June 15, 2013
This is an ongoing list related to Danville in film and television. Some items are incomplete as I have heard of them but have yet to find the information. This is what I have so far. I’m sure there is more. Let me know.
The image here is of the Cool World (1992) character Holli Would sitting on The Hollywood sign. Jerry Meadors placed the 92 foot cartoon character on the famous sign to promote the film when he served as vice-president of marketing for Paramount Pictures.
Films shot in Danville, Virginia:
Danville’s history in film and television go back to the early years of the silver screen. In 1925, The Bee (newspaper), produced the silent moving picture, Danville’s Hero featuring local talent and shot on location in Danville.
In 1959, The United States Army produced a film entitled, The Big Picture: Operation Danville. The film was a study of what can happen to an American community overrun by enemy forces and later liberated by friendly troops.
In 1977, the late great Richard Pryor starred in Greased Lightning, bringing the story of Danville’s Wendell Scott to the big screen. Some of the movie was filmed in Danville. Scott was the first black Nascar driver.
In 1986, Jerry Meadors began working at Paramont Pictures. He first served as Manager of Marketing, promoted a year later to Director of Marketing, promoted again to Vice-President of Marketing for the Motion Picture Division in 1988. Meadors served in that capacity until 1996. His career with Paramount is highlighted by a string of hit films including; Top Gun (1986), Fatal Attraction (1987), Cool World (1992), Addams Family (1991) and Forest Gump (1994). Meadors went on to produce his own films, amoung many other things, Don’s Plum (1996) starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Amber Benson, Jeremy Sisto, Meadow Sisto, and Kevin Connolly amoung others, Luz de la Mission (1988), Rhythm and Smoke (1999), and Eden’s Curve (2003).
Amy and Isabel was shot in Danville in 2001, An Oprah Winfrey presents/Harpo films television movie featuring many local extras.
Eden’s Curve (2003) was filmed in Danville. Produced by Jerry Meadors and featuring many local talents on the cast and the crew.
The Answer was filmed in Danville in 2013 by native Danvillian Igbal Ahmed.
Films shot near Danville:
In 1990, Darryl Hannah and Dudley Moore were in the area shooting the comedy classic, Crazy People. The film was shot in Pittsylvania County.
Also in Pittsylvania County, the films Taps (1981) and Major Payne (1995) starring Damon Wayans. Both were shot at Hargrave Military Academy.
What About Bob? (1991) starring Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss was made in Smith Mountain Lake.
Last Lives was filmed in nearby Yancyville, NC in 1997, starring Jennifer Rubin and Judge Reinhold.
Lake Effects (2012) directed by Michael McKay, starring Scottie Thompson, Jane Seymour and Madeline Zima was shot in Smith Mountain Lake.
Night of the Living Dead Reboot (2013) was made in nearby Halifax County with Danville talent Norman Summers starring in the production.
Films featuring Danvillians:
Born in Danville, Virginia, Charles Tyner starred as Boss Higgins with Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke (1967). Tyner has been in numerous classic films including; Harold & Maude (1971), The Moonshine War (1970), Sometimes a Great Notion (1970), The Waltons (1973) , Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987), and The Outlaw Josie Wales (1976).
Musician Mojo Nixon kicked off his career as an MTV personality. He can be seen as The Spirit of Rock and Roll in Rock and Roll High School Forever (1991). He also appears in Great Balls of Fire (1989), Super Mario Bros. (1993), and Buttcrack (1998) amoung others. He has been on numerous soundtracks including Micheal Moore’s The Big One (1997) and the animated series Beavis and Butthead.
Comedian Steve Moore pokes fun and Danville in his HBO special, Drop Dead Gorgeous (1997). He plays piano on one of Roseanne’s HBO comedy specials. He also appeared in an episode of Roseanne and in the film Iron Jawed Angels (2004) amoung many others.
Jerry Marshall worked as talent manager for ABC network……
Peter Wrenn has written screenplays…….
Diector/Actor/Writer Sean Robinson is making waves for his work; Lifeless (2012), The Puritans (2012), Outer Banks (2012), and Naked (2013).
Shawn Everett Jones worked as production designer of Eden’s Curve (2003). He also appears in Spielberg’s Lincoln (2012), The PBS series American Experience (2012), National Geographic’s Killing Kennedy (2013), and Drew Boulduc’s cult classic in the making Science Team (2014).
Jeremy Flora can be seen in Lincoln (2012) , Killing Kennedy (2013), Beyond the Mat (2013) and AMC’s Turn (2014).
Ricky Van Shelton’s music can be heard on many movie soundtracks including; Honeymoon in Vegas (1992) and The Beverly Hillbillies (1993).
Johnny Williams wrote the music performed by Jeanette Williams for Bell Witch: The Movie (2007).
Actor/Director Skip Sudduth’s credits include; Third Watch (1999), Law & Order (2008), and Oz (1998).
Ray Hammock appears in Nevermore (2014), Praise Band (2008), and Eden’s Curve (2003).
Brad Everett Young can be seen in The Artist (2011), I Love You Man (2009), Jurrasic Park III (2001), and Charlie’s Angels (2000).
Matt Charles has been on General Hospital (2006), Guiding Light (2004) and Sex in the City (2003) as well as Yu-Gi-Oh! (2004).
Jeremy Harris plays the ghost of Basquait in LA’s Angel (2012).
Eric Hawkins produced E! News tv series (2009-10) and has done visual effects on the new animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2013) series as well as animation for Nickelodean and G5 such as Robot and Monster (2012).
Matt Compton has worked as a composer on McGruber (2010) and Punk’d (2012) as well as many others programs.
Jody Abbott has scored several commercials and other projects…….
