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Takoma Park record label fosters homegrown talent

Tired of being forced to relinquish artistic and creative control to major labels, Grammy-winning producer and Takoma Park native Charlie Pilzer decided to forge his own path. He founded Azalea City Recordings in 1996.

For Pilzer, the label gives his job as a recording engineer and producer a more personal touch.

“I’m immersed in music hours and hours every day. I’ve worked on well over 2000 albums. The cool thing about the label is that it keeps it on a personal level. It doesn’t become a factory to me,” said Pilzer.

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S.S. plays are one-act but definitely not one note

Silver Spring Stage Marilyn Millstone Headshot Playwright Marilyn Millstone’s “Compos Mentis” will be staged during the second weekend of the Silver Spring Stage One-Act Festival. COURTESY PHOTO      Irwin and Anna Leder had been Marilyn Millstone’s next-door neighbors and surrogate parents for 14 years. So, it was not surprising that their departure for a senior facility impacted her.

But it also inspired the news-and-feature journalist and essayist turned dramatist to write another play.

In “Compos Mentis,” (which is Latin, meaning “of sound mind”) Millstone has added the child of an elderly couple, who pressures them to go to an assisted living facility while the couple resists and wants to retain independence.

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Sponsor supports NIH charities while patrons enjoy blockbuster movies

Comcast XFinity Film Festival image courtesy of the Comcast Xfinity Film Festival copyThe Comcast Xfinity Outdoor Film Festival returns to Strathmore. COURTESY PHOTO    “Blockbuster” describes the movies presented each summer in the Comcast Xfinity Outdoor Film Festival and hosted at Strathmore. This year, “Disney’s “Moana” (PG) will show on Aug. 24; “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” (PG-13) on Aug. 25; and “The Lego Batman Movie” (PG) on Aug. 26, the final day of the event.

But the term could also apply to the technology behind the festival. The screen the films are projected on, in digital cinema, is the only nine-foot-tall, 52-foot-wide inflatable movie screen within 1000 miles, said Bob Deutsch, founder and CEO of DTA Global, which produces the free event.

Comcast, the global media and technology corporation, underwrites it.

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On stage in Downtown Silver Spring with Black Box and Highwood Theatres

IMG 8458 copy highwoodThe cast of the Highwood Theatre production of “Into the Woods.” COURTESY PHOTO BY HIGHWOOD THEATRE   Downtown Silver Spring has become a hub of activity, featuring stores, restaurants, and various forms of entertainment, ranging from a skating rink to movie theaters to outdoor concerts.

It’s also the home of two live theatres.

The 140-seat Silver Spring Black Box Theatre, located at 8641 Colesville Road, is home to four theatre groups, which perform there regularly as part of the Theatre Consortium of Silver Spring. But the community-owned building also rents out space for one-night engagements and limited runs, giving the opportunity to new artists and arts organizations to put on fare as varied as plays, set lists, improv comedy, open-mic and dance concerts, said Jonathan Ezra Rubin, managing director of the Consortium. There’s even a pole-dance competition on August 12, produced by the Titans of Pole.

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Daymé Arocena brings modern Cuban sounds to Strathmore AMP

Dayme Arocena1Afro-Cuban vocalist Daymé Arocena (center) with bassist Rafael Aldama (left), and drummer Raul Herrera (right). PHOTO BY MATT HOOKE   “Give these people more alcohol,” yelled Afro-Cuban vocalist Daymé Arocena in response to the quietly seated crowd at Strathmore AMP on Friday.

In the end, her pleas worked, and the audience got out of their seats en masse to groove to Arocena’s unique take on Cuban music.

“I’m not trying to make something brand new, I’m just trying to follow my sense,” said Arocena. “I’m from the 21st century. My music isn’t going to sound like what was made 50 years ago; it’s going to sound how I sound.”

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It’s a Free for All . . .

