Concert Review: Black Violin @ Proctors Theater, Schenectady, 11/18/2022

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Hip hop duo Kev Marcus and Wil B, better known as Black Violin, brought their holiday show “Give Thanks” to Proctors Theatre in Schenectady Friday, November 18th. Infused with messages of hope, holiday spirit, and some good old-fashioned hip-hop transposed for viola and violin, “Give Thanks” had the audience on its feet and dancing through much of the show.

Photo by Laura DaPolito

Black Violin is well known for the duo’s ability to take classical melodies and shift them slightly, modernizing them with a drum set, keyboard, and DJ to pump up the energy. Their show in Schenectady added Bing Crosby’s Christmas songs to their set list, as well as some classical holiday melodies, just in time for Schenectady’s annual holiday parade. (That’s tonight, by the way.)

On the way to the show, my recently widowed mother announced, “I’m not doing Christmas this year.” So I wasn’t sure how the show was going to hit her emotionally. Thankfully, I learned she loves rap music (her exact words were “I love Run DMC”), is crazy for light shows, and the Christmas music seemed to bring the holiday spirit back for her.

Wil sang and played viola while Kev took on the melodies and many of the technical licks on his violin. The improv song for the night, which they called “Black Violin freestylin'” had people jumping and cheering through some technically challenging rhythms on drums and hilarious DJ mixing.

Before the close of the show, Kev reminded the young people – of whom there were many in the audience – that Black Violin’s entire message is that thinking outside the box and pursuit of passions pays off. The musicians met in high school where they played in orchestra together “and loved Mary J Blige, as well as whatever, was hot then.” They took their interest and talent in directions that others told them were impossible — and clearly made their dreams possible.

Photo by Laura DaPolito

With an encore performance of “The Impossible is Possible,” the band infused the audience with hope and encouragement and really sent their message home.

On our drive home, I smiled as my mom noticed the Christmas lights.  I give thanks to Black Violin who somehow reminded us that the Christmas spirit and gratitude feels good and can help heal.

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