“What do I like about Virginia? The countryside. It’s magnificent,” said Robert “Oz” Clarke. Clarke recently sat down to discuss his 2013 trip to Virginia, at which time he was the keynote speaker at the Virginia Wine Summit.
Before Clarke discussed Virginia’s ability to grow great Viognier, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, however, he gushed over Virginia’s Southern hospitality, history, and music. Check out the video.
Mr. Clarke is a well-known international wine connoisseur, with his own website stating, his “formidable reputation is based on his extensive wine knowledge and accessible, no-nonsense approach.” In short, Oz knows his stuff and he isn’t shy about sharing his opinion. To back it up, Mr. Clarke is a decorated writer on the subject, garnering awards from the Glenfiddich and Wine Guild multiple times each, André Simon, James Beard, Julia Child, World Food Media and Lanson, among numerous others. Clarke is a bestselling author and has appeared in several BBC series, including his most recent ‘Oz and Hugh’s Last Orders.’ Harpers hails, “Oz Clarke is the nearest thing to genius in the world of wine writing.”
“It took me a long time to get to Virginia. I thought it was absolutely smashing.” – Oz Clarke
At its core, music is all about emotion and storytelling. As Vince Gill puts it, “I just think it’s important to know your history. Period.” And the history of country music starts with the 1927 Bristol Sessions – “the Big Bang of Country Music,” if you will.
Carter Family Fold. Image by Emily Edmonds.
Orthophonic Joy: The 1927 Bristol Sessions Revisited is a project that brings well known veterans of country and bluegrass together with rising stars to deliver, in fact, orthophonic joy. That is,reproduced authentic sounds that deliver feelings of great pleasure and happiness.
The project of 16 re-recorded Bristol Sessions songs will be released in October, nicely dovetailing with the August 1 opening of the brand new Smithsonian Institution-affiliated Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol.
Recording artists include Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Marty Stuart, Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers and Ashley Monroe. The project is produced by multi-Grammy Award-winner Carl Jackson.
Virginia’s musical legacy is as deep and wide as its rivers and valleys. In Southwest Virginia, the Carter Family and the Stonemans were two of the acts who helped popularize the rise of mountain music and were among the first to penetrate American households on radio and records.
Dr. Ralph Stanley. Photo by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com.
Ralph Stanley (pictured right), from Clintwood, helped bring Bluegrass and Old Time music into the mainstream. His lengthy and distinguished career received widespread acclaim with the release of the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?, featuring his songs O, Death and Angel Band. And while Man of Constant Sorrow, the unintentional O Brother theme song, wasn’t penned by Stanley, he resurrected the old ballad in 1951 when he recorded it with his brother Carter for Columbia Records. No one knows for sure exactly where the song originated.
Music festivals draw tens of thousands of fans from around the world. The Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion fills the downtown area of the vibrant city with stages indoors and out. FloydFest is an eclectic celebration of music of nearly every description and is held adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Wayne C. Henderson Music Festival honors one of America’s top acoustic guitar makers and this year features Vince Gill as its headliner.
Divergent veins of music run throughout Virginia, producing famous names in a variety of genres. Legendary singers Ella Fitzgerald and Pearl Bailey both hailed from Newport News. Country Music Hall of Fame member Patsy Cline was born in Winchester. Las Vegas legend Wayne Newton was born in Norfolk, and country music superstar Roy Clark is from the small town of Meherrin. Williamsburg is home to native son Bruce Hornsby.
Dave Matthews grew up in Charlottesville and owns one of Virginia’s top wineries nearby. Pharrell Williams of Virginia Beach has made the world “Happy” with his smash single. He and his musical partner, Chad Hugo, from nearby Portsmouth, comprise The Neptunes and as performers and producers are one of the dominant forces in modern popular music.
Truly, Virginia’s music reverberates around the world today with new sounds and influences, yet still finds a home among the hills of Appalachia.
From inside the new Birthplace of Country Music Museum. Photo by Earl Neikirk, Bristol Herald Courier.
Summer calls for a dip in the water, and we have fresh mountain streams and rivers that you’ll find most refreshing on a hot day. Our list has been compiled through various avenues of research, including tips from local residents. If they love these swimming holes, you’re sure to as well!
If you are unfamiliar with mountain streams, let me tell you that they’re cold. Pack a picnic and refresh yourself in the Maury River at one of these public access points in Rockbridge County:
Blue Hole – many river towns have a special swimming hole they dub “Blue Hole.” Aforementioned Goshen Pass is sometimes known as Blue Hole by locals and here are two more:
A site James Madison University students and Harrisonburg locals call “Blue Hole” is located on Dry River off Rawley Pike (Route 33) in Rockingham County. A large boulder makes a fantastic jumping platform into this deep swimming hole.
University of Virginia students love their own “Blue Hole” on Moormans River near the Sugar Hollow Reservoir in Crozet. This swimming hole is within the boundaries of Shenandoah National Park.
Dunlap Creek flows beneath the renowned Humpback Bridge in Alleghany County. When the water’s high enough, it’s a great place for a dip. Otherwise, dipping your toes works, too, at this beautiful, historic site.
Dunlap Creek flows beneath Humpback Bridge.
Craig Creek Recreation Area is 130 acres in Botetourt County that’s available for camping, picnics, and of course, swimming! The water is gentle and perfect for families.
