Cultural calendar, June 17-24, 2004

Y'all Come:
Grab your partner and head on over to Scottsville Library where the summer reading program kicks off with a downhome hoe-down. Overalls and cowboy boots are the uniform of the day for the festivities where young readers can have their faces painted, pick up a great read, and chow down on refreshments. 11am-2pm. Free. 330 Bird St. 286-3541.

Tales for Tots: The 5 and under crowd can hear special dad stories at Barnes & Noble's preschool story time where the booklist includes My Dad by Anthony Browne and Daddy's Lullaby by Tony Bradman. 10:30am. Free. Barracks Road Shopping Center. 984-6598.

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: The season-ending Live Arts production of Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches begins its third week tonight. Billed as the "greatest play of our time," Tony Kushner's award-winning script peels open American culture in a phantasmagoric story about AIDS, social justice and redemption. 7:30pm. Live Arts DownStage, 123 E. Water St. $10-15. 977-4177x100.

The Most Lamentable Comedy of Sir John Falstaff: Shenandoah Shakespeare presents the premier run of an original adaptation on that most gluttonous of Shakespeare's characters, culled from choice scenes in Henry IV and a bit of Henry V. 7:30pm. Blackfriars Playhouse, 10 S. Market St., Staunton. $10-26. 540-885-5588.

Exotic dance: Get kinky at the Berkmar Ballroom with exotic fitness dancing for novices as well as the more, shall we say, experienced. Belly dance for beginners, 6-7pm; for intermediates, 7-8pm. Sexy pole dancing for beginners, 8-9pm; for intermediates, 9-10pm. 652 Rio Road W. $15 drop-in; eight-lesson series for $80-$100. 975-4611.

Travel tips:
Join the Charlottesville Christian Women's Club for a luncheon with Terrie Dean, a local airport representative who will discuss tips for traveling in the 21st century. 11am-12:30pm. No fee. At the Doubletree Hotel on Route 29. 973-5239.

Open House: The Crozet Library celebrates its 20th birthday with an open house for all area patrons, book-lovers and railroad depot aficionados. 2-5pm. Call 823-4050 for info.

Reactor meeting: There will be a town meeting on two new nuclear reactors that Dominion Virginia Power is planning to build in the area. No fee. Louisa County Public Library. 409-6392.

Bead Basics: Studio Baboo instructor Terri Gable offers a class in bead stringing basics. 5:30-7:30pm. $25 fee includes materials. 106 Fifth St. Downtown Mall. 244-2905.

Investment game: Learn about personal finance and investing with CASHFLOW101, an educational program that teaches accounting, finance, and money management through a fun game format. 6-9pm. No fee, but reservations are required. At DKAdvisors, 1112 East High Street. 977-1683 or

UVA philosophy professor Michael Grosso discusses his book Experiencing the Next World Now. Barnes & Noble, Barracks Road Shopping Center, 984-0461. 7pm.

Last Train Home w/ Jan Smith at Gravity Lounge:
Melodic country-tinged rock from D.C.-based Last Train Home lights up Gravity Lounge, accompanied by our own Jan Smith, she of honeyed vocals and pop stylings. $8, 8:30pm.

Thompson/ D'earth and friends at Miller's: Some people dig him, some don't, but even the haters have to admit D'earth is a vital linchpin in the Charlottesville scene. $4, 10pm. (W)

Rock Star Showdown 2 at Starr Hill: Come by Starr Hill this Thursday, if you want to be part of this year's Rock Star Showdown. Put your name in the hat and get randomly marched with other musicians; soon you'll be onstage at Starr Hill, attempting fame and fortune with your new musical soul-mates. $2 goes to the Music Resource Center, 8pm (musician draft registration ends at 10pm).

Travis Elliott at West Main: Elliott is making a name for himself around town, and even the cool kids are talking. See his pristine choice in covers and fine songwriting for yourself, tonight. No cover, 10pm.

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. (W)

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

Last Train Home with Jan Smith at Gravity Lounge. $8, 8:30pm.

William Walter: Special early duo show at Orbit. No cover, 7pm.

Psyopus, Tony Danza Tap Dance Extravaganza, and Lex Vegas at Outback Lodge. $3, 10pm.

Satisfaction with Noel Sanger (dance party) at Rapture. $3/Ladies free, 10:30pm. (W)

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

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

FRIDAY, June 18
Shoe-bangin' fun:
Miller Center's Timothy Naftali looks at Kruschev, the Kremlin and the Cold War in light of archived documents. 2201 Old Ivy Rd. 11am. 924-0921.

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 Scotland. 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.

Think Father's Day: Local artist Sandi Barber helps little hands leave their mark at the Virginia Discovery Museum. Kids from infants on up can make a lasting impression with their handprints on 6"x6" ceramic tiles that will be fired and available for pick up in a week. Two sessions: 12-1pm and 1:15-2:15pm. $15 per tile. Pre-registration required. East end of the Downtown Mall. 977-1025.

Fridays after 5:
The popular outdoor concert series is back for its 16th season. This week's act: Stoned Wheat Things.

Star struck: The view is out of this world at Public Night at McCormick Observatory from 9-11pm (weather permitting). UVA's research telescopes on O-Hill will be pointed heavenward, and Astronomy Department staff and students will be on hand with a slide show and answers to starry questions. Free. McCormick Road. 924-7494. Monthly on the first and third Fridays.

Antarctic adventure: Walk in the steps of famed explorer Ernest Shackleton at the Science Museum of Virginia's premiere of the new IMAX film about his death-defying trip across the Antarctic ice. Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure will be showing at the museum in Richmond now until September 17. $15 fee ($14.50 under 12 or over 60) for admission to the whole museum and the show, $8 for the movie only. For show times, call (804) 864-1400 or

Polo club: The Charlottesville Polo Club plays several times a week between Memorial Day and Labor Day, but the big event is still Friday night. 6:30 and 8pm. $4 fee (children under 12 are free). Virginia Polo Center at Forest Lodge Farm on Old Lynchburg Road, south of town. 1082 Forest Lodge Lane. 977-7656 or

Dancers Monkey Around: Faculty of the Zen Monkey Project present a performance tonight to kick off their fifth annual, two-week long summer intensive workshops. This year's theme is "questioning the body/embodying the question." Next week students perform. 8pm. $8. McGuffey Art Center Studio 11.

