verge AUGUSTA & THE CSRA
FREE | SEPTEMBER 2010 |VOL 3 ISSUE 6 | YOUR SOURCE FOR COMMUNIT Y DRIVEN NEWS
ARTS Westobou: A 10 Day Arts Immersion + MUSIC Pink’s Drummer Hits Rock Bottom THEATRE Le Chat Noir Opens Season + CLUB New Upscale Bar on Broad Opens FOOD Jai West’s Casa Blanca + PEOPLE Rosemary’s Healing Garden
2 september 2010 | community driven news| vergelive.com
vergelive.com | community driven news | september 2010 3
4 september 2010 | community driven news| vergelive.com
publisher Matt Plocha editor Lara Plocha pipeline Claire Riche contributors Chris Selmek, Alison Richter, PM Rogers, John Cannon, Dino Lull, Ashley Plocha, Charlotte Okie, Elizabeth Benson, Holly Birdsong, Brandi Freeman, Jennifer Maslyn, Ben Casella
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1102 Bar & Grill 1102 Back Bar 8th Street Tobacco AB Beverage Aficionados Artisitic Perceptions Augusta Amusements Augusta Ballet Augusta Canal Authority Augusta Players Augusta State Blue Sky Kitchen Brigan’s Casella Eye Center Curiosity Shop Design Concepts Edge Salon and Spa Elduets Treasures First Presbyterian Fort Gordon Halo Salon and Spa HD Lounge Health Central Import Auto Exchange Manuel’s Bread Cafe Mary Pauline Project Metro Pub & Coffeehouse Milton Ruben Modish Nacho Mamas New Moon Cafe Paine College Peach Mac Polka Dot Pig Power Serve Re-Fresh Rock Bottom Music Rooster’s Beak Sacred Heart Sanford, Bruker & Banks Stella Stillwater Taproom The Book Tavern Vintage Ooollee Windsor Jewelers Zimmerman Gallery
yeah, we made this
What A Difference A Community Makes
I was recently faced with some pretty hefty and difficult decisions. For me, the primary issue was: “How am I serving my community in these decisions that need to be made?” I kept drawing back on the past two and a half years of VERGE and further back to my earlier days of community activism. What do we stand for? What have we accomplished? What have we yet to accomplish? To determine the answers that needed to be made (rather quickly), I continued to focus on that key question because the bottom line was: do I support my local community or not. VERGE has strived to be a community inclusive newspaper – a true grassroots effort with strong local ties to our community. Our goal is to enlighten and uplift while providing our readers an opportunity to become more involved in VERGE and this city. So, I analyzed any impact we may have made over the past two and a half years and, after speaking with many of you, the decision had already been made for me. It was actually quite easy – come back to the community that started VERGE. The option of “shelving” or “pausing VERGE was never an option for me. We were greatly saddened that the August issue did not go to press. That all said, the decision for the future of VERGE has been made, thanks to the huge support of our family, friends and community: we will begin publishing VERGE twice per month beginning in October. Our editor has already started to mix it up and, over the next few weeks, will begin to bring you even greater local coverage of the entire Augusta community including Columbia and Aiken Counties. Be assured, we still believe that downtown is the heartbeat of our community and our focus will continue there. But there are so many great ways for you to get involved in your community, no matter where that community might be in the CSRA. So, look for some new editorial features, highlights and coverage in October – Go Editorial Team – you all ROCK! You will receive your local community driven news during the first week of the month (the Wednesday before First Friday as usual) and then two weeks after that, each and every month. Our advertisers, supporters and partners are raring to go. In life, sometimes you need to go through the fire in which you entered to get back out. Making the right decisions at times in life are not the easiest ones to make but they are always the correct decisions. We all must begin to look ourselves in the mirror and question our motives, our participation in and our commitment to our community. The decision came to our family without hesitation. We needed to publish VERGE again independently, grassroots, locally owned and operated. The way it should be. Community Driven! And September’s issue is no different – events from the upcoming Westobou Festival dominate the pages (there are some great articles and ads for some really cool independent events going on during the festival). But you’ll also find many other great events to check out, people to meet, and places to go. We’re looking forward to Arts in the Heart (a perennial favorite), Border Bash, music concerts galore, and Friday and Saturday markets to attend. Let’s not forget that the smell of football is in the air. We also have a new look to our website done by some real professionals – thanks Team Kruhu! Go and check it out at VERGELIVE.COM. It is an exciting time to be in Augusta. Our family wants to thank each and everyone who has ever picked up a copy of, advertised in or participated with us. You are VERGE. VERGE – Locally Owned, Locally Operated. A Community Driven newspaper See you Downtown! - Matt
you won’t want to miss a page
all about westobou
17 The Augusta-Columbia Connection 19 Denyce Graves 21 Art Experience 2010
Six artists from ifArt Gallery transform Old RIchmond Academy
Opera like you’ve never heard (or seen) before
Artists’ Row offers multiple hands-on arts opportunities
22 How to Westobou Under $100 27 Miss Saigon by The Augusta Players 27 Liz Lerman Dance Exhange and Drift 29 13 Most Beautiful 31 Earl Klugh 33 The Del McCoury Band 35 Ralph Alessi and Ravi Coltrane 37 The Prism Concert We’ve picked out one event each day of the festival
The modern retelling of Madame Butterfly in grand scale
Augusta native brings modern dance about Augusta home
Andy Warhol’s screen tests come to life with original music
An intimate evening with one of jazz’ finest musicians
Del McCoury’s path to bluegrass fame wound for fifty years
Two jazz greats meet on stage for a night of innovation
Composer Larry Clark creates original Westobou composition
more september features 09 10 11 12 13 15
Hometown Heroes: Rosemary Forrest Morris Museum Opens Fim Fest with Dive The New Spirit of The Augusta Ballet New Upscale Bar on Broad Opens Pink’s Drummer Comes to Rock Bottom Le Chat Noir Begins New Season with Bent
experience more 07 07 25 25 35 37 39 39 41
Discover Downtown Urban Progress ChefSpeak: Jai West of Casa Blanca Beers Locals Like Uptown: Augusta & Columbia County Across the River: North Augusta & Aiken Fresh Food: Saturday Market In Progress: The Emporium Part The Last Word
ON THE COVER Sacred Heart by Margaret Ann Smith
“Art has always been a part of my life. As a young child, I doodled on every surface imaginable. My parents were impressed, so they enrolled me in the Gertrude Herbert Art Institute.
For years, I put my art on the backburner. Although, raising a family was very fulfilling, I missed being creative. My art may have been out of sight, but it was never out of mind. Because of this longing to quench my thirst as an artist, I returned to painting about 13 years ago. My latest artistic adventure has been to paint the Town – and I do mean literally paint the town; for I have made it my quest to paint historical landmarks and other well-known places in the Augusta area. The fun part is that I have given myself the freedom to paint as creatively as I feel, totally defying the laws of nature. I am excited about my current quest as an artist, locally, but also intend to broaden my horizons, reaching beyond the boundaries of the Augusta area in the near future.” Margaret Ann Smith’s work can be seen at Gallery on the Row, 1016 Broad Street. GALLERYONTHEROW.COM
here’s what inspires us
“The greater danger for most of us lies not in
setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” - MICHELANGELO
vergelive.com | community driven news | september 2010 5
6 september 2010 | community driven news| vergelive.com
discover downtown dine
Gallery on the Row
Soy Noodle House
Gertrude Herbert Institute
Casella Eye Center
Gallery on the Row is a cooperative partnership of eight local artists, all of whom have displays in local homes and businesses. This enterprise includes Barbara Whetstone Fox specializing in pet portraiture, Margaret Ann Smith whose scenes of Augusta have appeared in many local magazines (including this month’s cover of verge), Forrest Roberts’ nature and wildlife photography, Betsy Borgotti’s pottery and many more. The collection, as a whole, is a composition of many different mediums including oil and acrylics, as well as more exotic types of art like pottery and furniture making. The Gallery will also be offering art demonstrations and classes during the Westobou Festival. Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Soy Noodle House has become a Broad Street
reviews on URBANSPOON.COM.
The Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art unveils two new exhibitions on Sept. 17th, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The 30th annual “A Sense of Place” fine art competition will hold their reception and award presentation alongside the opening of Jackson Cheatham’s “Objective Restraint” collection of recent graphite drawings. Executive Director Rebekah Henry said these are part of about six main shows the institute likes to hold each year with the purpose of identifying trends in modern art. The Institute will also begin teaching art classes in September, in a variety of mediums, and for all ages from two and a half through adults. For a complete list of classes and start times visit GHIA. ORG or drop by the Gertrude Herbert Institute 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, or Saturday by appointment only.
The Casella Eye Center has been an Augusta fixture for 62 years. Started by Victor Casella in 1948, the Center now belongs to son and grandson Thomas and Ben Casella. “It’s a pretty good litmus test for a business when the doctors receive their care there,” said Ben, a proud third generation optometrist. Ben specialized in ocular diseases, while Thomas is “one of those older generation eye doctors who do a little bit of everything, and that’s the best kind.” The doctors Casella make it their mission to offer comprehensive eye care while giving each customer the time and attention they deserve. They also dispense glasses and contacts, and take walk-ins. Hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. until 1 p.m. on Wednesdays. Appointments: 706.722.0817.
1016 Broad Street
1032 Broad Street
favorite in their short time already, owing mainly to word-of-mouth and the satisfaction of their customers. Owners Sae and Mia Shin grew up eating authentic Asian food, and this is their way of giving the taste of Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Chinese and Thai cuisine to the community. “We aim to keep our food prices low so people can afford to come more than once a week,” said Sae. “We have some customers who stop by nearly every day.” Every dish uses fresh meats and vegetables with sauces mixed daily. The staff is even willing to substitute sauces or season to order for customers who know what they like. Soy Noodle House is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Check out the
506 Telfair Street
767 Broad Street
article and photos by CHRISTOPHER SELMEK
An Introduction to the Downtown Development Authority The Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is an organization dedicated to improving the economy of Augusta, and holds public meetings in their office in the White Building on the second Thursday of every month at 8:30 a.m. Margaret Woodard serves as the DDA’s executive director with enthusiasm and a passion for helping Augusta grow. She answers to the six current members of the DDA board including President Steven Kendrick, Vice-President Mark Bowling, Commissioner J.R. Hatney, Secretary Joey Hadden, Treasurer Cameron Nixon and Rick Allen. A seventh position remains unfilled at this time. “We love people to come in and see how much work [Woodard] does each month,” said Kendrick. “It’s kind of hard to see if you’re not directly involved, but there’s a lot going on that she takes care of.” According to the group’s mission statement, the DDA exists to improve the economy of AugustaRichmond County by coordinating an aggressive public/private program to promote the redevelopment and growth of downtown Augusta. The group accomplishes this largely by matching private investments for public improvements, including $30,000 they recently approved for regranting applications. “We had a lot of new business to discuss at our last meeting that’s related to the new Special-Purpose Local-Option Sales Tax,” said Woodard. “We got an allocation from the city of $850 thousand that was not project specific and we’re slated to get 1.2 million more, which should come in 2013.” The DDA has been dolling out tax-money since 2002, and the boundaries of their influence now extend from Bobby Jones Expressway in the east to Milledge Road in the west, and from the Savannah River to Wrightsboro Road. “We expanded our boundaries a few years ago because we really wanted to pick up some key gateways to the city as well as assist MCG (Medical College of Georgia) and Paine College in some of the improvements they were making,” said Woodard. In the coming weeks, the DDA is beginning several new projects within this area: adding new sidewalks, streetlights and trees to James Brown Blvd, putting new streetlights along Broad Street, building a new stage at the 8th St. Bulkhead for Candlelight Jazz and the Saturday market, providing
a parking deck for the new Hyatt Place Hotel and revisiting the old parking ordinance to make it easier to enforce. “We’re very excited to get started on these and see how much it benefits downtown,” said Woodard. “James Brown Boulevard is going to become a major gateway to the city after we get finished with the streetscape, and that’s going to open up opportunity for more development.” Because these projects are funded by and provided for the people of the city of Augusta, Woodard says she always makes extra efforts for transparency. That’s why the meetings are public, and include approving the minutes of the last meeting as well as a financial report, director’s report, a review of old business and a discussion of new business. In addition, all the groups meeting minutes, as well as their financial reports, are available to the public at MYAUGUSTADOWNTOWN.COM. Woodard hopes that by keeping people informed it will increase their interest, and ultimately benefit everyone living in Augusta. article and photo by CHRISTOPHER SELMEK
vergelive.com | community driven news | september 2010 7
8 september 2010 | community driven news| vergelive.com
Rosemary Forrest Reaps Hope
THE CHILDREN’S GARDEN
“At Hope House, we take a holistic approach. The classes give them another way to live.” - ROSEMARY FORREST
Rosemary Forrest insisted she is no hero, holding out a sheet of paper with her right hand—a piece of paper she cannot feel because of carpal tunnel syndrome. “I have to look at the paper to hold it,” she said. The paper contained a list of people that have volunteered for the Reaping Hope program at Hope House. “Hope House, Inc. is a residential treatment facility that serves women 18 years and older who suffer from the disease of substance abuse and co-occurring mental health disorders. Hope House serves three populations of women: homeless single women, pregnant women, and women with children, many who are seeking to regain custody of their children” [from the website]. Reaping Hope is an organic, self-sustaining garden program at Hope House. It is designed to provide the residents of the house with a meditative and life-skill activity that will benefit them not only in their recovery, but also when they have graduated out of the program. Rosemary, 59, started as a volunteer at Hope House, and is now the Grants Coordinator. She is also a self-described “frustrated potter,” because her carpal tunnel has limited her ability to sustain herself with art alone. As a child, she played in the mud with a friend. Her friend made mud pies. Rosemary fashioned the mud into bowls and cups. At age 19, she visited a college art department with a friend. He was a painter and was leading her down a hallway to the painting studio, but lost Rosemary along the way. She had stopped at the ceramics lab door, mesmerized by the potter’s wheel. Rosemary is used to having her hands in earth and enjoys coordinating the Reaping Hope program, in addition to her writing duties. She admitted though, “I am not a master gardener.” She has had to learn through trial and error with the garden, just as one does in life. In turn, she believes that the care and maintenance of the garden is a great benefit to the residents of Hope House because it is analogous to life, in that one learns more from mistakes than from successes. Reaping Hope started with a meditation garden. The ground was too hard at the property so Rosemary instituted raised beds. The garden is full of herbs and flowers now (including donated azaleas that bloom twice a year), and has been a great benefit to the residents and employees. Many have commented that they enjoy sitting in the garden because of
the sweet scent of the herbs; and the children of Hope House enjoy the stevia, a sweet herb that can be substituted for sugar.
radishes and sunflowers; and got to harvest the radishes in a “scavenger hunt” that was not hard for them because they remembered where the radishes were planted.
Rosemary wrote a grant proposal that won Hope House a grant from Women in Philanthropy to fund an organic garden on the property. The organic garden is now producing, but its growth has been a process. Rosemary has had to learn the hard way about nitrogen content in soil, the pests associated with organic gardening, and about spacing plants, depending on the plant. “I will never put zucchini with anything else again, ever again” she said. The zucchini leaves grew too large because of the soil’s high nitrogen content and blocked light from other plants in the bed.
