Charlottesville Breaking News

Tom Tom beat: McGuffey block party kicks off month-long fest

Paul Beyer's ambitious vision for Charlottesville's own South by Southwest– the Tom Tom Founders Festival– debuts April 13, a kick-off to 30 days of music, art, and innovation on Thomas Jefferson's birthday, a date celebrated by both the University of Virginia and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation as "Founder's Day."

The street in front of McGuffey Art Center will be blocked off for the Friday-night block party, and 13 bands are lined up, including Chihamba, Beleza Brasil, and Invisible Hand.

With traditional street-food vendors, beer, and wine, the gala is outside from 5 to 8pm, and then it moves inside into three different McGuffey studios.

"All these different genres– punk, jazz, rock, funk, spoken word– will be playing at the same time," says Beyer, noting that the music is free.

"We wanted to kick off at McGuffey because it's a central art space," says Beyer. "One of the themes of Tom Tom is overlooked and under-appreciated assets. Here's a chance to see music where you don't normally see it. McGuffey hasn't been used that way fully."

Tom Tom's Music Festival weekend will come a month later, May 11-13, and also will utilize spaces not typically seen as music venues: Main Street Arena, the Haven, and Christ Episcopal Church's gothic-styled Meade Ha...

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Super 'Tramp': Van Etten laughs a lot more than you'd think

"I’m not trying to fancy things up too much," says Sharon Van Etten with a laugh. “I’m just a girl in a sweater and jeans playing songs with my friends."

It’s a humble understatement for a woman who recently deflected attention away from the mighty return of Fiona Apple and the dexterous Andrew Bird at a recent SXSW NPR showcase. Since her bare bones debut Because I Was In Love surfaced in 2009, listeners have cheered on the nice girl who in spite of being told she wasn’t good enough by an ex, soldiered on and made beautiful, broken songs.

Sans a label-generated aesthetic, the Brooklyn artist has relied on little more than authenticity to gain an audience. Her songs are carefully constructed with close attention paid to melody and honest emotion that trumps songwriters who spew hyperbolic words. Van Etten admits to being “a total goofball,” but the critical consensus is that her third album Tramp showcases a mature and confident front woman

The Hook: You write intimate songs in first-person. Have you ever considered channeling those same feelings through characters to protect yourself?
Sharon Van Etten: It’s definitely something that I need to work on. I actually do writing exercises now to get out of the habit of saying “I” and “you.” I’m also listening to a lot more storytellers, like Nick Cave. He is really good at creating that di...

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Atelier de Cuisine: Burgess and Derquenne define The Space

The recent decision by the X Lounge to curtail its operating schedule to instigate more private parties heightens the mystique around another downtown restaurant space, one that although it closed in 2004 still evokes intrigue as the place that the New York Times once called a "deciding factor" for anyone considering a move to Charlottesville, a place that has become a kind of chef's atelier for the two men who transformed the downtown food scene back in 1991.

Chefs Tim Burgess and Vincent Derquenne opened Métropolitain in the old Fat City Diner 21 years ago. Today, the second home of "Metro," on Water Street, is well into its second year as The Space Downtown, Charlottesville's only restaurant reserved exclusively for private parties.

Following the post-9/11 economic downturn and the downtown restaurant boom they helped launch, chef/owners Burgess and Derquenne made the painful decision to close "Metro" in 2004, which had moved to architect-designed digs on Water Street in 1995. They had attempted to...

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Fridays kicks off: Free concert series features lots o' locals

It's been warm so long it might look like summer to you, but in fact, spring is just now sprung, and there's no surer sign than the kick-off of Fridays After Five. The free concert series that brings throngs to the east end of the Downtown Mall at the start of every weekend kicks off April 20 with '80s cover band Love Canon, and from there, the good times keep rolling with local favorites and a few newcomers to the series, too.

"This is the 25th anniversary season, so we've tried to pull some of the older, more popular bands that have done great for us over the years but still mixing in some of the up and comers," says Pavilion honcho Kirby Hutto.

Hutto himself has particular reason to look forward to catching the shows. A diagnosis of tongue cancer back in January forced the Pavilion boss to undergo treatments, but he has good news.

"Doctors think they've kicked it," he says, noting that after one final surgery in May, he expects to be considered cancer free– and ready to rock.

There'll be plenty of Friday shows to choose from, including Skip Castro on May 4, Baaba Seth and Indecision on June 8 and 15, respectively, and Terri Allard on June 29. Plus Richmond-based The English Channel will make you feel like you've crossed the pond on June 22 with covers of songs by the Clash, the Beatles, the Cure, and all your English faves. The Fridays After Five season lasts until the second Friday of September, and Hu...

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X Lounge retools, Buck's Elbow Pub goes public

Four years ago, when the Hook asked whether Charlottesville might be "New Yorkifying," a $10 martini at the trendy X Lounge was a key trend indicator. Indeed, when the multi-leveled restaurant/bar outfitted in steel and glass opened in 2006, it immediately erupted as a hip addition to the urban scene. A review in Virginia Law Weekly declared that "NYC-cool has finally arrived in the 'ville." Like NYC, the place even banned smoking before the Virginia ban.

Recently, though, the X Lounge has announced that it would be open to the public for dinner only on Friday and Saturday nights, reserving its space the rest of the week for private parties. So what's up?

The Hook contacted X Lounge representative for the owners (Francois Bladt and Kari Legault ), J.F. Legault, who said a personal family emergency has temporarily taken the focus off the restaurant, and he downplays the schedule change.

"We will be closed until Friday this week for a main drain line maintenance," he says. "That's it."

However, the restaurant's voicemail gives callers only two non-group dining options: Friday and Saturday. And a reporter noticed the place closed on a Tuesday back in mid-March....

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