The Rapp for April 5

Hi ho, Stinkbug!

Late nights in the kitchen: A ladybug appears to be riding a brown marmorated stink bug. This photo was NOT doctored.
Kathryn Walker
Late nights in the kitchen: A ladybug appears to be riding a brown marmorated stink bug. This photo was NOT doctored.

We’re not really sure how this photo relates to Easter, or the Old Dominion steeplechase (large creatures being ridden hard by smaller ones?), but Kathryn Walker of Washington took this picture not too long ago in her kitchen late one night, and it just had to be run in the paper. We hear Vinnie and Heidi at 24 Crows in Flint Hill have been using this photo to help sell the Bug-Zooka, a battery-powered vacuum device that some have found essential in this spring’s War on Stink Bugs, and which they carry in the gallery shop.

Where, incidentally, you can also get a fabulous lunch, pastry or homemade ice cream cone most any Wednesday through Sunday – and where some of us have never actually seen a brown marmorated stink bug. Coincidence? You decide.

Cooter is back on stage

 Entertainer Ben “Cooter” Jones returns to the Theatre at Washington for another evening of song, stories, and humor on Saturday, April 14.

“We’re calling this one ‘Cooter’s Existential Dilemma’ because I couldn’t figure out what to call it,” says Jones, who is well known as the character he played on the enduring television sitcom, “The Dukes of Hazzard.” “Really the most important part of our shows is always Cooter’s Garage Band,” he jokes. “They make me presentable. Without the band, I’d be run out of town. Seriously, they are as good as any band out there. We play Southern music, a mix of honky-tonk, blues, bluegrass, and just fine old rock and roll. And our singer, Lisa Meadows, is as good as it gets. She knocked it out of the park at the Grand Ol’ Opry.”

Ben "Cooter" Jones
Courtesy photo
Ben "Cooter" Jones

A longtime resident of Rappahannock County, Jones has appeared at the Theatre at Washington, Virginia, at least a dozen times. “We play all over the country, but the Theatre is our favorite place because we are with our friends and neighbors and we just cut loose and have fun. I do a little bit of comedy, tell some tall tales, and even throw in a bit of Shakespeare just for laughs. This year I’m going to recite ‘Casey at The Bat’ to celebrate the start of baseball season. And we’ve worked up a bunch of new tunes.”

In his career, Jones has appeared in more than 50 films and television shows and 100-plus theatrical productions, working with the likes of Anthony Hopkins, Orson Welles, Emma Thompson and James Earl Jones and such musicians as Roy Orbison, Loretta Lynn and Dr. Ralph Stanley. He also served two terms in the United States Congress as a member from Georgia.

Jones and his wife, Alma Viator, live in Harris Hollow, about a five-minute drive from the Theatre – so be on time. Tickets for the 8 p.m. performance April 14 are $20 ($10 for students 17 and younger). Call 540-675-1253 or email to make one.

Mutts and silver medals at Gadino

Spring has sprung, which means it’s time for the Mutts Mix & Mingle at Gadino Cellars, to benefit the Rappahannock Animal Welfare League (RAWL). Well-behaved dogs on leashes are welcome from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, April 13, at the winery on Schoolhouse Road (, where Noah and Terry Waggener will entertain. There’ll be hors d’oeuvres and, if the weather cooperates, a bonfire outside. Wine – including Gadino’s 2009 petit verdot, which won a silver medal at the 2012 Virginia Governor’s Cup competition in January – will be available for purchase at a special rate of $5 a glass. Gadino will donate $1 for every glass consumed and 10 percent of every bottle sold. Suggested $10 donation goes to RAWL ( Questions: Call 540-987-9292.

Author Stephanie Deutsch

At 8 p.m. Friday, April 13, the Rappahannock Association for the Arts and the Community (RAAC) Second Friday at the Library series welcomes back Stephanie Deutsch, author of the recently released book, “You Need a Schoolhouse: Booker T. Washington, Julius Rosenwald and the Building of Schools for the Segregated South.”

Deutsch, who lives in Washington D.C., spoke at a 2009 RAAC Second Friday event, when she was still in the research phase of her book, and at that time she became involved with Rappahannock’s own Scrabble School (one of original Rosenwald schools). Since 2009, she has visited countless Rosenwald schools throughout the South and plunged into the history of both Rosenwald and Washington, as well as delving further into U.S. history during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

After her 2009 appearance here in the county, Deutsch also joined the board of the Scrabble School Preservation Foundation and is donating the proceeds from book sales April 13 to the foundation.

