all folked up: red wing roots music festival 2014.

redwingrootssignSummer doesn’t technically end until late September, but the spirit of summer seems to dim the second Target publishes its back-to-school circular. At least, for me. Of course, I’m a teacher, so the end of summer vacation means a lot of things: it means way-too-early mornings, way too many meetings, way too many new names to learn. It means full-blown shoes instead of flip flops, dress suits instead of swimsuits, and seventeen-minute lunch breaks. So it’s nice, as hundreds of out-of-state plates flood through our city and parents get their college kids moved back in… as traffic goes from hardly noticeable to downright irksome… as the evenings cool down enough to warrant a sweater, wrinkly from its sojourn in the closet… as these changes do and must occur, it’s nice to remember the timelessness of summer and all we did to achieve that temporal suspension.

redwingrootscheers1As I look back over my summer, here in my kitchen a mere two days before I meet 135 fresh new students, I think most about an event that stopped time in its tracks for three whole days: The Red Wing Roots Music Festival. In just its second year, the festival is a coveted gig for musicians far and wide who celebrate their culture’s musical roots. Essentially, roots music is folk music that has aged. “Folk music” is just music created by a particular group of folks: jazz came from a group of folks, blues came from a group of folks, and today’s music has evolved from those “roots.” Whatever modern music you enjoy now is rooted in very culture-specific traditions. This is why roots music is so appealing: somewhere, at some level, it’s in your blood.

redwingrootsdance1It was like the earth stopped spinning on that little patch of the globe, everyone breathed, everyone ate and drank, everyone sang and danced and filled up on whatever it was they’d been missing: love, friendship, music, sustenance, nature… Time became vertical rather than horizontal; it became deep rather than linear. It was SUCH a relief.

Heading out to Natural Chimneys that Friday evening, I listened to The Swell Season and watched the bars on my cell phone, and my obligations, disappear one by one. I was late getting to the festival – had to get my kids all squared away for the weekend – and I felt a little guilty for missing some performances already, and even though I had to count the rows of cars to be sure I’d be able to find my car again later (it was THOUSANDS of people, people), parking and getting through the main gate was a breeze, thanks to careful planning and a super-helpful staff.

It took a little time before I finally ran into Brandy, but even in a crowd of thousands we always manage to find each other. In the meantime, I ran into a friend there for the weekend with his wife and toddler, brave soul. He told me that HIS friends, on their way to Virginia for the festival, decided, “Screw it! Let’s just buy a pop-up!” and that’s what they did. They just pulled over and BOUGHT A POP-UP. Of course, as my friend explained, they’re DINKs (Double Income No Kids), and so it’s not so far out of the realm of possibility as it is for us SITKs. Soon after that I saw tons of Harrisonburg-ers. Most of my social circle was there, in fact. At first I was a little leery of leaving my belongings in the Blue Mountain brew garden, but then I realized if anyone stole from me, it wouldn’t be long before I caught that person with my pilfered item back home. The odds were that if you stole something, you’d be stealing from someone you knew. I was among friends. No one was stealin’ anything.

redwingrootsbeergarden redwingrootscoconut Brandy appeared out of nowhere and we headed over to see Pokey Lafarge, one of the festival’s favorites last year. He didn’t disappoint. His old-time concoction of saloon ragtime was refreshing and lively, complete with watermelon served directly to the crowd. The man is like a time capsule himself. So much of the past contained in that slender frame… he must be much older than he looks. He sang a song about River City and how to treat a lady, back when people gave a rip about that. Just kidding. Sorta.

redwingrootspokey7 redwingrootspokey8 redwingrootspokey10He also sang an old Hank, Sr. song, “Lovesick Blues,” which blended seamlessly with all his other work. It made me think about what breaking up used to mean… back when saying goodbye meant no contact. You saddled up your horse and rode out of your lover’s life forever. There was no turning around, no flying back the next day, no email or texting or social-media stalking. People probably broke up less back then than they do now because they understood the permanence of it. In a way that makes it easier than it is now.

redwingrootspokey2 redwingrootspokey3 redwingrootspokey4I spent some time during Pokey’s performance to check out some people’s festival gear. I saw lots of really cool, versatile, utilitarian back packs. Some even contained babies, in addition to all the other necessities: bug repellant, sunscreen, water, lip balm, sunglasses, hat… those things plus shoes you don’t really care about… but really very little else. I set my chair and blanket down when I first arrived and didn’t return to it until I left for the night.

