Still Rockin’

Rockin’ the Grounds” [Summer 2011] brought back many good memories of my two years of nursing school. I still have my yellow T-shirt from the very last Easters. I actually cleaned out my drawers and almost got rid of it, as it is very old, faded and certainly doesn’t fit anymore. But one more look at it and all the good memories it brought back, and I stuffed it back in the drawer. I just can’t part with it—it’s too collectible.

Lisa Nowicki (Nurs ‘82)
Barboursville, Va.


“Rockin’ the Grounds” was wonderful, but you forgot the alternative/new wavers Rude Buddha. This Sid-and-Nancy-looking band was the most hip thing happening at UVA during the 1980s. They put out an album or two and became semi-regulars at CBGBs. And everyone had a crush on Jenny Wade (the bass player).

Anthony Paul Farley (Col ‘84)
Albany, N.Y.


Great article! I remember many of these bands well—it brings back great memories. These were all the great musicians of Charlottesville. Many years have gone by, and I love to catch Indecision, SGGL, Bob Girard, Charlie Pastorfield, etc., whenever I can.

Margo Eppard
Charlottesville, Va.


“Rockin’ the Grounds” got me thinking back to my years on the Grounds and the big party weekends. When I arrived in the fall of 1965, Openings was the first big weekend, and my first arena concert. Since I was a big soul music fan, I was delighted that the show was scheduled to have Junior Walker and the All Stars followed by the Four Tops. Several friends and I arrived early to get seats in the first few rows of U- Hall. There was a delay, and an announcer came out to inform us that Junior Walker was sick and unable to perform, so they had scrambled to get another band.

[Eventually], out walked two very nerdy-looking white guys who were definitely not into Motown soul. However, when they played and sang the first several notes, “Hello darkness, my old friend,” we were introduced to Simon & Garfunkel and some outstanding new music, and the crowd grew quiet, relaxed and enjoyed an unplanned and special treat. We were sorry we missed seeing Junior Walker, but we also got a very early performance by a groundbreaking pop duo.

Jonathan Macdonald (Com ‘69, Law ‘74)
Richmond, Va.


I would say that music certainly defined many of our lives while in college, and without the great choices we had, it would be memorable but less so. I remember some great times at Trax watching not only Indecision but also New Potato Caboose. Those guys rocked the Greek scene as well. Good times were also had at places like Christie’s and Thatcher’s watching folks like my friend Shannon Worrell, who still graces the music scene in Charlottesville. One fun story: Since we graduated just before the DMB craze, we missed that show but were fortunate enough to see Down Boy Down play Sunday nights at the Blue Ridge Brewery with Boyd Tinsley rocking the fiddle. Can’t beat that!

Cole Brown (Col ‘90)
Washington, D.C.


Of course I do not really know how Mr. Jefferson would respond to this issue of the magazine, but I believe that he would be quite disappointed at the extent to which classical music has been ignored. I think that there is ample evidence in his letters and his actions that he would have wanted “his university” to provide venues which would improve and nourish good musical tastes in the members of the University community.

When I first came to UVA as a faculty member in 1967, WTJU had a radiated power of only a few hundred watts, but it tried to live up to the “TJ” in its call letters by being the best local source of classical music in the Charlottesville area. The University administration at that time was so busy with many major changes, such as admitting women to the College of Arts & Sciences, improving many programs and building projects, that it did not provide the level of institutional support to WTJU that Virginia Tech was providing to WVTF at about that time. So, WVTF grew much more rapidly than WTJU and started catering to some of the classical music appetites of the broader UVA-Central Virginia area. Eventually, in its efforts to survive, WTJU evolved away from its classical strengths and became too diverse to serve its original audience and purpose.

Edward Barker
Charlottesville, Va.


I write in order to express my disappointment concerning the omission of one of the most influential rock bands of the 1960s at the University of Virginia, The Slithy Toves.

We collaborated in the composition of original material, performed to appreciative crowds and reveled in the joy of performance. Perhaps the most memorable of these took place on an evening on the Lawn in the spring of 1969. It was a farewell concert for two of our graduating members. Our stage was the Rotunda steps, and our audience filled the Lawn, swaying to the music and, looking like millions of fireflies, paid tribute with candles, matches, lighters and other luminaria.

We continued our association until 1979, and I consider myself extremely fortunate and am honored to have had the opportunity to know and share a “looking glass” experience with my bandmates: Don Jay Smith (Col ‘69, Educ ‘77) drums; Barrett Howland Smith, guitar; Bruce Brandfon, (Col ‘69), saxophone; and Kent Beyer (Col ‘71).

Louis D. Cordera (Col ‘70)
Pittsburgh, Pa.


I enjoyed reading your article, however, I was disappointed that there was no mention of The Blackout Project, a live-energy hip hop band that was active at the University between 2007 and 2009. Four members are UVA graduates and one worked in the music department: Kevin Turner (Col ‘09), Robert Word (Col ‘03), Chris Plietz (Com ‘08), Ryan Gilchrist (Col ‘09) and Granville Mullings Jr. There was mention of other UVA Battle of the Bands winners; in 2008 The Blackout Project put on a stellar production and won the battle that year. The band also arranged three tracks for a performance with the UVA Jazz Ensemble in 2009 that was praised by ensemble leader and legendary trumpeter John D’earth. Two four-song EPs have been released, and the band regularly performs at Sullivan Hall in New York City as well as at charitable fundraiser shows. The featured article was excellent, but we cannot leave out a band that had such a large following at UVA and has gone on to be a very successful and charitable hip-hop fusion band.