Chamber Music Concert: Students in UVA's chamber music workshop show off their newfound rhythm in a culminating concert. 8pm. Old Cabell Hall, UVA grounds. Free. 924-6492.

Fiddle Feet: The Zing Kings' traditional music on fiddle, mandolin, guitar and bass will keep you moving at a contra dance hosted by the Albemarle Chapter of the Country Dance and Song Society. Tonight's caller is Denise Lair. 8-11pm; beginner's workshop starts at 7:30pm. Municipal Arts Center, 1119 Fifth St. Ext. $7; under 12 dance for free.

Angels in America: See Thursday, June 17. Tonight's show is at 8pm.

Foundation Stone at Garden of Sheba:
Rap and reggae? Yup, Foundation Stone combine the two in a way that is fascinating to listen to– though whether for good or bad reasons is the question. $5, 10pm.

Small Town Workers w/ Army of Me at Outback Lodge: Folk-tinged American rock would be a good description of Small Town Workers– kind of Bruce Springsteen combined with the Stone Temple Pilots. But with less denim and less heroin. $6, 10pm.

No Evil w/ Slate Hill Boys at Gravity Lounge: Country-folk band No Evil and country-blues experience Slate Hill Boys turn up the twang at Gravity Lounge tonight. $5, 8:30pm.

The Manhattan Project featuring DJ Lem at Atomic Burrito. No cover, 10:30pm.

Paul Goes Richter (rock) at Orbit. No cover, 10pm.

Dj Frank Rivera (house, hip-hop, top 40, classics) at Rapture. $6, 10pm.

An Evening with Dickey Betts and Great Southern at Starr Hill. $20, 9pm.

Devil Take the Hindmost, No Gods No Monsters and County Line Killers (rock) at the Tokyo Rose. $5, 10pm.

Gordonsville Living History Weekend:
Experience the Civil War at the Exchange Hotel and Museum. 10am-4pm. 400 South Main Street in Gordonsville. $6 admission ($5 for seniors, $3 for children). 540-832-2944 or See Walkabout feature.

Wintergreen Wine Festival: Taste wines from 10 different Virginia wineries, enjoy music from Blue Ridge jazz, and even take in a wine/cheese pairing seminar (additional fee, reservations required). Noon-6pm. $12 fee ($10 in advance). Wintergreen Winery in Nellysford. 325-8592.

Virginia Air Fair: It's all about flight at the Virginia Aviation Museum's annual Air Fair. Check out an F-16C fighter jet, explore a Black Hawk helicopter, see the cutting-edge SR-71 spy plane, and get boomerang tips from world-champion tosser John Koehler. And that's just the beginning; the Air Fair is an all-ages celebration of flight. 9:30am-5pm. Price included in museum admission ($5.50 for adults, $4.50 for seniors, $3 for kids under 12). 5701 Huntsman Road in Richmond. (804) 236-3622 or

Learn to run: The Women's 4-mile training program begins today and continues through the summer. 7:45am. $15 fee for the entire program. At the UVA track. Contact Joan Esposito, program director, at 951-5137 for details.

Skateboarding contest: See top riders from up and down the East Coast show their stuff in a parking lot on Rt. 29. The pros from Banzai Boards will put on a demo at 1pm; the halfpipe contest begins at 1:30pm. Plus, enjoy food, live music, and great deals on skate gear. $5 entry fee. 978-4091 or

Tours of Jewish Charlottesville: Celebrate the 100th anniversary of Charlottesville's original synagogue, Congregation Beth Israel, with a walking tour of the city's leading Jewish historic sites led by UVA history professor Phyllis Leffler. 2pm. Tour leaves from the temple building (301 East Jefferson Street) and lasts about an hour and a half. $12 for adults ($8 for children). Reservations required. 295-6382.

Nelson County Democrats breakfast: Nosh with Democratic Party members, talk politics, and hear state Senator Creigh Deeds speak about the upcoming election. Breakfast will be served by Congressional candidate Al Weed. 8:30-10:30am. $6, all you can eat. Tye River School. For tickets, call Tom Proulx at 456-6849.

Polo match: Join the Piedmont Women's Polo Club for a night of polo action in the rolling hills of Albemarle County. 7pm. Polo Grounds Road, off Old Lynchburg Road. 977-POLO or

Living with MS: Join Patricia J. Shipley, MD and Kathleen Fuchs, Ph.D to learn techniques for coping and living with multiple sclerosis. 10am. No fee. Omni Charlottesville. For info, call 866-955-9999.

Police celebration: The Albemarle County Police Department celebrates its 20th Anniversary with a day of refreshments, giveaways, door prizes, activities, and live music at Fashion Square Mall. 12-4pm. No fee. For info, call 973-9331.

Forest history: Join Wintergreen Nature Foundation Director Doug Coleman for the 11th annual Lynn Richmond Memorial Lecture. He will discuss our local forests and place them into the larger scale of the Wisconsin Glaciation. "The Natural History of Eastern Forests: A Botanist's Perspective." 9:30am. $5 fee, registration required. Monticello Visitors Center. 984-9822.

Festival of Wines: The Wintergreen Wine Festival continues today. See June 18 entry.

Ivy Creek wildflowers: Celebrate the new season with Phil Stokes of the Virginia Native Plant Society. He'll be pointing out new growth and helping hikers understand the changes that summer brings to Ivy Creek. 9am. No fee. Meet at the Ivy Creek Natural Area barn. For info, call Dede Smith at 973-7772.

Bead Basics: Studio Baboo instructor Terri Gable offers a class in bead stringing basics. 5:30-7:30pm. $25 fee includes materials. 106 Fifth St. Downtown Mall. 244-2905.

