Some events know no end and we LOVE them! Annually occurring festivals are marked on our calendars a year ahead of time. They’re something to look forward to and yet another opportunity to make memories with the ones we love. Here are five upcoming “late” summer events that you can’t miss. Start a new tradition or chime in via the comments to tell us your favorite parts of these five.
Assateague Island Pony Watching from the Assateague Channel
1. The Chincoteague Pony Swim from Assateague to Chincoteague Island has been happening at the end of July for nearly 90 years. That’s quite the tradition, and there are families who never miss it, making an annual pilgrimage to see the crossing, the parading, and the auctioning of the years’ foals. While you’re in town, be sure to visit Island Creamery, hailed the #1 ice cream parlor in America by TripAdvisor users.
2. The Shenandoah Valley Music Festival is one of the mid-Atlantic’s longest running outdoor music festivals. This year’s session began on July 18 and continues with dates through August 31. Remaining on the schedule are acts like United States Air Force Strings, Rhonda Vincent and the Rage, The Oak Ridge Boys and Eddie from Ohio. Centered around Shenandoah County’s Orkney Springs, the setting is bucolic with the Allegheny Mountains as a backdrop. Buy Tickets
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts. Image by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com.
3. The Filene Center at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Vienna is the place for summer concerts and family performances! This summer has included Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Ben Folds, Diana Ross, Pilobolus, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Sara Bareilles, The Fray and Lionel Richie with CeeLo Green. Yet to come (and tickets available for!) are Sarah McLachlan, Darius Rucker, Heart, Wynton Marsalis, Yo-Yo Ma, Boney James and Eric Benet, YANNI, The Band Perry, Cirque Dreams – Jungle Fantasy and Colbie Caillat. Every summer season brings great acts that you won’t want to miss. Buy Tickets
4. The still new but ever growing Virginia Craft Brewers Festival is held each August at Devils Backbone Brewing Company against Wintergreen Mountain in Roseland. Now in its third year, more than 40 of Virginia’s craft brewers have signed on to offer tastings and tout their upcoming flavors. You won’t want to miss the awarding of the Virginia Craft Brewers Cup. Devils Backbone has taken home the cup each year so far. Their Smokehaus Lager won in 2013 and their Schwartz Bier won in 2012. Buy Tickets and/or Reserve a Campsite
Morven Park is the setting for Epicurience Virginia in Leesburg.
5. Epicurience Virginia took by storm the culinary and wine scenes of Virginia, DC and environs when it debuted last year. Held at the beautiful, historic Morven Park in Leesburg, this event brings together the best tastes Virginia has to offer in an opulent atmosphere across three days at the end of August. The Grand Tasting is the second day and it’s the event you don’t want to miss with chef demonstrations and opportunities to meet Virginia winemakers and tastemakers. The rest of the weekend includes a Fabulous 1940s Party at Oatlands Plantation and various fine dining experiences. Buy Tickets
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.
Try something new! These unique modern and historic music venues are worth the visit.
The Crooked Road is Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail. Extending 333 miles throughout the southern part of the state, the trail opened in 2004. Along the trail, you’ll find eight different venues showcasing the roots of America’s music. The songs and tunes of the region told the stories of early pioneer life, immigrant experiences and the day-to-day trials and tribulations. The ballads of the early Scots-Irish and settlers of the British Isles are evident, as are their instruments, such as the fiddle.
Travel to Galax and you’ll find the Old Fiddlers Convention, the oldest and largest such convention in the world! The area’s rich musical heritage has earned Galax its status as the “World’s Capital of Old Time Mountain Music.” Along the trail, tourists can explore communities along the way, offering a fun way to learn about local music, history and heritage. Also included is the Birthplace of Country Music in Bristol, where its famous Music Sessions took place in 1927 – the “big bang” for country music recording. The Birthplace museum, now under construction, will immerse visitors in the sounds and stories of Bristol’s music history. Bristol’s music continues most nights in restaurants and clubs along State Street and swells to fill the city during the Rhythm and Roots Reunion in September, when three days of concerts, jams and performances bring thousands of music lovers to more than 20 stages up and down Bristol’s main street. Stop along any of the venues and enjoy the many concerts, festivals and jam sessions the trail has to offer.
Check out the nTelos Wireless Pavilion to experience the architecturally striking entertainment venue on Portsmouth’s waterfront. It has already become a landmark and a premier regional attraction. As part of the lush new five-acre Harbor Center Festival Park, the nTelos Pavilion is unlike anything in Hampton Roads – or anywhere else for that matter. With 6,500 seats, the nTelos Pavilion is large enough to attract a wide variety of incredible acts, shows, and performers, yet intimate enough so that every seat is awesome. The intimacy of this venue is one of its greatest assets.
Located on the east end of the historic downtown mall in Charlottesville, the nTelos Wireless Pavilion is the city’s premier outdoor venue for live performances. Open since July of 2005, it features premium seating, a spacious lawn, and a professional stage house; all within easy walking distance of Downtown Charlottesville’s many restaurants and other attractions. The Pavilion provides Charlottesville with a comfortable and convenient venue to enjoy local and national performing artists.
