Cultural Calendar December 9-16, 2004

THURSDAY, December 9
Do-re-mi for the holidays at the annual caroling night at Central Place on the Downtown Mall. Meet at the Community Holiday Tree at 5:30pm, and go from there. No fee.

It's a Hoot: Get to know the unique adaptations, behaviors, and lifestyles of nocturnal birds with "Owls: Birds of Mystery and Majesty" at the Ivy Creek Natural Area. 7:30pm in the Education Building. No fee. 971-9271.

A Christmas Carol:
This adaptation of Charles Dickens's holiday classic will delight the whole family. Let's face it, Ebenezer, Tiny Tim, and those ghosts never get old. Today's performance is a school matinee. 10:30am. Blackfriars Playhouse, 10 S. Market St., Staunton. $14-26. 540-855-5588.

Winston in Concert: Pianist George Winston graces the home of Shenandoah Shakespeare with his mix of folk, pop, and R&B. The performance benefits the Blue Ridge Food Bank. Nonperishable food items will be taken at the door. 7:30pm. $35. Blackfriars Playhouse, 10 S. Market St., Staunton. 540-855-5588.

Return Engagement:
Award-winning poet Lucie Brock-Broido, whose reading was cancelled at the last minute several weeks ago, is rescheduled to read from her work this evening. She is director of poetry at Columbia's School of the Arts, having just left the position of director of creative writing at Harvard. Her most recent book is Trouble in Mind, published this fall by Knopf. 8pm. University Bookstore atop the Central Grounds parking garage, Emmet street. 924-6675.

Revival Plans: UVA architectural historian Richard Guy Wilson discusses past and present trends in Colonial Revival architecture, based on his recent book, The Colonial Revival House. 5:30pm. New Dominion Bookshop. 404 E. Market St. 295-2552.

Hail, yes:
With yellow cab karaoke, you're not just a singer, you're the star! Join the fun of over 18,000 songs, digital karaoke, and spectacular lights. 9pm-1am. Damon's at the Holiday Inn, 1901 Emmet St. 977-0803.

Irish Set Dance Workshop at the Prism: The Blue Ridge Irish Music school sponsors a lesson of this social dance from County Clare, Ireland– four couples in square sets hopping about to reels and jigs. $5, 7pm.

Charley Orlando (singer/songwriter) at Kokopelli's. $3, 7-9:30pm.

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

Danny Beirne (piano-man) at Coupe DeVille's. No cover, 10pm.

Karaoke Night at Damon's Sports Bar. Free, 9-12am.

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

Peter Markush (piano) at Gravity Lounge. Free, 12-1pm.

Morwenna Lasko with Jay Pun & Julie Lloyd at Gravity Lounge. $5, 8pm.

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

Dj Scumbag at Orbit. No cover, 10:30pm.

Temple of Giants at Outback Lodge. No cover, 10pm.

Satisfaction with Noel Sanger (18 and up dance party) at Rapture. $3/Ladies free, 10:30pm.

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

FRIDAY, December 10
PJ Party:
Kids of all ages can jump in their jammies, grab a stuffed friend or blankie to cuddle with, and come over to Barnes & Noble for their first Christmas Story Time Pajama Party. Children's bookseller Allyson reads favorite traditional holiday stories like The Night Before Christmas and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and holiday treats are on tap. 7pm. Free. Barracks Road Shopping Center. 984-6598.

Christmas on the Frontier: Frontier Culture Museum Holiday Lantern Tours explore Christmas as it used to be. Historic holiday traditions from Old World Europe and 19th Century Shenandoah Valley are presented by costumed interpreters. Tours leave every 30 minutes from 5:30-8:30pm. $12 adults, $8 children. Advance reservations required. Rt. 250 west in Staunton. 540-332-7850.

Best Ever:
The Herdmans are back as Four County Players presents a holiday performance of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, based on a children's classic by Barbara Robinson. When "the worst kids in the world" take over the church's annual nativity play, these street-wise siblings give everyone a new take on the reason for the season. A bistro with homemade goodies and gifts opens for business with each show, and Santa makes a cameo at every matinee. 7:30pm. $12 adults, $10 seniors/students, $8 children. Barboursville Community Center, Rt. 678. 540-832-5677.

A Christmas Carol:
See Thursday, December 9. Today's performance is at 7:30pm.

Violin Improv: Two local musical gurus, Stephen Nachmanovitch and Timothy Summers, team up to offer improvisations on violin, viola, mezzo violin, and electric violin. 8:30pm. $10-15. Gravity Lounge, 103 S. First St. 977-5590.

Get Lost in Santaland: Shenandoah Shakespeare presents the ultimate anti-holiday show: The Santaland Diaries, a hilarious one-man act written by NPR humorist and author David Sedaris. As usual, it's about his zany life: this time as an unemployed artist working as an elf in the Big Apple. $10-21. 10pm. Blackfriars Playhouse, 10 S. Market St., Staunton. 540-885-5588.

Wreath Workshops at Monticello:
These ever-popular workshops, now in their 19th year, result in a beautiful Christmas wreath for each participant to take home. Learn the process of making your own, then get busy. $40 fee covers the workshop and all materials. 984-9822 or

Holiday Market: Start your holiday celebrations at the annual Holiday Market. Come shop for crafts, baked goods, toys, and greenery on Fridays and Saturdays now until Christmas. 10am-5pm. Central Place on the Downtown Mall.

Ash Lawn for the Holidays: Come experience a 19th century Christmas, complete with natural greenery and period decorations, at James Monroe's Albemarle estate. Admission charge. 293-9539 or for details. See Walkabout feature.

Yuletide Feast: Michie Tavern knows all about transporting guests back in time, and this weekend you can even experience local holiday traditions at their annual Yuletide Feast. Strolling musicians, 18th century style decorations, fresh greens, fruits, and more. 6pm. Reservations required. 977-1234 or for details. See Walkabout feature.

Floral Meditations: Join the Gentle Gardener staff for a workshop on decorating with container gardens for the holidays. You'll also learn tips and tricks for wintering indoor plants safely. 10Am-noon. $10 fee. or 1-877-GENTLEG.

Information Session: The Outdoor Adventure Social Club offers a photo show and social hour for potential members. 8-10pm. Free if you RSVP. 420 E. Main St. #3. or 760-HIKE.

Still a Great Society?:
Oxford University's Gareth Davies speaks on "The Great Society after Johnson: The Case of Federal Education Policy." Davies has published a book on the Great Society and its welfare efforts. He discusses Lyndon Johnson's education legacy at the Miler Center. Free and open to the public, including lunch, but reservations are required. Noon. 2201 Old Ivy Road. 924-4694.

Books and Hoots in the Valley: Occasional Hook contributor Chris Graham– late of the Charlottesville Observer and now co-brain behind the August Free Press– signs copies of his new book, Stop the Presses, at the Sharon Book Store, 6-9pm. At 7:15pm he talks on humor writing. 540-249-1198.