Wild Blue Yonder:
The Virginia Aviation Museum takes off for a fun-filled day of hands-on activities for the whole family at Air Fair 2004. 9:30am-5pm. Richmond International Airport. Flying enthusiasts can explore a variety of military aircraft, get boomerang tossing tips from a world champion, see the world's fastest spy plane, get pointers on building scale replicas of planes and tanks, build a tetrahedral kite, create a rocket out of drinking straws, and much more. Included in the price of museum admission. 5701 Huntsman Road. 804-236-3622.

Furry Critters: Kids ages 5 and up can discover the similarities and differences between some of the 80 mammals that live at Maymont during "Bunnies, Bats, & Bears." Meet a rabbit from the Children's Farm, feel otter fur, examine a raccoon skull and bobcat teeth, study bats, and take a hike to see the bears. 3pm. $6 per parent/child pair. Register at the Visitors Desk on the day of the event. 2201 Shields Lake Dr. 804-358-7166, ext. 324.

Movie Madness: Gordon Avenue Library hosts Saturday Morning at the Movies with a festival of favorite films. Call or check the bulletin board for weekly titles. Preschoolers should be accompanied by a parent. No registration required. 11am. Free. 1500 Gordon Ave. 296-5544.

Angels in America:
See Thursday, June 17. Tonight's show is at 8pm.

Serious Swing: The Charlottesville Swing Dance Society is kicking it up a notch with an extended night of swinging and other dance numbers. Singles and partners welcome. Gary Davenport will teach the country two-step lesson for beginners, 8-9pm; dance with DJ Michael Smith, 9-12pm. Municipal Arts Center, 1119 Fifth St. Ext. $6-12. 980-2744.

La Boheme: The Charlottesville Vocal Arts Society will sing highlights from Puccini's renowned opera. Featured performers include Shelly Lee Cole, Donald Kruger, Edmund Najera, John Youel and Rob Cordero. White Hall Vineyards, 5190 Sugar Ridge Road, Crozet. $20 includes appetizers and two glasses of wine. $15 includes appetizers and soft drinks for those under 21. 7pm. Reservations recommended. 296-2232.

Rhythms of Tabla: Don't forget to bring a sitting pillow if you want to get in the groove with tabla master Pandit Divyang Vakil, who is visiting Charlottesville from the Taalim School of Indian Music in Rutherford, N.J. Vakil will strum the two-drum tabla along with duet Loren Oppenheimer and Sejal Kukadia. Meet the artists at a post-show reception. 7-9pm. Studio 206 Downtown, 206 W. Market St. $10-15. 296-6250.

A Midsummer Night's Dream: Titania, Oberon and that rascally Puck are at it again in this Shenandoah Shakespeare production of one of the bard's most loved and most hilarious comedies. Two shows today: 2 and 7:30pm. Blackfriars Playhouse, 10 S. Market St., Staunton. $10-26. 540-885-5588.

High Times:
The memoirs of a British B-17 copilot during WWII will be presented by his widow. Barnes & Noble welcomes Monique Bonnier Pitts to read from the memoirs of her husband Jesse Richard Pitts, a pilot of Kimbolton, England. Barracks Road Shopping Center, 2pm. 984-0461.

TJ and the Aborigines: Janis Jaquith reads from her work Birdseed Cookies and A Wicked Blue Sky as part of the Annual Summer Open House of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Speech and the Kluge-Ruhe Center. 3-6pm, 400 Worrell Dr. Please RSVP by June 16 at 295-4784.

Populist Dancing at Club Rio:
Put your dancing shoes on becayse every Saturday night is hook-up central at Club Rio- prove you can still fit into that size 4! $10, 9pm.

The Kennedys w/ Mary Sue Twohy at Gravity Lounge: A female fronted Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers? Yup, that's the Kennedy's- catchy and a little country, with those riffs Petty was always so skilled at. $12/$10 advance, 8pm.

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

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

**The Kennedys w/ Mary Sue Twohy at Gravity Lounge. $12/$10 advance, 8pm.

Travis Elliot at Jabberwocky. No cover, 10pm.

Man Mountain Jr. (funk) at Outback Lodge. $6, 10pm.

Sumthing w/ Darrell Rose on percussion, Houston Ross on bass, Matthew Willner on guitar & devices, and Charles Cowen on Drums at Orbit. No cover, 9pm.

Bootycall w/ Grendel and Sketchy (dance party) at Rapture. $6, 10pm.

Quinton Parker (jazz piano) at Rapunzel's. Free, 7-10pm.

Matthew Olwell & friends (Irish music) at Rapunzel's. $5, 8pm

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

Skyline Awake, Fier Parade, The bris, and Yes, sos (rock) at Tokyo Rose. $5, 10pm.

Jay Phun w/ Johnny Gilmore on drums at West Main. No cover, 10pm.

SUNDAY, June 20
Gordonsville Living History Weekend:
Continues today. See June 19.

Father's Day at Cardinal Point: Treat Dad to a wine tasting with cheeses selected to pair with the wines. He'll even get a free glass to take home. For info, call 540-456-8400 or visit

Showtime gives the term a new spin with the debut of "American Candidate" late this summer. An episode of the show takes place in Charlottesville with portions of a debate between contestants. Moderated by Larry Sabato and Montel Williams. Free and open to the public. 12:30pm. Old Cabell Hall, UVA.

La Boheme:
See Saturday, June 19. Today's show is a matinee at 3pm.

Midsummer Night's Dream: See Saturday, June 19,. Today's performance is at 2pm.

Blast from the Past: Relive the 1940s with the Sentimental Journey Big Band performing tonight in a concert to benefit the Municipal Arts Center. 7:30pm. Dickinson Auditorium, Piedmont Virginia Community College. $10 or $15 for two. 295-9850.

Playback Father's Day: Bring your dad and stories about your dad to this last performance of the season for Playback Charlottesville, where audience members share personal stories that get woven into improvised skits. 6pm. Studio 11, McGuffey Arts Center, 201 Second St. NW. $5 suggested donation. 984-2464.

