“O” so fabulous Culture Connections June 24 – 29th

I had a great time choosing the culture connections to write about this week because I found three truly diverse activities in the wnrn listening area to crow about.  The theme that links these events is rhyming with “O”.

Starting with Poe…

Change your perspective on one of America’s most misunderstood authors at the Positively Poe Conference from June 24th through 26th at UVA. Hosted by the nonprofit Poe Museum of Richmond and the UVA Small Special Collections Library, this conference focuses on Poe’s positive contributions to literature, culture and science. One of the papers being read by my former classmate, Anne Margaret Daniel (who also did some work on The Great Gatsby, she is huge in the American Lit world) is titled, “Bob Dylan: ‘like being in an Edgar Allan Poe story’”.


From Poe head to the Xpo…

 The Arts And Culture Xpo produced by nonprofit, Culture Works, gives you the chance to learn about over 100 Arts and Culture organizations from all over the Richmond region. The event, which is held at the Richmond Convention Center, is free and will feature performances by several performing arts company’s throughout the day. This is a great event to learn more about what is out there to do, see, volunteer for and learn how to do.

Then perhaps some vino..

Sip wines from local vineyards as you relax on the lawn of the Frontier Culture Museum during the Shenandoah Valley Wine and Jazz Festival on June 29th. The event, sponsored by Shenandoah Wine Trails, features great jazz by Robert Jospe and the Liz Barnes Trio. Admission to the event also includes admission to the Frontier Culture exhibits.

If you know of a cool event happening in the wnrn listening area shoot me an email at mary@wnrn.org and help to make a wnrn culture connection.


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Jimmy Thackery summer concert at Ellington’s

This just in from Ellington’s in Lynchburg…

Blues Legends Jimmy Thackery and The Drivers

Live at the Ellington

June 22, 8:30 PM

The Detail

Jimmy Thackery perfected his craft playing onstage with the legendary Muddy Waters. He is a founder of the iconic blues band The Nighthawks. He travels the world making music, playing about 300 live shows a year.

And on June 22, Jimmy Thackery and his band The Drivers bring their “2013 As Live as it Gets World Tour” to the stage of the Ellington for a show beginning at 8:30 PM. The Ellington doors open at 7:30.

The Boston Globe refers to Thackery and his band as “four-hour” performers. “That’s not how long he plays,” the Globe continues, “but how long one should travel to see him. He’s a phenomenal guitarist, one of the best we’ve seen.”

Thackery’s explosive guitar and original music is featured on a dozen albums on such blue-chip record labels as Blind Pig and Telarc. He learned his craft not from CDs or DVDs, but from in-person, first-hand road time with the masters.

Thackery has lived the life of a true road warrior; he’s absorbed the artistic lessons of life and filtered them into his guitar playing and song writing. He met all the right people and they have had a permanent influence on him.

It was Thackery’s time on stage with Muddy Waters that is branded deep within his musical soul. “Muddy was one of those guys who was constantly encouraging. He never told you what to do, but he always told you what you were doing wrong. He never minced words about that.

“The first time on stage with Muddy, I was in such awe of him that I just kept my eyes and ears open and just picked up on everything he did. It was the dynamics they had that became so ingrained in us. We heard it on the records and then stood on stage and saw how it worked.”

The Ellington doors open at 7:30 with music at 8:30. Tickets for this show are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Advance tickets can be purchased online at LynchburgTickets.com or at High Peak Sportswear, Lynchburg Music, Angler’s Lane, Outdoor Trails, or Blue Marlin Seafood.

Under the Ellington’s age policy, anyone under 21 must be accompanied by a parent, and no children under 12 are admitted.

The Basics

Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers

8:30 PM, Saturday, June 22

(Doors open 7:30 PM)

Tickets: $20 advance at LynchburgTickets.com, High Peak Sportswear, Lynchburg Music, Angler’s Lane, Outdoor Trails & Blue Marlin Seafood

$25 at the door

No children under 12, under 21 with parent.


 Coming up on the Ellington schedule:

Hoppie Vaughan & the Ministers of Soul – Saturday, July 27, 8:30 PM

The Skip Castro Band – Saturday, September 21, 8:30 PM

The Ellington is located at 421 Rivermont Avenue in Lynchburg. It is a 501(c)3 nonprofit arts organization that receives partial funding from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Go to theellington.org for more info.


For more information, go to theellington.org on the Web.