I also noticed a resurgence (or maybe it never left?) of hippie clothing. This made me smile. I used to wear that stuff. Does this mean a bona fide resurgence of hippie-ism? I sure hope so, now that our post-Reaganomics, post-Lewinsky planet is a complete mess. My generation – Generation X – is officially old and tired. Come on, new hippies… we need you.
redwingrootsfans

redwingrootsgear1 redwingrootsfans2Next up were The Duhks. I’d never heard them before, and I LOVED THEM. These twelve-year “soulgrass” veterans out of Canada added a modern element to the festival with a blend of gospel, blues, bongos and tattoos. The singer took a break for one number and I actually missed her, but it turned into an all-out jam that got some feet moving and some wild-eyed spirits touching. Darkness fell and they played a few more. Fireflies appeared, decked out for the party in yellow. Little kids easily caught them and set them free. They’re the friendliest of all insects. They move slowly, they don’t seem to mind if you put them in a jar for a few minutes, I’ve never been bitten or stung by one… I’m not sure how that cute rear flasher could intimidate a predator. They must survive on karma. They make other organisms happy, and in return, nothing eats them.

redwingrootsduhks1 redwingrootsduhks3And then, what always happens happened: I lost my friends! And I just had to go with the flow because on this night, nothing really mattered and the whole world was my friend. People were lined up, squished together and screaming long before Trampled By Turtles even started. And when they started, a massive hoard of fans flooded in. I sat on the moist earth and watched their feet hurry by.

redwingrootsduhks2I had decided from the start that I would drive in and out each of the three days. I only live about twenty minutes from Mt. Solon, and my bony frame makes camping uncomfortable. I began to regret that decision while driving out, when my phone lit up like a Christmas tree with all the messages I’d missed.  But tomorrow held the promise of timelessness again.

redwingrootshoopboy redwingrootshoopgirl redwingrootskatieYou can read about Day Two of the Red Wing Roots Music Festival right here in a few days!

Copyright © 2012 – 2014 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers.This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

universal language: ten thousand villages.

store frontWhen I said to the kids, “Let’s go to Ten Thousand Villages today,” Cal’s brain churned behind his glassy blue eyes, and then he said, “I’m not sure we have time for all that.”

haha. I get it. I played along.

“Really? How long do you think it would take to visit ten thousand villages?”

“Oh, probably about twenty years.”

Then Bree-the-math-whiz chimed in: “Cal — that’s five hundred villages a year. That’s more than one a day. Unless the villages are really close together, you’d never visit ten thousand in twenty years.”

“Well, I don’t know how long it will take, but I didn’t pack a suitcase!”

“Me neither!”

Oh, brother. “Kids. Ten Thousand Villages is a store downtown. We’ve been in there before. It’s across from the library. That’s where we’re going. Sheesh!”

We met Brandy, Blake, and Ella there. It’s a little store, but it contains the whole world. I feel rich every time I step in there. Not in an American–capitalist–first-world way, but in an “I’m-connected-to-the-universe” way. That someone on another continent created something by hand that I, halfway around the world in a different culture and social system and economic reality, can also relate to and appreciate is pretty cool. That’s what art does; it transmits humanity. It’s a language everyone understands. Ten Thousand Villages has been cultivating this idea in Harrisonburg for twenty years. Yep — it’s their twentieth anniversary!

inside of gift shopThe brainchild of Wendy Lederach and Cleta Gingerich, what’s now known as Ten Thousand Villages began as International Impressions in September of 1993. It was located in Town Centre behind the mall, some of you might remember. The store moved to the Shenandoah Farmer’s Market and then the Dayton Farmer’s Market before changing its name to Ten Thousand Villages, and it’s been in its downtown location since 2011. Ten Thousand Villages is a global operation with hundreds of retail locations. They’ve been around for more than sixty years and sell fair trade products from about forty countries. It’s a way for the unemployed or under-employed folks in those nations to make a fair living.

