Charlottesville Breaking News

On the road again: Local bands hit the festival circuit

Who hasn't begged Mom and Dad to let them take a roadtrip over a summer weekend to catch their favorite bands or been thrilled to see multiple artists performing on the same bill? And what great artist hasn't packed up the van and festival-hopped across the country, hitting Lollapalooza and Pitchfork in Chicago or Bonnaroo in Tennessee or Coachella in California?

But it's not just the artists and audiences that benefit. A music festival injects life into a town, if just for a weekend, as fans flock from across the state or country to camp, bands book up hotels and restaurants, and the local music industry is jolted to its core. For Charlottesville, the rise of area and regional festivals has added depth to an already ambitious music scene.

"We're at the beginning of something very exciting," says Michael Allenby, who launched The Festy Experience last summer in Nelson County. "There's killer infrastructure," he says. "At this point, it's up to the artist to push the scene."

From the Festy, which took place at the Devil's Backbone Brewery, and the ever-popular Crozet Music Festival, to the Dave Matthews Caravan in New Jersey and Camp Barefoot in West Virginia, music festivals have put spark in the regional music scene. We survey eight festivals coming your way in 2011 and chat with seven festival-minded artists.

The Festiv...

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Local produce: New film, 'Take Shelter,' wins acclaim in Cannes

Charlottesville seems to be a lucky charm for filmmakers these days. Several recent locally made documentaries have found wider audiences at international film festivals and on PBS. Now, another film with a local connection will show at the most prestigious festival of all: Cannes.

Take Shelter, a feature film that follows a husband and father as he struggles with what's either the coming apocalypse or the onset of schizophrenia, was dubbed a "work of art" by Vanity Fair, and has already won acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival. Now, it's one of only seven films– and the only American picture– selected for the Cannes International Critics Week line-up, a 50-year-old competition for first and second-time filmmakers that runs concurrently as part of the Cannes film festival, which takes place May 11-20 in that city on the French Riviera.

"We're very excited," says the film's executive producer, Keswick-based Chris Perot. A 1997 Albemarle High Schoo...

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Save McIntire? YMCA suit dismissed, but fight continues

As the song goes, it's fun to stay at the Y-M-C-A. But apparently it's no picnic building one.

After six years of planning, the Piedmont Family YMCA's plan for a new $15 million, 72,000-square-foot facility in McIntire Park took an important step toward clearing a final hurdle: the dismissal of a pair of lawsuits by a consortium of privately owned fitness clubs against the City and County.

During an April 20 press conference in front of the Downtown Mall's free speech wall, supporters of the joint City/County YMCA project had harsh words for the private club owners.

"Stop the greed," said Lisa Cannell, a parent and YMCA supporter. "We're appealing to the private fitness centers to do what's right for the community and allow this project to move forward." 

YMCA supporters have suggested that the club owners are simply trying to protect their business interests. The Charlottesville Area Fitness Club Operators Association (ACAC, Gold's Gym, and Total Performance) have, however, argued that the adopted plan would destroy "priceless green space" and claim they were illegally locked out of the bidding process.

Earlier that morning, the lawsuit filed against the City was dismissed by Charlottesville Circuit Court judge Cheryl V. Higgins. The Association's other lawsuit against the County was dismissed last N...

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Dogg/Williams: Two stars in one night thrill downtown

It may have seemed like just a typical spring night in Charlottesville, but Monday, April 25 held the distinction of showcasing the talents of two nationally renowned– yet somehow different– musical performers: Snoop Dog and Lucinda Williams. Although Williams appeared at the Paramount, it turns out that each came to town via Starr Hill Presents, the music promotion firm run by Dave Matthews Band manager Coran Capshaw. Tom Daly caught the action with his camera.

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Git 'er blocked: City picks fencing, not fixing, Belmont Bridge

Fire engines, school buses, and even 18-wheel trucks routinely rumble over the east side of the Belmont Bridge. But not pedestrians.

Since November, east side walkers have been temporarily banned, forced by a chain-link fence to traverse four- to five-lane Avon Street if they wish to cross the bridge, the main southern gateway to downtown. And with an April 4 vote, a City Council majority has decided to spend nearly $15,000 building a permanent barrier to block pedestrians. A Hook investigation, however, finds that Council wasn't given information that might have altered the discussion.

Several times, beginning last fall, City planning director Jim Tolbert has appeared before the City Council to say that fixing the closed sidewalk would cost over $300,000. But what about fixing what's already there?

Bob Fenwick, a professional contractor and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers veteran who's making a second run for a seat on Council, contends that patching the sidewalk makes far better sense.

"We don't have money to throw around," says Fenwick. "If that bridge is strong enough for the vibration and load of heavy trucks, then it should be strong enough for a person. Or several people."

A reporter found that City officials have abandoned the idea of patching. Neither of the two proposals the City recently obtained shows any sign of considering repair, only replacement.

For instance, an...

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