Matt Duff has created MTV programs……
Jeremy Rhodes is filming………..
Also seen in film and television:
Johnny Newman, Richard Jewell, Coy Jandreau, Andrea Willis, King D. Gray, Adam Franklin, Ruby Hill, Vince Shorter, Branden Weeks, Jay Hopkins and Jim Mitchell
Jon Dalton, Survivor
Peyton Turner, Rock of Love
Steve Tickle and Tim Smith, Moonshiners
Richard Benjamin Harrison, Pawn Stars
Treasure Hunters Roadshow came through Danville in 2011
Anna Sheffield, Kell on Earth
Patrick Ruocco, Restraunt Express
Danville mentioned in film:
Allen Ginsberg’s Coulumbia University room-mate (played by Zack Appelman) introduces himself as Luke Detiweler from Danville, Virginia in the film Kill Your Darlings (2013) starring Daniel Radcliffe (of Harry Potter fame) as the legendary beat poet.
June 15, 2013
Jerry Meadors is a successful marketing executive, producer, and manager from Danville, Virginia. Meadors began his professional career in the entertainment industry as an actor, where he worked for six-time Tony Award winner Joe Layton. Previously, Meadors served as a business manager for the Hatcher Center, a Virginia workshop that trained developmentally disabled adults. There, Jerry developed a national market for a range of hand made folk products made by the center’s clients. The clients received national acclaim when they were invited first by President Jimmy Carter, and later, by Tony Orlando, to create works for them. They also received international attention and fundraising success when they produced a quilt out of Queen Elizabeth’s dress scraps.
After Meadors moved to Hollywood, he immediately became the Assistant Film Programmer for the Los Angeles International Film Exposition, the largest film festival in the world at the time. At the end of the two week festival, Meadors was promoted to Festivals Director by the Programming Director of the festival. Meadors then went to work at the newly formed company PolyGram Pictures. He moved from an original position at Publicity and Promotion into Advertising, then into International Marketing, and finally into Production. After PolyGram Pictures, Meadors continued his marketing and advertising career at Seiniger Advertising, a leading creative advertising agency in the business. Four months later, he joined Paramount Pictures.
At Paramount Pictures, Meadors first served as Manager of Marketing, where his team was tasked with rebuilding Paramount’s marketing department on the West Coast. A year later, he was promoted to Director of Marketing, and in 1988, he was again promoted, this time to Vice President of Marketing for the Motion Picture Division, where he served in that capacity until 1996. Meador’s meteoric rise in the company was accompanied by a historic string of successes over a ten year period, highlighted by Top Gun, Fatal Attraction, Three Kings, Cool World, Addams Family, and Forest Gump. During his tenure at Paramount Pictures, he worked closely with a host of talented executives, producers, and actors, including Ned Tanen, Nancy Goliger, Dawn Steel, Sherry Lansing, Scott Rudin, Jerry Bruckheimer, Eddie Murphy, and Tom Cruise, among others. After he departed Paramount, he returned briefly as a consultant on the release of Mission Impossible.
In 1998, Meadors became the Senior Creative Account Supervisor at BLT Associates/Hollywood, where he developed award-winning marketing campaigns for Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, New Line Cinema, Gramercy Pictures, and others. There he worked on such titles as Titanic, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Angela’s Ashes, Sleepy Hollow, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me,Blade, Pleasantville, and Being John Malkovich.
Thereafter, he was President of Dazu Advertising, where he supervised a creative staff, closing out motion picture and home entertainment commitments with all major film studios during the transition of the company in closing. He was also Executive Vice President of Bingo Advertising, a successful home video creative marketing boutique, where he took over the helm and landed the company’s first motion picture theatrical accounts.
In 2003, Meadors relocated to Virginia, where he served as president of the North Theatre Group, Inc. As part of his duties, he supervised the renovation of an abandoned theatre and associated properties into a full-service arts complex. In addition, Meadors directed True West, directed and wrote As Time Goes By, and produced and directed The Importance of Being Earnest, among others.
In addition to the above productions, Meadors has been a producer, director, and writer on many theatre productions and independent films throughout his career. He wrote the original stage comedy Amorous Affairs, directed the original play Ballad of Lizard Gulch, produced Walk of Fame Café, an original play by Peter Wren, and mounted Wren’s Billy Bob and the Gospel. In addition, Meadors was producer and writer of the independent film Eden’s Curve and was executive producer of the 1996 film Don’s Plum. Meadors also served as co-producer of the documentary Rhythm and Smoke and was the producer of Luz De La Mission, the winner of the 1998 Best Drama Award at the Los Angeles International Short Film Festival.
June 7, 2013
BY DAVID ARTAVIA
JUNE 07 2013
(directly from the current issue of Advocate:)
Sean Robinson is an award-winning gay filmmaker based in New York City, whose work includes Outer Banks, Naked – A Musical Short Film, and The Puritans. The latter-most has won Best Original Concept at the NW Short Film Festival, Best International Short at the Carmarthen Bay Film Festival, and most recently The Grand Prix Award at the International Short Film Festival “Kharkov Lilac.”
Robinson’s unique stories and complex characters have garnered acclaim from critics and viewers alike. The young filmmaker opened up to The Advocate to chat about his inspiration, his craft, and where it’s all going.
March 30, 2013
Maud Florance Gatewood is considered by art historians, curators, museum directors, and collectors as one of the most important painters in North Carolina history. She grew up in Caswell County, North Carolina, just across the Virginia State line. Gatewood studied with Carson Davenport at Averett College. She earned her B.A. in fine arts in 1954 form the Women’s College of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and completed an M.A. in painting at Ohio State University. She was a professor at Averett University in Danville, Virginia.