Hope House includes a functioning daycare for the children that is much more than mere childcare. “At Hope House, we take a holistic approach,” she said, and emphasized that the children of the women have suffered also, and are in need of therapeutic child care. The daycare has a literacy program and there are two playgrounds on the property. The goal being that the children have the chance to be kids and not worry about the welfare of their mothers, or where the next meal will come from and when. Having children on the grounds also motivates the women, and is a better alternative to foster care, said Rosemary.
The tomatoes have been problematic as well. They have not ripened as quickly as they should. However, Rosemary said that it has not, necessarily, been a huge problem because “the ladies love the fried green tomatoes.” The vegetables from the garden are used daily in meals prepared by the women of Hope House for each other. They all take turns sharing the responsibilities, “they cook and eat communally,” and tend the garden. “You can do more with fresh produce than use it in a salad,” said Rosemary. Rosemary conducts gardening and crochet classes for the women. “‘Just say no’ is not a good policy in government or treatment—the classes give them another way to live,” she said. Hope House is designed to “give a person a full life.” It provides free addiction counseling, access to psychiatrists, transportation to work, and housing (on a sliding scale). In the future, Rosemary plans on having a water reclamation system running from a roof to water the gardens. She also intends to focus more on gardening in small spaces. Considering that many of the women will be living in small apartments when they return to independence, Rosemary wants to teach them about growing in small planters and how to grow hanging tomatoes. She is also proposing gardening clubs for the house: one for the women and one for the children. It appears the children hardly need a club though—every time Rosemary goes into the garden the children gather around her asking what they can do. After a storm, the children enthusiastically helped Rosemary rescue damaged sunflowers that were uprooted by the wind. “The children unabashedly love it,” said Rosemary, smiling. The children have their own bed, containing
Hope House has had 15 women reunited with their children in the past year and serves 13 counties in Georgia. The program is generally one year long and in addition to treatment, it includes life and job skills classes. One life skill the residents learn is gardening—a useful skill to have that lowers the grocery bill. “The gardens have resulted in a lot of Joy,” said Rosemary, but made sure to note that it is not all her doing, that she is no hero. She pointed at the list and talked reverently about the late Bill Adams, who bought a number of plants for the garden, provided pine straw, rented an auger, and enlisted his family to assist in the hard work on a cold, rainy day, merely weeks before his accidental demise. Ann Rogers, of Otter Creek Gardens, provided the majority of the plants for the meditation garden. Megan Fletcher, a rising sophomore at Augusta Preparatory Day School and a Girl Scout, mowed lawns to raise money for plants and supplies. She also “secured donations from the Tile Center, Home Depot, and local gardeners.” The Junior League ladies cleared areas and planted lavender and berry bushes. The grant from the Women in Philanthropy funded the organic garden, paid for a composter and a greenhouse. Brian Gandy, of Garden City Organics, assembled the greenhouse and has advised Rosemary on several matters concerning the gardens. Rosemary Forrest has made large clay planters for the garden and intends to teach the children how to make newspaper pots. More on Hope House: HOPEHOUSEFORWOMEN.ORG Reaping Hope Garden: SAGECRONE.BLOGSPOT.COM by PM ROGERS photos courtesy of R. FORREST
vergelive.com | community driven news | september 2010 9
THE ART OF FILM
Morris Presents Southern Circuit Ever wanted to ask a director about a scene and find out why they used that odd camera angle, or chose a close-up for a specific shot, or why, even, is the film high contrast and vividly colored? Morris Museum of Art is providing a forum for these questions and more with its upcoming Southern Circuit Film Series. Starting Sept. 15th the museum will be showing independent films that are touring the southeast. The screenings are part of the Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers, a program of South Arts (a nonprofit organization that promotes art in the southeast). This isn’t the first time Morris has embraced moving pictures. The museum has shown films once a month on Fridays, but the show-times are during the day, and some patrons simply cannot attend because of school or work.
The Southern Circuit Film Series will be more convenient with each screening starting at 6 p.m. Audience members, that do not insist on eating dinner at six, will have the rare opportunity to question a film’s director or producer, after the show. The films in this series, although on a southern tour, have universal content. They are accessible to a variety of audiences, and may interest those whom would not normally go to an art museum. Nicole McLeod, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for the museum, said that the series is “a great way to introduce people to the variety of programs we have here.” Admission to the Southern Circuit Film Series is free for Morris Museum members and $3.00 per person for nonmembers. THE SOUTHERN CIRCUIT TOUR OF INDEPENDENT FILM SERIES September 15, Dive! You will never look at a dumpster the same way again after watching Jeremy Seifert and his cohorts dig through supermarket and grocery store dumpsters for food that is discarded, but still edible. Dive! raises awareness about the vast amount of food thrown away in America today. Most stores throw away food that could be donated because it has reached its sell-by date. Everyone in America should watch this film. October 13, Pelada Over the course of year and spanning 25 countries, Pelada, is an inspiring film about the world wide love for the game of football-soccer as it is known here. The film, directed by Ryan and Rebekah White, documents the journey of Luke and Gwendolyn, former college soccer players who did not make it to the pro level. The two travel the globe and meet people that share their passion for the game-any open space is a soccer field for them. Think World Cup, but on a bigger stage. November 10, Burning in the Sun Entrepreneur Daniel Dembele, 26, returns to his native country Mali to start up a business building solar panels, and to empower the small village of Banko with electricity. The film documents the growth of Daniel’s company and its impact in a place where 99% of the population live without electricity. Mali is located in northwest Africa and includes part of the Sahara desert. When the power goes out in suburbia America, there is panic - Banko residents would have a good laugh at that. Burning in the Sun is directed and produced by Cambria Matlow and Morgan Robinson. February 9, Abel Raises Cain A clever title for a film about a clever man, Alan Abel, who made a career for himself as a professional hoaxer. Produced and directed by his daughter Jenny Abel, the film recounts the many pranks Alan has pulled on the media over the years and follows him during his latest hoax. In Abel Raises Cain Jenny reveals what it was like to have a father that never grew out of being the class clown. March 9, Awake, My Soul: The Story of the Sacred Harp A documentary about a rare form of a capella worship music that has survived through generations in the rural southeast. Filmmakers Matt and Erica Hinton visit several churches where this brand of singing is still practiced. Referred to in the film as “the earliest music in America,” Sacred Harp singing is beloved by its singers and has a profound affect on those listening. One man says in the film, while sitting in a pew, “When I sat down and heard that, it was just like I’d received salvation.” April 13, Prodigal Sons documents the reunion of estranged brothers. However, one of the brothers, the one that was a star quarterback, is now a she, Kimberly Reed, the producer and director of the film. Adding to this dramatic reunion is the discovery that the adopted brother is the grandson of Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth. Prodigal Sons follows the siblings as they travel back to their hometown in Montana, attempting to reform their relationship of the past in light of who they are at present.
MORE | THEMORRIS.ORG by PM ROGERS photo SOUTHERN ARTS FEDERATION
10 september 2010 | community driven news| vergelive.com
THE ART OF DANCE
The New Spirit of the Augusta Ballet In terms of funding and survival, 2006 was a pivotal time for ballet companies across the U.S. Many were closing due to lack of patron support, economic challenges and the changing face of dance: traditional audiences remained entrenched in classic performances while younger crowds looked toward modern interpretation. In the midst of this, the Augusta Ballet, which certainly faced obstacles of its own, somehow managed to survive and move forward. While the company continued to take chances with the new while respecting the old, Jennifer Franks, a specialist in 18th-century European Decorative Art, was working first at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and then in New York City, where she had spent most of her adult life working for Christie’s auction house, directing antique firms and private art collections. Augusta did not land on her radar until her husband, a scientist specializing in lupus research, was recruited by MCG. The couple relocated, and after a year of her commuting to New York, Franks took over as executive director of the Augusta Ballet. “Dance consumes my thoughts and is my private passion. To my mind dance is physical poetry of the spirit,” she says. “So joining the Augusta Ballet was a perfect match for me.” VERGE: What made the position of executive director most appealing to you? FRANKS: Augusta is a great place, culturally speaking, with a rich tradition. My background is in art and business; that is my niche. I know what it means to be part of a specialized niche and translate that into relevancy. Arts face the task of growing. Even in New York, maintaining a specialized niche is challenging. Dance faces the task of showing people that it is not tutus and tiptoes anymore. Dance has truly evolved. What impressed me about the Augusta Ballet is that it represents that evolution on its stage and that’s what got it out of debt. This is one of the few debtfree ballets in the nation, having understood what it takes for art to stay relevant. I understand that very well. VERGE: What is your vision for the Augusta Ballet? FRANKS: The new spirit of the ballet stems from being debtfree, and the question is what do you do with that gift to better serve the community? Art, like dance, accentuates the quality of life, and as I stepped in I could see the mission revolving around fiscal, artistic, and community responsibility. In New York, you have access to greater collections of art. You can develop an eye and sensibility, and it’s a great premium. I wrongfully feared I would loose that connection here. Augusta Ballet offers a global window to the CSRA; taking artistic chances is what attracted me to the ballet along with our shared spirit of believing in who you are where you are (versus letting a place or circumstance define you). We care about community. Philadelphia taught me that. When people look at what we do, we want them to know that we benefit and care for them. Our performances, events and outreach are about community. You can see that on our blog [ARTISLIFEAUGUSTA.TUMBLR. COM], which celebrates the unique heart and soul of Augusta. The new spirit of Augusta Ballet is about using new-found freedom to serve our community on a deeper level. For example, we have an outreach program promoting fitness through dance with a focus group of kids who will medically benefit. We plan to partner with area hospitals. Our endeavors must truly leave a positive mark in our community. VERGE: How does this new spirit reflect ballet companies worldwide? FRANKS: Something is happening in dance everywhere. The Nutcracker is not pulling people to dance the way it once did. Ballet is expressing modern evolution. Alonzo King’s Lines is an example of classic and modern ballet styles. As ballet transitions, you see onstage a mesh of these styles. In order for dance to survive, you have to engage people.
JENNIFER FRANKS of THE AUGUSTA BALLET
“Dance faces the task of showing people that it is not tutus and tiptoes anymore.” - JENNIFER FRANKS
Augusta Ballet seeks to elevate and educate its audience. Art can also uplift. My tastes are not the same as they were after studying collections around the world. My artistic sensibilities changed. What I like most about the Augusta Ballet is it’s bringing quality, progressive, global dance to Augusta; this is what got them out of debt, so obviously the traditional audience did not shun it. This doesn’t imply tradition is forgotten. In our fast-paced technological era, the old is increasingly fashionable. Augusta Ballet is very modern in their understanding and depiction of the two worlds, and I admire their courage to show it.
The Ballet’s Season
VERGE: What are your goals for the Augusta Ballet? FRANKS: If you research the Augusta Ballet [AUGUSTABALLET. ORG], you will see what they do. Using dance to unite young people is first on my agenda: to reach the crowd that is under 40. I want to involve them in our efforts for positive community growth. We have an “Anyone Can Dance Camp” in December, in which we explore more diverse dance styles and music. We will continue to engage more people, ultimately allowing us to make a greater impact. It is a wonderful time for the ballet. We are in total support of downtown, other arts organizations and the things of which we are a part. Philadelphia greatly inspired me, preparing me to live in other places besides New York. There I witnessed the arts and people thriving despite economic trouble. I believe such a renaissance can only happen when the arts, the heart and soul of a community, come together, inspiring people to do the same. I look forward to collaborating deep within our community reaching toward that goal. My prediction is that the Augusta Ballet, and Augusta in general, will thrive as long as we embrace a spirit of togetherness. Our organization is not about any one person. It is about what we do, especially together, that truly resonates and manifests a positive spirit. by ALISON RICHTER photo HOLLY BIRDSONG
WHO Remember Me by Parsons Dance & East Village Opera Company of New York WHERE Imperial Theatre WHEN Thursday September 23 at 7 PM WHY Requested by popular demand before the show retires this year.
WHO Paul Taylor Dance Company WHERE Imperial Theatre WHEN Thursday April 14, 2011 at 7 PM WHY Paul Taylor’s anniversary tour; he’s considered one of the best choreographers alive today and his contribution to the art world has gained him every known award.
TICKETS | AUGUSTABALLET.ORG
vergelive.com | community driven news | september 2010 11
THE ART OF FLAIR
New Bar on Broad Serves with Flair
MIKE GUTHRIE IN THE BAR
As a businessman, Mike Guthrie has his finger on the pulse of downtown Augusta, and is no stranger to the intricacies of opening and operating a successful nightclub. Over the years, he has overseen the operation of two venues, and has kept a close eye on the ebb and flow of local trends and customer preferences. Guthrie’s new and third club, located at 917 Broad St., is simply and effectively called The Bar and caters to a different clientele. There’s no live music, no Schlitz sign in the window, and no tolerance for inappropriate conduct. The immediate term that comes to mind is “upscale,” although the focal point is not currency as much as it is demeanor and etiquette. “We don’t require a coat and tie,” Guthrie says, “but at the same time, a dress code will be enforced. Here’s my theory: Women like to dress up when they go out. They want to sit on nice chairs, use clean restrooms that aren’t covered in graffiti, and they especially want to feel safe. So if men are going to show up here, they’d better look good and act right.” With Broad Street real estate at a prime, Guthrie’s instincts led him to invest in the building, one side of which is being leased to another proprietor, and the other — 3000 square feet of it — housing The Bar. While he’s the first to admit that there are only so many ways to serve a Budweiser, what matters is having a triple-A plan in place: ambience, approach and aura. “Plenty of places sell alcohol,” he says. “You have to do something different in order to attract customers.” At The
Bar, that means beer, wine, top-shelf drinks and a staff that’s trained in the art of “Flair” bartending. Guthrie is a seasoned traveler who has carefully noted the revitalization of downtown areas in other cities and what draws loyal clientele. He sees similar concepts in Augusta’s downtown area, which he has been a part of since Broad St. began its rebirth in the 1990s. “I have seen places come and go,” he says, “but those that have a unique concept become a staple and are seen as part of downtown. A lot of people share the vision and want to see it keep growing.” He takes a pragmatic approach toward the economic challenges faced by business owners and their patrons. “I don’t think we’re still in a downward spiral,” he says. “I also don’t think we’re on a fast climb upward. I would say we’re at a pause, but looking at downtown and seeing new businesses opening in just the past three months, those things create jobs and bring people downtown, and those things take us in the right direction. As club owners, we’re always asked if we’re worried when a new place opens, but we’re really a group of people who have each other’s backs. Everyone is out to make a living, of course, but we all feed off of each other in a positive way. There’s no rivalry going on. We all benefit from each other’s success.” by ALISON RICHTER photo ELIZABETH BENSON
12 september 2010 | community driven news| vergelive.com
THE ART OF THE BEAT
Drummer Mark Schulman Plays and Lives in the Now
“If you listen to death metal, but you listen to Miles Davis on your way to rehearsal, you will expand
your horizons and your performance.”