Acoustic Muse Presents: Slaid Cleaves at Gravity Lounge: Country-rock musician Slaid Cleaves brings his melodic 2/4 stomping to Gravity Lounge. $18/$15 advance, 8pm.

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

B.C. (cello-pop darlings) at Miller's. No cover, 10:30pm. (W)

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

MONDAY, June 21
Live Arts Playwright's Lab:
Find a safe and inspirational forum for playwrights who seek to hone their writing skills, develop new material and revise working manuscripts. Open to all levels of experience. Meets every first and third Wednesday of the month, 6:30-9:30pm. Live Arts, 123 E. Water St. Free. 977-4177x100.

Cardiac exercise:
Learn how to build an exercise program for the cardiac patient. 1-2pm. No fee, but registration is required. Martha Jefferson Outpatient Care Center, 595 Peter Jefferson Parkway. For info, call 982-7009.

Foreign policy lecture: Former National Security Advisor Lt. General Brent Scowcroft and former U.S. Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger present a discussion entitled: "Perspective on Iraq: Resolve and Accommodation." No fee. 11am. At the Miller Center. 924-7236 or

Summer solstice hike: Celebrate the first day of summer with an evening walk through Ivy Creek and watch the summer nightlife come alive! 7-9pm. No fee. Bring a flashlight and meet at the Ivy Creek Natural Area barn. For info, call Dede Smith at 973-7772.

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

Cleary Brothers Band at Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar:
This five-piece from Vermont plays a combination of old-time, bluegrass, and is billed as a "traveling show"– perhaps they will have a sword swallower? No cover, 9pm.

Open Mic Night w/ Charles Davis at Baja Bean. No cover, sign-up 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 22
Angels in America:
See Thursday, June 17. Tonight's show is at 7:30pm.

Syringa: UVA's Heritage Repertory Theatre presents The Syringa Tree, the story of a young white girl growing up in the suburbs of Johannesburg of the 1960s, where apartheid colors everything. An Obie Award-winning one-woman show written by Pamela Gien and starring Sarah Dandridge. Opens tonight, 19 performances in all. 7:30pm. Helms Theatre, Drama Building, UVA grounds. $14-20. 924-3376.

Sizzlin' in the Sun:
Teens in grades 6-12 can stand out in a crowd when they make funky flip flops and sizzling sunglasses at Gordon Avenue Library. Kids supply the flip flops and imagination; staff will supply the glasses and stuff to decorate them with. 1-2:30pm. Free. Registration required. Space limited. 1500 Gordon Ave. 296-5544.

Jogi and the Rainbow: Award-winning theater artist Joe Pipik of BackPack Puppets and his hand and rod puppets look for colors in a zany, fun-filled variety show for kids of all ages at Central Library. 10:30am. Free. 201 E. Market St. 979-7151, ext. 3.

Reel Time: Regal Cinema offers a summer full of free movies for kids. See Family feature p. 43 for details.

The truth is out there:
Join Tom Hansen, Ed Pearson, Georgia Pearson, and Sylvia Ward for a forum discussion on exopolitics: "Implications of Extraterrestrial Contact." 7pm. No fee. Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church, 717 Rugby Road. For info, call Tom Hansen at 296-6428.

George Turner Trio at Orbit:
Jazz aficionado George Turner and the rest of his trio are here to smooth things up with their clever takes on classics and great originals. No cover, 9pm.

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)

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

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

$2 Tuesdays w/ Big Circle at Outback Lodge. $2(!), 10pm. (W)

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.

Angels in America: See Thursday, June 17. Tonight's show is at 8pm.

Syringa: See Tuesday, June 22.

The Most Lamentable Comedy: See Thursday, June 17.

Queer Power:
UVA's Nicholas C. Edsall, History Professor Emeritus, discusses his book Towards Stonewall: Homosexuality and Society in the Modern Western World. Barnes & Noble, Barracks Road Shopping Center, 7pm. 984-0461.

More Tales for Tots:
The 5 and under crowd can hear tales of trips and travels at Barnes & Noble's preschool story time where the booklist includes The Relatives Came by Cynthia Ryland and Strega Nona Takes a Vacation by Tomie dePaola. 10:30am. Free. Barracks Road Shopping Center. 984-6598.

Colorful Creations: Teens in grades 6-12 can sample the art of stained glass at the library. Artist Ruth Richards leads the way. Materials provided. Safety glasses available for soldering. 2-4pm. Free. Registration required. Space limited. Albemarle Square. 973-7893.

Writes of Summer: Young authors in grades 4-5 can learn the basics of creative writing in a one-session workshop presented by instructors from the Charlottesville Writing Center. 2-4pm. Free. Registration required. Space limited. Central Library. 201 E. Market St. 979-7151, ext. 3.

Jogi and the Rainbow: See Tuesday, June 22. Today's program at Crozet Library at 10am. In the old train station on Three Notch'd Rd. 823-4050. Also at Gordon Avenue Library at 3pm. 1500 Gordon Ave. 296-5544.

Reel Time: Regal Cinema offers a summer full of free movies for kids. See Family feature.

Posey Placement:
Juliette Swenson, master gardener and president of the Beverley Garden Club, conducts a hands-on flower arranging workshop.10am at the Twelfth Night Inn on E. Beverley St. in Staunton. 10am. $10 includes all supplies. 885-1733.

Preventing vascular disease: Join the pros from Martha Jefferson Hospital for a discussion of coronary artery disease and other heart problems. 1-2pm. No fee, but registration is required. Martha Jefferson Outpatient Care Center, 595 Peter Jefferson Parkway. For info, call 982-7009.

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

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

Cheesy Trivia w/ 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)

Country Dance Night (couples and line) at Fry Spring Beach Club. $7/$4 students, lessons 7-8pm, dancing 8-11pm. (W)

Michelle Malone & LB1K and Kevn Kinney at Gravity Lounge. $12/$10, 8pm.

