Charlottesville Breaking News

Air apparent: 'History Guys' prep for weekly launch

Seven years after the idea for a radio show featuring "The American History Guys" was first floated in Charlottesville, the "Guys"– a dream team of two UVA history profs and a well-known college president– can boast that their program has beaten the odds in tough economic times, with six stations signed up to carry what is about to become an every-week broadcast.

"It feels really wonderful," says executive producer Andrew Wyndham, who conceived the show back in 2004. He says that Backstory with the American History Guys goes weekly May 11.

For those who haven't heard of the show– which launched as a monthly program on just a single station in 2009 before spreading to 130 public radio stations across the country– the concept is simple, even if the topics are complex.

Sometimes the subjects are "ripped from the headlines" Law & Order-style, including an upcoming episode on American homeownership– history of subprime mortgages, anyone? Another upcomer is "childbirth in the U.S.A.," particularly timely given recent "war against women" headlines. Special guests and callers with questions add spice.

"There are public radio stations all over the country that try to launch shows, and they...

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Slow but fit: What's right about 13-minute miles

Is this a dream? Am I six years old again? It feels as though I’m flying, zooming past fellow passengers in the airport corridor, overtaking travelers dragging suitcases and bewildered toddlers. Vendors offering bottled drinks, gummy muffins, and foreign-language software blur in my peripheral vision. I could be on one of those moving sidewalks, so effortlessly am I running. Heart rate not accelerated, no sweating. It feels easier than walking. Either a dream, or a kind of miracle.

But I’m not a first-grader racing down the school hallway. (I remember the first time a teacher stopped me and yelled, “Don’t run!” I wondered how grownups managed to resist the urge.) At 59, I’m at the outer limit of what can be called “middle aged” with a straight face.

Over the years, it has become a tradition: I hear the announcement that our plane will now begin boarding, and I take off down the corridor, determined to make a last visit to the ladies room before confining myself in a window seat. Sweating, heart pounding, and gasping, I return to the gate and line up for boarding.

Today, all that has changed. I make my s...

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Rotunda works: Magnolias reprieved, but not out of woods yet

When University architect David Neuman recommended last November that the massive, 100-year-old magnolias surrounding the Rotunda should come down to accommodate a $4.7 million project to replace the roof on the World Heritage site, local tree huggers mobilized. Nearly 4,000 people, mostly UVA students, signed an online petition calling for the preservation of the seven Magnolia grandiflora, an icon of the American South.

Neuman asserted that the trees had become a danger to the iconic structure and that their presence would prevent crews from erecting the scaffolding needed for the roof work. What's more, a UVA scholar pointed out that the giant trees marred architect Thomas Jefferson's concept of how the Rotunda should be seen.

But woe to those who would scorn a tree lover.

Almost immediately, President Teresa A. Sullivan stepped in to assure the public that no final decision had been m...

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Six bands (and venues) to watch

For a town with a long lineage of locally-grown musicians, rounding up contenders as "up and coming" stars is easy, but choosing from all this talent is hard. Our venues are constantly packed with lots of bands, lots of sounds.

So we turned to some big names from radio stations WTJU and 106.1 The Corner to do some nominating. What exactly does it mean to be a "big thing"? For Charlottesville, it means more than just creating a cool sound– the musicians that are loved the most are those with a real presence in town.

"These musicians have grueling schedules, other jobs, lives outside of music, and play for us because of the joy and magic in it," says WTJU DJ Liz Rhodes (aka "That Darlin' Darling" and co-host of "Oogum Boogum" every other Saturday). "I hope they know they are all appreciated."

Borrowed Beams of Light

Expert view: Borrowed Beams of Light's full length debut, Stellar Hoax, proved to everyone that this little "creative outlet" was magic. The exuberance and heart-lifting vocal "ah ah ahs" and "whoa oh ohs" of the songs is fueled by decades of guitar rock. With every song you're gonna dance yourself into a pop frenzy and sing along until you're out of breath. I am still hoping they'll cover Sir Paul McCartney's "Wanderlust," hint hint....

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Mr. Tom Tom: Beyer sees bands and innovation together

As far as music festivals go, certain regions of the country have it covered: Chicago has Lollapalooza, Tennessee has Bonnaroo, and Austin has South-by-Southwest. What more do we need?

According to local businessman and former City Council candidate Paul Beyer, there's plenty of room for more music meccas in the US– and Charlottesville is just the place for a large-scale, multifaceted festival to call home. Enter the Tom Tom Founders Festival, a month-long soiree that seems to emulate the feel of SXSW by combining live music, art shows, local food showcases, and business/innovation workshops to bring community possibility to the forefront of everyone's mind.

"Tom Tom's themes are about music, art, and innovation– those are all conversations that take place in Charlottesville to begin with," he says. "There's a sense of artistic possibility within the community as well as a political and business landscape."

Tom Tom looks to educate and inform festival-goers while striking just the right balance of celebration and revelry– which is where the music comes in. Music is obviously a draw for Cvillians, who boast a handful of large, big name arenas and concert halls as well as a bevy of intimate, unique hole-in-the-wall venues. With a music scene that has ebbed and flowed throughout the years– from rockers and jam bands in the '70s to songwriters, bluegrass/rockabilly, and indie-pop-rock groups dominating the circuit today– findi...

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