MARK SCHULMAN BY SAM GRACEY
- MARK SCHULMAN TO HIS STUDENTS
Drummer Mark Schulman will hold a free clinic at Rock Bottom Music on Sept. 9th at 7:00 p.m. That’s very basic information about a musician who is anything but basic. In addition to a touring and recording resume that makes heads spin — Richard Marx, Stevie Nicks, Billy Idol, Cher, Velvet Revolver, Simple Minds, most recently his second tour with P!NK … and that’s just scratching the surface of his credentials — Schulman is also a teacher, producer, author-in-progress and motivational speaker. With little to no down time in his schedule, Mark Schulman spoke to verge from his car. He was on his way from yet another Point A to a destined Point B, always working on his music, himself and the greater goal of helping others. VERGE: You perform with jazz, pop and rock artists, doing session work and touring. Aside from your obvious talent, what keeps you in demand? SCHULMAN: Philosophically speaking, attitude is everything. You create your behavior, and that creates the outcome and consequences of your life. Early on, I was very energetic and optimistic and forward driven. If a gig was available, I thought, It might as well be me. If you think you can’t do it, you’re right. I was so adamant about having success in this business that it would have been very hard to stop me. I still feel that my m.o. in general is, “I’m going to succeed because I know I can.” I have a variety of things to offer. I want to be a fundamental member of something. I always do my best to make it easy for everybody else. I try to be kind and considerate and not communicate negatively about anybody. I want to be the guy you can count on, who will give support. That’s what I live by. VERGE: Where does that philosophy come from? SCHULMAN: That comes from having a great family background — a loving, supportive family. My parents just celebrated their 60th anniversary. I learned from extraordinary mentors like Dr. Jim Samuels, whom I began
working with in 1984. I have a very firm sense of gratitude. I’ve had hardships in my life. I had cancer; I had brushes with health issues that could have been fatal, and those things affect who we are. I realize as a professional musician that every note matters, and I give every ounce of my being to playing. I also realize that all we have is now, and life is a series of nows. Where we live now determines our future, and those are things and philosophies that I still need to remind myself. I work very hard to pay attention to who I am and who I want to be to other people. VERGE: You are well versed in so many genres of music. Is there a tendency amongst musicians to box themselves into one genre and not explore and expand their boundaries? SCHULMAN: I look at life like this: I love Mexican food, but I don’t want to eat it three times a day for the next year. I love different kinds of music for my different moods, which is why I don’t listen to the same music over and over. I really dig a lot of styles, and even if you don’t necessarily love it or relate to it … for example, I don’t love rap, but I produce rap artists and I think the phrasing is fantastic. I tell my students, “If you listen to death metal, but you listen to Miles Davis on your way to rehearsals, you will expand your horizons
and your performance, and you will learn something from it.” The Internet has opened things up. This is a time of opportunity and diversity. A link on YouTube takes you to 25 other suggestions, and all the connected links expand your horizons. It’s a unique and amazing thing. The idea is to expose yourself to as much as you can because you don’t know what you’re missing. How can you say you don’t like jazz when there are so many styles of jazz and so many elements to it that you can’t possibly limit yourself to one? It’s narrow-minded to say, “I don’t like jazz,” when there is in fact some jazz you would probably love. VERGE: You write, produce, teach, hold clinics, tour and do nonprofit work. How do you give equal time to all of your projects? SCHULMAN: There are so many things going on that it is hard to focus on high priority. My studio partners, Julian Coryell and Erich Gobel, and I are doing a reality television pilot. I work with kids in detention camps. I’m writing a book, I’m teaching, I’m doing public speaking. I have a very diverse lifestyle. I like to keep myself interested. I now have a daughter who is the most important thing to me. Life is about balance, and like everyone else, I do my best to find mine and focus on my strengths and being of service. The DVD [A Day In The Recording Studio] is out and it is selling well. Gretsch has a signature snare coming out for me for winter NAMM. I’m currently producing Kat Lucas from the P!NK band and Jordan Azor from Australia. I am also doing many private online drum lessons. There’s a lot going on. I love being on the beach with a margarita as much as the next guy, but I enjoy my work and I find things to do that I enjoy. VERGE: What should attendees expect to hear at your upcoming clinic?
SCHULMAN: I answer questions. I’m a storyteller. Traditionally, historically, we learn through stories. I tell road stories that all have a theme or moral attached to them. I do at least one lesson. I love the surprise of clinics because I feed off of the audience’s energy. I play a hybrid of styles and influences, from metal to Bollywood. I do and say things differently because I want people to walk away going, “Wow, I can do this too,” and feel a sense of inspiration, not a sense of defeat. by ALISON RICHTER
Plan To Go
WHO Mark Shulman’s Drum Clinic WHERE Rock Bottom Music at
758 Broad St. WHEN Thursday, September 9 at 7 PM | FREE WHY This incredible drummer hangs out with Pink. Need we say more?
INFO | ROCKBOTTOMMUSIC.COM MORE | To learn more about Mark Schulman — and there is so much more to learn — MARKSCHULMAN.US MARKSCHULMAN.NET
vergelive.com | community driven news | september 2010 13
14 september 2010 | community driven news| vergelive.com
THE ART OF THE STAGE
Le Chat Noir Takes Unusual Bent with New Season Le Chat Noir did it again. Opening their fifth season with Martin Sherman’s Bent, Le Chat created a cocktail of edginess, uncomfortable humor, sexual frustration and repressed energy. And left the audience with the drink still bubbling in their hands and minds. Over thirty years after its West-End premiere, Bent continues to stun audiences with its raw honesty, disturbing examination of cowardice and exposure of the persecution of homosexuals during the Nazi regime. This production, directed by Richard Justice, pulled no punches. The set was brutally reminiscent of a crude prison and the actors, especially Gary Dennis as Max and Krys Bailey as Horst, delivered remarkably heartrending performances. For Max and Horst, this feat became even more poignant during the second act, considering the two men could not touch or barely look at one another while working side-by-side in the Dachau concentration camp. Harrowing and, at times, difficult to watch, Bent stands for everything Le Chat Noir has become: theatre at its thoughtprovoking best.
KRYS BAILEY AND DOUG JOINER PREPARE FOR NEW SEASON
VERGE: What is the process for selecting the plays? BAILEY: We cover the stage with scripts, get Doug Joiner (our Artistic Director) good and liquored up, and then send him out on stage. Whatever script he expels a bodily fluid on or passes out on makes it into the season. We call it Alcoholic Bingo. Actually, we draw from our combined extensive theatrical experience, academic backgrounds, and we read about 50 plays a year. We start with Pulitzers, Tonys, and Oliviers; then we kind of get lost in synopses and, if we don’t find anything new we like, we recall one of those plays we’ve always wanted to do. VERGE: What drew you to this season’s line up? BAILEY: Bent: Richard Justice chose this because it is such a powerful piece that has never been performed here in Augusta. Which is crazy, because this play has been around awhile and it’s a beautiful tragedy. A Skull in Connemara: Doug and I are Martin McDonagh fans. He’s the only playwright since Shakespeare to have five plays running on London’s West End at the same time. We’ve alternated telling McDonagh’s tumultuous stories once a season kind of by accident. A Skull in Connemara will be the last one we produce until A Behanding in Spokane becomes available. Uncle Dickie’s Holiday Spectacular: We have painted ourselves into a Christmas corner, as our folks have grown accustomed to some holiday frivolity. Fortunately, there’s a ton of holiday scripts; unfortunately, they’re all really bad. So, we thought anything we come up with will be better than this tripe. Richard knows just about everyone in this town worth hearing and seeing, so he’ll be inviting Augusta’s finest to participate in his original holiday show. The Good Father: Doug chose this, another Irish play, although it doesn’t have to geographically be Irish. An endearing love story that starts at the end. Just in time for Valentine’s Day. Glengarry Glen Ross: This is one we wanted to do since we started, but feared we couldn’t cast it. Mamet (the playwright) is a challenge even for veteran actors, so we’ve kind of been waiting for all the right actors to align. I think they have.
The trio of directors that make up Le Chat Noir ensure that standard of provocation continues throughout the remainder of this season. Krys Bailey, one-third of the theater’s leading men (the remaining two-thirds are Doug Joiner and Richard Justice), spoke with verge about the season’s scope.
Le Chat Noir’s Season
A SKULL IN CONNEMARA by Martin McDonough
THE DIRECTOR Krys Bailey THE DATES October 8, 9, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23 THE SYNOPSIS Mick Dowd exhumes bodies from the overcrowded graveyard to make room for the newly deceased. When it comes time for him to revisit the grave of his wife, now seven years dead, he faces a questionable past. Those familiar with Le Chat’s previous productions of Martin McDonough’s work (The Pillowman, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, The Lieutenant of Inishmore) and those new to the Irish playwright are in for a treat of gore, grime and dark humor.
UNCLE DICKIE’S HOLIDAY EXTRAVAGANZA THE DIRECTOR Richard Justice THE DATES December 3, 4, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18 THE SYNOPSIS Le Chat’s first in-house variety show will include about every discipline of performance art Augusta has to offer, topped with a hearty dose of holiday cheer.
our first season. This piece is kind of epic and we’ve always been a bit apprehensive to take it on. Considering the huge shows we’ve shoehorned into our little theatre, we feeling rather confident now; the time feels right.
THE GOOD FATHER by Christian O’Reilly THE DIRECTOR Douglas Joiner THE DATES February 11, 12, 18, 19 24, 25, 26 THE SYNOPSIS Somewhere in Dublin, Tim and Janey meet at a New Year’s Eve party. One vodka-and-tonic leads to another, which leads to a very unexpected pregnancy. The play follows Tim’s sentimental (and sometimes tragic) transformation from uneducated house painter to “good father.”
VERGE: What should audiences look forward to this season (themes, effects, actors, etc.)? BAILEY: With our six DAVID MAMET mainstage productions, audiences can look forward to performances that are as thought provoking as they are entertaining. We had a lot of demand for comedy. However, our shows will always be plays that we have chosen usually for their substance (every once in a while, we indulge in some spectacle). That doesn’t mean there isn’t any humor in the shows; it just means we don’t let the consensus dictate our season. The majority of our audience trusts us to entertain them, challenge them, make them laugh and cry sometimes in the same show. Additional programming this year will include First Fridays Extreme Theatre Games with Schroedinger’s Cat. First Saturdays will be our Cabaret night. Soon, Schroedinger’s Cat will be adding a new monthly show called LCNN, a nonpartisan news program that tackles the local, the topical, and pretty much makes fun of everyone equally. VERGE: Which play are you most excited about? FRANKS: All of them. Really. I could name one or two in our first few seasons I personally wasn’t so “on board” with, but every show in our 5th season is pretty exciting. They’re all just good stories to tell, and the holiday show is going to be pure fun.
GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS by David Mamet THE DIRECTOR Krys Bailey THE DATES April 8, 9, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23 THE SYNOPSIS Two real estate agents in Chicago take desperate (and mostly illegal) measures to sell wary customers undesirable property. This Pulitzer Prize winning play is a must-see for any drama buff – or those simply seeking great theater.
AMADEUS by Peter Shaffer THE DIRECTOR Douglas Joiner THE DATES June 10, 11, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25 THE SYNOPSIS Classical music and drama combined produce a gripping story of the famed Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the man who hated to love him, Antonio Salieri. Propelled by his jealousy, Salieri plots and schemes the tragic downfall of Mozart. One of drama’s most notable rivalries.
WHERE | Le Chat Noir at 304 Eighth Street TICKETS | 706.722.3322 or LCNAUGUSTA.COM
by ASHLEY PLOCHA photo FILE
Amadeus: Another piece we have talked about doing since
vergelive.com | community driven news | september 2010 15
16 september 2010 | community driven news| vergelive.com
Ten Days of Art & Fun
The Augusta Columbia Connection
September brings school routines, cooler breezes, football and, my personal favorite, the Westobou Festival. In its third year, the Festival promises a rich variety of music, dance, theatre, film, art, and food. From September 16th through 25th, our town transforms into a giant performing arts arena - from downtown Augusta to Augusta State University to Paine College to North Augusta. What impresses me the most is the collaboration it takes to pull of a festival of this size and nature. This year, much of the ticketing is centralized, making it much easier to plan out your Westobou schedule. Over the next several pages, you’ll find the Westobou events that caught our eye - from art to film to dance to music. There are events that fit into every budget - and for every cause. So get ready for this veritable cornucopia of choices. It’s going to be a soul-satisfying (and if you eat your way through Arts in the Heart, a stomach-satisfying) month. While planning which Westobou events you will attend, don’t forget about dinner! Downtown boasts a number of locally owned and operated restaurants for about every taste bud which make a great way to begin or end an evening outing. For a listing of all the Westobou events - and to purchase tickets - visit WESTOBOUFESTIVAL.COM. — EDITOR
the staying power of al green
Legendary R&B artist Al Green will perform in Augusta as part of the 2010 Westabou Festival. Green’s most recent full-length recording was 2008’s Lay It Down, a collaboration between the soul legend and numerous artists from the worlds of contemporary R&B and hip-hop. The goal: introduce audiences to new music, new artists, and bring a positive message to listeners. Al Green began singing gospel as a child, and performed with various groups throughout his adolescence, including high school choir and Glee Club. Since his start in R&B and so-called “soul” music in the late 1960s, he has remained a constant in the music industry, enjoying chart hits like “Let’s Stay Together” and “I’m Still In Love With You.” He has sold over 20 million records. In 1976, Green became a reverend, and still preaches at Full Gospel Tabernacle in Memphis, Tenn. He continued to record, mostly gospel music, but returned to the R&B he loves in 2003. Earlier this year, he told Thriller magazine that singing and preaching are “all mixed in together. I can’t sing no better than the way I preach, and I can’t preach no better than the way I sing.” Find out for yourself on September 25th, when Al Green performs at the Bell Auditorium. ALGREENMUSIC.COM by ALISON RICHTER
DAVID YAGHJIAN “JOB”
LAURA SPONG “BRIDGE OF NO REGRET”
The old iron trestle hangs above Savannah, holds the tracks steady over the water from South Carolina’s shore to Augusta’s riverfront, continuing down Sixth Street. Follow the tracks with your back to the Savannah and when you reach Telfair St., turn left. The looming gray building, second on your right, is the Old Academy of Richmond County. From 1863 to 1865, it served as a military hospital, housing wounded Confederate soldiers; and, from 1865 to 1867, it was occupied by Union troops, who used the building as headquarters. The historic space is no longer in use; but, from September 17th to the 25th, the building will be revived as part of the Westobou Festival - its old, gray, gray walls will house the colorful works of six artists from if ART Gallery of Columbia, SC. The Augusta-Columbia Connection will bring together the works of several talented artists from Georgia and South Carolina. Presented by Augusta’s Mary Pauline Projects, the exhibit is free and open to all. On display will be the works of Jeff Donovan, Philip Morsberger, Edward Rice, Laura Spong, Mike Williams, and David Yaghjian. In addition to the main exhibition, there will be several events in which the artists will demonstrate their techniques, answer questions, and prove how abnormal they are. JEFF DONOVAN works in a variety of mediums, often depicting misshapen human figures, with emotive expression and awkward body positioning. It is easy to say “I have felt that way,” while viewing the figures in Donovan’s work. He expresses the human condition with ease and aptly describes the artistic condition: “In 1957, due to circumstances beyond my control, I was born, and I’ve been trying to recover from it ever since.” Donovan is exploring the realm of ceramic sculpture, after years of painting. PHILIP MORSBERGER, the Morris Eminent Scholar Emeritus in Art, is well known in Augusta. His bright colored oil paintings with cartoon-like characters in abstraction are a familiar sight at the Morris Museum of Art, including Man with a Necktie that is part of museum’s permanent collection. The figures in Morsberger’s paintings often have what could be described as bottle cap or button eyes, that seem to show a wide-eyed astonishment about the world around them. EDWARD RICE is best known for his paintings of American architecture. The structures in his work are represented in a variety of ways, from the realistic, almost photographic facade, to the slightly abstract, high contrast belfry, cupola, or palace wall. Some of his paintings show buildings in context, as part of a landscape; and some give the viewer cropped, detailed closeups of sections. Rice approaches his subject through a range of filters; and in doing so illustrates life and movement into structures that are otherwise still and silent. LAURA SPONG plays with color, form, texture, shape, and symbols in her non-objective paintings. Her work displays an inward struggle for meaning through dreamlike interpretations of experience. Spong, whose oil paintings have appeared on the Lifetime cable network’s series Drop Dead Diva, explained her vision and artwork: “My vision is that everything is connected. All is part of the whole. From a magnificent landscape to a few blades of grass, each is part of the whole and is equally important. My artworks are fragments of that whole that catch
my eye, emotions, or imagination.” MIKE WILLIAMS is an intuitive painter and sculptor, who takes pride in creating something from nothing. Although he has a concept in mind when he begins a piece, his process is imaginative and exploratory, and he will go wherever a piece takes him in a stream-of-consciousness. Williams loves to fish and freely expresses this in his work. In some of his paintings the fish seem to be woven into canvas, as if he intended to paint something else and they swam into mind. It is also quite a sight to see one of his large, metal fish installations hanging from a crane as if it was just caught in the sky. DAVID YAGHJIAN was known for architectural paintings at one point in his life. In a departure from that and a move from acrylic paint to oils, he is known now for his Dancing Man series; in which a bald, late-middle-aged everyman with a less-thandefined face is depicted in various scenes, sometimes in action and other times reposed. This everyman is bare, exposed, as he is, physically expressive, and to some, disturbing. Yaghjian, who some think is going through a mid-life crisis because of his everyman, said: “Painting may not keep me sane, but it points me in that direction and gives me temporary relief.” by PM ROGERS
Plan To Go WHAT The Augusta – Columbia Connection WHERE Old Accademy of Richmond County at 540 Telfair Street WHEN September 17 to 25, 10 am to 5 pm | FREE Opening Reception 9/17 from 5 pm to 7 pm | FREE
ARTIST INTERACTIONS Each artist offers an opportunity for connection. Some incur a fee.