The Virginia Beach Amphitheater is a 20,000 seat outdoor concert venue located in Virginia Beach, Virginia. There are 7,500 reserved seats under the pavilion roof and room for 12,500 on the “festival lawn”. Under cover or under the stars on the lawn, it’s a good place to hear a concert. Since opening its doors in 1996, the Verizon Wireless Virginia Beach Amphitheater has hosted such performances as: Coldplay, Dave Matthews Band, Kenny Chesney, Jimmy Buffett, 311, Aerosmith, Rascal Flatts, Mary J. Blige, Gwen Stefani and tours like Warped Tour and Ozzfest.
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts
As America’s National Park for the Performing Arts, Wolf Trap plays a valuable leadership role in both the local and national performing arts communities. Through a wide range of artistic and education programs, Wolf Trap enhances our nation’s cultural life and ensures that the arts remain accessible and affordable to the broadest possible audience. A typical season at Wolf Trap includes something for everyone with performances ranging from pop, country, folk, and blues to orchestra, dance, theatre, and opera, as well as innovative performance art and multimedia presentations. A facility with a rich history dating back as far as 1632, Wolf Trap is not only a place to experience music, but also a place to receive a great history lesson.
The Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall & Arts Center in Alexandria will treat audiences to a premier performance space with its state-of-the-art acoustics, striking architecture, and wood paneled stage shell complementing the rich burgundy furnishings. Community-wide discussions between the college and local arts groups in the early 1990′s led to the concept for a premier performing arts center on the Virginia side of the Potomac River. As plans for the Center developed, details were added to the design so that the building could accommodate large performance groups and off-Broadway theater companies, yet remain affordable for local non-profit groups. Fundraising for the Schlesinger Center began in 1993 and was led by the Campaign Management Committee for the Alexandria/Arlington Cultural Center. Among the leaders of the Campaign committee was Rachel M. Schlesinger, a violinist and board member of the Arlington Symphony. Mrs. Schlesinger worked tirelessly to raise money for the Center, but never saw the dream become a reality. It was not until 1996 that Schlesinger’s husband made a $1 million donation in his wife’s name, bringing the center to life.
The Garth Newel Music Center in Hot Springs provides an intimate, informal music experience with a twist. Its name, a Welsh phrase meaning New Home, was the name given to the property in the 1920s. Enjoy music from classical to jazz all the while sipping a glass of wine, or perhaps enjoying a five-course meal. As one of the most active chamber music organizations in the country, Garth Newel’s mission has always been to share, explore and celebrate the infinite variety of chamber music in a setting of natural beauty. In addition to public concerts, educational programs are available, as well as on-site lodging. The Garth Newel Music Center has gone from a half dozen concerts in the 1970s to more than 50 today.
The Washington, D.C. area attracts national acts from around the world. If you’re looking for a musical experience in a more natural environment, travel about an hour northwest to Purcellville and you will find Franklin Park Arts Center. A process more than 10 years in the making, the Arts Center opened in 2008 on the site of Franklin farm, which burnt to the ground in 1997. Today, Franklin Park Arts Center boasts a 263-seat, timber-framed facility. The Center hosts local, regional, national and international artists from all genres of music. The Arts Center strives to promote individual creativity and expression by presenting quality performing, visual and literary arts in an accessible, affordable manner.
The City of Hampton holds one of the true musical landmarks in Virginia, The American Theatre. Originally opened in 1908, the Theatre was designed to provide “clean, wholesome amusement” to the town’s residents and visitors. Tragically burning to the ground barely a year after opening its doors, the Theatre’s owner rebuilt the facility in less than a year. It enjoyed a century of growth and change, all the while becoming The Lee for a while, then The Lee Adult when Phoebus (the town which was incorporated into Hampton) was enjoying its reputation as “little Chicago.” During the 1980s, the Theatre became The New American Theatre, where beer and pizza accompanied a movie and local bands played. Closing in the 1990s, it’s been reopened since 2000 and now hosts more than 50 acts a year, with many well-known artists performing on its stage.
Another rocky story, The State Theatre in Falls Church opened in 1936 and operated as a movie theater until the late 1980s. In November 1988, the State closed its doors. After a multi-million dollar restoration in the late 1990s, The State turned into one of the Washington Metro area’s favorite new venue for live music, hosting dozens of well-known local and national artists.
If you find yourself in the Commonwealth’s capital city, taking in a show at The National is a must. Built in 1923, the now historic venue was a hotspot for the thriving downtown scene in Richmond. At that time, The National was a place for fans to enjoy vaudeville acts on its stage, silent movie screenings and boasted the largest orchestra pit in the state. Today, The National lives up to its name, bringing in dozens of international and nationally acclaimed artists, while providing fans with great views of the stage from any angle. The venue’s original brick walls and hardwood floors will treat fans to the nostalgic feel of the concert hall the way it was more than 90 years ago. Music acts from all genres step on its stage each year, ensuring fans will be in for a great experience.
