UnJam, the song: Some rue Rue's tune
So get unjammed
Build a town
Street by street.
–from "Get UnJammed"
Harrison Rue isn't a folk star, but he plays one in meetings debating the 20-year transportation plan.
At least four times, Rue, the area's top transportation planner, has shaken the normally staid atmosphere of government meetings by whipping out his guitar and singing his opus, "Get Unjammed."
"I'm a one-hit wonder," says Rue, after serenading reporters at the unveiling of UnJam 2025 in the office of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission.
But his life isn't all ovations and encores.
Charlottesville City Councilor Blake Caravati refuses to confirm or deny reports he threatened to smash Rue's guitar, but Caravati admits he wanted to slink out of one meeting where Rue was warbling.
"I would have left," says Caravati, "but he put me up at the front table. I told him, 'Don't do that anymore.'"
Rue's artistry doesn't end there. He also serves as a brand manager of sorts. He– or someone in his household (he can't recall exactly who)– rubbed two concepts together and sparked a dynamic motif for the 20-year plan to end gridlock.
Rue combined the familiar red-white-and-blue badge of the Interstate highway system with the words "UnJam 2025."
"That's good; that's recognition," says Susan Payne, a local advertising agency owner and branding expert. So while his singing hasn't earned universal praise, it's unlikely that anyone will try to replace the UnJam 2025 brand with its official bureaucratic name: the United Jefferson Area Mobility Plan.
As for Rue's musical talents, UVA's interim University Architect Mary Hughes won't comment, but she points out that as the first singer-songwriter to lead the Commission, Rue has added to the "creative pool" in Charlottesville. That's little consolation for Caravati.
"He's doing a good job," says Caravati, "but I don't think we need the entertainment."
The way we grow
Will be the way
Our children live.
I think it's time we
Gave our kids
Some different choices
Have guitar, will plan.
PHOTO BY HAWES SPENCER