FRI 9/17 Mike Williams | Painting Demo SAT 9/18 David Yaghjian | Wine & Cheese Talk SUN 9/19 Edward Rice | Architecture tour THU 9/23 Jeff Donovan | Ceramics Demo FRI 9/24 Philip Morsberger | Reception SAT 9/25 Laura Spong | Wine & Cheese Talk SCHEDULE | MARYPAULINEPROJECTS.COM
vergelive.com | community driven news | september 2010 17
18 september 2010 | community driven news| vergelive.com
WESTOBOU: THE INIMITABLE DENYCE GRAVES
This Diva Power Promises an Evening of Lush Opera and More To call Denyce Graves “an opera singer” would be an understatement and an insult to her extraordinary voice and countless achievements; to list her accomplishments and awards would be impossible within the context of one magazine page. A phenomenal talent, she has performed in opera houses and concert halls worldwide. She can do more with one note than most can do with entire arias. To hear her sing is an experience that defies written word and speaks directly to one’s heart and soul. Denyce Graves will perform in Augusta on September 17th as part of the Westobou Festival. In the midst of rehearsals prior to engagements overseas, she spoke to verge about her art, her love of opera, and the gift of music.
VERGE: So much work goes into making those hours onstage happen. Does it ever feel like a job? GRAVES: Yes, it always does. It is always work. There are expectations from the audience and from yourself. There are moments when I can lose myself, and what I try to do is be a vessel and let the music speak through me, but I’m always thinking and aware of what’s in front of me, the approach, how to shape something, execute a phrase. Over the years it has only gotten harder because the voice continues to grow, you reach a plateau, there are things you’ve got to work around and with. My expectations are extremely high and I care tremendously about every performance. I’m very nervous before all of them. It gets harder because expectations are greater and the experience is quite broad, so I have a frame of reference. I know what my best performance is like and I’m always chasing that.
“I always thought the stage to be a
magnifying glass where all is
revealed before the eyes of the public.”
- DENYCE GRAVES VERGE: How do you select your repertoire, and what goes into sequencing it? Most audience members probably do not realize how important it is to sequence the songs properly. GRAVES: Oh gosh, yes, it is crucial. I have an engagement next season, and the presenter asked someone who won a competition to sing with the choir before my program and then asked me if I would sing with them. Absolutely not! Everything I do is worked out so that the voice develops a certain way. You’ve got your own routine and material, so it is extremely important how you program where things fall. I am so aware of that, and I’m best known in this business for thinking in terms of that, what’s programmed, where does it lead the voice, the texture of the voice, shaping the voice to be as clean and lean and placed as high as it can be. I’m very concerned with which pieces are grouped together, so there’s the vocal standpoint. I choose material that means something to me, moves me, that I love hearing or that I always wanted to do, but for me there has to be a heart connection. If you sing material you don’t connect with, nobody else will connect with it either. I always thought the stage to be a magnifying glass where all is revealed and augmented before the eyes of the public, and if you don’t feel it, you can’t deliver in a sincere way.
between the singing and acting, and things like that that I want to refine and be able to do. I shoot for them all the time. By no means do I feel I’ve got it in my back pocket, not at all. VERGE: When people hear the term opera singer, they think about shattering glass, high notes and a performance in a foreign language, but you also do Broadway, jazz and spirituals. How does each genre fulfill an artistic side of you? GRAVES: I compare it to the friends we have. If we are blessed to have wonderful friends, they each speak to us differently and to different chambers of our hearts that they reach into. I feel the same way about music. I’m engaged in the same principles of spinning beautiful tones and making it relaxed and effortless, but they are very different flavors that I’ve always incorporated into my concerts and recitals. I love doing Gershwin, Bernstein and spirituals. They are all very different flavors and it’s nice to offer variety to the audience; it’s interesting for them and for me. These are moments when I’m able to reach into a very different place, and I’m interested in exploring that onstage through the lens of performance. I take a tremendous amount of risks onstage and that excites me. Sometimes it’s more successful than others, but I enjoy playing with my instrument and sharing that. [Opera singer] Renée Fleming came out with a rock CD, and I did an event with her in New York City. People were saying, “Can you believe that she did this?” Why not? It’s something she always wanted to do. Life goes by quickly, and everyone should go for whatever turns them on and lies in their heart and wants to be expressed. VERGE: How often does someone come to you after a concert and say, “This was my introduction to opera, and I had no idea I would enjoy it so much”? GRAVES: Not once has someone not said, “This is the first time I heard opera,” and I feel so proud of that. I feel I have done something wonderful with my life and talent because it was a discovery for someone. We all have preconceived notions of what opera is, and it suffers under a great stereotype. I’m not sure even 5% of the population has heard of opera or seen it. I feel a great responsibility, and I’m excited when people say, “I had no idea what opera was, and even if I did not understand it word for word, I understood it emotionally and I love it.” Music is a different type of language; it’s the language of the soul, it’s the universal language whether you are in Georgia or in Moscow. We all share a wonderful way of speaking with each other through this language of music. by ALISON RICHTER
Plan to Go
VERGE: You are well known for portraying Carmen. Will there be selections from that opera at Westobou? GRAVES: I always include it. There was a time when I would say, “Please don’t ask me to sing ‘Habanera.’” I used to run away from it. But the public expects it, I embrace it and I’m grateful. It is a blessing to be identified with Carmen. VERGE: When you return to a role, is it always new, is it always familiar, or is a bit of both?
DENYCE GRAVES by DEVON CASS
GRAVES: It’s certainly familiar in my bones. Carmen and Delilah in particular, but I’m still very much excited by it and I don’t take it for granted. There are still things I want to improve in my delivery and vocal standpoint — the challenges of walking the line
WHO Denyce Graves: A Gala Event WHERE St. Paul’s Episcopal Church WHEN Thursday September 17 at 7 PM WHY First touring concert presented to support the Augusta Opera
TICKETS | WESTOBOUFESTIVAL.COM INFO | DENYCEGRAVES.COM
vergelive.com | community driven news | september 2010 19
20 september 2010 | community driven news| vergelive.com
WESTOBOU: HANDS-ON ART
Artists’ Row Provides Classes, Demos and Literary Art Experiences Art Experience 2010
SIGNATURE EVENTS WHAT Whiskey Painting with Lou Ann Zimmerman WHERE La Maison on Telfair WHEN Monday, Sept. 20 | 6 pm | $10 WHY Zimmerman, a Whiskey Painter since 1999, will demonstrate the Whiskey Painting technique. She’ll also provide some supplies for her audience to attempt their own whiskey paintings.
WHAT Low Country Oils with Margaret Petterson WHERE Zimmerman Gallery WHEN Tuesday, Sept. 21 | 10 am | $10 WHY Charleston oil painter Margaret Petterson creates intuitively “in the thick of it all.” She will demonstrate her oil techniques on Low Country subject matter. CHARLES YOUNG WALLS IN STUDIO
During last year’s Westobou Festival, attendees were asked what types of events festival-goers would like to see in the future. The consensus? Festival-goers resoundly requested more visual arts – both to see and to do. The Westobou team turned to downtown’s Artists’ Row for assistance, a group of people known for taking nothing and turning it into something. In 1994, then-Mayor Charles Devaney set aside the vacant and dilapidated 1000 Block of Broad Street for artists’ studios. Local artists rose to the challenge of transforming these neglected (and often rather unsavory) spaces into usable galleries and stores, known as Artists’ Row, a non-profit cluster of galleries and stores which subsequently spread into other blocks of downtown. Today, the Artists’ Row collective includes eleven galleries and stores, scattered across downtown from the 500 to 1100 blocks of Broad Street (though the majority of members still reside on the 1000 Block). Artists’ Row is governed by a board of directors and exists to bring downtown artists and vendors together in broad support of visual art in Augusta. When Westobou Executive Director Kathi Dimmock suggested that Artists’ Row play a more active role in Westobou, the board jumped at the chance and created Art Experience 2010, a multi-faceted visual arts event that offers exhibits, demonstrations and hands-on opportunities. Artists’ Row Chairman Rich Borgatti explains that Arts Experience was developed in part to as an effort to engage people to participate in Westobou throughout the festival week, not just in the evenings and weekends. Tricia Hughes, one of downtown’s chief advocates and Artists’ Row volunteer publicist, agrees: “We particularly want to make downtown a destination for festival attendees who want to take a trip to enjoy Augusta for the day or overnight.” Lou Ann Zimmerman, owner of Zimmerman Gallery, says one thing driving Art Experience 2010 is that “people love to see the artistic process.” Four artists in particular will conduct demonstrations in various styles to further the idea of partaking in another person’s creativity: Charles Young Wall, an acclaimed Atlanta artist, Barbara Dunham, also from Atlanta who specializes in fine art collage; Margaret Petterson, a Low Country artists from Charleston; and Lou Ann Zimmerman, focusing on her Whiskey Painting techniques. Art Experience 2010 was born out of the public’s clamoring for more visual arts engagement. The schedule is packed, the artists are ready – all that’s needed now is for people to take part. “What I love is that Westobou already has its name out there,” Tricia
Hughes effuses. Her enthusiasm is contagious. “People all over are trying to spread the word in the small towns (about Art Experience). We all need to support each other.” Four Artists’ Row businesses will offer ongoing exhibitions during the festival from September 17 to 25
WHISKEY PAINTERS OF AMERICA Zimmerman Gallery | 1006 Broad Street The annual Whiskey Painters Exhibition will be on display at Zimmerman Gallery for a month, opening on September 16th and closing on October 17th. The Whiskey Painters is an exclusive club based on the tiny paintings of artist and industrial designer Joe Ferriot in the 1950s. The idea for “Whiskey Paintings” caught on, and now it is a strict, tightly bound group of 150 painters across the country who create these pocket-sized paintings. The free opening reception for the Whiskey Painters Exhibition is Thursday, September 16th, from 5 to 8 p.m.
SCENES FROM THE RIVER Gallery on the Row | 1016 Broad Street Gallery on the Row will be ushering out its artists in full array with a series of demonstrations and classes throughout the ten day festival. On most days, there are two free demonstrations of a variety of art and craftsmanship from clay jewelry to landscape watercolors. Several hands-on classes are also offered.
WHAT Personal Critique with Margaret Petterson WHERE Casa Blanca Cafe WHEN Tuesday, Sept. 21 | 6 pm | $10 WHY Petterson will conduct a critique for local artists to discuss with her what they consider their best an worst pieces.
WHAT Fine Art Collage with Barbara Dunham WHERE Morris Museum of Art WHEN Wednesday, Sept. 22 | 10 am | $10 WHY Barbara Dunham, vivid Atlanta collage artist and President of the Atlanta Collage Society, will present a collage demonstration from 10am to 12pm at the Morris Museum of Art. After her presentation, participants are free to peruse the Morris’s collection at no extra charge. She will continue her demonstration from 6 to 8 that night at Casa Blanca, where there will be hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar.
WHAT Oil Portraiture with Charles Young Walls WHERE Gallery on the Row WHEN Thursday, Sept. 23 | 10 am & 6 pm | $10 WHY Participants will watch as Charles Young Walls, an award-winning portraitist from Atlanta, creates an oil
IN THE EYES OF A CHILD The Book Tavern | 1028 Broad Street “In the Eyes of a Child” explores the literary response of children to art. Owner David Hutchison will select one print of a painting by an established artist (who is yet to be disclosed) to be placed in a window at The Book Tavern. Bean bag chairs and writing tools will be provided as a welcome to children of all ages to write their response to the piece. The writing can be short or long, fiction or non-fiction, sentenced or streamof-consciousness. The best of their efforts will be made into a chapbook for distribution. “It fits into our mission of promoting literacy while mixing the arts,” says Hutchison. Hours: Monday thru Friday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. This event is free.
INTERNATIONAL ARTISTS SHOWCASE Elduets Treasures of the World | 1127 Broad St. Elduets Treasures of the World, a truly enigmatic gift store, will be showing its wares in an international art tour. “The purpose of Elduets is to share the cultures of the world through the art of
painting of a live model in the morning at Gallery on the Row. In the evening, he will continue the portrait at the same location.