Monthly Drum Circle at Better Than Television Community Center (106 a3 Goodman St.):
The first meeting of the drum circle, where those with a groove can get it out before the work week is upon us. Bring your assorted percussion instruments and beat. Free, 8pm.

Local Duets at the Prism: Jake Armerding and Greg Liszt, James Leva and Danny Knicely, Ben Krakauer and Pete Frostic (of Old School Freight Train), Morwenna Lasko and Jay Pun (fiddle and guitar), Andy Thacker and Peyton Tochterman (of Fair Weather Bums) begin at 7pm and just keep chugging– see some of best, in their most stripped-down form. $15/$12 advance.

Open Mic Night at Rapunzel's: Whatever you've got, Rapunzel's will take it (within limits of course): poetry, music, dance, magic, a catch all for the exhibitionist in us all. Free, 7:30pm.

The Pat McGee Band at Starr Hill: The Richmond based jam sextet continues its almost 10-year career, performing over 250 live dates a year. Come see why they still pull them in. $18/$15 advance, 9pm.

Sweet Trouble (pop/rock) at Kokopelli's. $5, 8-11pm.

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

James McLaughlin w/members of Old School Freight Train ("Latin jazz") at Michael's Bistro. No cover, 10pm.

Porter Davis and Taylor Davis ("eclectic acoustic) at Miller's. $3, 10:30pm.

Travis Elliott and Supercomp at Orbit. No cover, 10:30pm.

This Means You at Outback Lodge. $6, 10pm.

William Walter & Co. (acoustic-rock originals) at the Shebeen. No cover, 11pm.

Mass Movement of the Moth with Arcadia, Sing Sing Prison, and Shapiro at Tokyo Rose, $5, 10pm.

Evening of Electronic Music at Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar. No cover, 9pm.

SATURDAY, December 11
Scrawled War Art:
Troopship soldiers left behind their thoughts and impressions during the Vietnam War by scrawling graffiti on their canvas bunks. Author Art Beltrone has collected some of those scrawlings, and Charlottesville publisher Howell Press has come out with a book of them. Meet Beltrone and see his display of some of the graffiti-bearing bunks at New Dominion Bookshop at 1:30pm. 404 E. Market St. 295-2552.

If You Build It:
Young architects ages 4 and up can build their house and eat it too at the Virginia Discovery Museum's Holiday Houses workshop. 10:30-11:15am. $5 members, $7 non-members. Pre-registration required. East end of the Downtown Mall. 977-1025.

Friends Around the World: Kids can make a friend in another land at Crozet Library. In a project based on the book Boxes for Katie, young folks ages 8 and up and an adult will sew Teddy bears for children in a Haitian orphanage. The toys will be sent along with boxes of donated clothing. Bring a small treasure for the bear's pocket and some clean, out-grown clothes. 1pm. Free. Registration required. In the old train station on Three Notch'd Road. 823-4050. See Family feature.

Down on the Farm: Mangham Wool & Mohair Farm host a country Christmas Fair on the farm. City folks can explore the farm with animals to pet, enjoy hot cider and cookies, and finish up some holiday shopping with wooly socks, hand knit sweaters, blankets, hats, yarns for sale. Noon-5pm. 901 Hammocks Gap Road. 973-2222.

Enchanting Dilemma: Follow the bread crumbs to Old Michie Theatre for a newly staged marionette production of the classic Grimm's tale Hansel and Gretel. 11am, 2 and 4pm. $5. 221 E. Water St. 977-3690.

Never Grow Up: Jefferson Youth Theater presents Peter Pan at Burnley-Moran Elementary School. This new millennium version of the classic musical features over 50 children along with veteran actor Brad Stoller as Captain Hook. 5pm. $6. Just off the 250 Bypass near Locust Ave. 249-2803.

Wild Blue Yonder: It was December 17, 1903 when Orville Wright made the first successful, powered, controlled flight, and the Virginia Aviation Museum is celebrating this achievement. High flyers can examine a life-size reproduction of the 1903 Wright Flyer and three full-size reproductions of Wright brothers' gliders, make their own Wright Flyer out of foam or construct a kite, enjoy Wright brothers movies all day, and soar with children's activities that celebrate the day. 10am-noon. Included in the price of museum admission. 5701 Huntsman Road. 804-236-3622.

Best Ever: See Friday, December 10. Matinee also today at 2:30pm.

Christmas on the Frontier: See Friday, December 10.

Trails Workday:
Help the Rivanna Trails Foundation in its ongoing effort to build a trail network around Charlottesville, and get dirty in the process! 8:45am. 923-9022 or for directions and more information.

Wreath Workshops at Monticello: See Friday, December 10. Today's workshops are at 9:30am and 2pm. Reservations required.

Beginner Hike: Get your boots wet at this beginner/intermediate hike in Shenandoah National Park with the Outdoor Adventure Social Club. 10am departure. $5, plus membership fee. or 760-HIKE.

Cooper Vineyards Open House: Plan your holiday festivities with wine, gifts, and light holiday fare from Cooper Vineyards. 10am-5pm. No fee. 13372 Shannon Hill Road in Lousia. 540-894-5253 or

Holiday Market: See Friday, December 10.

Afton Winter Open House: It's a party, with barrel tastings of Afton Mountain Vineyards' 2004 vintage with complementary minestrone soup. No fee. 10am-5pm. (540) 456-8667.

Chrysalis Open House: Celebrate the season with award-winning Chrysalis wines, warm soup, and holiday treats. 11am-5pm. (540) 687-8222 or

18th Century Evening: You've probably seen Monticello before, but how many times have you been there at night? You can do just that at the annual Holiday Evening Tour. Live music, costumed interpreters, holiday deserts, and plenty of authentic 18th century decorations. Best of all, this walkthrough is self guided, so you can go at your own pace. 5:30-8:30pm. $10 for adults ($5 for kids under 11). or 984-9822. See Walkabout feature.

Yuletide Feast: See Friday, December 10. 6pm. Reservations required. 977-1234 or

Rock Climbing: Practice makes perfect. Join the Outdoor Adventure Social Club for some training on the plastic rocks at Peak Experiences rock gym in Richmond. Noon. $17 plus membership fee. Registration required. 760-HIKE or

King Family Open House: Enjoy mulled wine and take advantage of special discounts on wines and wine related gifts for holiday giving at King Family Vineyard. No fee. 823-7800 or email or

Plant a Family Tree: The Central Virginia Genealogical Association meets at Northside Library for their monthly discussion. 1:30pm. 973-7471 or

Get Lost in Santaland:
See Friday, December 10.

Holiday Spotlight: The Paramount Theater showcases hundreds of local singers, musicians, dancers, and actors in 17 different groups throughout the day. 10-5pm. A new performance begins every half-hour on the Downtown Mall, left of the theater's construction barrier. 979-1922.

A Christmas Carol: See Thursday, December 9. Today's performance is at 7:30pm.

Best Christmas Pageant: See Friday, December 10. Today's shows are at 2:30 and 7:30pm.

David Matthews (not Dave Matthews), Alli Collis, Jose Maria, and Karma Bums at Live Arts Upstage:
The 8th season of Acoustic Charlottesville opens with an evening of multi-cultural (and multi-genre) sounds. $6, 8pm.

Ralph Rush and Swang at SongSharing CoffeeHouse at the Fork Union Community Center: Hooktown Blues recording artists Rush and Swang perform live as part of the SongSharing monthly Community Music Series in Fork Union. Those interested in performing should call to take one of the opening slots. $3, 7pm. 842-3150.

Ralph Stanley at Starr Hill: A Virginia native, Stanley has been playing bluegrass for 50 years; recently he was featured in the soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou has brought Stanley a whole new group of fans. $25/$20, 8pm. See Tunes feature.

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

Populist Dancing at Club Rio. $10, 9pm.

Soldiers of Jah Army (reggae) at Garden of Sheba. $7, 10pm.

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

Robot Surfer (rock) at Miller's. $2, 10:30pm.

Meade Skelton (singer-songwriter) at the Mudhouse Downtown. No cover, 8pm.

Minus the Sidekick (indie-rock) and the Chicken Head Blues Band at Outback Lodge. $6, 10:30pm.

Soul Canoe (Tom Prout, Emily McCormack, and Mary Gordon Hall- folk) at Rapunzel's. $5, 7:30pm.

Metanoia (classic rock-dance) at Kokopelli's. $5, 8-11pm.

Hard Rain (rock covers, originals) at Dürty Nelly's. $3, 9-11pm.

SUNDAY, December 12
A Christmas Carol:
See Thursday, December 9. Today's performance is at 7:30pm.

Best Christmas Pageant: See Friday, December 10. Today's show is a 2:30pm matinee.

Holiday Spotlight: See Saturday, December 11. Today's hours are 1-3:30pm.

Hello, Charlie: The Waynesboro players are looking for three women and four men to cast in Goodbye, Charlie, directed by Betty Hales. Performances will be March 3-5. 2-5pm. Waynesboro Players warehouse, Main and Delphine, Waynesboro. 964-0872.

Charlottesville Municipal Band Holiday Concert: It's not Christmas in Charlottesville until we've heard from the Municipal Band. Seasonal and traditional music, "snow fall," and audience participation highlight this annual festivity. A free event, but tickets are required, available at Greenberry's, Plan 9 Records, and the Senior Center. 3:30 and 7:30pm. Main stage, V. Earl Dickinson Building, PVCC. 961-5202.

Santa Claws:
Animal Connections offers Rover and Boots the chance to have their photos taken with the big bearded guy in the red suit to benefit the Charlottesville/Albemarle SPCA and other animal rescue groups. Noon-6pm. 1701 E. Allied St. 296-7048.

Winter Fiesta: Central Library hosts a bilingual Winter Fiesta with seasonal stories and songs in English and Spanish. Partiers can make a gift for a loved one, and refreshments will be served. 3pm. Free. 201 E. Market St. 979-7151, ext. 3.

Never Grow Up: See Saturday, December 11.

Best Ever: See Friday, December 10. Today's show 2:30pm.

Down on the Farm: See Saturday, December 11.

Christmas on the Frontier: See Friday, December 10.

Rink in the Season:
Come to the Downtown Ice Park for a live skating performance by the Charlottesville Figure Skating Club. Then, stay for the Charlottesville Ice Park Adult League Hockey Championship game at 6pm. Starts at 4pm. $7. 817-1423 or

King Family Open House: See Saturday, December 11.

Cooper Vineyards Open House: See Saturday, December 11. 10am-5pm.

Cold Enough?: Winter weather permitting, the Outdoor Adventure Social Club will hit the slopes for a day of skiing and snowboarding at Wintergreen. 11:15am departure. Fee plus membership. or 760-HIKE.

Afton Winter Open House: See Saturday, December 11.

Chrysalis Open House: See Saturday, December 11.

Soul Canoe at Gravity Lounge: Soul Canoe is a new group composed of the harmonious duo Tom Proutt and Emily McCormick, with the addition of Mary Gordon Hall. Donations, 11am-2pm.

Music of the Early Modern Era at Old Cabell Hall: Featuring music from the 16th and 17th centuries and directed by Paul Walker, the show includes works by Josquin des Prez, Michael Praetorius, Orlande de Lassus, Giovanni Gabrieli, Johann David Heinichen, and others $10/$5 students, 3:30pm. 924-3984.

Sugar Ridge Quartet Holiday Concert at Gravity Lounge. $10, 3pm.

Choral Music (Back, etc.) at First United Methodist Church (101 E. Jefferson St). Free, 11am.

Gaye Adegbalola with Joan Fenton at Gravity Lounge. $15/$12, 7pm.

Funktastic Five (hip-hop) at Miller's. $2, 10:30pm.

Native American Flute Circle meeting at Rapunzel's. No cover, 1pm.

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

Brad Bryant (acoustic "bluesy pop") at Kokopelli's. $3, 7-9:30pm.

MONDAY, December 13
Stealing Christmas:
That cuddly-as-a-cactus Grinch comes to Gordon Avenue Library via video. Children of all ages are invited to munch some popcorn and watch this modern holiday classic. 3pm. Free. 1500 Gordon Ave. 296-5544.

Christmas on the Frontier: See Friday, December 10.

Scuba Club:
Explore the waters of the northeastern seaboard with Pete Nawrocky, a well-known diver and underwater photographer, at the monthly meeting of the Sea Devil Divers. 6:30pm. Free. Rococo's Restaurant. 975-5570 or

Voters Voice: The Fluvanna League of Women Voters meets at 4:30pm in the new Public Safety Building. Route 53 in Palmyra. 589-6221.

Paws To Ponder: Caring For Creatures presents a free community lecture series designed to enhance your relationship with the animals in your life. December's focus is on protecting your pets during the hectic and busy holiday season. 7pm. No fee (except for dinner, or course). At Wild Greens Restaurant in the north wing of the Barracks Road Shopping Center. 591-6113 or

Easy Hike: Head into the mountains with the Outdoor Adventure Social Club and enjoy a summit view of the new moon and the Geminid meteor shower on this easy hike. 6pm. $5, plus membership fee. or 760-HIKE.

Hello, Charlie:
See Sunday, December 12. Today's hours are 7-9pm.

