Sunday, June 29, 2008

Hooray For Hollywood......S.C.

I'm closer to Hollywood, South Carolina now than the West Coast Hollywood when I lived in California. A few days ago I was an "extra" in a film. I never did that when I lived in Burbank.

(Oh, the night before, my favorite pizza restaurant near Park Circle was closed because ARMY WIVES was being filmed across the street. I was not in that tv show.)

Nick Smith - author, blogger, film producer - posted a notice he needed people on Saturday to form a town meeting/press conference crowd for a film he's finishing up at the old Navy Yard.

It's an action espionage film called "Cold Soldiers" so I emailed him I would be there.

We were asked to show up at 8 am and were assured we would be released by noon. Or sooner. An offbeat way to spend a Saturday morning.

Pam, his assistant, selected people from the audience to portray board members, others to be photographers moving around snapping flashes and I was asked if I would play a newspaper reporter taking notes on my small pad.

Hey, I even had my own notebook and pen with me. Talk about type-casting.

It believe it's the first time I've worn a tie since I retired four years ago from the newspaper.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Me And Tiger Woods...

Well, the big difference is Tiger Woods is losing out on millions of dollars as his knee heals.

MY left knee, on the other hand, has been bothering me for some time and even swim therapy did not help. Today I had an Arthroscopy done to clean out scraps of torn meniscus (yes, I had to look it up. It's cartilage).

Instead of a long scar up, over and around the knee cap, this procedure leaves only two small "portals." One hole is where a tiny camera is inserted so the doctor can "look around inside the joint" and the other is where he pushes in tools to correct problems. Like a torn meniscus.

Years ago I saw a sign in a doctor's office: SURGERY $500. : $50 for the cutting and $450 to know WHERE to cut.
Before the procedure, I mentioned to the nurse that fasting from midnight meant I had skipped my morning coffee. She said she would add some caffeine to my IV. I've heard that for years as a joke but she sounded serious. She added it would ward off a possible headache from lack of coffee.

They also added some other chemicals to relax me and I vaguely remember being wheeled out, headed for the OR where the anesthesiologist had prepared what was needed. The next thing I knew, I was in the recovery room. The doctor had told me earlier we would meet again in 6 days when he would remove stitches and review with me pictures taken inside my knee. They said he had stopped by the recovery room but I have a blank memory of all that.

First night home and all the deadening has worn off but there's no pain - at least not yet - and I have some prescribed pills if needed.

I hope Tiger's $million knee feels as good as mine.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

A Quick Look Back...

Piccolo Spoleto was a fun time with lots of variety. One constant though, was keeping track of where you parked and how much time was left on the meter.

A broken meter that would NOT accept your money was a piece of luck!

Another constant was listening to LOTS of music, apparently the louder the better.

Since I can not control the sound board and lower the volume, I carry professional ear plugs. All the time.

These work much better than tearing off corners of paper napkins and stuffing your ears.

They scientifically lower certain high notes - making them less painful - and do not affect the rich bass and lower notes.

Also ..there usually is a vacant spot down front ..close to the speakers.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A New Logo Has Popped Up...

"Blogger Event" was on a hand-written sign taped to the door so I climbed the stairs to a room over 39 Rue de Jean restaurant to learn about Charleston parks.

I'm a native and a blogger and was invited to come hear details on a new group that hopes to upgrade more than 120 parks and green spaces. They are starting in the City of Charleston and eventually, plan to encompass the entire area.

Mainly, we were told, parks are ignored or taken for granted until someone makes something happen. Central Park in NYC is a good example of citizen involvement that rescued a landmark park that had been sadly neglected.

I grew up a few blocks from where we were meeting and was amazed there were more than 100 parks in Charleston. It was explained that for every well known Hampton park or Colonial Lake, there are tiny pockets of greenery tucked into almost every neighborhood.

The CPC said that people can participate on many levels, even actual "digging in the dirt."

Since I enjoy - and blog about - live music concerts, maybe this movement will develop new venues for outdoor events. I'm glad I was invited.

Check out details on the new website at

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

"D" As In Digital ... Drums.?

Went back to see if one of my favorite music venues was serving beer again.. and it was.

