"There's no place like home. . . there's no place like home. . . there's no place like home." Home for The Belt Team is Vienna, Virginia. Please stop by frequently and share with us all the things about life in Vienna that make Vienna truly the best place to live.

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Byrds in The Barns - Is That Like "Bats In The Belfry"?

Well, it was definitely a wild n crazy kind of night at The Barns last night, but let me explain:

FIRST, THE HISTORY - What is "The Barns"?

Right here in small town Vienna, we have one of the premier music venues in the country - America's National Park For The Performing Arts. The initial 53 acres of land for this park was originally purchased (and later donated) by Catherine Shouse for $5,300 (don’t you wish you could buy land around here for $100 an acre!) and she named the farm “Wolf Trap Farm”. From late May to early September each year, people enjoy the outdoor amphitheatre known as The Filene Center. (People like us who have grown up here just call this “Wolftrap”.) The Filene Center seats about 7,000 people. The Barns, on the other hand, is an intimate facility that probably seats less than 400 people. It is made up of two 18th century barns that were restored & rebuilt using only 18th century methods with hand -hewn beams & panels. It’s simply gorgeous and the acoustics are phenomenal. And that brings me to last night.


Last night, Bandhouse Gigs gathered a bevy of the area's best musicians to put on a sold-out "Tribute To The Byrds". The entire night featured music that was either written by or played by the legendary group The Byrds. Since their music spanned a number of genres (including folk, rock n roll, psychedelic & country) - it was quite an eclectic evening. And that fit this kind of adventure just perfectly.

Throughout the night, the musicians mixed and matched. Some of the songs were performed by groups in their entirety - and sometimes the stage was filled with musicians from 7 different groups at a time. All told, there were 45 different singers/musicians on stage - each one a legend in his/her own name. Yes, this group included Grammy Award winners, Emmy Award nominees, WAMMY Award winners & more. And they played guitar, piano, harmonica, accordion, ukelele, 12-strings, bass, steel guitar, violin, trumpet, fiddle. You name it -they had it covered. It was like a local Music Hall of Fame.

Watching the night play out, I felt almost like I had been invited to the musicians' own private party - for they enjoyed playing & watching almost as much as we did. You see, despite the fact that these musicians are all at the top of their game - most of them never get to see or hear each other perform - because they've got their own gigs to play. So throughout the night, we saw musicians in the wings or hiding in the back of the room - peeking out to see who had the angelic voice, who was ticking the ivories so sweetly and who just played that rockin 12 string guitar solo.

Although the musicians obviously prepared on their own prior to the show, there were only 2 rehearsals of the full group. And of all the songs played, only 2 were ever played by a group prior to this event. This meant that the evening was rather "loose", but it added to the intimacy of the night and truly highlighted what artists they were. Each of the folks performing was a consummate professional. And so at one point, when technical difficulties intervened, "Cowboy Cal" was fully prepared with stand-up comedy. And the audience ate it up.

There were several highlights of the show. One was the song that closed out the first half. It featured Jon Carroll on piano and was a revival-style version of a song The Byrds sang called "Jesus Is Just Allright With Me" (you might remember it as a Doobie Brothers song, but apparently The Byrds sang it prior to that). With Jon on one side of the stage - tickling those ivories into a frenzy . . . and a slew of singers on the other side gathered around one microphone & throwing their hands in the air . . . it felt almost like I was in church (except that I was in a barn - but isn't that where those old revivals used to take place?).

The other highlight was near the end of the show when Eric Brace (of Last Train Home) came on stage and sang "Ballad of Easy Rider" and "This Wheel's On Fire". Although the level of performance was high all night, when Eric took the stage it was apparent why his music career has expanded well beyond the DC region. (Eric Brace used to be the lead columnist for the Weekend section of The Washington Post. His band Last Train Home mostly played locally. But a number of years ago, he gave up his "day job" to take his music career full throttle and he now tours nationally and internationally.) Eric's ability to storytell captures an audience - whether he is talking, writing or singing. He has an incredible charisma and his voice is powerful and unique. And when he teams up with Bill Williams, the vocal harmonies are magic. (On a side note - Bill Williams played on 13 different songs last night. What a talent - singing, playing, harmony arranging AND he made the best male fashion statement of the night with some incredible shoes/boots. Best female fashion statement belonged to Ellen Cherry with her psychedelic tights.)