Adam McPeak and Mountain Thunder at The Lincoln Theatre
A member of the League of Historic American Theatres, The Lincoln Theatre in Marion is one of three existing Art Deco Mayan Revival-style theaters in America. The Lincoln is a Virginia Historic Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Theatre opened in 1929 to nearly 1,000 patrons who experienced the first talking picture. Thousands of motion pictures flickered across the screen unil 1973, when it closed its doors. The Lincoln Center reopened in the mid-‘70s only to close again in ’77. The Theatre sat neglected until the 1990s, when the initiative was revived. The Lincoln Theatre reopened in 2004, now offering year-round musical events for both groups and individual artists.
If you have a love of jazz, you’ll find a lot to love in Virginia. April is Jazz Appreciation Month and as such, we’re shining a spotlight on our most beloved jazz musician, Ella Fitzgerald.
Don’t miss the upcoming Hampton Jazz Festival in Hampton, Virginia.
Ella Fitzgerald, called “The First Lady of Song,” was born in Newport News, Virginia on April 25, 1917. Shortly after birth, she and her mother moved to Yonkers, New York. In 1934 Ella’s name was drawn to compete in Amateur Night at the Apollo. She planned to dance but changed her mind after seeing the dance act that preceded her. Instead, she sang “Judy” by Hoagy Carmichael and was cheered on to perform an encore. Impressed with the natural talent he saw, saxophonist and arranger Benny Carter helped Ella launch her career. Ella became the singer of the Tiny Bradshaw Band in 1935 before recording her first song, “Love and Kisses” in 1936. In 1938, Ella scored her first number one hit with “A-Tisket, A-Tasket.”
Worked with Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Count Basie
National Medal of Arts Award by President Ronald Reagan, 1987
NAACP Image Award for Lifetime Achievement, 1988
Recorded more than 200 albums
Thirteen-time Grammy Award winner
Gave her last concert in 1991 at Carnegie Hall
Presidential Medal of Freedom Award by President George H. W. Bush, 1992
On what would be Ella’s 97th birthday (April 25), The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra will present A Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald at the Ferguson Center for the Arts in Newport News. Tickets from $29. Buy Now
Additional Notable Jazz Musicians from Virginia:
James Genus of Hampton is a jazz bassist who has played in the Saturday Night Live Band and most recently studio recorded with Grammy Award-winning Daft Punk. His talents are heard on “Giorgio by Moroder,” “Touch,” “Beyond,” “Motherboard,” “Fragments of Time,” and “Contact.”
Lonnie Liston Smith of Richmond is a jazz pianist and keyboardist who has recorded with the likes of Pharaoh Sanders and Miles Davis. Smith is noted for mashing jazz with rap in the 1990s.
Steve Wilson of Hampton is a jazz instrumentalist best known as a flautist and saxophonist.
Don Pullen was a Roanoke native and jazz pianist who was well received in Europe for his avant-garde style.
The arts are alive and thriving this year in Virginia. Here are the top 5 places and things you need to see to round out 2014 – your year of art.
Brock Gallery, pre-expansion, Chrysler Museum of Art
1. After an extensive, 16-month expansion and enhancement campaign, the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk reopens its doors on May 10, 2014. Of note are upgraded heating and cooling to be more green and efficient, a greatly enlarged exhibit hall for glass and contemporary art, new galleries for American and European painting and sculpture, a bigger cafe area, Wi-Fi in every gallery, improved accessibility, traffic flow, and parking.
In the Box – “An intimate first-floor space dedicated to contemporary works in the digital realm,” is brand new to the Chrysler and will welcome four exhibits before the end of 2014.
Weitzer Community Gallery – You be the curator when your votes help to determine the pieces exhibited. Voting occurs online until February 26, 2014. Vote
70 Years of Smokey Bear – This exhibit will go on display in August and will contain 19 works by Virginia artist Rudy Wendelin of Arlington. Wendelin “depicted the friendly firefighting bear with the ranger hat and shovel for four decades, and is often credited with immortalizing him in pop culture history.”
2. In October 2014, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond will welcome nearly 200 pieces from the Palace Museum in Beijing, China entitled, “Forbidden City: Imperial Treasures From the Palace Museum, Beijing”. The exhibition will include pieces from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. In exchange, VMFA will be the first museum in the United States to exhibit pieces in the Palace Museum, the most attended museum in the world with more than 11 million visitors annually.
3. From a musical point of view, celebrate 40 years of old time, country, and bluegrass music on stage at Carter Family Fold in Hiltons. Operational as a non-profit since 1974, the Fold acts as a tribute to the original Carter family (A.P. Carter, Sara Carter, and Maybelle Carter). The Carter family’s 1927 recordings are credited with launching the country music industry as we know it today.
If the name Carter sounds familiar to you and the paragraph above is not the reason why, perhaps June Carter Cash rings a bell? June was the daughter of Maybelle Carter and followed in her mother’s footsteps, performing with her sisters as the Carter Sisters, as well as the likes of Elvis Presley and her husband, Johnny Cash. June was a Grammy award-winning musician who passed away in 2003.
To get a feel for performances at Carter Family Fold, check out the Carter Fold Sessions embedded below.
4. Attend an arts festival. Pick one! Here are five good ones that should be on your list of contenders.