The Rapp for May 1

Steal away to ‘The Book Thief’

“The Book Thief,” tomorrow at the Theatre.
“The Book Thief,” tomorrow at the Theatre.

The Rapp column missed it last week, but you shouldn’t this week. The Rappahannock Association for the Arts and the Community (RAAC) screens “The Book Thief” at 8 p.m. tomorrow (Friday, May 2) at The Theatre at Washington, on Gay Street. Admission is $6 for the PG-13 drama that tells, in 131 minutes, the story of a young girl in World War II Germany who finds solace by stealing books to share with others. Directed by Brian Percival, the film stars Sophie Nelisse, Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson. The concession stand’s stars are popcorn, candy and water, and RAAC has that new projector and sound system.

Coffee and dessert May 9

The Rappahannock County High School Band’s annual Coffee House this year features performances by Mandalele, Turkey Ridge String Band, Grass Fed, A Thousand Trees and the school’s own Jazz Band and other student musicians. For bottomless beverages (including, of course, coffee) and endless desserts, doors at the elementary school auditorium open at 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 9. (Have dinner first; this year’s event aims to make up for in music what it lacks in spaghetti.)

Admission is $15 ($5 students, kids 4 and younger free). There are also raffles for community business gift certificates, gift baskets, arts and crafts. Make your reservation (recommended) with Jan Makela at 540-675-1373 (ext. 2) or

Dog-day afternoon concert at Coterie

This Saturday’s latest House Concert at Coterie, co-sponsored with the shop’s Sperryville Schoolhouse neighbor, the Heritage Hollow Farm Store, features performances by Blue Ridge Cordon Bleus and the Gold Top County Ramblers to raise funds for the Rappahannock Animal Welfare League (RAWL), the Amissville dog shelter.

The outdoor concert (out back, between the “Little Schoolhouse” and the Thornton River) is 4 to 7 p.m. and is family- and pet-friendly (pets on leashes; family can roam free, within reason). The minimum donation of $15 includes admission and a libation (kids 11 and younger are free). Local food, drinks and treats for sale; proceeds also go to RAWL. For reservations or more information, call 540-987-8249 or email

Americana music festival

There’s a discount available for locals for tickets to the first-ever Rappahannock Americana Music Festival, a promising start to that elusive annual music festival everyone’s always talked about bringing to Rappahannock County — and which sponsors Ben “Cooter” Jones and Alma Viator are actually putting on May 17 in the little town they’re referring to on posters as “Beautiful Washington.”

The festival is two concerts: an 8 p.m. indoor show by Nashville recording artist and touring dynamo David Olney with string-slinger Sergio Webb and Virginia-based folk-bluegrass stars Robin and Linda Williams and Their Fine Group at the Theatre at Washington, and a noon-to-6 p.m. outdoor show on the Avon Hall grounds (or the old Washington School if it rains) with Irene Kelley; Craver, Hicks, Watson and Newberry; Big Buster and The Dirty Dawgs; Gold Top County Ramblers; Jeffrey Scott; Mandalélé; Ben Mason; and Manabu and John.

Tickets to each concert are $25 ($40 for both). For a $5 discount on single-show tickets, visit, click on “tickets” and, when the time comes, enter the code “local2014” for your discount.

And what is Americana music, you ask? We like Jones’ definition: “Americana music is the home-grown music of America. It is influenced by old time string music, jug bands, the blues and rhythm and blues, country and bluegrass, Cajun and Creole, and whatever else that came from the bottom up instead of from the top down.”

RAAC’s 2014 Mitchell Fund arts grants


Photos from the June 1 awards ceremony.

RAAC announced 11 grants totaling $21,900 this week to Rappahannock recipients including six organizations, two performing groups and two individual artists.

In keeping with the vision of the Claudia Mitchell Arts Fund, the grants reward and encourage county organizations who are working to foster the arts in Rappahannock County and local artists of all ages, especially emerging ones.

Of the many worthy applications received, the following are the recipients of this year’s Mitchell grants:

• Castleton Festival, for participation of 100 Rappahannock students in the “Castleton Alive” program.

• Child Care and Learning Center, for a weekly music program for preschoolers with guest artist Forrest Marquisee.

• Child Care and Learning Center, for its summer Theater Arts Camp for elementary school-age children.

• Headwaters Foundation, for a mosaic art project at Rappahannock County Elementary School, including a field trip to the National Gallery of Art.

