May 27- June 3, 2004

THURSDAY, May 27
FAMILY
Tales for Tots:
The five-and-under crowd can hear cat tails… er, tales… at Barnes & Noble's preschool story time. The book list includes Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes and Nosier than a Cat by Susan Bartolletti. 10:30am. Free. Barracks Road Shopping Center. 984-6598.

Great Expectations: Expectant parents and others can take a journey through the process of pregnancy and childbirth with a series of childbirth classes and video presentations by Midwifery Options for Mothers. Tonight's program is titled "Challenges and Choices" and takes place at Central Library. 6:30-8:30pm. Free. 201 E. Market St. 978-4779.

PERFORMANCE
Swing Swap:
The Charlottesville Swing Dance Society hosts this weekly Thursday-night swing dancing session, with an hour of East Coast Swing, an hour of West Coast Swing, and a DJ taking requests. Singles and couples welcome, no partner needed. 7-9pm. Albemarle County Office Building Auditorium, 401 McIntire Road. Free. 980-2744.

Café 007: Tandem Friends School's seventh grade class presents a unique mixed media event of original skits, monologues, poems, music, art, and dance. 7pm. Tandem Friends School Community Hall, 279 Tandem Lane. $6. 296-1303 ext. 408.

WORDS
Student Reading:
Winners of the fourth annual Jambalaya story contest read their work. Jambalaya is a magazine for and about middle school-age girls. Barnes & Noble, 7pm. 984-0466.

TUNES
A Songwriter's Circle:
The third annual benefit for Acoustic Muse by the members of a songwriters' retreat at Camp Albemarle happens at Gravity Lounge. The fifth reunion concert for the Camp Albemarle songwriting crew– fighting the good fight against electricity. $8, 8pm.

Jim Waive (country-folk) at the Blue Moon Diner. Free, 8pm (W)

Karaoke Night with DJ Wild Wes at Buffalo Wild Wings. Free, 9pm (W)

Ben Reed of Calf Mountain Jam at Clock Tower Tavern in Staunton. No cover, 9pm.

Mike Mulvaney at Coupe DeVille's. No cover, 10pm.

Chicken Head Blues Band at Durty Nelly's. $4, 9pm. (W)

Thompson/ D'earth and friends (freeform jazz) at Miller's. $4, 10pm. (W)

Devil Take the Hindmost and Sedamentreous at Outback Lodge. $3, 10pm.

Robert Jospé (jazz) at Rapture. No cover, 7:30pm. (W)

Satisfaction (dance party) at Rapture. No cover, 10:30pm. (W)

Middle Eastern Belly Dance Class at Rapunzel's Coffee & Books. Free, 6:30pm. (W)

Hogwaller Ramblers (bluegrass mayhem) at Shebeen. No cover, 10pm. (W)

Catherine Carraway with Alegria (Latin Jazz) at Zocalo. No cover, 9pm.

Kait and Thom (modern jazz duo) at Tokyo Rose upstairs. No cover, 9:30pm. (W)

FRIDAY, May 28
FAMILY
Storybook Dance:
Young thespians ages 2-5 can climb on stage at the Virginia Discovery Museum as they sing and dance and bring to life stories from different areas around the world. This week features West Africa. Come in costume if you like. Sessions at 10:30am, 11:00am, and 11:30am. Included in the price of admission. East end of the Downtown Mall. 977-1025.

Y'all Come: There's a weekend full of good old-fashioned fun at Wintergreen Resort's Memorial Day Country Fair. Courtyard music and family barbecue, country square dance, children's festival, hayrides and pony rides, lakeside activities, and more. 8pm tonight. Free, but some activities have a fee. Rt. 664. 800-325-8180.

WALKABOUT
Fridays after 5:
The popular outdoor concert series is back for its 16th season. This week's act: the Bootsie Daniels Band.

Forest Summit: Join concerned environmentalists from up and down the east coast (including actor Woody Harrelson and author Richard Manning) at the 14th annual Heartwood Forest Council meeting. Panel discussions, workshops, and other activities, are all geared toward finding ways to protect the country's forests, air, and water. Today-Monday, with the bulk of the activities between 9am and 9pm Saturday and Sunday. $20 per person for a one-day pass. Caroline Furnace Camp in Fort Valley. Visit heartwood.org for info.

PERFORMANCE
No Shame Theatre: Up for a theatrical nightcap? Join performers at this alternative venue for original material by anyone about anything. The first 15 people who show up get a spot on stage. Or you can just watch the carryings on. Guidelines can be found under "How to No Shame" at noshame.org/charlottesville/. 11pm. Live Arts Up Stage Theater, 123 E. Water St. $5. 977-4177.

Bach's Lunch: The Christ Episcopal presents Bruce Penner and Friends in a lunchtime concert. Noon. 120 W. High St. Free. Box lunches at the door, $5. 293-2347.

Hampden-Sydney Music Festival: Motor down Route 15 to Hampden-Sydney College for the 23rd annual chamber music festival. This weekend's program includes music by Beethoven, Copland, Bernstein, and Shostakovich. 8pm. Crawley Forum, Hampden-Sydney. $15-20. 223-6273.

Two Gentlemen of Verona: Shenandoah Shakespeare presents its final performances of the Bard's early comedy in the magnificent Blackfriars Theater. 7:30pm. 10 S. Market St., Staunton. $10-26. 540-885-5588. See Performance feature.

Dancing is Romancing: Join Terry Dean for nightly classes in the Waltz, the Foxtrot, the Rumba and more. Call for nightly schedule. 7:30-8:15pm. Terry Dean's Dance Studio, 105 W. Main St. $10 per class. 977-3327.

Café 007: See Thursday, May 27.

Final Payments: Live Arts' Playwrights Lab member Jane Barnes presents her new play, Final Payments, about Mary Todd Lincoln's fight for survival after Lincoln's assassination. Live Arts UpStage, 123 E. Water St. Free. 977-4177.

TUNES
Two Red Shoes (blues) at Outback Lodge:
Offering blues laced with pop and featuring strong vocalist Ranya K. Manwill, Two Red Shoes pull in a number of different influences and let loose an exuberant concoction of delight. $6, 10pm.

Lindsey Osborne at Rapunzel's: Local singer/songwriter performs folk/etc. with Elizabeth Hutson, Ben Robinson, and Pete Osborne in the ole packing shed in Lovingston. $5, 8pm. 263-6660.

Josh Mayo (acoustic pop) at Clock Tower Tavern in Staunton. No cover, 9pm.

Danny Beirne at Coupe DeVille's. No cover, 10pm.

Ronnie Johnson at Dew Drop Inn. No cover, 9:30pm.

Mystic Vibrations at Garden of Sheba. $5, 10pm.

Special Ed and the Shortbus at Gravity Lounge. $5, 8:30pm.

Vernon Fisher ("romantic side of jazz") at Keswick Hall. No cover, 6:30pm. (W)

The Red Hot Chilly Pickers (bluegrass) at Millers. $3, 10pm.

