits that Savoia chooses to cover come from memes and other TikToks sent to him by friends, he said.
“Some of those tunes are really catchy and they get stuck in my head,” he said, adding that he’ll experiment with the song before deciding that he wants to post a video.
Boosting his popularity further, other TikTok users are now using his music to compose their own posts. Savoia said he loves to see fans interacting with his music because it encourages them to pick up an instrument and revive their passion for classical music.
On the app, TikTok offers a “duet” feature, which lets users record their own content side-by-side with another post — as if the two accounts were performing at the same time. Going forward, Savoia said that he would love to see more collaboration like this.
Inspiration for the project first came to him after he bought recording equipment to do a full-length, four-minute cover of a Weeknd song but didn’t like the final result — and instead decided to stick to a 30-second clip, which he and friends later posted on TikTok.
“The response was really positive and that just made me want to do it more,” Savoia said.
This column is written and sponsored by Arlington Arts/Arlington Cultural Affairs, a division of Arlington Economic Development.
The COVID-19 pandemic has influenced a return to ‘The Basics’ and the simple pleasures of some ‘retro’ technologies.
Thanks to the old-school medium of radio, Arlington Arts is able to forge ahead with Lubber Run Live on WERA 96.7 FM –LIVE performances and discussions broadcast weekly with host Ken Avis (The Antidote), Saturdays at 5 p.m., July 11 through August 8 (live streaming on wera.fm ).
Lubber Run Amphitheater is a summertime tradition for Arlington residents. But during the pandemic, the shoulder-to-shoulder audiences that we’re accustomed to at this sylvan venue located just off of Route 50 in the Arlington Forrest neighborhood, just aren’t possible. Through the magic of radio, audiences can still enjoy a range of music, with no threat of ‘rain-outs’: Jazz and Go Go, Roots Rock, Soul and Blues are all part of the mix.
This partnership between Arlington Arts and WERA was a natural. Arlington’s only radio station, WERA’s mission is to enlighten, enrich and entertain Arlington’s diverse community by promoting and facilitating independent radio. A project of Arlington Independent Media, WERA’s programming is produced by and for the community.
The lineup for Lubber Run LIVE is brimming with a mixture of toe-tapping Amphitheater favorites, and a splash of new talent, including:
July 11: The Jogo Project
The JoGo Project is a fusion ensemble with Jazz and Go-Go at the core. Founded in 2014 by D.C. native Elijah Jamal Balbed, the band is dedicated to keeping Go-Go music alive while also exploring new sounds.
July 18: Nkula
Ethiopian-born “Ras Abel” Mekonnen’s band Nkula features a unique blend of foundational reggae with infusions of African influence (e.g. zouk and soukous riddims). Their high-energy groove exposes audiences to musical styles that broaden horizons.
July 25: Caz Gardiner
A 2019 Wammie (Washington DC Area Music Association) nominee for best Soul Artist/Group, Caz Gardiner is a high energy performer who writes songs of overcoming struggles and celebrating life with a Soul Rock and Reggae sound that is as diverse and driving as she is.
August 1: Justin Jones
A native Virginian, Jones started playing open mic nights in Charlottesville in his early teens, and has appeared at the Virgin Mobile Festival and the Floyd Festival. At the 2012 Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL), Speakers in Code named his one of the Event’s top-ten performances, and Bob Boilen of NPR’s All Songs Considered lists Justin Jones “as one of the top performances of the year.”
August 8: Lauren Calve
Washington, D.C. area singer-songwriter, guitar and lap steel player Lauren Calve has brought a vital new energy to the Americana scene. On her latest EP, Wildfire, Calve delves into complex issues ranging from the increased polarization and divisiveness prevalent in the U.S. and around the world, corporate greed and their role in both the climate crisis and gun violence, women’s’ stories that are dominating public consciousness, and even the precarity of online dating.
So tune-in for Lubber Run LIVE on WERA 96.7. Bookmark their website to listen to the live-stream. Create your own Live Listening Experience when you fire up the car radio or pull the speakers onto the porch! Listeners are encouraged to recreate their own Lubber Run picnic experience and order take-out and beverages from local restaurants.
And now — in lieu of his usual concerts and club gigs — Chester Chandler, better known as Memphis Gold, is performing from his apartment balcony in Ballston every Friday night from 8-9 p.m.
The informal outdoor concerts, near the intersection of N. Randolph Street and 9th Street N., have started attracting dozens of onlookers — socially distanced on the sidewalk, for the most part. From his 8th floor perch, Chandler and his guitar give the neighborhood an hour-long musical respite from the stress of life during the pandemic.
Chandler tells ARLnow that he got the idea from seeing locked-down residents in cities around the world opening their windows at 8 p.m. to bang pots and pans and make noise.
“I saw some people come out on their balcony, I said well this would be a good time to play some music, have a good time, and be happy we’re alive,” he said. One Friday night, with little fanfare and no public announcements, Chandler went outside and started playing. He’s kept it up every Friday night since.
“It turned out to be a good thing,” he said, “now people chant for more.”
Chandler doesn’t do much self-promotion during the concerts, to the point that many don’t even know who’s playing on the starkly lighted, distant balcony. But Chandler’s humility belies his musical resume.
He is a native of Memphis, Tennessee, who grew up on the famous Beale Street blues corridor. He is a Vietnam veteran who has toured internationally, playing blues festivals and concerts for U.S. troops. He also claims to be the first musical act at Whitlow’s, when it moved to Clarendon in 1995.