The show was closed by John Jennings and his band playing "Eight Miles High". And they rocked it. It was an incredible evening. For $25, we got to see 45 of the area's best musicians & singers. Not only will I go see anything Bandhouse Gigs puts together (previously they have done tributes to Neil Young, Nils Lofgren, Bob Dylan, Nick Lowe, Joni Mitchell, Warren Zevon & Allen Toussaint - and rumor has it Rod Stewart may be next), but I defintely made note of many artists I want to see again so I can hear them play their own music. Such talent, such passion. WOW.

And the best part? I live in Vienna - so while most of the musicians and guests had a long drive home (people came from Springfield, Silver Spring, Burke & Baltimore) - I was home & tucked in bed 10 minutes after the show ended.


Trivia Note: Elizabeth Taylor was a Director Emeritus for Wolftrap. I had forgotten about that until I saw this poster last night.

Final Note: I wasn't able to capture all the names of the performers/groups, but here is a partial list:

John Carroll, Eric Brace, The Lofgren Brothers, Jelly Roll Mortals, Naked Blue, Ruthie & The Wranglers, Purple Umbrella, Forty Dollar Fine, Bill Williams, John Jennings, Dave Chappell, Scott McKnight, David Kitchen, Ellen Cherry, Todd Wright, Cal Everett, Bill Baker, Janet Emma Garbe, Mike Clem, Jen Smith, Derrick Brock, Scott Smith, Ronnie Smith, Helen Hausmann, Jim Clatterbuck, Steve Hall, Andy Rutherford, Spencer Hoopes, Dave Egelhofer, Ronnie Newmyer, Chuck Sullivan, Carey Creed, Harry Traynham, Justine Miller, Louie Newmyer & Robbie Magruder

Monday, March 21, 2011


If you're looking for the blog post that Dave Facinoli referred to in his Sun Gazette article about the Madison-Oakton baseball game last weekend - scroll down below this post.

And now, please welcome back Guest Blogger Dave Graham. Dave's son Jonny plays first base for the Madison Warhawks and Dave can do a game write-up like no one else we know. So if you missed the game (or even if you were there) - sit back & enjoy the show. You'll feel like you had a front row seat!

MADISON 6 runs 10 hits 1 error

OAKTON 2 runs 6 hits 0 errors

On a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Oakton the Madison Warhawks opened their 2011 campaign by defeating the Cougars in a game that was much closer than the final score indicates. Madison starter Eli Facenda spun five innings of three hit shutout ball and the Warhawks scored five runs in the fifth to break open a 1-0 game. The Madison attack was led by Nate Favero who went four for four and Andy McGuire and Jay Kenyon who each collected two hits and drove in a pair of runs. Coach Mark “Pudge” Gjormand later noted that, “Eli did a nice job today with no walks. This was a team win. We had a good approach at the plate with two outs and two strikes and protected the ball well on defense.”

Oakton had opened its season Tuesday by trouncing Yorktown. R.J. Garcia started on the mound for the Cougars, a sidearming right hander who always works from a stretch and relies on control and keeping the ball down. He needed only nine pitches to set the side down in order in the first inning. The Oakton defense featured three Carroll brothers starting in the infield: senior Chad at shortstop, junior Tyler at second and sophomore Mitchell at third. Their dad, Carson, coached almost every Madison player at one time or another on the Vienna Mustangs. Congratulations Carson and (mom) April!

The Warhawks countered by sending their senior staff leader to the mound. Facenda, a crafty lefty, gave up a two out bloop single to right by Luke Willis in the bottom of the first but second baseman Favero ended the inning by ranging far to his left to snag a grounder that appeared headed to right field.

Senior catcher Jay Kenyon got aboard to lead off the second when he was hit by a 1-2 pitch. Austin Chute pinch ran and scooted to third as Favero lined a single to right. With no outs and runners at the corners, Garcia bore down to get a swinging strike out. Third baseman Mitchell Carroll made a nice play on a grounder to hold the runner at third and get the second out at first. Garcia escaped the jam when Tyler Carroll scooped an inning ending grounder to second base.

After a strike out in the bottom of the second, Ty Carroll reached second when his fly ball to center was misplayed. He was promptly doubled off when shortstop McGuire made a splendid diving catch of a half swing line drive then shoveled the ball to Favero covering second to end the inning.

With two outs in the top of the third, McGuire drilled a line drive single to right. Before the next pitch was thrown, Garcia picked him off on a well executed run down involving first baseman Taio Francis twice sandwiched around a pair of Carrolls.

With two outs in the bottom of the third, speedy Chad Carroll short hopped the base of the fence in right center and hustled into third with a triple. Facenda coaxed a grounder to first to end the threat.

With two outs in the Madison fourth, Favero shattered the scoreless tie launching a towering drive to right through a crosswind blowing in from left to collect his first varsity round tripper. By the time the ball landed well beyond the fence it had been blown into foul territory but it was clearly fair and seemed to still be climbing when it left the field.