Later in her career, she received a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Salzburg, Austria. She exhibited widely in the southeastern United States throughout her career and won numerous awards for her work. Her life and work was chronicled in an hour-long documentary, Gatewood: Facing the Canvas, which was produced by UNC-TV. The Weatherspoon Art Gallery of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro held a Gatewood retrospective exhibition in 1994 that covered 40 years of her painting. The exhibition later traveled to five museums throughout the South. Gatewood was honored by UNCG with an honorary doctorate in fine arts in 1999.
March 30, 2013
A native of Danville, Carson Davenport was an artist of national reputation and an artist-teacher of the first-rank. Born on February 14, 1908, he spent most of his life making art. Mr. Davenport attended the Danville Public Schools and Stratford College in Danville. He also studied at The Corcoran School in Washington, Grand Central School of Art in N. Y., The John Ringling School in Sarasota, Florida and The Eastport Summer Art Colony. His works have been exhibited widely. He is represented in numerous public and private collections throughout the country including the White House Collection, Knoedler Galleries of N. Y., the Virginia Museum and Valentine Museum in Richmond.
During the Depression he participated in the Public Works Art Project and his work attracted the attention of Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt. She chose his painting Pioneer Women to hang in the White House. In 1936, Davenport was commissioned to illustrate the industries of Virginia by The United States Treasury Department. He was commissioned by The United States Postal Service to paint murals in Chatham, Virginia and Greensboro, Georgia. In 1937, Davenport became the director of The WPA Art School and Gallery at Big Stone Gap, Virginia.
Davenport opened a summer art school at Chincoteague Island off the eastern shore of Virginia, where he enjoyed painting the wild ponies and marine landscapes. He described his unique style as an attempt to “stimulate the brilliance of the color of mosaic, as Roualt was influenced by the brilliance of the colors of stained glass.”
Carson Davenport was chair of the Averett College Art Department from 1943 until his retirement in 1969. He died on September 28, 1972.
March 30, 2013
Recently honored by the Library of Virginia as one of Virginia’s Outstanding Women in History, internationally acclaimed operatic soprano Camilla Ella Williams was born in 1920 in Danville, Virginia.
Miss Williams’ youth, in relation to music, is best recalled in notes she penned for her entry into the first edition of Who’s Who in the World. She wrote, “My grandparents and parents were self-taught musicians; all of them sang and there was always music in our home. From this, at an early age, was born a desire to be a concert singer.” She was singing in Danville’s Calvary Baptist Church at the age of eight. “All my people sing,” Miss Williams has said. “We were poor, but God blessed us with music.”
Also blessed with a rich mind, she was Valedictorian of her 1937 graduating class at John M. Langston High School, and was named outstanding graduate of the Class of 1941 at Virginia State College. She returned to Danville for the 1941-1942 school term and was appointed third grade teacher and instructor in music in the elementary schools. Following that term, the Virginia State College Acapella Choir invited her to be the guest soloist in a concert in Philadelphia. After this performance, Miss Williams was offered a scholarship from the Philadelphia Alumni Association of Virginia State on the condition that she come to Philadelphia for voice training.
In both 1943 and 1944, Miss Williams won the Marion Anderson Award, which is given to outstanding young musicians. Also in 1944, she signed with RCA-Victor and made her debut on Victor’s The Music America Loves Best. In that same year she took top honors in the Philadelphia Orchestra Youth Concert auditions, and was engaged as a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Eugene Ormandy.
On May 15, 1946, Camilla Williams made her debut with the City Center Opera Company of New York in the title role of Madame Butterfly, and became the first black soprano to appear with an important opera company in the United States. Miss Farrar, who had created the title role of “Madame Butterfly” on the Metropolitan stage, was in the opening night audience, and told Newsweek magazine of Miss Williams’ talents saying, “I would say that already she is one of the great ‘Butterflies’ of our day.” The New York Times found her to be “an instant . . . success in the title role,” and in her performance found “a vividness and subtlety unmatched by any other artist who has assayed the part here in many years.” Later that season, Miss Williams sang Nedda in I Pagliacci, and as Mimi in La Boheme in 1947.
Also in 1947, she won the Newspaper Guild Award as First Lady of American Opera. In the succeeding season, the young singer was brought forward in the title role of Aida.
In 1950, the singer embarked on a concert tour of Panama, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela. The following year she returned to Venezuela for her first South American appearance in opera. In 1950, also, Miss Williams sang the title role of Princess Ilia in a concert version of Mozart’s seldom-heard opera Idomeneo. It was the first complete performance of the work in New York City. That year, too, she married Charles Beavers, an attorney from Danville.
In 1957, her alma mater awarded her the 75th Anniversary Certificate of Merit, and 1959 brought a presidential citation from New York University. That year as well, she became the first black person to receive the key to her city of birth, Danville, Virginia. In 1960, she was the guest of President Eisenhower for a concert for the Crown Prince of Japan. In 1962, the Emperor of Ethiopia awarded her the gold medal, and she received the key to the city of Taipei, Taiwan, as well as the Art, Culture and Civic Guild Award for her contribution to music. The next year brought her the Negro Musicians’ Association Plaque for contribution to music and the Harlem Opera and World Fellowship Society Award, in addition to the W.L.I.B. Radio Award for contribution to music. At the invitation of the State Department, Camilla Williams made an unprecedented tour of fourteen north and central African countries. Due to this tour’s success, she was invited to Ireland, Southeast Asia, the Far East, and Israel.
With the 1970s, Camilla Williams brought another first to New York City as she performed Handel’s Orlando in 1971. And that year she was listed in the first edition of Who’s Who in the World. In 1972, she was honored as a “distinguished Virginian” by Governor Linwood Holton, and was later named recipient of the National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc.’s highest award.
