I started volunteering at the Lyric in early 2002. I had been seeing a therapist, going through a rough time of PTSD from military times and the 9/11 attacks. Having been active in the area music scene in thte 1980s, it was suggested I go to Dublin where they had a music jam certain nights where anyone could join in. The music scene in Blacksburg was in doldrums. Instead, I vasked to volunteer at the Lyric. “One or two nights a month, that’s all we ask.” Well, there were fewer volunteers back then so it bcame one or two nights a week. Back then there were 8 music concerts a year with some fantastic music acts: Del McCoury, Junior Brown, Ladysmith Black Mumbasa Band, Dereck Trucks, Bela Fleck, Edgar Meyers and so on. My volunteerism eventually became a paid position, although I still volunteer. As for my therapist’s suggestion I go to Dublin, I bought a seat at the Lyric instead and have the notation”It’s cheaper than therapy” emblazoned on the arm.
The Lyric has changed a lot over the years. It has become an institution, “The Heart of Downtown Blacksburg”. And it is an AWESOME place - a place for the entire community, not just old townies or young Tech students. It has hosted the Indigo Girls and just recently, the Steep Canyon Rangers. But it has also grown from just a music and movie venue to Live At The Lyric, Midnight Movies, and a great place for non profit organizations to raisse funds for their organizations. Community Voices lecture series, Landjam, Planned Parenthood, Actors Theatre of Blacksburg and many more organizations now plan special events that help bring culture to the Sahara of the Bozart known as southwest Virginia.
I attend many of these events and must say, some are more well attended than others but that is part of what the Lyric is all about. Those people who saw TopDog/Under Dog saw a very intense drama that was very professionally performed. The Christmas pageants put on by New River Stage give young talent the chance to perform on the big stage. I remember my son tap dancing at a recital with Carol Crawford’s School of Dance … and he remembers it well as a highpoint of his childhood.
The Land Trust and Community Voices, as well as many other rganizations, have provided lecture series that enlighten and inform their audiences about how things are and how they can be better. The Lyric has provided candidate debates at election time as a place where locals can see and hear what politicians hope to accomplish should they be elected. Loyalty to the Royalty for King George’s island nation has also been revered when the Lyric hosted the royal wedding of William and Kate. And let everyone forget the wonderous Kazoo Marching Band at the annual Holiday Parade.
Lyric audiences have had a hand in where the Lyric chart’s her course as well. The Lyric has had zombie film festivals, bicycle film festivals, mountain film festivals, sustainability film festivals and now has midnight movie classic film festivals. Recently the Lyric asked Facebook readers would they rather see The Way, a movie recently shown at Virginia Tech, or Senna, an oddity documentary about a Brazilian open wheel race car driver. While it may not be as well attended as The Way, Senna won out and a group of racing enthusiasts will get to see a great, though off beat, documentary.
I have sen the Lyric grow, the audiences grow, the quality of productions grow. Blacksburg has again become more musically diverse, as it was in the 1980s. Instead of focusing solely on music as it did in the early days of the Theatre, the lyric continues to branch out in quality entertainment. This month, Charlotte Blake Alston, a nationally renowned story teller graces the Lyric’s stage. Next month the Barter Theatre brings their massive Civil War Voices production. The Capital Steps are on their way as well. Don’t miss out on the opportunities provieded by The Heart of Downtown Blacksburg. the Lyric Theatre.
The Lyric - it is cheaper than therapy.