teapot setThe Harrisonburg location has one executive director, three part-time employees, and several volunteers who work hard to keep overhead low and more money flowing back to the artisans who produce the merchandise sold in the store. They host Community Shopping days where a portion of their sales go directly to a selected charity. The organization has been named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere Institute and Forbes Magazine for the sixth consecutive year, and was voted Best Downtown Shop (twice) and Best Shop That Sells Handcrafted Art (three times) by readers of the DNR! And it’s no surprise… it’s the ULTIMATE gift shop. You can find a gift for anyone in that place, and the money you spend is a gift to others. To test this theory, we asked each of the four kids with us to choose something they themselves would love to receive as a gift, and it took a good hour for everyone to decide on something. Here were their choices:

boy with chess setCal : chess set

bird paddle ballElla: birdie paddle ball

upcycled photo frameBlake: picture frame and box made of upcycled computer parts

girl using drumBree: this drum, or any of them, really

Personally, I want the recycled Coke can giraffes. And Brandy’s favorite was this cute birdie keychain!

bird key chain coke can giraffesIn addition to those awesome finds, the store carries coffee, teas, chocolate, olive oil, dried fruits, international sounds through Putumayo music, children’s clothes and toys made of organic cotton and hand knotted Oriental rugs. The handicrafts include ceramic pottery, kitchenware, planters, textiles like tablecloths and sari throws, musical instruments, games, home décor, large selection of jewelry and personal accessories, natural soaps and shea butter, Alpaca winter wear, paper goods and stationery, and lots more. I mean LOTS.

girl listening to music on headphones wall of necklaces girl using flutebags of coffeeSo, if you have someone to buy a gift for soon (including yourself), write yourself a little note to skip the generic stores and indulge in something unique and authentic that will make a lasting impression on the gift recipient AND the artist who made it. You’ll feel a whole lot richer.

business card holdersCopyright © 2012-13 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

clothes-minded: duo.

Duo shopping bagIt’s human nature to want what’s commonly called “the best of both worlds” — that rare occurrence when two seemingly opposing phenomena merge in a most happy way, like dining at a French restaurant (in actual France) and getting a free refill. Or weight-loss beer. Or Nerf guns and pillow fights — you can shoot and hit people as much as you want, and all they’ll do is giggle.

There is a place in Harrisonburg where such magic happens. It’s not a place where you can “kill two birds with one stone.” No — that’s not happy, nor does it result in giggling. “Having your cake and eating it, too” is also not an appropriate description, because it suggests a level of deprivation: cake is meant to be eaten, not kept. (Yes, all you people with wedding cake in your freezer — you’re weird! And now I’m thinking of that Seinfeld episode where Elaine pilfers tiny slivers of her boss’s antique cake from King Edward VIII’s wedding in 1937…) No, this place is truly the best of both worlds. It’s called Duo, and it’s a very happy place.

Duo rack collageIt’s so simple, really: a clothing store that sells new AND carefully selected, gently used clothing. So every time you go, you can get something stylish AND well made AND inexpensive! Which saves you money, so you can splurge on a new item. I purchased two items for a whopping $13, and then found something else for $6. If there’d been cake in that store, it would have been the best of three worlds and more happiness than I could’ve handled.

Duo access Duo arrivals Duo earringsDuo jeans cubbyThey also sell jewelry, accessories, hand bags, even shoes. We tried on a whole bunch of items…Duo try onDuo K collageAnd I reeeeaaallly want to go back for that dress on the left. Aaaand the one on the right. Ha.

Right at the register, in a matter of seconds, you can join their Customer Loyalty Program and receive updates, incentives, and coupons for your next visit! Even more cake!

Duo is located at 108 S. Main Street, Harrisonburg, and in their original location on Elliewood Avenue in Charlottesville.

Duo front

Copyright © 2012 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

gettin’ pretty in the city no. 18: the yellow button.

As I sat down to write this entry, I remembered a children’s book by Anne Mazer called The Yellow Button. I’m not sure if Miranda named her store after the book, but its ideas certainly apply. It’s about a yellow button that sits in the pocket… of a dress… worn by a girl… who lives in a house… and as the short tale progresses, it demonstrates how everything–even a small, insignificant yellow button–has an important place in the universe, and how we are all–every one of us–connected by that commonality.

