The Rapp: Guitar greats, chutney chronicles, drama doings

Fourth Friday vs. Black Friday

The Rappahannock News’ usual Fourth (Estate) Friday public story-conference/coffee klatch will not happen this month, primarily due to the Thanksgiving holiday and the nationwide wallet-opening festival that follows. (Better you should pursue Small Business Saturday, anyway; see pages A8 and A9 for some great Rappahannock choices.)

Furthermore, since the fourth Friday of December is actually Christmas Day, we’ll be making tentative plans to move next month’s session up a week — to Dec. 18. Watch this space for confirmation and location. And have a great Thanksgiving!

An evening of jazz guitar

Jazz guitarists Frank Vignola (right) and Vinny Raniolo are joined by bassist Gary Mazzaroppi Dec. 5 at the Theatre at Washington.
Jazz guitarists Frank Vignola (right) and Vinny Raniolo are joined by bassist Gary Mazzaroppi Dec. 5 at the Theatre at Washington.

The Theatre at Washington welcomes the Frank Vignola Trio for an engaging evening of jazz guitar next Saturday, Dec. 5, at 8 p.m.

Frank Vignola’s virtuosity has made him the guitarist of choice for many of the world’s top musicians and orchestras, including Ringo Starr, Madonna, Donald Fagen, Wynton Marsalis, Tommy Emmanuel, the Boston Pops and the New York Pops. Guitar legend Les Paul put Vignola on his “Five Most Admired Guitarists List” for the Wall Street Journal, noting 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 dynamic, in-demand rhythm guitarist who is often featured in duo with Frank Vignola. His playing has taken him to 14 countries on three continents — and to public television, where he’s been featured on three popular shows, including the heavily programmed Tommy Emmanuel and Friends. Frank and Vinny’s own PBS special, “Four Generations of Guitars,” premiered during the 2014-15 season as part of the forthcoming 13-episode series, “Music Gone Public.”

After graduating from Berklee School of Music, bassist Gary Mazzaroppi toured extensively with the Lionel Hampton Big Band for five years. Since then, he has accompanied many artists including jazz legends Buddy Rich and Charlie Byrd, as well as Renée Fleming, Willie Nelson, Alicia Keyes, Bela Fleck, and Chuck Mangione. Mazzaroppi performed with both Les Paul and Tal Farlow during a New Jersey Jazz Society’s PBS special and appeared in a Cinemax special about Les Paul, as well as the PBS Special, “The History of Rock and Roll.”

Tickets for the 8 p.m. Dec. 5 show ($25, $10 for students 17 and younger) are available at 540-675-1253 or

Gadino’s Italian benefit party

Also on Saturday, Dec. 5, Gadino Cellars on Schoolhouse Road offers an Italian Holiday Party, a benefit for the Rappahannock Food Pantry, from 2 to 5 p.m. at the winery. There are library tastings (petit verdot and Nebbiolos), Italian sparking wine — and proprietor Bill Gadino himself on the accordion. There’s also a 2008 Nebbiolo bottle raffle. No reservations required, but there’s a fee for tastings. For more information, call 540-987-9292.

Nevill Turner, on the record

Nevill Turner reveals the secrets of his "Brilliant Career" Dec. 11 at the Library.
Nevill Turner reveals the secrets of his “Brilliant Career” Dec. 11 at the Library.

The Second Friday lecture at the Rappahannock County Library is by Rappahannock’s own Nevill Turner, who speaks at 8 p.m. Dec. 11 on the joys and woes of his life as an entrepreneur. Turner, whose storytelling skills have several times been displayed at “No Ordinary Person,” calls his talk “My Brilliant Career.” Ten years ago his wife, Clare, started up the Virginia Chutney Co., and Nevill and their son Oliver joined six months later. In the food industry, nine out of 10 startups fail within two years. Even knowing that, the Turners plunged ahead. Nevill will discuss why the odds are so daunting and how the family behind Virginia Chutney, now based in Flint Hill, has managed to survive and thrive (mostly) nonetheless.

The talk, sponsored by the Rappahannock Association for Arts and Community, is free. For more information, call 301-246-0022.

The right kind of Rappahannock drama

A dramatic week indeed . . .

It seems both my children have a flair for the dramatic. So this past Saturday, I found myself driving three-plus hours to West Point, Va., to watch my daughter and her talented fellow drama club members from Rappahannock County High School compete in the regional theater championships.

My journey was well rewarded with a flawless performance by drama coach Russell Paulette’s band of actors and actresses. Their efforts were recognized and rewarded with a fourth-place finish. I know the kids were disappointed, but they needn’t be. Because the courage it takes to stand up and perform in front of an auditorium full of people is something not many of us possess, and they all should be very proud.

One of the many who were also in attendance was Dr. Robert Chappell (the former superintendent of Rappahannock County schools). His sole reason for attending: “I was part of the team who hired Russell and I wanted to show my support.” Only in Rappahannock!

Earlier in the week, Belle Meade School, which is tucked away in a picturesque paradise on Route 231 in Sperryville, was busy hosting their first-trimester dinner. The dinner is a celebration of and recognizes the student’s achievements to date.

The delicious dinner and live music (provided by the students) enjoyed by the guest was upstaged only by the middle school students’ comedic rendition of William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.” I was so proud of my son as he delivered a hilarious performance as Mark Antony. Their teacher, Alex Forte, deserves an Academy Award for her co-starring and directing roles. She is part of a remarkable staff administering the wonders of alternative education every day.

The folks in this county are so lucky to have a wonderful public school system as well as several fine and affordable private schools to choose from.

Regarding Belle Meade, I’d like to clear up a slight misconception. Some people may think that Belle Meade (or any private school) “is not for everyone,” but I beg to differ. After two years of personally witnessing the diversity, kindness and brilliance of the students and teachers at the school, I have to say that Belle Meade is indeed for everybody . . .

— Mark Raiford, Amissville

Know-It-All: As simple as ABC

Last Friday, a small crowd gathered in the RCHS auditorium for the second annual Rappahannock Know-It-All trivia tournament, netting more than $300 for the school team. In the single-elimination tournament, the ABC All-Stars (Amissville Baptist Church) team, consisting of Pastor Eddie Taylor, Eddie Taylor Jr., David Collins, Brett Wortman and A.J. Collins faced off against a student team consisting of Jake Demory, Carter Boldridge, Trusten Murrah and Caleb Ramey. Despite best efforts by the students, ABC was victorious, especially with surprise player A.J. Collins — the captain of the 2009 RCHS state-championship team, now a U.Va. law student.

In the next match, the defending champs from last year, the Rappahannock Democrats, played against a team of RCHS teachers. The Democrats, consisting of Sharon Kilpatrick, Jed Duvall, Hank Gorfein and Patrick Alther, fell behind in round one to Mr. Weeks, Mr. Naser, Mr. Murray, and his fiancée, Parker Pennington. In round two, the faculty scored 40 to the teachers’ 50 and then the faculty pulled away in round three, for a final score of 185 Teachers, 80 Democrats.

In the semifinal match, the faculty faced off against ABC for a hotly contested match. In round one, the teachers ended up with 55 to ABC’s 40, despite some penalties to the teachers for answering too quickly and out of turn. In round two, ABC took the lead, 100 to 95, and in round three they maintained their lead for a final score of 150 ABC, 140 Rappahannock teachers.

For the last match of the night, ABC battled with the current RCHS team using a tossup-bonus format. The team starters, co-captains John Riedel, a junior, and sophomore Jacob Sheffield, along with juniors Gabe Hernandez and JoJo McKinney, fell behind quickly, as A.J. Collins was quick to answer the tossups and there is no bounceback to the other team on bonus questions. By halftime, the score was ABC 230, Quiz Bowl team 20. In the second half, John Norris replaced McKinney, but ABC outscored them 175 to 95, for a final score of ABC 405, Quiz Bowl Team 105. The ABC All-Stars received the first-place trophy, with second place going to the student team and third to the Democrats.

Although the Quiz Bowl team lost, it was a good competition and the audience seemed to enjoy the evening. The 4-1 Rapp team will resume regular season play on Nov. 30 against George Mason away. Co-captain Riedel summarized the season so far, saying: “For a young team [there are no seniors on the Rapp team], I think we will go far this year.”

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