Blu mag: New Valley pub launches

news-bluBlu acknowledges the Blue Ridge while leaving opportunities for expansion open.

Even during robust economic times, the Shenandoah Valley can be a tough market for alternative papers– or dailies.

With print publications dropping like flies, is it really the best time to launch a monthly arts-and-culture tabloid?

"The downturn in the economy is when everyone turns to local and community activities," says Blu Magazine publisher/senior editor Jason Grogan. "The community needs an arts and culture outlet."

So Grogan, a former assistant publisher with the now defunct eightyone, and senior editor/art director Jack Morgan go boldly (where others have failed) to cover Staunton and Harrisonburg along Interstate 81. Ultimately, he says, they'd like to expand to Winchester and Lexington and widen their distribution throughout the Valley.

The first two issues–- June and July–- have been well received, says Grogan. "We're encouraged. We want the paper to be positive, with good news."

And how will Blu succeed where others like eightyone have not?

Grogan notes its arts-and-culture focus and its diversity of writers, none of which have been compensated yet. "We're bare bones," he adds.

In Waynesboro, New Dominion's Chris Graham believes there's plenty of room for another Shen Valley publication. "I think the Valley is under served," he says.

And he doesn't see Blu as competition for New Dominion, also a monthly. "Our focus is news and social issues," explains Graham. "Theirs is arts and culture."

Graham and his wife, Crystal, who also run the Augusta Free Press, have one thing in common with the Blu creators: They're not thwarted by the economy, and they took New Dominion from quarterly to monthly this year. "Like those guys, we started going monthly in a deep recession," says Graham. "We had to do it to grow."

He compliments the look of the Blu Magazine, a stitched-and-trim tabloid on newsprint with a clean design by Gotham Graphix.

"We wanted it to look more like a magazine," says Grogan. "The layout is not so blocky, with fewer corners. The advertising is spaced out. We're using the brightest newsprint we can."

The website at should be up soon, and news boxes are on order to handle the 10,000 print run.

Section heads continue the Blu theme, with Blu Plate food, Blu Screen movies, and Blu Green enviro coverage.

Grogan says no one has commented on the magazine's section called, "Blu Ball" covering community social events, like Blu's launch party.

He adds, "We're trying to have three or four Blu balls a year."


The Valley has a great mixture of natives and transplants. It's rare that I hear people who feel negatively about transplants. . . that's kind of old-world xenophobia.

One of my favorite things about this place is how welcoming and open everyone is.

I always loved "The Wall" poster, but your buddy's wall is only a very small place. Think of what you might discover if you left the confines of his apartment and sought out really awesome things the Vally has to offer. I hope Blu will help you do that.

People love this place. Find out why!

What about "64 Magazine," from the side of the mountains, that also failed? The Valley has an independent movie theater (the one that rescued Vinegar Hill), a city park with an underwater cave, a concert venue in a lime kiln ruin, a burger joint with seven milkshake flavors, and worker-owned cooperative natural foods diner. Charlottesville has none of that.

Also, the first colleges for regular, non-elite, people in Virginia were in the Valley.

Dang Colfer you are a lil upset dontcha think? I tell ya what though. I was born in this here ville. Raised and reared here. Now I run my bidness here. But I am gettin the F$@# out of here and comin over there if yall really got a underwater cave AND seven different milkshake flavors.

There seems to be no shortage of arts & culture on this side of the mountains, but I totally agree with Billy Bob that Charlottesville and the Valley should show a little more love to one another. They really do benefit from their proximity.

The Shenandoah Valley is a really cool place that has plenty to do. I feel busier than ever, and I kind of chuckle when Charlottesvillians ask me incredulously what I do. There's so much happening, I can't make it to everything. Luckily, I have a good business partner who can cover some ground, too.

I spent the evening in Harrisonburg last night. Tonight I'll be hanging out at the Dajeeling cafe in Staunton. If any of you'd like to discuss arts & culture in the valley, come on by. I'll be there until around 10.

It's the Northern Virginia not the Transplants. After we looked at "The Wall" poster hanging on the wall we discoverd the telephone, and then we used it, and the the plush fruits of the valley goodness came to us. And we ate them. And man they taste good! Then we ordered a pizza

If you get tired Jack I'd be glad to do some of that for you. I can only report on late night and the only art I've seen over there was on my buddies wall. It was really cool a poster of "The Wall" What really makes the Valley a cool spot is the people that live and grew up there and the lack of Northern Virginia transplants.

Maybe we should ask Jack for the stuff that has the colorful label. Artist choice always seems to work better.

Maybe a few of the village people should venture outside Camelot
to see what is happening on the other side of the hill. You may be surprised by what you find. Who knows you may even stumble upon flavor number 8.

step back jack, i thought they busted that dude a couple of weeks back. 100 mason jars or something. it's still coming after that or just old stock?

Colfer -- can you say "inferiority complex?"

colfer, the valley is quite a bit larger geographically and population wise than Charlottesville. Anon's point is dead on.

Part of Charlottesville's appeal is its proximity to the valley. The inverse is true for the valley.

For one to feel so competitive towards a neighboring locality is to manifest the height of provincialism.

Arts and culture? Where?

I think you all should listen to Jack!