From 1970 to 1973, she was Professor of Voice at Brooklyn College. She later taught at Bronx College and taught with Talent Unlimited, directed by Dr. John Motley. Camilla Williams often returned to Danville, where a park beside the Dan River, on Memorial Drive, has been named after her.
March 30, 2013
Janis Darlene Martin (March 27, 1940 – September 3, 2007) was an American rockabilly and country music singer. She was one of the few women working in the male-dominated rock and roll music field during the 1950s and one of country music’s early female innovators.
Janis Martin was a Danville resident known internationally as “The Rockabilly Queen”.
Martin was born in Sutherlin, Virginia and at the age of eleven she began her musical career as a member of the WDVA Barndance in Danville, VA. She was spotted performing at the Tobacco Festival in South Boston at the age of thirteen and soon became a regular on the Old Dominion Barn Dance in Wheeling, WV. In March of 1956, at the age of fifteen, she cut her first RCA session and became known as “The Female Elvis.” She was voted the “Most Promising Female Artist of 1956” by the annual disc jockey convention and she later received the Billboard Magazine Award. Janis performed on the Ozark Jubilee and the Grand Ole Opry. She also became known through television media as a guest of the Tonight Show, the Today Show, the Grand Ole Opry and American Bandstand.
Janis was living in Danville when Rockabilly became popular once again in the 1970s. Having raised her son, she went back on the road and her son accompanied her on drums. In the 1980s her popularity was revived in Europe. On March 27, 1982 Janis celebrated her 42nd birthday with ten thousand fans in Holland. Janis was scheduled to perform this past July at the Americana Festival in England but had to cancel due to poor health. Janis died from cancer on September 3, 2007.
November 24, 2012
Steve was born in Danville, Virginia to Skeets and Wilma, both factory workers. Steve was gay in a community that had trouble accepting his orientation. Again and again he was surprised by the love of his parents and brother Dale. Skeets and Wilma even began to challenge their own Southern Baptit beliefs. Steve studied theatre, pursued acting in New York then headed out to L.A. where he became a comedian. Steve has enjoyed a career in comedy and film. He has been in many films and has worked with comic greats including Rosanne and Ellen. His HBO comedy special “Drop Dead Gorgeous” tells of his life and struggles and his early years in Danville.
follow the link below for a great piece on Steve and his fascinating life at prx.org:
September 18, 2012
This video was posted by visitdanvilleva at youtube.com, it is one of thirty-five videos about Danville history. Check them all out!
August 30, 2012
info on the song: The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
August 30, 2012
In the 60s, there was a record label in Danville that produced soul, rock, and garage records! Another discovery! I love how I always find new, fascinating things about this old town. My friend Boomer of Psychedeli Records turned me on to this fascinating bit of chart-making Danville history! Here’s The Individuals – I Want Love. Awesome!
from Jack Garrett’s interview on WBTM and Showcase Magazine
August 30, 2012
While researching for a future blog about Danville in film and television I came across this film that I had never heard of before. It was produced by The Bee (newspaper) and featured local folk. The whole article about the film is copyrighted so I won’t copy the info, just provide the link. Check it out! Danville’s Hero. Blog by Robert D. Ricketts with research by Anne Evans.
I wish I could see the film!
The image is of Miss Mary Temple who stars in the film.
July 29, 2012
Big Picture: Operation Danville – National Archives and Records Administration – ARC Identifier 2569718 / Local Identifier 111-TV-461 – DVD Copied by Timothy Vollmer. “Operation Danville” on the screen becomes a timely journalistic study of what can happen to an American community overrun by enemy forces and later liberated by friendly troops of the 82nd Airborne Division who parachuted into the area, engaged the enemy, and won after a pitched battle. This military operation was the climax of a large-scale field problem known as Exercise Dragon Head in which more than 11,000 Strategic Army Corps soldiers tested their brains and their fighting skills against an aggressor force. In its boldness and interest, “Operation Danville” depicts the tremendous cooperation offered by a community in Virginia to the United States Army at a time when the possibility of limited warfare is a continual threat to the uneasy peace under which we live. The narration covering the early footage of the picture displays admirable objectivity and refers to “the look of Danville, Virginia, as the look of America. It is a look toward enduring prosperity and continuing peace. When Army officials asked Danville to become a part of Exercise Dragon Head, it was not surprising that the city enthusiastically agreed. The exercise would offer everyone a chance to see our modern Army in action and contribute directly to the training of STRAC soldiers.” In sum, “Operation Danville” will leave an impression on the TV viewer that it doesn’t seem like Danville, but instead, another place in another part of the world. It could be tomorrow, or the day after, but proves that the Army can handle limited war anyplace, anytime.
Uploaded by PublicResourceOrg on Sep 18, 2010
May 3, 2012
Danville Scene Part II
As I mentioned in the previous post, most everyone I knew had gone off to college, gone on to bigger, better, different cities. I had stayed, kicking around Danville. Went to DCC, had a stint at VCU but being a pauper, found myself back.
After a few years of partying and art-making hardcore, I went back to school, to Averett in my ghost town home town. I lived, breathed, studied, made and began curating art in school. It was the summer of 2001, I was on break from Averett. And there was energy in the air.
I remember it starting in June, Downtown Arts Extravaganza, where I met both Jerry Meadors and Adam Weatherford. The next month, Jerry was putting up Walk of Fame Café. I went to see it and was blown away. I went again a week later and introduced myself to Jerry. Around the same time or right after, I guess it was the Sweeny’s who started having shows at the Pepsi Building, I feel like it was Ryan’s band the Runarounds that played that first show. There were several shows there, Kill Devil Hills played that fall too. Then there were a couple of shows at Highlander. The Drama Queens and The Springfields got the ball rolling. That September I put up a show at Averett with the Drama Queens, Home at Last and Malfunction.
