Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Coastal Virginia Magazine: Beyond the Voices

Hear ye, hear ye...

My feature article on Studio Center, titled "Beyond the Voices," is now available at the Coastal Virginia Magazine website.

Founded by the legendary Warren Miller, and now owned by former radio executive William "Woody" Prettyman, the Virginia Beach-based Studio Center boasts multiple locations across the U.S., and has grown from a recording studio and voice talent agency into a "we do it all" kind of operation -- media translations, 3D animation, graphic design, GPS automobile prompts, you name it.

"Beyond the Voices," which is in Coastal Virginia's July issue (on sale now), starts out like this.
The first thing you notice when you visit Studio Center is the smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.
“Help yourselves,” Chris Wilson says as she offers a plate of gooey goodness to the group of visitors relaxing in the recording studio’s well-cushioned lounge, tricked out with multiple TV screens and a pingpong table.
The Studio Center staff was directed to taste-test dozens of brands just to get the right company cookie, the marketing director says. Both Virginia Beach locations of Studio Center, including the company’s main corporate office (a former headquarters for Gene Walter Homes), boast video editing suites, soundproofed studios and casting rooms that share the dreamy aroma. “Chocolate Chip cookies are one of the things that Woody likes to have at all of our locations,” Wilson says.
To read "Beyond the Voices," click right here.

Online extra (don't you love them?):  I, along with the Coastal Virginia eyewitness news team, got the chance to spend the afternoon at Studio Center a few months ago and talk to some of the staff. The result is this nifty little short film.  Check it out.

Richmond Magazine: Digging at Country Music's Roots

What do you do when you write TOO much, and the excised stuff is just too good to leave on the cutting room floor?

You turn it into an online extra, of course.

So let's call my new web-only feature on early country music for Richmond Magazine a "companion" to the feature article on the 1927 Bristol Sessions (and the soon-to-open Birthplace of Country Music Museum) that I wrote for the publication in this month's issue. 

Or we can call it a bonus track. Or maybe inspired leftovers. 

Here's an excerpt from "Digging at Country Music's Roots." 
Country, or “hillbilly,” music had actually been around as a commercial concern for years prior to the Bristol Sessions. If we are to judge history purely on where the music was recorded, New York City could also claim itself the “Birthplace of Country Music” if it wanted to.
In 1922, a fiddler from the Texas panhandle, Eck Robertson, met up with an older fiddler of mysterious origin, Henry Gilliland, at an Old Confederates Reunion in Richmond. They decided to travel to the Big Apple and inquire about playing on one of those new talking machine platters. The duo auditioned for executives at Victor, who said what the heck, and captured what are considered the first commercial recordings of what we now know as old-time music.
Read the online extra, "Digging at Country Music's Roots," by clicking right here

Read the main article on Bristol, "Standing on the Promises," see an early country timeline, hear the music and get the full Rich Labs multi-media experience by clicking right here.

The photo shown is of fiddler Eck Robertson. A handsome feller.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Coastal Virginia Magazine: A Bridge to Somewhere

The Lesner Bridge is rotting away, rotting away, rotting away.

To get the lowdown on the decade-long journey to replace the Lesner, one of the true gateways to Virginia Beach, check out my feature article in Coastal Virginia Magazine called "A Bridge to Somewhere." 

The article not only details the money woes and design controversies surrounding this project, it takes a look at the state of other coastal connections in Hampton Roads.

It begins:
Driving along Shore Drive on the Lesner Bridge, a visitor can take in the fishing boats on the glimmering water and the seafood restaurants dotting the shore and never suspect that this, one of Virginia Beach’s signature gateways, is deteriorating.  
The John A. Lesner Bridge, a much-traveled Route 60 expansion that crosses Lynnhaven Inlet at the intersection of the Chesapeake and Lynnhaven bays, is corroding away. And the rot can’t be stopped. “There’s a chloride attack on the reinforcement,” says Chris Wojtowicz, project manager at the Department of Public Works in Virginia Beach. “It’s corroding the metal from inside the reinforced concrete, from the inside out.”
Since 1988, inspectors have been finding cracks and saltwater damage in the Lesner, which is actually two bridges, serving approximately 41,000 vehicles a day traveling east- and westbound. (That figure, the city’s official number, comes from a 2008 study and is probably higher.) Attempts have been made to repair the rupturing, often at great expense. “Structurally it’s a sound bridge,” Wojtowicz says. “But it requires a lot of maintenance and the amount of maintenance per year is accelerating.”

Grab the July issue of CV -- on newsstands now -- or read the article online by clicking right here.