TPAC hosts Sons of Lwala, a documentary preview

On Thursday, March 27, the Tennessee Performing Arts Center is hosting the first public showing of a film about the remarkable efforts of two Vanderbilt University medical students who sparked a movement to build a clinic in their home village in Kenya.

Sons of Lwala, produced by Barry Simmons follows Milton and Fred Ochieng’ as they travel between Africa and America, determined to honor their father’s memory by fulfilling his dream to build a health clinic for their people. So inspired by the Ochieng’ family and others in the village (who were traveling 25 miles on foot to the nearest doctor), Simmons left his work as a television reporter for Nashville’s WTVF NewsChannel 5 to create the documentary.  

Senator Bill Frist, M.D. is serving as Master of Ceremonies for the preview at TPAC, which begins at 7:30 p.m. and involves the band Jars of Clay, performing portions of the soundtrack onstage, where the film will be projected on a gigantic screen in Jackson Hall.

Larry Trabue is the event chair. Claire Armistead, Karyn Frist and Betty Stadler are co-chairing the host committee. Vanderbilt University is a sponsor of the event, in addition to providing support services to promote the documentary and to raise money for the Lwala clinic.

“TPAC is proudly involved in this project, in terms of both its artistic value and our mission to serve the community. Sons of Lwala is an outstanding documentary. The opening scenes with Milton, who has a remarkably magnetic personality, immediately draw you into the fascinating story. The scenes shot in Africa have an especially high impact. You learn a lot about Lwala, where there’s a sense of community unknown to most Americans,” said Kathleen O’Brien, TPAC’s president and chief executive officer.

“And I have to say something about Barry Simmons’ story, too. It’s inspiring to us that once he saw Lwala for himself, experienced that sense of community, he was compelled to quit his job and create this film. Imagine what it takes to do that, forgoing your own comfort and security. Fortunately, he soon received a fellowship to help cover his living expenses while he worked on the film, while Channel 5 management is to be commended for the support they provided, including access to production equipment and staff assistance after-hours,” O’Brien said.

The film’s director of photography, Iain Montgomery, has continued to work at Channel 5 while collaborating with Simmons on the documentary. The two received a regional Emmy Award for their two-part series on the water crisis in Kenya. Simmons received fellowships from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and the International Reporting Project at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

The title of the film reflects how the elder brother has always referred to himself, signing letters “Milton Ochieng’, Son of Lwala,” even before the death of his parents, who were school teachers: “In Lwala, you’re not just the son of your parents. Here, you belong to everyone,” he says.

The Ochieng’ brothers were the first to leave their village to study in America, thanks to support from their community. The hopeful film captures their engaging personalities, passion and commitment, against the breathtaking scenic backdrop of rural Kenya and tracks their efforts to raise funds for the clinic, attracting the attention of Americans nationwide, from school children to celebrities.

Farming is the principal industry in Lwala, where an estimated 30 percent of the population is infected with the HIV virus. The infant mortality rate is one in five. Electricity is not available in the remote village, located in southwestern Kenya near Lake Victoria and the borders of Uganda and Tanzania. The nearest town is Rongo.

Tickets range from $30 to $100 and are available at and the TPAC Box Office (downtown or at Davis-Kidd Booksellers in The Mall at Green Hills) and through Ticketmaster.

WhistlePig + Alfa Romeo F1

SHOREHAM, VT (September 13, 2023) — WhistlePig Whiskey, the leaders in independent craft whiskey, and Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake are waving the checkered flag on a legend-worthy release that’s taking whiskey to G-Force levels. The Limited Edition PiggyBack Legends Series: Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is a high Rye Whiskey selected by the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake drivers, with barrels trialed in their wind tunnel to ensure a thrilling taste in every sip.

The third iteration in WhistlePig’s Single Barrel PiggyBack Legends Series, the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is bottled at 96.77 proof, a nod to Valtteri Bottas’ racing number, 77, and the precision of racing. Inspired by Zhou Guanyu, the first Chinese F1 driver, this Rye Whiskey is finished with lychee and oolong tea. Herbal and floral notes of the oolong tea complement the herbaceous notes of WhistlePig’s signature PiggyBack 100% Rye, rounded out with a juicy tropical fruit finish and a touch of spice.

Keep readingShow less
by Spectrum Medical Care Center

Nurse Practitioner Ari Kravitz

When I started medical transition at 20 years old, it was very difficult to get the care I needed for hormone replacement therapy because there are very few providers trained in starting hormones for trans people, even though it’s very similar to the hormones that we prescribe to women in menopause or cisgender men with low testosterone.

I hope more providers get trained in LGBTQ+ healthcare, so they can support patients along their individual gender journey, and provide the info needed to make informed decisions about their body. I’ve personally seen my trans patients find hope and experience a better quality of life through hormone replacement therapy.

Keep readingShow less

Descanso Resort swimming pool and lounge area

Descanso Resort, Palm Springs' premier destination for gay men, just received Tripadvisor's highest honor, a Travelers' Choice "Best of the Best" award for 2023. Based on guests' reviews and ratings, fewer than 1% of Tripadvisor's 8 million listings around the world receive the coveted "Best of the Best" designation. Descanso ranked 12th in the top 25 small inns and hotels category in the United States. Quite an accomplishment!

Open less than two years, Descanso Resort offers gay men a relaxing and luxurious boutique hotel experience just minutes away from Palm Springs' buzziest restaurants, nightclubs, and shopping. Descanso has quickly established itself as a top destination for sophisticated gay travelers, earning hundreds of 5-star guest reviews and consistently ranking in Trapadvisor's top positions alongside brother properties Santiago Resort and Twin Palms Resort.

Keep readingShow less