“In this educational and engaging book, Stephanie Deutsch brings to life two men with high moral character who joined their efforts at a crucial time in our nation’s history to educate children whose families had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, but were subsequently abandoned to poverty and illiteracy,” Cheryl Wright-Watkins writes of Deutsch’s book on

Scrabble School is one of the few Rosenwald Schools to be restored and to have an exhibit that focuses on its history and the experiences of its students. Their oral histories are available at the school and online at

On April 13, Deutsch will discuss the story she captures in “You Need a School House,” and will sign copies of the book to benefit the Scrabble Foundation, which is offering the $24.95 book for $20.

To learn more about the book and Stephanie Deutsch, check out her blog at

Middle Street’s open house

Kevin Adams is a new member of the Middle Street Gallery; shown is his “Autumn Color.”
Kevin Adams is a new member of the Middle Street Gallery; shown is his “Autumn Color.”

The Middle Street Gallery, a nonprofit cooperative of regional artists, is putting on its second annual Spring Arts Festival during April. An exhibition at the gallery at Rappahannock Central in Sperryville features the works of the coop’s 20 members and a number of primary and secondary students selected by the art teachers at local schools. Most works of art will be for sale.

The highlight of the festival will be an extended open house (2:30 to 5:30 p.m.) on Saturday, April 14. Come and enjoy the art, food, drink and music. Concurrently, Little Washington Winery will hold a wine and oyster tasting at River District Arts, which is right next door at Rappahannock Central. The winery will offer for sale its award-winning Dirt Road wines and steamed oysters on the half shell from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

River District Arts holds an opening and reception for artist Helga Honhn-Heiberg on that day as well.

Rappahannock County Elementary School student Holly Hall is 12 years old and lives in Sperryville; her work here is “Sea Angel.”
Rappahannock County Elementary School student Holly Hall is 12 years old and lives in Sperryville; her work here is “Sea Angel.”

For the first time this year, the gallery will put on a “Name the Art Contest,” in which the public is invited to submit a name for eight untitled pieces of art. Winners will be announced at 3 p.m. that Saturday, when the gallery will also present certificates of merit to the student artists. Names for the contest may be submitted any time before the open house.

Acclaimed local folk-oriented group Mandalele plays from 3:30 to 5:30 at the event. Middle Street Gallery is open 10 to 5 Friday-Sunday. For more information, call 540-987-9330 or visit

– Gary Anthes

‘Fine Tuned’ takes a fine award

“Life Fine Tuned” principals (from left) Jennie O’Keefe, who plays Cassie, the understudy; producer-director-writer Nina May; and Josh Murray, who plays Mack, at the awards ceremony.
Courtesy photo
“Life Fine Tuned” principals (from left) Jennie O’Keefe, who plays Cassie, the understudy; producer-director-writer Nina May; and Josh Murray, who plays Mack, at the awards ceremony.

The feature-length dramedy “Life Fine Tuned,” filmed entirely in Virginia and signficantly in Rappahannock County, won the top honor at the International Family Film Festival in Hollywood last month. The “Applause Award,” given to the film that receives the most votes from the audience and festival participants, went to producer-director-writer Nina May’s offering, besting 100 films submitted to the festival, many with multimillion-dollar budgets and well-known actors.

Many of the scenes in the film were shot in Rappahannock County in summer 2010. The movie has been in the screening stage for a year and post production was completed three months ago, when it began to be accepted to festivals. The movie won two DC Peer Awards, for editing and best production, and will be featured in the Bare Bones Film Festival in Oklahoma in April.

The movie is about a spoiled young pop star who throws a tantrum at a rehearsal when they want to add dancing to her act. She runs away to rural Virginia, thinking they will come looking for her, but they don’t. Instead, they replace her with the understudy and use CG technology to keep the deception going. To keep her identity hidden, until they come looking for her, she tells the Madison family, who has taken her in as a boarder, that she is a dancer. The deception leads to some funny circumstances and during the adventure, she learns, through music and the kindness of the family and the town, how to fine tune her life. At the same time she is falling off the ladder, the understudy is climbing up.

Great music is the backdrop of the movie featuring wonderful musicians such as Sam and Ruby, Katie Herzig, Brooke Waggoner and Cameron James. The original score was written by Ben MacDougall, who came recommended by Maestro Lorin Maazel as a young man who is gifted and wants to score movies.

All of the actors had to be undiscovered in order to be cast for the parts as the movie is a project of the nonprofit group Renaissance Foundation. The internship program, Renaissance Women Productions, trains people how to do video production from scriptwriting to editing, pre- and post-production, both in front of and behind the camera.

“Life Fine Tuned” is scheduled to be released this summer pending a distribution agreement. When they were in Hollywood for the International Family Film Festival, May and the actors appeared on TBN TV to discuss the movie, and were approached by several distributors who had heard good things about the movie.

Nina May said they definitely want to show the movie in Rappahannock when it is released and said their time shooting there was a wonderful experience at every level. They have listed in their credits everyone who helped them with the filming of “Life Fine Tuned.”

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