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EVENT | Celebrate nature's diversity ... for free!
Wild About You, South Carolina Appreciation Day
Sun. Jan. 28
9 a.m.-6 p.m.
S.C. Aquarium
100 Aquarium Wharf
577-FISH (3474)

If you've never explored the S.C. Aquarium, which contains plenty of local and regional representations of our rich flora and fauna, this Sunday is the day to finally head out toward the harbor and immerse yourself in the state's only aquarium. Not only is the Aquarium offering free entry all day for all visitors, they've kindly extended the hours as well. The whole Aquarium Wharf shopping area will be in on the action, too, as the Aquarium garage offers discounted parking ($3 flat rate for the day), the Charleston IMAX Theatre will sell small drinks and popcorn for just $1 each, and the hot dogs and sodas being hawked outside the Aquarium doors will just set you back one more buck each. Have fun, and remember: don't feed the otters! SUNDAY

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FILM | Keeping it really real
Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes

Thurs. Jan. 25
6:30 p.m.
Charleston County Public Library
68 Calhoun St.

In case VH1's (White) Rapper Show isn't the most accurate depiction of the rap world beyond 106 and Park, the Charleston County Public Library, in association with the PBS Independent Lens program, will screen filmmaker Byron Hurt's incendiary documentary Hip Hop: Beyond the Beats and Rhymes documentary for free. Unlike the (White) Rapper Show, where contestants swig double-deuces and abuse stuffed animals, this "loving critique" of the fast-talking, beat-dropping music genre made by a hip-hop lover sounds like a movie worth watching. In his film, Hurt explores the "I'm a man, she's a bitch who should be slapped for talking to that faggot who wears no bling" ideology behind the hip-hop success formula, how that reflects on what the world perceives as the African-American experience, and what needs to change. The movie features interviews with legends like Mos Def, Chuck D, Fat Joe, and Busta Rhymes; hip-hop powerhouses Russell Simmons (the "Godfather of Hip Hop") and Violator records CEO Chris Lighty; along with other authors, hip-hop fans, and feminists who come bearing credentials. The documentary will also be shown on the PBS Independent Lens program on Tues. Feb. 20 at 10 p.m. --Lindsay Sainlar THURSDAY

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VISUAL ARTS | Building bridges to tomorrow
New Structures

Opening Fri. Jan. 26 at 6 p.m.
On view through March 3
Redux Contemporary Art Center
136 St. Philip St.

The first show of 2007 at Redux Contemporary Art Center, New Structures, is a two-person exhibition that both embraces and scoffs at technology. Virginia-based digital artist Blake Hurt creates portraits using a software description to weave together specific information about his subjects into large, layered digital works allowing the viewer to see multiple images simultaneously. Clemson professor and painter Todd McDonald explores the "corporate growth, rampant consumerism, and excessive accumulation" of American culture through his paintings of hyperextended structures. Welcome to the new year, indeed. FRIDAY

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NATURE | Making it grow
2007 Spring Camellia Festival

Jan. 25-26
Magnolia Plantation
3550 Ashley River Road

The vibrant camellia is synonymous with the distinct flora of the southeastern United States. The pink, white, red, and purple flowers start to bloom in winter and are usually history by March, which explains why the Lowcountry's earliest garden showcase of 2007 is the Coastal Carolina Camellia Society's Spring Camellia Festival. The weekend-long fest includes a catered lunch on Friday at Magnolia Plantation's Carriage House, a guided tour through Magnolia Gardens' camellia collection with a panel of national experts, and a camellia competition on Saturday at Citadel Mall. As an extra bonus for both locals and tourists who wish to continue exploring the Plantation on Sunday, the cost includes a full week's admission to Magnolia Plantation, and with all proceeds from the festival directly benefiting Magnolia's Camellia Conservation Project, you can help assure that there will be a chance to see the camellias in their peak season for years to come. FRIDAY-SATURDAY

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THEATRE | From one city to another
The Syringa Tree

Jan. 26, 27, 31, Feb. 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10 at 8 p.m.
Jan. 28 and Feb. 4 at 3 p.m.
$25, $23/seniors, $18/students, $10/bargain seats
Dock Street Theatre
135 Church St.

The Syringa Tree is a remarkable one-woman show written by Johannesburg native Pamela Gien and starring Carolyn Cook, who comes to Charleston after performing in the April 2005 production at Atlanta's Horizon Theatre Company. In the show, Cook plays the roles of young and old, black and white, as her character relays an epic story of two families in South Africa -- one black, one white -- as their lives intertwine on the country's journey through early apartheid and into the present-day free society. FRIDAY-SUNDAY

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MUSIC | Jazzing it up
Vanessa Rubin
Sun. Jan. 28
4 p.m.
$40 ($35 adv.)
Recital Hall, Simons Center for the Arts
54 St. Philip St.

Cleveland-raised, N.Y.C.-based jazz vocalist, lyricist, and arranger Vanessa Rubin is best known for her soulful singing style, yearning ballads, swingin' waltzes, and tuneful renditions of popular songs -- from Ellington and Gershwin to Carmen McRea and Sting. Her performances are often tinged with elements of calypso, reggae, and blues. In the 1980s and '90s, she recorded several albums for the Novus and Telarc labels and collaborated with such jazz and pop greats as Monty Alexander, Cecil Bridgewater, Kenny Burrell, Frank Foster, Billy Higgins, Etta Jones, Lewis Nash, Toots Thielemans, Pharoah Sanders, Grover Washington, Jr., Herbie Hancock, the Woody Herman Orchestra, and the Jazz Crusaders. This Sunday's early-afternoon event is sponsored by the Charleston Jazz Society, a not-for-profit organization incorporated to be an "effective advocate for jazz as an art form by furthering awareness and appreciation through performance and education." "Our effort is to bring jazz as an important event here in Charleston," says the organization's John Robinson, a former D.C./N.Y.C-based jazz musician who recently relocated to the Lowcountry. "Our events will always be on the fourth Sunday of the month, from 4-7 p.m. at the Renaissance Hotel or other venues." See and for more. --T. Ballard Lesemann SUNDAY


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