The month of October, we shot Eden’s Curve. There were a few shows that winter at the Pepsi Building and at Ham’s. Sometime around there, I went to Buford Road to see Double Helix play for the first time in the Weatherford’s garage. I began hanging out with the Red Love. I moved into 824 and was in my final year at Averett and the Danville Scene was about to explode.
There were more shows at the Pepsi Building and Double Helix were putting on shows frequently, Drama Queens were playing alot. I put on a show with Double Helix, Malfunction and whatever project Andrew and Eric were calling themselves at the time at Averett. Eric was also having shows at Hawk’s Nest, Tengwar was on the scene. There was like a show going on every week and it was exciting. I put up another show at Averett through The Organization of Human Diversity, a group I helped start, that was the Voxals first show. Things kinda slowed through the winter but I remember there was a lot of interesting theatre going on at Averett, around town, with Fred Motley and nearby cities such as Greensboro at the time. There were interesting art exhibits in the surrounding areas. And it seems like there was a lull for a while in the music scene until June of 2003.
There was a Double Helix and Voxals show at 824 that June. In August, Shannon and I went to Drive-Invasion in Atlanta to which she was subject to my cheerleading of the scene and with whom I shared my intention to cover the scene in a new zine. The next month, Jerry and I were putting together Arts Extra, the “new” downtown Arts Extravaganza. I curated the art and Jerry brought Double Helix, ATD and Randy Bickford. The North just had its “Press Conference” to introduce itself to the city and things were really starting to blow up!
That November saw the Grand Opening of The Temple. A venue dedicated to the local music and culture that was happening in Danville, brought to you by James Buckner and Rob Thompson. The Voxals, ATD and timid were a few of the first acts on the Temple’s Grand Opening weekend. With the Temple, on Union Street, in the Masonic Temple building, right next door to what was once Yesterday’s Café, there was finally an answer to that perpetual question. What to do in Danville on the weekend? You went downtown! And we owned downtown, we hung out at the Temple as well as on the streets and there was nothing else at all happening, we had the city to ourselves and it was so awesome. Drama Queens, Double Helix, Voxals, ATD, all played often. We always went to some diner or late-night greasy spoon after shows and we hung out at the Temple through the week too, when there weren’t bands or anything going on. It was more than a scene, it was a community.
In December, I published the first issue of The Neapolian, to chronicle the renaisaince that was going on. I printed an issue a month for 8 months featuring articles, interviews, reviews, toons, art, literature of relevance to Danville and the scene. 2004, all year long, the Temple rocked. Craptain Jack and the Shmees, The Blush Tits, MFATS, Gooch, The Wastoids, Pit Monsters came on the scene. Bands from all over came to play with the locals, there was also a lot of metal and alt rock local bands doing their thing there too. As well, the local bands were playing gigs, in Greensboro, Richmond, and nearby cities. All the bands were recording albums, CLC released many of them on Scary Weather Records. There were dance parties and birthday parties, I always had some kind of mural or art show or installation going on at the Temple. Jerry started Improv Lab, acting workshops there in the spring. It was a hub of activity, creativity, talent and so much energy.
That fall, many of the young people headed off to school elsewhere but the scene remained strong throughout 2004. Also that fall, I curated Monster Art, a Halloween themed art show that featured the work of 22 local artists. At the end of the year, I published The Neapolis Times and things had changed. The scene was just kinda over, the coming of a new year brought a new Danville. The North Theatre’s marquee was lit in January and opened the next month. That was very exciting and there were great things happening at the theatre and around town. But the scene faded away and in July the Temple finally closed its doors for the last time. The Muse (owned my Micah Robinson) and Plan B (Rob Thompson) kept the scene going providing a place for various forms of music for a while until it all just kinda faded away…
Ryan Sweeny is currently drumming with Cheap Time.
The Drama Queens will never die!
Adam (Double Helix) released Adam & the Weatherfords “Featherword” and was in Rathskeller with former members of The Voxals, Pit Monsters and Jarred Yeaman, who went on to form International Grapevine. Pit Monsters members created Fishtank Phobia.
Jack Bauer of Tengwar and Craptain Jack & the Shmees, with Ian Dishman and Robby Scearce (Double Helix, Tengwar, International Grapevine, Craptain Jack, Slampeice), are soon to release their first Humungus album with ForceField Records.
May 1, 2012
Danville Scene Part I
Ahhh, the good ol’ days, high school in south-western Virgina, Pittsylvania County and we could care less about sports or hunting, we could care less about anything except learning new awesome things and creating, we were so young and so free. We were weird, different, kinda alone but there were others who felt the same. Tunstall had a motley crew of artists, poets, musicians, skaters and odd sorts who each had unique interests but happened to unite into a group of people who shared mix-tapes and zines and so we exposed one another to all kinds of fringe culture. Punk rock started it all, hanging with the 41 Slime and listening to Misfits, Cramps, Dead Kennedy’s and Dead Milkmen. Kristy Mills introducing me to GWAR Scumdogs of the Universe, and Shannon’s mix-tape full of Cure and Pixies and The Ramones.