William Walter & Co. with Andy Roland on sax (acoustic-rock) at Orbit. No cover, 10:30pm.

Bootsie Jam (rock DJ night) at Tokyo Rose. $3, 10pm.

Jim Waive (country-folk) with Annamal and "Chocolate Factory" Bell at Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar. No cover, 9pm.

SATURDAY, May 29
ART
Valley Artsy Craftsy:
Valley Green Gallery in Nellysford holds its 14th annual Art & Craft Show featuring 30 juried artisans, demonstrations, music, and food. 10am-5pm today and 11am-4pm tomorrow. Rt. 151 in Valley Green Center, Nellysford. 434-361-2048 or valleygreengallery.com.

WALKABOUT
In the Footsteps of Wildlife:
Learn how to detect signs of wildlife in the backcountry with Hub Knott of the Living Earth School. 9am. Free. Meet at the Ivy Creek Natural Area Barn. 973-7772. See Walkabout feature.

Honoring Veterans: The Virginia War Memorial in Richmond hosts a special ceremony honoring veterans of World War II, timed to coincide with dedication of the National WWII Memorial taking place in Washington, D.C. Sponsored by American Legion Post 84, the ceremony includes remarks from veterans' advocates and public officials, with a presentation of popular music from the WWII era. 2pm. Free. 621 S. Belvidere St. 804-288-9173 or Henglert1@aol.com for info.

West Virginia Adventure: Join the Outdoor Adventure Social Club for a long weekend of whitewater rafting and hiking in scenic West Virginia over Memorial Day weekend. Depart 12:30pm today and return Monday evening. Fee, plus membership. 760-HIKE or outdoorsocial.com for info and registration.

Music for Mammals: The Spruce Creek Gallery in Nellysford celebrates its seventh anniversary with music, refreshments, and special guests: adorable and adoptable dogs from Nelson County's new Almost Home Animal Shelter. Volunteers will answer questions and personally introduce you to their most deserving dogs. Picnic in adjacent Spruce Creek Park. 11am-4 pm. 1368 Rockfish Valley Highway (Route 151). 434-1361-1859.

Bead Basics: Studio Baboo instructor Terri Gable offers a class in bead stringing basics. 10am-12. $25 fee includes materials. 106 Fifth St. Downtown Mall. 244-2905.

Messing with Moss: Join naturalist Fred Olday for two days of hornworts, liverworts, peat mosses, granite mosses, and "true" mosses as part of the Wintergreen Nature Foundation's Field Studies Institute on "The World of Mosses." Learn how to identify different types of moss in the field and how to collect and cure samples. 9am-5pm. $90 members ($100 nonmembers). Meet at Wintergreen's Trillium House. 971-8802 or twnf.org.

Spring Crafters Fair: Head out to Walton's Mountain for their 21st semi-annual Spring Crafter's Fair. 10am-5pm. Free. Walton's Mountain Country Store on Rt. 6 off Route 29 in Nelson County. 263-4566.

Memorial Day Celebration: Kick off summer with wine tastings, live music, gourmet food samplings, and gift shop specials at Wintergreen Winery. $5. 10am-6pm today and Sunday. Nellysford. 361-2519 or wintergreenwinery.com.

Forest Summit: The Heartwood Forest Council meeting continues today. 9am. $20 per person for a one-day pass. Caroline Furnace Camp in Fort Valley. Visit heartwood.org for info. See Friday, May 28.

Wintergreen Memorial Day: Take in a whole weekend of Memorial Day fun at Wintergreen Resort including a country fair, an ice cream social, an antique street fair, line dancing, and live music from The Jan Smith Band. 10am today and Sunday. Fee. For info and a complete schedule, visit wintergreenresort.com or call 325-8180.

FAMILY
Blast from the Past:
The Science Museum of Virginia invites kids of all ages to come and play with their toys at the new exhibit "Kid Stuff: Great Toys from Our Childhood," opening today. See Family feature.

Y'all Come: See Friday, May 28. Time is 10am-3pm today.

PERFORMANCE
Latin Groove:
Studio 206 Belmont presents a new weekly class. Learn salsa, samba, merengue, and other Latin forms of dance in an exercise setting. Dress comfortably for a great workout. 11:15am. Studio 206 Belmont, 505 Monticello Road. $12 drop-in; 5-class card for $45. 973-2065.

Footfalls: Live Arts' Playwrights Lab member Jay Neelley presents his play, Footfalls, a historical drama based on the lives of mid-19th century mediums. Live Arts UpStage, 123 E. Water St. Free. 977-4177.

The Importance of Being Earnest: Shenandoah Shakespeare presents its final performance of Oscar Wilde's comic masterpiece at Blackfriars Theater. 7:30pm. 10 S. Market St., Staunton. $10-26. 540-885-5588. See Performance Feature.

Henry IV, Part I: Shenandoah Shakespeare presents its final performance of the Bard's best-loved history play in the Blackfriars Theater. 2pm. 10 S. Market St., Staunton. $10-26. 540-885-5588. See Performance Feature.

Hampden-Sydney Music Festival: See Friday, May 28.

TUNES
Kathy Compton with Alexandra Scott and Ezra Hamilton at Gravity Lounge:
With her smoky voice and folk-pop stylings, Kathy Compton's latest sounds like a bunch of folks having a good time. Perhaps you'll join them tonight. $5, 8:30pm.

The Deer Creek Boys at Rapunzel's: Bluegrass stalwarts the Deer Creek Boys keep old time alive at Rapunzel's- did I mention the oldest in the group is 16? $5, 8pm. 263-6660.

Rivers & Roots Music Festival: The Kenndeys (folk-pop), Paul Reisler with Amy Speace, and others join up for a half-day of fun, featuring family-friendly musical acts and children's games at 2 and 4pm. All proceeds benefit musical education in Rappahannock County. Routes 211 & 522, Sperryville. 10 adults/$5 kids 10-17/under 10 free, noon to dusk. 540-743-3083.

CD Release Party: Years (formerly Lure) at Starr Hill: Does Years sound like Radiohead, or Radiohead sound like Years? Ignore the time problem and make up your own mind tonight! $6 advance/$10 includes copy of the CD, 9pm. See Tunes feature.

Victor Cabas (blues) at Basic Necessities. No cover, 6:30pm. (W)

Populist Dancing at Club Rio. $10, 9pm. (W)

Max Collins (otherwordly guitar) at Orbit. No cover, 10:30pm.

Bella Morte, This Means You, and Synthetic Division at Outback Lodge. $6, 10pm.

The Deer Creek Boys at Rapunzel's. $5, 8pm. 263-6660.

Fair Weather Bums (bluegrass) at Shebeen. No cover, 11pm. (W)

CD Release Party: Years (formerly Lure) at Starr Hill. $6 advance/$10 includes copy of the CD, 9pm.

