Cultural calendar, March 24-31, 2005

THURSDAY, March 24
Great Escapes: Northside Library celebrates the birthday of the world's most famous magician, Harry Houdini, born March 24, 1874. Participants can enjoy the magic of books and learn a trick or two. 4pm. Free. Registration required. Albemarle Square. 973-7893.

Tales for Tots: The 5 and under crowd can hear picture book favorites about March weather at Barnes & Noble's preschool story time. 10:30am. Free. Barracks Road Shopping Center. 984-6598.

Don't cry, Charlottesville– one of Live Arts' most daring attempts at theater is here. Evita, the classic musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber (with lyrics by Tim Rice), re-creates the life of that Argentine demigoddess Eva Perón. 7:30pm. Live Arts DownStage, 123 E. Water St. $10-17. 977-4177.

Far Away: There's a chill in the air at auntie's house, where Joan is sleeping over. From this simple start grows a sinister tale from Britain's master dramatist of the cautionary, Caryl Churchill. Sure to be among the most chilling nights you'll ever spend in a theater. 7:30pm. Live Arts UpStage, 123 E. Water St. $10. 977-4177.

Richmond Ballet: On a tour of the state, the Richmond Ballet brings its innovative work to Charlottesville this weekend offering something for everyone. Tonight's performance is designed for children. Thursday's show will offer a full-length program, including A Maiden's Hymn, with music by Schubert. Both shows are at 7:30pm. Main stage of the V. Earl Dickinson Building, PVCC. $5 tonight's show; $10-17 Thursday. 961-5376.

Salsa Dura: Charlottesville Salsa takes its act to Fry's Spring Beach Club this week for a spring party with a special appearance from the Salsa Dura dance company. A smoke- and alcohol-free event. 8:30pm; intermediate salsa lesson 7:30pm. 2512 Jefferson Park Ave. $5.

Taming of the Shrew: Long seen as the ultimate battle of the sexes, this robust comedy is just as much an illustration of how nonconformists can outwit society. Shenandoah Shakespeare blends romance and outlandish farce to give us a story of psychological liberation. 7:30pm. Blackfriars Playhouse, 10 S. Market St., Staunton. $14-26. 540-885-5588.

Put It to the Test:
Geoffrey Segal, director of a "think tank promoting choice, competition, and a dynamic market economy as the foundation for human dignity and progress," can be expected to argue for privatization of Social Security and more in his address, "Making Government Compete," today at 4:30pm. 104 Brown-Withers Hall, Law School, UVA.,

Words in the Air: Oxford University professor Stephen Mulhall presents the third of three lectures on "The Conversation of Humanity." Today's topic is "Lectures and Letters as Conversation: Cavell as Educator," about Stanley Cavell, an American philosopher who seeks a return to the 19th-century American philosophical ideals of Emerson and Thoreau. 5:30pm. Harrison/Small Library, UVA.

EU on the Rise: A distinguished panel, part of the lecture series of the Workshop on Muslim Societies, discusses "The New Europe: How New Will It Be?" at 7pm. Kaleidoscope Room, Newcomb Hall.,

Tunes on the TV: Albemarle bluesman Corey Harris talks and plays "Blues Biology" tonight at 9pm on Channel 13, Charlottesville Public Access TV. 924-7550.

Travis Elliott Band, RANA, and Army of Me at Starr Hill:
Army of Me is a mystery, but Travis Elliott and his rock group are one of the pop luminaries of this town, and Rana has an interesting Talking Heads-occasionally-gone-country sound. $5, 8pm.

"Emergency Musical Theatre" featuring Stratton & friends at Atomic Burrito. Free, 10pm.

Young Artist Night with the Wave at Kokopelli's Café. $3, 7pm.

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

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

Dance Music with 5 Star D.J. Express at City Limit's (formerly Charlie's). Free, 9pm.

James Leva with Megan Huddleston and the Weeki Wachi Springs at Gravity Lounge. $8, 8pm.

Eli Cook's Red House Blues Band at Dürty Nelly's. $5, 9pm.

Greg Howard and James McLaughlin at Michael's Bistro. Free, 10pm.

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

Rocket Queen at Outback Lodge. $5, 10pm.

Victor Wooten (Flecktones bassist) at Plan 9 at Albemarle Square. No cover, 6pm.

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.

Victor Wooten and His Band at the Paramount Theater. $22/$20/$18, 7pm.

The George Turner Trio (jazz, Latin, funk, and originals) at Zocalo's. Free, 9pm.

Live Improv Comedy Show at Garden of Sheba. $8, 8pm.

Reggae Sound System with Culture Bif at Garden of Sheba. No cover, 10pm.

FRIDAY, March 25
Spring Orchid Show and Sale:
Wander among hundreds of rare and beautiful flowers the Charlottesville Orchid Society's spring show. See one you like? Everything on display is for sale, and members will be on hand to discuss the flowers and teach the basics of orchid care. Proceeds support the Society's education programs. 9am-9pm today and tomorrow at Fashion Square Mall. Info: Larry Eicher at 975-4231. See Walkabout feature.

Join local actors with Four County Players as they relive the struggle for unanimity among the several colonies and poke fun at Mr. Adams in this witty musical on the crafting of the Declaration of Independence. 8pm. Barboursville Community Center, Barboursville. $10-14. 540-832-5355.

Evita: See Thursday, March 24. Today's show is at 8pm.

Far Away: See Thursday, March 24. Tonight's show is at 8pm.

A King and No King: Written by Shakespeare groupies who dominated the theater scene in London after his retirement, A King and No King is a fantastical, dark comedy the bard could appreciate. Fairy-tale settings with triumphant and defeated kings, sensational plot twists, mistaken identities and (almost) accidental incest– it's all there in two hours' traffic. Blackfriars Playhouse, 10 S. Market St., Staunton. 540-885-5588.

Hogwarts Heaven:
Harry Potter flies onto the giant screen at the Science Museum of Virginia this weekend. See Family feature.

Kids Read: Joan Kindig leads the new Young Readers Book Club at Barnes & Noble. Story lovers ages 8-12 can join in a lively discussion of Mayfield Crossing by Vaunda Nelson in which baseball helps solve a problem for students in a new school. Parents are welcome to join the discussion. 7pm. Free. Barracks Road Shopping Center. 984-6598.