Chandler’s musical career started after nearly four years of homelessness in the early 90s. While living on the streets of D.C., he visited a pawn shop and saw a guitar on sale for $600. He convinced the shopkeeper to set it aside for him and eventually saved up enough from doing yard work for “little old ladies” to buy it. After that, he was able to support himself through his music.
Chandler, 65, has lived in the Randolph Towers apartment building for nearly two decades, and says there’s no place he’d rather be.
“Arlington has been my home for the last 20 years, and I tell you, I’ve love every minute of it,” he said. “I love my neighbors… I’m centrally located, and I’m an old man in a sea of yuppies around here.”
Chandler said he’ll keep playing on Friday nights until he can resume paying gigs. The loss of income has been tough, he said, but he’s been able to get by on veteran benefits and online donations from fans. And whenever he can, he gives what he can to support first responders and homeless vets.
One welcome side effect of Chandler’s playing and the pandemic? All of those passersby who are getting to hear his soulful guitar playing potentially becoming fans of the genre.
“I like it when the younger kids discover blues music,” he said.
A Friday night balcony concert in Ballston…
Posted by Arlington Now on Friday, April 17, 2020
People singing and playing music from their balconies has been something of a trend during the quarantine, and the Crystal City Business Improvement District (BID) wants to get it started in Arlington.
The Crystal City BID is starting Front Porch Fridays tomorrow (Friday) afternoon.
“We may not all have a front porch — we may not all even have a balcony — but what we do have is our community,” the Crystal City BID said on the event page. “Music has always brought people together and now is no different. We can still gather together to listen (virtually)!”
The BID is encouraging residents to open their windows or bring a radio to their porch or balcony, tune to the same station and crank up the volume.
This week, the station is Hot 99.5 at 4:20 p.m. Next week it’s DC 101.1 at noon.
“The station will change each week, but the party atmosphere stays the same,” the BID said. “And best of all — we want you to select the playlist! Visit our Facebook page each week Monday-Wednesday to vote on the songs you want to hear. Then listen in on Friday to see if your pick made the cut!”
The music will be commercial-free, courtesy of the BID.
“Small businesses throughout National Landing have adjusted their operations to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Just as they have supported us, we are focusing our efforts on ways to assist and enhance the long-term viability of these businesses,” Crystal City BID President Tracy Sayegh Gabriel said in a statement. “We are pleased to contribute to Arlington County’s GRANT Program, which will enable countless small businesses to stay afloat, retain their staff and continue to serve the community.”
Local Business Owners Still Waiting for Loans — “Like many business owners across Northern Virginia, Cyrille Brenac is still waiting to hear back from his bank about his application to the Paycheck Protection Program… For Brenac, who lives in the Cherrydale neighborhood of Arlington, the money would help him rehire about 50 employees of his two French restaurants he laid off when the economy abruptly shut down as the result of the global COVID-19 pandemic.” [Connection Newspapers]
County Board Salary Raise Unlikely — “The COVID-19 health pandemic and resulting economic downturn have snagged another victim – big pay raises for Arlington County Board members. Raises totaling more than $50,000 spread across the five board positions, which were included in County Manager Mark Schwartz’s pre-virus budget proposal in February, have been red-lined out.” [InsideNova]
Bearded Goat Barber Dies During Home Isolation — “We’ve already had quite a tragedy of our own — a barber who was in recovery from heroin addiction. He told us a couple times in the first few weeks, ‘It’s not good for me not being busy like this… not being able to work.’ We didn’t know just how bad it would be for him. He relapsed and got a bad batch and died.” [InsideHook, Facebook]
Campaign to Help Nurses, Restaurants Raises $30k — “The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO) began its ‘Buy a Nurse Lunch’ initiative several weeks ago to raise money for restaurants along Columbia Pike in Arlington, while simultaneously providing meals for nurses and medical staff at the Virginia Hospital Center. In just two weeks, the organization says that over $30 thousand was raised, providing much-needed revenue for small, locally-owned restaurant.” [WJLA]
County to Consider More Retail Conversions — “For many years, county officials were insistent that retail be placed in office and residential buildings in certain areas. The problem – as developers apparently knew but county leaders seemed to miss – is that retail spaces are dependent on visibility and foot traffic, which each can vary widely even within the same building. (At one business-organization meeting years back, developers simply shrugged their shoulders, saying they often penciled in ‘zero’ for the expected revenue.)” [InsideNova]
Local Man Recounts Coronavirus Experience — “He had been in the hospital for seven days when doctors declared he might not make it out alive. His blood oxygen levels sank. His lungs struggled. The ventilator helping him breathe, doctors at Virginia Hospital Center said, did not seem to be doing much good. Nurses called his family. His family called a priest. They wanted to make sure Francis Wilson, 29, received last rites before the end.” [Washington Post]
Raccoons Rescued from Trash Can — “Officer Cameron got a surprise yesterday when she responded to a call about a raccoon stuck inside a bag inside a trash can. After she ‘unstuck’ the raccoon, she found 2 raccoon kits with her! Officer Cameron made sure they were all safe, releasing them to a quiet place nearby.” [Animal Welfare League of Arlington]
Arlington Musicians Play Mozart From Self-Isolation — A group of Arlington musicians joined those from elsewhere to perform Mozart: Serenade No. 13 in G Major, K. 525 ‘Eine Kleine Nachtmusik’ (1st movement) remotely. [YouTube]
Falls Church Senior Care Centers Face Outbreaks — “Three Falls Church area senior homes are now confirmed to be fighting outbreaks of the coronavirus, with Chesterbrook Residences telling the News-Press today that a total of 17 of its residents and staff have tested positive for COVID-19.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Flickr pool photo by P Ranfone