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Best of Charleston 2015 

For Those About to Rock

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Rock’s in a bad spot these days. The simple truth is, we just don’t have rock stars anymore. Those real-life disciples of Dionysus through which we once lived a vicarious life of trashed hotel rooms, drug-fueled orgies, and the occasional bat biting are now a distant memory. Just as bad, no one seems to know how to put on a classic, over-the-top rock show anymore. We’ve traded in spinning drum risers for banjos, 12-foot-tall living-dead robots for day-glo light shows, 21-gun pyrotechnics for sing-along “hos” and “heys.” The let’s-all-get-along terrorists have won, and they’ve sucked all the fun out of rock ‘n’ roll. All of which is why we must remember that there was a time when the rock gods walked among us, bringing decibel-shattering, devil horn-raising, head-banging good times to arenas around the country. For this year’s Best of Charleston, we’re not only celebrating all of our winners, we’re celebrating heavy metal itself. For those about to rock, we ... invite you to turn the page.

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ALL BEST OF CHARLESTON PHOTOS BY JONATHAN BONCEK

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Getting into character with the James Island Cowboys
Getting into character with the James Island Cowboys Saddle Up

A pair of couches blocked the entrance to West Ashley's Pixel Studios like awkwardly stacked tiles in a game of Tetris. The space was ample enough, and the white backdrop where the actual photos would be taken blurred the physical proportions of the room. Still, two of the night's subjects were unusual ones for a furnished photography studio in the middle of a bustling suburb. — Adam Manno


Seven questions with the real Saltwater Cowboy, Bob Graham
Seven questions with the real Saltwater Cowboy, Bob Graham

We couldn't believe our luck when we found local artist Bob Graham, a.k.a. the Saltwater Cowboy. — Katie Molpus


Ladson's Honkytonk Saloon is a country gal's dream
Ladson's Honkytonk Saloon is a country gal's dream Boot Scoot Boogie

The moment I entered into the dimly lit Honkytonk Saloon situated right off of I-26, exit 203 to Ladson, it was all Bud Light wishes and rhinestone dreams. I could feel the beer chasing my blues away, the whiskey drowning my worries ... I knew I'd be okay. I thought to myself, grinning ear to ear, "Damn, those were some good directions." — Mary Scott Hardaway


The Catawba Indian Nation carries on 4,000 year old traditions in S.C.
The Catawba Indian Nation carries on 4,000 year old traditions in S.C. Still Here

Before the United States, before the Carolinas, before the Americas, thousands of years before our European and African ancestors landed, willingly and not, on the shores of this vast country, there was a woman kneeling on the bank of the Catawba River. — Mary Scott Hardaway


Spaghetti Westerns were a glorious moment in Wild West movies
Spaghetti Westerns were a glorious moment in Wild West movies Red Sauce Films

While it had its moment in pop culture from the mid '60s to the mid '70s, the spaghetti western recently re-emerged from the dusty, sandy streets that it commonly rested in when Quentin Tarantino released his hyper violent western Django Unchained, a film that proudly owed many a debt to the sub genre. — Kevin Young


John Spell of Roger Bellow & The Drifting Troubadours is Charleston's country music authority
John Spell of Roger Bellow & The Drifting Troubadours is Charleston's country music authority Be Steel My Heart

In 1941, a traveling salesman changed John Spell's life. The man, from Stars of Tomorrow Studio, was out recruiting new students. A week from his sixth birthday, Spell was awestruck with the guitar, thumb pick, and metal bar before him in his Charleston living room. — Kelly Rae Smith


This ain't the Wild West — it's Charleston
This ain't the Wild West — it's Charleston Keep It Holstered

Here's a fun fact for you: If you are one of the handful of lucky folks to get tickets to Thursday's big, Wild West themed Best of Charleston bash at the Charleston Area Convention Center, you'll have to leave the toy guns at home. — Chris Haire


Cooking with buffalo chips and 5 other prairie meal life hacks
Cooking with buffalo chips and 5 other prairie meal life hacks

Listen cow people, mounting your ponies and hitting the prairie was no Sunday stroll. — Kinsey Gidick


Stegelin: The circular firing squad
Stegelin: The circular firing squad A different manifest destiny

Stegelin: The new old west
Stegelin: The new old west Quickdraw's dilemma

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