Trouble in River City- The Music Man coming to Va Rep

I have said it before – musical theatre is far from my favorite genre and The Music Man is definitely on the short list of my least liked musicals. But other people LOVE it.  So if you are in the LOVE it camp this is good news…

Virginia Repertory Theatre announces the opening of The Music Man at the Sara Belle and Neil November Theatre on Friday, June 28 with a Preview on June 27.  The show runs through August 4, 2013.  Part of the “Broadway at the November” Series, The Music Man is the all-American quintessential summer musical with book, music, and lyrics by Meredith Wilson.  The score features favorite tunes such as “Seventy-Six Trombones”, “Ya Got Trouble”, and “Goodnight My Someone”. The story of Harold Hill, who attempts to con the naive townsfolk of River City, Iowa, and the unlikely courtship with librarian, Marian Paroo, is a sentimental classic.  The original Broadway hit in 1957 won five Tony Awards including “Best Musical”.

“Celebrity Saturdays” will feature walk-on cameo appearances by some of Richmond’s favorite celebrities during the Saturday evening performances, and   patrons can enjoy specially made local Dixie Donuts during most performances and ice cream during our “Sundae Matinees”.

Ticket Information

Box Office 804-282-2620


 Tickets:  $30 – $60 with group and student discounts available.

North vs South- Where to stay in Virginia Beach



My thirteen year old daughter is out of school already and as I had business to attend to in Norfolk on Tuesday, I decided to take advantage of a cheap rate at the Hilton at Virginia Beach and take her for a day at the beach.  As some of you know, I grew up in Richmond, Va which is two hours (give or take with traffic and depending on how fast you drive) by car from Virginia Beach so my family vacationed there almost every summer while I was growing up. I also, on warmer days would skip school and spend the day at the beach upon occasion. (As Ferris Bueler says, “Life is short.”) And I actually spent an entire summer cocktail waitressing at Peabody’s following my freshman year at Boston University so I feel like I know the place fairly well.

There are two faces of Virginia Beach for tourists.  One is the south end of the beach from 1st street at the southern most end up to about 58th Street (The Oceans condos) which is a strip of trucked -in sand delineated by a Boardwalk and lined with condos and hotels.  It is commercial, sterile (there are no crabs or beach grass), abundant with tourist trap shops, tacky amusements and generally mediocre (at best) over-priced restaurants.  It is loud at night and teaming with people.  You can go out on the beach at night and sometimes see the moon.

The North end of the Beach the stretch from about 63rd Street to 89th Street (which butts into Fort Story) is crowded with mostly charming houses for rent and a few actual residents.  The beach is wider on the North End and the sand is perhaps native to the area (it is at least the same as the sand I used to play in as a child when visiting Va Beach- lighter in color and less fine than the sticky sand of the South end).  Rolling dunes with scattered clumps of beach grass separates the houses from the actual shoreline giving beachfront renters the opportunity to enjoy the sights, sounds and relief of the ocean and its breezes while affording lots of space along the shore.  It is quiet, tranquil and crabs and sea birds are abundant. You can go out on the beach at night and see the stars, chase sand crabs and even swim.

In between is the Cavalier, a complex with two hotels.  There is the new Cavalier, a beach front high rise with a Orion’s restaurant on top and the crown jewel of the beach, The Old Cavalier, a gem from the 1920’s set off from the beach across Atlantic Avenue on manicured emerald lawn (that features a groomed croquet court) and the classiest place within a hundred miles.

The two ends of VA Beach offer totally different  beach experiences.  One peaceful and more tranquil.  One more Vegas-like.  They are both fine depending on your needs and tastes.

I prefer the North end but the Cavalier (I like to stay in the romantic Old version) is under renovation and rooms were unavailable, so I opted for the Hilton on 31st having stayed there before and enjoyed the comfort of am elegant room on the 18th floor.  Plus they had a good deal and the beds are super comfy  with high count cotton sheets which is really important to me.

In short here is what I didn’t like about the experience:

1. I got a room upgrade because there was only one bed and I dislike sleeping in the same bed with my daughter who squirms a great deal in her sleep. The upgraded room was on the North side of the building closest to the beach without being beach front.  The smell of cleaning solution was oppressive even after having the balcony door open for 30 minutes.  I asked to be moved and waited for another 30 minutes.  A nice bellman was sent and we were relocated.  The second room also smelled but not as strongly.  It was on the North side of the building but on a lower level and closest to the street rather than the ocean.  At 5pm the noise was too much so I asked to be moved again.  The desk clerk was civil but not overly polite or helpful but we did manage to get another room situated similarly to the first room.  It also smelled of cleaning fluid but not as much and at this point I was too tired to pursue another relocation.

2. There was a significant amount of sand ( about a quarter cup ) swept into a corner of the bathroom which made me uneasy regarding the cleanliness of the rest of the room.