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

Travis Elliot at Orbit. No cover, 10pm. (W)

The Hamilton's (soul) at Outback Lodge. No cover, 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)

Dub is a Weapon at Starr Hill. $8, 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)

Meet the Senator:
Republican John Chichester discusses "Investing in Virginia's Future" at the Miller Center, 5:30pm. 2201 Old Ivy Rd. 924-0921.

Writes of Summer:
See Wednesday, June 23. Today's program for grades 4-8 at Crozet Library. In the old train station on Three Notch'd Rd. 823-4050.

More Tales for Tots: See Wednesday, June 23.

Colorful Creations: See Wednesday, June 23. Today's program at Scottsville Library. 330 Bird St. 286-3541.

Jogi and the Rainbow: See Tuesday, June 22. Today's program at Scottsville Library at 10am. 330 Bird St. 286-3541. Also at Northside Library at 3pm. Free tickets are required, available at the information desk starting June 7. Albemarle Square. 973-7893.

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.

Midsummer Night's Dream: See Saturday, June 19. Tonight's show is at 7:30pm.

Angels in America: See Thursday, June 17. Tonight's show is at 7:30pm.

Exotic Dance: See Thursday, June 17.

Syringa: See Tuesday, June 22.

The Orderlies w/ Blue Line Highway at Gravity Lounge:
With a sound reminescent of 60's folk The Orderlies combine with the blues heavy Blue Line Highway for a night of genre mixing at Gravity Lounge. $5, 8:30pm.

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

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

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

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

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

Heretics in the Lab, Terminal Ready, Dk Xiane (dark rock) at Outback Lodge. $3, 10pm.

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

Satisfaction w/ Noel Sanger (dance party) at Rapture. $3/Ladies free, 10:30pm. (W)

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

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

Upcoming and Ongoing
Slice of Pi: Larry, Curly, and Moe need chains for their tire, but they can't understand Sir Cumfrence who speaks in iambic diameter about pie…I mean pi. Visitors to the Science Museum of Virginia's Carpenter Theatre can watch these knuckleheads act up as they try to find the solution to this measurement dilemma. Performances at noon and 3pm. Storytelling in the theatre at 1pm and 2pm. Through July 31. Included in the price of exhibit admission. 2500 W. Broad St., Richmond. 800-659-1727.

Art in Life: The American Collage exhibit is the backdrop for this summer's arts programs for rising 4th-12th graders at the UVA Art Museum. The first of three two-week sessions begins July 5. Students will work with professional artists and performers to bring art alive in everyday life through movement, story, and creative exploration. 9am-4pm. Tuition is $405 for members, $445 for non-members. Scholarships are available. 155 Rugby Rd. 243-5534.

G'Day, Mate!: The Virginia Discovery Museum goes to the ends of the earth to explore the island of Australia this summer. The new Back Gallery exhibit "Outback & Down Under" opens today inviting visitors to bounce like a kangaroo, create Aboriginal rock art, discover the secrets of the bush country, and more. Included in the price of admission. East end of the Downtown Mall. 977-1025.

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 Rd. 296-5844.

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.

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.

Big Bones: China may be a world away, but now through September 6 kids can play with replicas of ancient dinosaur skeletons right down the road at the Children's Museum of Richmond. Lots of hands-on exhibits. Most activities are free with museum admission. The museum is open 9:30am-5pm Tuesday through Saturday, noon-5pm on Sunday. Admission is $7. 2626 W. Broad St., Richmond. 804-474-2667.

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 on display though September 6. Included in the price of exhibit admission. 2500 W. Broad St., Richmond. 800-659-1727.

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.

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.

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.

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. 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 fifteen minutes 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.

Michie Tavern tours: Experience living history at the original eighteenth-century Tavern building: dance to a colonial reel, taste tavern punch, and write with a quill pen. The Tavern museum also features a special exhibit on the history of Virginia wines. 11:30am-3:30pm daily. Tours are free to local residents. 977-1234.

Plantation Community Tours: These guided walking tours visit Mulberry Row and other plantation-related sites near the mountaintop and focus on the African-American community at Monticello and the economic operation of the plantation. Each tour lasts about 45 minutes and leaves on the hour from 10am to 3pm from in front of the Monticello Museum Shop.

Nelson County's Farmer's Market: It's an old-fashioned farmer's market under the tent in Nellysford. Stoll among the live music, local crafts, plants, flowers and fresh produce. 8am-noon every Saturday until September.

Scottsville farmers market: Miss the Charlottesville market on Saturday? Head down the road to Scottsville for all sorts of fresh vegetables, fruits, crafts, and baked goods, served up May through October. 4-7pm. Located off Valley Street in Scottsville. 286-2505.

Kiwanis Independence Day 5k: A summer tradition celebrates its 21st year on Saturday, July 3. 7:30am start. $15 fee by mail or at the Ragged Mountain Running Shop by July 1. ($18 on race day). Forest Lakes North subdivision. For info, call 973-4856.

The Second Street Gallery's summer exhibition, "Altered Interiors," features three melancholic, site-specific installations by Boston artist Chris Gentile in the Main Gallery, and a "more organic" installation by Richmonder Heide Trepanier in the Dove Gallery. SSG's interiors will remain altered through August 14. City Center for Contemporary Arts, corner of Second and Water streets. 977-7284.

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

The University of Virginia Art Museum is showing "A Short History of Decay: Sculptures by James Welty," which runs through August 8. Also on view: "A Taste for Grace: Italian Prints from the 15th through 18th Centuries," continuing through August 15, and "American Collage," including work by Andy Warhol, Adja Yunkers, and Robert Motherwell, among others, through August 24. Plus, go large with "Super-Size It," a photography exhibition on display through August 15. 155 Rugby Road. 924-3952.

The Charlottesville-Albemarle Art Association's annual all-member exhibit is at the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport Mezzanine Gallery 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 Kluge-Ruhe Collection of Aboriginal Art features "Out of Country," through August 14. 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.

Ann Benner displays her oil pastels and watercolors at the Blue Moon Diner during June. 512 W. Main St. 296-3294.