• Kid Pan Alley, for an intergenerational songwriting residency at RCES and Hearthstone School.

• Folk group Mandalele, for a public performance at the Rappahannock Senior Center.

• Middle Street Gallery, for a workshop series taught by member artists and an intern/docent program with Rappahannock County High School.

• Mountainside Dance Center, for scholarships for four underserved youth dance students.

• Pete Pazmino, a writer from Chester Gap, for support to complete his novel at a month-long writing residency at Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in Amherst.

• Darien Reece, an artist from Woodville, to attend a soapstone carving class at the Art League School in Alexandria.

• 1000 Faces Mask Theater, for a public performance of masks, dancers, actors and musicians at the property of John Henry and Ann Crittenden in October.

“The Committee and RAAC board are so impressed with the range and quality of art-making in the county and we are pleased to encourage more with these annual grants,” said RAAC’s new board president, Matthew Black, in a prepared statement. “The fund seeks to enliven and sustain the arts in Rappahannock which further enhances the quality of our community life.”

The arts fund was established by RAAC in 2009 with a generous bequest from the estate of Claudia Mitchell, a dedicated supporter of RAAC and its president for many years. The fund is augmented by ongoing individual contributions, fundraising events and net proceeds from RAAC’s annual fall artists tour. For more information, call 800-695-6075 or visit

Early music arrives May 10 at Theatre

The final concert in the season’s Smithsonian at Little Washington series presents the season’s earliest works, with a rare opportunity to hear a consort comprising four of America’s leading gambists playing a group of antique instruments from the remarkable Caldwell Collection of Viols. The date is Saturday, May 10, at 8 p.m., and the venue, the Theatre at Washington.

The Smithsonian Consort of Viols comprises Catharina Meints, Brent Wissick, Craig Trompeter and Kenneth Slowik. Each of the musicians has had a long and distinguished career as a soloist and chamber musician as well as teaching at conservatories. The consort will play English music from the 16th and 17th centuries by Alfonso Ferrabosco the elder, Richard Mico and Henry Purcell.

Tickets for the Saturday performance are $25 ($10 for ages 17 and younger). For reservations, call 540-675-1253 or email

Benefit on the knoll for a Pantry in town

Jessamine Hill, the home of Rappahannock native John Anderson, is the grand setting for this year’s Food Pantry benefit dinner on May 10, capping a day of recognition and support for the community nonprofit that serves an average of 200 local families a month.

This year’s theme, “An Italian Feast,” is meant to complement the elegance of the surroundings. Jessamine Hill was built between 1825 and 1830 by James Leake Powers, a protégé of Thomas Jefferson who also constructed Trinity Episcopal Church, the courthouse, the clerk’s office and the town hall in Washington. The brick manor house was originally the home of Thomas Fletcher and his wife, Susan Stack Fletcher. Atop a knoll in Tiger Valley, the house commands a breathtaking view, with formal gardens giving way to rolling pastures against a backdrop of the Blue Ridge.

When John Anderson bought the property in 1997, he considered razing the structure, which had fallen into disrepair. Thankfully for enthusiasts of history and architecture, he instead began what he describes as a “labor of love” — 15 years of restoration, repair, reconstruction and refurbishment. The re-plastering alone took three years, and it took six or seven years to furnish the house. The Louis XIV clock in the front hall, found in a Parisian market, was the first piece Anderson purchased for Jessamine Hill. “It was the only thing in the house for a long time!” he added.

The redesigned kitchen is crowned with a giant fireplace built with stones recovered from Anderson’s grandfather’s home. The house features a sweeping central staircase, seven fireplaces with their Greek Revival mantelpieces and a formal dining room with its portrait of Thomas Fletcher, wall tapestries and hutch filled with Waterford crystal and blue and white willow.

Tickets for the Food Pantry’s benefit dinner (6 to 9 p.m.), for which local restaurants and wineries have donated food and libations, are $85. Make reservations at or by calling Bette Mahoney at 540-675-3446.

May 10 is also Food Pantry Day in Rappahannock, and includes the popular Pet Parade, co-sponsored by the Rappahannock Animal Welfare League (RAWL) and held on the lawn of the old Washington School (registration begins at 9:30 with a “fee” of dog or cat food), a benefit bake sale at St. Peter’s Catholic Church, food drives and benefit flower sales at River District Arts, St. Peter’s and the 211 Quicke Mart. For more information, call pantry director Mimi Forbes at 540-675-1177.

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