3. The cleaning fluid smell was too strong to stay in the room with the balcony door shut but the noise from the  crowd at the hotel’s popular restaurant, Catch 31 (overpriced and mediocre in my opinion but does have a nice outdoor area for people watching) kept us awaked until closing time at 2am.

4. The rooftop pool was closed in the early evening due to a private reception- rather inconvenient for us since we were there for one night and the beach was now too chilly.

5. We spent a lot of time looking for a restaurant with passable food at an affordable price- something local with health conscious organic offerings.

6. We were accosted by a sales rep for the sister property- I detest this sort of thing on a vacation.

What I liked:

1. The bed was comfortable and the sheets really were cotton.  Once asleep, I slept well.

2. There is a public bathhouse nearby for staying on the beach after check-out.

3. We rented bikes (the weather was a perfect 75 degrees with a light breeze and sunny) and had a delightful ride up to 72nd Street and down to the 13th Street Pier.

4. A mid-day visit to the Aquarium was relaxing and educational.  I petted a ray- cool, smooth and squishy.

5. We stopped by the Pacific Ave location of Taste Unlimited for sandwiches (they now serve a good quality gluten free bread) and other goodies for a North End beach picnic.  Their food is fresh, tasty and gourmet enough to please us.  We parked somewhere in the upper 60’s and traversed to the beach with blanket and Nicole Miller umbrella in tow to enjoy good food and  afternoon beach time. A few scattered people shared the beach with us and the fiddler crabs.

6. We stopped by the Taste Unlimited and farm stand on the way out Shore Drive towards 64 to get farm fresh veggies and some of their signature chicken salad for dinner and coconut chocolate squares for dessert.


I probably would not pay to stay at the Hilton at VA Beach again as I prefer a more serene holiday and less commercial, cleaner, friendlier environs.  But I must send big kudos out to Tyler the ever patient, sweet bellman for hauling our stuff around so pleasantly during our room rotations.

Note: the one hotel on the North End is the Wyndom.  Long ago it was a different hotel with a restaurant called The Happy Clam.  I saw Bruce Hornsby play there before he made it big.


Roots, Knots and Drags- your wnrn culturenuts for June 3 – 9


Things are not always what they seem – that is the theme for my culturenuts for this week.  I’ve selected a series of conundrums to entertain while stretching your brain to accept the paradoxes of ’80’s pop tunes played by a Roots music band, a play with a puzzling moral issue and an old fashioned carnival with some odd events.  So here is this weekend’s Roots, Knots and Drags picks…

Eighties pop turns  contemporary roots music at Fridays After 5 in Charlottesville as Love Cannon takes the stage promising foot stompin’ fun.  Fans of music ranging from Madonna to Mumford and Sons will adore the smart song stylings of one of Charlottesville’s own.

In Richmond, Carol Piersol presents, Gideon’s Knot, at HATT Theatre.This heart-wrenching play starring award winning actresses, Katrinah Carol Lewis and Laine Satterfield, explores the dangerous, emotional, and often painful world of elementary school as witnessed through the conversation between 5th grader, Gideon’s mother and his teacher.

For family fun head down to the Glasgow Carnival Grounds for the Glasgow River Festival for the first taste of summer goofiness. In addition to the usual carnival games and rides there will be a parade, a Womanless Beauty Pageant and live music.

Listen for more interesting things to do on wnrn.

And …

If you have a cool event coming up let me know about it at mary@wnrn.org.

Now get out there and get cultured!


The Culture Maven

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Live Arts 2013 – 2014 Season Announced

Last night Live Arts in Charlottesville unveiled its 2013 – 2014.  I am especially excited about this because Live Arts has become my favorite venue for live theatre in Charlottesville, astonishing me with every show this last season with its high level of production. AND there will be more good stuff to come starting in the fall.

Here is the press release distributed (lovingly no doubt) by Jigsaw Jones:


Live Arts, Charlottesville’s largest volunteer theater company, is proud to announce its 2013-2014 season. At a free Season Announcement event at Live Arts on June 2nd, Artistic Director Julie Hamberg unveiled the new season with staged excerpts from each of the six plays performed by members of Charlottesville’s thriving theatrical community.

2013-2014 will mark Live Arts’ 23rd season. In the past year, Live Arts saw a 30% growth in season subscribers, bucking all national trends. In examining this success, Executive Director Matt Joslyn points to not just the quality of work Live Arts produces but also the deep connection Live Arts continues to build with its increasingly devoted community. “Julie has done an amazing job championing classic and challenging plays that are incredibly relevant to the people who call Charlottesville home. By selecting plays that offer unique opportunities for all of our volunteer artists, she’s absolutely driving Live Arts forward in our mission of forging theater and community.”

