Monday, April 24, 2017

Jazz Artists of Charleston launch new brand "Charleston Jazz"

And all that jazz

Posted by Mary Scott Hardaway on Mon, Apr 24, 2017 at 4:04 PM

Charlton Singleton is the CJO's music and artistic director
  • Charlton Singleton is the CJO's music and artistic director

Charleston Jazz
is the new brand name for Jazz Artists of Charleston, encompassing the Charleston Jazz Orchestra, Charleston Jazz Festival, and the Charleston Jazz Academy programs. The brand was announced earlier this month and executive director of Charleston Jazz Mary Beth Natarajan says that the new brand "celebrates Charleston’s role in the history of jazz, and accommodates the branding of new programs we plan to add over the next 18 months.”

A new look and name for Jazz Artists of Charleston - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • A new look and name for Jazz Artists of Charleston
The nonprofit, which was founded in 2008 as Jazz Artists of Charleston, has a mission to "grow a local and global community for Jazz through performance, education and outreach while celebrating and preserving Charleston's rich history in Jazz."

Be sure to check out the free upcoming Piccolo Spoleto Jazz Jam on May 28 at Republic Garden and Lounge, and head to the organization's new site to purchase tickets to other jazzy performances.

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Piccolo Spoleto is a month away — here's what we're most excited about

Spoiler: it's the Princess Diana musical

Posted by Connelly Hardaway on Mon, Apr 24, 2017 at 3:07 PM

  • Provided
Spoleto season doesn't just mean great international shows taking place all over our fair city, it also means Piccolo Spoleto is kicking off, too, a homegrown complement to Spoleto, featuring music, theater, visual arts, dance, and comedy. Piccolo just released their 90 plus page brochure and, as always, there's a whole lot to take in. Here's what caught our eye:

Every Brilliant Thing

If you're like us, you scrambled to see the one-man play about suicide, Every Brilliant Thing, at last year's Spoleto festival. Threshold Rep takes on the play this year with a new production created just for Piccolo. The play runs from May 26-June 10.

Five Lesbians Eating a Quiche
Always a popular stage production, Five Lesbians Eating a Quiche is back for this year's Piccolo, produced by What If? Productions at Threshold Repertory Theatre, May 27-June 4. Make sure to keep your eye out for Best of Charleston's Best Actress, Sarah Callahan Black, who stars in the show.

Princess Diana, The Musical
A musical, about Princess Diana? Yep, and it's coming to the Charleston Performing Arts Center, a space perfect for the "cabaret-style" production, created by Karen Sokolif Javitch and Elaine Jabenis, that's making its Southeastern premiere at the fest. How the play manages to tells the story of Charles and Diana, we don't know. But we can't wait to find out. This show starts May 28 and running through June 10.

The In-Between with Marcus Amaker
On Mon. June 5 at 6 p.m. head to City Gallery for The In-Between, featuring classical soprano Jill Terhaar Lewis, saxophonist Robert Lewis, and pianist Gerald Gregory who will "explore repertoire that resides in and in between classical and jazz genres." Joined by poet laureate Charleston Marcus Amaker, the musicians will perform new versions of Amaker's poems.

Maybe it's because we're still in a fairy tale state of mind, but Charleston City Ballet's performance of Rumplestiltskin tickles our fancy. Performed at the Charleston Music Hall on June 7 and June 8, the show tells the tale of a milliner's daughter making a bargain with a mischievous man. You know the rest. (And if you don't, then you definitely need to see this show).

Na Fidleiri: Something Old, Something New
Piccolo has an entire Celtic art series, so there's plenty of foot-stompin' tunes to go around. Na Fidleiri, a Charleston fiddling ensemble, presents a new program with new material including songs from fiddler Liz Carroll. Charleston musicians Bart Saylor and Jim Carrier join, as well as internationally-celebrated percussionist Danny Mallon. Performances take place at the Circular Congregational Church on June 5 and June 7.

Polaris Trio with Kenneth Law
The recently formed Polaris Trio performs innovative programs that highlight works by female composers and composers of African descent. The trio is comprised of violinist Laura Kobayashi, pianist Stephen Buck, and cellist Kenneth Law, and will perform one night only, Sun. May 28 at 6 p.m. at the Charleston Library Society.

Positional Ambivalence
Opening at the new Redux Contemporary Art Center (at 1056 King Street) starting May 26, visiting artist Gabriel Lovejoy creates work that celebrates the medium of paint in many forms. According to the artist description, "The work examines a culture driven by media and the flood of information as it defines a new reality."

Leonard Cohen: A multimedia retrospective
As part of Piccolo's A World of Jewish Culture series, Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim presents Leonard Cohen: A multimedia retrospective. Binghamton University professor Jonathan Karp delivers a multimedia presentation on Cohen, with some of Cohen's most popular songs being performed live.

Find Your Groove
The film, Find Your Groove, looks at genres of American music, beginning with blues and jazz, and will screen at the Charleston Music Hall on Sun. May 28 at 5 p.m. The film is not only free (woo hoo), it also includes many shots of Charleston, like a concert at the Pour House.