Man Behind the Myth:
Author Josiah Bunting III, president of the Guggenheim Foundation and former VMI Superintendent, speaks on Ulysses S. Grant at the Miller Center today at 11:30am. Bunting's new book on Grant was called "vivid" by the New York Times. 2201 Old Ivy Road. 924-7236.

Tunes on the TV: See Thursday, March 24.

Middle Eastern Democracy: Egyptian pro-democracy activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim, Turkish professor of politics Soli Özel, and UNC sociologist Charles Kurzman headline a colloquium on "Democracy in the Middle East: Past, Present, and Future," taking place most of the day in UVA's Harrison/Small Library. Morning discussions from 11:30am to 1pm, afternoon from 2:30pm to 5pm. 924-3033.

Right On: Steven Teles, Brandeis professor of political science, asks "Why have conservative been more successful in developing counter-institutions in some areas than others?" He will focus on social security, law, and universities. Free and open to the public. 12:15pm. Miller Center, 2201 Old Ivy Road. 924-4694.

Archival: Steven G. Fullwood, founder of the Black Gay and Lesbian Archive Project, discusses his work and answers questions. 3:30pm. Kaleidoscope Room, Newcomb Hall, UVA.

Architectural Visions: Architects Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi speak on site construction. Their firm designed the Women's Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, Ithaca's new Museum of the Earth, and new buildings for Smith and Barnard College. 5pm. 153 Campbell Hall, School of Architecture, UVA. 982-2921.

Zag at Miller's:
Zag is great– Weezer, Superdrag, other pop influences, all under one local roof. No cover, 10pm.

A Night of Flamenco Music and Dance featuring Fausto Pototo, guitarists Mir Ali and Peter Richardson, and dancer Kristi O'Brien at Bashir's Taverna. No cover, 7-10pm.

Pete and Lindsey Osborne (folk singer/songwriters) at Basic Necessities. No cover, 6:30pm.

Down 'Til Now with Fletcher Bridge (original rock and roll with a southern rock edge) at the Outback Lodge. 9pm, $6.

Nelson's Jazz Rascals (big band swing and '20s jazz) at Kokopelli's Café. $5, 8pm.

Osmotic (soul groove and Manhattan soul) at Garden of Sheba. $5, 10pm.

Hard Rain with The Taters at Gravity Lounge. $5, 8pm.

Butterhouse Band at Jaberwocky. No cover, 10pm.

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

Fletcher Bridge at Outback Lodge. $6, 10pm.

Engine Down, Delegate, and Races to April at Starr Hill. $7/$5 advance, 8pm.

Vulgar Bulgars (local Klezmer) at Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar. No cover, 9pm.

Guitarist George Turner, Greg Nossaman on Hammond organ, and Phil Riddle on drums (soul jazz) at Vivace Restaurant. No cover, 10-1am.

Morwena Lasko and Jay Pun at Garden of Sheba. No cover, 8pm.

SATURDAY, March 26
Collection Mining:
In "Aspects of Influence: Lincoln Perry Mines the Collection," figurative painter Lincoln Perry selects pictorial artist Bruno Civitico's "Death of Eudamidas" as the focus of the exhibit to demonstrate the influences artists have on one another. 2pm. UVA Art Museum, 155 Rugby Road.

Battle of the STEP Teams:
It's a step show at Burley Middle School, complete with good food and fun for the whole family. There will even be a dance contest. 5-7:30pm. $6 adults. 286-2702.

Vegetable Garden Workshop: Learn the fundamentals of vegetable gardening and review the principles of soil preparation, varietal selection, and more. A tour of the Monticello Kitchen Garden follows the lecture. 9:30am in the Monticello Garden Shop. $10. registration required. 984-9822.

Orchid Show and Sale: See Friday, March 25 and Walkabout feature.

Spring Open House: Celebrate the season at Afton Mountain Vineyards. The new 2004 whites will be available, with complimentary soup to enjoy with the wines. 10am-6pm. No fee. 540-456-8667 or

Easter Bonnet Eggstravaganza: Show your Easter spirit and get a discount on wines at Farfelu this weekend. Easter eggs in the meadow for the kids, and fun for the grown-ups in the winery. 11am-5pm. $3/person. 540-364-2930 or

Mountain Morning: Join a Wintergreen Nature Foundation naturalist for an interpretive hike through the mountains of Wintergreen. Moderate difficulty. $3 members, $6 non-members. 10am. 325-7451.

Women Unite: To celebrate March as National Women's History Month and to excite young Democrats about this year's statewide elections, the Virginia Young Democrats Women's Caucus hosts a fundraising reception at the Gravity Lounge. 4:30pm. 434-409-9035.

Book Sale:
IRIS Magazine hosts its first annual book sale, with all proceeds benefiting IRIS's 25th anniversary issue. Browse the stacks of feminist, literary, and historical criticism; fiction; poetry; biography; non-fiction; women's health and more. All books 50-75 percent off the cover price. 10am-2pm on the Downtown Mall. 924-4500.

Voices from the Diaspora:
Celebration of Umoja with local author and playwright William A. James Sr., author of Fifth and Dice. Music by D&D, the Jackson sisters. Noon. Garden of Sheba. 977-7336. See Words feature.

Daredevil Demo: Former
Sea World performer and modified trials champion Gabriel Bennett performs amazing bicycle feats on the front lawn at Scottsville Library. Punch provided. 2pm. 330 Bird St., Scottsville. 286-3541.

Artists Wanted: Teens in grades 6-12 can show their artistic skill throughout the month of March in the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library's tenth annual Logo Contest in preparation for Cheap Thrills, the Library's summer reading program for teens. Deadline for submission is today to submit an original design to any library branch. Contest forms are available at all JMRL branches. Winners receive gift certificates to Michael's Arts and Crafts Store, with the first place entry appearing on the front of the Cheap Thrills promotional brochure this summer. 434-979-7151, ext. 215.

Easter Passion: The Frontier Culture Museum presents Old World Passion Plays, historic dramatic presentations for Easter. Each play is 20 minutes long at the museum's wooded amphitheater. 10am and 2pm. Free. Rt. 250 west in Staunton. 540-332-7850.

See Thursday, March 24. Tonight show, the final performance of the run, is at 8pm.

Far Away: See Thursday, March 24. Tonight's show is at 8pm.

1776: See Friday, March 25.

