The Scene 

Kevin Hackler, Italian Fashion Show, Social, Parade of Boats, 52.5 records, Shadow Puppets

— The bloodcurdling screams of the flower princess and her people when the forces of darkness descend upon them in Act 2 of Wayang Modern, Geoffrey Cormier's shadow puppet performance at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Arts' Paper Moon fund-raising event.

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No Heckling Needed
Trumpet-led quintet jazz it up

It's encouraging to see a healthy crowd at a local club, checking out two young bands who specialize in original, totally instrumental music. Such was the case at the Pour House last Tuesday, when trumpeter Kevin Hackler and his quintet celebrated the release of their new album, Absalon. Openers Morimoto veered in and out of prog-heavy fusion numbers and a few surprisingly elegant moments of mellowness. Hackler kept cool during the second set with backing from guitarist Dave Linaburg (a guy who could sculpt a dozen wrong notes into a blazing riff that works), along with timekeeper Stuart White, vibes man Michael Hanf, and bassist Ben Wells (who played electric all night). This combo started out as a loose jam session at Johnson's Pub in 2005, but now they're sounding like well-seasoned veteran jazz cats. —T. Ballard Lesemann

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A Taste of Italy
Hibernian-goers feast on fashion

There was no getting around being fashionably late for Thursday's Italian Fashion Show, hosted by U-topia events, Biton, Bob Ellis, and Nanis Jewelry, although doors opened at 8:30 p.m. A long line snaked alongside Hibernian Hall as hopeful guests wondered what was going on inside and whether or not they would they get in. Of course, this gave many the opportunity to compliment each other on their outfits and to mock others. It was all part of the show. When 9:30 p.m. rolled around, the line magically split in two — those with tickets in one and those without in the other. The lucky entered quickly, sweeping past the doormen, the gargantuan Christmas tree, and the spiral stairs. Everyone glittered in their better-than-thou getups, with many socialites clad in outfits and accessories they had borrowed from local designers and boutiques, kissing cheeks as they made their way through the crowd. When Ayoka Lucas, style editor for Charleston magazine, announced the start of the show, her voice silenced the eager crowd. After Lucas finished introducing the hosts and special guests, the leggy models poured out of the back stage, flashing the latest from international couture designers. With look-at-me attitudes rivaling the must-see designer wares they wore, many of the models — both male and female — worked the runway like true top model superstars. Auf wiedersehen — 'til Fashion Week in March. —Svetlana Minx

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Hungry singles on the prowl

Charleston's hottest singles packed Social Wine Bar Wednesday night for It's Just Drinks, hosted by the dating group It's Just Lunch. Step aside eHarmony and, you've got competition. Walking in the door, I was blasted by catchy music and the rumble of excited voices. Inside the sleek lounge, the line to the bar was eight deep, making it easy to chat with unattached guys and gals and joke about disinterested bartenders. At the tables, the significantly otherless bounced from chair to chair like marble balls on a roulette wheel. With all the hungry eyes in the room, you could feel your ears burning all night. The It's Just Lunch girls kept the crowd going with free drink tickets, upbeat music, encouraging words, and prizes. The Charleston dating scene was kicked up a notch with high heels, high hair, and high hopes. —Svetlana Minx

A Boatload of Cheer
The unsinkable Parade of Boats

This weekend saw the official kick-off of the holiday season in Charleston, with events ranging from the tree-lighting ceremony and the city parade, to holiday festivals in Johns Island, Daniel Island, and North Chuck. I bundled up and headed down to the Spirit of South Carolina on Saturday night to get a good view of the much-anticipated Parade of Boats. I arrived to a warm welcome from the crew and several members of the U.S. Power Squadron, who sponsored the event, and toured the beautiful ship as the sun set over the harbor. As it got darker (and a lot colder), a line of boats became visible stretching all the way across the mouth of the harbor from West Ashley to Mt. Pleasant. The vessels slowly made their way toward Patriots' Point, past the oyster roast taking place there, and finally reached our ship, where the judges were stationed. About 40 boats competed for the top prize, and they ranged from tiny motor boats wearing just a strand or two of lights to big ol' yachts decked out in palmettos, reindeer, Santas, dragons — you name it. Many of the boaters hammed it up for the judges, dancing, singing, and yelling for the title. After the crew shot off a deafening cannon, the fireworks started over West Ashley, competing with the last few boats. My fingers were numb by the end of the night, but it was a welcome winter chill that unfortunately changed to springtime weather the following day. I guess that's Christmas in the Lowcountry! —Erica Jackson

More vinyl than a S&M convention

On Friday night, 52.5 Records was the place to mingle with local pop artists, enjoy some eye-catching prints, taste top-notch joe, and bop along to the pet sounds of Brian Wilson devotees the Explorers Club. The event? Screen Printing 101, and best of all, it was free. A burst of brightly colored prints designed by local artists shouted out the names of adored bands, from one end of the shop to the other. Artists included Mike Klay, Johnny Pundt, Dan Grzeca, Chuck Keppler, Adam Turman, DWITT, Leia Bell, and Strawberryluna. Many of the over 50 prints available for purchase were already in the clutched hands of happy collectors when I arrived. Located on now-hoppin' Upper King Street, 52.5 attracts an all-ages crowd of regulars eager to listen to music, hang out with the old skool kids, and stand outside smoking cigarettes and debating pop music. And, boy, does it ever smell like vinyl in there. —Svetlana Minx

Purdy, puppets, and pregnant mermaids

It was dreamy, funny, brilliant, and at times absurd. That was the experience of watching Geoffrey Cormier's shadow puppet theater, Wayang Modern, Saturday at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art. Act I was an adaptation of a James Purdy short story about a man named Mr. Evening, who covets a "certain hard-to-find rose, shell-like hand-painted china tea cup circa 1910." A stand-out feature of Act I was the use of color projections on which were set the shadows of Mr. Evening and the hilariously diabolical Mrs. Owens. My favorite was Act III, a waltz accompanying an aquarium scene featuring pregnant mermaids and stylized fish. A hypnotic tableau to remember for a long time. —John Stoehr


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