Give a sweetie Delusions of Grandeur

The comedy quartet Delusions of Grandeur returns to Ashland on Valentine's Day Thursday. They will make their traditional visits to all of the Ashland elementary schools. This will be the group's 11th year of Valentine's Day performances for the schoolchildren of Ashland.

School officials were excited to learn of the group's return this year, as the quartet has been inactive since their triumphant tour of St. Petersburg, Russia.

"We were the first comedy a cappella group to be invited to St. Petersburg," said manager and performer Jan Harrell. "It was an amazing and joyful experience."

The group has traveled throughout Europe and New Zealand as well.

In addition to the morning assemblies at the schools, Delusions of Grandeur will deliver singing valentines and roses to hospitals, businesses, and individuals throughout the day.

For any questions about the assemblies or how to arrange for a singing valentine for a loved one, call Al or Jan at 482-8281.

Art Loves A Lover

Art and music lovers had a grand time and supported the local art community Feb. 9 and 10 at Briscoe ArtWing's HeartFest 2008.

The third annual HeartFest featured more than 20 local artists and musicians. The weekend included hands-on mixed-media Valentine creations for all ages, live music, a bake sale to benefit the ArtWing, and lots of art and crafts. "We hope everyone comes," says artist Carol Hoyt. "Here, we welcome kids and families."

In the spirit of community, the organizers of HeartFest invited Ashland's "Peace Fence" to take part in the festivities. Panels from the famous fence were on display throughout the hallway gallery in honor of the artist community's call for a more peaceful world.

"It will be nice to see the panels indoors and on display," said HeartFest organizer Marcus Scott before the event. "Many of these panels on display were created by artists who will be at HeartFest to share the other creations they have been working on this winter."

The musical lineup for the weekend included Cris Kelly of "One Horse Shy," Jeremy Hickman and Stony Point, and Craig Wright. On Sunday visitors enjoyed Mysha Caruso, also a member of "One Horse Shy, and "Montana Soul."

The artists made up the body of the show with a diverse collection of art, crafts, jewelry, pottery, soap, clothing, hats, magical dolls, and more.

Celebrate Love With Music

Music lovers can celebrate Valentine's Day with a piano solo recital by Roberto Plano. The award-winning 28-year old pianist from Italy will perform a romance-themed solo program that will include Beethoven's Appassionata Sonata in F minor, Debussy's L'Isle Joyeuse, and Schuman's Three Romances. The concert is sponsored by the Rogue Valley Symphony. The performance is Thursday at 8 p.m. at Southern Oregon University's Music Recital Hall, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd.

Plano, a Van Cliburn Competition finalist, impressed music enthusiasts in 2006 when he opened the Rogue Valley's symphony season as a concerto soloist. In addition to numerous prizes, he has two solo CD recordings and has appeared in musical film and television documentaries. He regularly performs throughout Europe and North America.

There will be a complimentary champagne reception following the concert. Reserved seats are available for $35 and $40, and $10 for students. Tickets may be purchased at the door depending on availability.

For advance tickets call the box office at (541) 552-6398 or visit for more information.

A Winter of Romance

Ashland is bursting at its chocolate rich, flower-filled seams with things to do on or around Valentine's Day. The Ashland Springs Hotel, The Plaza Inn Suites, and the Stratford Inn are offering low-cost "romance packages," that are perfect for a weekend getaway.

For $150, guests will receive an overnight stay at one of these fine lodging establishments and an envelope with three $25 vouchers that can be redeemed at local participating restaurants, spas, and retail locations. Many restaurants and retail facilities will also be offering additional treats when visited in person.

The special promotion begins on February — and lasts until March 31. For more information contact the Ashland Chamber of Commerce at (541) 482-3486 or .

Yellow taxi cap driver plays cupid

NEW YORK &

Finding your better half this Valentine's Day could be as easy as hailing a taxi &

especially if Ahmed Ibrahim is in the driver's seat.

The 53-year-old cupid cab driver, as he refers to himself, has spent the past few years playing matchmaker to lonely New Yorkers, setting up more than 70 dates. Nineteen have led to relationships that lasted more than a year.

Ibrahim planned to decorate his yellow cab with red and white hearts and roses for Thursday.

"I've organized so many dates, and it really makes me feel good about it," Ibrahim said. "I've not had one complaint."

Ibrahim said he offers his matchmaking services to passengers he evaluates by listening to conversations and asking a few questions. He then exchanges phone numbers and e-mail addresses.

"I want to know if they're the real deal or just a player," he said. "If you're a player, then forget about it."

One of his clients, Martin Karamon, said he successfully found romance through the cupid cab's services. The relationship ended after about six months, though he and the cab driver stayed in touch.

"I might have to get in his cab again because I just broke up with my girlfriend," said Karamon, 37.