The Bluerunners from Lafayette, La were pounding out Zydeco at Home Team BBQ and Mark Meaux, accordian/fiddle and lead vocals, was in fine voice. Dancers flocked to the floor and cold Guinness was in my glass... but...something ... sounded different. Hard to pin it down. Something basic.

Oh yeah, the drums.

There were NO drums. At least, nothing I was used to seeing backing a band.

After the first set I chatted with Frank Kincel, the group's drummer.

"Hey," I said "where are the drums? The real ones?"

He answered that while he preferred to use acoustic drums, these were for touring - lighter, compact - and top of the line in the digital electronic drum domain.

It was pretty noisy there but he added he also laid down the bass line. Then I realized there was no bass player either but I had heard the familiar thump-thump-thump.

Apparently, Frank Beard, the original drummer for nearly 40 years with ZZ TOP, has not been sold on this new digital contribution to music. This is his tricked out double drum set I saw last week at the PAC.

I'm guessing they probably have a bigger touring budget.
(Click on the photos for more detail.)

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bright Spot at End Of The Line...

The Piccolo Spoleto Blues train came to its last stop Sunday on Bowen's Island and it was a lively well-received finish.

Chocolate Thunder, Linda Rodney, performed on an improvised deck next to the sunny salt marshes behind the yet-to-be-rebuilt famed restaurant.

The last Blues event of the annual Art Festival series was named "Divas of the Blues" and also featured Shelley Magee & The Bad Deeds.

Paper platters of fried fish, hushpuppies and boiled shrimp were prepared "somewhere" and delivered 15-20 minutes later to patrons waiting by the screened dock that now serves as the restaurant's dining area.

The rollicking music, the salty breeze and the aromas of fresh fried seafood made it a spectacular finale. I'm glad I was there and VERY glad I ordered the larger portion called "whole lotta shrimp" for peeling and eating.

This report didn't make it into Spoleto Today but I wanted to make sure the ladies knew they were a hit in Charleston.

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Monday, June 09, 2008

Music .... From AA to ZZ TOPS

Well, I finally ran out of days to continue covering Piccolo Spoleto as a SpoJo but I received a special surprise last night from my buddy.

He had won two tickets to the ZZ Top show at the Performing Arts Center. He heard a radio station promotion, called and got right through. How lucky can you get!?

First Row. Smack dab in the center. But, wait..there's more!

As usual, people all around me had those dinky little cameras built into their cell phones but, this time, my small - but very effective - digital camera WAS ALLOWED.

I have been seated up close for concerts before (10th row for The Eagles, second row for David Sedaris) but this time I could freely take pictures. Legally!

As Tops fans know, this Hall of Fame trio has played together almost 40 years with the same three people. No changes since 1969.

Billy F. Gibbons, guitar, has the reddish hair color and the gray beard is bassist Dusty Hill. Hey, sitting this close, with a good camera, I'm able to see more and share more.Frank Beard, the drummer, has long blonde hair and smokes filtered cigarettes.

(Click on photos for awesome details!)

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

LOL and All That Jazz...

The last Piccolo Spoleto Jazz Evening for 2008 upstairs at Mistral's ended on a high note. Literally.

Bobbie Storm sang up a storm as she has been doing in Charleston for the last four decades. She was one of the first jazz performers I enjoyed when I came back to Charleston in 1993.

Back then she sang at places like Chef & Clef and Acme Bar & Grill (Think global/Drink local). Very fitting that Mistral's fairly new upstairs setting was her venue.

Another music place I have found to be very enjoyable is Mad River, the former Seaman's Chapel on Market at East Bay. The room is perfect with fine acoustics and a wait staff eager to make your visit a good one.

Jazz, Blues...and comedy. These are a few of my favorite things and the comedic Finale at Theater 99 was, as always, a treat.

Upright Citizens Brigade, the touring group down from NYC, demonstrated there MIGHT be humor in a visit to the OB/GYN.

The UCB also observed during their stay that Charlestonians loved their city and loved to drink. Looking just on my row, I guess I'd have to agree.

The home team of The Have Nots had fun "making sausage" on stage - in English and Spanish.

The script for all the shows there is blank paper and fertile minds. Wow.