Are you Mr. Adams? Four County Players is holding auditions for its winter musical, the lovable 1776, a comic reworking of America's road to independence. Performances will run from March to April. Actors should prepare a short vocal selection. Must be 18 or older. All parts open, none paid. 7pm. Barboursville Community Center, Route 678 just off Route 33, Barboursville. 832-5355.

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

Michael Glabicki with Greg Howard at Gravity Lounge. $14/$10, 7pm.

Greg Howard (acoustic) at Miller's. No cover, 9pm.

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

Jim Gagnon and Co. at Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar. No cover, 9pm.

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

TUESDAY, December 14
Before Jackie Was O:
Barbara A. Perry, author of the recently published Jacqueline Kennedy: First Lady of the New Frontier, shares insights from her book at the Miller Center today at 11am. 2201 Old Ivy Road. 924-0921.

English Christmas in Virginia:
The Kluge Farm Shop will be decked out in holiday spirit for this evening of English and old Virginia Christmas traditions, foodstuffs, and beverages. Learn to cook all sorts of favorites, then stay to share some seasonal cheer. 6:30-8pm. $45 includes all materials, reservations required. Limit 20. Part of an ongoing series of wine/food events at the Shop. 100 Grand Cru Drive, Esmont. 977-3895.

It's a Snap: The Charlottesville camera club meets to discuss successes and tips– this month focusing on the year's best pictures. Visitors welcome. 6:30pm. Turtle Creek Club House, 100 Turtle Creek Road. 973-4856.

Women's Discussion: "Black women, White women, All Women In Dialogue" holds its monthly meeting. All welcome. 5:45pm. Garden of Sheba. 609 E. Market St. 295-2612.

In Your Dreams:
If it's just not Christmas without Sugarplum Fairies dancing through your dreams, you're in luck. The Moscow Ballet Company comes to the Martin Luther King Jr. Performing Arts Center for two performances of the Great Russian Nutcracker ballet. Over 40 local children join the pros as mice, angels, snowflakes, and party guests. 7:30pm. $28-48; tickets available through Musictoday at 800-594-TIXX, or Melbourne Road. 499-1733.

An Unfortunate Event: Fans awaiting the December 17 release of the movie based on the burdensome books known as Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events will probably not want to attend the unpleasant program planned at Northside Library celebrating that event. There will be horrid games and minimal fun, so kids ages 8-12 are advised to sign up only if they must. 6:30-8pm. Free. Albemarle Square. 973-7893.

A Christmas Carol:
See Thursday, December 9. Today's performance is a 10:30am (school matinee) and 7:30pm (interpreted in sign language).

Are You Mr. Adams?: See Monday, December 13.

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

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

Faster Than Walking at Miller's. $3, 9:30pm.

George Turner (jazz) at Orbit. No cover, 10pm.

$2 Tuesdays with Big Circle at Outback Lodge. No cover, 10pm.

WEDNESDAY, December 15
A Christmas Carol:
See Thursday, December 9. 10:30am school matinee and 7:30pm.

Bennett Ball: The grand gala reopening of the Paramount Theater has been moved up a day to accommodate singing legend Tony Bennett's busy schedule. The night includes an open house and reception, and proceeds benefit the theater's capital campaign. Bennett's appearance opens a weekend of special performances to commemorate the renovations. 8pm. Paramount Theater, on the Downtown Mall. $250-1,000. 979-1333 or See Performance feature.

Cold Enough?:
Hit the slopes tonight with the Outdoor Adventure Social Club. 5:30pm departure. Fee, plus membership. or 760-HIKE.

Intro to Iyengar: This yoga style is excellent for beginners because it teaches a variety of different poses and works with the body's natural alignment. This Outdoor Adventure Social Club class offers indivdualized attention and a highly trained teacher. 6:30pm at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Charlottesville. $7 plus membership fee. or 760-HIKE.

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

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

Open Mic Night at Dew Drop Inn. No cover, 7:30pm.

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

Justin Rosolino at Gravity Lounge. $5, 8pm.

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

Pre-thanksgiving bash with Travis Elliott at Orbit. No cover, 10:30pm. See Music Review, page 40.

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

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

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

Karaoke Night at West Main. No Cover, 10pm.

THURSDAY, December 16
Afghans in Sport and War:
An expert on Afghanistan, G. Whitney Azoy, speaks on "Afghanistan and Iraq: Two Bad Hands Played Differently– Reflections of a Diplomat, Consultant and Anthropologist, 1971-2004" at the central branch of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library today at 7pm. 201 E, Market St. 866-882-6887. See Words feature.

Matthew Willner solo at Atomic Burrito:
Always a chameleon of sound, Willner morphs into a solo star tonight, as his guitar, bass, synths, loops and devices show you don't need a band. Just a lot of money and some soul. No cover, 10pm.

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

Danny Beirne (piano-man) at Coupe DeVille's. No cover, 10pm.

Karaoke Night at Damon's Sports Bar. Free, 9-midnight.

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

Live Reggae Lounge at Garden of Sheba. $7, 10pm.

Peter Markush (piano) at Gravity Lounge. Free, 12-1pm.

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

Satisfaction with Noel Sanger (18 and up dance party) at Rapture. $3/Ladies free, 10:30pm.

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

Upcoming and Ongoing
Look Around:
The Artisans Center of Virginia invites entries for a national competition/juried exhibition, "Sacred Icons: A Collective Vision of Symbolic & Ritual Objects." All media are accepted, but work must have been completed in the past two years. The entry fee is $20, and the submission deadline is February 19, 2005. Info: 540-946-3294 or

Glass-Blowing Workshop: Try your hand at glass blowing with a one-day class at Sunspot Studios in Staunton. You'll get to watch a master in action, and then jump in to create a paperweight, ornament, or a hand-blown vase of your own. Class times and themes vary, as do fees. 202 S. Lewis St. in Staunton near the old train station. Details and registration info: 540-885-0678 or

All Around the World:
"Joy from the World," brightens the Science Museum of Virginia where holiday customs of the world light the museum in festively decorated fir trees, a display of handcrafted dolls representing actual and mythical characters, and special weekend cultural presentations. The museum's Carpenter Theatre Company presents the play "One Bad Camel," and "First Star I See Tonight" shows in the planetarium. Included in the price of admission. 2500 W. Broad St., Richmond. 800-659-1727.

Traditions!: "Our Community, Our World in Celebration" explores the holiday traditions of Hanukkah, Diwali, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Lunar New Year, Ramadan, and Eid at the Children's Museum of Richmond. The interactive exhibit features six miniature houses where young visitors have the chance to play games such as Dreidel and Mancala, hear stories, make Kwanzaa candles, dance the dragon dance, and more. Included in the price of admission. 2626 West Broad St., Richmond. 804-474-7006.