Between Us
As part of the Stelle Di Domani series at the College of Charleston, Between Us is a collaboration between the Annex Dance Company and CofC's department of theater and dance. Performed on June 4 and June 5 at CofC Chapel Theatre the performance features professional and student dancers exploring relationships in a series of duets.

Piccolo Fringe: The Defiant Thomas Brothers
The Defiant Thomas Brothers is a pair of comedians, Seth and Paul Thomas (no relation) who were recently in town for the Charleston Comedy Festival. The duo's claim to fame may be their best sketch group award at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival (alongside the Flight of the Conchords, no less), but the Thomas's should be known for their comedic timing, and the way they deal with both race and political correctness.

Piccolo Fiction: Aaron Wood
All of the Piccolo Fiction participants seem promising, but we can vouch for sure for Aaron Wood, whose short story "Gone From There" was published in last year's literary issue. Held at the Charleston Music Hall on Sat. June 3 at 5 p.m. each author's story will begin with the words "I ducked into the alley ..."

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Audition for Charleston Stage's 40th season on Sun. May 7

All the city's a stage

Posted by Connelly Hardaway on Fri, Apr 21, 2017 at 1:07 PM

  • Courtesy Charleston Stage
  • This could be you.
So you wanna be an actor? You can get one step closer by auditioning for Charleston Stage's 40th season on Sun. May 7 at Charleston Stage's Mt. Pleasant studio, located at 629 Johnnie Dodds Blvd. Suite 7, from 3-9 p.m. You'll be auditioning for a role in one of four Charleston Stage productions, including Disney's The Little Mermaid, A Christmas Carol, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Shakespeare in Love.

High school students will audition from 3-5 p.m. and adults will audition from 6-9 p.m. High school students are asked to email Jesse Siak ( to reserve an audition time, and adults should email Ashley Palmer (

Learn more about Charleston Stage and its 2017-'18 season online.
Location Details Charleston Stage Studios
629 Johnnie Dodds Blvd.
Mt. Pleasant
Charleston, South Carolina
General Location

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ArtFields fights for artistic expression as McClellanville artist's quilt of a man being lynched creates controversy

Artistic Freedom

Posted by Connelly Hardaway on Fri, Apr 21, 2017 at 10:37 AM

'Bitter fruit racial crop' - PROVIDED BY LORETTA GERALD
  • Provided by Loretta Gerald
  • 'Bitter fruit racial crop'
Lake City, S.C.'s ArtFields, founded in 2013 and held every spring, honors Southeastern artists with exhibitions, events, and awards. Art is displayed in venues all over the tiny town — from warehouses to boutiques and it's generally a mild mannered affair. This year, however, Loretta Gerald's quilt, "Bitter fruit racial crop," which depicts a KKK member and a lynched black man, is raising eyebrows and causing controversy.

While ArtFields doesn't technically begin until today, talk surrounding the show started last week when East Main Market's owner Barbara Miles put up "Bitter fruit racial crop" in her store. Various Facebook posts started appearing, with people debating that the image is too controversial and divisive for the arts festival.

Comments like, "This is disgusting! I hope that residents of this area will boycott your event this year!!!," "I will do as much as I can to get it removed. SHAME ON LAKE CITY LEADERSHIP AND THE ART PANEL THAT APPROVED THIS HATEFUL ART," and "his doesn't help find peace and love between races" were among the comments.

The 53 1/2 x 41 1/2 inch quilt has a folk art style, but a disturbing tableau — a black man in overalls hangs from a tree, while a KKK member holding a Confederate flag looks on below. And while some are calling for the work to be pulled from the festival, ArtFields program director Taronda Barnes says pieces like Gerald's are exactly the kinds of dialogue creating works ArtFields hopes to showcase.

"People are actually going into the venue and having a conversation. They see this is not something she [Loretta Gerald] just painted in a few hours. It took her eight long months to stitch. Each stitch involved a lot of feeling," says Barnes.

Like all of ArtFields participants, Gerald's work was chosen by a judicial review panel. "As a team we make sure the artists are from the 12 Southeastern states we pull from," says Barnes. In addition to this requirement, artists must be 18 years or older and submit original works. Other than those details, ArtFields accepts any work of art into their competition. These works are then submitted to a review panel who rank the art on a scale from 1-5. The top 400 ranking works are then picked out by participating venues and displayed around town.

And while Barnes says that the vitriol and pushback to Gerald's quilt has died down, conversations around the piece continue.
Loretta Gerald creates her works from visions inspired by God. - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Loretta Gerald creates her works from visions inspired by God.
"The art is about a lot of things in my life," says Gerald of "Bitter fruit racial crop." The quilt, which she says is inspired by a vision from God, started as a sketch. When Gerald has a vision she immediately sketches it out, later turning the image into a piece fabric and thread. Her mediums vary from quilts to drawings. Gerald says that God uses her as a vessel, and through him she draws what she sees in her visions.