No Gods No Monsters and Hallelujah (formerly Automatrom) at the Tokyo Rose. 18 and over. $5, 10pm.

Lisa Bastoni (vocalist) at Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar. No cover, 9pm.

Maybe Tomorrow at Wild Wing Café. No cover, 9pm.

SUNDAY, May 30
ART. AND WALKABOUT
Valley Artsy Craftsy:
See Saturday, May 29.

FAMILY
Y'all Come:
See Friday, May 28. Time is 10am-2pm today.

FAMILY AND WALKABOUT
Community Swim Day:
Fry's Spring Beach Club invites Charlottesville community members for a day of swimming at the pool which was completely rebuilt last year. Community Day guests need not be accompanied by a member. In addition to swimming, guests can play beach volleyball, water basketball and tennis, and enjoy the on-site playground and patio dining. 11am-8pm. 2512 Jefferson Park Ave. $5 family; $3 individual. Rain date: Monday, May 31. 296-4181 or fsbc.net.

WALKABOUT
Bike the Colonial Parkway:
Pedal the scenic and historic Colonial Parkway in Virginia's Tidewater region with the Outdoor Adventure Social Club. 8am-6pm. Fee, plus membership. 760-HIKE or outdoorsocial.com for info and registration.

Memorial Day Celebration: Wintergreen Winery's summer kick off continues. 10am-6pm. Nellysford. 361-2519 or wintergreenwinery.com.

Forest Summit: The Heartwood Forest Council meeting continues today. 9am. $20 per person for a one-day pass. Caroline Furnace Camp in Fort Valley. Visit heartwood.org for info. See Friday, May 28.

Wintergreen Memorial Day: The celebration continues today at Wintergreen Resort. Begins at 10am. Fee. For info and a complete schedule, visit wintergreenresort.com or call 325-8180. See Saturday, May 29.

PERFORMANCE
Sunday Salsa:
The Charlottesville Salsa Club sponsors a weekly opportunity to learn and practice Salsa and other dances, in a smoke-free nightclub atmosphere. A basic lesson (usually salsa) gets the evening started at 8. DJ'd music is 80 percent salsa mixed with other Latin styles. Complimentary water and sodas. The Outback Lodge, 917 Preston Ave. 8pm-12am. $5 (members $3). 979-7211. cvillesalsaclub.com.

Two Gentlemen of Verona: See Friday, May 28, and Performance feature. Today's show is a matinee at 2pm.

TUNES
B.C. at Miller's: You haven't seen the smart cello-pop of B.C. yet? Come on, Stephen Barling demanding Oren Hatch to stay away from his ganja patch? Genius. No cover, 10:30pm. (W)

The Hogwaller Ramblers (bluegrass mayhem) at Escafé. No cover, 10pm. (W)

Wave featuring Juliana Marquez at Gravity Lounge. $5, 7:30pm.

Irish Music Session at Shebeen. No cover, 3-6pm. (W)

MONDAY, May 31
PERFORMANCE
Dancing is Romancing:
See Friday, May 28.

WALKABOUT
Horseback Riding:
What better way to spend the Memorial Day holiday than trail riding in the Blue Ridge? 3pm-8:30pm. Fee, plus membership. 760-HIKE or outdoorsocial.com for info and registration.

Spring Fiesta: Venture out to Oakencroft Winery for the annual Spring Fiesta, featuring a full day of wine tastings, tours, finger foods, and stunning views of the Blue Ridge. Live entertainment from Jimmy O. 11-5pm. $10 per person includes a souvenir wine glass. 3.5 miles west of Route 29 on Garth Road. 296-4188 x 21 for info.

FAMILY
Village Playhouse:
Storytime comes to the Village Playhouse as two talented mom volunteers tell tales to tots every Monday morning. Kids can bring their own favorite stories. Treats and stickers are part of the fun. 11-11:30am. Included in the price of admission. 313 Second St. SE. 296-9390. village-playhouse.com.

TUNES
Open Mic Night with Charles Davis at Baja Bean. No cover, signup 8:30pm/9pm. (W)

George Melvin (piano merriment) at South Street Brewery. No cover, 9:30pm. (W)

Travis Elliot (pop) and John Figura at the Virginian. No cover, 10pm. (W)

TUESDAY, June 1
PERFORMANCE
Dancing is Romancing:
See Friday, May 28.

WALKABOUT
Preschool Nature Walk:
Ann Mallek of the Virginia Museum of Natural History leads a guided nature walk for the little tikes at the Ivy Creek Natural Area. 10:30am. No fee. Meet by the Barn. 973-7772.

Candidate Forum: The League of Women Voters of Charlottesville-Albemarle hosts a forum for all prospective Charlottesville School Board candidates in City Council Chambers. Each candidate will have two minutes to make an opening statement that will be followed by a question from the moderator, then questions from the floor. All members of the public are welcome and encouraged to attend. 7pm. 970-1707 or lwv@avenue.org.

TUNES AND WALKABOUT
Strike Up:
The Charlottesville Municipal Band presents the first concert of its 82nd season with a program including VonSuppe's "The Light Cavalry Overture," Rhoads' "Scottish Rhapsody," and "Valse from Mademoiselle Angot" by LeCocq, among others. 8pm. Free. Downtown Mall amphitheater. 295-9850.

TUNES
Karaoke Night (what you make of it) at Baja Bean. Free, 8pm. (W)

Jamie and Rolland (partial bluegrass mayhem) at the Blue Moon Diner. No cover, 8pm. (W)

Glen Mack at Coupe DeVille's. No cover, 10:30pm. (W)

Kym Tuvim at Gravity Lounge. $5, 8;30pm.

Jimmy O at the Lazy Parrot Grill (Pantops shopping center). No cover, 8pm. (W)

SNUG (funk improv) at Michael's Bistro. $3, 10pm. (W)

WEDNESDAY, June 2
PERFORMANCE
Country Dance Night:
Couples and line dancing at Fry's Spring Beach Club. Dance lesson free with cover. Lesson 7pm, dancing 8-11pm. 2512 Jefferson Park Ave. $7 cover, $4 full-time students; students $2 every fourth Wednesday through May. 977-0491.

Salsa Night: Whether you're mastering the basic step or working on learning some cool new moves, this class will help you reach your next level. No partner necessary. 8-9:30 salsa partnering lesson; 9:30-10 practice. Lesson and practice, $8, $6 students. Berkmar Ballroom, 652 W. Rio Road. 975-4611 or berkmarballroom.com.

Dancing is Romancing: See Friday, May 28.

FAMILY
More Tales for Tots:
The five-and-under crowd can hear storybook favorites at Barnes & Noble's preschool storytime. 10:30am. Free. Barracks Road Shopping Center. 984-6598.

WALKABOUT
Get Organized:
Singles with a desire to travel, but who don't want to go alone, are invited to an organizational meeting at Java Java for a new group sponsored by After 6 Speed Dating. 7-9pm. Register (required) at after6speeddating.com. 295-3161 or info@after6speeddating.com. Townside Shopping Center, Ivy Road.