Christmas on the Frontier: The Frontier Culture Museum celebrates Holidays in History through December. The four historic farms are festively decorated, and costumed interpreters talk about holiday traditions from historic England, Scotland/Ireland, Germany, and the Shenandoah Valley. 10am-4pm. Included in the cost of admission. Rt. 250 west in Staunton. 540-332-7850. See Family feature, page 43.

Tree Trimming: Intrepid hunters and gatherers can cut their own Christmas tree from the fields at Ash Lawn-Highland. Trees are growing naturally so are not shaped, and there may be a hike to find just the right Virginia pine or cedar. Bring your own saw and a rope to secure the tree to your vehicle. 11am-4pm daily through December 24. $5 donation requested. James Monroe Parkway (Rt. 795). 293-9539.

Write for the Animals:
Published and aspiring writers of poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction are invited to participate in Writer's Gallery, a reading and reception to benefit an animal rescue organization. Writer's Gallery takes place on February 24, but writers' submissions and applications are due by Wednesday, December 15. Contact Kalela Williams at 971-8841 or

Script It:
Offstage Theatre seeks scripts for two upcoming series, Barhoppers and Bedroom Plays, set (duh) in bars and bedrooms. Pieces should run 10 to 20 minutes and require minimal props, costumes, etc. Comedies, dramas, monologues, musicals all eligible. Offstage pays $50 per chosen script. Deadlines: mid-December for Barhoppers; mid-February for Bedroom Plays. Send inquiries to and submissions to, or send mail to Chris Patrick, 210 Little Graves St., Charlottesville 22902.

Modern Dance: Classes with the Miki Liszt dance company. Safety release technique: 7pm Tuesdays. Dynamic alignment: 10:30am Wednesdays. Horton technique: 5:30pm Fridays. Studio 20, McGuffey Art Center, 201 Second St. NW. 295-7973.

Practice Swing: The Charlottesville Swing Dance Society hosts weekly practice sessions for beginners and intermediates Thursdays. Singles and couples welcome. DJ takes requests. 7:30-9pm. Auditorium of the Albemarle County Office Building, 401 McIntire Road. Free. 980-2744.

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-midnight. $5 (members $3). 979-7211.

Country Dance: Couples and line dancing at Fry's Spring Beach Club. Dance lesson Wednesday 7-8pm, dancing 8-11pm. $7, students $4. (students $2 every fourth Wednesday). 2512 Jefferson Park Ave. 977-0491.

Belly Dance and More: Get kinky at the Berkmar Ballroom with lessons in everything from exotic dance to salsa and tango. Classes, schedules and prices vary. Visit for a complete listing or call for more information. 652 Rio Road W. 975-4611.

More Belly Dance: Studio 206 Belmont offers one-hour belly dance lessons every Tuesday with instructor Amalia Habibi. 7:15pm. 501 Monticello Road (above Mas tapas bar). $9-12. 296-6250.

Keep Rotating those Abs: Studio Bijoux's Leila offers Egyptian belly dance for advanced beginners (permission required) at 7pm Mondays and 7:15pm Wednesdays. A technique course open to dancers of all skill levels takes place at 8pm Mondays. Ages 15 and up welcome. All courses at ACAC Albemarle Square. $10-12. 978-3800 or

Ninja Yoga:
Towards a revolution of consciousness. Free yoga classes. Bring a mat. Thursdays, 9-10:15am. Mondays, 6:30pm, followed by a writing workshop at 7:30pm. Meditation, an indirect non-action, meets Wednesdays 8-9am for instructions, discussions, short sittings. Meets Thursdays 8-9am for a silent "bare bones" hour-long sitting (followed by yoga). Free and open to the public at "Better than Television," a new community center at 106 A3 Goodman St. 295-0872.

Water Watchers: StreamWatch needs for volunteers interested in stream ecology and willing to collect aquatic organisms for the purpose of evaluating stream health. See for info, then call 923-8642.

Green Gatherings: Explore the spiritual side of nature with NatureSpirit. Explore the spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions and learn how to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature. Meets the first Sunday of the month at Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church at 6:30pm., call 243-6421, or

Parla italiano? If you don't, Christina Ball of Ecco Italy offers "Italian for Beginners" lessons on Wednesday mornings (9:30-11am; $15 drop-in fee). If you do, why not drop by for the Tavola italiana (Wednesdays 11:30am-12:30pm) for a free chat hour in italiano? Or what about "Cinema Chat," a series of intermediate Italian conversation classes inspired by Italian films. ($55 for five-week chat series or $15 single class drop-in; Thursday 7L30-9pm). All classes held in the Verity blue Tower Lounge at the Main Street Market 406A W. Main St. Contact or 825-4390.

Monticello in Winter: See Jefferson's homestead up close and personal on a cold weather tour of the property's architectural highlights. Now through the end of February. Usual admission fee applies. 984-9822 or for a complete schedule.

Alliance Dinner Meeting: Interfaith Gay Straight Alliance of Central Virginia, a faith-based group working for full civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgenders and their families, meets the first Thursday of each month. 7pm. St. Paul's Memorial Episcopal Church, 1700 University Ave. Brown bag supper at 6pm. 220-0970.

Transition Workshop: A chance for families of high school students with disabilities to explore post-high school options happens December 1, at 6:30pm in the Charlottesville High School Media Center. Sponsored by Albemarle County and Charlottesville Public Schools. Free. 244-3110, ext. 3234.

Bead Business: Studio Baboo presents weekly classes in bead stringing and jewelry making. Call the shop for specifics

Madison House: Help UVA's Madison House bring a happy holiday to over 100 low-income families in the Charlottesville/Albemarle area. Call Reimi Okuyama at 977-7051 for details.

Early Music Meeting: The Shenandoah Recorder Society meets on the third Sunday of every month to discuss the recorder and early music in general. Open to all. For more information, call 295-1395.

Mindfulness Meditation: Tuesdays 12:15-12:45pm. UVA Hospital Chapel. Meditation practice with guidance. Free. No experience necessary. 924-1190.

Second Street Gallery presents "Drawn into Light: Works on Paper by Kay Hwang and Imi Hwangbo," on view through January 29. 115 Second St. SE. 977-7284.

Through December 23, the University of Virginia Art Museum displays "Whiteness, A Wayward Construction," a collaborative exhibition by 24 artists exploring "the concept of whiteness as an ideology of power." Also on view: "Lifeline: Movement and Time in Prints, Drawings and Photographs from the Collection," and video artist Bill Viola's "Six Heads," presented in conjunction with the Virginia Film Festival. The latter two shows run through December 23. Also extended through December 23 is the exhibition "Museums: Conditions and Spaces." 155 Rugby Road. 924-3952.

The McGuffey Art Center presents its annual Holiday Group Show, featuring work by over 50 artists, during December. 201 Second St. NW. 295-7973.

Vanity Salon features photography by Aimee Wade and Shannon Winter through December. 1112 High St. 977-3332.

