My Town: Charlottesville, Virginia
Schuyler Fisk on Her Beloved Blue Ridge Mountain Home
Despite her primary home base being a strong stone’s throw from Santa Monica, Fisk’s fondness for her childhood hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia isn’t easily overlooked. We caught up with the affable redhead at her family’s ranch in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains and asked about the college town and it’s best-kept secret:
What in Charlottesville do you get homesick for most when living in LA?
I get homesick for running into people I know everywhere I go. There are so many places that I love in Charlottesville, places that LA doesn’t hold a candle to. Vineyards, hiking trails, the restaurants are great and they keep getting better. I love the Downtown Mall area. And, having the university brings in great music. Going to [UVA] football games. It just seems like a real town, with good people.
How would you describe it to someone who’s never been?
It’s feels very East Coast to me and definitely has a southern thing. But it’s a very cultured, artistic open community. I’m really proud of the art scene that has been growing here over the last few years. And, compared to LA, the pace of life is different. People are less in a hurry. They enjoy the beautiful place that they’re living in. I love coming back.
Do you find the pace and the scenery inspiring?
Yes. It just feels right to me. It’s what I grew up with. It feels good, like this is where I’m supposed to be. There’s something about having time to yourself, when you’re not doing things, just being quiet. You can take in more; you’re not so focused on what you’re doing next. LA can be overwhelming in that way.
Culturally speaking what are some of your favorite places in Charlottesville?
The Paramount Theater that they just revamped and reopened. It’s a beautiful place to see music. Gravity Lounge—I played there the last time I was in Charlottesville. Also, in the summertime, Fridays After Five at the end of the Downtown Mall. They’ll have a really great band that everyone’s heard of and they sell beer and you can sit on the lawn and see friends and listen to music. I love going there. It’s a really historic part of town. There are also a lot of galleries and openings, especially with the university. Le Yeux Du Monde is a good one that’s downtown, and the McGuffey Art Center.
Do have any favorite local musical acts?
There’s Sparky's Flaw —four or five guys that I’ve known since they were younger. I’ve seen their band grow and become really solid. Devin Sproule is a local artist and she’s really great. She started playing years and years ago and I would go see her play. We have a great music scene. Robin and Linda Williams are really great obviously.
You mentioned great restaurants. What’s your favorite place to dine when your parents are footing the bill?
My parents’ favorite place to go is Downtown Grille. I love their Iceberg-wedge salads. And there’s an amazing new restaurant, Ten, above Blue Light Grill, with really good sushi. Some of my favorite places, though, are really cheap. Like Marco and Luca's ("the Dumpling Man") in the Downtown Mall, Bodos Bagels, and the Bel Air Market for sandwiches. And Arch's has the best frozen-yogurt and gooey brownies.
Considering the sizeable university population, where do you go when you want to avoid the college scene?
I love to go hiking up Sugar Hollow. Going out in the country you can drive twenty minutes in any direction and you’re away from everything. It’s so beautiful out there on the farms. There are lots of places to escape—it’s a big small town. Especially if you grew up here and you know where to go, and if there’s traffic you know the best ways to get around it.
What is Charlottesville’s best-kept secret?
I’m not telling. [Pauses] Maybe just that we have all of this great wine. When you think of wine you think of Sonoma not Charlottesville, but we have great vineyards like Whitehall and Keswick that are winning big awards.
Catch Fisk on the West Coast this month as she plays three shows at Hotel Café, January 14th, 21st and 28th.
Arch's, 104 14th St NW, Charlottesville. (434) 984-2724
Marco & Lucas, 112 W Main St, Charlottesville. (434) 295-3855
Ten, 120B East Main St, Charlottesville. (434) 295-6691
Sugar Hollow, 2401 Ivy Rd, Charlottesville. (434) 971-6608
Second photo by Godolfin1 via Flickr
Third photo by Onealchristopher via Flickr
Seventh photo by Charles P. Everitt via Flickr