Hike Reddish Knob: Join Jay Shaner from the Wintergreen Nature Foundation for a trip to the summit of Reddish Knob. Explore the ridgeline, take in beautiful views of the high country, and search for the elusive Yellow Clintonia and Clematis. 8:30am. $10 members ($15 non-members). Bring lunch. 971-8802 or twnf.org for info.

TUNES
Kathy Compton at the Blue Moon Diner. No cover, 8pm. (W)

Cheesy Trivia with M&M Express at Buffalo Wild Wings. No cover, 8:30pm. (W)

Benny Dodd (rock covers) at Coupe DeVille's. No cover, 10pm. (W)

Open Mic Night at Dew Drop Inn. No cover, 7;30pm. (W)

Chris Smither with Jan Smith at Gravity Lounge. $15, 8pm.

The Mike Rosensky Jeff Decker Quartet (jazz) at Miller's. No cover, 9:30pm. (W)

Jamal Millner and Friends at Outback Lodge. Free, 10pm.

Open Jam at Rapunzel's Coffee & Books. Free, 7pm. (W)

Middle Eastern Belly Dance Class at Rapunzel's Coffee & Books. Free, 6:30pm. (W) Jalapeno Cornbread at South Street. No cover, 10pm.

Badfish (a tribute to Sublime) at Starr Hill. $5, 8pm.

Kathy Olsen Trio (jazz) upstairs at Tokyo Rose. No cover, 9:30pm. (W)

Jim Davies (acoustic rock and blues) at the Virginian. No cover, 10pm. (W)

THURSDAY, June 3
ART
Rust Never Sleeps:
Take in the reception today for James Welty, whose recent sculpture will be the June show at Les yeux du monde at dot2dot in conjunction with the University of Virginia Art Museum's exhibition James Welty: A Short History of Decay. 5:30-7:30pm.

FAMILY
More Tales for Tots:
See Wednesday, June 2.

WORDS
Book Group:
Greene County Library book group meets to discuss The Puzzle Bark Tree by Stephanie Gertler. 7pm. 985-5227. 222 Main St, Stanardsville.

PERFORMANCE
Swing Swap:
The Charlottesville Swing Dance Society hosts this weekly evening of swing dancing. The first hour focuses on East Coast Swing and the second hour on West Coast Swing, but the DJ takes requests. Singles and couples welcome, no partner needed. 7-9pm. Albemarle County Office Building Auditorium, 401 McIntire Road. Free. 980-2744.

Angels in America: Catch this preview performance of Live Arts' season-crowning production of Angels in America: Millennium Approaches. 100 free preview tickets available. Call theater for details. 8pm. Live Arts DownStage, 123 E. Water St. Free. 977-4177x100.

The Merchant of Venice: Shenandoah Shakespeare presents a new production of the Bard's treatise on love, justice, and mercy in the magnificent Blackfriars Theater. See Performance Feature. 7:30pm. 10 S. Market St., Staunton. $10-26. 540-885-5588.

Dancing is Romancing: See Friday, May 28.

TUNES
Jim Waive (country-folk) at the Blue Moon Diner. Free, 8pm (W)

Karaoke Night with DJ Wild Wes at Buffalo Wild Wings. Free, 9pm (W)

Danny Beirne at Coupe DeVille's. No cover, 10pm.

Chicken Head Blues Band at Dürty Nelly's. $4, 9pm. (W)

Christine Kane with Libby Wiebel at Gravity Lounge. $12/$10 advance, 8pm.

Thompson/ D'earth and friends (freeform jazz) at Miller's. $4, 10pm. (W)

Egypt with Navel at Outback Lodge. $5, 10pm.

Robert Jospe (jazz) at Rapture. No cover, 7:30pm. (W)

Satisfaction (dance party) at Rapture. No cover, 10:30pm. (W)

Middle Eastern Belly Dance Class at Rapunzel's Coffee & Books. Free, 6:30pm. (W)

Hogwaller Ramblers (bluegrass mayhem) at Shebeen. No cover, 10pm. (W)

Kait and Thom (modern jazz duo) at Tokyo Rose upstairs. No cover, 9:30pm. (W)

Upcoming and Ongoing
WORDS

Book for Tape: GiGi Books, an educational children's book and audiobook publisher in Leesburg, Virginia is looking for fresh material. Pay $5 to enter your original children's story and you could win $250 and your name in the library catalog. SeeWords feature.

ART
Planet Art 2004:
McGuffey Art Center announces a Festival of Creativity for Children June 15-30– free workshops taught by McGuffey artists in painting, collage, ceramics, stained glass mosaics, and dance. For information and registration, call 295-7973 or see mcguffeyartcenter.com.

ArtInPlace Quest: Seeking artists to submit monumental work to be placed around the City of Charlottesville for display from October to the following September. $1300 stipend offered for each successful entrant. Deadline for Application, July 1. Information: artinplace.org.

Aboriginal Art Tours: Learn about the current exhibits at the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Museum on the free, weekly guided tour. Offered every Saturday morning at 10:30am. Call 244-0234 or visit virginia.edu/kluge-ruhe for info.

PERFORMANCE
Teen Acting Studio:
This weekly workshop focuses on opening up the text within a Shakespearean monologue through extensive language work: scanning the verse, exploring rhythm and sound, and working the breath. Students need to bring 3 sample Shakespearean monologues with them to the first class. Pre-requisite: Prior LATTE acting studio experience or instructor permission. Thursdays through June 3. 5-7pm. Live Arts, 123 E. Water St. $60 members, $75 general. 977-4177.

Teen Acting Studio: Designed for the serious teen actor, this weekly workshop will focus on actor's vocal production and physical movement, skills that will then be put to practical use in work with monologues. Students should bring 3 sample contemporary monologues with them to the first class. Wednesdays until June 2. 5:30-7pm. Live Arts, 123 E. Water St. $60 members, $75 general. 977-4177.

Live Arts Actor's LAB: Join acting coach and director Carol Pedersen to sharpen your acting tools and gear up for numerous summer acting possibilities now. New session runs Saturdays until June 19. Weekly drop-in session 10-11am, full session 10-1pm. Live Arts, 123 E. Water St. $10 drop-in rate; $160 for full eight-week session. 977-4177x100.

WALKABOUT
Focusing on Help:
UVA Macular Degeneration Support Group meets the third Monday of each month. Education, resources, and networking with peers. Refreshments provided. 1:30-3pm Charlottesville Senior Center, Pepsi Place. No charge. 924-1941 jah3ef@virginia.edu.

Pets, Pets, Pets: The Paws to Adopt pet adoption center is open Saturdays. With pets from several area shelters, the center is committed to "brining the animals to the people." Noon-4pm. All Things Pawssible Dog Training Center. 706 Henry Ave. 973-4321.