Through December 30, The Art Box presents "Outside the Box," an exhibition of work by nine young female artists. 2125 Ivy Road, lower level. 295-5426.

The Main Street Market Galleria displays paintings by Kiki Slaughter during 416 W. Main St. 244-7800.

The 5th Floor Gallery at Keller Williams is currently showing the glass and metal sculpture of Bill Hess, landscape photography by Mary Withers, and oil cityscapes by Edward Thomas. Ten percent of proceeds from artwork sold is donated to Habitat for Humanity. Suite 500, Citizens Commonwealth Building (UVA Credit Union), 300 Preston Ave. 220-2200.

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church presents an "all church" group show of artwork by members of the congregation during December. 717 Rugby Road. 293-8179.

Angelo displays "Thailand-China, September 2004," photographs by Pam Perugi Marraccini, through December 31. 220 E. Main St. 971-9256.

The Kluge-Ruhe Collection of Aboriginal Art opens two new exhibitions in December: "Shades of Black: Photographs by Wayne Quilliam" and "Black & White & Red Ochre." Both shows run through January 29. 400 Worrell Drive, Peter Jefferson Place (off Route 250 East at Pantops). 244-0234.

Les Yeux du Monde presents "Places of Color and Light," paintings by Annie Harris Massie, through January 2. Also on display during December: "Small Treasures," a wide-ranging holiday group show. 115 S. First St. 973-5566.

The Downtown Business Association of Charlottesville displays photographs from its "Where Else but Downtown?" photography contest at the Charlottesville Community Design Center through the end of December.101 E. Main St. on the Downtown Mall. 984-2232.

During December, Transient Crafters hosts "Horses: Drawings, Paintings, and Limited Editions by Milenko." 118 E. Main St. on the Downtown Mall. 972-9500.

Nature Visionary Art presents "Visions of Haiti," a group show curated by Laurie Carmody of Galerie Bonheur, through December 30. 110 Fourth St. 296-8482.

For its December show, The Gallery @ 5th & Water offers the Africa-inspired work of Gloria Mitchell, plus paintings by Lindsay Michie Eades. 107 Fifth St. 979-9825.

Can't get enough of Lindsay Michie Eades? Then head to New Dominion Bookshop, where Eades' paintings are also on display through December 31. 404 E. Main St. on the Downtown Mall. 295-2552.

During December, CODG presents "Abstract Ornamentation," spotlighting eight local artists working in a wide range of media.. 112 E. Main St., under the Jefferson Theater. 242-4212.

The C&O Gallery features "A Secret Garden," an exhibition of stunning botanical prints by John Grant, through December. Next door to the C&O Restaurant, 511 E. Water St. 971-7044. See Art feature.

Sage Moon Gallery highlights work by Elliott Twery during December. 420 E. Main St. on the Downtown Mall. 977-9997.

New works by members of the Central Virginia Watercolor Guild, featuring watercolors, oils, pastels, and mixed media are on display at the Albemarle County Courthouse. 501 E. Jefferson Court Square. 296-8484.

During December, the Mudhouse shows "Snowflakes," paintings by Christian Peri.. 213 W. Main St. on the Downtown Mall. 984-6833.

View Ray Wirth's photography exhibition, "Distillations from Larger Landscapes," at Art Upstairs during December. Also, this month the gallery features its annual members' exhibition and sale of miniature paintings. 316 E. Main St., above The Hardware Store, on the Downtown Mall. 923-3900.

For the month of December, Bozart Gallery offers a group show by Bozart members. 211 W. Main St. 296-3919.

L'étoile Restaurant displays paintings by local artists Barry Gordon, Malcolm Hughes, and Christian Peri. 817 W. Main St. (across from the Amtrak Station). 979-7957.


The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts displays "Selections: 20th Century Latin American Art in the VMFA Collection" through March 13. Also on view, "Albrecht Durer: A Renaissance Journey in Print" runs through January 9. 200 N. Broad St., Richmond. 804-340-1400.

Washington and Lee University presents new large-scale paintings by Frank Hobbs, on display through January 7. Lexington. 540-458-8954.

During December, the Staunton Public Library displays the photographs of Bonnie Rutledge Edwards. 1 Churchville Ave. 540-332-3902.

Madison's Sevenoaks Pathwork Center shows the pastel and oil paintings of Janice Dunn Rosenberg through February 22. 403 Pathwork Way, Madison. 434-295-8315.

Noon Whistle Pottery and Art Gallery presents an exhibition of three local landscape artists, Will Brown, Mark Collins, and Carol Weiss. Main Street, Stanardsville. 434-985-6500.

Ombra's in Crozet features paintings by Doris deSha and Laurel Johnson, on view through December. 434-823-5332.

Spruce Creek Gallery presents "Nature in the Abstract," an exhibition of paintings by Alyce Ananda McCoy, through December 13. 434-361-1859.

The Barn Swallow features pottery by Janice Arone and Mary Ann Burke, plus other handcrafted artwork. Route 682 off 250W. 434-979-4884.

Staunton's Painted Thunder Studios welcomes the work of equine artist Jennet Inglis. 19 W. Beverley St. 540-851-0864.

During the holidays, Sun's Traces Gallery displays three-dimensional pictures by Michie Taylor, shadow baskets by Charlotte LaRoy, as well as turned wood pieces by Richard Cruise, and clay works by Paula Brown-Steedly. 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 invites entries for a national competition/juried exhibition, "Sacred Icons: A Collective Vision of Symbolic & Ritual Objects." All media are accepted, but work must have been completed in the past two years. The entry fee is $20; the submission deadline is February 19, 2005. 540-946-3294 or

Budding insights: Grant's powerful lovely flowers

Lovely. It's not a word I often choose. Usually, it seems too polite, too say-nothing, too insubstantial. But in the case of John Grant's botanical prints, currently on view at the C&O Gallery, lovely is the word I can't escape. Grant's enlarged and luminous flower portraits are undeniably lovely. Tenderly lovely. Achingly lovely. Intimately lovely.

Grant captures his images using a scanner rather than a camera, a technique that allows him to arrange subtle relationships among the petals as they rest upon the glass. In some cases, he opts for a reflective scan, illuminating flowers only from the front so shadows come into play as the image recedes into the background. For other images, Grant chooses a transparency scanner that lets light actually flow through the blooms to create an ethereal translucence.

Once the flowers are scanned, Grant digitally works and re-works various elements to yield idealized versions of the blossoms. "I try to keep the color and the look true to the original essence of the flower," he says, although he admits, "I do whack the colors occasionally."

Grant's large-scale explorations call to mind both Georgia O'Keefe's flower paintings and Edward Weston's intimate photographs of peppers. Presented against backgrounds of either bright white (transparency scanned) or rich black (reflective scanned), Grant's flowers, like Weston's peppers, lack context, forcing viewers to focus solely on the intricacies of their structure.

