Join us in #SilentNight2014

Soldiers play soccer during the Christmas Truce of 1914

Soldiers play soccer during the Christmas Truce of 1914

Tonight marks the 100th anniversary of the “Christmas Truce of 1914,” when English and German soldiers temporarily laid down their weapons on the battlefields of France to celebrate the holiday with their enemies.

The soldiers shared food and played games. They also sang together: the English and German voices joining in a song known to some as “Silent Night,” known to others as “Stille Nacht.”

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of this display of peace and goodwill, let’s join in the soldiers’ songs.

Musicians and singers, use a video camera or smartphone to record yourself playing or singing “Silent Night.” Upload that video to YouTube, then post it on Twitter or Facebook with the hash-tag #SilentNight2014,

We will collect your contributions in this blog tomorrow.

Musicians and singers of all skill levels are welcome to participate, and don’t worry about making some fancy video production. As with most things this time of year, it’s the thought that counts.


Bill Withers to join Rock Hall

withers-bill-5096d68b895a0West Virginia’s favorite soul star, Bill Withers, will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The announcement came this morning.

The induction ceremony will be held April 18th, 2015 at the Public Hall in Cleveland, home of the Rock Hall. 

It is customary for inductees (if they are still living) to perform at the ceremony. Although Withers does not perform publicly anymore, he told Rolling Stone he is considering a special performance for the hall of fame induction ceremony.

In October, Withers was one of 16 artists and bands to be included in a public ballot to be inducted into the hall. He came in fourth.

(The Rock  and Roll Hall of Fame selects its inductees through a ballot process. The artists who receive the most votes are inducted into the hall, with usually five to seven artists added each year. Most of those votes come from members of the music industry, but in recent years, fans have also been allowed to vote.)


Do you have a favorite ornament?


Every Christmas tree has a story to tell, and the Daily Mail wants to hear your tree’s story.

From now until Dec. 17, we are collecting stories and pictures of your favorite ornaments.

It might be an antique glass orb handed down from your grandparents, or a tree topper your parents purchased when they were still newlyweds.

Maybe it’s a candy-cane reindeer or a clothespin Christ child one of your children made in Sunday school.

Snap a close-up photo of the ornament — preferably while it’s hanging on your tree — and write a few sentences about how it came into your family.

There are a few ways to get your submissions to us. You can email your photos and stories to, or shoot us a message on Facebook or Twitter.

If you prefer ink and paper, you can mail your submission to Memorable Ornaments, Charleston Daily Mail, 1001 Virginia St. E., Charleston, WV 25301.

We will review every entry and pick the best ones for publication in our Christmas Eve newspaper on Wednesday, Dec. 24.

The submissions also will be published on

A story to warm your cold, cynical heart

O.HenryYesterday was the 109th birthday of O. Henry’s famous short story “The Gift of the Magi.” It was originally published in The New York Sunday World on Dec. 10, 1905.

All these years later, it remains a holiday classic and is one my all-time favorite pieces of writing. If you’ve never read it, reward yourself a few minutes. And if you’ve read it many times, like me, read it anyway.

“The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry

One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one’s cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.

While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home. A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the lookout for the mendicancy squad.

In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name “Mr. James Dillingham Young.” The “Dillingham” had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, though, they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called “Jim” and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good.

Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn’t go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling–something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim.

There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen a pierglass in an $8 flat. A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, being slender, had mastered the art.

Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. Her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its color within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length.

Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim’s gold watch that had been his father’s and his grandfather’s. The other was Della’s hair. Had the queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty’s jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.

So now Della’s beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet.

On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street.

Where she stopped the sign read: “Mne. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds.” One flight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the “Sofronie.”

“Will you buy my hair?” asked Della.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Clay Center announces 2015 concerts

harry-connick-jr-002The Clay Center announced its Spring 2015 season this morning. Here’s the list of the major concerts:

  • Soul singer Patti LaBelle, Thursday, Feb. 12, 7:30 p.m.
  • Crooner Harry Connick Jr., Thursday, Feb. 26, 7:30 p.m.
  • Classic rockers George Thorogood & The Destroyers, Saturday, March 21, 8 p.m.
  • Montana Repertory Theatre in “The Great Gatsby,” Thursday, April 2 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Singer-songwriter act Citizen Cope, Wednesday, April 8, 7:30 p.m.
  • Comedian Frank Caliendo, Sunday, April 26, 7:30 p.m.
  • Christian artists Matthew West & Colton Dixon, Sunday, May 3, 7:30 p.m
  • Nineties’ sensation Blues Traveler, Friday, May 15, 8 p.m.
  • Comedienne Kathy Griffin, Thursday, June 4, 7:30 p.m.

The venue also announced the creation of a new “Soundcheck Series” featuring up-and-coming acts. This year’s inaugural series will feature:

  • Folk-rockers The Ballroom Thieves, Friday, March 6, 8 p.m.
  • Mexo-Americana band David Wax Museum, Friday, April 24, 8 p.m.
  • Australian hip-hop funk act Jakubi, Saturday, May 23, 8 p.m.
  • Local Pink Floyd tribute act USFLOYD, Saturday, June 13, 8 p.m.

Neediest Cases deserves your #GivingTuesday dollars

LogoYou’ve heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but have you heard of Giving Tuesday?

It’s a movement to encourage charitable donations this holiday season.

Lots of charities are asking for your money today, but I would like to encourage you to donate to the Daily Mail’s holiday charity, Neediest Cases.