Tamer Tamed: This is the final performance of John Fletcher's sequel to The Taming of the Shrew, written 20 years after Shakespeare's play. Petruchio marries a second wife, who seeks revenge on behalf of Kate (and browbeaten women everywhere) by denying her husband earthly pleasures– a reversal of roles that recalls the sex strike in Aristophanes's Lysistrata. 7:30pm. Blackfriars Playhouse, 10 S. Market St., Staunton. $14-26. 540-885-5588.

Taming of the Shrew: See Thursday, March 24. Today's 2pm matinee is the final performance.

Harry Faulkner at Dürty Nelly's:
A man who can write a good song, Faulkner's got a bit of Dire Straits' Mark Knopfler's sensibilities and a big dash of his own. $3, 9pm.

Frontbutt at Outback Lodge: White boys doing old school rap, Frontbutt is back for another evening involving shaking your booty so much it hurts in the morning. $6, 10pm.

The Terri Allard Group with special guest Ellis Paul at PVCC: A celebrity that's more than local, Allard and her sweet roots/rock returns to town for what has become an annual evening of merriment. $15/$12 advance, 8pm.

Star City Wildcats (rockabilly trio) at Atomic Burrito. Free, 10:30.

Sun Dried Opossum (good old rock n roll) at Kokopelli's Café. $5, 8pm.

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

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

Sierra (country-rock covers) at the Dew Drop Inn. No cover, 9:30pm.

American Dumpster at Fellini's No. 9pm. $3, 10pm.

Gaye Adegbalola of the Uppity Blues Women "Saffire" with Richelle Claiborne at Gravity Lounge. $7, 7pm.

Guitarist George Turner and clarinetist Dave Kannensohn (jazz standards) at Hamilton's. No cover, 7-10pm.

The Atomic 3 featuring Davina Jackson (vocals), Houston Ross ( bass), Matthew Willner (guitar), and Drex Weaver (drums) at Jaberwocky. No cover, 10:30pm.

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

Trouble with Harry at Durty Nelly's. $3, 9pm.

R&B Old School Party with DJ Mighty Matt (spinning classic soul) at Garden of Sheba. 25+. $5, 9pm.

SUNDAY, March 27
A King and No King:
See Friday, March 25. Today's 2pm performance is the final show of the run.

1776: See Friday, March 25. Today's show is a 2:30pm matinee.

Easter Passion:
See Saturday, March 26.

Montpelier Races:
The Farmington and Keswick Hunt Clubs host the annual "Point-to-Point" steeplechase at Montpelier Racecourse, near Orange. In addition to a variety of family-friendly activities, the day includes a full card of races, as well as a jumping exhibition and mule race. The public is welcome. 1pm post time. $7/person or $10 /car. 980-9926.

Spring Open House: See Saturday, March 26. 10am-6pm. No fee. 540-456-8667 or

Easter Bonnet Eggstravaganza: See Saturday, March 26. 11am-5pm. $3/person. 540-364-2930 or

New Age Business Tactics: Women come together to rediscover the paradigm for creating success in business using intuition, synchronicity, and inspiration. 4pm. Free. Kokopelli's Cafe 989-3514.

Matty Metcalfe (accordion player) at Fellini's No. 9. No cover, 6-9pm.

Barling and Collins at Miller's. No cover, 10:30pm.

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

Rye Grass Rollers at Kokopelli's Café. $5, 7pm.

MONDAY, March 28
Behind Closed Doors:
Visitors ages 5 and up are invited to walk through the "Employees Only" door for a special peek at the inner workings of Maymont's new Nature Center. Children must be accompanied by a parent. Register early. 1pm. $5. 1700 Hampton St., Richmond. 804-358-7166, ext. 333.

Fox Network Perks:
Jim Angle, senior White House correspondent for Fox News, was the only TV journalist to go to Baghdad with George Bush on his Thanksgiving Day surprise visit to troops. Before that, he tracked Bill Clinton from reelection to impeachment proceedings. His talk, "Covering the White House for Fox News" happens at 11:30am today at the Miller Center. 2201 Old Ivy Road. 924-7236.

Africa's Importance: Leonard H. Robinson, Jr., president and CEO of the Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa– and the inaugural Diplomat Scholar at the University of Virginia– speaks on "Why Africa Is in America's Best Interest" at 5pm in the Harrison/Small Library auditorium. Harrison/Small Library, UVA. 982-2016.

A Taste of Tomorrow's Creative Writing Today: Undergraduate creative writers share their work at 6:30pm tonight. Hear Adrienne Fisher and Allie Simpson read poetry, Mary McNaught and Kai Tham read fiction. UVA Bookstore, atop the Central Grounds parking garage, Emmet St. 924-6675.

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

The Rusticators at the Biltmore. No cover, 10pm.

Loveseat (aka the Matthew Willner Blues Thang) at Miller's. No cover, 10pm.

George Melvin (piano merriment) at South Street Brewery. No cover, 7pm.

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

TUESDAY, March 29
Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Fellow Deborah A. Lee presents a seminar, seminar "Opposition to Slavery in Northern Virginia 1810-1865." 4-5:30pm. VFH downstairs conference room at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. 145 Ednam Drive. 434-243-5526.

Small Town Workers with Ross Copperman at R2 (Rapture):
Small Town Worker's 70's rock with modern influences sound concludes its four week Tuesday night performances at R2 with a grand finale of that crunchy sound you know and love. $3, 10pm.

Cracker / Camper Van Beethoven Unplugged at Starr Hill: A softer side of David Lowry, frontman for 80's college-rockers with talent Camper Van Beethoven and for early 90s more mainstreamed Cracker. $15/$13 advanced, 8pm. See Tunes feature.

Junior Moment (eclectic originals and folk rock) at Dr. Ho's Humble Pie at Crossroads. No cover, 7:30pm.

CJ Stagger W/ Erik the Red at Atomic Burrito. Free, 10:30.

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

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

Tom Proutt (country-folk) at Fat Daddy's. No cover, 8:30-11pm (W)

Fountainhead (jam) at Jaberwocky. No cover, 10pm.

Two Red Shoes (rock) at Miller's. No cover, 10pm.

William Walter's Acoustic Trio (Hunter Jones, Tucker Rogers and William Walter- acoustic folk) at Orbit Billiards. No cover, 10:30pm.

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

Sharron Kraus (Dark Folk) at Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar. No cover, 9pm.