Gerald used whatever she had available to create "Bitter fruit racial crop." The tree in the quilt is made from a piece of one of Gerald's purses; the plaid shirt on the hanged man is from one of her items of clothing. "It wasn't about nobody or no thing," says Gerald of the image. "The hanging man could be anyone — he doesn't have any hair, so it could be a man, woman, or child. The KKK figure could be white or black."

Gerald explains that, throughout history, both white and black people have hurt the African-American population in various ways. "We bring each other down, too," she says of African Americans. "For those who say it's in the past, they are being fooled." Gerald references police violence against African Americans as an atrocity being committed in the present.

In a Southeastern arts festival, it's hard to imagine not including images that evoke strong feelings and memories of the region's ugly past. You can scroll through the various artwork in this year's festival to get an idea of the history on display. There's Sandra Anderson's "Ghost of the Rice Culture," a photograph of a dilapidated church. In her artist's statement she says, "By photographing them there will at least be a record of their existence and that somebody cares."

There are other works at ArtFields that also draw from recent history to make a point, like Dolores Hayes-Lott's "Jim Crow," a pastel and acrylic on canvas, which, as her artist statement says, "depicts the lack of a voice by our black youth regarding the resurgence of a New Jim Crow Society in our country ... Legalized Slavery 2016."

"It means whatever it means to you," says Gerald of her art. Like Barnes, she believes in the conversations that can come from potentially controversial pieces of art. "I don't know why everyone is feeling so extra about this piece," says Gerald. She references a Lake City monument erected in 2013, one that honors the life of a black postmaster, Frazier B. Baker and his daughter, who were lynched in 1898. "That was just three years ago," says Gerald of the monument.

The list of racially charged, inspired, and influenced works among the work at ArtFields over the years is fairly long (there are over 400, after all). Barnes says that the festival gets submissions like these every year — we're talking about artists from the Southeast who are telling the stories of both their past and their present. None of the previous years' submissions were quite as blatant as Gerald's, though. "We knew there would be discussion [about it]," says Barnes. "We're not naive."

That's why the small arts fest held in a town with a population of roughly 7,000, the majority of them African American, will continue to fight against censorship. In a statement last weekend, ArtFields responded, "The panel chose this piece for its power to evoke, as did the venue owner. They understood it would create important dialogue. We empathize with any anger or fear this decision has caused, yet stand by an abiding belief in artistic expression."

As Barnes says, "The art outside of our small town goes beyond what we see every day. Some of the art we've seen as a team has opened our eyes. The art they [artists] create is about their everyday lives, who are we to tell them what to do?"

ArtFields kicks off today, with various events held through April 29. Read more about the festival online.

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

PHOTOS: Best of Charleston winners were transported to Neverland last night

Happy endings for all

Posted by Mary Scott Hardaway on Thu, Apr 20, 2017 at 12:35 PM

Riding in on dragons, in carriages, and clutching the waists of knights in shining armor, denizens of the fairest city in the land descended upon the Gaillard for the ball of the century. Princes and princesses swilled magic potions made from flaming Fireball and Death's Door Gin, and sated their appetites with cauldrons overflowing with the cheesiest mac from the ever-charming Cru Catering.

Louie D took the stage as pied piper, bewitching all the Queen of Hearts, Rapunzels, and Jack and Jills as they kicked up their glass-slippered dancing shoes. Guilty Pleasures lit up the night with magic star wands shaped like ... well, it wouldn't be prudent to spell out for all the virtuous maidens reading this.

While we recover this morning, looking ever so slightly like the Evil Queen and a touch like the troll under the bridge, we want to thank the fairy godmothers from last night who made Best of Charleston 2017 a fairy tale that even Tswift couldn't dream up:

Presenting Sponsor: Patrick J. O'Neill, MD Plastic Surgery

Official Sponsors:
Guilty Pleasures
Charleston Heating + Air
Palmetto Carriage Works
Savage Law Firm
Lowcountry Beauty & Wellness Spa

Supporting Sponsors:
Blu Gorilla Tattoo
Once Upon A Child
Carolina One Real Estate
Pure Barre
Planet Vape
Harris Teeter
Charleston Green Taxi
Other Brother Entertainment
Charleston Style Limo

Other Sponsors:
Khouri Chiropractic and Health Solutions
Surf Bar
Andolini's Pizza
Orangetheory Fitness

Coca Cola, official soft drink sponsor
Dogfish Head, beer sponsor
Bonterra Vineyards (Harris Teeter), wine sponsor
Holy City Brewing

Republic National Distributing Company (Tito's Vodka, Svedka Vodka, Mount Gay Rum, Firefly Distillery, Fireball, Larceny, Death's Door Gin, Lunazul Tequila, PAMA Pomegranate Liquer)

Cru Catering
Halls Steakhouse
Martha Lou's
Home Team BBQ
Rue de Jean
Mex 1
Roti Rolls Jeni's Ice Cream

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