Downtown Tours: The Albemarle-Charlottesville Historical Society offers walking tours of historic downtown Charlottesville every Saturday at 10am. Tours leave from the McIntire Building across from Lee Park and cover over 250 years of community history in one hour. $3 suggested donation. 296-1492.

Bocce and Brunch: Every Sunday through June, the Spruce Creek Gallery in Nellysford hosts the popular "Brunch and Bocce." Enjoy a catered brunch, and then try to figure out what this bocce thing is all about. Reservations required. 361-1859.

Visit Montpelier: Montpelier offers two outdoor walking tours each Saturday, one focusing on the plantation's slave community, and another on the more recent duPont estate. Afterwards, go behind the scenes and see rooms that are not regularly open to the public and areas of the house that are under renovation. Offered every half-hour from 10:30am-4pm. Visit montpelier.org for more info.

Monticello Gardens and Grounds: This guided tour explores the flower and vegetable gardens, grove, and orchards around Jefferson's home. Tours begin on the west lawn hourly at :15 after the hour starting at 9:15am. Fee included in price of general admission. 984-9822.

Ferry the James: The Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society is offering rides on the Hatton Ferry, one of the last poled ferries still in operation in the U.S., across the James River now through October 17. No fee. Open weekends from 9am-5pm. Located near Scottsville on Route 625. 296-1492.

FAMILY
Amusements:
Albemarle County Parks and Recreation Department has discount admission tickets for Kings Dominion, Water Country, and Busch Gardens for sale. You don't need to be a county resident to purchase these tickets, which will be available through the summer while supplies last. Third floor of the County Office Building. 401 McIntire Road. 296-5844.

Act up: Old Michie Theatre offers Summer Theatre School where fun, learning, and self-expression are key. Beginning, intermediate, and advanced classes for different age groups and levels of ability starting June 14. 221 East Water St. 977-3690. oldmichie.com.

Roots and Wings: The Living Earth School brings kids closer to the earth with their summer residential youth camps. Three programs &emdash; Earth Roots (ages 8-11), Ancient Ways (advanced camp for ages 8-13), and Wilderness Quest (8-day backpacking trek for ages 12 and up) &emdash; are designed to help children get back to their roots and learn the philosophy of living close to the earth. These camps teach survival skills and much more. They are personal growth oriented, educational, and down right fun. Enrollment limited and fills fast, so register as soon as possible. Applications available on-line. 258 Rocky Bottom Lane, Afton. 540-456-7339. circleofseeds.com.

Railroad River Ramble: Call now for your tickets to join one of the James River Rambler railroad excursions happening on May 22 and June 5. This popular train ride wanders through the rolling hills and deep forests of Buckingham County from Dillwyn along the historic Buckingham Branch rail line. Choose from a 90-minute or 3-hour tour. Sponsored by the Old Dominion Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. Call between 10am-4pm on Saturdays, 1-4pm on Sundays: 800-451-6318. odcnrhs.org.

Eat or Be Eaten: Adventurous types can step into a dog-eat-dog world and find out "Who's for Dinner?" at a new exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Natural History. Taxidermied specimens, puppets, and interactive activities help explorers learn about the unusual ways animals hunt for their food and protect themselves from predators. Open Monday-Thursday 10am-4pm. Free. 104 Emmet St. 982-4605. virginia.edu/vmnh-uva.

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!: The pressure. The teamwork. The danger. The speed. The fans. The groundbreaking IMAX® film NASCAR: The IMAX Experience thrusts you into the driver's seat to experience a visceral journey inside America's most popular spectator sport at the Science Museum of Virginia. Runs through September 17. Call or see website for schedule and cost. 2500 W. Broad St., Richmond. 800-659-1727. smv.org.

Filling the Void: Stella is a black hole. Stella bats her lilac eyelashes and reminisces about her glory days as a giant star, how she explodes and becomes a black hole, and about the mysteries she still keeps to herself in the Science Museum of Virginia's multimedia planetarium show Black Holes now through June 13. Included in the price of admission. 2500 W. Broad St., Richmond. 800-659-1727. smv.org.

Out of this World: The Science Museum of Virginia offers earthbound astronaut wannabes the chance to vicariously climb into a space capsule the size of a Volkswagen Beetle and blast off into the great unknown with the IMAX film Space Station showing now through June 11. Call or see website for schedule and cost. 2500 W. Broad St., Richmond. 800-659-1727. smv.org.

World Beat: Discover how rhythm and movement link different cultures, locations, and musical traditions in the new IMAX film "Pulse: A Stomp Odyssey" at the Science Museum of Virginia. Two long-time Stomp performers guide visitors through grand landscapes and cultural celebrations in Brazil, South Africa, Spain, England, Japan, India, the United States, and various countries in Africa to learn how people from around the world experience music and dance. Runs through July 16. Call or see website for schedule and cost. 2500 W. Broad St., Richmond. 800-659-1727. smv.org.

ART LIST
The Second Street Gallery presents two shows during May. The Main Gallery offers the film noir-inspired "Deceptions: Photographs by Lori Nix," and the Dové Gallery features "Bears in My Room: Works on Paper by Marcel Dzama." City Center for Contemporary Arts, corner of Second and E. Water streets. 977-7284.

The University of Virginia Art Museum presents "A Taste for Grace: Italian Prints from the 15th through 18th Centuries," continuing through August 15. Also on view: "American Collage," including work by Andy Warhol, Adja Yunkers, and Robert Motherwell, among others, through August 24. 155 Rugby Road. 924-3952.

Vanity Salon and Gallery features the photography of Scott Wilson through June. 1112 E. High St. 977-3332.

Glo displays the work of Christian Peri during the month of May. Corner of Third and E. Main on the Downtown Mall. 295-7432.

The Charlottesville-Albemarle Art Association's annual all-member exhibit is at the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport Mezzanine Gallery from May 3 until August 2. CAAA member paintings by Barbara Ryan and Randy Sights Baskerville are also on the second floor of the Albemarle County Office Building through August.

The Village Playhouse displays the paintings and collages of Gordonsville artist Sarah Deacon during May. 313 Second St. SE. 296-9390.

The Kluge-Ruhe Collection of Aboriginal Art presents "Family Business: Kinship in Australian Aboriginal Art" through June 5. 400 Worrell Drive, Peter Jefferson Place. 244-0234.

"Dark Times," an exhibition of mixed-media work by Loes van Riel is on view at Angelo through June 30. 220 E. Main St. on the Downtown Mall. 971-9256.

At C'ville Coffee enjoy a children's art show presenting works by students of local watercolor artist Lee Alter. Through the end of May. 1301 Harris St. 979-4402.

Spencer's 206 shows work by Lisi Stoessel through the month of May. 295-2080.

The mezzanine at New Dominion Bookshop features the soft pastel paintings of Dick Carpenter through May 29. 404 E. Main St. on the Downtown Mall. 295-2552.