In June, Sage Moon Gallery presents "Mostly Ladies," an exhibition of work by Jacqueline Peters. 420 E. Main St. on the Downtown Mall. 977-9997.

At the C&O Gallery, view "Expressions," a group show by Wilma Bradbeer, Nancy Galloway, Teresa Miller, Karen Whitehill, and Carol Ziemer, through June 27. Next door to the C&O Restaurant, 511 E. Water St. 971-7044.

During June, painter Monty Montgomery's exhibition, "Organic Noise," hangs at Spencer's 206. 218 Water St. W. 295-3080.

Nature Visionary Art features a show by Bernard Schatz (aka L-15) through August 1. 110 Fourth St. 296-8482.

The Gallery @ 5th & Water displays the watercolor and pastel works of Christine Schmiel Rich. Located in the foyer of the architectural firm of Stoneking/Von Storch. Fifth and Water streets. 295-4204.

During June, CODG presents nature photography by Barbara Davis, plus new acrylic and oil paintings by Ben Gathwright and Jeremy Dunn. 112 E. Main St., under the Jefferson Theater. 242-4212.

New Dominion Bookshop offers Alan Kindler's "Still Life in Pastel" in its Mezzanine Gallery during June. 404 E. Main St. on the Downtown Mall. 295-2552.

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

The Dave Moore Studio features a "Post-Flood/Back to the Basics of Studio" show during June. Hours vary, so call first. 414 E. Main St. (under The Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar). 825-1870.

Bill Weaver's recent paintings are on display during June at Main Street Market's Feast Gallery. 416 W. Main St. 296-8521.

Through June 26, Les Yeux du Monde@dot2dot presents recent sculpture by James Welty, an exhibition in conjunction with Welty's show at the University of Virginia Art Museum. 115 S. First St. 973-5566.

Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church features a 3D retrospective of assemblages by Gigi Payne, through July 4. 717 Rugby Road. 293-8179.

Carol Ross presents a series of b&w and sepia-toned archival photographs, "Souls of our Feet: Exhibit II of the Nostalgia Collection" during June at the Mudhouse. 213 W. Main St. on the Downtown Mall. 984-6833.

Stop in at L'étoile Restaurant to see work 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.

This month view "Adventures in Technicolor," oil paintings by Julie Farrell, at Art Upstairs. 316 E. Main St., above The Hardware Store, on the Downtown Mall. 923-3900.

Through June 27, The McGuffey Art Center presents an exhibition of new paintings by Pamela Reynolds, plus a retrospective of work by the late Ted Turner, whose pieces will be displayed alongside those of his late wife, Sally Turner. 201 Second St. NW. 295-7973.

Transient Crafters is hosting "Virginia Landscapes in Oil," impressionistic paintings by Joe Wilson, through June. 118 W. Main St. on the Downtown Mall. 972-9500.

Bozart Gallery presents "Starlets of Star Trek," paintings by Karen Whitehill, during June. 211 W. Main St. 296-3919.

Martha Jefferson Hospital is the site of an exhibition of paintings by Richard Crozier and his students, entitled "Charlottesville in Paint" through September 3. 459 Locust Ave. 982-7000.


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 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.

Staunton's Middlebrook Gallery offers contemporary art and fine crafts, including sculpture by Ken Smith. 5 Middlebrook Ave. 540-885-9955.

The Artisans Center of Virginia presents "Pots for Daily Use," an exhibition of ceramics by Nan Rothwell, during June. 601 Shenandoah Village Drive (exit 94 off I-64), Waynesboro. 540-946-3294.

The Fluvanna Heritage Trail Foundation will hold its fifth annual show in October and invites artists from Fluvanna and surrounding counties to submit works depicting "Trial Experience: scenes, sites, and people." For more information, contact Martha K. Rossi, 434-589-6545.

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

What's in a Name? Schatz's No-Pin Zone

In a corner of Nature Visionary Art, a TV monitor flashes through a loop of old black-and-white excerpts from The Steve Allen Show. The scratchy 1963 clips show a scattered young man&emdash; seemingly A.D.D. before it was called A.D.D.&emdash; self-touted as "Cheyanne Schatz, the World's Greatest One Man Band," dashing around an art-strewn stage, pulling out various bits and objects to show a bemused Allen, never quite getting around to playing anything&emdash; a performance artist before it was called performance art.

With blazing eyes and a semi-maniacal smile, which call to mind Andy Kauffman (hmmm&emdash;did Kauffman lift his non-performance-performance schtick from Schatz?), Cheyanne Schatz, a.k.a. Bernard G. Schatz, repeatedly dodges Allen's questions by quipping, "You keep pinning me down."

Forty-one years later, "L-15 Extraordinaire," the wide-ranging, eye-popping retrospective of work by Schatz, a.k.a. L-15 (a.k.a Obediah Klowder, Romeo Legois, Hiram H. Bangalor, and other self-invented identities) illustrates, if nothing else, that Schatz still cannot be pinned down. On view through July, the exhibition is an astounding testament to Schatz as a maverick art anarchist.

Now 72, Schatz, who has an alternate reality as a renowned physical therapist and author (Google "Bernard Schatz" and page after page of references to his soft-tissue massage technique scroll across the screen), became obsessed with art during a summer at UCLA while preparing for med school. Creative ambitions suddenly overrode his medical ones. But, quickly disillusioned with art classes when he felt he had mastered his media, Schatz says, " I stopped all contact with the art world."

Hence the I've-never-seen-anything-like-that nature of Schatz's work, much of which is figural with an emphasis on eyes and mouths (and the occasional other cavity).

Across the top of the gallery's wall, a series of masks (1983-86), created from enameled fabric stretched over wire frames and painted with psychedelic primary-colored patterns, stare out with o-shaped mouths and eyes. Below, a lewdly amusing collection of creatures, the "Former Wife Series" (1994), line up across two shelves.