Mallory McFarland (Col ‘09)
Smithfield, Va.

Baseball Pride

As a 1983 graduate of the University, I admit that I never attended a single UVA baseball game in my four years there. At that time it was all about basketball—and football for a good party. When you graduate with Ralph Sampson, win the NIT and narrowly miss the NCAA championship game, that’s where your focus lies.

However, I can say without a doubt that I was never as proud to be a Hoo as I was at Davenport Stadium [when UVA beat UC Irvine 3-2 on June 13 to advance to the College World Series]. I have never attended a sporting event that brought me anywhere near the thrill and joy of that victory. I have never yelled so loudly or trembled as I did from sheer exhaustion, relief and, most of all, pride. Coach [Brian] O’Connor has not only coached a great team, but also built a great program. My hat goes off to him, the other coaches and all the young men who have handled themselves with grace and poise throughout the season.

I sat for three days in the left-field bleachers with other faithful fans, and we became the “top-row family.” We weathered (literally) the heat, the rain delays and Sunday’s defeat—but then, oh, did we rejoice in Monday’s victory. It played out like a fairy tale, and I was but one of many who enjoyed the ending.

Ellen A. Moseley (Col ‘83)
Richmond, Va.

Food Talk

[“Consequences of Dinner,” Summer 2011] was a very informative and well-researched article. My parents owned a chicken store in Pittsburgh in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and we fed our chickens only certified natural corn feed, soybean mash and fish meal. We also gave our hens a high concentration of calcium, plus oyster shells, and gave the chicks only certified purified water. We never let our chickens eat scraps and their diet didn’t contain hormones or antibiotics. Chicks came from a farm that didn’t use pesticides or commercial fertilizers and the entire environment where we kept the chickens was spic-and-span. My mother would bake, broil, fry, grill and roast her chickens. They were the most tender and tasty birds I have ever eaten.

Ronald B. Saunders
Pittsburgh, Pa.


As a registered dietitian who works in outpatient oncology, I’m involved with direct patient care as well as survivorship and prevention. I caution you on endorsing raw milk to the public. The U.S. has one of the safest food supplies in the world to date. Raw milk can be risky to those who are immune compromised, the elderly population and the general public. Sustainable, healthy food sources must be attainable, affordable and backed by evidence-based research in order to be effectively implemented into our food supply.

Virginia Vining
Midlothian, Va.

Reunion Question

The recent issue of Virginia magazine [Summer 2011] mentioning Black Alumni Weekend and the women’s reunion prompted me to write this note.

As a child of the old South, I witnessed first-hand the indignities of Jim Crow laws and segregation. Now as an adult of the new South, I consider myself nearly color blind—not perfect, but thanks to frequent social and business contacts with black Americans, I get better every day.

My point: Why artificially separate whites and blacks at our reunions when it is through contact that we begin to see beyond skin color? Why travel to China, Spain or Africa, or host foreign students in our homes if not to discover common denominators, create friendships and learn to appreciate each other?

Separate reunions perpetuate stereotypes and are counterproductive to a better understanding of our fellow citizens.

Cobbs Nixon (Col ‘63)
Atlanta, Ga.

Black alumni began gathering for a weekend at the University in the mid-1980s (before the larger Reunions Weekend was revived in the early 1990s) to mentor black students, recruit prospective students and raise money for scholarships. The effort led to the Ridley Scholarship Fund, which has been a major partner in BAW ever since. The UVA Alumni Association now coordinates both Black Alumni Weekend and Reunions Weekend as ways to engage alumni as fully as possible, and many alumni attend both events. The association treats BAW as an alumni interest reunion similar to many student organization reunions (such as fraternities, sororities and the upcoming Echols Scholars reunion). A major reason the events are held separately is that BAW continues to mentor students and is held during the academic year; Reunions Weekend is held in June because it is too large to be held while school is in session. —Ed.

Cancer Survivor, Too

I enjoyed Ben Rubenstein’s story of surviving two bouts of cancer [First Person, Summer 2011]. In 1977, when I was a first-year student at UVA, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease. Dr. Charles Hess at the UVA Medical Center was my oncologist. I underwent six months of debilitating radiation therapy and the cancer disappeared. Eleven years later, the same day my wife and I learned that we were having twins, I also learned that my cancer had returned and that I would no longer be able to have children. Again, with Dr. Hess’ help, I fought “the beast” and won. It’s now been 34 years since my first bout and 22 since the second. While many UVA grads have experienced the University’s penchant for giving back, few have been as (un)fortunate to say that it has saved their lives.

Steven C. Litz (Col ‘81)
Monrovia, Ind.

Tuition Question

State schools have higher tuition for out-of-state students because the state supports in-state students [“State of the University,” Summer 2011]. If Virginia only contributes $8,600 per student per year, why is the tuition for out-of-state students $25,000 per year higher than the in-state students’? Shouldn’t out-of-state tuition be $8,600 per year more than in-state tuition in order to collect the same revenue per student?

Ty Peters
Briarcliffe Acres, S.C.

For an answer to this question, we contacted Colette Sheehy, the University’s vice president for management and budget, who explains: “Student tuition and fees do not cover the full cost of education at UVA. The University has many sources of revenue in addition to tuition and the state’s contribution, all of which contribute to the educational experience of our students. All tuition rates are set by the University’s Board of Visitors. In-state tuition is largely determined in relation to past tuition levels and by policies set forth by the Governor and General Assembly. Out-of-state tuition is more influenced by market factors, including the quality of the University’s education, comparisons with pricing at peer institutions, both public and private, and student demand.” —Ed.