FunStuff: Charlottesville events April 26 and beyond

Anthropologist extraordinaire
"She is impressive," says Charlottesville-based evolutionary psychiatrist Andy Thomson, speaking of Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, a University of California-Davis-based researcher who is one of the world’s foremost experts on mothering and the mother-child relationship. Her works includeMother Nature and Mothers and Others, the latter of which is gaining her a visit and an award at UVA on Thursday in McKim Hall, a building along Hospital Drive.
April 26th, Leonard Sandridge Auditorium, 4pm, free




Art and theater
Downtowners know all about First Fridays, but what about Final Fridays, the collection of arts events UVA organizes in the area now fondly called the John & Betsy Casteen Arts Grounds, which serves as the site of the academic year's final Final Friday. Offerings include an open house by visiting Iranian artist Samira Abbassay, whose work deals with women, war, and identity. You can visit her in her studio in room 323 of Ruffin Hall (just out of view on the left in this picture) and check out student art on all three floors of the same building along with wine and appetizers. (Afterwards, if tickets are available, you can catch the 8pm, $15 show of the University Singers presenting Mendelssohn's "Elijah" with orchestra and soloists in Old Cabell Hall or the 8pm, $14 performance by the drama department of Romeo & Julietby you-know-who in Culbreth Theatre.)
April 27, Arts Grounds, 5:30-7:30pm, free




Beleza at Bashir's
Here comes a chance to check out the funkalicious sounds of Beleza, the Charlottesville-based group that fuses samba, soul, and blues into one festive mix that the Hook's own Stephanie Marie Garcia has called "deliciously exotic." And they're coming to you this Friday at an exotic local eatery, the well-known Downtown Mall institution called Bashir's Taverna. The core of the group is husband-and-wife Humberto and Madeline Sales. With Loren Oppenheimer doing percussion on the tabla.
April 27, Bashir's Taverna, 7pm, no cover




Get down on it
Everybody loves a cool disco party, and The Groove Train is one of the hottest exemplars of this style on the East Coast. This Philadelphia-based seven-piece act has the hairstyles, the showmanship, and– most of all– the music to pull off a Friday night freak-out at the Jeff. But did you know that the opening band is a dance-party legend in its own right? We know this because we've hired them, The Soul Transit Authority (shown here), to play our company party a couple of times, and their mix of jazz and soul is not over-the-top like the main event, but that just may be alright, right?
April 27, Jefferson Theater, 8pm, $12-$15




85 singers strong
The magnificent theater-in-the-round that is Old Cabell Hall will be the site where 85 singers from across the University of Virginia will converge to perform a rendition of Mendelssohn's "Elijah." And that's not all. The University Singers, as they're called, will be joined by a full orchestra and a pack of soloists who include Metropolitan Opera Council Auditions winner Christina Pier with baritone Mark Owen Davis in the role of Elijah. The Friday-night performance will be directed by UVA faculty conductor Michael Slon (shown here), who notes that critics hail this as one of the greatest oratorios ever written.
April 27, Old Cabell Hall, 8pm, $0-$15





Hatching nature
What better way to introduce yourself and a new generation to the wonder of Thomas Jefferson’s ideas on gardening than by visiting the open house at the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants? It's a Monticello-owned institute, and it's been in the news a lot recently since Peter Hatch, Monticello’s longtime director of gardens and grounds, announced that he will soon be stepping down. Fortunately, Hatch will be on hand for this event and signing copies of his new book, A Rich Spot of Earth. There will be a free workshop called "Buds, Bugs, and Buddies," in addition to an array of hard-to-find heirloom and native plants up for sale, along with garden tours and other workshops.
April 28, 1293 Milton Road, 10am-4pm, free




Softball ascending
It's been said that softball is America's #1 participatory sport, but Charlottesvillians have the chance to check out some near-pros in the form of the UVA women's softball team, which has become a force in recent years under the tutelage of coach (and UVA grad) Eileen Schmidt. In addition to reaching its first-ever NCAA tournament, the team has become a conference contender thanks to such players as the .281-averaging sophomore Erica Cipolloni, shown here. This weekend presents three opportunities for action against NC State: a doubleheader on Saturday and a next-day capper. To get to the field in what UVA calls "The Park," you just drive past UVA Law and the JAG School, and you can't miss it. And there's no charge for admission– just like the games between the good ole boys at McIntire Park.
April 28 & 29, The Park, noon and 2pm Saturday & noon Sunday, free