Further down the gallery, raku-headed, wire-bodied "ornithopters" (2003) fly from the ceiling, while creepy raku-headed, stuffed-fabric "angels" (1985) float on the walls, looking like spirits arisen from childhood nightmares.

Standing amid his creative revelry at the opening of "L-15 Extraordinaire," Schatz watched as his 22-year-old daughter, Anna, deftly maneuvered her own strange creation, a papier-mache marionette of a big cat, its body extending from her body by strings attached to her head and arms. Clearly, a chip off the old, un-pinnable block.

"L-15 Extraordinaire," a retrospective exhibition of work by Bernard G. Schatz/L-15, is on view at Nature Visionary Art through August 1. 110 4th St. NE. 296-8482.

President Omarosa? Reality politics comes to town

Showtime network executives have found the next big "reality" thing… and it's called the stump. Tune in to American Candidate late this summer to witness the final step in the sublimation of politics and show biz, and I promise there will be no cosmetic surgery and no sign of Paula Abdul.

Thousands of Presidential hopefuls have been reaching out to on-line constituents with bios, blogs, and inspiring slogans like "U.S. first, all other countries take a number!" and "I've got a C+ GPA just like Bush!"

With the field narrowed to a dozen candidates, the campaign is hitting the road. American Candidate spokesperson Lenna Lebovich could neither confirm nor deny that Charlottesville is the fourth stop on a 10-city tour, but she did note that our home town would fall somewhere in the middle of an itinerary to be divulged to candidate contestants on a "need to know" basis.

What did we do to deserve this honor, you ask?

It's a no-brainer really: We've got activists, soccer moms, Nascar dads, and a Jeffersonian complex-&endash; but mostly, we've got the man who coined the bewitching slogan "Politics is a Good Thing."

"We're willing to use unconventional methods," says Larry Sabato about the longstanding goal of UVA's Center for Politics to get more people involved in the political process. "This Showtime idea is certainly unconventional," he says, adding that the risk of finding himself associated with an embarrassing venture is something he and his colleagues seriously considered before signing on.

Sabato co-moderates a debate this week at Old Cabell Hall along with the show's host, Montel Williams. Charlottesville area residents can then vote to eliminate the candidate who makes the biggest fool of him or herself (or mispronounces Albemarle first).

Now before you get too excited, please note that the bright young things pressing your flesh this week are not actually running for President. I checked the website on this one, and it's right there in print that while the winner "may choose to run for President," it would have to be a write-in, since by the season's finale in October Bush and Kerry will probably have claimed most of the space on the official ballots.

Still, you never know how far a maverick can go with $200,000 in prize money, a month of bookings on the morning shows, and the stalwart backing of millions of cable TV watchers.

It's enough to switch Kerry's battle-cry from "Bring it on!" to "Turn it off!"

Larry Sabato and Montel Williams grill the contestants in a debate at UVA's Old Cabell Hall on Sunday, June 20 at 12:30pm. Individuals and organizations wishing to meet the candidates (or just get on cable TV) are invited to a day-long open house at the Center for Politics on Monday, June 21. Call 243-8466 for more info. "American Candidate" premieres on Showtime, August 1 at 9pm.

Groovy movies: Regal fun for kids

Video cassettes spill over every surface in my boys' room. If they can't find anything else to do, they plunk themselves in front of the VCR and spend hours and hours watching films they've seen so many times they can recite the dialog along with the actors. Still, they're always ready to go "to the movies" to watch even old favorites on the big screen.

Regal Cinemas in Seminole Square is making it ever so easy to let kids indulge in this sort of movie madness with a free Family Film Festival.

Starting this week and lasting throughout the summer, the theater opens early for special screenings of two popular family films (one rated G and one rated PG) on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. Kids can renew their acquaintance with such old friends as Stuart Little, Jimmy Neutron, Pinocchio, and the Rugrats. Newer titles such as Daddy Daycare and Cat in the Hat are also in the line-up.

But young movie-goers are not the only members of the audience, Regal manager Jim Rowe tells us. Senior citizens seem to enjoy getting together with friends for an early show too, especially with timeless favorites like Black Beauty and The King and I. The theater's Kids Reel Meal deal (a kid-sized popcorn, 16-ounce soda, and a fun-sized candy bar for $4.75) is also ageless in its appeal.

Only these 10am shows are free. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis, which is usually not a problem since theater capacity is approximately 900. But Rowe advises folks not to wait until 9:58 to arrive for the 10am show, especially for popular titles. "We have had to turn people away on one or two occasions," he said.

And because wee ones don't always understand the finer points of theater etiquette, Rowe warns that folks can expect a bit more talking and activity during these shows than usual.

Later in the summer, folks can look forward to additional family-oriented events during midweek movie mornings. Rowe expects a visit from McGruff the crime-solving canine. Fire fighters may also make a visit to thrill young movie-goers with their bells, sirens, and flashing lights.

The Free Family Film Festival starts Tuesday and Wednesday, June 22 and 23, with Stuart Little (G) and Muppets from Space (PG). Regal Cinemas Seminole Square 4 is located behind K-mart in the Seminole Square Shopping Center. A complete schedule of up-coming movies is available at the theater. For more information, call 980-3333.

Ouch! Civil War surgery

U.S. Civil War events are a dime-a-dozen around here. Every weekend, it seems, there's some sort of re-enactment, drill, or demonstration going on. And that says nothing about the full-time museums and historical sites that dot the landscape.

But there's something different about the 10th annual Living History Weekend at the Exchange Hotel and Museum in Gordonsville.

Sure, there will be actors roaming the grounds in period costume, food and craft vendors, Confederate soldiers running drills on the grounds, and plenty of antique furniture and firearms on display; but there will also be fake blood, primitive hand tools, and screams of pain echoing through the halls as part of a medical re-enactment "designed to give people an idea of what life was like in a war time hospital," says Museum spokesperson Siri Wright.

Real-life doctors will be on hand to give surgery and amputation demonstrations, says Wright, and they'll talk about medical practices during the Civil War.