Soon then happened upon Losers Anonymous that I later found out was made by 3 of my best friends; Shannon, Sarah, and Rayna. There was a little paper called The Trojan Excrement, by Eric Burton and others making the rounds in the hallways. Also around the same time stumbled on a copy of Danzine at Waterloo Music and so realized the city kids were doing it too. Thomas Gilbert edited Danzine and there were at least 7 issues. Marty Key made a comic called Violent Youth! and put out at least 7 issues. I put out 5 issues of a crappy little zine called SPAM. Chris Dameron made a few issues of MINE and Gradient Beauty. Kids in Chatham put out Pinocchio’s Dream. Tonya Pettigrew made Xanthous. I then edited a zine called Freaks Unlimited that featured the talents of people from Loser’s Anonymous, The Trojan Excrement, Xanthous and SPAM. Later put out another crappy zine with Dameron called Godzilligan’s Island and then published a zine of comics called I Can’t Stop.
The music scene I guess goes back to the 80s. Shaun Murray was in a two piece with Chris Cheek called The Acidic Balloons. Murray was in another two piece band that made a tape called Fallen Dream with David Reynolds who moved to Richmond and was in a band called Ugly Head. After Falling Dream he was in Mary’s Neurotic Sexual Experiment with Tony Nolan. There were other bands too, doing stuff. Metal bands, False Akuser and Animosity were predessesors. They were a speed metal band and they played Festival in the Park.
Around 91, 92 and 93 though, there were lots of bands popping up along with the zines and the artists and the general j’ne sais quois that was going on. Some of the earliest bands were Chernobyl Youth with Robbie Barbour, Thomas Gilbert and Boomer which lead to COD, Pit Station, Eklomesh/Pollyanna, Abduction, the Bi-Teens, No Doz.
Chernobyl Youth were a totally 80 songs in 20 minutes kind of band, a take off of Anal Cunt or whatever. COD (Citizens of Danville) involved a lot of people starting with Marty Key then Brenden Sweeny, Rick Hall, Sparky. Joe Carpenter started Pit Station. Pit Station and COD played Festival in the Park and the cops ended up breaking it up because people were dancing and having too much fun, they called it a riot in the park.
My first taste of the music scene was at Yesterday’s Café in downtown Danville. Marty Key’s cousin Keitster owned the place or whatever so set that up, some bands would play there after hours in a small deli on Union and Main in like 1992. The venue then became Playgound Pizza on Riverside, gone now, but across from the cinema. You would pay like $3.50 and see bands and get unlimited pizza, it was totally awesome.
The Danville bands played there as well as the Nobody’s, Supernova, Archers of Loaf, Picasso Trigger, Coral from Richmond and Hammerhead who were on Amphetamine Reptile Records. It was a real venue in Danville.
Boomer had a record label called Psychedeli Records and put out most of the local bands on tape; Slub, Big Strawberry Heavy Groovy, Sasquatch Paisley, Red Velvet Love Canal, Chernobyl Youth, Idnent Spoon and COD amoung others. Pit Station had Lethal Injection Records and Abduction put out their own stuff on Sunbeam which later became Bargain Records.
Boomer moved to Richmond and played with Heath Haynes in The Masons, wrote for Confederate Mack zine, plays in Children in Heat, Halloween Misfits cover band and works for Burlington Times Newspaper.
Ryan Sweeny started Bargain Records releasing garage albums and went on to play with Po-Dunx, the Bee-Eaters, Anti-Squad, The Springfields, Terribles, The Runarounds, The Johnnys, The Tarantula Blasters, The Egg Rollers, The Young Livers, The Glitter Dragons, The Protomen and Cheap Time on In the Red Records.
Marty went on to play in Bad Guy Reaction, Young Pioneers and Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, he runs Steady Sounds in Richmond, Virginia.
Heath Haynes played in Haymaker, Heath Haynes and the Crying Shames, and most recently toured with the legendary Wanda Jackson.
After Playground I remember everyone splitting, going off to college and it all just faded away as quick as it came.
For a while while at DCC, Shannon and I were involved in Fred Motley’s poetry reading series which published a volume of poetry. We were also in a group of poets that would go to poetry slams in Roanoke at the Iroquois club. There was an article in the Roanoke newspaper on the Poetry Slam in which she and I and East Bay Ray of the Dead Kennedy’s were mentioned.
Sometime after a place called Suite Six opened up on Union Street, a venue and there were skate ramps and stuff. I was busy working at the time. I may have went like twice. Once to see Shannon’s band, Girl Swappers.
Most of the info for this post from interviews with Boomer and Ryan Sweeny for Neapolis Times and my vague recollections of the time.
Photos from Johnnie Haynes, Playgound’s marquee and Sasquatch Paisley playing at the Miracle House in Greensboro in late 90 or early 91.
April 19, 2012
One of the most outsized personalities on college radio in the ’80s, Mojo Nixon won a fervent cult following with his motor-mouthed redneck persona and a gonzo brand of satire with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Nixon had a particular knack for celebrity-themed novelty hits (“Elvis Is Everywhere,” “Debbie Gibson Is Pregnant With My Two-Headed Love Child,” “Don Henley Must Die”), but he was prone to gleefully crass rants on a variety of social ills (“I Hate Banks,” “Destroy All Lawyers,” “I Ain’t Gonna Piss In No Jar”), while celebrating lowbrow, blue-collar America in all its trashy, beer-soaked glory. All of it was performed in maximum overdrive on a bed of rockabilly, blues, and R&B, which earned Nixon some friends in the roots rock community but had enough punk attitude — in its own bizarre way — to make him a college radio staple during his heyday. As his audience grew, Nixon found himself accepting gigs as an MTV host, several small roles in what he described as “sh*tty movies,” and occasional mainstream media attention (most notably debating Pat Buchanan on CNN over the subject of record censorship). Label problems helped decrease his visibility in the ’90s, but he continued to tour and record for a still-devoted fan base, as well as working in radio.
