Masquerade Ball, Lowcountry Blues Bash, Yonder Mountain String Band, Local Color fashion show 

The Scene

"Well, there go the drums ... The party's over."
— Overheard while loading out gear from the Winter Party on Goldbug Island on Sat. Feb. 16.

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High Ballin'
Unmasking the Masquerade Ball

Forget the pajama-grams on V-Day. The Masquerade Ball, hosted by ART Magazine, dazzled Hibernian Hall on Thursday night. The event got off to a cheeky start when Cabaret Kiki took the stage. That funky bunch was followed a mask contest, the body bending experimental dance troupe ARC, and the big band sounds of Joe Clark's big band. Hidden under decorative masks that would have impressed both Elton John in his Captain Fantastic phase and David Bowie back when he was rocking with the Spiders from Mars, attendees jumped gleefully from one masked partner to the next; the booze — not to mention the near-anonymity the facewear provided— surely helped inspire the dance-floor promiscuity. And while I enjoyed myself, my drinking was held to a minimum. In fact, the most booze I consumed happened when a lady whipped her arms into the air, knocking her drink and mine into my mask, and down the front of my dress and into my shoes. Refreshing. —Svetlana Minx

Best Blues Bash Yet?
The Lowcountry's finest blues players rock Bowens and the Dough

This year's Lowcountry Blues Bash came to a rousing conclusion on Sun. Feb. 17 with two big shows on either side of town. "This was one of the best Bashes ever — musically and attendance-wise," said relieved organizer Gary "Shrimp City Slim" Erwin. "It was a great week, and I'm glad it's over." Out on Bowens Island, a larger-than-expected crowd of locals of all ages, dogs and kids of all sizes, and a variety of visitors (presumably mostly from the Southeastern Wildlife Expo) turned up for the "grand finale" jam session between 4-8 p.m.

The $10 donation at the gate benefitted Erwin's Blues Relief Fund (set up to aid local musicians in need of emergency financial aid). In the concession hut, one poor bartender hauled ass all evening to keep up with the demand for beer, wine, and booze. Across the room, they served plates of fresh boiled shrimp, chili, and potato salad. Fresh oysters were served by the trayfulls.

In the main music room by the waterway, a rotation of local singers and musicians took turns playing deep cuts and popular tunes for the packed room throughout the evening. Highlights included Juke Joint Johnny's nasty harmonica solos on the bullet mic, guitarist Tommy Thunderfoot's swingin' set, and vocalist/harp player Andy "Smoky" Weiner's rendition of "I'm a Hog for You, Baby." It was the local blues scene at its best.

Afterward, several groups of fans made the drive to Mt. Pleasant for the very last official Blues Bash gig at A Dough Re Mi, featuring Savannah-based blues-rock trio Hitman. By 9 p.m. or so, singer/guitarist Brett "Hitman" Barnard was blasting through an amped-up set of Hendrix, Clapton, the Allmans, and a few of his own compositions. No pedals, no tricks — just hot licks, a super-tight rhythm section, a bit of feedback play, and a soulful voice. Members of the newly-established Lowcountry Blues Club hollered out at every turn. —T. Ballard Lesemann

click to enlarge JOHN ZARA

Over Yonder by the Farm
Colorado jammers come to Chucktown

The Music Farm played host to Colorado's own Yonder Mountain String Band on Sat. Feb. 16. With nearly 10 years under their belts in the bluegrass/jam scene, these vets treated a packed house to a finely executed marathon of bluegrass (the second set alone was over an hour and a half long). The show was fueled by seamless segues and mandolin player Jeff Austin (pictured), who was cuttin' high energy notes all night long. —John Zara

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Living Color
Catwalking for a cause

Sexy bods, swanky clothes, social-lubricating drinks, a silent auction, and the sweet sounds of DJ Danny Seltzer all helped to make the Local Color fashion show at Chai's a good time. Guests sipped mojitos, stared at the five-alarm hotties, and admired the wares from such local outfits as Hipbone, Mew Design, Rachael Gordon, and Foster Fox. And the best part? Proceeds from the event went to South Carolina's first chapter of The Teacher's Supply Closet, which gives area instructors free teaching supplies, you know, since far too often teachers have to pay for that kind of stuff themselves. Fancy that. —Svetlana Minx

Date Night
Red Cross hosts event for lovers

Having spent too many Valentine's Days preparing or sitting through the classic/boring romantic dinner, I decided to go a slightly more unconventional route this year. My date and I got gussied up and headed to the Art Institute for the "Paint the Town Red" event to benefit the Red Cross. We were greeted by Love Butter's jams in the lobby (which was a rather strange location for the band, as you could only hear them when you arrived and when you left), then we grabbed a couple of flutes of champagne, each with what was either a piece of cubic zirconium or a diamond sparkling in the bottom. Everyone seemed convinced that their gem was the real deal, but only a trip to the jeweler would determine whether or not that was true. Upstairs most of the guests were gathered in the kitchens of the Culinary Arts division (a charmingly unique setting for a party, for sure), and I quickly found the best spot — right where the friendly culinary students were preparing trays of yummies to disperse throughout the crowd. I filled up on the hors d'oeuvres and beer, making our lack of dinner reservations a non-issue. The silent auction offered up a range of goods, and my Valentine got a steal on four rounds of golf. Things wrapped up around 9 p.m., and we headed home, happy that our V-Day would stand out as something more than your typical date night. —Erica Jackson

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