Alexandria is known for many things, foremost among them the city’s colonial history that predates the federal city across the Potomac River.
We are also known as “Association City,” with dozens of associations headquartered here. We’re a city of readers, and generally rank high on Amazon’s list of per capita books bought. And we are frequently recognized for our city’s high level of philanthropic giving.
This weekly issue of the Alexandria Times is a reminder that we are also a city full of creative people.
The alternative rock band Hanoi Ragmen, whose photo adorns the front cover of our October City Creatives section, is a homegrown band whose seven members met while attending middle school in Alexandria City Public Schools and participating in camps and classes at the Rock of Ages Music School.
Hanoi Ragmen, on the cusp of the big-time, could wind up as successors to iconic rock figures like Jim Morrison of The Doors, Cass Elliot of The Mamas and the Papas and Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, who either hail from or lived some of their growing up years in Alexandria.
Robin Reid, whose work defies categorization, has a background in dance and photography and is currently a glass artist in Del Ray. She’s a reminder that it’s important not to pigeon hole artists – or anyone for that matter – into defined genres out of convenience.
Recognizing a visual artist like Reid is also a reminder that Alexandria’s Torpedo Factory is one of our city’s jewels. It’s both a historic location in its own right and a lasting example of how determined artists collaborated with the City of Alexandria to the benefit of all. It must be preserved as an arts-first institution.
Filmmakers Meredith and Austin Bragg turn interesting stories, such as that of Roger Sharpe, who went on a crusade in the 1970s to legalize the game of pinball in New York, into movies that we all can enjoy. In an interesting twist, their first feature-length film “Pinball: The Man Who Saved the Game” is both about Sharpe and also includes him as he comments on what happened five decades ago while actor Mike Faist portrays Sharpe as a young man.
Meredith Bragg, who lives in Alexandria, and brother Austin make films on the side – their main gig is at Reason TV. They’re a reminder that it’s possible to follow your creative passion even if you have to hold down another full-time job.
While the Bragg brothers focus on film, Alexandria is also blessed to have two terrific venues for live theater. The Little Theatre of Alexandria is about to begin a production of the riotously funny “Young Frankenstein” by Mel Brooks on October 21.
And MetroStage, the fabulous theater company run by Carolyn Griffin, is in the midst of a capital campaign to raise $2.6 million for its new facility in north Old Town. If you wish to donate, they can receive checks at: MetroStage P.O. Box 1152, Alexandria, VA 22313. Or, donations can be made online at the MetroStage website: metrostage.org
Another Alexandria institution, the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra, is celebrating 80 years of music with a series of four commissioned pieces in special concerts. The second entry in the series will take place November 4 and 5 and features mountain dulcimer player Stephen Seifert as the featured artist.
Seifert is also profiled in our City Creatives section, as he tells the story of how he became a dulcimer player and shares his conception of the pure joy of music.
“Music is not just for a special class of people. It’s almost a basic human right and I like helping people experience that. There’s a lot of joy in it and we need joy,” Seifert told the Times in an interview.