The Rapp for June 2

arguing-god-08Good guys vs. bad guys

Update: the show’s been moved indoors, to Manassas’ Hylton Center. See the story here.

The outdoor performance and world premiere of Rappahannock resident John Henry’s “Arguing with God” is now set for 5 p.m. this Sunday (June 5). Stone Hill Amphitheater, 40 Springwish Lane, off Crest Hill Road in Flint Hill, is the setting. Originally scheduled for May 21, the play, featuring many local actors, was rescheduled because of rain. Seating on grassy knoll. Bring picnic blankets. Food truck. Tickets are $20, sold at the gate or at Children are free.

As the title suggests, “Arguing with God” explores the universal question of why we exist, the eternal conflict between power and justice, and the chronic folly of believing in a “chosen people” and its corollary of “good guys versus bad guys.” The unstarry-eyed drama draws on Old Testament characters and stories to entertain, jolt and reflect on the nature of the human condition. “Arguing with God” invites the audience to choose between competing advocates for what makes life worth living.

In the event of yet more rain, the June 5 performance will be held indoors at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas. Announcement will be made at least 24 hours in advance of a change of venue.

Pen Druid in the headlines

In a recent look at about 15 favorite small breweries around the D.C. region, The Washington Post’s Going Out Guide just this week included Sperryville’s Pen Druid Brewing as its choice for the Best Brewery Worth a Long Drive in Virginia.

The Posts points out that Carney brothers Jennings, Van and Lain have been happily and successfully experimenting with wild yeasts, spontaneous fermentation, locally sourced ingredients and barrel aging. Van Jennings told The Post’s Jack Taylor that what the three back-in-Rappahannock brothers are doing is “Lambic style” — a Belgian beer-making process that’s likely something the guys originally sampled on one of their many European tours as the psych-rock band Pontiak, the brew brothers’ collective alter ego. As Van describes the ancient process, which uses wild, naturally occurring yeast and bacteria: “It’s blowing our minds.”

The minds of others, too: Beer Advocate magazine included Pen Druid in its list of the 33 best new breweries of 2015 — before the River District brewery was even a year old.

Speaking of worth the drive

Middleton Inn reports having received the 2016 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, an achievement that celebrates businesses that have earned great reviews consistently over the past year, including “strong praise and ratings from travelers,” according to a TripAdvisor spokesperson. The historic Washington B&B has received the honor over the six years TripAdvisor has awarded it (as has neighboring Foster Harris House, and there’s more about that in the Washington column).

Nature-inspired song and art

Luray students check out the flora during a visit to Shenandoah National Park last week.Cheryl Toth
Luray students check out the flora during a visit to Shenandoah National Park last week.

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, the National Endowment for the Arts has awarded Rappahannock’s Kid Pan Alley a $10,000 grant for a collaborative songwriting project with Shenandoah National Park, the Shenandoah Park Trust and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

This project aims to bring children to the park to experience its beauty, majesty and importance to our natural and national history.

After visiting the park, the children will write songs with Kid Pan Alley songwriters inspired by their experience and they will perform those songs in concerts for the school and community. Finally, they will work with teaching artists from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to create their own original artwork inspired by the park and the songs.

Kid Pan Alley songwriters will work with more than 1,500 elementary school children in eight schools in gateway communities to the park over the next year, including Rappahannock County Elementary School this fall.

“One of the goals is to inspire local children to experience the park first hand so that they may become the next generation of visitors, supporters and stewards of this public land,” said the National Park Service’s Tim Taglauer. “Yet many children in the gateway communities have never had opportunities to visit the park. That includes children from Luray Elementary, the school closest to the Park headquarters.”

Students from Luray Elementary visited the park last week and are writing songs this week with Kid Pan Alley’s help. There’s a free public concert of their songs at 7 p.m. next Tuesday (June 7) at the school.

“The children get to experience and learn about nature and the park, one of the most beautiful places on earth, and then, they create their own beauty through song and visual art. What could be better?” said Paul Reisler, Kid Pan Alley’s founder and artistic director.

Kid Pan Alley began in Rappahannock County 16 years ago and ever since has created a tidal wave of more than 2,700 songs with close to 40,000 children across the country. Some of the songs have been recorded by renowned artists that include Amy Grant, Sissy Spacek, Delbert McClinton, Cracker, Kix Brooks, the Nashville Chamber Orchestra, Corey Harris, Suzy Bogguss and many others. For more information, visit

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