At the C&O Gallery, view "More than Landscapes," paintings by David Eaken, through May 31. Next door to the C&O Restaurant, 511 E. Water St. 971-7044.

Nature Visionary Art shows "Paci-Fist" mixed-media works by Jason Ruelle Andrews through May. 110 Fourth St. 296-8482. See Art feature.

Through May 29, photographer Andrew Humphries' "Daylight" is on view at Main Street Market. 416 W. Main St. 249-5448.

CODG presents "Nacer de Nuevo," photography by Melissa Wei, plus "Borrowed Faces," paintings by Eliza Martin. 112 E. Main St., under the Jefferson Theater. 242-4212.

New work by members of the Central Virginia Watercolor Guild, featuring watercolors, oils, pastels, and mixed media is on display at the Albemarle County Courthouse through July 31. McIntire Road. 296-8484.

The Dave Moore Studio features an "Open Door and Spring-type Show" during May. Hours vary, so call first. 414 E. Main St. (under The Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar). 825-1870. See Art feature.

Les Yeux du Monde@dot2Dot offers two shows during May: paintings and sculpture by Italo Scanga and artwork by Donna Mintz. 115 S. First St. 973-5566.

Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church features an exhibition of paintings by local architect Kurt Wassenaar and his mother, Dottie Wassenaar, through June 6. 717 Rugby Road. 293-8179.

Michael Fitts shows his paintings at the Mudhouse during May. 213 W. Main St. on the Downtown Mall. 984-6833.

L'étoile Restaurant displays paintings by local artists Barry Gordon and Malcolm Hughes. Gordon's abstract works feature interiors and everyday objects; Hughes portrays landscapes in the Impressionist style. 817 W. Main St. (across from the Amtrak Station). 979-7957.

Take a stroll through the 57 acres of Virginia's first-ever Sculpture Park, located on the grounds of Baker-Butler Elementary School. 2740 Proffit Road. 974-7777x1402.

Paintings by Gloria Mitchell are on display at The Artful Lodger, 1807 Seminole Trail. 970-1900.

This month view "Another Stroke of Nature," Chinese brush paintings by Rosy Kin-On King, at Art Upstairs. 316 E. Main St., above The Hardware Store, on the Downtown Mall. 923-3900.

During May, view "Another Stroke of Nature," Chinese brush paintings by Rosy Kin-On King, at Art Upstairs. 316 E. Main St., above The Hardware Store, on the Downtown Mall. 923-3900.

"Art and the Natural World," an exhibit featuring science themes, is on display at the Science and Engineering Library's new reading room. The exhibit is a highlight of the library's grand opening in Clark Hall, and will be up through the academic year. The exhibit features work by UVA art faculty. 924-3628.

Jerry O'Dell's paintings and stained glass creations are on view at Blue Ridge Glass & Crafts. 1724 Allied St. 293-2876.

During May, The McGuffey Art Center presents "New Works," paintings by Jean R. Sampson, plus a display of mixed-media art dolls by Susan Leschke. Also on view: "Euphony," paintings by Joan Cabell, and "For Loves' Sake," Lee Alter's watercolor exhibition. Upstairs don't miss the art by local high school students. 201 Second St. NW. 295-7973.

Transient Crafters displays "The Genesis of a Teapot," a series of fey and elegant teapots created by potter Jan Crowther, through the end of May. 118 W. Main St. on the Downtown Mall. 972-9500.

The Bozart Gallery presents "Paths, Portals, and Passages," oil paintings by Ron Swinnerton that "explore the intrigue of what is beyond the horizon and around the corner," through May 30. 211 W. Main St. 296-3919.

Martha Jefferson Hospital presents a show entitled "The Creative Process" through June 4. 459 Locust Ave. 982-7000.

Radar

Sun's Traces Gallery displays baskets by Charlotte LaRoy (featured in The Fiber Arts Design Book), as well as clay works by Paula Brown-Steedly, handmade paper by Rebecca Humphrey, and weaving by Barbara Gentry and Pat Hoover. Barboursville. 540-832-7044.

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts presents "Bonjour, Monsieur Corbet! The Bruyas Collection from the Musee Fabre, Montpelier," and "Van Gogh and Gauguin: An Artistic Dialogue in the South of France," through June 13. Also on view: "Best Friends: Portraits of Sydney and Francis Lewis," a series of portraits by a range of artists, including Chuck Close and Andy Warhol, through July 11. 2800 Grove Ave. 804-924-2704.

The Ed Jaffe Gallery features paintings and marble sculptures by Ed Jaffe, plus abstract photographs by Marc Jaffe. 108 W. Main St., Orange. 540-672-2400. www.edjaffe.com.

Charlottesville artist Elizabeth Geiger displays her paintings at the Williams School of Commerce at Washington and Lee University. Lexington. 540-458-8602.

Sunspots Studios in Staunton offer live glassblowing demonstrations every day by master glassblower Phillip Nolley and art glass artist Minh Martin, both in residence. Corner of Lewis and Middlebrook streets in downtown Staunton, across from the train station. 540-885-0678.

The Artisans Center of Virginia presents "Familiars," an exhibition of woodwork by Alan Kaplan, during the month of May. 601 Shenandoah Village Drive (exit 94 off I-64), Waynesboro. 540-946-3294. ACV@nexet.net

Caffé Bocce displays "Roy-Rossi Reflections II" paintings by Coy Roy and the late Al Rossi. 330 Valley St., Scottsville. 286-4422.

Other

Hanpden-Sydney's Atkinson Museum hosts an exhibition of the work of Margaret S. Watkins through Friday, June 11. "Margaret S. Watkins, A Retrospective" features a selection of paintings created between her early childhood (c. 1935) to today, ranging from oil portraits to pastels and paintings rendered entirely by palette knife. Tu-Fri, 12:30-4:30pm. Hampden-Sydney. 434-223-6134.

FEATURES/FEATURES/FEATURES
ART
Upstairs downstairs: New locals to watch
Let's get something straight: There's nothing romantic about being a starving artist. Artists need to eat. A bonus is being able to pay rent and buy supplies, with enough left over for the occasional $3 movie at the Jefferson. Suffering for one's art, despite its celebrated status, gets mighty tiresome.

Just ask painter Dave Moore, who once lived in a tent in a 300-sq. ft. unheated warehouse studio space. Moore's current studio is located in the basement of the Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar building. Here Moore has set up a laidback gallery to display his own and other local artists' creative output.

"Down here I can show work in progress," the former Richmond resident says. "I can show anything."

That's the upside of having one's own venue. The downside is trying to sustain it with sales, explains Moore.

His current show is a select retrospective of art he's produced since 1996, featuring abstract works rife with Asian and Western classical references (e.g. the name "Hypnos," Greek god of dreams, appears repeatedly). Moore finishes his large acrylic paintings with a glossy coat of varnish that intensifies the colors and adds another visual dimension. The overall effect is one of rich, watery layers floating with images.