Subscriptions are now on sale starting as low as $60, and season brochures are finding their way into the homes of all those on the Live Arts mailing list. To request a brochure, call 434-977-4177 or stop by the theater at 123 East Water Street in Downtown Charlottesville.

The theater’s subscription season represents only half of the total work the theater will produce during the 2013-2014 season, which will also include new play development, volunteer workshops, Live Arts’ robust and ever-growing education programs for all ages, the annual Gala fundraiser, the increasingly popular Late Night cabarets, and much, much more. To learn more, log on to http://www.livearts.org or call the office at 434-977-4177.


Live Arts is located in the heart of Downtown Charlottesville at 123 East Water Street, just off the Downtown Mall. For more information about the new season, feel free to contact Artistic Director Julie Hamberg at 434-977-4177 or email julie@livearts.org.

Live Arts is sponsored in part by a grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts & the National Endowment for the Arts.

The 2013–2014 Live Arts Season
The Motherf**ker with the Hat / the Founders Theater / October 11–November 9
The Philadelphia Story / the Gibson Theater / December 13–January 18
Getting Near to Baby / the Founders Theater / February 7–22
Grey Gardens / the Gibson Theater / March 7–29
The Language Archive / the Founders Theater / April 11–May 3
The Master and Margarita / the Gibson Theater / May 16–June 7
The Motherf**ker with the Hat
by Stephen Adly Guirgis
Author of Jesus Hopped the A Train (Live Arts 2003–2004 Season)
& Our Lady of 121st Street (Live Arts 2005–2006 Season)
directed by Natalie Dieter
October 11–November 9
in the Founders Theater
no shows October 21–27
A high-octane verbal cage match about love, fidelity, and misplaced haberdashery. A story of attempted redemption and the way old relationships can sometimes be savaged by the passage of time. Addiction, recovery, class disparity, truth, trust, and terrifying honesty punctuate this dark, crisp comedy from one of our favorite contemporary playwrights.

The Philadelphia Story
by Philip Barry
directed by Betsy Rudelich Tucker
December 13–January 18
in the Gibson Theater
no shows December 23–30
Tracy Lord is about to get married, a happy event made increasingly difficult by a snarky ex-husband and an attractive young newspaper reporter. More than just an old chestnut, THE PHILADELPHIA STORY is sharp, acerbic, brutal, transgressive, and simply gut-wrenchingly funny. Join us as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of this Broadway smash hit of rumors, love, and midnight swims.

Getting Near to Baby
by Y York
directed by William Howard Rough
based on the Newbery Honor-winning novel by Audrey Couloumbis
February 7–22
in the Founders Theater
When you’re young, the smallest changes can be epic adventures. For Willa Jo and Little Sister, moving in with their Aunt & Uncle is enough to make their entire world strange and frightening. But with careful thought and steadfast love (not to mention the friendship of some unlikely neighbors), there’s nothing these brave girls can’t face in this intimate story of family, forgiveness, and lawn gnomes.

Grey Gardens
book by Doug Wright, music by Scott Frankel, lyrics by Michael Korie
based on the 1975 documentary
directed by Bree Luck
music direction by Kristen Baltes
March 7–29
in the Gibson Theater
Nominated for 10 Tony Awards in 2007,
including Best Musical, Best Book for a Musical, and Best Original Score
Grey Gardens. 1973. A house that once hosted Howard Hughes and the Rockefellers is now a refuge for fifty-two stray cats, a few rabid raccoons, and two reclusive women—mother and daughter, East Hampton royalty, Big Edie & Little Edie Bouvier Beale. GREY GARDENS follows the weird, eccentric path of these two women from Little Edie’s fairy-tale engagement to Joe Kennedy to their tenuous codependence in the filthy halls of the ramshackle mansion. It’s GYPSY meets HOARDERS in this sensational musical based on the true story of two women who were, at once, each other’s worst enemies and their one true love.

The Language Archive
by Julie Cho
directed by Fran Smith
April 11–May 3
in the Founders Theater
Winner of the 2009 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize
Words versus worlds, sadness versus hope. Little ideas with big ambitions make for the most surprising plays. From the train station to the bakery, from the lab to the empty living room, no matter how many languages you learn, it doesn’t mean you know how to speak to the people you love the most. A magical, bittersweet fable about the ultimate quest to say the right thing.

The Master and Margarita
based on the novel by Mikhail Bulgakov
directed by Julie Hamberg
May 16–June 7
in the Gibson Theater
The Devil has come to Moscow with a hitman and a talking cat, and will stop at nothing to ensure the perfection of his annual Ball. Mischief, magic, beheadings, and the surprisingly touching biography of Pontius Pilate permeate this unlikely love story that proves that stars can sometimes be un-crossed with enough determination.

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