In the bottom half of the frame, the Cougars Chris Hanson doubled on a sinking liner to left despite a valiant diving attempt by Ben Socher. Facenda helped himself out making a nice play on a one hopper back to the mound to record the out at first after holding the runner at second. The threat expired on a grounder to second.

Garcia started the fifth having given up three hits and thrown 54 pitches. He began the inning recording a strike out on a full count pitch before what may have been the pivotal play of the game. On a 1-1 pitch, Dan Powers scorched a grounder off Garcia’s foot. Garcia recovered quickly enough to get the second out at first and appeared to be OK. However, he hit Alex Tyroler with a 1-2 pitch. Sophomore Socher collected his first varsity hit drilling an opposite field double just fair down the third base line to put runners on second and third. On a 2-2 count, McGuire followed with another opposite field rocket, this one to right, for a two run double to finish Garcia’s afternoon. Fatigue may have affected him as he had thrown 20 pitches in what turned out to be his longest inning of the day.

Oakton brought in Andy Gross to relieve. He may not have had enough time to warm up and Jonny Graham jumped on his first pitch and smacked a hard grounder off the glove of the diving second baseman into right for an RBI single. Three pitches later, Kenyon blasted a two run dinger over the fence in right. Favero poked a pop up down the left field line for a double, Madison’s fifth straight hit, four of them opposite field. Gross ended the inning on a strike out but Madison had sent nine men to the plate and seized a 6-0 lead.

In the bottom of the fifth, the savvy Facenda knew the importance of not letting the Cougars respond with a rally of their own. Facing the bottom third of their line up, he got a ground out to third on a 3-2 pitch, then recorded a strike out on a nasty 2-2 curve that Kenyon nicely blocked then tagged the batter for the out. The inning ended on a 3-2 strike out. Having thrown 64 pitches with two tough Liberty District games in the next six days, Facenda’s afternoon was finished.

Francis moved over from first to pitch for Oakton in the top of the sixth. With two outs he hit Tyroler with a pitch then retired pinch hitter Ben Powers on a fly to right to end the inning. The Warhawks opted to send McGuire to the mound in the bottom of the sixth with Tim Davis taking over the duties at shortstop. With two outs, the fleet Willis reached on an infield chopper down the third base line. He advanced to second on a wild pitch and took third on a passed ball as Hanson walked. Joey Bartosic pinch ran with runners at the corners. Dennis Cooney grounded a single past first baseman Graham’s dive to plate one run.

Another run scored when Ty Carroll’s grounder hit first base and took a high bounce. Graham still gloved the ball but the startled McGuire, thinking Graham would tag the bag himself if not for the fluke bounce, was late covering first allowing Bartosic to score. Perhaps the play rattled McGuire a bit as he walked Brian Burns on four pitches to load the bases and bring the tying run to the plate. After getting ahead in the count 0-2, the count ran full as he narrowly missed on a pair of breaking balls. McGuire ended the seven pitch at bat with a called strike on a fastball on the outside corner.

With two outs in the top of the seventh, Kenyon stroked a single to right and Favero followed by rolling a single through the right side. The inning ended with pinch hitter Matt Livingston lining out to center. McGuire responded by retiring Oakton in order in the bottom of the seventh on a pair of fly outs and a grounder to short.

The score may have looked decisive but it was a close, hard fought game. Coach Gjormand summed it up by saying, “We beat a good team today in a big rivalry game. These guys have played with and against each other since Vienna Little League and sometimes it is tough to play against your friends. We can enjoy it now but we need to get back to work to get ready for a tough Fairfax team on Tuesday.”

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Nope - this isn't another post about basketball! At least not directly . . .

March Madness is going on. All around the country, games are taking place - with the ultimate goal being to make it to the Big Dance - to play one of your arch-rivals  - to become THE CHAMPION!

You see teams playing with passion. With grit. With determination. Because they want to WIN! They want the bragging rights that come with being a champion. They want a payoff for all the hard work they have put in - during the season and before the season. It's a CRAZY, FUN time of year.

And March Madness has hit Vienna too. But our version of March Madness comes on the baseball field.

You see, there are two arch-rivals in this area - one being Madison High School and the other being Oakton High School. They have battled for years and traded off championships. And now, no matter whether they are playing a regular season game, a playoff game, a championship game or just a scrimmage - it's WAR. (Or at least WARHAWKS - lol!)

