Travel Options Offer Affordable Alternative in Some States

Recently, my wife and I were in San Diego, California. The public transportation there is among the best in the country, so our plans for downtown included taking a trolley or a bus, rather than driving and trying to find parking. We had heard of Uber, but really had very little idea as to what it was, other than some sort of taxi service.

We stopped by an information station, which was set up just outside of Petco Park, to ask which trolley or bus would be the best to get us back to the house we were renting. The lady at the counter asked, “Have you tried Uber?”

We had previously used taxi services around our home region, but were dissatisfied with the outdated, overpriced and slow service. We weren’t too enthused to even hear about an alternative, but we were immediately interested when she told us our first ride would be free, thanks to a referral system that the company has.

We signed up for the app and hailed our first Uber ride. The car was not only clean, the driver was extremely friendly, offering us bottled water and arriving to pick us up within 2 minutes. Uber drivers usually don’t even accept tips, as everything is done via credit card on your mobile app. We were hooked!

We decided to forgo public transportation for the remainder of our trip, using Uber and the alternative company, Lyft (which works the exact same way) for every trip we needed during vacation. The average cost of a 20 minute trip was $11, but since we both had the app, we had 2 free trips with Uber and 2 free trips with Lyft, saving us nearly $50.

I thought, “Surely there are some drivers who are not as professional, or have dirty cars, or not as courteous.” After ten trips via the services of Uber and Lyft, we didn’t encounter a single issue. The longest we had to wait for a driver was seven minutes and that was because they encountered traffic on their way.

When we arrived back at the airport, we called a cab to take us to our car, which we parked in a garage about five minutes away. The cab took more than 15 minutes to arrive at the airport, the door didn’t work, the trunk was not clean when we put our baggage in, the car had an odd smell and there was no bottled water waiting for us. The worst part of it was, the cost for this quick trip – including tip – was $18.

Charleston and Huntington are two of the most populated cities in the state of West Virginia. Having an Uber or Lyft service could possibly offer a viable alternative for consumers who want a fast, affordable option for transportation, particularly with some KRT routes being removed and gas prices higher than surrounding states.

Charleston Street-Fest Brings the Eighties Back to Life

The streets of Charleston were filled with food, hula-hoops, chalk art and music Saturday evening as Street Fest took place on Capitol Street. Hundreds attended the event, filling the block with everything from an area for children and family activities to costumed attendees available for photos and restaurants filled with food and drink on their patios.

One of the highlights to this eighties themed evening was a band from Clarksburg called Eighties Enough. They played every genre of retro music from the decade that brought us shoulderpads and stonewashed jeans. They crossed the gamut of musicians from Michael Jackson to Devo to the ballads of Bon Jovi and REO Speedwagon. Best of all, they did it well! Too often, events such as these draw bands who lack the ability to hold the interest of a crowd, but Eighties Enough, with their vocalist Eric Lewis, truly made the evening memorable.

It was interesting to see a band’s setlist go from the rock and roll sounds of Poison to Run DMC so seamlessly, but they kept it fun and upbeat for the crowd, who were hoping to find shade from a nearly 90 degree afternoon in the sun. The band includes Lewis on keyboard, guitar and lead vocals, Jim Poling on lead guitar and vocals, Rick Martin on bass and Jason Lantz on drums and vocals. Lewis said that this was their first time playing in Charleston, WV, but they enjoyed their visit. With the impression they left on those in attendance, it certainly won’t be their last!

For more on the band, visit their website at or their facebook page at

Another Charleston Street-Fest is planned in August with activities for all ages.

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.”

Goodwolf performs at Sullivan’s, Empty Glass on Saturday


Tyler Grady

In celebration of their latest album release, Tyler Grady of local alternative rock band Goodwolf will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Sullivan’s Records, 1588 Washington St. E. The show will be solo-acoustic due to limited space. The event will take place after regular store hours and it will be BYOB.

After the in-store performance, the full band will perform at the Empty Glass, 410 Elizabeth St. MJX will also perform.

Both events are album release shows for Goodwolf’s new album, “Car in the Woods,” which officially was released this week on vinyl. The digital version of the album was released in October.

For more information, visit the band’s Facebook.

