Frank, Vinny and Gary at the Theatre
Frank, Vinny, and Gary — technically speaking, the Frank Vignola Trio — return to the Little Washington Theatre this Saturday by popular demand. They are irresistibly fun. (For proof, visit the theater’s Facebook page at facebook.com/Theatre291, where the theater recently posted a video of the Frank Vignola Trio performing the Ventures Medley.
The legendary Les Paul named Frank Vignola to his “Five Most Admired Guitarists List” for the Wall Street Journal, stating that “Vignola’s jaw-dropping technique explains why the New York Times deemed him ‘one of the brightest stars of the guitar.’ ” Vinny Raniolo is a rhythm guitarist in high demand; Frank and Vinny’s own PBS special, “Four Generations of Guitars,” premiered in 2014. Gary Mazzaroppi has accompanied many artists including jazz legends Buddy Rich and Charlie Byrd as well as Willie Nelson, Alicia Keyes, Bela Fleck and Chuck Mangione.
Tickets ($25, $10 for ages 17 and younger) are available at littlewashingtontheatre.com or call 540-675-1253.
Celtic Christmas at Castleton
The Barnes and Hampton Celtic Consort perform their “Celtic Christmas Concert” 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, at Castleton’s Theatre House. Renowned Celtic musicians (and Rappahannock residents) Linn Barnes and Allison Hampton, along with flutist Joseph Cunliffe and percussionist Steve Bloom, will perform, along with dramatic seasonal readings by radio and television personality Robert Aubry Davis.
With a musical partnership spanning four decades, Barnes and Hampton’s rare combination of styles and instrumentation creates memorable concerts and recordings, enjoyed by a wide variety of audiences. Described by The Washington Post as “a Washington institution” for their memorable Christmas concerts, the Consort will play alongside Davis, whose readings are set to music by the quartet, including the beloved “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas.
Barnes and Hampton began performing and recording as duo-luternists playing 16th-century Renaissance court music. Later, inspired by the 18th-century Irish composer Turlough O’Carolan, their musical interests moved toward Celtic compositions, proving the need for a broader range of instrumentation — Hampton focusing exclusively on a variety of nylon and wire-strung Celtic harps, and Barnes focusing on an assortment of steel-stringed instruments, including the guitar, harp-guitar and cittern. Barnes also plays the Irish (Uillean) pipes.
“The mysticism that is present in Celticism fuses so perfectly with the idea of Christmas,” says Allison Hampton. “I think that’s why our music is considered sacrosanct to the holiday for some folks.”
Barnes and Hampton are regulars on the Washington, D.C., music scene. For 35 years, they have been part of the acclaimed Dumbarton Concert series in Georgetown, famously performing their annual holiday program, “A Celtic Christmas.” They have appeared at the Kennedy Center, the Folger Shakespearean Library and the Smithsonian Institution, and have made five successful European concert tours.
“Making this type of music, especially around the holidays, truly is a labor of love,” Barnes said. “Over the years, people have made us part of their holiday tradition and we realize that, as musicians, what a privilege it is to be so regarded and appreciated.”
Joseph Cunliffe, playing the flute in this concert, is a woodwind specialist, composer, distinguished recording artist, and music educator. Steve Bloom has played percussion professionally in thousands of performances and recordings in Middle Eastern, Persian, Cuban, Latin, Brazilian, Sephardic, jazz, blues, gospel, new age and Celtic styles.
The musicians will be joined by native Washingtonian Davis, creator and host of the nationwide program, “Millennium of Music.” Like Barnes and Hampton, Davis’s love for the Christmas season was behind the inspiration for the musical program. Additionally, he has been host and moderator of WETA-TV’s Emmy-winning weekly arts discussion program, “Around Town,” since 1986. Davis can be heard on Vox, XM Satellite Radio’s opera and classical vocal music channel.
“Linn and Allison’s music makes for a delightful concert, especially at the holidays, and Davis’ historical context can only enhance the performance” said Burnett Thompson, director of CiP. “We are so fortunate to have them perform their beautiful Celtic Christmas selections for us.”
“Because Linn, Allison, and Davis are so well known in Washington, we are honored to have them take time from their busy holiday performance and lecture schedules to perform as part of the 20th anniversary season of Castleton in Performance,” said Castleton CEO and Artistic Director Dietlinde Maazel. In 1997 she and her husband, Maestro Lorin Maazel, converted the once-overlooked chicken house into today’s Castleton venue, one of the most exquisite performance spaces in the world.
Tickets ($20 to $40) for the 4 p.m. Dec. 17 concert are available at 540-937-3454 or castletonfestival.org.
Fire season on the wane
The 47-day fall wildfire season in Virginia ended last Wednesday (Nov. 30) with some much-needed rain across most of the state. Virginia Department of Forestry crews responded to 172 wildfires that burned a total of 5,501 acres on private land from Oct. 15 through Nov. 30. The firefighters protected 412 homes and other structures, but four homes and 22 other structures were damaged.
“With drought conditions, warm temps, low humidity and high winds, we dealt with a number of difficult fires this fall,” said John Miller, VDOF’s director of fire and emergency response. “Southwest Virginia was the area with the most wildfire activity; was forced to deal with a tremendous amount of smoke from wildfires in Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina, and experienced a rash of arson fires in several counties.”
With the wetter weather (and more of it this week), last week Shenandoah National Park officials lifted a parkwide fire ban that was put in effect last month. Extremely dry conditions prompted the ban for the southern areas of the park on Nov. 16, and the ban was extended parkwide Nov. 21.
Recent rainfall has improved conditions resulting in lifting the fire ban. However, Jeff Koenig, the park’s fire management officer, added, “Fire management will continue to closely monitor fire danger in Shenandoah National Park.”