RSVP | Pre-register for all above events (limited to 20): WESTOBOUFESTIVAL.COM
those cultures,” owner Robert Steudle explains. It is remarkable how many cultures are represented in such a small space. Beginning September 16th, Augusta peering into the windows of Elduets will see examples of Egyptian, Russian, Kenyan, Mexican, Indian, Thai, Brazilian, Scottish, Israeli, Italian, and American art. Exhibit hours: Monday thru Friday, Noon to 5:30 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Brochures and calendars outlining the details of all events can be picked up at any Artists’ Row establishment. by CHARLOTTE OKIE
vergelive.com | community driven news | september 2010 21
You Can Do The Westobou Each Day
Whiskey Painters Opening Reception
Thursday September 16 | 5 pm | Free Zimmerman Gallery | 1006 Broad St. Almost 60 years ago, Joe Ferriot found himself struggling to find time to paint in the midst of his work as an industrial designer. His solution? Craft a tiny watercolor palette, tiny brush and paper small enough to fit in his shirt pocket and create his art in airport bars and waiting areas. His work was dubbed “whiskey painting,” as he used whatever was in his glass to wet his brush. His artist friends began creating their own miniature masterpieces at their favorite watering holes and before long, the Whiskey Painters of America was created. One of the original group’s members, Marc Moon, later nominated his own daughter for membership: local artist and gallery owner Lou Ann Zimmerman. Now, Zimmerman will exhibit these amazing paintings to downtown Augusta. Open to the public, whiskey paintings from artists across the continent will be available for sale. ZIMMERMANGALLERY.COM
Silent Movie Night with Our Dancing Daughters Friday September 17 • Sacred Heart 7:30 pm• $15
What’s not to love about the disillusionment of the 20s, art deco sets, fast cars and lots of dancing? Any fan of silent film (and film in general) will line up to see Our Dancing Daughters, brought to the big screen once more by the Sacred Heart Cultural Center. In the role that catapulted her to stardom, Joan Crawford stars as “Dangerous Diana” Medford. Living outwardly as a flamboyant, flirtatious flapper, Diana struggles with the inner, idealistic desires of her young heart. Theater organist Ron Carter will bring the silent film lindy-hopping off the screen with his accompaniment – the icing to the cake of a wonderful evening of classic theater. And don’t forget to take advantage of VIP seating sponsored by La-Z-Boy: indulge in luxurious lounge chairs and unlimited concessions for only $35! SACREDHEARTAUGUSTA.ORG
Architecture Tour with Edward Rice
Sunday September 19 | Morris Museum of Art | 3 pm | Free For thirty years, native Augustan artist Edward Rice has created evocative architectural paintings, portraying his personal depictions of historical buildings. Trained by Freeman Schoolcraft, Rice dwells in the school of realism, yet often inserting a humorous element. That juxtaposition of humor and realism can be found in person as Rice conducts this afternoon tour of Augusta areas that have inspired him and had an impact on his artistic development. Here’s the opportunity to meet the man behind the building (well, painting of the building). From The Mill to Magnolia Cemetery, this two-hour tour is destined to end (and begin) at The Morris Museum. Not on Gilligan’s Island. MARYPAULINEPROJECTS.COM
22 september 2010 | community driven news| vergelive.com
Arts in The Heart of Augusta Saturday September 18 | Augusta Common 11 am to 9 pm | $5 advance
We actually refer to this favorite annual festival as “Arts in the Tummy,” because we eat our way through weekend. With over sixteen ethnic groups preparing delectable dishes from their home countries at reasonable prices, we’re at Arts in the Heart for lunch, dinner and snacks in between each day. Of course, we linger over the Fine Arts and Crafts Fair, carefully selecting which treasures we’ll take home with us this year, wind our way through the hands0n children’s art activity center and spend hours watching the performance exhibitions on stage. Little wonder that Arts in the Heart has been designated a “Top Twenty Event in the Southeast” by the Southeast Tourism Society. It’s in our top five! Note: Arts in the Heart badges also provide admission on Friday 9/17 5 pm to 9 pm and Sunday noon to 7 pm. Badges are $5 in advance and $7 at the gate. Children 10 and under are free. ARTSINTHEHEART.COM
The Nina Simone Experience
Monday September 20 | Paine College Library 10 am to 4 pm | Free Before you come out to The Nina Simone Experience exhibition, take a few minutes (maybe a few hours) and listen to her music – sultry jazz that could melt butter. Then, prepare to peruse this traveling arts exhibition – a collection of pieces by regional and national artists interpreting the life and legacy of Simone. Curated by Simone’s estate, the artists provide a tribute to a woman whose life and career left an unparalleled impression on the world. PAINE.EDU | NINASIMONE.COM
Ten Events in Ten Days for Under $100
The Music of What Happens Tuesday September 21 Le Chat Noir | 7 pm | $10 A collaboration of writers and musicians merge on stage to present a night of spoken and sung word presented by The Author’s Club of Augusta. Emphasizing the Savannah/ Westobou River connection, the line-up includes music by The Dubber, a singer-songwriter from Edgefield, SC, poetry readings by Starkey Flythe, Linda Lee Harper, Elizabeth Peacock, and Malaika Favorite, impressions of the Stephen Vincent Benet House by Carl Sutherland. LCNAUGUSTA.COM
Moonlight Music Cruise: The Wynns
Wednesday, September 22 Augusta Canal | 6:15 pm | $24 What’s better than relaxing on a cool September evening while listening to some of your favorite local music? Enjoying all this while lazing on an open-air boat that tours the better part of the Augusta Canal. On this particular cruise, The Wynn Family – a father/son duo that does some of the finest fiddling and picking in Augusta – will perform bluegrass classics plus several original songs written about the Augusta Canal, including the ballad of “Arthur and Maude.” Details: Seats are limited to 36 per cruise. You may bring the refreshments of your choice. Call for reservations early: 706.823.0440. AUGUSTACANAL.COM
Remember Me: Parsons Dance & the East Village Opera Company Thursday, September 23 | Imperial Theatre 7 pm | $20 (cheap seats)
I cannot begin to describe the power of East Village Opera Company. As I love Puccini and Metallica, the combination of both in one sound swept me away the first time I heard Tyley Ross belt out Rigoletto’s “La Donna è Mobile” in the original text – with a full rock band and string section soaring behind him. Add the breath-taking beauty of Parsons Dance modern dance company and the evening turned into a stunning display of vocal prowess and physical grace. The brainchild of David Parsons – one of contemporary dance’s foremost choreographers, Remember Me tells the ill-fated story of a tragic love triangle. Deborah Jowitt of The Village Voice said, “Awesome dancing and a backbeat to knock it all home. Perpetually smoldering. Lusty, sensual movement. Parsons enters the realm of pop spectacle with a vengeance!” Remember Me will be retiring from the touring circuit, so thank you, Augusta Ballet, for bringing this remarkable collaboration to Augusta one last time. AUGUSTABALLET.ORG
An Evening with C.S. Lewis Macbeth by the American Shakespeare Center Friday, September 24 | Maxwell Theatre at Augusta State | 7 pm | $15
The American Shakespeare Center has a reputation for delightfully connecting modern audiences with Shakespeare’s original texts (and production style). “Comic sense, quick feet, raucous musical interludes, and flawless timing bring the nearly packed house to near paralysis of laughter,” agrees The Washington Times of ASC’s performances. ASC brings that verve to Augusta with Macbeth – the classic tragedy of ambition and treachery, resulting in an unquenchable thirst for power, a rash of bloody deeds, murders and suicides, crazy dreams and hauntings. But here’s why you should go: Macbeth has more than FORTY parts: ASC touring troupe travels with less than fifteen actors. One actor can play as many as seven roles in a single show. MAXWELLTHEATRE.AUG.EDU
Saturday, September 25 | Heritage Academy 2 pm and 7:30 pm | $10 Travel to 1963, the twilight years of C.S. Lewis’ long and storied life. Following a request from his great friend, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lewis has agreed to give an informal talk to a group of American writers who are visiting England. With a display of oratory and humor that made him one of England’s most famous public speakers, he recounts the significant events and the people that shaped his life. David Payne captures the essence of Lewis in his portrayal of this great writer who created the The Chronicles of Narnia and wrote Mere Christianity. It promises for an enthralling, laughter-filled and poignant performance. DAVIDPAYNEDRAMA.ORG | CCAUGUSTA.ORG
Yes, all of these events happen in September. For a completevergelive.com list of all Westobou events: WESTOBOUFESTIVAL COM23 | community driven news | september 2010
24 september 2010 | community driven news| vergelive.com
CHEFSPEAK: MEET JAI WEST Sharing a Passion for Global Cuisine Many of us have held night shifts waiting tables to make ends meet, but few have turned it into a full-fledged lifestyle. And even fewer have become passionate for the culinary arts over a Cuisinart food processor. Jai West, owner and head chef of Casablanca Cafe, meets all three of these criteria.
beers locals like Wychwood Brewery
Why does Augusta have to be so dang hot in the summer time? No, that’s not rhetorical. Nor is it sarcastic. I mean, when I have to make unexpected trips to the dry cleaners on the way home, there’s a problem. When I have to buy a Vitamin Water on the way to work (without a hangover), there’s a problem. It’s true, we are paying for a coldest of cold winter with a hottest of hot summer, and there’s almost nothing to quench the desire for the days of yore when the climate wasn’t so polarized. This month’s column is devoted to tantalizing the reader with subtle brews that are a perfect reminder that autumn WILL be here (one day) and that pumpkins, football, and malty ales are on their way south. These brews are all from England’s Wychwood Brewery and will more than please the eager palate with tastes reminiscent of days cooler and crisper than today.
FIDDLER’S ELBOW | No, it’s not like swimmer’s ear. You have to take the name of this hearty brew a bit more contextually. I mean, from start to finish, the elbow is the unsung hero to all fiddle ballads. It is the necessary component upon which the hand is contingent to make its paradoxically harmonic contortions, yielding the fluid arpeggio of prancing fingers and a waltzing bow. Now, on to the beer: the nose is a delicate balance of hops and malt, and the taste is just the same, with the malt just winning out in the end (in my opinion). The end result is a subtle and earthy goodness of taste and aftertaste with just enough hoppy bite to remind you that this ain’t no afternoon tea. All in all, it’s a quality brew that does the motherland proud. SCARECROW GOLDEN PALE ALE | Hardly scary,
this tasty tipple (which is certified organic by the USDA) also represents a distinguished balance of malt and hops, with the hops just winning out, rather than the malt (as in the above brew). The nose is subtle, very subtle, and the first microsecond of the taste makes you think you’re about to sip on a cider. Trust me, it’s that citrusy for a fraction of a second but quickly decays into a fine and full taste which hits all aspects of the tongue (a feat rarely accomplished by pale ales). Try it with a cod sandwich (take-out from The Place on Broad). Trust me on that, as well.
“I was designing clothes and had a store in Little Five Points (Atlanta),” West says. She began working at a local café when fate gave her life a lovely twist. “I was always bringing in desserts I made for the staff to taste. When they lost their pastry chef, they asked if I would like the job. I jumped at the opportunity.” West closed shop and took on the full time job of pastry chef. She soon relocated to Portland, Oregon and opened her own dessert shop, Pie In Your Place. “I loved to bake pies and people loved eating them!” She also began to dabble in catering – an opportunity that paved the path for her future career and led to some wonderful recipes. “I was working my first wedding,” West says. “The bride loved brie and wanted me to make a huge wheel with spokes of fruit and nuts. The reception was at her house, so I put the brie on aluminum foil and put it in the oven to warm it up. I completely forgot about it. By the time I remembered, it was so liquefied that I couldn’t get it out of the oven!” West ended up sliding the cheese onto a pizza pan. Her “brie fondue” became a hit at the party and a regular item she continues to offer today. Fortunately for Augusta, Jai returned to Georgia and brought her culinary skills downtown. Her most recent endeavor, Casa Blanca Cafe, is a lovely, airy space nestled in The White’s Building on Broad Street. The restaurant offers a set menu along with tapas and dinner specials. West grows all the herbs and some of the produce herself; her favorites being pineapple sage and orange mint. “Everything is a favorite of mine or it wouldn’t be on the menu,” she comments, though the recent addition of Ceviche has great allure (perhaps because her partner, Art, won’t share the recipe with anyone!). West can often be found working in the kitchen or catering an event; but she is constantly discovering different global cuisines. Though owning a restaurant does limit her travelling, she gets her fix through her innumerable subscriptions to food and travel magazines. Her knowledge of worldly cuisine is written all over the menu. From sweet potato fries with remoulade to Moroccan chutney meatball, West serves a delectable spread sure to please any hungry stomach.
These and more can be found at Eighth Street Tobacco (corner of 8th and Ellis Downtown).
by BEN CASELLA Ben Casella rarely drinks brown liquor before Labor Day. He does, however, enjoy a dark brew in any season. In fact, if you’re reading this after 5:30 p.m., he may be doing that very thing.
by ASHLEY PLOCHA photo ELIZABETH BENSON
THINGS IN THE KITCHEN JAI CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT: A GOOD SHARP KNIFE (the sharper the better) CUISINART FOOD PROCESSOR | KITCHEN AID MIXER MICROPLANE GRATER-JESTER | ELECTRIC JUICER
from jai’s personal cookbook : CURRIED SHRIMP & BLUEBERRY SALAD A perfect dish for warmer days. Serves four.
HOBGOBLIN DARK ENGLISH ALE
Again, a subtle nose with a pleasant sip. Yet, this brew’s taste ironically encompasses bitter, chocolaty, malty, and fruity overtones that combine in the most harmonic way they can to produce a fullness of taste that only comes from a darker brew such as this one. Yes, I included a dark brew in my summer / beckoning autumn column, but this substantial swig encompasses what I’m trying to accomplish this month: a collection of brews that truly are for all seasons. Enjoy with just about anything (seriously).
Casa Blanca Café is located at 936 Broad Street. Lunch is served Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., dinner Thursday and Friday beginning at 5 p.m. The cafe is open all day Saturday. Details: 706.504.5431 or CASABLANCATIME.COM
DRESSING 1/4 cup mayonnaise 1/4 c. finely chopped walnuts INGREDIENTS: 1/2 cup plain yogurt 1 T. curry powder 2 T. fruit chutney (I make my own, but you can use store bought) SALAD 2 cups blueberries INGREDIENTS: Enough mixed greens for four 1 sliced avocado (optional) DIRECTIONS:
1 pound bay shrimp (grilled or sauteed) 1/2 cup chopped green onions (for garnish)
1. Blend the dressing ingredients together and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours. 2. Divide the salad greens on four plates. 3. Toss the blueberries and shrimp together. 4. Divide berry/shrimp mixture between the four plates. 5. Sprinkle green onions on each. 6. Add avocado (if desired). 7. Drizzle dressing on top and serve.
vergelive.com | community driven news | september 2010 25
26 september 2010 | community driven news| vergelive.com
Augusta Players Bring in Star Power for Miss Saigon
Augusta Native Brings Drift Home Where It Started
In its 66th year, the Augusta Players are doing a totally new thing. The city’s premier of Miss Saigon during the Westobou Festival will be ushered in with Broadway actors and a rich multimedia approach to theater that the Imperial Theatre has never seen. The musical opens in Vietnam mid-war and follows the relationship between a young Vietnamese prostitute named Kim and an American serviceman named Chris. Caught between a vicious pimp on one hand and a cousin to whom her parents betrothed her on the other, Kim cannot follow her lover Chris back to the United States when all soldiers are evacuated from Saigon. Kim, who later gives birth to Chris’ son, must deal with the aftermath of their relationship while Chris does the same thing in his own way at home in the U.S. until a tragic reunion three years later.