Nixon was born Neill Kirby McMillan, Jr. in Chapel Hill, NC, on August 2, 1957. He grew up mostly in Danville, VA, and started listening to rock & roll at a young age. After earning degrees in political science and history from Miami University in Ohio, he went to England in 1979, where he played old-time rock & roll covers and hoped to break into the punk scene. He didn’t, and returned to the U.S. in 1980; settling for a short time in Denver, he performed in a punk band called Zebra 123, which drew the ire of the Secret Service for promoting a gig called the Assassination Ball with posters depicting the exploding heads of Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. Moving to San Diego in 1981, he met fellow roots-music enthusiast and future Beat Farmer Country Dick Montana. During a cross-country bicycle trip, Nixon first came up with his stage name (a combination of “voodoo and bad politics”), allegedly while roaring drunk in New Orleans.
Upon returning to San Diego in early 1983, the newly christened Mojo Nixon began performing in dive bars with a partner, washboard/harmonica player Skid Roper (born Richard Banke), who supplied rudimentary accompaniment for Nixon’s guitar work, and occasionally sang as well. Together they cut a demo in late 1984, and early the next year were spotted by Enigma Records while opening for Tex & the Horseheads. Their demo was released later in 1985 as Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper, and the anticorporate “Jesus at McDonald’s” became a hit on college radio. Nixon and Roper toured as the Beat Farmers’ opening act, then went to Los Angeles to record their second album, the aptly titled Frenzy. Released in 1986, Frenzy expanded their cult audience by leaps and bounds, thanks to the novelty hit “Stuffin’ Martha’s Muffin,” an X-rated tribute to bubbly MTV VJ Martha Quinn. The album also featured other Nixon staples like “I Hate Banks,” “Where the Hell’s My Money,” and “The Amazing Bigfoot Diet.” It was followed later that year by the Get Out of My Way EP, which landed Nixon his first MTV airplay via “Burn Down the Malls.”
In 1987, Nixon released the even more successful Bo-Day-Shus!!!, which became his first album to make the national charts thanks to what became his best-known song, “Elvis Is Everywhere.” MTV not only embraced the video, but invited Nixon to film a series of short rants that ran during commercial breaks. He wound up as a periodic host for the channel during 1988 — an unlikely turn of events given the subject of his first hit. For his next album, Nixon went to Memphis with producer Jim Dickinson, and took a small detour by appearing as a musician in the Jerry Lee Lewis biopic Great Balls of Fire. Released in 1989, Root Hog or Die continued his success on college radio with the tabloid-themed “Debbie Gibson Is Pregnant With My Two-Headed Love Child.” However, MTV banned the video, which starred Winona Ryder, and Nixon severed his relationship with them.
Nixon and Roper also wound up cutting ties in late 1989; Nixon wanted to form a full backing band, while Roper left the touring life to pursue a solo career that resulted in two albums for Triple X. For his first solo album, Nixon assembled an all-star cowpunk band featuring Country Dick Montana (Beat Farmers), John Doe (X), Eric Ambel (Del Lords), and Bill Davis (Dash Rip Rock). The result, Otis, was released in 1990 and caused a stir with the notorious “Don Henley Must Die,” a rip on the Eagles frontman turned solo artist. (Two years later, the initially offended Henley shocked Nixon by climbing on-stage in Austin, TX, to perform the song with him; Nixon subsequently called off his fatwa.) Also in 1990, Nixon appeared as the Spirit of Rock ‘n’ Roll in the little-anticipated sequel Rock and Roll High School Forever, and found his output with Roper the subject of a retrospective, Unlimited Everything.
Nixon formed a full-time touring band dubbed the Toadliquors, but his recording career was put on hold when Enigma went bankrupt, halting Otis’ momentum and leaving his back catalog the subject of much legal wrangling (ironically, Otis included the anthem “Destroy All Lawyers”). In 1992, he struck a deal with Triple X to release his seasonal album Horny Holidays!, which featured a mix of originals and vintage rock & roll covers. Still without a permanent home, he busied himself with side projects over 1993-1994, including the Pleasure Barons, which featured Dave Alvin, John Doe, and Country Dick Montana, and issued the one-off album Live in Las Vegas. He also teamed with Jello Biafra for the country-punk album Prairie Home Invasion and the EP Will the Fetus Be Aborted?. Meanwhile, he appeared in the flop movies Super Mario Brothers and Car 54, Where Are You?, and guest hosted for the USA Network.
Nixon finally returned with a new album in 1995, Whereabouts Unknown, having formed his own Blutarski label to put it out. His cover of the Smiths’ “Girlfriend in a Coma” set his sights on making a new nemesis of Morrissey, but fearful distributors objected vehemently to another song slated for inclusion, “Bring Me the Head of David Geffen.” It was pulled from the record, but later released on 1997′s Gadzooks: The Homemade Bootleg, a hodgepodge collection of B-sides, outtakes, singles, re-recordings, and new material. That year, Nixon voiced the character of Sheriff Lester T. Hobbes in the controversial hit video game Redneck Rampage. In 1998, he starred in the low-budget Buttcrack: The Movie, and was named honorary captain of the Olympic men’s luge team. He moved to Cincinnati to take an afternoon talk-radio gig, but was soon shifted to a morning show when his left-wing, libertarian views rubbed the area the wrong way. Meanwhile, he signed with Shanachie Records and released a new album, The Real Sock Ray Blue, in 1999. In 2002, Nixon returned to his old stomping grounds in San Diego, where he continued his radio work as an afternoon drive-time DJ. ~ Steve Huey Rovi from MTVnews
April 18, 2012
Wendell Scott, like many of the early NASCAR drivers, started out hauling moonshine in a souped up car he maintained himself. Scott was a clever entrepanuer, opening a taxi service in his native Danville, Virginia to shuttle the local residents around town by day, then using the cab under the cover of darkness to bring them the white lightning they were thirsty for.