Stolen gear alert

Local jazz guitarist Ryan Kennedy is the latest victim of music gear thieves.

According to his Facebook page, someone stole Kennedy’s Mackie ProFX12 mixer from his car on Tuesday night. It looks like this:


The thieves also got a Boss BCB 60 pedal board containing the following guitar effects pedals:

  • Hardwire Stereo Reverb Pedal
  • Hardwire delay pedal
  • Xotic BB plus distortion pedal
  • Dunlop Crybaby Wah Wah pedal

Keep your eyes on local pawn shops for this stuff. If you have any information about the theft, call Charleston Police at 304-348-6480, or send Ryan a message on his Facebook page.

You might recall back in July that Jeremy Davis, fiddler for the local bluegrass group Total Meltdown, had his fiddle and mandolin stolen from his home. No reason to believe these crimes are related, of course, except that some people are big ol’ jerks.

‘Fiddler’ brings excitement to the Clay Center

The Charleston Light Opera Guild and the Clay Center has just finished another brilliant, successful production of “Fiddler on the Roof.”

This classic musical is one of the most successful musicals to take to the stage holding the record for the longest-running Broadway musical for nearly 10 years. Because of the popularity of the musical and the demand for a family-friendly performance the Charleston Light Opera Guild has put on the production five times in the past.

This classic musical is known for hit songs like “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Matchmaker” and “Sunrise, Sunset,” as well as its lovable and relatable characters.

Based on a short story by Sholom Aleichem, the story centers on Tevye the dairyman and his family in Anatevka, on the eve of the Russian Revolutionary Period. In this small town their Jewish religious traditions is something they follow closely to be closer to God.

He tries to instill these traditional values in his five daughters, but due to unforeseen circumstances and changing times, he must decide what is most important to him – tradition or family.

Joe Romagnoli, a West Virginia native who played Tevye, couldn’t have made his character any better.

Romagnoli was charming, likable, relatable and funny. In a nutshell, he was the perfect Tevye and he rightfully stole the show. “If I Were A Rich Man,” one of the main character’s most notable songs, was nothing less than perfection.

Audience members laughed with the character as he playfully questioned God about his life. They also felt a lump in their throats when he said goodbye to his daughter Hodel who left Anatevka to be with her betrothed.

Tevye’s three oldest daughters, played by Beth Winkler Bowden, Brynna Horswell and Katherine Shaver, also stole the spotlight with their phenomenal voices. “Matchmaker,” a song sung by the trio, brilliantly showcased their voices and acting abilities. This was probably the best-performed song of the evening.

And Yente, the matchmaker — there are no words on how perfect Debbie Cannada was in this role. Nearly ever line she spoke had audience members bursting out in laughter.

One of the biggest surprises of the night for me (and other audience members at the performance) was “Tevye’s “dream.”

After making arranging a match between his oldest daughter and the wealthy butcher Lazar Wolf, Tevye learned that Tzeitel loved Motel, the tailor. They came to him and after some convincing the couple received his blessing to be married.

Instead of telling his wife, Golde, about the ordeal he had a “dream” which explained why Tzietel and Wolf should not marry. After being shaken awake by his wife, he tells her about the dream while she listens to interpret what it means.

In this dream Grandma Tzietel came back from the grave to congratulate him on the match—except the she was congratulating the match between Motel and Tzietel.

Then, to really convince his wife, Tevye made up that the ghost of the butcher’s late-wife, Fruma-Sarah, threatened their daughters life. She said that if Tzietel married the butcher she would kill her within three weeks of their marriage.

Now I wasn’t a fan of this part back when I saw the film when I was younger, but this was probably my favorite ensemble number of the musical. It was funny and audience members couldn’t seem to get enough. Every single element of the number — the choreography, the costuming and the characters — was spot-on.

Another highlight throughout the play was the high-energy choreography — especially the bottle dance.

This traditional Jewish dance was the highlight of the musical’s wedding scene. Dancers who participate in the dance wear a kippah, a marker of their faith, on their heads in addition to a bottle as they dance.
Then, at one point in the dance they get down on their knees – all while balancing a bottle on their heads.

If you didn’t go this musical, you really missed out.

But don’t worry — the Charleston Light Opera Guild’s upcoming productions look just as promising. Visit for more details.