Universe in a Box:
UVA astronomy professor John Hawley speaks at 12noon at the Faculty Forum for Scientific Research on "Computational Astrophysics: The Universe in a Box," considering how high-performance scientific computing is being used these days to model astrophysical phenomena. Rodan Room, Thornton Hall, School of Engineering and Applied Science, UVA.

I Feel Your Pain: UVA medical professionals David Morris and Nancy Eksterowicz, a nurse in Patient Care Services, talk about stories patients tell and their importance in health care and comfort-giving. Jordan Hall Auditorium, UVA. 924-2094.

Curtain Falls on Cold War: Jack F. Matlock Jr., was the White House senior coordinator of Soviet Union policy as Ronald Reagan and Mihail Gorbachev personified the two superpowers and brought an end to the long Cold War. From that perspective, he speaks today at the Miller Center at 5:30pm on "Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended." He'll discuss the animosities between Casper Weinberger and George Schulz, which he sees played out again in the relationship between Colin Powell and Donald Rumsfeld. 2201 Old Ivy Road. 924-7236.

Can You See Who You Be?: King Salim Khalfani, executive director of Virginia's NAACP, talks about the organization past and present in a presentation, "Know Thyself: The Identity Question for the Hip Hop Generation." 7pm. 110 Monroe Hall, UVA. 924-7923.

After Freedom Came:
Cinder Stanton, a historian at Monticello, speaks at an Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society lecture. The group will explore Jefferson's relationships with his slaves and discuss how they adapted to their new freedom in Albemarle County. 2pm in Room A at the Senior Center. Free. Open to the public. 974-7756.

Cook's Class: Learn how to create citrus-inspired masterpieces like rosemary lemon roasted chicken, jicama orange salad, and sweet sour onions with the pros at Mona Lisa Pasta. 7pm at 921 Preston Avenue. $45 per person. 295-2494 or for information and reservations.

Animal Encounters:
Young adventurers 5 and up can slither into the secretive world or reptiles at Maymont Nature Center. The fun includes facts and close-up glimpses of the center's snakes. Children must be accompanied by an adult. 3pm. $4. Register at the visitor center desk on arrival. 1700 Hampton St., Richmond. 804-358-7166, ext. 324.

More Tales for Tots: The 5 and under crowd can hear picture book favorites about sea creatures at Barnes & Noble's preschool story time. 10:30am. Free. Barracks Road Shopping Center. 984-6598.

Far Away:
See Thursday, March 24. Tonight's show is at 8pm.

"Mr. Jefferson's Secret," a three-act play written by PVCC voice teacher Virginia Erwin and directed by Cale Elementary School music teacher Joanne Billups premiers today at the school at 9:45am and 7pm. The costumed play, featuring authentic music performed by Rick La Rue, a violinist and music theory teacher at Tandem School, is performed by members of Cale's fifth grade chorus and several other budding thesepians in the class. 293-7455.

Al & Arthur at Atomic Burrito. Free, 10:30.

Salsa night at Berkmar: Beginning and intermediate lessons offered from 8 to 9:15 p.m. Free, 8-10pm. 652 Rio Rd. W, 975-4611.

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.

Karaoke Night with Dave Harrington and Yellow Cab Karaoke at Damon's Sports Bar. Free, 9-1am.

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.

Peter Markush (piano) at Gravity Lounge. Free, 12:30pm.

Clarence Green's Chameleon Project at Gravity Lounge. $5, 7pm.

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

Stable Roots (reggae) at Outback Lodge. $5, 10pm.

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

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

Jump (formerly Jump Little Children) and Sun Domingo at Starr Hill. $10/$8 advanced, 8pm.

Jimmy O at the South River Grill in Waynesboro. No cover, 7:30pm.

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

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

Islamic art expert Finbarr Barry Flood, an NYU fine arts faculty member, visits UVA to talk about "Becoming Like a Plant: Figuration as Vegetation in Islamic Art." Flood has published often on Buddhist and Islamic art and is now working on a book about artifacts and how they traveled between northern India and eastern Iran in the 11th and 12th centuries. 6pm. 160 Campbell Hall. 924-6122.

More Tales for Tots:
See Wednesday, March 30.

Far Away:
Tonight's show is $15 to benefit the local Center for Peace and Justice.

Values Based Leadership:
Sponsored by The Darden School, this year's conference, "Turning Ethics into Practice," explores how corporations achieve ethical decision-making throughout their organization. Harry Campbell, president of Sprint Business Solutions, speaks, as well as Tyco treasurer Marina Hund-Mejean. Various panels will also address the issue from multiple angles. 12:30-6pm. No fee, open to the public.

Salsa Dura
Welcome to Spring Party at Fry's Spring Beach Club: Celebrate the ripening of the trees with a little salsa- including an intermediate lesson an hour before the hop. $5, 8:30pm.

William Walter's Acoustic Trio (Hunter Jones, Tucker Rogers and William Walter- acoustic folk) at Starr Hill's Cocktail Lounge: Walter's high clean voice rings out above the muddled masses, a modern day Jeff Buckley- folk songs with some bluegrass elements, tonight. 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.

Chicken Head Blues Band at Durty Nelly's. $5, 9pm.

Jay Pun and Morwenna Lasko at Gravity Lounge. $5, 8pm.

Darrell Rose & Matthew Willner will be performing duets (Afrikan percussion & loops) at Michael's Bistro. $3, 9pm.

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

Fletcher Bridge at Outback Lodge. $5, 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.

Books, Glorious Books:
The Book Festival may be over, but the Gordon Avenue Library book sale continues through March 28. Through Saturday, hours are 9am-8pm. On Sunday, March 27, hours are noon-8pm, and on Monday, March 28– last day, prices slashed– the sale stays open 9am-6pm. The sale benefits the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library system. 1400 Gordon Ave. 977-8467.

Actors Lab:
Drop in at Live Arts every Saturday morning to sharpen your acting skills. 10-11am. Next full session runs March 19 to May 7. Rehearsal Room A, Live Arts, 123 E. Water St. $15 for drop-ins; $200 for the eight-week session. 977-4177x100.

Play-Reading Series: Walk through the essential plays of theater history. Meets every third Sunday of the month. Live Arts, 123 E. Water St. Free. 977-4177x100.

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.

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.