“The story has stood the test of WILLY FALK time,” glows Debi Ballas, director of the Augusta Players, “and the music is so powerful that just listening to the CD, I was moved to tears.” Loosely based on Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly, Miss Saigon is considered an epic musical in the style of Les Miserables. This means that the story is told mainly through the songs. To overcome some staging challenges to (such as the arrival of a helicopter to evacuate the soldiers), Ballas has enlisted the help of her Broadwaytrained lighting designer, Philip Watson. He has created a video projection that, with costumes by Ellen Parker and music directed by Les Reagan, will enliven the stage to fit Ballas’ overall vision. Ballas and the Augusta Players are grateful for Westobou funding, which allows them to venture into an internationally acclaimed show with some new techniques as well as some new faces. The two main roles will be filled by Broadway stars – Willy Falk, who originated the role of Chris on Broadway and received a Tony nomination for it, and Shawna Masuda, who has played Kim with several international companies. The two actors will also be giving back to the community during the two weeks they’re here before the performances. For instance, Falk will teach a master class to ten selected students during his time here. “This is something that benefits our local talent, to learn from and work alongside these actors,” explains Ballas. “Miss Saigon is about the people: the women and children and the GIs who were affected by the war,” Ballas says, arguing that the story is not political, but timeless and entirely human. Moral, emotional, and racial lines are crossed and blurred during any war, and people on all sides must confront their guilt. John, an anguished soldier, sings “Bui Doi,” reminding the audience that all is not fair in love and war, but that is a part of life too:
Plan To Go
WHAT The Augusta Players presents Miss Saigon WHERE The Imperial Theatre WHEN Friday, Sept. 17 and Saturday, Sept. 18 , 8 PM HOW MUCH $15 to $41 WHY Broadway star Willy Falk reprises his original role as Chris. MORE | AUGUSTAPLAYERS.ORG
The dust of life. Conceived in hell, And born in strife. They are the living reminder of all the good we failed to do. We can’t forget Must not forget That they are all our children, too. by CHARLOTTE OKIE
As a sanctioned presenter for this year’s Westobou Festival, the Art Factory is featuring a performance of Drift, an original work created by Augusta native Cassie Meador, a professional dancer with the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange. Drift uses dance to portray the transformation of a 40-acre tract of land located off Washington Road from rich farmland to successful grocery store to house of worship. The theme centers on human interaction with our environment, and the origins of our food, studying both our physical and spiritual nourishment. Drift was commissioned by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ Local Dance Commissioning Project and premiered at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage in 2008. Cassie Meador, recipient of the Local Dance Commissioning Project award, has been a member of the Dance Exchange since 2003. The group will hold a weeklong residency in Augusta during Westobou, and will hold workshops at three elementary schools, Davidson Fine Arts School and for senior citizens at Brandon Wilde. The performance of Drift will close Westobou on September 25 at the Imperial Theatre. Cassie Meador spoke with Verge about the creation of Drift. VERGE: What led to your love of dance? MEADOR: I grew up in a family of scientists, so we spent a lot of time outdoors. I was heavily influenced by looking at the world through a scientific lens. It informed my work and is one of the reasons I became an artist. I went to Davidson Fine Arts School from fifth through 12th grades and studied dance, theater and visual arts. I also studied dance and performed with the August Ballet. After graduation I went to Ohio State University. I was frustrated by the dance programs, where the women were primarily my age and had similar physical appearances. I began questioning who I was dancing with and what I was dancing about. I was taking classes in sociology and I wanted to pull that information into the art I was making. I started looking for people who were asking similar questions. VERGE: When did you join the Dance Exchange? MEADOR: I became a member eight years ago. Their mission is about who gets to dance, where is dance happening, what is dance about and why does it matter. The ages of the dancers range from 20 to 70 and all levels of ability. We take dance everywhere, from theaters to classroom. VERGE: How did all of these experiences lead to Drift? MEADOR: I travel 32 weeks a year with the company and I have seen a fair amount of the U.S. I’ve noticed that many times you can’t identify where you are because the cities and towns all look similar. I made a return trip to Augusta to see my family and I noticed shifts happening in the land, with new stores, new fast-food restaurants, new strip malls that would open, then close or be abandoned. On my next visit,
I’d see the same kind of store, but bigger or closer to the highway. It made me think about what we build, and tracing one piece of land back to its geological formation. That was the beginning of creating Drift. VERGE: While it is about Augusta, Drift has been performed at the Kennedy Center. What makes the theme universal? MEADOR: There are a lot of entry points within the work for people to connect to. The story is not just about Augusta or Georgia, but also all over the country and other places in the world where similar things are going on. Farmland is disappearing, and the question arises of where our food comes from. It’s a hot topic now. Westobou will be the first time we perform Drift in Augusta, and I’m thrilled that the piece is able to come home. by ALISON RICHTER photo JOHN BORSTE
Plan To Go
WHAT Drift by the Dance Exchange WHERE The Imperial Theatre WHEN Saturday, Sept. 25 , 7:30 PM HOW MUCH $20 HOW MUCH A modern dance about our own Washington Road. Intriguing.
MORE | ARTFACTORYINC.ORG
vergelive.com | community driven news | september 2010 27
28 september 2010 | community driven news| vergelive.com
WESTOBOU: 13 MOST BEAUTIFUL
Indie Duo Immortalize Andy Warhol’s Haunting Screen Tests One of the most unique events taking place during this year’s Westobou is the screening of 13 Most Beautiful … Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests, with music composed by Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips. The project was jointly commissioned by the Andy Warhol Museum and Pittsburgh Cultural Trust for the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts 2008. It makes its Georgia debut in Augusta, thanks to Semi-Precious Productions, a promotion company formed by Coco Rubio, Matthew Buzzell and Eric Kinlaw. The Screen Tests are comprised of four-minute, black-and-white film portraits that Warhol shot between 1963 and 1966. They are projected in slow motion and shown as a multimedia performance, with Dean & Britta performing their original accompanying music onstage. 13 Most Beautiful has been presented over 50 times around the world. Rubio and Buzzell are longtime friends and associates, and both are integral to the local music and arts scene. Buzzell’s relationship with Dean & Britta dates back to their previous group, Luna. Buzzell’s documentary about the band’s final days, Tell Me Do You Miss Me, premiered at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival and was released by Rhino Video. It will be screened at ASU during Westobou to advance 13 Most Beautiful on Monday, September 13, at 7 p.m. (170 University Hall). Buzzell will be there to field queries and criticisms. verge spoke with Coco Rubio and Matthew Buzzell about 13 Most Beautiful and the ongoing appeal of Andy Warhol. VERGE: What can you tell us about this event and how it came to be? BUZZELL: A few months ago, I was trying to develop the idea of a fully curated film festival for Augusta. Westobou embraced the idea, but it was not financially feasible, so they suggested I pick one film. Our company [Semi-Precious Productions] wants to bring events that are not just rock or theatrical. We want to combine cinema, arts and indie
music to craft special evenings. 13 Most Beautiful is perfect for that. It’s an indie rock and art event, and we hope it will appeal to a diverse audience in terms of mindsets and tastes. VERGE: What makes Sacred Heart the ideal presentation venue? RUBIO: It’s the perfect setting in every way. Events such as this one need to take place in special venues, not in a club or a regular theater. Sacred Heart holds 400 people, and there’s a garden outside where we can hold a pre-show party. The venue itself creates a special mood for the event.. VERGE: What is going on pre-show?? BUZZELL: There will be wine, beer and tapas served outside in the garden at 6 p.m. That’s the social hour. The show begins at 8 p.m. Dean introduces each film, and he and Britta play music to accompany the screen tests. This lasts 75 minutes. There will be an intermission, and then a set of songs from Galaxy 500, which was Dean’s first band. VERGE: Why does Andy Warhol’s work continue to appeal to so many people?
“People are still wildly influenced by Andy Warhol. He was an
American original.” - MATTHEW BUZZELL
BUZZELL: His life was so connected to the music world, and that will always link him to what’s cutting edge in music. We’re still feeling the influence of people who bought Velvet Underground records. RUBIO: Even today, he remains current. He’s modern now, decades later, and still has that appeal. The Velvet Underground was a special group, and Warhol’s connection to them made me admire him even more. BUZZELL: He was the definition of cool, from the people in his life that he intersected with in the 1960s through the Studio 54 disco era in the 1970s — all of it. And his contributions to modern art. People are still wildly influenced by Andy Warhol. He is constantly being referenced. He was an American original. by ALISON RICHTER
PLAN TO GO
WHAT 13 Most Beautiful ... Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests, with live soundtracks by Dean & Britta WHERE Sacred Heart Cultural Center WHEN Saturday, September 18 at 8 PM | $25 to $35 HOW MUCH $25 to $30
TICKETS | WESTOBOUFESTIVAL.COM
People Who Must Reunion Concert
Augusta Common | Saturday September 11 8 PM | with Arts in the Heart badge
Eight years ago, Joe Stevenson and the band he created back in 1989 played their last show at the annual 12 Bands of Christmas celebration. Now, local legends People Who Must are back on the stage at this year’s Arts in the Heart Festival on Saturday, September 18. “It’s going to be like old times,” Stevenson says. Even though People Who Must called it quits in 2002, Stevenson (the band’s lead singer, guitarist, and harmonica player) hasn’t been sitting around twiddling his thumbs. Time away from his long time band has been productive, keeping Stevenson highly involved in the local music scene. He’s the host of the popular weekly 95 Rock program Radar Radio, director of the 12 Bands of Christmas and co-owner of Gluestick, a music management and promotion company. He’s also a devoted family man. But even after all these years, people still wonder what inspired Stevenson to leave People Who Must after such an illustrious career as one of the major local band success stories. After releasing their fourth and final album in 1999, People Who Must gave up touring, officially calling it quits a few years later. After a ten year stint, each band member was developing a personal life that was equally, if not more important, than the band.
Ryan Henderson from 420 Outback, Ruskin Yeargain from Impulse Ride, and David Plunkett will join the duo to this one-time tribute to an Augusta favorite.
Before The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters in 1999, People Who Must released Lost Wire Transfer two years before their final album. 1995’s The Road You Travel produced their biggest hit “1000 Miles.” Their debut self-titled album was released in 1990. That’s an arsenal of songs for the band to choose from when they appear on stage at the upcoming Arts in the Heart Festival.
Of course, just because Joe Stevenson has been in the band for years, it’s also been a while since he’s played many of the songs.
From the band’s beginnings, Stevenson has remained the group’s only front man. He will be joined on stage by PWM alum John Kolbeck. To round out the band,
“It never quite worked out in the past,” Stevenson says, “but it sounds like fun.”
“It’s not like riding a bike,” Stevenson says, explaining how the band has been practicing for this upcoming gig. “If we’re gonna do this, we’ve got to be good.”
Well rehearsed and ready to rip out some fun songs, including many of the classics that fans have grown to love, People Who Must consider success as simply having a blast getting the band back together and reintroducing themselves to songs that were a big part of their lives. For fans, the upcoming People Who Must show will be a homecoming and chance to reunite with fans from all over the area who share a common interest in local rock music. PEOPLEWHOMUST.COM by DINO LULL
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30 september 2010 | community driven news| vergelive.com
WESTOBOU: JAZZ GREAT EARL KLUGH
Legendary Klugh Spices Up the Night With His Naked Guitar Grammy Award-winning guitarist Earl Klugh performs in Augusta on September 18 as part of the Westobou Festival. This marks his first solo guitar concert appearance in the Southeast following his back-to-back Grammy nominations in the Best Pop Instrumental Album category for The Spice of Life and solo release Naked Guitar. In his 30-year, 30-album career, Klugh has received 12 Grammy nominations and recorded 23 Top 10 charting records — five of them No. 1 — on Billboard’s Jazz Album charts, selling multi-millions worldwide. He is in demand as a guest session player and songwriter, and has recorded legendary collaborative albums with George Benson and Bob James. He has worked extensively with symphony and youth orchestras, and is executive producer of the annual Weekend of Jazz, which takes place this year at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in November. Earl Klugh spoke with Verge about recording, guitars, and recording guitars. VERGE: Thirty years and as many albums — do you ever feel you’re rediscovering the instrument when you record or perform live?
recording, and at the same time I think there is an awful lot to be said for going into an open mic and a room full of orchestra players.
KLUGH: I think that’s pretty true every time I practice or play. It’s always a challenge, and that’s the good thing about music — if you’re open to it. I can only speak for myself, but I think there’s some truth to it for everybody who does this, especially over time: you sometimes get stuck in a rut. You’re not as creative as you would like to be; you’re not finding the direction you want to go. It’s natural to feel stuck. I try never to dwell on that, even as I write music or work in a musical situation. I try to work through it, look past that and find another idea or way of approaching the situation. I play guitar every day, and if I leave it alone for four or five days, the ideas come back better after some time. You can’t think about it. You may want to, but you can’t.
VERGE: You also produce your records. How do you remain objective in that
VERGE: You’re thought of primarily as a jazz artist. Do you find that categorization somewhat limiting in terms of what you actually do? KLUGH: That’s a really good question. I find the label somewhat limiting, but over the years the way people view the word jazz, people who are actually into the music see that there is more to it than that because so many artists embrace everything from R&B to Caribbean to classical. But I’m fine with any label because I’ll categorize it in any way. If I do an R&B track, it’s R&B, and if I do a piece with a chamber orchestra, then it’s not R&B. I’m just so fortunate that I truly love so many styles of music and embrace them all on the same level. I love some of almost everything. I keep up with new sounds and innovations in
Plan to Go
WHO An Initimate Evening with Earl Klugh
WHERE Fort Discovery Paul Simon Theater
WHEN Saturday, Sept. 18 at 7 PM
$30 to $40 WHY Downbeat named Klugh one of “75 of the all-time great jazz, blues and beyond” guitarists.
TICKETS | AUGUSTAAMUSEMENTS.COM INFO | EARLKLUGH.COM
KLUGH: I don’t have a problem with it. It’s really interesting, because it came about for me simply out of necessity. I had a wonderful beginning in recording. David Grusin produced my first records and they were all done within a single year, so I spent about six months of that year recording and I got to see how everything was done — what goes into preparation for a record, the importance of the engineer, the studio, all the elements that needed to be there to make a quality recording — so it was a good learning curve and I was able to take the reins. I was lucky to be able to get in on the ground floor, and I thought my talent lay more behind the scenes rather than being an artist in the show business way. Producing fits my personality and I really enjoy it. VERGE: You’ve had the best of both worlds: analog and digital. What’s your take on technology? KLUGH: I still have my tape machines in my basement. I have a 24-track tape recorder and a two-track, because from 24-track you’d mix to two-track. And I’m keeping my stuff! I’ve been using Pro Tools, but I’m getting ready to change to Logic. I’m not computersavvy, so it’s a big deal for me to change equipment. I tend to use stuff that gets antiquated, because I can use it quickly and it works for me. My Pro Tools is so old that it is not working correctly. What I try to do now is sketch out the songs for my listening only. I do a lot of overdubs in my studio; for instance, if I’m working on a piece and I listen to the tracks, I think, I could put synth pads here, or bells there, and I can put in artificial percussion to give the percussionist an idea of the sounds I want. I like to use as much live music as I can, and the only thing I try to do is keep a click track going so that the tempos don’t flow back and forth, but I try to keep it as human as possible. I like synth sounds, but unless the song cries for it, I use them sparingly. One thing I’ve noticed is that if you’re into synth, you can tell when a record was made by the sounds that are happening at the time. I don’t want my music to get dated, so the best way to avoid that is to use live musicians as much as I can. VERGE: Now that you’ve played Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Festival, don’t you think he owes it to you to return the favor and play your Weekend Of Jazz? KLUGH: Oh yeah, yeah! Absolutely! And especially with friends, you should do that! Eric is a great guy. I met him in the early 1990s when I was playing in Japan. We were both staying in the same hotel, we ended up downstairs at the same time and he said, “Where are you going?” I said, “I’m going to the record store. There’s a great record store I go to whenever I’m here.” He said, “Oh, great! I always go there, too.” So we went to the record store together and hung out for three hours. Eric’s great; he’s a really down-to-earth, matter-of-fact person. by ALISON RICHTER photo SANDEE O.