This Saturday, the Madison Warhawks take on the Oakton Cougars in baseball. It will be Madison's season opener and the game will take place at Oakton's field at 1PM. This year, the game means a lot. It's not a playoff game or a championship game - but this game is about pride. Oakton beat Madison in football just after school started in the Fall (in the Outback Bowl ). And Madison beat Oakton in basketball (on Oakton's home court). So as far as we can see, THIS game on Saturday will be the tie-breaker. The winner takes home the bragging rights until next Fall comes around and another game is on the line.

Some interesting background info:
  • When Madison's Eli Facenda, Jay Kenyon, Justin Nicholls, Gavin Gibbons and Joe Corrigan were 13, they played on the same nationally ranked travel team as Oakton's Chad Carroll, Taiyo Francis and Luke Willis.
  • Last year's match-up between Oakton & Madison was especially contentious - not just on the field, but off the field too. Just ask Sun Gazette reporter Dave Facinoli. He happened to sit between a brother & sister who were rooting for opposite sides - one had a son who played for the Warhawks - the other had a spouse who coached for the Cougars. And last year's game had no shortage of controversial calls.
  • Madison's Head Coach (Mark Gjormand) and Oakton's Assistant Coach (Scott Rowland) have both coached their teams to state championships.
  • Last summer, Madison's first baseman (Jonny Graham) was teammates with Oakton's catcher (Austin Lamon) when they played together for the NVTBL Prospect Stars travel team.
  • Coaches on both sides (Oakton's Head Coach Justin Janis and Madison Assistant Coaches JJ Hollenbeck & Jimmy Goldsmith & Andrew Baird) are graduates from the schools they coach.
  • There is a player named Cooney on each team - but they're not related. There are 3 players on Oakton's team named Carroll. They ARE related.
  • And quite a few players from both rosters played together this past summer on American Legion Post 180 - including Madison's Nate Favero, Justin Nicholls, Eli Facenda and Oakton's Chris Hanson & Mason Hauser.
You can't beat the passion of cross-town rivalries. And we say - skip the Saturday afternoon basketball games (you can catch the scores on your I-phone - you know your office pool is all you REALLY care about anyway) - and come out to see Oakton and Madison square off on the baseball diamond. There may only be one winner on the field, but the true winner on Saturday will be the fans!

Here are a few players to watch:

  • Eli Facenda - Senior, Lefty Pitcher, signed with Lehigh Univeristy (D-1), crafty & patient
  • Jay Kenyon - Senior, Catcher, 3rd year varsity player, strong arm & strong bat
  • Nate Favero - Junior, Righty Pitcher & 2B, 3rd year varsity player, soft hands - watch for him to be part of some doubleplays
  • Jonny Graham - Junior, 1B & Outfielder, 3rd year varsity player, versatile, sprays the ball to all fields with potential to hit for power
  • Andy McGuire - Sophomore, SS & Righty Pitcher, fabulous fielder, already being recruited by multiple D-1 schools including University of South Carolina
  • Dan Powers - Sophomore, Righty Pitcher & 3B, varsity starter as a Freshman
The Warhawk baseball team also includes: Austin Chute, Gavin Gibbons, Justin Nicholls, Joe Corrigan, Ryan Corrigan, Alex Tyroler, Ben Powers, Jack Anzilotti, Henry Brandmark, Andrew Cooney, Tim Davis, Evan Jacquez, Beau Overholt, Matt Livingston, Justin Padgett, Luke Weller, Ben Socher & Daniel Bayer.

  • Chad Carroll - Senior, SS, signed with James Madison University (D-1), one of the fastest players in our region - set regional track record this winter, has some pop in his bat
  • Luke Willis - Senior, CF, signed with Coastal Carolina (D-1), one of the other fastest players in our region - teammates with Chad Carroll in setting regional track record this winter, also a good hitter
  • Taiyo Francis - Senior, Righty Pitcher & 1B, good arsenal of pitches, great target at first
  • Chris Hanson - Senior, 3B & Catcher, gotta gun for an arm and not afraid to use it
  • RJ Garcia - Junior, righty sidewinder pitcher
  • Austin Lamon - Junior, Catcher, commands the field & keeps baserunners on their toes with his arm
The Cougar baseball team also includes: Tyler Carroll, Dennis Cooney , Andy Gross, Walker Webster, John Titus, Mason Hauser, Felix Vandervaart, Zack Fabian, Connor Flanagan, Brian Burns, Mitchell Carroll, Mario Pomponio, Joey Bartosic, Aaron Rochkind, Johnny McCormick, Jesse Peckinpaugh & Brandon Chandler.

Passion & pride - just another reason why we LOVE LIVING IN VIENNA, VA!