With his popularity among the moonshiners growing as word of his driving ability spread through the mid Atlantic region, Scott began entering races at local dirt tracks throughout Virginia and North Carolina in 1952. He tasted success only one month into his driving career, winning his first race on the red clay half mile in Lynchburg, Virginia at the age of thirty.
Determined to move up in the sport of stock car racing, Wendell Scott traveled the south during segregation, showing up at NASCAR events with his number thirty four ready to race. He was turned away from many tracks, told by speedway personnel that he would not be able to compete due to the color of his skin. Encountering signs at restrooms, water fountains and restaurants that read “White Only” was a common occurence for Scott, who never seemed to let it bother him. “I expected all of that,” he said of his trials to become a NASCAR driver in segregated America.
Wendell Scott was issued a NASCAR license for the first time and allowed to compete at the old Richmond Speedway in Virginia, either in 1952 or 1953. NASCAR is not certain of the exact date but believes it to be 1953. Record books indicate that Scott went on to compete in four hundred ninty five Grand National and Winston Cup – known today as the Sprint Cup Series.
He is credited with one NASCAR win, a controversial race held on December 1, 1963 in Jacksonville, Florida. Buck Baker was flagged the winner and celebrated in victory circle after Scott had passed Richard Petty, who was nursing a damaged car, for the lead with twenty five laps remaining. Scott was awarded the victory hours after the race was completed and left the track that day without the winners trophy. Many said NASCAR would not allow him to celebrate in victory lane because he would have had to kiss a white beauty queen.
Scott retired from NASCAR racing in 1973 and returned to driving the short tracks of Virginia and the Carolina’s for a few more years, entering select events when circumstances would allow. Later in life he would become dissatisfied with his racing career, firmly believing he hadn’t the opportunity to showcase his talent in competitive equipment. Scott worked diligently throughout his career, without success, to obtain factory support and major sponsorship for his racing efforts. Ned Jarrett and Richard Petty were among his strongest supporters
“I was a black man. They wasn’t going to help a black man. That was all there was to it,” Scott once said in summing up the prejudice his career suffered.
A hard working and humble man, Scott struggled tremendously to raise seven children while running the family auto repair business and pursuing his racing dream. He was popular among NASCAR race fans, taking the time one sunny afternoon in 1973 at the North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham, North Carolina to accommodate this writers request for an autograph and conversation of the days events.
Greased Lightning, a movie detailing the history of Scott’s career, was produced in 1977 and starred Richard Pryor as Wendell Scott. Scott worked with the producers and was promised royalties, but never received any.
Wendell Scott passed away on December 23, 1990 at the age of sixty nine.
A member of several state and regional halls of fame, Scott was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall Of Fame at Talledega in 1999 and the National Motorsports Press Association Hall Of Fame at Darlington in 2000.
It is no doubt Wendell Scott was a genuine racer who accomplished great things in the face of adversity. He was a man ahead of his time, possessing a burning desire to succeed in the sport he dearly loved. Let his path and message serve as an example to us all.
The NASCAR Hall of Fame has made Wendell Scott one of five newcomers to be considered for the class of 2013.
Danville native Mojo Nixon wrote a song about Wendell Scott, to the tune of The Ballad of the Wreck of the Old 97.
This information edited from article written by Ray Everett.
April 11, 2012
The Gibson Girl was the personification of the feminine ideal of beauty portrayed by the pen-and-ink illustrations of her husband Charles Dana Gibson during a 20-year period that spanned the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in the United States.
Irene, beautiful and charming, was the [southern] belle of the ball, she was the first “pin-up” and known as the first national beauty standard for American women. Her husband’s images of her were published in newspapers and magazines during the Belle Époque and were extremely popular. Merchandise bearing her image included wall-paper, saucers, ashtrays, tablecloths, pillow covers, chair covers, souvenir spoons, screens, fans, umbrella stands.
“The Gibson Girl” was born in Danville and grew up in the Langhorne House before her family moved to Richmond, Virginia. There is a great book about her, The Gibson Girl: Portrait of a Southern Belle, written by her grandson, Langhorne Gibson, Jr. She is the older sister of Lady Astor. She too was a political force and used her many powerful friendships to champion the causes of those less fortunate than she.
April 11, 2012
Nancy Astor, born in Danville in 1879, lived the first six years of her life in the Langhorne House, before her family moved to Richmond and then to the Charlottesville area.
In 1905, the Virginia socialite sailed to England and in transit met Waldor Astor, princi-pal heir to one of the worlds’ great fortunes. They were married six months later.
Astor later became the first woman to serve on the British House of Parliament.
Her 25-year tenure, from 1919 to 1945, in the House of Commons brought her notoriety as a sharp-tongued proponent of education, temperance, birth control and national health insurance. Her first fight, however, was always in behalf of women.
“I am a born feminist,” she said. “The more I see of men, the more I think of women.”
Winston Churchill, later Britain’s prime minister and Lady Astor are known for their exchanges of verbal volleys.
She said, “Winston, if I were married to you, I’d put poison in your coffee.”
He replied,” And were you my wife, m’lady, I would drink it.”
The portrait of Astor above is by John Singer Sargent. There is also a portrait of Astor purchased by Elizabeth Stuart James Grant, the former owner and publisher of the Danville Register & Bee. It hung in a stairwell in the Register and bee building until recently. The painting can now be seen in the Municipal Building in Danville.
Lady Astor was the sister of “The Gibson Girl”