Mr. Casual: Smiling through the big tent flap
Audiences will soon be able to laugh at the elements as they enjoy evening concerts under man-made shade at the new Charlottesville Pavilion.
Likewise, it's impossible to rain on Kirby Hutto's parade. In spite of the short time frame for completion of the 3,500-seat Pavilion, the breakneck speed with which it was constructed, and even the gaping hole in the roof caused by a thunderstorm two weeks before opening night, mention the Pavilion to Hutto, and he lights up with enthusiasm.
"It's going to be so awesome. It's a dream that's been out there 20 years, having a covered facility to bring national acts to Charlottesville," he says. Then he grins and giddily repeats himself: "It's going to be such a great thing."
That's not to say Hutto hasn't experienced his share of desperate moments since being named general manager of the Pavilion last fall. One of the lowest lows came when that July 13 tempest ripped into the material reaching up to the amphitheater's massive arch. The timing was particularly cruel for Hutto.
"I'd just been down earlier to take pictures of the site, feeling satisfied that it was all finally coming together. It was a wild swing from elation to devastation," he recalls.
As quickly as his good spirits were dashed, everyone involved in the project got back on their horses with a speed that left Hutto deeply impressed. "Almost immediately it was 'Okay, how do we keep this moving?'" he says. "I have to give a lot of credit to Martin Horn [Construction]. It was really just a speed bump."
So how close will the Pavilion be to its final form when the curtain goes up on Loretta Lynn's July 30 concert?
"With the exception of one piece on the roof, it'll be 95 percent finished," he says.
The structure is the culmination of Hutto's long life in Charlottesville's music scene. Born in Manassas, he came to Charlottesville in 1976 to begin his studies at UVA. It wasn't long before he became acquainted with the man behind the Pavilion, future Dave Matthews Band manager Coran Capshaw. In fact, in the early '80s it was Hutto who went into business with Capshaw on one of his very first Charlottesville-area enterprises– a ski rental shop near Wintergreen Resort. Later, Hutto ran the Cotton Exchange, one of the first upscale restaurants on West Main.
In 1992, while Capshaw was guiding DMB to become one of the world's most sought-after concert tickets in the world, Hutto took stewardship of Fridays After 5 as part of the Charlottesvile Downtown Foundation.
Now, after an eight-year stint pursuing non-musical interests, he's returned to manage the weekly summer concert series and the Pavilion. Asked why he came back to the music business, he says simply, "I need live music in my life. You don't get a lot of that in the corporate world."
Considering Hutto's experience in a business that can be infamously superficial and cutthroat, it's heartening to hear the man in charge of Charlottesville's biggest music venue is still a fan.
Why here? Came to UVA and never left
What's worst about living here? 29 North
Favorite hangout? Dürty Nelly's
Most overrated virtue? Patience
People would be surprised to know: I think that Smokey and the Bandit belongs in the pantheon of great American films
What would you change about yourself? I'd be less quick to judge.
Proudest accomplishment? Finally restoring YoYoYo, my 1970 Chevy Impala convertible
People find most annoying about you: My bluntness
Whom do you admire? Jimmy Carter
Favorite book? Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey
Subject that causes you to rant? Religious ideologues of any stripe
Biggest 21st-century thrill? E-mail
Biggest 21st-century creep-out? Uncontrolled growth and its accompanying environmental destruction
What do you drive? '98 Subaru Forester most days, my convertible on great days
In your car CD player right now: Dave Alvin, Corey Harris, Eric Lindell, Mary Gauthier, Neko Case
Next journey? I wish I had one planned, but it will probably be New Orleans in the fall.
Most trouble you've ever gotten in? Let's just say there was a time when the state of North Carolina asked me not to attend any Grateful Dead concerts there for a while.
Regret: Not buying land in southern Albemarle 25 years ago
Favorite comfort food: Ben and Jerry's
Always in your refrigerator: Virginia beer
Must-see TV: Deadwood and The Wire
Favorite cartoon: Calvin and Hobbes in print, The Simpsons in animation
Describe a perfect day. Get up and take the dogs for a long walk in the woods. Canoe the Rockfish or the Moorman's. Drive my convertible through the back roads of Nelson County. Dinner on the Downtown Mall.
Walter Mitty fantasy: Saving southern Albemarle from the degradation that northern Albemarle has suffered
Who'd play you in the movie? Peter Fonda
Most embarrassing moment? I think I must have blocked that out.
Best advice you ever got? "You are not the corporate type."
Favorite bumper sticker? Be Casual
PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO