A walk to remember

Posted by Editorial / Monday, August 31st, 2015

From left: Riley Moore, Chris Kessenich, Benjamin Butler (not pictured: Will Stevens). Photo courtesy of Krista Mettler

From left: Riley Moore, Chris Kessenich, Benjamin Butler (not pictured: Will Stevens). Photo courtesy of Krista Mettler

By Robyn Smith

The Walking Guys, a group of four men all in their early- to mid-20s, began their journey in Portland, Maine, on July 8. Since then, they’ve walked almost 400 miles and played 30 gigs, and that’s just from the official tour list, which doesn’t include impromptu performances. The Walking Guys’ mantra is “Live Simple, Spread Music.” The group will make its way to Northern Virginia from Sept. 1-3, playing at Jammin Java in Vienna on Sept. 1. We spoke with Chris Kessenich as the group was just beginning their 15-mile daily walk to learn a little more about their journey so far.

What’s one thing you thought you could never leave behind?
That one might be tough. I feel like I’m pretty free and open to living without things. I guess the one thing that’s been most difficult or most stressful has been not really knowing where we sleep every night. So I guess my home as a whole or my apartment as a whole. And just knowing the location where you’ll rest your head every night is a big-time luxury that I totally had taken for granted throughout my life. The stress of trying to figure that out every night has been very interesting and very eye opening.

Before you began, how did people respond when you told them about the tour?
Most people were very confused. We’d go, ‘Yeah, we’re walking the whole tour,’ and they’d go, ‘What?!’ Then [we'd say] ‘Yeah, we’re planning on just walking,’ and they’d go, ‘What do you mean? How?’ and we’d explain: ‘Well, you take your right foot, then your left foot. You go one by one and you end up in a different place by the end of the day.’

On your website you discuss depending on the kindness of others for survival. What have been some of your kindest experiences so far?
There’s just an absolute laundry list of people. … Oh, Mama Gene. In Newport, Rhode Island, we were walking into town, and this lady stopped and started talking to us for a little bit and then after that conversation invited us to stay at her house for the remainder of the weekend. So while we were in Newport for like three days, she basically provided for us and helped us out. She gave us a place to stay, allowed us to go out and explore the city, go to the folk festival and play music there, and we actually found another gig as well. 

Where are some of the places you’ve stayed?
So we have all of our camping gear. Every day we start out and very rarely know where we’re sleeping, and we just hope to try to find a place by meeting people. If not, we default to camping either in a park or on the side of the road or in the woods—basically anywhere we think we can set up without getting in trouble—and then head on out the next morning. At Somerville, we stayed down in a park in a pretty sketchy area and were woken up at like 6 o’clock by a park ranger who basically explained to us that that park is generally drawn with heroin and crack addicts and that we were very lucky. So that was an interesting night. There actually were a couple people that ran into us that night that weren’t too out of the norm. [But other than that, it’s] largely people’s  homes; a lot of the time we couch surf.

What do you appreciate more now that you’ve walked such a long way?
Definitely the speed at which we travel. The first day we walked, we walked for like 10 hours. It was grueling. It was really hot and it was our first day of walking, so we weren’t used to it at all. It was a long, long, exhausting day. At the end of the day, we walked into this coffee shop, sat down to get some water and started talking to one of the guys that was sitting at the bar. I asked him, ‘How far is it to Portland?’ and he was kind of laughing, turns around and goes, ‘Oh, 10, 15 minutes, tops.’ 

What has been the biggest reward so far?
Definitely meeting people and experiencing other people’s hospitality and just establishing these relationships that are meaningful. There are so many generous people in the world. What we’re doing, in a lot of ways, helps bring people out of their shell in some senses. I’m not saying that people have really closed-off minds, but the people that come out and help us often thank us, which is really weird. They’re helping us. But I think it brings them joy to help other people out, and I think what we’re doing really resonates with what they would like to do or would have liked to have done at some point.

The Walking Guys
Jammin Java
Sept. 1, 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door

Luke Wade brings his soulful sound to Jammin Java

Posted by Lynn Norusis / Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

‘The Voice’ contestant hits the Vienna stage Wednesday to perform tracks off his latest albums.

By Grace Ann Brew

Photo courtesy Eric & Jamie Photography

Photo courtesy Eric & Jamie Photography

The Texas pop/soul singer and  contestant on season seven of NBC’s “The Voice” stops at Jammin Java this Wednesday as part of his multicity tour. We spoke with the singer about his experience on the show and what audience members can expect from his performance.

You were on season seven of “The Voice” and are now in the midst of a multicity tour. Tell us about the difference in experience of the performances.
It’s completely different. If you’re on TV, they have crowd warmers. They come out and get everyone excited and show everyone how they want them to cheer and go crazy.It’s kind of fish in a barrel in that respect, whereas live, people don’t know what to expect. You don’t know who you’re going to get in front of, what they’re feeling and what they’re looking for necessarily. Also, you never know if there’s going to be five or 5,000 people in the crowd.

Have you learned anything from your time on the show that you have used for your performances? 
Absolutely. I learned a lot about what I’m capable of, what my strengths are and how I deal with high-pressure situations.  I learned a lot about professionalism and production and presentation—all kinds of things.

You’re on a tour, playing with your band and playing original music. What will audience members at Jammin Java get to experience? How would you describe the show you’re going to play on Aug. 26?
It’s a six-piece band.  It gets soulful; it gets funky. Ultimately, I like to take people on a journey. I like to have some emotional moments and just be as connected as possible. I sing about things we all think about and don’t necessarily talk about all the time. We do songs off the first two albums, songs from the season of “The Voice” that I was on and quite a few songs from our upcoming album that hasn’t been released yet, which I’m really excited about. I’ve been known to climb on things and run through the crowd. I’m pretty rambunctious on stage.  

Photo courtesy Steve Watkins

Photo courtesy Steve Watkins

You’ve also been chosen to perform the song and music video for Susan G. Komen’s 2015-16 fundraising campaign. How did that come about, and what was the experience like?
I do a lot of work locally with a children’s hospital called Cook Children’s. I was with them at a thing called Healthcare Heroes in 2014, and there was a women there named Ann Louden from an organization called Frogs for the Cure. They do a song and video every year for Susan G. Komen, so we started talking about me doing it. We [Mia Z and I] ended up doing an amazing version of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” that’s going to be coming out Sept. 1.

How does this performance and song differ from your own music?
I would say the difference is it’s very authentically Motown. It’s a classic song, and we just did our best to honor the original. We didn’t remix it or anything like that. We completely rerecorded it with a different band. My stuff is very authentically me, which is very eclectic and has a lot of different influences

Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?
Absolutely. Never wait for something to happen to be who you are. Some people think that someone’s going to come along and tell them that they’re good enough. For the most part, it’s way more likely that someone’s going to come along who doesn’t know what they’re talking about and is going to tell you you’re not good enough. Just go ahead and beat both of them to the punch and believe in yourself. Play music no matter what because you love it and because it makes you happy. If you keep doing that, you’re going to get better and better so [that] if you’re not good enough already, you will be. You just have to stay with it and believe in yourself. 

Children become global citizens in interactive art class

Posted by Editorial / Monday, August 24th, 2015

Photo courtesy Rawpixel/shutterstock.com

Photo courtesy Rawpixel/shutterstock.com

By Raquel DeSouza

For some children, the coming weekend marks the last days of sweet summer break. For parents, it means running out of fun activities for the family and not having much alone time. The Learning Gallery has an event that meets the needs of both parties. For two hours, children grades k-5 can be entertained and educated in the interactive lesson called “Experiencing India.”

The Learning Gallery follows the curriculum of local school districts in Northern Virginia and Maryland to find ways to supplement the material through the arts. Last month was the first class highlighting a country’s culture. It focused on Cameroon, and one of the country’s presidential candidates, Kah Walla, instructed the class, according to co-owner Sheila Walla.

“We are global citizens, so part of our mission [is] to spread that global awareness,” Sheila Walla says. “That’s why we have this line of classes …One of the other things that we try to achieve with these classes, though, is for parents to be able to take some time off for themselves.”

They chose India for the next class because the instructor and program’s business administrator, Payal Chawda, is from Gujarat, a state in western India.She was trained in classical Indian dance for eight years, so she will teach some classical and Bollywood moves and compare these two styles to American dances.

Along with learning about the country’s history, languages and religions, children will also draw native Indian fauna and flora and get a taste of traditional foods. There will be familiar bites like fried pastries called samosas, chicken tikka and a fried dough snack called chaat. But Chawda says she also wanted to introduce flavors and ingredients that are not found in American cuisine, such as the vegetable bitter gourd.

“Food changes so much. It’s such a huge part of our culture, so even from state to state and region to region, it’s completely different,” she says. “It’ll be interesting to have young students taste that because it’s an acquired taste.”

Chawda’s goal with her class is to show the children a different side of the large and diverse country she comes from.

“When they watch the media or their parents tell them about a certain country, they’ll have a certain idea of what it is, and I would like them to see a completely different view of it,” Chawda says. “Not just the poverty and not just whatever it is that they know—I would like them to see some culture, religion, experience the food, things that they ordinarily wouldn’t experience, even in a metropolitan [area] like D.C.

$50 per child; discounts for siblings
Aug. 29, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Sherwood Community Center
3740 Old Lee Highway
Fairfax, VA 22030

Catch the next indie classic at these 5 Northern Virginia movie theaters

Posted by Editorial / Friday, August 21st, 2015


Photo courtesy of bhathaway/shutterstock.com

By Robyn Smith

It’s easy to find the blockbusters. We just can’t avoid them, and frankly couldn’t we all do without the seventh movie in a franchise? Nowadays, independent films are all the rage. No longer an acquired taste for film buffs and reviewers, everyone loves a good “Amélie” or “(500) Days of Summer.” You could watch them online, but Zooey Deschanel’s eyes deserve to be seen on the big screen. Alas, the problem with the indies: They don’t have the budget for a nationwide release, so the fans have to scramble or even occasionally trek out to see them. Well, trek no further. At these five local movie theaters, you can watch all the latest underground hits. You’re welcome.

Rave Cinemas Fairfax Corner 14 + Xtreme
Fairfax Corner South: 11900 Palace Way, Fairfax
Perfect for: Foreign films. This movie house has the most out of any on this list.

Cinema Arts Theatre
Fair City Mall: 9650 Main St., Fairfax
Perfect for: Indie buffs. It’s most likely to play something that no other theater in the area is.

AMC Loews Shirlington 7
The Village at Shirlington: 2772 S. Randolph St., Arlington
Perfect for: Crowd pleasers. It plays all the indies you keep seeing commercials for.

AMC Tysons Corner 16
7850 Tysons Corner Center, McLean
Perfect for: When the family is divided on what movie to see. While it’s known for its mainstream flicks, the theater also plays a few limited release films as well.

Angelika Film Center & Cafe at Mosaic
2911 District Ave., Fairfax
Perfect for: Those who like to snack on fancy pastries while watching documentaries or foreign films—this theater also sells treats.

Cycling: A Picturesque Pastime

Posted by Editorial / Thursday, August 20th, 2015

NoVA has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world for cycling, and every road along the way is dotted with the perfect stops to explore. 

Victoria GaffneySophia Rutti and Matthew Tracy

J.K. York/shutterstock.om

J.K. York/shutterstock.om

Rappahannock County
Start your cycling journey in Little Washington and see the best that Virginia has to offer: fine dining, Virginia wines and postcard-worthy views.

Start at the Winery at Little Washington ⇒ Sperryville ⇒ Skyline Drive 
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult; steep incline at Skyline Drive

1. Winery at Little Washington
If wine isn’t what you’re looking for when you start your day, don’t worry. The Winery at Little Washington also boasts one of the top picnic spots in Virginia and allows people to bring their own lunches and refreshments. The winery is available for walk-ins all day on the weekend.

[3.3 miles]

2. Thornton River Grille
Placed in the heart of idyllic Sperryville, this is the perfect restaurant to stop in and fuel up. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch and 5 to 9 p.m. for dinner. When you’ve finished your lunch, head out and explore the small town. 

[7.4 miles]

3. Skyline Drive
This unforgettable ride filled with gorgeous foliage and wildlife has overlooks every few miles so you can stop and take it all in. This is the most difficult part of the ride and is not recommended for an inexperienced cyclist, but if you’re up for the challenge, you can experience the beauty of this national park.


Photo Courtesy of Jodi Miller

Photo Courtesy of Jodi Miller

Just beyond the town of Middleburg along Lee Jackson Highway, some of the area’s best vineyards await. Begin your cycling tour around noon to try some fine wines and enjoy the beauty of the area.

Start at Quattro Goomba’s Winery ⇒ Cana Winery and Vineyards ⇒ Greenhill Winery and Vineyard
Difficulty: Moderate; mildly uphill along Lee Jackson Memorial Highway


1. Quattro Goomba’s Winery
This laidback winery offers tastings from noon to 6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. For a $6 tasting fee, try five wines in the bucolic setting of Goomba’s log cabin. For lunch, head over to Quattro for delicious pizza, or picnic on the property while listening to calming music.

[3.8 miles]

2. Cana Winery and Vineyards
Featuring hillside tasting rooms with breathtaking mountain views, this winery is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Live music is every Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. and tastings are $10 per person.

[2.4 miles]

3. Greenhill Winery and Vineyard
Nestled on a pastoral road, this winery is open from noon until sunset. Picnic on the green grounds while enjoying some wines on the 128 acres of land, which includes a pond, Little River and a stone house built in 1762.

Photo Courtesy Christopher Hunter

Photo Courtesy Christopher Hunter

See the real Ashburn along the Washington & Old Dominion Trail. Enjoy the historic route and stop by some of the mainstays of the area.

Start at Carolina Brothers Pit Barbeque ⇒ Old Ox Brewery ⇒ Green Lizard Cycling & Coffee
Difficulty: Moderate

1. Carolina Brothers Pit Barbecue
Enjoy Old Town Ashburn while munching on North Carolina-style barbecue and cornbread. For $8, choose from pork, beef or chicken barbecue, as well as traditional southern sides. Cool off inside the homestyle eating area or enjoy the scenic view at an outdoor picnic table.

[4.6 miles]

2. Old Ox Brewery
Adults can make a brewery pit stop right on the trail. Old Ox Brewery is the one of newest family-owned breweries in Ashburn. The establishment is two-wheeler friendly with beer, bike racks, air pumps and food. Try one of their core brews, such as Golden Ox, or their seasonal Hard Way Lager.

[7.1 miles]

3. Green Lizard Cycling & Coffee
End your ride with a rewarding cup of coffee and the company of fellow bikers. There is a variety of drink options to choose from ranging from espressos to fruit smoothies, and the shop is open Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday- through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Not interested in Cycling alone? Check  out these local tours


Cycling Tours

Posted by Editorial / Thursday, August 20th, 2015

Not interested in cycling alone? Choose one of these tours and enjoy the best that Virginia cycling has to offer with the security of a guide.

Victoria Gaffney, Sophia Rutti and Matthew Tracy



Courtesy of John Sheally

Tour d’Epicure / Courtesy of John Sheally

Tour d’Epicure

The Tour d’Epicure is an award-winning bike tour that will delight any foodie. It offers all-inclusive two- and three-day tours that begin at the Foster Harris House. Two-day tours start at $899 per person. You can enjoy wine tastings, cuisine at the Inn at Little Washington and the country scenery all with the comfort of a guide.

Trail’s End Cycling: Vineyard Tours

The Vineyard Tour is a one-day tour offered by Trail’s End Cycling. It is complete with new acquaintances, picnics and Virginia wine. Tours last five hours and include at least two stops at vineyards or breweries. Tickets are $139 per person and include your guide, bicycle, lunch and on-call support.

Virginia Bicycling Adventures
Virginia Bicycling Adventures offers several tours to get to know the Shenandoah landscape. They offer self-guided, weekend and extensive six-day tours. The costs of the tour typically range from $845 to $1,390 per person, including accommodation. 

Meet a NoVA Civil War Confederate soldier re-enactor

Posted by Editorial / Friday, August 14th, 2015

Photo Courtesy of Lisa Tierney Hawkins

Photo courtesy of Lisa Tierney Hawkins

By Raquel DeSouza

Fairfax resident and retired attorney Bill Scott has been in the Confederate Black Horse Cavalry re-enactment group since 1999. Scott was riding his horse in Bull Run when another re-enactor asked if he was interested in representing the cavalry that was founded in 1859 in Fauquier County. He said yes because he has been riding since his childhood and currently owns eight horses.

Read the rest of this entry »

Meet a NoVA Civil War Union soldier re-enactor

Posted by Editorial / Friday, August 14th, 2015

Pvt. Vernon Gardener (right) with Pvt. John Ward (left) at last year's Civil War encampment weekend. / Photo Courtesy of Vernon Gardener

Pvt. Vernon Gardener (right) with Pvt. John Ward (left) at last year’s Civil War encampment weekend. / Photo courtesy of Vernon Gardener

By Raquel DeSouza

Springfield resident and self-employed contractor Vernon Gardener has been in the Union 2nd Rhode Island Volunteer Company since 2011. As a history buff and former professional actor, he enjoys participating in the Civil War re-enactments with his fellow soldiers.

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How To Survive A Hazy NoVA Summer

Posted by Editorial / Thursday, August 13th, 2015

By Raquel DeSouza



Click to enlarge.


(August 2015)



‘Hiding in Plain Sight’

Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

Gallery Underground hosts exhibit that challenges viewers in a ‘Where’s Waldo’-esque exhibit. 
By Cameron Mellin

‘Take a Hike’ in watercolor and ink by Jeanie Brandt

‘Take a Hike’ in watercolor and ink by Jeanie Brandt

Challenging both artist and audience, the gallery show “Hiding in Plain Sight” brings creative minds from across artistic mediums together in the competitive spirit. The Arlington Artists Alliance show tasks submitting artists with the incorporation of a magnifying glass symbol in their work. Whether the piece consists of watercolor, oils, acrylic or even 3-D sculpture does not matter; artists are given complete freedom of expression, making for a gallery of eclectic aesthetics all striving for that blue ribbon. The concept of a hidden image in a piece forces the passerby to “really engage, slow down and look at the art more than they would otherwise,” according to curator Patricia Andril.

Premiering Aug. 3 and running through Aug. 29 at the Gallery Underground in Crystal City, “Hiding in Plain Sight” promotes public interaction with the artistry devised in the audiences’ own backyard. Pieces will be judged on overall quality as well as their ability to seamlessly incorporate the symbol. “We try to add a ‘Where’s Waldo’ twist to the show, encouraging our audience to focus and rewarding them for looking a little bit longer,” says Andril. Can’t catch the summer showcase? Don’t fret, the exhibit will be on display at Arlington bistro Cassatt’s this fall. / arlingtonartistsalliance.org

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