Healing Hearts:
Hospice of the Piedmont offers "Journeys through the Seasons," a free bereavement camp for children and teens (6-14) who are affected by the serious illness or death of a loved one. The spring day camp happens Saturday, April 16, 8:45-5pm at Triple C Camp. Activities include art therapy, high ropes course, caring for creatures, games, a nature walk, lunch, and a closing ceremony. Participation is free. Information and an application, 817-6900 or 800-975-5501.

Boning Up: Find out what you're really made of at the Science Museum of Virginia's new exhibit, Bones: An Exhibit Inside You. Visitors can examine bone biology, find out how proper diet and exercise keep bones healthy, explore how technology helps us "see" our bones, and learn the ways bones are used as tools, jewelry, art, and musical instruments in cultures around the world. Through May 1. Included in the price of admission. 2500 W. Broad St., Richmond. 800-659-1727.

Read Across America: Crozet Library wants folks to travel across the country by book. Readers can choose a book set in their favorite state (there's a list available). Those who complete the trip by the end of March can add their state to the Read Across America map and get a prize. In the old train station on Three Notch'd Road. 823-4050.

Spelunking: The Virginia Discovery Museum goes underground with its latest Back Gallery exhibit Under the Earth: A Cave Exploration. Young children can squeeze through tiny spaces to explore caves and critters from deep inside the earth. Now through May 22. Included in the price of admission. East end of the Downtown Mall. 977-1025.

City Market:
It's that time of year again. The Downtown farmers market opens for the season on April 2.

Deconstruct This: The Habitat Store seeks volunteers to help staff the retail store and to participate in a new deconstruction program. All proceeds from the Habitat Store benefit Habitat for Humanity of the Greater Charlottesville Area. Info: Daniel @ 293-6331.

Acupuncture and you: How does acupuncture help you, your symptoms, your issues? First Tuesday of every month. Free. 7-8pm. 1110 Rose Hill Drive, Suite 100. Reservations requested. 962-2770.

Come Clean: Drug addiction can leave an individual feeling helpless and out of control, especially family members and friends of an addict. Narconon Arrowhead can help. Narconon offers free counseling, assessments and referrals to rehabilitation centers nationwide. Call 1-800-468-6933 or log onto

Nature Spirit: Spending too much time indoors under florescent lighting? Discover the spiritual side of Nature with NatureSpirit. Explore different earth-centered traditions of spirituality, meet friends, and find meaningful new ways to connect with Nature in your busy life. Meets the first Sunday of every month at Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church. 6:30pm., 243-6421, or

Ninja Yoga: Toward a revolution of consciousness. Free yoga classes at 9:15am Thursdays. Bring a mat. Silent meditation 8am. Suitable for all levels of expertise. Free and open to the public at "Better than Television," 106 A3 Goodman St. 295-0872. Yoga classes also offered at the Downtown Library, Market St., at 5pm Thursday.

Glassy Classes: Among the weekend and weekday classes offered by the Glass Palette through March are kiln forming, fusing and slumping, glass jewelry with precious metal clay, and stained glass. Class sizes limited. Call 977-9009 to register, or visit the shop at 110 Fifth St. NE on the Downtown Mall.

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.

Mapping the Dark:
Rosamund Casey offers and eight-week "unusual art class" that seeks to develop in students a capacity for visual thinking as a means to create an authentic work of art. Begins April 5. Tuesdays, 10am-12:30pm and 6:30-9pm. $210. or 293-8733.

Second Street Gallery features two shows through April 16. "Thread Through the Crowd: Stitched Drawings and Collages by Darrel Morris" provides fiber for the art diet in the main gallery, and "Skin the Rabbit: A Mixed Media Installation by Lucy O'Connell" reflects childhood memories in the Dove; Gallery. 115 Second St. SE. 977-7284.

During March, the McGuffey Art Center presents "Order and Character," botanical watercolors and ink drawings by Lara Call Gastinger, in the main gallery. On view in the first floor hall gallery: Judy McLeod's "Espacios Dorados," a collection of ornate mixed-media interiors, plus painter Jean R. Sampson's creations of order from chaos, entitled "Breakthrough." Upstairs, enjoy an annual fix of hometown perspectives with "C2D-2005: Charlottesville in 2D, Views of the City." 201 Second St. NW. 295-7973.

The University of Virginia Art Museum presents "Lincoln Perry: Mining the Collection," an exhibition about artistic influence curated by painter Lincoln Perry (but not featuring his paintings). Also on view: "After Collage," a show of mixed-element work by contemporary artists including John Baldessari, Katherine Porter, and Frank Stella, which continues through August 27. 155 Rugby Road. 924-3592.

The University of Virginia McIntire Department of Art presents "Colonies and Cultures: New Work by Christina Nguyen Hung," an exhibition of digital prints of sociopolitical maps created via living bacterial colonies (yes!), on view at the new Off Grounds Gallery through March 28. 300 W. Main St. (entrance is on Ridge St.) 924-6123. See Art feature.

The Gallery@Studio 302 inaugurates its space with "Travel Details," photographs by Eric Norcross, and "Paintings" by Edward Thomas. 300 W. Main St. (above the UVA Off Grounds Studio). 924-5405.

The Main Street Market Galleria displays "Basics," paintings by Doris deSha, through March. 416 W. Main St. 244-7800.

Chris Mason displays new work at Mudhouse in March. 213 W. Main St. 984-6833.

Transient Crafters presents the handcrafted jewelry of Tavia Brown during March. 118 E. Main St. on the Downtown Mall. 972-9500.

New Dominion Bookshop features Nancy Campa's painting exhibition, "Then and Now," on its mezzanine during March. 404 W. Main St. 295-2552.

If you like what you see at McGuffey, wander down to Fellini's #9 and enjoy more paintings by Jean R. Sampson through the end of March. Corner of Market and Second St. NW. 979-4279.

During March, the Charlottesville Community Design Center presents an exhibition of entrants in the C2C Home design and construction competition, which address specific sites in Roanoke using "Cradle to Cradle" concepts. 101 E. Main St. 984-2232.

Slated to coincide with the Virginia Festival of the Book, Nature Visionary Art displays Terri Long's "Festival of the Altered Book" through March. 110 Fourth St. NE. 296-8482.

CODG's March show, "New Works," features the paintings of Leslie Allyn. 112 E. Main St., under the Jefferson Theater. 242-4212.