The Carnival
Okay, so all the dogwood flowers have already bloomed and wilted due to the spate of warm weather last month. But don't forget that theDogwood Festival Carnival lives on. With the Albemarle County Fair opting for a more low-key, no-ride approach this summer, this may be your younguns' only chance to ride the rides and make friends with the carnies. The Festival has already begun, but it doesn't end until Sunday the 29th, which just happens to be– along withApril 24 and 26– an "armband day" when those rides so pricy when purchased à la carte can be enjoyed in unlimited fashion for just $20. The event opens at 6pm on weekdays and 1pm on Saturday and Sunday.
April 29 (and before), McIntire Park, until 11pm Mon-Sat and 7pm Sunday, free to walk



Getting cozy with Trigiani
Best-selling author (who grew up in the Virginia community of Big Stone Gap) Adriana Trigianicomes to town for a talk and reception that will let you rub elbows with the author of such books as Big Cherry HollerMilk Glass Moon, andHome to Big Stone Gap. But it's her latest, The Shoemaker’s Wife, released just three weeks ago, that brings her to Charlottesville. A sprawling, epic tale 25 years in the making, the new novel is based on her own grandparents’ story of passion and perseverance, and it's why the heritage-celebrating nonprofit called The Journey Through Hallowed Ground brings her here. Advance reservations required for this wine-and-hors d’oeuvres Wednesday-evening event.
May 2, Alumni Hall, 6pm, $60




Charlottesville CSI
"CSI has nothing on Charlottesville," says Rob Craighurst, who enters his sixth year of taking visitors on a tragical history tour of downtown, as he recounts tales of murders and murderers– including the biggest one of all, the 1904 murder of the mayor's wife. The two-hour walk through history by Tell Me About It Tours allows citizens to put on their Sherlock Holmes hats and decide whether justice was served. The tours happen Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays beginning May 3 and continuing, rain or shine, through October.
May 3 (start), York Place, 8pm, $15 or less




This week's "FunStuff" was compiled by Hawes Spencer, and next week's "FunStuff" will be compiled by another newsroom staffer. To get your event considered, send a press release to

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The dogwoods may have come and gone - spring flowers fading, but the festival of migrating birds is right on schedule. Grab a pair of binoculars and meet us before work. The cold, rainy, windy start to the week kept the birds at bay, so, the best is yet to come.

Beginners warmly welcomed - it's never too late to start what could be the best part of the rest of your life .

We will continue the program of short trips to see migrants during the last week of April and the first week of May. Most of the trips will be at the Ivy Creek Natural Area (ICNA). Special trips will be on April 25 and May 2, to Observatory Hill; and on April 27 and May 1, to Secluded Farm. All trips will begin at 7:00 am, and will end by 8:30 am.

Meeting Places:
Ivy Creek Natural Area: Parking Lot
Observatory Hill: Parking lot of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, 520
Edgemont Road, at the northeast base of O-Hill. It is reached by taking McCormick
Road west from its intersection with Alderman Road.
Secluded Farm: Meet at the overflow parking lot for the Thomas Jefferson Parkway
(Monticello Trail); the entrance is off Route 20 North, just north of the intersection
with Route 53 and across from the entrance to PVCC.

Week One
April 23 ICNA. Leader: Peter Brask
April 24 ICNA. Leader: Dave Hogg
April 25 Observatory Hill. Leader: Dave Hogg
April 26 ICNA. Leader: Leigh Surdukowski
April 27 Secluded Farm. Leader: Stauffer Miller

Week Two
April 30 ICNA. Leader: Janet Paisley
May 1 Secluded Farm. Leader: Jim Nix
May 2 Observatory Hill. Leader: Mark Adams
May 3 ICNA. Leader: Stauffer Miller
May 4 ICNA. Leader: Leigh Surdukowski

Just want to thank the Hook for the kudos. We enjoy playing for them and their events. We believe that we have a great relationship and hope to continue that in the future. We hope to see them again at their next party. If you want more information about Soul Transit Authority and where we are playing check us out on facebook and on the web.

Thanks for your support

Larry Miller
Soul Transit Authority

Bishop William Nowell will share his rollicking, blues-infused gospel music with the Charlottesville community this Saturday, April 28th, in a benefit concert for PACEM. For more than 30 years, the 75-year-old Bishop, his choir, and backing musicians have sung, strutted, and shouted their electrifying message at New Covenant Pentecostal Church (located at the intersection of 10th and Grady Streets). Nowell and his choir also regularly perform for the runners of the Charlottesville Ten Miler, at the regional jail, and various venues along the Atlantic Coast. “Oh yeah, we get down!” the Bishop has said. In addition, Bishop Nowell was featured in a documentary shown at the Virginia Film Festival this past fall called "Preacher."

Saturday's concert is at First United Methodist Church, at 100 High Streeet. The show begins at 6 pm, and is free to the public. Proceeds benefit PACEM – a community shelter that serves Charlottesville’s homeless.