Saturday, May 15, 2021

Can't Stop the Richmond Symphony

As one of the only orchestras led by a majority-female team,, the Richmond Symphony continues to blaze its own distinct trail.  

Using only its 39 core, full-time, salaried musicians during a time of social distancing, the Symphony is also rare among the nation’s orchestras — including heavyweights such as the New York Philharmonic and the San Francisco Symphony — in that it hasn’t let the pandemic stop the music.

Read my  in-depth Richmond Magazine feature article on the Symphony right here: 

And click this spot to hear my Open Source RVA interview with RSO Music Director Valentina Peleggi.

(Photo by James H. Loving courtesy Richmond Symphony)

Behind the Mask: Dr. Danny Avula

Meet Virginia’s version of Dr. Anthony Fauci, vaccine czar Dr. Danny Avula, whose job as director of the Richmond City Health District and Henrico County Health Department also includes being an on-call health expert, a CEO overseeing a 250-member team of preventive specialists and the region’s chief community health strategist.

In January, Avula took a leave of absence from the director’s desk, jumping from the regional frying pan into a bigger, hotter statewide fire. He became the commonwealth’s “vaccination czar,” tapped by Gov. Ralph Northam to lead Virginia’s effort in distributing COVID-19 vaccines. “He knows how to get things done,” Northam said at the press conference where he announced the appointment.

My Richmond Magazine feature profile of Dr. Avula is now available at the magazine's website. Click here to read "Behind the Mask." 

Friday, May 14, 2021

Hemp, NASCAR and People to Meet

Hemp in the Shenandoah Valley.... NASCAR (and the NASCAR economy) in a time of quarantine... the future of sports tourism... Virginia's greatest golf courses (and the men who made them)... rebranding the Redskins (sorry, Washington Football Team)...the people and leaders from Virginia that you MUST MEET in 2021...and MORE!

Read ALL of my past reports for Virginia Business magazine by going right here!

(Photo of the Johnson brothers at Elkton's Pure Shenandoah hemp outlet by the mighty Norm Slater)

Let's Have Church: The Jewel Gospel Singers

The Jewel Gospel Singers have been a solid rock in the Virginia gospel scene for nearly 70 years, and are still performing.

With three longtime (60-plus years) members, this soulful singing group -- revamped in later years as Henrietta Doswell Gattison & the New Jewels -- have specialized in a passionate style of church singing that is both traditional and harmonically complex, a unique sound honed through years of performing in Hanover County churches. 

My recent Richmond Magazine feature on this captivating gospel group -- who recorded three hard-to-find albums for Savoy Records in the '60's -- can now be found online right here, complete with a link to a rousing "TV Gospel Time" appearance by the Jewels in their prime. 

Pictured: The Jewel Gospel Singers of the 1960s: Henrietta Gattison, Ellen Jefferson, pianist Vivian Owens, Ann Cunningham, Ernestine Jackson and songwriter Doris Ann Allen (Photo courtesy Henrietta Doswell Gattison)

WTJU Rock Promos au Go Go


The recent WTJU Rock Marathon fund drive was a huge success, with a stellar week-long lineup of specially-curated programs that was a joy to hear. WTJU, the Sound Choice in Central Virginia, really doesn't fundraise like anyone else -- it's like an explosion of sound AND a rock 'n' roll history lesson from some of the coolest music fans around (and also people like me).  

Take a listen to EVERYTHING that WTJU does -- from folk and blues to jazz and rock -- by listening at 

For the big Rock Marathon, I was once again honored to collaborate with the nimble Lewis Reining and the Mighty WTJU Promo Art Players to crank out another batch of (mostly) wacky marathon promo spots. These radio ads have been compiled together in one combustible place! Hear 'em all right here.  

Thanks to all of the gang:, Erin O'Hare, Brian Keena, Dave Moore, Jenn Lockwood, Rick Clark, Nathan Moore, Zoe Krylova, and Sunny the Promo Dog, who is giving me direction, as shown.

You don't have to wait for a big WTJU fund drive to donate. Go to the easy and secure donate page at 

(Photo by the mighty Zoe Krylova!!) 

Rassawek: What's Old is New

Word has gotten around: Don’t tear it down, give it to Rassawek

“People know that if there’s an old building that they want to have removed, I will go and get it and bring it here,” says Joseph Liesfeld, the owner of Rassawek Vineyard, a scenic event space and vineyard on 1,200 acres in Columbia in the far western reaches of Goochland County, Virginia.

Rassawek is a picturesque outdoor museum of Virginiana. Now, 20 years after Liesfeld purchased the property and began filling it with artifacts such as a circa-1930s sawmill and an antique water tower, this fascinating place is ready for its close-up. The Goochland Board of Supervisors in October 2020 approved a conditional permit that will allow increased acreage for new features and uses for this huge green space.

Read all about it in my Richmond Magazine piece, "What's Old is New," right here.

(Photo by the mighty Daniel Roberts) 

Do or Diet: Six Eating Plans

The pandemic and social isolation have done nothing positive for America's waistline. 

A temptation to overeat, under-exercise and share comfort food recipes online can make any plan to shed pounds a challenge. 

In a piece for Richmond Magazine's R-Health supplement, I take a look at six eating plans that can help you in the struggle, including the Keto, Weight Watchers and DASH diets, Which are the healthiest and most effective? I ask nutritionists and dietitians what they think. 

Read "Do or Diet" by jogging over here.

(Photo: Getty Images)