If Miranda is the girl with the yellow button in her pocket, she’s definitely established her place in our little corner of the universe, and in doing so, provided another way for folks to connect with each other and our city.

Miranda’s store, which sells clothing, accessories, shoes, handbags, and jewelry, is gorgeous. Beautiful artwork and stylish furniture fill the space, honoring the charm of downtown. For such a small shop (which by the way has expanded since opening), she has an ample treasury of clothing for all occasions.

Brandy and I were actually shopping that day with a specific occasion in mind–we were being interviewed by FOX News Richmond about the blog and our love of Harrisonburg. So we came to the Yellow Button to pick out a new dress. Brandy narrowed it down to a little purple floral number and a light blue dress with frilly cap sleeves. I tried on several as well and sang along to Radiohead obnoxiously in the dressing room (I have a knack for remembering lyrics). I reeeeaaallly liked this green floral dress a lot, but at the last second I swerved and chose a cute sleeveless dress the color of coral.

Just for fun, I tried on a couple of long dresses. One was red with a band of purple fabric at the bottom, and I felt like Medea, the character in the ancient Greek play who kills her kids to get back at her husband, Jason. It also reminded me of dresses my mom would wear to the neighbors’ on Bridge Night in the 70s. I wanted it. The other was a light sea foam green and it was gorgeous and SO SOFT. I wanted it equally as much.

Anyway, the next day we donned our new duds and went to the Hardesty Higgins House (which I, in my pre-TV nervousness, kept calling the Higgy Hardy House–geez!–and the rest of the afternoon, we could NOT stop saying, “Nana nana nanana, gettin’ Higgy wit it.”) And after standing in a chilly wind for a couple of hours and making a zillion bloopers and wondering if those poor guys got any footage worth a hoot, we finished our first I Love My Burg television interview. It airs this week on Fox News Richmond, and in case you don’t get that channel (cuz’ we don’t), we’ll post a link to it later this week. Watch for that!


Thanks, Miranda, for helping us solidify our little sliver of the universe, too. The Yellow Button is located at the corner of South Main and Bruce Street and is open Monday-Saturday 11:00am-7:00pm and Sunday 11:30am-4:30pm. Go get pretty!

Copyright © 2012 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Photos by Brandy Somers. Written content by Katie Mitchell. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

friendly city fashion no. 13: mint.

It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole year since Mint opened. I remember it like one remembers every single word of a really terrible song. No, that’s not right. I remember it like I remember the time in third grade that I threw up four times in the school cafeteria but got to stay home the rest of the week.

Hm. That’s not the image I’m going for, either.

Let’s just say that I remember it with mixed emotions. So, so proud of and happy for Anna after working really hard to open that store, yet so, so FREAKING OUT that I was losing my hair dresser. Bittersweet… but mostly sweet. Yes… maybe that’s what I should have said in the first place.

Can we just start this post over?

I’m happy for Anna and my hair misses her.

Her store, Mint, is just awesome and quintessentially her. Brandy and I went there recently to browse. I had my kids with me, but that’s okay because Anna’s equipped: she’s got Legos. That bought us a good twenty minutes to drool over the new arrivals for spring. The variety in the store is fantastic. Not only does she have an array of dresses, skirts, and tops (sizes, styles, colors, and “levels of fanciness”)–which I appreciate because I am so weirdly shaped–but she also sells jewelry, handbags, shoes, and a random collection of bizarre oddities.

Like coin banks that say “Saving for Therapy.” And the always-classic Vinnie’s Tampon Case. Greeting cards. Wine bottle stoppers. And sticky notes that say “Just wanted you to know: something smells/this sucks/check your teeth/you rock.”

At this point those twenty minutes expired and Cal threw an Angry Bird across the store (“but he wanted to fly, Mom!”) and hit the earring display. Ohnoyoudidnot! And I had to put him in time out, which bought us another five minutes.