I'm about to wrap up my stint as a SpoJo (citizen journalist covering Spoleto Piccolo) and suggest you take a look at the home base for all the coverage by staff and we humble SpoJos. Thank you.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

Jazz Hand ...and Outdoor Music

As a SpoJo (Spoleto civilian Journalist), I've had an opportunity to post my impressions on some of this year's presentations.

What an honor. What a challenge. JAZZ HAND - Tales of a One Armed Woman is such a situation.

During the opening skit where a dancer's hand flies off during a fast audition routine, the audience at the American Theater felt a bit uneasy. It appeared to be part of the act...but..

Mary Theresa Archbold and her husband, fellow performer, Pat Shay, looked down at the false (left) hand on the stage floor.

When the lights dimmed, signaling the end of the skit, we nervously applauded.

After that shaky (for the audience) opening, the show was great, touching, and VERY funny. We all, well, gave her a hand.Some genius decided to expand the seating for the Carolina Chocolate Drops by moving two of their four performances to the outdoor Cistern area. Man, that was inspired!

(The line looks long but, as soon as the gates opened, everyone quickly entered and we picked a seat down front.)I had seen the talented trio a few years ago when they opened for Taj Mahal at the Charleston Music Hall but they really blossomed onstage beneath the stately moss-draped oaks.

Catch them if you can.

(Check out ALL the Festival coverage at

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A Day With Mr. Jazz - Jack McCray

The talented stars of the Holy City Homecomin’ Tuesday night at The Footlight Players Theatre Tuesday evening were Gradual Lean and Clay Ross’ Matuto.

They played great and the packed room really felt the magic.

But the behind-the-scenes driving force was Jack McCray.

It was his evening, his day, his week and his 30th year of being Mr. Jazz in Charleston.

This year he led the creation of the JAC - Jazz Artists of Charleston. This is his third successful gathering of talent and businesses to make things happen.

I’ve known Jack for years as the hip music writer at The Post and Courier and editor of neighborhood editions of the paper. Jack is my go-to man when I have questions about music: the Blues, Jazz, you name it. The man knows his stuff.

My Day With McCray started in Philadelphia Alley, next to the Footlight Theatre on Queen Street, when we participated in the afternoon interactive rhythmic workshop presented by Clay Ross and members of his group. It was a moving experience. No, I mean it, we REALLY moved around.

Then we climbed the stairs and met in a room over the Theatre and Jack regaled us with a vivid recap of his 30-year musical odyssey in Charleston jazz awareness and growth.

He is a great storyteller and took questions from the rapt audience.

After a break for a bite to eat, I was back for the 7:30 performance of The Homecomin’. Naturally, Jack McCray was the Master of Ceremonies.

A beautiful day in our seaside city with a man who continues to turn his vision into reality.

I'm pleased to be a SPO-Jo Citizen Journalist during this 17-day Spoleto Piccolo Festival of the Arts. My badge lets me look a little deeper into events and I try to share what I find. Check ALL the Festival coverage at

(Thanks to Gradual Lean: Lee Barbour, Kebbie Williams, Etienne Charles, Kevin Hamilton, Quentin Baxter and Clay Ross and his group Matuto: Itai Kriss, Rob Hecht, Tim Keiper, Edward Perez.)

Click on the photos for more detail.

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Rock Around The Block...

The Cuban Block Party will be "officially" covered by The Post and Courier’s writers and photographers but I wanted to share MY impressions.

The weather was clear and balmy, the music was TOTALLY Latino and I felt transported. I had briefly visited Cuba many, many years ago and, suddenly I was back there again. This was a huge time - and culture - warp.

All around Marion Square, bodies were moving and swaying, the bass was pulsing and your feet just started moving, slowly at first and then, your hips went from side-to-side, and you were caught up in the beat.

Oh yeah, People watching was excellent for this non-dancer.

The Opener was Garage Cuban Band which had the crowd on its feet and, after a fast-paced interlude by DJ Luigi, Havanason took the stage and showed what Charleston brought to the party.

Augmented by talent from Miami, the 12-piece group played and sang and the joint was jumping!

I plan to be there again next year.

Or next week, if they stage it again.

Get ALL Festival info at

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