Upstairs earning a buck at the Twisted Branch, Jason Ruelle Andrews is another ex-Richmonder seeking a Charlottesville audience. His first local exhibition, "Paci-Fist," showcasing older drawings along with new work on bricks (yes, bricks), is currently on display at Nature Visionary Art.

Shifting away from working on wood after leaving his job at a cabinet shop, Andrews decided to explore the possibilities of bricks, given their ready availability in Charlottesville. Andrews first coats their surface with layers of primer before composing his black line drawings– often dynamic studies of his own hands– and then uses an aerosol can to create subtly gradated finishes. The artist says his subdued background palette, ranging from institutional green to washed-out blues and lilacs, is central to how his drawings read.

Andrews is also experimenting with stenciling sign language onto bricks to create visual poetry. Propped against the wall at Nature Visionary Art, a 26-brick alphabet provides a guide for translating rows of color-segued hands arranged on the floor.

"I want to make stuff that's comfortable for myself," Andrews says, "but that's decipherable to everyone."

Since Moore and Andrews are spicing up Charlottesville's artistic feast, let's hope they can afford to keep eating.

Dave Moore's current retrospective will be on display at the Dave Moore Studio through May. Hours vary, so call first. 414 E. Main St. (under The Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar). 825-1870. Jason Ruelle Andrews' "Paci-Fist" is on view at Nature Visionary Art through May 29. 110 Fourth St. 296-8482.

WORDS
Never enough: Write a kids' book– and win!
By ELIZABETH KIEM WORDS@READTHEHOOK.COM
My idea of a good time is cruising the kids' section at the library with a big straw bag, making snap decisions. First I grab good titles, then I screen for pictures. Final cut considerations include immediate disqualification for stories featuring boogers, bullies, or girls with double names like Mary Elizabeth. Talking pets are automatic ins&endash; as is anything associated with baseball, rodeos, locomotives, or historical figures wearing wigs.

I'm sure many parents consider this an enjoyable, leisurely task– me, I like to fill my bag with 17 books before my offspring has finished a single level of the Magic School Bus on the computer.

I like the blitz check-out because it emphasizes just how tough it is to lose when it comes to children's books. On a good run I can net up to five really superb books, with a half dozen re-readables, a few pointless rhymers, and maybe one inappropriately poignant lesson on death for pre-readers. (Seasons, generations, and funerals on an ever-changing island.)

You see, the flaws are immediately evident.

Consider this&endash; a local children's book publisher is now soliciting new material. Send in your 400-word manuscript (no pictures, please), and you could win a cash prize and publication.

Now consider I am that publisher (which means my name is GiGi) and I'm cruising the shelves of my inbox. I see "Where the Wild Things Are" (absent spiky haired Max and the double-page spread depicting a wild rumpus). I throw it in my straw bag. I read "Harold and the Purple Crayon," through two pages to the crayon's entrance and toss it in. Next are "Caps for Sale," "Sumo Mouse," "Lamont the Lonely Monster" and any number of clever titles and story-lines.

But I've skipped some gems. I passed right over "Goodnight Moon" and "Close Your Eyes" because without Clement Hurd's vivid bedroom silence and Susan Jeffries' watercolor dreamscapes, I was under the impression that these books were just sweet. But, in fact, they are so powerfully dulcet I get teary eyed every time I read them (well, almost.)

So I'm tempted to enter the contest… struggle against my nature to write 400 words of unapologetically precious kid-wisdom. About the earth getting a haircut at harvest time, or a tree trunk as a toll booth to the sky. Because if a brilliant artist chooses to illustrate it for me, the end product may just move me to tears.

And if it doesn't, I'll just return it.

Gigi Books, in Leesburg, publishes educational and entertaining children's books and audio-books. Details for entering the children's book writing contest are online at gigiaudiobooks.com/contest.htm. Grand prize is $250. Submission fee $5. A total of four winners will be published. Deadline for submissions is August 1

FAMILY
Let's play: Museum tells toy stories
BY LINDA KOBERT FAMILY@READTHEHOOK.COM

Once upon a time, a young girl discovered an old rag doll in her grandmother's attic. Little Marcella Gruelle fell in love with the floppy worn toy and, with the help of her father, John, replaced the stuffing, gave the doll a fresh new face, and named her Raggedy Ann. Every night before falling asleep, John Gruelle lulled his daughter into dreamland with stories of the doll's adventures, stories the cartoonist and illustrator later turned into the timeless tales that parents still read to sleepy children hugging little rag dolls wearing pinafore dresses.

The Science Museum of Virginia reveals the fascinating stories behind dozens of the world's most popular toys in the new exhibit, "Kid Stuff: Great Toys from Our Childhood," opening this weekend.

Take Colorforms, for example. They were created by a pair of starving artists who decorated their tacky bathroom with forms and figures clipped from discarded sheets of colored vinyl they stuck on the painted walls. John Lloyd Wright created Lincoln Logs after an inspiring trip to Tokyo with his father, the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright, in 1916. And can you guess which board game was turned down by Parker Brothers in 1934 because it took too long to play and had too many rules?

Kid Stuff has cute collections of gags (joy buzzer, spilled ink, whoopee cushion, snake-in-the can), gadgets (Whee-Lo, Slinky, Magic Slate, Etch-A-Sketch, Duncan Yo-Yo, Spirograph), and games (Twister, The Game of Life, Monopoly, Candyland, Go to the Head of the Class, Chutes and Ladders) that every child of a certain age can relate to.

Little players will get a kick out of throwing Nerf balls at the crystal and china, or adding a mustache and Mohawk on the giant Wooly Willy. The View-Master Theatre takes a 3-D look at images of American parks and landmarks. The "magic" insides of a Magic '8' Ball is revealed. And a beaming Barbie and G.I. Joe– in giant size– are available for photo ops.

But really, with a '60s ambiance, this is a Boomer childhood we're talking about here. Big kids will, no doubt, wander down memory lane at this exhibition reminiscing about that time they headed out onto the snowy slope with their new Flexible Flyer or the, uh, "accident" they had on their brother's bed with the ant farm. Remember Mr. Potato Head… the kind where you used a real potato and he smoked a pipe? Remember how jealous you were when your sister got an Easy-Bake Oven? Remember Pez and Silly Putty and Tinker Toys?

The 6,000-sq.-ft. exhibition is based on the book Kid Stuff: Great Toys From Our Childhood, by Richmond native David Hoffman. Along with all the artifacts and play things, it's filled with historical references, old advertising, original packaging displays, and, oh so much fun.

Big kids– and little ones too– can play with Great Toys from Our Childhood on display at the Science Museum of Virginia though September 6. Included in the price of exhibit admission. 2500 W. Broad St., Richmond. 800-659-1727. smv.org.