In "Stormy Dahlia," the flower fills the frame, its shadowy under-petals extending into the imagined space beyond the image's borders. Around a glistening yellow center, soft white petals radiate, tenderly folded and crushed like the sheets of an unmade bed after lovers have left it. The image evokes a sweet, almost funereal, melancholy, perhaps thanks to the dahlia's defiant beauty even as it has clearly begun to wilt.

For "Twin Fuschia," Grant dangles two intensely purple blossoms from the top of his frame, hanging them against a black background. Tan-tipped fuschia strands dance down from the middle of the velvety petals as red outer leaves appear to jump back in surprise. Above the two flowers, a sprig of green leaves with two unopened, red-streaked buds provides a counterpoint as well as a temporal comment on the flowers' fleeting opulence.

Grant's professional background in graphic design and publishing is evident in his mastery of materials. Using archival inks and acid-free archival paper, he pushes his images' lush colors to the limit (no black was ever richer).


John Grant's "A Secret Garden" is on view at the C&O Gallery through the end of December. 511 E. Water St., next to the C&O Restaurant. 971-7044.

Warm fuzzies: Sharing bears with other kids
In the spring of 1945, Postman Kleinhoonte delivers a small box from America to a Dutch girl, Katje. It's a relief package from young Rosie who lives in Mayfield, Indiana, one of thousands sent to people in Europe under the auspices of charities such as the Children's Aid Society after the devastation of World War II. The gift sparks a long-distance friendship not only between the girls, but their respective communities as well.

The children's picture book Boxes for Katje tells the story of author Candace Fleming's mother. It has also been the inspiration for gift-giving at Crozet Library.

"When this book came in," says children's librarian Rhonda Johnson, "I fell in love with it and immediately started trying to come up with program ideas."

Along with colleague Margaret Haupt and local pediatrician Ray Ford, Johnson put together "Friends Around the World," a holiday program that gives local young folks the chance to help less fortunate kids in a distant village. Like events in the original story, the generosity of strangers has caused this project grow beyond initial expectations.

Friends Around the World invites children ages 8 and up (and a helpful adult) to come stitch and stuff small Teddy bears as they listen to the story of Katje and Rosie. The plump, coverall-clad bears will then be sent to an orphanage in Haiti. It's a place where, for several years, Dr. Ford has led a team of local medical professionals who provide the only available health care for over 1,000 individuals in the Grison-Garde area.

Kids who come to the library for this program are asked to bring along a tiny treasure– a small seashell, polished stone, interesting button, or trinket– to tuck into the bear's pocket as a special gift. They are also invited to donate some of their outgrown clothing and shoes for the 52 children ages 4-15 who live at the orphanage.

The only unfortunate part of the story is that spaces in the program are currently filled. Those who still want to participate can add their names to a waiting list. Folks can still add to the shipment, however. The library is accepting donations of summer clothing, and perhaps other hand-stitched toys, for the kids in Grison-Garde.

But there are oodles of other options out there for those eager to share their good fortune with others this holiday season. Shaele Wood at United Way's Thomas Jefferson Area Volunteer Center can help folks sort through a wide variety of volunteer opportunities to find the one that fits just right. And sewing skill is optional.

Friends Around the World takes place Saturday, December 11 at 1pm. Registration is required for this free program, which currently has a waiting list. Crozet Library is in the old train station on Three Notch'd Road. 823-4050. Shaele Wood is director of the Volunteer Center at United Way: 972-1705.

Sports and war: Goat-grabbing in Afghanistan
In 1978, a cultural anthropologist published a book based on his field work among sportsmen in northern Afghanistan. Then G. Whitney Azoy's Buzkashi: Game and Power in Afghanistan gathered dust on shelves alongside other scholarly books about esoteric foreign subjects.

The few who read it learned of the ancient Afghan sport named "buzkashi"– literally, goat-grabbing– in which tribal leaders sent fierce horsemen to vie for the headless carcass of a goat or calf. Traditionally, there were no teams, no rules, no referees. Spur-of-the-moment alliances formed among the weak in order to topple the strong, then dissolved as the balance of power shifted. Brawls to the death broke out. Buzkashis could last for days, ending not when participants reached some clearly stated goal, but when the warlord hosting the event gave an imperious nod from the sidelines.

In the same year that Azoy's book was published, Afghan politics grabbed the world's attention. Amid riots and massacres, a Communist coup overthrew the dynasty that had been in power since 1929. Indigenous guerrillas– the Mujahidin– emerged.

A year later, the Soviets invaded. Through a decade of occupation, they lost tens of thousands of troops but gained no ground or power. With a Geneva peace accord, the Soviets withdrew, but the Mujahidin ultimately set up their own Islamic state. In the mid-1990s, a new power nexus called the Taliban arose in opposition.

After September 11, American journalists seeking ways to understand Afghanistan happened on Azoy's 1978 sporting analogy and found that it worked. Azoy's publisher asked him to write a chapter bringing the book up to date and issued a 2002 revision. Azoy's work in and on Afghanistan in the intervening years had deepened his understanding of how society and sport mirror one another there.

"When it seems as if you're going to do it, everybody gangs up on you. When it seems you're a little weak, everybody gangs up on whoever seems strong," Whitney Azoy told ABC News earlier this year. "That's exactly what happened in Afghanistan in the 1980s and 1990s."

It's still happening today, he believes, and he urges American leaders and citizens to understand that. For him, America should focus on Kabul, not Baghdad, in its war against terrorism.

Soon to move to Kabul to head the State Department&endash;backed American Institute of Afghanistan Studies, UVA alumnus Azoy is stopping in Charlottesville on his way. His lecture title says a lot: "Afghanistan and Iraq: Two Bad Hands Played Differently: Reflections of a Diplomat, Consultant, and Anthropologist, 1971-2004." In person, no doubt he will say even more.

G. Whitney Azoy speaks at 7pm Thursday, December 16, at the Downtown Branch of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library. 201 E. Market St. 866-882-6887.

Finally! Bennett, Graves open the season
BY ROBERT ARMENGOL PERFORMANCE@READTHEHOOK.COMReminiscent of the days when it was the local place to take a date to the movies, the Downtown Mall's Paramount Theater rises from the Phoenix-ashes of history next weekend to become the latest swank venue for the performing arts in Charlottesville.

Hard to believe, but the nonprofit group spearheading this $15 million operation has managed to fit 1,000 seats in the refurbished auditorium. They've also added a new box office and arranged an eclectic first-season lineup featuring music, dance, comedy, film, plays, and more.

The reopening actually begins Wednesday, December 15, with a high-priced fundraising gala featuring musical legend Tony Bennett. Though he climbed to American stardom in the 1950s, the old guy is still kicking, and is sure to offer some of his classic renditions including "Rags to Riches," "The Good Life," and "I Left my Heart in San Francisco."

