The Rapp for Nov. 11

Bill Harris, in concert at the Theatre at Washington Nov. 20.

Bill Harris at the Theatre

What do player pianos and the mid-20th-century rise of radio have to do with Bill Harris’s jazz piano concert Nov. 20 at the Theatre at Washington?

You’ll have to show up to get the whole story — to hear the story told in music, that is, since Harris’s expert fingers say more than mere words on newsprint ever could — when he tackles tunes by three of his favorite jazz luminaries that Saturday night at 8: Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn and Thelonius Monk.

They are “three of my biggest influences,” says Harris, a longtime jazz pianist who’s looking particularly forward to this concert as he’s spent the past six months often away from the piano.

He’s also spent the time away from the home he shares in Flint Hill with his wife, dentist Stella Liong. He, Liong and daughter Calynn have been taking turns since February looking after Liong’s mother in Arkansas, and, in Harris’s case, helping rebuild Liong’s family home there. (Liong’s father passed away in Arkansas amid February’s big snows — not long after Liong’s family home had burned down.)

Harris will return to the grand piano at the Theatre to focus initially on music of the ’30s and ’40s, and especially the harmony and rhythm employed, if not outright invented, by pianist-composers Ellington (“Mood Indigo”); Strayhorn (“Take the A Train”) and Monk (“Straight, No Chaser”).

Harris dropped by to talk briefly about the music that he feels influenced the greats who influenced him — going back to ragtime, stride and blues masters whose music was often available on piano rolls — the radio of the early 20th century — for the likes of his idols and others to “slow it down and study it.”

But, as I said, you’ll make those connections best by hearing Harris play them, though he promises to talk a bit to put the tunes he plays in context.

Tickets for the concert at the Theatre on Saturday, Nov. 20 at 8 p.m. are $20 for adults and $10 for students under 18. For reservations, phone (540) 675-1253, send email to — Roger Piantadosi

Supervisors Roger Welch and Bob Anderson accept a Farmland Preservation donation at the RCCA annual meeting last year.

RCCA’s annual meeting

Learn what the Rappahannock County Conservation Alliance (RCCA) board has been up to when it holds its annual meeting Sunday (Nov. 14) at Wakefield Country Day School. (Shown here are supervisors Roger Welch and then-chair Robert Anderson accepting the RCCA’s donation to the Rappahannock Farmland Preservation Fund at last year’s annual meeting). Come with questions and partake of appetizers and drinks. County Administrator John McCarthy will be present to talk about the upcoming revision of the county’s comprehensive plan.

RCCA’s mission is to preserve Rappahannock County’s natural beauty. Direct questions or suggestions to Executive Director Nathan Jenkins at 540-987-9118 or, or President Larry Grove at The RCCA we welcomes your ideas as well as your attendance at the annual meeting.

For the birds

Every year volunteers head out into the great outdoors to count birds as part of the Audubon Society annual Christmas bird count.
“Just like canaries in the coal mine, birds serve as early indicators of problems that can eventually affect people and wildlife. Data from Audubon are at the heart of several scientific reports,” according to an Audubon press release.

Tens of thousands of volunteers internationally are expected to join in the counting from Dec. 14 through Jan. 5.

Trish Bartholomew of Flint Hill is organizing a bird count in Rappahannock County in December to gauge interest in making it an annual event here.

“The count this year will be on the 5th of Dec. to see if we have people interested in participating,” she said in an e-mail. “Next year we will have it in the normal count time frame” during the Audubon count.

Anyone interested in participating can contact Trish at 540-675-9956 or at for more details.

Courtesy photo

Plucky performers

This Sunday afternoon (Nov. 14), at 3 p.m., the Theatre at Washington presents “Musical Arson,” in which a string trio, known as Pluck makes fun of the classical music they spent so long learning to play when they were students. The performance will reveal whether Rappahannock audiences are as amused by their antics as were audiences across “the Pond,” where Pluck earned its enviable reputation at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival back in 2003.

Tickets for Sunday’s performance are $20 for adults and $10 for those under 18. For reservations phone (540) 675-1253 or send email to Tickets will be available at the box office, but for this heavily subscribed show, reservations are recommended for those with seating preferences.

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