Off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Rockbridge County at Petite’s Gap (milepost 71) is an unmarked gravel road (Petite’s Gap Road). Descend, winding, for several miles until you cross East Fork Elk Creek in Sulphur Spring Hollow. At the second crossing, pull off – your swimming hole is in that vicinity.
St. Mary’s River is home to St. Mary’s Falls, which can be found in Saint Mary’s Wilderness in Augusta County. This swimming hole includes a rock slide, which can be great fun if the water level is just right. It’s just south of the falls.
Please enjoy Virginia’s swimming holes with a friend; never swim alone. Also, follow “leave no trace” practices when experiencing any part of Virginia’s outdoors.
Which of these have you been to? Which do you love that aren’t listed here? Leave a comment to tell us all about it.
Kevin McNally as Richard Woodhull and Jamie Bell as Abraham Woodhull. Photo: Antony Platt/AMC
Based on remarkable new research in the book Washington’s Spies, by Alexander Rose, “TURN” centers around Abraham Woodhull, a farmer living behind enemy lines in British-occupied Long Island. Abraham bands together with a group of childhood friends to form The Culper Ring: an unlikely team of secret agents who help George Washington turn the tide of the war in favor of the Rebels. Their daring efforts revolutionized the art of espionage, giving birth to modern tradecraft in all its moral complexity. “TURN” transforms history into suspenseful and resonant entertainment.
“TURN” was developed and is being written by Craig Silverstein (“Nikita”) and stars Jamie Bell (“Billy Elliot” and “The Adventures of Tintin”) as Abraham Woodhull. Executive Producers are Silverstein and Barry Josephson (“Bones”). AMC is the television home of some of the most popular dramas in cable television including “Mad Men,” “The Walking Dead” and the recently-ended “Breaking Bad,” created by Virginia native Vince Gilligan.
The series also stars Seth Numrich as Ben Tallmadge, Heather Lind as Anna Strong, Daniel Henshall as Caleb Brewster, Meegan Warner as Mary Woodhull, Kevin McNally as Judge Richard Woodhull, Burn Gorman as Major Hewlett, Angus MacFadyen as Robert Rogers, JJ Feild as Major John Andre, and Samuel Roukin as Captain Simcoe.
TURN: The Trail
Watch Sunday evenings for a look into the exhilarating Revolutionary War-era saga about America’s first spy ring and then get in on the action along TURN: The Trail, a series of Colonial and Revolutionary War-era attractions, “TURN” filming locations, and exciting espionage activities and museums to get your heart pumping and patriotism roaring. Sites along the trail include The Pentagon, four plantations, sites relevant to George Washington, Colonial Williamsburg, Yorktown Victory Center, and others. Trail Map
You Become the Spy
Visit Colonial Williamsburg and join in the spy action of RevQuest: The Old Enemy between now and November 30, 2014. RevQuest is an immersive game that leads you along the streets of Colonial Williamsburg’s Revolutionary City where you just might change the course of history. Begin your mission online and continue it on site.
While we eagerly await the Academy Awards this Sunday to see how Virginia-filmed Best Picture nominee Captain Phillips fares, let’s take a look back at other films shot wholly or in part in Virginia that were honored with an Oscar.
Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg’s LINCOLN.
Argo was filmed in McLean and Fairfax County, Virginia in 2011. The film starring and directed by Ben Affleck received the 2013 Academy Awards for Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay, and Achievement in Film Editing.
During that same 2013 awards presentation LINCOLN won for Production Design, and Daniel Day-Lewis, whom portrayed Abraham Lincoln, took home the Bests Actor award. LINCOLN was filmed in the Richmond region, including Petersburg, Virginia.
The Bourne Ultimatum, the final piece of the Bourne Trilogy, was filmed in Fauquier County, Virginia in 2007 and starred Matt Damon as Jason Bourne. The film won three Oscars in 2008 – Best Achievement in Film Editing, Best Achievement in Sound Mixing, and Best Achievement in Sound Editing.
Renee Zellweger won the Oscar in 2004 for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her work in Cold Mountain alongside Jude Law and Nicole Kidman. Cold Mountain was filmed in Richmond and Williamsburg, Virginia in 2002.
Filmed in Quantico, Virginia in 1990, The Silence of the Lambs starred Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster. The 1992 Academy loved the feature film, awarding five Oscars for the following categories: Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Director, and Best Writing.
Mountain Lake Hotel in Pembroke, Virginia served as “Kellerman’s” in the 1986 hit “Dirty Dancing.”
A steadfast darling on the list of Virginia filmography is Dirty Dancing starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. Filmed in Giles County, Virginia in 1986, the flick received an Oscar for Best Music, Original Song for “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.”
Wise County, Virginia was the setting for the 1980 filming of Coal Miner’s Daughter, a biography of Loretta Lynn, starring Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones. In 1981 Spacek won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
In 1956 Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean starred in Giant, a western love story that included filming in Charlottesville, Virginia. Nominated for ten Academy Awards, it won one – Best Director – in 1957.
AMC is currently filming their new series TURN, a layered, character driven spy thriller that unravels the untold story of America’s first spy ring. Filming locations include Richmond, Petersburg, Hanover County, and plantations along the James River . Don’t miss the premiere Sunday, April 6, 2014.