         During this time, the three of us had an attack of girliness and I was coerced–no, FORCED, to try on some items. So I hunched over in the dressing room, and squeezed and tugged and even laughed out loud… although I really do like that feather dress. (Anna later told me I chose the “short person” dressing room. It was sort of like being in Alice in Wonderland, you know, where she grows really big and gets her head stuck in the ceiling thing.) I tried on these:

On our way out, we saw half-price winter hats! I ended up buying mine…

… and later I doubled back and got the other one for Brandy, along with a pack of “something smells” sticky notes. Just so she knows. And since then, we went back to Mint to see Denise Kanter Allen’s art on First Friday (post forthcoming!) and I picked up that feather dress.

Visit Anna at Mint on West Market Street in the Union Station building. She’s open Monday – Saturday, 11 til 6.

friendly city antics no. 1: granny longlegs

 When I told my kids we were going to Granny Longlegs today, I got mixed reviews. Cal was unusually excited about it—later I realized he thought I’d said “Granddaddy Longlegs,” and he must’ve expected some kind of spider-themed Chuck E. Cheese or something. Bree reserved her enthusiasm, as usual, until she found out Brandy would be there with her camera and this wouldn’t be a typical shopping trip with boring old Mom.

If you haven’t been there in a while, like me, you really should get in there soon. When we walked in, we joined several customers already perusing the sweeping assortment of second-hand goods. While the store (which is an extension of Mercy House, by the way) carries mostly apparel—clothing, shoes, accessories—they also sell books, housewares, and collectibles. I don’t know what it is about pouring over the former belongings of strangers, but it’s… comforting. Every item in the store has history, has a past, has a story—just like people. Everything is vibrant and alive and eager to become part of a new household. Brandy’s shutter clicked like a hundred times, capturing the life of shoes, purses, all of it.

Here are some things we love about the place:

1. It’s so clean! Everything is neatly arranged, there’s room to move about and see what’s being offered, and its organization is logical—which is good for someone like me, who gets overwhelmed quickly at even the idea of shopping.

2. The clothing is arranged by type (shirts, pants, skirts, etc.) and then by color within each category. I like that. Size is not the focus. It’s almost like size is irrelevant—a new experience for most women. Look for the color you’re drawn to, then find your size. Plus, a whole rack of yellow shirts just makes me happy.

3. There’s a book closet. Actually, two. One for hardbacks, one for paperbacks. It sounds nerdy, but what a joy to stand in a four-by-four closet and be surrounded by books. I want that in my house. I’d sit in there all day. Maybe add a mini-fridge and a hot plate… I’d be all set.

4. There’s a PURSE closet. Ohgollyohgollyohgollyohgollyohgollyohgolly. You know, I’m a practical person and I don’t get all crazy about the Dooney & Bourke purses or the COACH bags. I usually approach “purse shopping” from a utilitarian standpoint: does this thing have enough pockets for all my crap. But seeing all those purses, of various ages, styles, and social statuses, lined up on the shelves of three walls literally made me clap. And I might have even squealed except that my excitement was so deafening I’m not sure what I said. At any rate, I bought one. THE BEST ONE.

Those closets made me fantasize about a sledgehammer….

5. In the back of the store is what seems to be a man’s walk-in closet, filled with hats, ties, suits, socks, shoes, and even underpants. Since we felt relatively sheltered from the public, all tucked away back there, we got a little silly. First, hats. Bree picked a Yankees cap, Cal put on a Pittsburgh Penguins cap, Brandy chose a “Father of the Year!” hat, and I wore a Pike’s Peak hat that said, “I like it on top.” Hee hee.

Several group photos later, I thought it would be cute to dress the kids like old men, each in a jacket, tie, hat, and oversized shoes, but it turned into what we later dubbed “Mafia Moments.” Look at the photos—you’ll understand.


All in all, we loved our visit to Granny Longlegs and recommend you go there, too. For $15.00, I got a purse (WITH a matching change purse), an L.L. Bean corduroy skirt (adorbs!), a hat, and two books for the kids. Plus awesome photos, thanks to Brandy (she is AMAZEBALLS), and fun memories to deposit in my heart.

Oh, and in case you were worried, Cal had such a good time that his disappointment about “Granddaddy” Longlegs vanished. By the end of the outing, he’d asked Brandy if she wanted to come over and see his “bat cave.” Wocka wocka. That kid.

In short, Granny Longlegs is yet one more reason why I love my burg. Visit them soon in downtown Harrisonburg, next to Jess’ Quick Lunch.