FunStuff: Charlottesville events September 13 and beyond

Big screen NFL
Will the Washington Redskins dismal 2011 defense be improved? And how will they do with rookie QB RG3 (Robert Griffin III, shown here at training camp) at the helm? A lot of that was answered in a big way with their week 1 win over New Orleans Saints, but what better way to watch the Week 2 drama unfold than on Central Virginia’s largest movie screen? The Paramount Theater on the Downtown Mall will be broadcasting the game against the St. Louis Rams. What's more, they'll have the bar open and Big Jim’s BBQ will be serving up tailgate-style food and beverages, and raffle prizes will be awarded. And you could see some former Cavs in action, as the Rams have Chris Long, Rodney McLeod, and Matthew Conrath on the their roster.
September 16, Paramount Theater, 3:30pm/4:05pm, free



Southern culture
How many bands do you know that invite you up on stage to eat fried chicken and mix up moonshine martinis? You see, you are virtually guaranteed a good time when Southern Culture on the Skids is in town, as their self-described "toe sucking geek rock" just has a way of making you cut loose. Self-mocking, smart, dirty, and wild, Southern Culture on the Skids has a special hillbilly chic sound that just puts a smile on your face and a back beat in your bones.
September 14, Jefferson Theater, 9pm, $15-$17



Challenge yourself to ride
Cyclists ride for fun and exercise, but on a coming Sunday they'll be riding for the benefit of our community. The 7th annual Boys & Girls Club Cycling Challenge, the youth organization's big fundraiser, takes place at the Old Trail Swim Club. Last year, a record number of people rode in the challenge, and this year organizers expect there to be 400 riders and 150 volunteers on four routes to choose from: 25, 50, and 75 miles through the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, plus an 8-mile family ride out to Chiles Peach Orchard. Afterwards, there will be a big party at the Swim Club with food from Eppie's and live music. One cool thing about the challenge is that you'll be riding along with a team of Boys & Girls Club kids, ages 13-17, who have been training all summer for the 75-mile ride. To register to ride yourself, join a team, or donate, visit the Challenge website at
September 16, Old Trail Swim Club, 7:30am, $20-$120



What started out as the merchandising arm of the Dave Matthews Band eventually became the local juggernaut Musictoday. Sold to LiveNation, the locally-based company sells everything from signed portraits of Muhammad Ali goofing around with the Beatles for $3,000, to Jimmie Johnson magnetic bottle openers for six bucks. You'll find concert tour merch for bands and comedians, CDs, videos, and vinyl, as well as sports and movie merch, and the list goes on. To benefit the Music Resource Center, another DMB beneficiary, there will be a yard sale of sorts where you'll find much of this stuff real cheap. And all the proceeds will go to the music education programs at the MRC. If you shop early, you could score some rare finds, and after 3pm everything left will go for a dollar.
September 15, Ntelos Wireless Pavilion, 10am, free



Oh, Shenandoah!
In honor of Shenandoah National Park’s 75th anniversary, the Park Trust held a photography contest hosted in partnership with the Virginia Commission for the Arts and several businesses, calling on pros and amateurs from six local communities to take their best shots. The result: Oh, Shenandoah!, a collection of stunning photographs that included views of the park and within, wildlife, vistas, and various habitats. All the winning entries are on display at the Central Library through the month of September. And kids will like having their picture taken with the full-sized Smokey Bear figure near the elevator on the main floor
September, Central Library, library hours, free



Butterfly class
The journey of the monarch butterfly is one of the natural world's wonders. Every August, they begin a months long trek from as far north as Canada all the way down to Mexico and South America. In the spring, they make the trip back. They are the only butterfly that does this. Many die along the way, but the group sticks to this travel plan like clock work. They are also one of the few insects that can cross the Atlantic. Wanna learn more? Head over to the Ivy Creek Natural area, where expert Michelle Prysby will present a hands-on live study of monarch caterpillars and butterflies. Afterwards, you can assist in her studies by helping to tag and release butterflies in the field at Ivy Creek.
September 16, Ivy Creek Natural Area, 3pm, free.



Dogs, cats, and vino
You don't have to be an animal lover to enjoy the Fluvanna SPCA's 4th Annual Wine Tasting fundraiser, as it involves a favorite local pastime: drinking wine at Keswick Vineyards. Of course, if you do care about animals getting treated well and finding good homes, then sipping fine wines and munching on tasty treats will be even sweeter. And if you don't know much about what the SPCA does, there will be folks on hand to answer questions about the organization. A silent auction will also be held, featuring restaurant gift certificates, digital cameras, UVA football tickets, gym memberships, and more. You can also keep your souvenir wine glass, and who knows, you might leave with a new pet.
September 15, Keswick Vineyards, 12-3pm, $15-$20



Gray matter
Welsh singer-songwriter David Gray, whose songs Babylon and Sail Away are still being played on the radio in heavy rotation after more than a decade, owes a lot to Charlottesville. Singing in pubs and recording songs in his London apartment in the late 1990s, he attracted the attention of a musician named Dave Matthews. In 2000, Gray became DMB's ATO Records' first signed artist. His first ATO album, White Ladder, spent the whole year on the Billboard charts and earned Gray a Grammy nomination. Since then, Gray has had some difficulty separating himself from that album, like a character actor stuck in a role the public won't let go of. But Gray's ninth and most recent studio album, Foundling, has been called an attempt to redefine himself as an artist.
September 20, Ntelos Wireless Pavilion, 7pm, $35-$59



So why does Oktoberfest happen mostly in September? Anybody know any Germans? Well, you might meet a few at the Wintergreen Performing Arts presentation of the traditional 16-day German festival. This, of course, will only be one day, but what a day. You'll feast on brats, wursts, kraut, traditional German potato salad (don't worry, there will be hamburgers and hotdogs, too) while enjoying beers from our local breweries. Shippensburg Blaskapelle (pictured) will provide the obligatory "om-pah" music. A $20 entry ticket includes eight tasting coupons (Want more? That'll be $1 each) and a souvenir mug. Proceeds benefit the performance and educational activities of the Center. Non-drinkers can get entry and two root beers for $5.
September 15, Evans Center at Wintergreen Resort, 12pm-5pm, $5-$20



Farewell Fridays
Haven't had a chance yet to check out Friday's After Five's free music offerings on the Downtown Mall this summer? Well, this Friday is your last chance. We know, it's hard to believe the season has flown by so fast. So head on down to see local faves the Downbeat Project, a five-piece, reggae rock band that's sure to have you feeling fine, mon. For their new album Day by Day, the DBP joined forces with Bobby Read (Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers), Mark Maynard (Baaba Seth), John D’earth, Billy Cardine, Jay Starling (The Transmitters), and percussionist Robert Jospé. Percussionist Paul Rosner will also join the band onstage, and there will be some other surprise guests.
September 14, NTelos Wireless Pavilion, 5:30pm, free

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Southern Culture on THE Skids.

THE Skids.

Sheesh. When is Foxfields?

@casual reader: Thanks very much for that!--hawes spencer, sleepy editor