Where Classical and Hip Hop Meet: Black Violin Coming to The Vets Wednesday

First Works Brings Unique Act to Providence

Above: Black Violin, Photo: Colin Brennan

Classical music and hip-hop collide in Providence this week for Black Violin, a groundbreaking act coming to The Vets on Wednesday April 3. Black Violin is a duo made up of Kev Marcus and Wil B., who along with their band, perform in an innovative, genre-busting “Classical Boom” style. The band is known to blur the lines between musical genres with their one-of-a-kind, family-friendly show.

I spoke to violinist Kev Marcus, on the eve of a show at the historic Apollo Theatre, scheduled just a day before The Vets performance. I asked how it felt to be playing the legendary Harlem theatre.

“We won ‘Showtime at the Apollo’ in 2005, and it’s been 14 years since we’ve been there so its really exciting, kind of like our career has come full circle.” It’s just a normal show for me now, but I think I’ll feel different when I step on the stage. I remember winning at the Apollo and I remember it being such a surreal moment. It was nothing that I ever expected to do.

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The show arrives in Providence on Wednesday.

“The tour is called the “Impossible Tour;” we’re trying to show the world that the impossible is possible. I’m the violinist, kind of like Slash, all I do is play violin, my partner Will is a violist and sings, plays keys and does a lot of different things. We’re backed by drummer Matt Stokes and turntablist U.S. champion DJ SPS.

“The four of us are going to show you something you’ve never seen before and definitely some sounds that you’ve probably never heard before, at least not combined in the way we combine them. Our hope is to entertain, educate and inspire all of Rhode Island. We’re trying to change people’s perception of what’s possible, by thinking differently and breaking stereotypes.”

Along those lines, the band will spend some time with the youth of RI.

“We wanted to have a moment to let the kids come up and rock with us. We’re going to bring up some local youth orchestra students and they’re going to play a couple of songs to end the concert with us. Earlier in the day, we’ll get a chance to talk to them and rehearse with them,” explained Marcus.

“It should be a really cool experience for them and for the audience. They’ll end the show to thunderous applause with children with violins in their hands.”

The show is a meal, not a snack,” Marcus remarked. “Its loud … we mix Cardi B with Mozart, we mix Biggie and Bach. We mix all kinds of things together but we do it in a way so that a 12 year old might be listening to the beats, while Mom is sitting next to him with her eyes closed, just lost in the strings. There’s something in it for everyone, its super family friendly, super energetic, guaranteed you’ve never seen anything like it. If you’re the type who says “I listen to a little bit of everything, than this is the show for you.”

Black Violin is co-sponsored by First Works, the Providence based non-profit that presents world-class performing arts programs to build the cultural, educational and economic vitality in the community. The FirstWorks Arts Learning finale will include 30 local music students from communities statewide, including Providence, Cranston, Cumberland and Barrington.

Tickets are still available for the show – complete details here.