Through March, the C&O Gallery offers "Recent Work," flower paintings and lush still lifes by Jessie Coles. 511 E. Water St. (next to the C&O Restaurant). 971-7044.

The Renaissance School shows "Steve Ingham: portraits and new works." The exhibition will be up through April. 406 E. Main St. on the Downtown Mall. 984-1952.

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church presents "Our Town," a show of landscapes by Isabell Ramsey's Baker Butler Elementary School students. 717 Rugby Road. 977-5411.

On March 30, Piedmont Virginia Community College opens a show of student work that will run through April 20. V. Earl Dickinson Building. 961-5203.

La Galeria currently features "Virginia Barns and Florals" by Christine Kennedy. Also on view through April 30: work by Anne Hopper, Al Rossi, Doris deSha, Nga Bui Katz, and Mary Porter. 1919 Commonwealth Drive (next to Rococo's). 293-7003.

The 5th Floor Gallery at Keller Williams is currently showing explorations of realism by painter Tom Tartaglino, paintings of Italy by Doris deSha, and photography by Candace Schoner. Ten percent of proceeds from artwork sold goes to Habitat for Humanity. Suite 500, Citizens Commonwealth Building (UVA Credit Union), 300 Preston Ave. 220-2200.

Through April, Angelo displays recent works in oils by Stanley Woodward. 220 E. Main St. 971-9256.

The Kluge-Ruhe Collection of Aboriginal Art features "Fibre Optics: Woven Work in Aboriginal Art." Also on view: "Small Wonders: Aboriginal Art Miniatures." Both shows run through April 16. 400 Worrell Drive, Peter Jefferson Place (off Route 250 E. at Pantops). 244-0234..

For its March show, The Gallery @ 5th & Water displays the rich local landscapes of Meg W.. 107 Fifth St. 979-9825.

Sage Moon Gallery presents Milenko Katic's equine drawings and paintings in charcoal and pastel, plus Al Francis' stone sculptures, through March. 420 E. Main St. on the Downtown Mall. 977-9997.

During March, Industry features "Distant Testimonies," acrylic paintings by local art maverick Monty Montgomery. 112 Second St. NE. 293-3338.

Through April, the Central Virginia Watercolor Guild presents over 50 watercolors by Central Virginia artists in the basement and on the first floor of the Albemarle County Courthouse. 501 E. Jefferson Court Square. 296-8484.

View photographer Mary Jane Freligh's exhibition of black and white photography entitled "Mixed Subjects" at Art Upstairs during March. 316 E. Main St., above The Hardware Store, on the Downtown Mall. 923-3900.

The Laughing Lion Gallery offers a March show of Terrence Pratt's graphite on paper works entitled "Portraits of Dancers." 103 E. Water St. (above Londons). 984-4000.

For the month of March, Bozart Gallery features "Breaking Patterns," a show of abstract mixed-media works by Ucky Light. 211 W. Main St. 296-3919.

Gravity Lounge presents "Reality Bites!," paintings by Lynn Jangochian during March. 103 S. First St. 977-5590.

During March, Better than Television presents "Kids Art Show," featuring work by local children ages 12 and under. Tuesdays and Sundays, 4-9pm. 106 Goodman St., Apt. A3 (near Spudnuts). 295-0872.

L'etoile 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 Artisans Center of Virginia displays its "Artisans Members Exhibition" through April 27. Also on view during March: "Gifts from Nature," a display of willow furniture created by Dani Cage. 601 Shenandoah Drive. (Exit 94 off I-64), Waynesboro. 540-946-3294.

The Arts Center in Orange offers a show of Outsider Art, featuring over 49 national artists, through April. 16149 E. Main St., Orange. 540-672-7311.

Through May 1, Barboursville's Nichols Gallery features "Three Views," landscape paintings by Ron Boehmer, Lindsay Nolting, and Priscilla Whitlock. 540-832-3565.

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts displays "Selections: 20th Century Latin American Art in the VMFA Collection" through April 17. 200 N. Broad St., Richmond. 804-340-1400.

Madison's Sevenoaks Pathwork Center features "Arising from the Unconscious," watercolors by Alegria Barbara Strauss, through April 23. 403 Pathwork Way, Madison. 295-8315.

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

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.

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


The University of Virginia Art Museum's Volunteer Board invites area gardeners of all ages to create flower arrangements inspired by works in the museum for display in the annual "Flowers Interpret Art" exhibition, scheduled for April 20, 10am-5pm. To learn more about the program and to sign up, call Virginia Paul, 974-6029.

The Scottsville Council for the Arts invites regional photographers to participate in its Photography Show, scheduled to run April 30-May15. An application form is available at the Council website: Works should be submitted Sunday, April 24, 2-5pm in person at the Victory Hall Theatre, 401 Valley St. in Scottsville. Info: Chris Hogger, or 286-3179.

The University of Virginia Art Museum announces "Summer Arts @ the Ix," its creative programs for 4th-12th grade students. First session: July 18-22. Second Session: July 25-29. Students' art will be displayed August 16-24. Tuition: $220 members; $255 nonmembers. A limited number of full scholarships are available for students with financial needs. Info: Lili Grabbi, 243-6830 or

Uneasy art: Christina Hung's cultural studies

Did you hear about the artist subpoenaed under the U.S. Patriot Act? Last summer University at Buffalo art professor Steve Kurtz called police to his home when his wife died of heart failure. During a routine investigation, the cops discovered various bacterial cultures– all harmless– that Kurtz uses in his artwork. Slam-bam, suddenly the grieving husband was designated a terrorism suspect.

This bizarre-but-true incident probably gave pause to UVA art professor Christina Nguyen Hung, whose "Colonies and Cultures" exhibition is currently on view at the Off-Grounds Gallery. Like Kurtz, Hung nurtures bacterial colonies in Petri dishes to create her pieces. And like Kurtz, whose work critiques big-biz bio-tech developments, Hung's art makes unfavorable comments on U.S. foreign policy and economics.

Hung writes in her artist's statement, "I acknowledge my own role as a contemporary consumer of the 'First World,' as I simultaneously attempt to resist that role."

Hung's art is intellectual. She has capital-P Points to make, and her work pushes viewers to pay attention, to read accompanying extracts, and not to take the easy way out.