Blood and gore not your thing? Fortunately, this living history weekend has plenty more to offer. First and foremost are the famed "Chicken Ladies," descendents of a group that briefly earned Gordonsville the nickname of "Fried Chicken Capital of the World" by serving crispy treats to railroad passengers in the years before dining cars. The current crop of fryers, by all reports, cook from the same recipes and their work is not to be missed.

This year, there will also be special a focus on African-American involvement in the war featuring a presentation entitled "Confederates of Color" by Bob Harrison, a Virginia Beach re-enactor and descendant of a freedman Southern soldier. Harrison will speak at 3pm on Saturday.

Visitors will also be able to tour the stately old Exchange Hotel building, which began life as a hotel in the 1860s. Conveniently located directly on the railroad route from Richmond, the old hotel was converted into a Confederate hospital during the Civil War.

As if that's not enough, there will be demonstrations on period camp crafts, cooking, blacksmithing, farming, spinning, weaving, and more.

Now that sounds painless!

Take I-64 to the Keswick exit. Go about three miles and turn right onto Route 22 East. Once you've gone about five miles, look out for a "Y" intersection, and take the Route 231 spur towards Gordonsville. You'll see signs for the Exchange Hotel Museum once you're within the town limits, and will see the house up on your left immediately after you go through downtown. $3-6. 540-832-2944 or

Playback pop: Improv dedicated to dad

Actors with the improvisational group Playback Charlottesville turn boxes into cars and countertops, their voices into chainsaws and rainstorms.

This weekend they want to turn you and your father into a comedy of follies and triumphs. The group will perform its last public show of the season at the McGuffey Arts Center on Sunday with a Father's Day theme.

They're inviting adventurous theatergoers to bring their dads and, better still, stories about their dads, which troupe members will act out with uncanny results: a gesture he always made, a clumsy thing he did that made you laugh, or maybe a moment that made you cry.

But don't worry if you're bashful. Playback's musician Mecca Burns says audiences are welcome to share as many or as few personal tidbits as they like. Either way, they're bound to see an interesting show.

"Our mission is to get them to see their lives as a story," she says, "to recognize that there's dignity in their lives as seen through the lens of their own stories."

I told Burns a little story about my own dad, a portly fellow with a curious Spanish accent. There was the time, I said, when he sawed through our air conditioning unit while trying to extract the remains of a tree felled in our yard during Hurricane Andrew.

After a loud explosion, Pops emerged from a cloud of white smoke and said, grinning mischievously, "I think I cut the Freon line!"

By the time I had finished telling the story, Burns had a little jingle already worked out. It went something like, "Andrew, been here and gone … 'I'm gonna go out, with that chainsaaawww.' … But he ain't got no business with that chainsaaawww."

I, for one, was highly amused.

The thing about good improv, what makes it so captivating, is the potential for so much to go wrong. You might hang on the actors' silences, wondering what might come next, whether anything will come at all, and somehow it all works itself out before your eyes.

The key is teamwork, really. The performers in Playback Charlottesville have worked together long enough to pick up the subtle cues in each other's voices and movements. They also understand the things that bind all human beings together. They infuse the mundane, everyday experience with the ripple of recognition, a touch of slow motion, a little soundtrack in the background of life.

And so real life becomes a stage more real than real.

But don't take my word for it. Playback theater has been around and thriving since the 1970s. It cropped up in the Northeast and has since spread to towns all over the world.

It's certainly a form of entertainment, but also a kind of psychodrama &emdash; a little therapy on the stage. Which, I guess, is what all theater should be.

Help Playback Charlottesville weave stories about your dad into improvised skits. 6pm, Sunday, June 20. Studio 11, McGuffey Arts Center, 201 Second St. NW. $5 suggested donation. 984-2464.

Rock steady: Leave it to Cleaves

"Wishbones," the opening track on Austin-based singer/songwriter Slaid Cleaves' new album of the same name (Philo 2004), is a good amalgamation of the country-pop/rock sounds that dominate the rest of the album. Starting with simple fiddle and acoustic strumming, Cleaves soon begins his slightly stereotypical country lyricism: "Day after day after/Trying to understand/Why the world tries to grind you down," he sings in his strong, slightly country-affected voice (he is actually a native New Englander).

Not to belittle the verse on "Wishbones," but when the chorus kicks in at 1:04, you can almost imagine it saying to its partner in crime, "You think you're catchy? I'm Bryan Adams combined with Jeff Tweedy from Wilco, and I even rhyme!"

At college Cleaves learned to play guitar and reportedly immersed himself in the songwriting of Bruce Springsteen and Woody Guthrie– a fact that makes sense when studying Cleaves' sound. Part country/folk, part country-tinged rock (with some pop thrown in for good measure), Cleaves' songs here are almost all big rockers, simple and to the point, musically as well as lyrically. "Road too long" is about being on the road too long, "Drinkin' days," about being off the sauce. Cleaves independently released his first album, The Promise, in 1990, and continued the DIY trend with two other independent releases. That trend ended in 1997, when Philo records released Cleaves' fourth effort, No Angel Knows.

A full band awaits the Cleaves fan on Wishbones. There's the expected country-rock players– acoustic, electric, and pedal steel guitars, bass, and drums make up Cleaves' group's sound. While the presentation isn't going to blow your mind or anything, it does provide Cleaves with a nice platform on which to stand and belt out his tunes to the cosmos.

The aforementioned "Road to long" is a galloping 2/4 number, where acoustic and electric riffs play off each other like dirty dancers, and organ chords provide atmosphere and texture from the background. "Sinner's prayer" is a departure from the generally upbeat tracks that dominate the rest of the album; this number is more in the slower, introspective tone of someone like Suzanne Vega, driven more by rumbling bass-line than even Cleaves' voice.

Cleaves will be performing at Ashland Coffee and Tea on Saturday, June 19, but if you don't want to drive that far out of town (gas sure is expensive), check him out at Gravity Lounge the next evening.

Acoustic Muse Presents: Slaid Cleaves at Gravity Lounge, June 20. $18/$15 advance, 8pm.