Charlottesville’s artistic expectations in the coming year

Local events of 2018 to get excited about


P!nk's upcoming concert at the John Paul Jones Arena is just one of several arts-related local events that promises to be worth attending.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Whatever else it was, 2017 was a banner year for Charlottesville’s arts scene. The city was host to some musical and entertainment events of a huge magnitude, most of which were unexpected until just a few weeks before the fact. Will 2018 hold much of the same? In some cases it’s too soon to tell — for example, the Virginia Film Festival was omitted from this list since its late-fall schedule is far from being made public — but Charlottesville is already a community based in the arts, and the calendar for the upcoming year already looks promising. Here are a few of the standouts.

Miguel at The Jefferson Theater: The singer-songwriter has only been around a few years, but he’s already gathered an impressive following. This fanbase reached new heights with last year’s release of the excellent album “War & Leisure,” and the accompanying tour is sure to cement Miguel’s place as a rising R&B/hip-hop star.

This is a big act for The Jefferson to host, so it makes sense that the concert, though not taking place until March 25, has already sold out. But don’t despair just yet — instead, be on the lookout for possible ticket giveaways from local businesses and radio stations.

Festival of the Book: Spanning five days in late March, this celebration of the written word traditionally boasts an impressive author line-up with plenty of speeches and interactive activities. The full schedule won’t be released until later this month, but what is currently available is noteworthy enough.

The most anticipated guest of the Festival so far is undoubtedly Khizr Khan. Since his son Humayun’s 2004 death in the Iraq War, Khan and his wife Ghazala have risen to prominence both locally and nationally. Khan has visited the University more than once and also famously criticized President Trump at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. His presence at the 2018 Festival of the Book can be attributed to his well-received 2017 memoir “An American Family: A Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice.”

Aside from this impressive standout, the Festival will also host noted authors such as Nathan Englander, Leland Melvin and Attica Locke. Known for packing many events into just a few days, the Festival of the Book is always worth attending.

Excellence Through Diversity Distinguished Learning Series: Though technically ongoing since last semester, this series absolutely deserves mention. Some of the speakers are not tied to the world of arts and entertainment, but Saul Williams, the first speaker of the series’s new year, definitely falls within the category.

An indefinable blend of poet, rapper and performer, Williams has enjoyed a successful career dabbling in several areas of art. His slated appearance in the Excellence Through Diversity Distinguished Learning Series is later this month — Jan. 22 — but the nature of the appearance is still mysterious. Taking place at the Paramount Theater and free to the public, whatever Williams delivers is sure to be worth witnessing.

P!nk: P!nk has come a long way as an artist. After releasing her first album in 2000, the pop-rock singer-songwriter truly hit her stride later in the same decade, with angsty breakup song “So What” and party anthem “Raise Your Glass.” Her 2017 album “Beautiful Trauma” predictably brought things down a few octaves, but still with plenty of the artist’s classic ferocity.

P!nk’s unique, hard-edged style of pop has become unmistakable and infectious to nearly any American listener, having been blasted on countless radio stations for years and danced to in just as many house parties. So imagine her trademark energy being played in person, reverberating through John Paul Jones Arena. 

Among politically-charged or socially important arts and entertainment events, P!nk’s performance may not be the most essential. But it’s sure to be a lot of fun, and on April 19, late in the spring semester, it will be a great way to relieve some of the stress of finals. The sort of energy P!nk will bring to the University is something the arts community could stand to see more of — simple, unpretentious music that just wants to please.

related stories