“I have a 24-track tape recorder and a two-track. And I’m keeping my stuff!” - EARL KLUGH ON TECHNOLOGY
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32 september 2010 | community driven news| vergelive.com
WESTOBOU: BLUEGRASS ICON DEL MCCOURY
Del McCoury Has Delivered Authentic Bluegrass for Fifty Years
“You have to record songs that you like. Think to yourself,
I may have to sing this for the rest of my days onstage.
Do I like it enough to do that?” - DEL MCCOURY
For 50 years — yes, 50 — Del McCoury has been writing, recording and performing authentic bluegrass music with his band. Joining McCoury, who sings and plays guitar, are Jason Carter on fiddle, Alan Bartram on bass, and sons Rob McCoury on banjo and Ronnie McCoury on mandolin.
It’s tough to build your music career when you’re working a day job. When I was at my day job, I was thinking about music. You can’t get it out of your system. If you really like it, you never stop. It’s the same with any business. People who can work at what they love to do are fortunate, because a lot of people are punching a clock, and they have to do that to make ends meet. I know. I did it too, years ago..
Now 71, Del McCoury still spends the better part of his time on the road and remains an inspiration and an icon to millions. Not only is he revered amongst peers in bluegrass and country music; he also is a frequent session guest and shares concert and festival bills with rock and jam bands who are in awe of his amazing talent, and who understand the simple emotions and intricate musicianship that comprise the heart and soul of bluegrass.
VERGE: Let’s talk about the importance of the Del McCoury Band. Many artists — yourself, Charlie Daniels, Marty Stuart — have their name upfront, but they emphasize the word band, or the name of their band, or describe themselves as a band member, rather than be thought of as a solo artist.
McCoury spoke to verge about the long road to success, the importance of having a band, and what he hopes today’s artists can learn from his experiences. VERGE: While you have had full artistic and creative control for many years, it wasn’t an easy road to get there. What were the steps you took? MCCOURY: It’s amazing, but I don’t know, really. No matter what business you get into, it’s a struggle for a while, and I never thought about having large success. I played because I loved to play and sing, and I’m fortunate that I got to do what I love to do and it really paid off in the end. I’m not sure why, really. A lot of people do the same things I did, but I’ve been more successful in my later years. If it had happened in my younger years, I’m not sure I would have appreciated it as much, because I worked pretty hard for a lot of years. I used to do my own booking, produce my own records — which I still do partly, drove my own bus, wrote our contracts. You can’t do all that yourself, so eventually you’ve got to get an agent, and then another, and it’s funny how I got to this point. You build a little at a time. I’ve had a lot of breaks in the last 30 years. My first one came when I got a job with Bill Monroe when he was on Decca Records and playing the Opry. I got to travel quite a bit with him and I developed fans. The second break was when Carlton Haney had the first bluegrass festival in Fincastle, Virginia. I played the second one, in 1966, and my fans really started with me then. We played a lot of major festivals from then on. I recorded my first major record in 1967. I played with Bill Monroe in Berkeley, and recorded on Chris Strachwitz’s Arhoolie Records label. He was recording Cajun music and he liked my singing. I was the first bluegrass band he did a record with; it was my first record and that was a break for me. From that point on I recorded for a lot of independent labels, and eventually I got my own label and a lot of things happened along the way that built my career. VERGE: All of the things you mentioned, from driving the vehicle to booking, producing, recording for independent labels — so many young bands are doing exactly those things because of the state of the industry. When they turn to you for advice, what do you tell them? MCCOURY: My only advice is “Don’t give up.” Keep trying. If you like music enough, then you won’t give up and you will make it. It’s determination. Some people become disheartened, quit and get a day job. I did that in the late 1960s and early 1970s. I was raising a family, and when my kids got through high school and were independent, then I could hit it full time and that’s when things started happening.
MCCOURY: A band is not one person. It takes four, five, six and sometimes seven people to make a band. You’re only as good as the band that’s backing you up, and they deserve a lot of the credit for that. I consider myself equal to my musicians and I have a lot of respect for them. I’m the person out there in front, but if you take one person out, it’s done for until you find someone else. And it takes a lot of work to become a musician in a band. When we got Alan five years ago, he had to learn all the material, including things that I recorded 30 years ago. He knew the stuff, and soon after coming into the band he did a record with us, but he studied everything I had recorded up to that day. My guys all know the tunes, and I credit them for making our sound what it is. VERGE: Are some of today’s musicians too focused on technical perfection instead of letting the music flow spontaneously? MCCOURY: A lot of bands are pretty technical these days. It’s cut and dry, and a lot of them start sounding the same because of that. There’s nothing distinctive; you don’t hear a note or two and know who is playing or singing. Lester Flatt was such a stylist; so was Bill Monroe. They were all stylists in the early days. Now you hear so many that sound like the band you heard five minutes ago, and you can’t pick this one from that one. If you’re going to go out there, you have to have a distinctive thing, and that’s called being yourself. You have to record songs that you like. Think to yourself, I may have to sing this for the rest of my days onstage. Do I like it enough to do that? That creates your style. The songs you choose to record — that’s your taste in songs and melody, and that says what you’re going to sound like from now on. by ALISON RICHTER
Plan to Go
WHO The Del McCoury Band, part of the Southern Soul and Song Series WHERE The Imperial Theatre WHEN Thursday September 16 at 7 PM WHY Del McCoury is a bluegrass icon.
TICKETS | SOUTHERNSOULANDSONG.COM INFO | MCCOURYMUSIC.COM
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34 september 2010 | community driven news| vergelive.com
WESTOBOU AT ASU: JAZZ INNOVATORS
Ralph Alessi & Ravi Coltrane Join for Unique Concert
POLKA DOT PIG
New Gastropub Redefines Pub Fare The Polka-Dot Pig Gastropub opened in Surrey Center July 18th, where patrons can enjoy traditional pub food alongside fine cuisine at a reasonable price. Owner Duane Harris explains the Gastropub concept started in London in the early 90’s, when talented chefs started buying traditional English pubs and adding to their menu fine, French-inspired cuisine. “The name comes from the word gastronomy, which is the art, science and culture of food,” said Harris. “We wanted to open a place where people could order eclectic comfort food like fish and chips or shepherd’s pie, but also have the option of trying fine foods like fried lobster tail or chipotle braised short ribs. So far we’ve been doing great, and I’m happy with the amount of business we’ve been doing.” According to Harris, the fish and chips are their most popular specialty, and their number one appetizer is the jalapeño fried pickles, followed closely by the jumbo lump crab cakes. They also specialize in a variety of salads, sandwiches and pizza pies. “I love the Baltimore Burger; it’s my very favorite and it has delicious lump crabmeat and an onion ring,” said server Ashley Diaz. “I also love our white pizza, which has five Italian cheeses, spinach and olive oil. Our pies are very thin and crispy, and cooked in a brick oven.” “You can walk out of here having dinner for under $10, or you can have it expensive,” said Harris. “Our prices are very reasonable, either way.” In keeping with their philosophy of wide selection, Polka-Dot Pig offers several beers on tap that are difficult to find elsewhere in Augusta, including 21st Amendment beer, and the Maudite high-gravity ale. They also have 30 different wines for under $30 per bottle, and a selection of mixed drinks including the Knarly Pig Mojito, Polka-Dot Martini and Death by Chocotini. The Polka-Dot Pig Gastropub is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 706.496.2930 or POLKADOTPIGGP.COM article and photo by CHRISTOPHER SELMEK
On September 19, as part of the Westobou Festival, Augusta State University will present a special one-time collaboration by jazz greats Ravi Coltrane, Ralph Alessi and Art Lande with Augusta’s own Rob Foster.
PLAN TO GO
Alessi, a progressive jazz trumpeter, touring and recording artist and educator, and Coltrane, an improvisational jazz saxophonist, composer, bandleader, touring and recording artist who just signed to Blue Note Records, have known each other and worked together since they were students at Cal Arts from 1986 - 1990. They relocated to New York City around the same time and have continued their professional working relationship, recording and performing together when schedules allow. verge spoke with Coltrane and Alessi about their partnership, performances, and what audiences can expect — or not — at their upcoming concert. VERGE: You’re both so busy. How do you work out rehearsals and repertoire? COLTRANE: It’s part and parcel of what we do. We’re so close to every given situation we’re in that we’re not always at the liberty of tons of rehearsal time. It’s structured in a way that we can make the musical connection at a moment’s notice. That is the language of jazz. It makes it so we know our roles, we know to count time, who does what. There’s an order to what we do, and great musicians can blend into every type of situation with any player and immediately make music and say something. Ralph is one of those guys who don’t require much for a connection to happen. Even though months go by when we do not play together, it’s like we played together yesterday. ALESSI: [A concert like this one] is a work in progress. Everyone will bring music to rehearsal, and it’s pretty typical in New York that the idea of rehearsal is sometimes easier said than done. Normally, musicians rehearse once and feel their way through the process of what works and how to play it. I know Ravi’s music fairly well. We certainly have references to traditional jazz and we draw from different elements. It’s hybrid music with references to jazz and alluding to other things as well. VERGE: How much room does this genre allow for performance outside of structure, as opposed to reading charts? COLTRANE: Always expect the unexpected with concerts like this one. It’s improvisational
uptown : augusta & columbia county
jazz! Ralph and I are very close friends and we’ve worked together in countless types of situations, so this is another opportunity to get together. We’re looking forward to it. It will be a combination of his music and mine and things that we wing on the spot. ALESSI: What I love about jazz is the moment when you’re playing and somehow the environment is created where you can spontaneously make the music on some level. We work on the music and create a context to improvise. A lot of times jazz is a misunderstood thing. It is the step-by-step process of (1) rehearsing, especially in a situation where the band has never played together, and you get ideas of what will work from point A forward and (2) playing the concert and people listening and processing and trying to make music. VERGE: you feel that jazz sometimes takes a backseat when in fact it is the backbone of so much of the music that we listen to? COLTRANE: If it’s a backseat to Lady Gaga or whoever, that’s normal. You always have artists who attract the majority of people and attention. A plethora of 12-year-olds listening to Lady Gaga are not going to listen to Art Tatum or George Gershwin. That’s not taking away from us or from her. That’s just how it is. Jazz has always been different and classical in a sense. I feel very fortunate to play this esoteric music that not everyone follows, and to be a part of it. I love this music.
WHAT Ravi Coltrane and Ralph Alessi in Jazz Innovators with Art Lande and Rob Foster WHERE Maxwell Theatre, Augusta State University WHEN Sunday September 19 at 7:30 PM | $15 WHY Augusta’s own Rob Foster brings these three jazz greats together for a special one-time collaboration. MORE | JULIAN.AUG.EDU VERGE: In which ways do you think jazz is misunderstood? ALESSI: I agree that sometimes what happens in jazz is that for some people, including myself, there needs to be more consideration of how the audience interprets and digests the music — to a point. You can’t compromise your intentions. Sometimes jazz musicians play for other jazz musicians, and it is difficult for someone who has no idea what’s going on to listen to it as a sound and take it in without bias. There are clichés about jazz. I think of it not as a style but as an experience and an interpretation of the sounds. The music is not part of our mainstream culture. There was a time when you could argue that it was; you could hear it on mainstream radio and in school music programs, but this has changed over the years. But we love playing for people who are open and who will give it a chance. by ALISON RICHTER
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36 september 2010 | community driven news| vergelive.com
MUSIC: SAVANNAH RIVER WINDS
Concert Features Original Composition by Larry Clark The Savannah River Winds will present their Prism Concert in their second year as part of the Westobou Festival. “The SRW, under the direction of Richard Brasco, is a wind ensemble composed of 60 or more musicians,” explains Carol Terry, of the North Augusta Cultural Arts Council. “As a prism indicates, there are many sides; thus, a Prism Concert presents the many different instrument sections and sounds of a wind ensemble.” The 2010 Prism Concert will feature guest conductor Larry Clark, vice president/ editor-in-chief of Carl Fischer Music. He will direct “Resurgence,” a composition that he wrote specifically for SRW and the Westobou Festival. “Mr. Clark was selected because of his reputation as a composer of wind ensemble literature,” explains Ms. Terry. “This commissioned piece was made possible through a grant awarded to the North Augusta Cultural Arts Council by the Porter Fleming Foundation.” Larry Clark spoke to verge about his involvement with Westobou, “Resurgence,” and the importance of events such as the Prism Concert. VERGE: How did you become involved with Westobou and the creation of an original work for the festival? CLARK: This past January I was asked to write a commission for the GMEA District 10 Middle School Honor Band. Richard Brasco was the chair of the commissioning committee, and he was the one that contacted me to write the work “Pieces of Eight” for the honor band. I also came to Augusta and conducted the honor band at that festival, which included me guest-conducting the Savannah River Winds. While in Augusta, Rich told me that they had just received a grant from the Westobou folks to have a piece written for the Savannah River Winds to be premiered in September. He knew it was short notice but asked if I would write the piece. That is how I came to be included in this project. VERGE: What can you tell us about this composition? CLARK: The piece is called “Resurgence.” It is fast and furious almost all of the way through. It is close to five minutes long. I have experienced some life-altering changes over the past seven months, and that experience is the reason the piece is the way that it is. VERGE: You hold clinics and do a great deal of traveling. In your work with students and school bands, what are your observations about their enthusiasm for music and the arts in general? CLARK: It is a great joy in my life to get the opportunity to work with the finest young people around the country. By and large, the students in the bands programs that I meet are the best of the best. They are highly motivated and love performing
music. I am a big believer in music education and believe that it is one of the shining LARRY CLARK, COMPOSER stars of our educational system in this country. It is so good for kids to participate in music, and these students always give me their best. Music students in our schools are what is right about our education system. We always see in the papers and in news about all of the bad things going on with kids today, but these students are role models for others.
PLAN TO GO
VERGE: Why is it important for communities to support music and arts programs, and to bring their children to concerts such as Prism? CLARK: Without music and the arts, life would be pretty dull. These activities are so enriching for the soul and have so many benefits in other areas of life and health. It has been proven that students that participate in music and the arts do better in school and are [better] adjusted. School boards take the easy way out during times of economic crisis by cutting these programs, because on the surface they seem non-essential. However, without them, a school — and a community — has no soul, no life. We must protect this and advocate for the continued inclusion of the arts in our schools, because it is critical to our quality of life and our way of life.