Her exhibition displays digital photographs of bacteria the artist has encouraged to grow over maps in specific patterns. In "Tjmaqs," vermillion splotches of S. marcescens bacteria mark the locations of maquiladoras (low-wage Mexican factories) clotting Tijuana, Mexico, just south of the U.S. border near a red-free San Diego. Meant to expose the impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement, it's not a pretty picture– literally or figuratively.

Elsewhere, Hung goes for the out-and-out gross. In "Breaching the Borders of Knowledge or Project Shield America: how to nurture growth in a climate of fear," Hung presents two time-lapse prints meant to illustrate the intention and effect of Project American Shield, a secretive bit of legislation that restricts foreign access to U.S. scientific technology.

The first photo resembles a bloody steak, with ruby red bacteria growing inside a greasy outline of the lower 48 states. In the second image, taken later, the red has turned putrid within its thickened boundary, and the surrounding liquid has become pus-like– isolationism gone septic.

In a separate room, Hung presents four video shorts examining economic and cultural relations between Vietnam and the U.S. Less abstract and more visually accessible than the bacteria studies, these poetic pieces are less likely to bring Homeland Security knocking on Hung's door. Nevertheless, Hung's more difficult images are "good" for viewers– like yogurt, which also contains living bacterial cultures.

Christina Nguyen Hung's "Colonies and Cultures" is on view at the UVA McIntire Department of Art's Off-Grounds Gallery through March 28. Hours: Fridays, 5-8pm, and Saturdays 12-5pm. 300 West Main St. (entrance is on Ridge St.) 924-6123.

Harry Huge: IMAX Dome hosts Azkaban crew
Die-hard fans of Harry Potter and his friends at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry have had to wait a very long time between fixes.

It's been nearly two years since Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling's fifth record-breaking best-seller in the seven-volume chronicle, was published. And frantic followers are eagerly awaiting book six, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which won't be released until July 16.

This weekend, however, the Science Museum of Virginia offers desperate devotees a little something to tide us over. Harry (played by Daniel Radcliffe) and his best friends Hermione Granger (played by Emma Watson), and Ron Weasley (played by Rupert Grint) return for their third year at Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: The IMAX Experience opening Friday, March 25 for a limited engagement in the Ethyl IMAX Dome.

This is the full-length feature film, the first in the Harry Potter series to be digitally re-mastered using IMAX technology. Projected on a five-story wrap-around screen, it gives viewers all the stomach-wrenching sensation they need to feel part of the action.

Adventurers to Azkaban can fly along with Harry on his flying broom the Firebolt as he races after the golden snitch to win the Quidditch match; share his harrowing ride through the streets of London on the triple-decker, violently purple Knight Bus; soar on the back of Hagrid's hippogriff to rescue Sirius Black; and dodge the dangerous boughs of the Whomping Willow tree. This is also where Hermione gets to give Draco Malfoy his comeuppance.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: The IMAX Experience runs through May 1. The film is shown daily for the first week (which happens to be spring break for most schools) then on weekends only. Lines are expected to be long, so folks who make the trip to Richmond to see it should think about ordering tickets in advance either online or by phone.

Check the website for schedule. Movie tickets are $8.50. Tickets for the movie and exhibits are $15.50 for kids ages 4-12, $16 for adults. Children 3 and under are free. Advance tickets are advised. The museum is open Monday-Saturday 9:30am-5pm, and Sunday 11:30am-5pm. 2500 W. Broad St., Richmond. 1-800-659-1727.

Exotic and rare: Orchids' mystique fascinating


There's just something different about orchids, something that makes them seem bolder and more interesting than other flowers. In fact, as the recent movie The Orchid Thief demonstrated, it's not just that they're prettier or more exotic– for a few people, the orchid represents something beyond rationality.

Maybe it's the plant's combination of beauty and fragility– and its rarity. Or maybe it's based on the orchid's fundamental design, that complex maze of stamens and pistils that make it, at least to some, the pinnacle of flower evolution.

"The plant itself is usually something you wouldn't look at twice," says Ruth Taylor, president of the Charlottesville Orchid Society, "but when it's in bloom, it really is beautiful. There's a mystique about them, and their link to the tropics just makes them a little more exotic than something like an African violet."

This weekend, orchid fanciers and neophytes can stroll through a springtime explosion of color at the Orchid Society's annual Spring Show and Sale at Fashion Square Mall. There you'll not only be able to pick up a blooming specimin to brighten up your home– but you can also learn more about these mysterious and coveted plants.

Society members will be on hand both days to discuss cultivation techniques, varietal characteristics, plant care, and other orchid-centric topics. And nervous new owners, take heart: these folks know a lot about orchids.

The event is also a showcase for the work of dozens of Society members. Every year, professional and amateur growers from all over central Virginia come to this sale to show off the best and brightest of their crop, making it a great stop for agriculture connoisseurs and flower fans alike.

All the money raised at the sale goes to support the Orchid Society's programming schedule, funding guest lecturers and other events. In addition to its regular meetings, the Society also sponsors an orchid education program to teach the Charlottesville community about the joys of orchid cultivation.

"We want people to come out and learn about the orchids," Taylor explains. "That's what we're all about. Even if you're not interested in buying, it's usually a beautiful show to see."

The Charlottesville Orchid Society's Spring Show and Sale happens Friday and Saturday, March 25-26, 9am-9am at Fashion Square Mall. Tables will be set up near the entrance to Belk's Men's store. Prices usually range from $20-$45 per plant. Info: Ruth Taylor at 984-6351 or

Get in the act: Improv beckons the brave

I'm always baffled by improvisational acting. Typical acting is hard enough, but at least you know what your partner's going to say. Improv? That's a little too much like, well, like real life. Except everyone's watching.

We spend our whole lives practicing for life. How do you practice for improv?

Ray Smith says he gets this question a lot. A cast member with the witty and multitalented Improfessionals, he says the troupe practices like athletes do. Boxers don't know which fist is coming, or how fast it's going to be moving, but they know the structure of the match and the skills required. And they work on scenarios.

So the coach of the hour says to the actors: "Teenage girl tells mom and dad she's pregnant. Go. … An alien jumps out of your chest. Go. … There's a mommy toaster and a daddy toaster, and they're arguing over who can shoot toast higher. Go."

Improv, like boxing, ain't for the fainthearted– unless you're as crazy as the Improfessionals, who insist it's for everyone, really. Which is why getting the audience involved is more and more a part of their shows.