Shakespeare company makes "Othello" a free for the summer fest

OTHELLO 121 1 copy photoFaran Tahir stars in the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Free For All production of “Othello.” COURTESY PHOTO BY SCOTT SUCHMAN  

It’s a long-established practice for theater companies to present the plays of William Shakespeare to the public at no charge during the summer months.

Locally, the Shakespeare Theatre Company in D.C. has been doing that since 1991 – presenting one production during the hot months (although indoors) in what it calls “Free For All.” Shakespeare’s comedy “The Merry Wives of Windsor” was the first Free For All production. Michael Kahn, STC’s artistic director, found inspiration in the pioneering achievements of Joseph Papp. Kahn had worked with the legendary producer and director who established almost 60 years ago New York City’s famed Shakespeare in the Park.

“Michael Kahn wanted to make sure Shakespeare was accessible to as many people as possible,” said Joy Johnson, director of audience services at STC who organizes and manages Free For All. “The best way to do that is through free performances.”

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Brews and beat shine at first ever record fair in Silver Spring

RECORD FAIR PICTURE 1Vendor Dave Hoffer stands in front of his records. PHOTO BY MATT HOOKE   SILVER SPRING — Barrels of beer were covered with vinyl records, while organizer and c, played dance tracks from the top of a fermenter at the first ever Silver Spring Record Fair on Sunday at Denizens Brewing Company.

“It’s a way to spread the love of vinyl around Montgomery County, to bring folks into records together to listen to good music, have some beers, and buy some records,” said Megan, who was the organizer of the event.

The event lasted for five hours and featured 20 vendors and six different DJs who spanned many different genres. Three of them, Bobby Babylon, Leon City Sounds, and Megan himself, mainly played world music and reggae.

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Singer-songwriter uses real life tragedy as inspiration

Craig Cummings PhotoCraig Cummings (left) and bassist Greg Hardin (right) performing at the Gaithersburg Arts Barn. COURTESY PHOTO BY MAX HORAN   GAITHERSBURG — Inspired by friends who were forced to redefine themselves after the end of a relationship, D.C. area singer-songwriter Craig Cummings sang about the joys and downfalls of love in the Gaithersburg Arts Barn on Saturday to celebrate the release of his new album “Gone Baby Gone.”

The seven-track, 27-minute-long album, issued on Takoma Park’s Azalea City label, tells the story of a man dealing with a long-term relationship falling apart. The album shows all facets of the relationship, from the man's first attempts to win the unnamed woman’s love to the aftermath of the breakup.

“I was running into people that had been in relationships that were ending, and they were struggling with how to be alone after all that time. They were asking themselves, ‘How do I redefine myself as a person without the context of a relationship?’” said Craig.

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Rockville offers Movies in the Parks

IMG 5128 copy 2 movies in parkCUT: Patrons watched “The Lego Movie” on July 29, 2015 at Montrose Park during the first "Movies in the Parks." The event returns for its third year to Rockville parks, offering free movies in different parks every Wednesday in August. COURTESY PHOTO  The drive-in movie theater may have become part of a bygone era, but you can drive or walk this summer to catch a movie in the park.

For the third year in a row, the City of Rockville is presenting four free outdoor films at four different neighborhood parks every Wednesday in August as part of its Movies in the Park series.

“The films are shown on a big inflatable screen, so everyone gets to see,” said Marylou Berg, Rockville’s director of communication.

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Event will showcase local documentary filmmaker and her work

On August 6, a local non-profit organization will present the first installment of a series designed to allow aspiring documentary filmmakers to receive feedback.

Erica Ginsberg, co-founder and executive director of Docs in Progress, said she became interested in filmmaking while participating in Montgomery County Public Schools Visual Arts Center as a student at Albert Einstein High School.

“While I ended up focusing on international relations in my undergrad studies, I never lost my love for making art and other creative pursuits, and that was part of the impetus for my earning a graduate degree in film and becoming a documentary filmmaker.”

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