Downtown Aiken’s Annual Labor Day Sidewalk Sale september 2 thru september 4
Downtown Aiken will transform into a giant sidewalk sale during Labor Day Weekend. For those early Christmas shoppers, now is the time to scoop up some wonderful bargains. “Merchants are looking to move merchandise and free up space for new inventory, so there should be some really super bargains,” said Carla Cloud, Aiken Downtown Development Association (ADDA) Executive Director. Participating downtown merchants will celebrate the annual event in the traditional manner, offering bargains either on sidewalk tables or just inside their business doors. You can expect great bargains from 3 Monkeys Fine Gifts, Aiken Antique Mall, Birds and Butterflies of Aiken, Charlotte’s Bridal Fashions, Chris’ Camera Center, The Curiosity Shop, Equine Divine, Lionel Smith, Ltd., Kicks of Aiken, MB Jewelry and Beads, M. Smart Custom Framing, Re-Fresh, Tea Garden Gifts, Up and Away Balloons & Gifts, Vinya’s and many more. For additional information contact ADDA at 803.649.2221 or DOWNTOWNAIKEN.COM
by ALISON RICHTER
WHAT The Prism Concert by Savannah River Winds
WHERE First Baptist Church North Augusta | 625 Georgia Avenue WHEN Monday September 20 at 7:30 PM WHY Premiere of “Resurgence,” an original composition commissioned specifically for this year’s Westobou Festival. HOW MUCH Free
MORE | NAARTSCOUNCIL.ORG
friday september 10 | 9 am to 6 pm saturday september 11 | 9 am to 5 pm historic downtown aiken The 34th Annual Aiken’s Makin’ is right around the corner, held in the parkways in historic downtown Aiken S.C. Arts and craft booths will line Park Avenue with unique hand-made items, food vendors will tempt the palate and local musicians will provide family-friendly entertainment during this two day annual festival. This year’s festival has a slightly different layout due to the work being done in downtown Aiken’s parkways. “The footprint of the festival will change somewhat, for safety and other reasons, but not the character and content of Aiken’s Makin’. The juried show will continue to be a fun arts and crafts event with many unique handcrafted items from around the Southeast,” said Aiken’s Makin’ Co-chair Shelia Taylor, Vendors will line the center parkways and both sides of the westbound section of Park Avenue. Food booths will be on the streets between the parkways. Through the years the event has grown from a mere 50 vendors to 300. Vendors show everything from pottery, woodcrafts, furniture, baskets, stained glass, quilts, clothing, needlecrafts, toys, jewelry, ceramics, art and many other items. The one prerequisite is that all items must be handmade by the seller. Food has also become a staple at the event. Aiken’s Makin’ draws quite a crowd during the two day event. Attendance is estimated to be 30,000 to 35,000 people over the course of the two day event. AIKENCHAMBER.NET
across the river : north augusta & aiken
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38 september 2010 | community driven news| vergelive.com
SATURDAY MARKET IN PROGRESS: EMPORIUM A Team Effort Required (VI) Locally Grown Produce Abounds Reconstruction of the Emporium requires a lot of talent and an effort by a lot of people. In addition to the building owner, project manager Joey Allen estimates that at least 75 other people are hard at work inside the building at any one time. “The biggest task I face is the scheduling,” said Allen. “I have to stay ahead of the curve and figure out what needs to be done in what sequence. The unknowns are a big part of why I’m here, so I can handle those daily crises that come up with surprising regularity, and to keep everyone in line.” “Part of Joey’s job is also to deal with me,” said owner Natalie McLeod. “He keeps me happy and lets me know what role I need to play, so that I can make the big decisions when they need to be made.”
“I love farmers and farmer’s markets!” Kate Lee declares eagerly. Lee is a horticulturist by education, local farmer and shopkeeper by trade, and sponsor and produce seller at the Augusta Market by enthusiasm. Kate began selling produce at the Augusta Market a couple of years ago when she affiliated with Blue Clay Farms. She saw an interest in Augustans for organic, local produce “so we decided to become a resource for it.” Farming a small parcel of land in Beech Island, called Nutsedge Farm, and working with other local growers, she offers heirloom tomatoes, melons, squashes, garlic, okra, leeks, blueberries, honey and an assortment of other crops that changes weekly with the harvest. After being inspired by this initial market experience, Kate opened Garden City Organics on Broad Street, two years ago this September. Nestled on Artist’s Row, GCO supplies everything needed for the budding organic gardener from seeds and irrigation systems to composters and organic fertilizers. One of Kate’s desires is to see “more farmers at the farmer’s market.” What better way to do that than to provide resources for anyone interested in growing locally? Some local growers aren’t certified organic, but, “supporting local is just as important as being organic. It’s important for community when locals support local growers”, says Kate. Garden City Organics’ mission promotes “community development,” which Kate
recognizes as the focus of other downtown organizations. “Our clientele invites conscientious people who like the outdoors and who enjoy good food and personal health. It makes for a lot of cool people to hang around with,” says Kate of GCO’s customer base. In order to promote support for locally grown and the health of the overall community, Garden City Organics started a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program in June 2009. Based on models seen around the country, Kate thought it was a “good service to bring to town.” A CSA is a weekly subscription for produce similar to subscribing to a magazine. Every six weeks, one subscribes to receive a share of produce every week of whatever is in season. When asked if going local and organic is simply a trend which may fade the way of most trends, Kate enthusiastically defends the Augusta community by saying, “More and more people are getting involved in locally grown with a heightened awareness of personal health and environmental health, growing in the direction of more responsibility.” Come and buy locally from Kate and many others at the Augusta Market by the River at 8th and Reynolds every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. from now until the end of October. THEAUGUSTAMARKET.COM article and photos by JENNIFER MASLYN
According to Allen, he manages roughly nine teams accomplishing nine different tasks within the Emporium. That includes contractors from different companies, including the elevator company currently installing rails in one of the buildings two shafts, and to some extent the electric company upgrading the building’s power so the elevators can run. What the project manager can’t take control of, he leaves in the capable hands of on-site superintendant David Zorn. “The manager is the office guy,” said Zorn. “I open the doors every morning and lock the doors every evening when I leave. I’m on the ground every single day watching what goes on and making sure everybody does stuff right.” According to Zorn, he relies on years of experience for him to effectively supervise the roofers, drywallers, plumbers, electricians and more concentrating on their specific tasks within the building. Right now everything appears to be going smoothly, but that relies largely on a coordinated effort by many different people. “I need to have control not just of my crew, but I need to coordinate with what’s going on all around here so all of my work works together with their work,” said Burles Johnson, who leads the roofing team. “I generally try to go through the superintendant when there’s something I need to talk to the other teams about, but sometimes it’s quicker just to try and get it done myself.” “That’s what’s harder about doing this kind of construction than building something new, is when you find yourself with pieces of the old building that won’t fit with what you have planned, and you have to make allowances,” said McLeod. “Everybody has to be a little bit flexible in how they get their job done, including me.” According to McLeod, one of the most important projects they are starting right now is the laying of sheetrock in the front three apartments.
McLeod. “Once the walls go up, we can work on tiling the showers and putting up cabinets in each apartment.” McLeod says she has confidence in everyone on her team, and it is that which allows her to have confidence in the final product. “The one’s I know I have a lot of confidence in, and the ones I don’t talk to I still have confidence in because I’m confident in the people that hired them,” she said. “There’s a lot of smart people working on this building right now, and it’s amazing to see it all come together.” Follow the progress of renovations to The Emporium at 1106 Broad Street from vacant, derelict property to a vibrant residential/ commercial gem. Missed an episode? Check out back issues at VERGELIVE.COM article & photos by CHRISTOPHER SELMEK
“Sheetrock is what gives you your walls, and there’s insulation going in as well, after which we’ll be able to put on the finishing touches,” said
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Lokal Music Musings If there’s one guarantee that Augustans can be sure of: it’s that this time of year can be a scorcher (anybody got directions to the mist tent?). But, it’s nice to know that hot Augusta music can be found in great air-conditioned spots across the CSRA. So, saddle up to a comfy spot, grab a cold one, and chill while your ears take the brunt of the heat. If you find yourself lured to a great outdoor show, wear a hat and recommend those visiting do as well. Hate to find any of our guests babbling endlessly like a mediocre metal band somewhere down by the river due to heat stroke. Speaking of metal, there’s only one bit of news that could get Augusta headbangers more fired up than a mosh pit at a Slayer concert: BLOODFEST XVI is now scheduled for October 29 at Sky City! Last year’s event drew lines outside of the downtown venue and there’s no reason to expect any different this year. If that wasn’t crazy enough, on October 2, Sky City will also play host to a battle of the bands to find one young talented up and coming face melting band to kick off Bloodfest XVI. Keep an eye out at LOKALLOUDNESS.COM for details. If something a little less volatile is more your style, then stand up and rejoice because the news out of Riverside Studios is that long-time Augusta musician (not to mention Larry Jon Wilson protégé and Shawn Mullins band member) PATRICK BLANCHARD has been working hard to put the finishing touches on upcoming releases by NoStar (NOSTARBAND. COM) and 48Volt (MYSPACE.COM/48VOLT). Having heard tracks from both sessions, I have to say that fans of great rootsy Americana rock will be blown away. 48VOLT is shooting to release new tracks at a Sky City show on September 10. NOSTAR has yet to set a date for the release of their sophomore disc. Lately, I’ve been blown away by music put out by former Augusta artists who now reside in other parts of this great country. Singer-songwriter STEVEN JACKSON, whose sophomore disc Boxfan is one of my favorite all-time CDs, was kind enough to hook me up with Before We Land by his latest outfit Brighter Things. Talk about a great platter of delicious rootsy morsels! Opening track “Wide Awake” is simply put, incredible. Listen at BRIGHTERTHINGS.COM. The new disc by WILL MCCRANIE, smile.shift.speak, was released in late August. The recordings for McCranie’s latest release began as simple demo sessions and, thirteen hours later, a full length acoustic album was born!
latest studio efforts and his ongoing 52/52 Project, could there be an Augustan any busier than Willie Mac? Check out 5252PROJECT.COM for more info. I just want to thank everyone who sent in an email with their top “Bands Reunited” choices. Some interesting choices that you guys sent in. Got some reunion votes for past Augusta bands like Estrela, Hundred Year Sun, and 420 Outback but there can be only one “most wanted” band and that band is (drum roll please!)…THE RIFF RAFF KINGS! That’s right Augusta you said you most wanted to see the Riff Raff Kings get back together and rock the stage! Hey crazier things have happened. Stak (aka Brian Allen) of Confederation of Noisemakers recently told me that the STONE DOGS and the HOT ROCK GODS were going to have a co-reunion show. I’d pay good money just to see how that one turns out! To get an earful of what’s happening in Augusta music, listen to me rant with my good buddy Brian “Stak” Allen at CONFEDERATIONOFLOUDNESS.COM. Til next time…Make it LOKAL, Keep it Loud. by JOHN “STONEY” CANNON To keep up with what’s going down in Augusta music, check out Stoney’s long-running website LOKALLOUDNESS.COM.
the last word
MORE THAN WESTOBOU
Border Bash, IronMan and More While the Westobou festival rages throughout downtown Augusta, it’s important to remember that there are many other events going on in September to watch and participate in. Here are a few: BORDER BASH | SEPTEMBER 10 This year’s Border Bash at the Augusta Common at 5 p.m., Sept. 10th, is the place to be on the night before the Georgia Bulldog and South Carolina Gamecock football game. This is the 17th year the two rival universities have met for a night of family fun on the Savannah River featuring cheerleaders and mascots from both teams, as well as food and sports gear vendors. Musical guests include Sister Hazel and the Joe Stevenson Band, while proceeds benefit children’s charities throughout the CSRA. Tickets are $10 in advance, which can be purchased at Augusta area Circle K and Food Lion locations, and $15 the day of the event. Details: 706.396.7101 or BORDERBASH.NET. SEPTEMBER 11th REMEMBRANCE CEREMONY “Almighty God, September 11th, 2001 will be indelibly inscribed in our memories,” goes a remembrance prayer compiled by an unnamed Navy Chaplain. “We looked with horror on the terrorist attacks of that day, but we looked with honor on acts of courage by ordinary people who sacrificed themselves to prevent further death and destruction.” It is in remembrance of these public safety officials and other selfless individuals that all are invited to attend the September 11th Remembrance Ceremony at 9:30 a.m. in the Augusta Common. A Master of Ceremonies selected from the city government will lead the Augusta Fire Department Honor Guard in a moment of silence and tolling of the bells. Also at the ceremony, the Fort Gordon Signal Corps Band will perform the national anthem along with “America the Beautiful” and “Taps”. Details: 706.821.1754. IRONMAN 70.3 | SEPTEMBER 26 The Ironman 70.3 triathlon begins Sept. 26th at 7:30 a.m. at the Riverfront Marina where Fifth St. meets the Savannah River. Athletes from across the country will dive into the water for the 1.2 mile swim event, then exit the water at the Augusta Rowing Complex public Boat Ramp for a 56 mile single-loop bike event around town. Then, athletes will again transition to a 13.1 mile run through the streets of downtown before finishing at the Augusta Common. “In today’s busy world, everyone can still find time for things they’re passionate about,” said Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver in recent Facebook posting, who is training as a member of
AN IRONMAN CYCLIST
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training. “I’m definitely passionate about physical fitness, but I’m even more passionate about making a difference. Being a small part of helping the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s effort to find a cure is an experience I will always treasure.” Spectators and athletes are also invited to attend the Ford Ironman Expo Sept. 24th and 25th at the Augusta Marriott Hotel and Conference Center, which features various booths including a showcase of Ford vehicles, Ironman merchandise, bike services and more. In addition, the Janus Inspiration Station allows spectators can create inspirational signs to line the course. Details: IRONMANAUGUSTA.COM. ARTISTIC PERCEPTIONS 20th ANNIVERSARY The oldest continuously owned and operated art gallery on Broad Street celebrates its 20th anniversary this month. Artistic Perceptions, owned by Roy and Wanta Davenport at 551 Broad Street, will be offering 20% off all oil painting throughout the month of September. Details: ARTISTICPERCEPTIONS.COM. by CHRISTOPHER SELMEK
THE INKLING EXTENDS DEADLINE Due to recent changes, The Inkling does not appear in this issue as previously planned.. But, do not despair. The annual celebration of the art of the written word will appear in the first issue of January 2011, allowing for more submissions and artwork to grace its pages. As a result, the submission process has been reopened and will close on October 15, 2010. The Inkling, a literary journal discovering the best in local prose, poetry and art, was named in honor of the informal Oxford literary club of the 30s and 40s, which included famed authors J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. The journal mirrors their desire to encourage pursuit of the written word, while providing mind-stimulating stories, essays and
poems for consumption. A few submission guidelines: • Prefer works that are previously unpublished unless the author has retained the rights to submit a previously published piece to other publications. • Stories or personal essays: up to 3,000 words; Poems: up to 1,000 words • Original art (literary cartoons, photography, paintings and drawings) may also be submitted for consideration. • Please limit submissions to five pieces. • Writers of any age may submit. • Entries must be received by midnight on October 15, 2010. • To receive more details and/or send submissions: email@example.com or PO Box 38, Augusta 30903.
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