Scene: One hell of a hootenanny 

Films, auctions, and hoedowns

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J. Chandler Thomas

click to enlarge J. CHANDLER THOMAS
  • J. Chandler Thomas

The Charleston International Film Festival kicked off last week and it’s opening night was a red carpet affair replete with step-and-repeats and Chinese lanterns hanging from the trees overhead. After hitting up the open bar, I watched the screening of The Wannabe, a Martin Scorsese-executive produced film. Most guests were impeccably dressed, reminding me of what I have only seen in movies of yore. Popcorn of the kettle variety was handed out, as were huge, hot pretzels. I could not locate any Milk Duds, though one elderly lady I was chatting with did pass me a Rolo. Another lady asked me where the bar was and I told her that one was upstairs and one was down. She then told me to go upstairs as she walked to the downstairs bar. It felt like I’d been sent to my room. At any rate, after the movie, our small group headed over to the Gin Joint to have even more popcorn. This time it was a pad Thai concoction that was a great accompaniment to the bartender’s choice cocktail where I selected words from two columns on the menu. I have no real idea of what I did have, as I chose “strong” and “unusual.” Gin Joint’s GM Laura advised me that it was “military-grade hooch” and I could smell it from six feet away.

click to enlarge J. CHANDLER THOMAS
  • J. Chandler Thomas

The next evening, I walked over to Cannon Green for the 13th-annual Redux art auction. I’ve been to Cannon Green for dinner a few times, but have never been on their courtyard, so I was delighted the event’s cocktail hour was at this venue. Inside, in the event space adjacent, guests took part in a silent auction that featured a mixture of items: artwork, pottery, jewelry, gift certificates, magazine subscriptions, taxidermy, and (presumably) my grandfather’s pocket watch that I lost some time back in 2007. There was a lot up for grabs, is what I am saying. I bid on a face jug by fourth generation potter Jason Luck, but was silently outbid by other guests. I hope lucky number 41 enjoys the jug, whoever you are.

After several trays of small bites were passed and a few specialty cocktails were downed, it was time to start the live auction. The auctioneer, I was told, was a little under the weather, though no one could tell. His personality was at times hilarious as he fully-engaged the crowd with the fun of the bidding process. Redux executive director Stacy Huggins gave a heartfelt speech to all of the attendees. In passing, I asked Art Mag owner Matt Mill what got him into the local art scene and he said that it was the need to help make our city a place where artists can project their creativity and voice through their artistic interpretations. I thought that was pretty spot-on in what both Redux and Art Mag strive to do.

Changing gears, rather dramatically, on Saturday night I headed over to the Bus Shed to attend the annual Lowcountry Hoedown. Knowing this was coming up, I asked around to try to ascertain what, exactly, a hoedown was. I had a feeling that it was probably something like a hootenanny, but was told it was also kind of a shindig. Whatever all of those things are, it was. Upon entry, guests were supplied with Moon Pies and chips. The chips were used to vote on whose food and drink were the best. My favorite was Rebel Yell, as one of their bourbons tasted almost exactly like a pre-made old fashioned.

click to enlarge J. CHANDLER THOMAS
  • J. Chandler Thomas

Favorite food of the night had to go to The Barbeque Joint’s smoky mac and cheese, some of the best I have ever had. The event was well organized and thought out. Emceed by 105.5’s The Critic, the event had a familiar voice beaming overhead and some great live music by Brushfire Stankgrass and Whitewater Ramble which is precisely the sort of band names one should expect at a hoedown. Meanwhile, over in the corner, I spotted a mechanical bull. Whenever I see a mechanical bull (and this happens a lot, somehow) I immediately pretend that I am a professional bull rider until I get on it and just as immediately fall off. It’s giving it the good ol’ college try that is important. As the evening went on, guests started to head to the front of the stage to dance. What started out as an impromptu line dance quickly turned into a mass crip walk. This may have been my first hoedown, but it certainly won’t be my last.


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