The curious ought to take a little daytrip down to Lovingston next week to check out the eight-member troupe as they perform (on April Fool's Day, of course) at Rapunzel's, a locally owned coffeehouse of the sort rapidly becoming extinct.

Smith says "scene carousels" will feature prominently in this latest gig. Here's the way it works: Four actors– one of them a volunteer– stand in a square while the crowd calls out the characters they'll play. Doctor, firefighter, sushi chef– you name it.

The two actors standing at the front of the square start the scene. The trick, Smith says, is to be an emotion: ecstatic, angry, crabby, whatever. Focus on it, breathe it in, let your body do as much as your words. And, you know, just goof off.

You do this until, suddenly, some guy in charge cries out, "Clockwise!" or maybe, "Counterclockwise!" And so you rotate. One actor drops out and another drops in, and the story continues to unfold. Get the picture?

"We're a verbally skilled group," Smith confesses. That's why they've all been working on moving beyond words, he adds– a.k.a getting jiggy. "This is something audiences really respond to," he promises.

The fainthearted, by the way, aren't obligated to participate. But you might find yourself wanting to anyway. The venue is nice that way, Smith says. Rapunzel's is intimate, relaxing, and family friendly, with cozy chairs and couches. Not your average theater and stage, where it's all distance between the audience and the actors.

And have no fear: The Improfessionals never break that cardinal rule of improv: Don't belittle the volunteer.

The Improfessionals, a local improv comedy troupe, perform at Rapunzel's on April Fool's Day. You can say their gags are rated PG-13. 8pm. 924 Front St., Lovingston (Route 29 South). $5. 263-6660.

Color coded: Not a black and white issue


William A. James Sr., writes things he's not supposed to say out loud. Like "From my youth up, I discovered– even in my own family and community– those African-American who hated their skin color, their race, and the very idea of Africa." Or "I could be wrong, but I feel that Black People's actions– thus far– are indicative of a People who desperately hate each other." Or "Jesse Jackson… except for a few photo-opportunities… no longer pursues equal rights for African-Americans."

These passages come from James's e-book, The Skin Color Syndrome Among African-Americans. The title itself says much about what James, himself an African-American, is getting at. He has researched in detail the history of African slaves, miscegenation, and the resulting color classes among American people of color, and– as only an African-American man could dare to do– he points a finger at his own, urging responsibility, self-respect, and an end to prejudice among African-American people based on the colors of their skin. His term for the problem is "pigmentation discrimination."

James tells the long, sad story of ebony-skinned slaves imported to America, interbreeding by choice or by force with white and native Americans, despite miscegenation laws dating back, according to his research, to 1663. Racial intermarriage resulted in a palette of skin colors from Caucasian through tawny and dusky– all the euphemisms created in American history to talk about what James bluntly calls mulatto– to deep black.

Because of historical circumstances, those with lighter skin gained prestige and power. Among slaves, "the mulatto female became increasingly favored" and "mulatto males became very useful to masters as valets, butlers, cooks, and skilled artisans," creating what James calls "a three-tiered social system of whites, free blacks, and mulattos," a "buffer-class" between them.

As one example to prove that this pattern persisted for decades, James cites that Charlottesville's First Baptist Church "once catered exclusively to light-skinned mulattos."

But deep-seated patterns and prejudices need not shape our future, James argues. In a talk at the Garden of Sheba Saturday, he will talk about how he hopes this nation can rise above these segregationist principles.

The gathering, called Umoja– represents the first of seven principles of Kwanzaa, in which James sees hope for racial leveling not only between whites and blacks but especially among black people and their community.

"Voices from the Diaspora, A Celebration of Umoja," begins at noon, March 26, at the Garden of Sheba. Advance tickets include copies of James's books. $15. 609 E. Market St. 977-7336.

White noise: Soundtrack of my world


Call me an "accidental stalker" with more than a mild touch of sarcasm. Like any sad sack who keeps defying a court order of 500 feet because he/she just happens to want dumplings/to do laundry/go for a swim by the old watering hole at the same time that a certain other more nervous someone has the same inkling, guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter David Lowry's music and I keep bumping into each other.

From his early days as a member of wry-humored '80s college-rock legends Camper Van Beethoven to his latter day Cracker sojourn, it seems I've inadvertently been following moments of Lowry's career with, now that I think about it, surprising regularity.

In the halcyon days of my youth, Camper Van Beethoven's self-titled third album was the regularly scheduled musical accompaniment as I rode shotgun on those bleary-eyed high school mornings, the older brother of the driver having turned his younger sibling onto good music years before I, the oldest in my family, was nudged into it.

I still remember with nostalgic awe Cracker's closing down 1994's HFStival (the other festival of the summer for lovers of the '90s alt scene) with "Euro-Trash Girl" the secret track off their big hit album Kerosene Hat, strobe light firing as a crowd of thousands sang along. And later, in college, I became frighteningly familiar with the group's self-titled debut as my housemate played it for long stretches to compensate for the paper-thin walls of our conjoined bedrooms (didn't work in the least).

Camper Van Beethoven were, along with artists like the Violent Femmes and early R.E.M., the darlings of the '80s underground music scene that would mutate and come to be called "alternative" by the time your parents heard about it. In an era of conformity, where big-haired bands like Poison ruled the air-waves, college radio fueled and was fueled by smaller groups such as these who wanted to try something different.

Camper Van Beethoven took this credo to the extreme, mixing punk, folk, ska, and even sitar and creating songs with titles such as "ZZ Top Goes to Egypt"– often irreverent, sometimes world-shattering.

In all the group released five albums before its 1989 break-up. Lowry went on to form Cracker and have more mainstream success in the early '90s with songs like ubiquitous MTV hit "Low" and constant radio companion "Get off This," releasing their last album in 2003.

Camper Van Beethoven reunited for a tour in 2002, finally released their utterly ridiculous 1987 song-for-song remake of Fleetwood Mac's Tusk, and in 2004 released New Roman Times, which surprisingly reclaims the group's original signature sound, almost like their 15-year hiatus never happened.

To me, a guy who has never bought an album or tried to experience all that is Lowry in any way whatsoever, the performer has, I must say, constituted a fairly large portion of the soundtrack to my young life.

This Tuesday at Starr Hill I think I'll finally make his singular vision more than a backing track.

Cracker / Camper Van Beethoven Unplugged performs at Starr Hill March 29. $15/$13 in advance, 8pm.