Inspired by a similar charity run by the New York Times, the Daily Mail launched its Neediest Cases Appeal in 1961 with one goal in mind: to help fill the needs not met by existing social service agencies. Since then we have raised more than $1 million.

Here’s how it works. From Thanksgiving to December, we run a story about a family that needs your help. So far we have written about a single mother raising autistic teenagers, children being raised by their grandmother who need better beds and a mentally challenged son struggling to care for his 84-year-old disabled mother.

These published cases get funded first, but we also try to give money to everyone who asks.

You can take comfort in knowing every dollar you donate goes directly to the needs of the cases. The Daily Mail absorbs all administrative costs.

You can also rest assured that we have done our due diligence in verifying the facts of each case. Social workers verify the details of every request made to Neediest Cases. Daily Mail staffers then review the information before it is reviewed yet again by the United Way’s Information and Referral Bureau.

Once the money is collected, Neediest Cases will issue checks directly to the agencies, which will then make purchases on behalf of their clients. They also submit proof of those purchases to the Daily Mail, so we can keep track of how the money is spent.

If you would like to donate to Neediest Cases, send your tax-deductible donation to:

Neediest Cases
c/o Charleston Daily Mail
1001 Virginia St. E.
Charleston, WV 25301

WV Music Hall of Fame announces 2015 inductees

WVMHoF_logoThe West Virginia Music Hall of Fame will induct six state musicians — three living and three deceased — into its ranks next October, the group announced Monday.

Living inductees will be R&B songwriter and performer John Ellison, steel guitarist Russ Hicks and jazz piano man Bob Thompson. Posthumous inductees will be fiddler Ed Haley, country artist Buddy Starcher and pianist Harry Van Walls.

The sixth-annual induction ceremony will take place Oct. 24, 2015 at the Culture Center Theater on the West Virginia Capitol Complex. The ceremony also will be broadcast live on West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

“The inductees for 2015 continues the Hall of Fame’s mission to recognize outstanding artists who were born or raised in the Mountain State,” hall of fame director Michael Lipton said. “Our sixth class honors six unique West Virginia artists who have made lasting contributions to American music.”

Here’s a little more about the inductees:

  • John Ellison, 73, grew up in McDowell County before moving to Rochester, N.Y. to pursue a music career. His band, The Soul Brothers Six, released their first recording “Some Kind of Wonderful” in 1967 on Atlantic Records. It was a modest success, peaking at No. 91 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song would take on a life of its own, however, when rock band Grand Funk Railroad released their version of “Some Kind of Wonderful” in 1973. The cover reached the No. 3 spot. Ellison’s song has now been recorded by more than 62 different artists and sold more than 42 million copies, with notable versions by the Q-Tips, Buddy Guy, Huey Lewis and the News and Joss Stone.
  • Russ Hicks, 72, grew up in Beckley. He started off as guitar player, but took up pedal steel in the mid-1960s. Hicks eventually toured with Connie Smith, Ray Price and Charlie McCoy, and appeared on records by Marty Robbins, Ronnie Milsap, Mickey Gilley, Larry Gatlin, Jerry Lee Lewis, Tom T. Hall, Don Gibson, Wanda Jackson, Townes Van Zandt, the Charlie Daniels Band. He also was a member of the “Hee Haw” house band for 13 years.
  • Born in New York, Bob Thompson, 72, came to West Virginia in the mid-‘60s to attend then West Virginia State College. He has since made his home in the Mountain State, playing with bands like the Modern Jazz Interpreters and Joi. He has traveled the world playing music, and has served as the house pianist for West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s “Mountain Stage” radio show since 1991.
  • James Edward Haley, who died in 1951, originally hailed from Hart’s Creek in Logan County. Blind since hte age of three, Haley traveled throughout West Virginia and Kentucky performing old-time fiddle. He was a significant influenced on many old-time fiddlers, including Clark Kessinger and John Hartford.
  • “Buddy” Starcher, who died in 2001, is originally from Ripley, W.Va. He was best-known as host of “The Buddy Starcher Show, a popular morning TV show on WCHS-TV. He also was a popular recording artist, with hits like “I’ll Write Your Name in the Sand” and “History Repeats Itself.”
  • Harry Van Walls, who died in 1999, was born in Middlesboro, Ky. but grew up in Charleston. In 1949, hes signed on as the house pianist with Atlantic Records in New York. He would play on nearly every R&B track the label released in the 1950s, including Joe Turner’s hit single “Shake, Rattle and Roll.” He also played for The Clovers, Lavern Baker and Laurie Tate, and also released songs under his own name. Walls experienced a resurgence in popularity in the 1990s after a former student — Mac Rebennack, better known as Dr. John — invited him to perform at the Montreal International Jazz Festival.

Attention country music fans

10750134_810293035681181_8358149946872700283_oTwo big country music announcements breaking this morning.

First, the State Fair of West Virginia has announced country supergroup Alabama will kick off the fair’s concert series on Friday, Aug. 14, 2015.

Tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. this Friday, Dec. 5  at

Also Friday, tickets will go on sale for Miranda Lambert‘s upcoming concert at the Charleston Civic Center on Sat., Jan. 24.

Justin Moore, RaeLynn and Jukebox Mafia will join Lambert in the concert. Visit or the Civic Center box office to purchase tickets.

And for your Monday morning blues, here’s a thoroughly melancholy Alabama classic, “Why Lady Why.”