Admission to the gala includes an open house and reception, and proceeds from the performance benefit the theater's capital campaign. The funds, in other words, will make sure the theater's marquee-facade, ornate interior detail, and plush seats don't fall into the same kind of disrepair they saw in the last 30 years.

Now the catch. Tickets for the Bennett show range from $250 to $1,000. Not surprisingly, they're still available. Such is not the case for the jazzy, brassy, retro (and sold-out) musical In the Mood, coming to the Paramount straight from World War II to cap off opening weekend on Sunday, December 19.

In between those two performances are chances to see what they've done to the place.

Opera star Denyce Graves headlines the weekend with a recital on Friday, December 17, accompanied by piano virtuoso Warren Jones. Together they'll present a repertoire of classical, spiritual, and holiday tunes.

Graves debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in 1995 in the title role of Carmen and has since won critical and popular acclaim, especially for her signature part in Samson et Dalila. With her voice, she has graced the great opera houses of the world as well as audiences of dignitaries at the White House and the National Cathedral. So a visit to humble Charlottesville is quite a luxury for us.

And finally, for the less urbane around town, there's "A Day at the Movies"– an event that might well draw a crowd to wrap around the block, if only for its 25-cent admission price. On Saturday, December 18, the Paramount screens two timeless films, a matinee Wizard of Oz (for the kiddies), and an evening Casablanca (for the grownups).

What more can be said? As the Paramount's website proclaims, "This is how cinema was meant to be enjoyed."

FYI, the grand gala reopening of the Paramount Theater has been moved up a day from the original program to accommodate Tony Bennett's busy schedule. Bennett will croon Wednesday, December 15, at 8pm, $250-1,000. All other opening-weekend events remain as scheduled: opera star Denyce Graves on Friday, December 17, at 8pm, $50-125; on Saturday, December 18, screenings of The Wizard of Oz at 2pm and Casablanca at 7pm, 25 cents; and Sunday, December 19, In the Mood at 3pm (sold out). The Paramount Theater, Downtown Mall. 979-1333.

Yules of yore: Party like it's 1799
BY TIM SPRINKLE WALKABOUT@READTHEHOOK.COMIt's true; the holiday season now officially starts in October. The decorations, the music, the sales, the jingle bells&endash; these days they all seem to make their appearances pre-Halloween. It's not so bad, really. After all, who's going to turn down a plate of candy cane cookies with Thanksgiving dinner?

But the extended season does take some of the anticipation and excitement out of the holidays. Sure, it's fun in December, but it can be hard to keep the merriment up for three whole months.

When Thomas Jefferson was in the neighborhood, however, the holidays were a time to relax (tell that to the crowds at Barracks Road), a chance to slow down and reflect on the year. Decorations were minimal, and the celebration usually consisted of a day free from work and a nice meal with the family.

If your holiday season could benefit from such a low-key approach, high-tail it to one of the Route 53's holiday open houses and experience the season in proper old-Virginia fashion.

In addition to all sorts of 18th century holiday fare, Monticello's Holiday Evening Tour offers a rare opportunity to see the house at night. The evening is set up as a walkthrough rather than a guided tour, so visitors can go at their own pace, lingering over the period decorations, costumed interpreters, and live music as long as they wish.

"If you've seen the house during the day, seeing it at night is a very different and very cool experience," says Monticello's Wayne Mogielnicki. "We decorate, but trees, lights, and electric trains were not in vogue in Jefferson's day. We're sticking to historical accuracy, so there will be some greenery in the house, but it's often not what people expect."

At Ash Lawn-Highland, you can experience Christmas in two different time periods: the Victorian and Federal eras. In the "new" section of the house, you'll hear from 19th century interpreters and can admire a massive Victorian tree, while James Monroe and his family's traditions are featured in the older back section.

But it's food that takes center stage at Michie Tavern's annual Yuletide Feast. Traditional Virginia favorites are served in the Ordinary, accompanied by wandering musicians and festive 18th century decorations. Candlelit tours of the original tavern are offered each evening.

Monticello's Holiday Evening Tour happens Saturday night, December 11, 5:30-8:30pm. $10 adults, $5 children 6-11. The decorations go up at Ash Lawn-Highland this Friday, and interpreters will be on hand for the popular candlelit tour on December 17. Normal admission fee applies. Reservations for Michie Tavern's Yuletide Feast December 12 and 13, can be made by calling 977-1234.

Starry, starry night: Living legend comes to town

The holiday season has always been a little trying on the music editors here at The Hook– other than regal winter concerts, things tend to dry up the month of December and the landscape continues to be parched until the students come back in late January.

Even so, pearls can still be found in the pigpen of off-season local tunes, and living bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley's solo show at Starr Hill can be taken as a sign of divine intervention.

Starting with a series of recordings in the early '50s with his brother, guitarist Carter, claw-hammer banjo-player Ralph Stanley helped define the bluegrass genre, playing tunes that spoke to their childhood home near Norton on the Virginia-Tennessee border.

Though they had experience playing around the town where they grew up, it was not until 1947, after the brothers had served their time in the Army, that they formed the five-piece Clinch Mountain Boys to back them. Playing radio gigs led to local fame, and after a few years of increasing popularity, Columbia Records picked up the group. There they recorded songs which would later be called classics.

Changing labels a number of times through the late '50s and early '60s, the duo eventually broke away to perform on their own. But Carter's 1966 passing in the prime of his life left Ralph bereft, and he shifted the band's emphasis away from standard bluegrass and to a simpler sound.

His contributions to the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack in 2000 brought Stanley back into the spotlight, and in 2002 he won the Grammy for Best Country Male Vocalist Performance and Album of the Year for his part in the O Brother collection. He has been inducted into the Grand Old Opry, he holds the Living Legend award from the Library of Congress, and if you need something else to convince you of his worth, he was the first recipient of the Traditional American Music award from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Ralph Stanley's latest album was released in 2002, a self-titled simple and poignant piece of bluegrass history composed of 10 traditional pieces and one original that moves from praises of the Lord to tales of murder, all performed with an ear for the unadorned.

"When Jesus was around here on this land / He certainly did do his Father's command" begins an a cappella Stanley on the first song on the disc, "Lift Him Up, That's All." Shortly his solo work gives way to acoustic guitar and banjo joining the prayer. In place of Stanley's tenor now exists a voice worn with age, but still vibrant with warmth and life, perfectly fitting his choice of material.

"Henry Lee" combines a high flying melody, slide guitar, and acoustic strumming into a song about a girl killing her "one true love" (with a penknife, of all things) and is my favorite number from the collection.

A true American classic, Ralph Stanley at Starr Hill is unquestionably a can't-miss show.

Ralph Stanley performs at Starr Hill, December 11, $25/$20, 8pm.