WALKABOUT
Hot pursuit: Tracking our animal neighbors
BY TIM SPRINKLE WALKABOUT@READTHE
HOOK.COM

Tracking, the art of finding and deciphering evidence of animal activity, is a skill that can take a lifetime to master. Understanding the minute differences among wildlife tracks, scats, trails, and claw marks is far from easy; but the practice is becoming popular around the country because it enhances practitioners' natural awareness skills and allows them to see the world in a different way. Trackers enjoy a hands-on connection to the land and share a deeper understanding of what's going on in their own backyards.

"Tracking is an amazing skill to have," says Dede Smith with the Ivy Creek Foundation, "and once you've done it, a walk in the woods is never the same again. Things just pop out at you that you've never noticed before."

Fortunately for novices, Hub Knott from The Living Earth School offers an introductory course, "In the Tracks of Wildlife." A naturalist who's been studying animal behaviors for more than a decade, Knott leads groups through the wooded and waterfront areas at the Ivy Creek Natural Area studying bite marks, examining wildlife tracks, and answering such questions as "Why do these animal trails intersect here?" and "What is the local wildlife eating?"

His techniques are designed to help participants understand how trackers think and why often mysterious things in nature are the way they are.

"It always shocks people to find out just how much is going on around them," Knott says. "We've seen bear tracks out there, deer, and even bobcat. Tracking opens up the everyday details of the world that would otherwise be invisible, and it gives people a deeper connection to the Earth."

Knott leads tracking classes at the Ivy Creek Natural Area on a monthly basis, so check avenue.org/icf for upcoming dates. The next class happens Saturday, May 29. All classes are free, open to the public, and meet at the Ivy Creek Barn. The class is open to all ages, even if you've taken a tracking course before. For info, call Dede Smith at 973-7772, or Hub Knott at the Living Earth School at 540-456-7339.

PERFORMANCE
All good things…: S2's new homage to Falstaff
BY STEPHEN BOYKEWICH PERFORMANCE@READTHEHOOK.COM

Oh, the delicious frenzy of spring, when even the horseflies travel in amorous pairs. Cicadas are bursting from their 17-year shells. Theater companies are shedding their grim winter programs for lively spring ones. Alternative news weeklies are casting off their jokey, harebrained performance writers for ones with an artistic conscience.

That's right, folks. This is my second-to-last column for The Hook. No tears, though, please. I need you to be strong for both of us.

Besides, there are more important regime changes to attend to. Like the one at Staunton's Shenandoah Shakespeare, which trades a trio of winter shows for its spring/summer trio this weekend. In fairness, S2's winter season could hardly be called grim, including as it did lively productions of Two Gentlemen of Verona and Henry IV, Part I, as well as Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest. Two Gentlemen even had a little extra life to it thanks to a rotating cast of live dogs from the Augusta County SPCA filling the role of Crab.

The non-canine roles in all three plays were taken by members of Excellent Motion, S2's touring troupe, which ended a seven-month national tour with its Staunton residence. They'll finally get a rest after this weekend, when the final performances of all three plays show May 28-31.

Then, with scarcely a pause for breath, the spring/summer season opens. Starting June 3, S2's masterful resident company takes the Blackfriars stage with the enigmatic Merchant of Venice, the inevitable Midsummer Night's Dream, and the impossible: a new play by Shakespeare.

S2 co-founder and executive director Ralph Alan Cohen has taken on the tempting but perilous task of merging the Henry plays– Henry IV, Parts I and II, as well as a little Henry V– into a single play.

Others have tried it. Others have failed. But Cohen had to give it a shot. One character in particular was calling to him.

"Falstaff has an appetite for food, wine, and women," Cohen says, "but also for language, for laughter, for people, and for life– for all the things that make us human. This production distills from the original two plays a greater percentage of Falstaff."

To emphasize the focus on the famously cowardly, wine-swilling wit, Cohen calls the result The Most Lamentable Comedy of Sir John Falstaff.

An odd idea at first, maybe. But if Sinatra can release duets albums from beyond the grave, what's to stop Shakespeare from mixing it up a little?

And everybody knows that change is a good thing.

Somebody get me a tissue.

The final performances of Two Gentlemen of Verona, Henry IV, Part I, and The Importance of Being Earnest run from May 28 to 31. See Performance Calendar for individual listings. The Merchant of Venice opens June 3. All shows at the Blackfriars Theater, 10 S. Market St., Staunton. Tickets $10-26. 540-885-5588.

TUNES
My Sweet Lord! Chip off an old block
BY MARK GRBOWSKI TUNES@READTHEHOOK.COM

Remember 1995? Hootie and the Blowfish? Better than Ezra? The Rembrandts' "I'll be there for you" (aka Friends' theme song)? All these rocketed up the charts in a year I consider musically lacking except for a few rare nuggets of truth.

One of these was Radiohead's The Bends, the group's second album that proved to kids everywhere that Thom Yorke et al. were not one-hit-wonders. Ron Louque, singer/songwriter for the local band Years, remembers 1995 as well, or so the group's electronic press kit reveals.

One day in 1995, Louque heard Radiohead's record, The Bends, which, he claims, "rewired me and the way I approached songwriting." Years' self-titled debut album, which will be released at Starr Hill on May 29, might be called an homage to The Bends, if one wished to be non-confrontational.

Years is essentially the local band Lure, with Micah LeMon in place of previous bassist Brian Temples. Lure [here I would make a snide comment about both bands' names, reeking like smelly cheese from college rock cows, but I'm not this week] was founded in 2002 by songwriter and guitarist Ron Louque and his lifelong friend and musical mate, percussionist Cam Arbogast.

When local act Wisher disbanded in August 2002, Lure scooped up the group's guitarist, Brian Chenault, and bassist Ben Temples, and the lineup was complete, at least until the departure of the previously mentioned bassist (I know this is tough, but stay with me). Starting in June 2003, the band began to record this album, and over the next nine months feverishly worked at home to produce an injection-molded piece of clear polycarbonate plastic known as a CD.

"Hats off" begins with a electric lead and echo-laden picked guitar background before breaking out what is, I have to admit, a not very catchy– shall we say "homage"?– to "My Iron Lung" off The Bends. "Hats off" replaces the song's raucous chorus with a throwaway big chorus, which does not in any way improve the tune.

"The Chase" pays slightly less obvious homage to the title track from that same album, and here Louque's vocals take on an affected British turn in the style of– you guessed it– Radiohead's Thom Yorke. Over the course of the album, almost every track can be equated to one from The Bends, with one or two exceptions (they also pay homage to tracks from the next two Radiohead albums). It's all here, the strummed electric, the warbly vocals, the falsetto! It's like Radiohead never went crazy and are living nearby!

Liz Phair's debut album, Exile in Guyville, was, she said at the time, a song-by-song response to the Rolling Stones' Exile On Main Street, from a decidedly ironic feminine prospective– good idea. Patterning your album on another famous work but merely mirroring that endeavor– bad idea.

CD Release Party: Years at Starr Hill, May 29. $6 advance/$10 includes copy of the CD, 9pm.