Tuesday, October 28, 2014

It's Wednesday so it must be Awendaw Green!

Eddie White, a local dentist, is the founder of Awendaw Green.

He's there almost every Wednesday at the barn jams, walking around, talking to people and making them feel at home.

Tonight he was welcoming the crowd and introducing the next band.

This week there were three local acts and three from out of state.

The sign on the make-shift stage says it all "A Laid-Back Venue in a Laid-Back Town."

It was a cool evening, and dark when I got there, (about 52 degrees) but I had on a long-sleeve shirt and was comfortable.

Several bonfires were blazing and a burn barrel or two indicated where we were.

If you got chilled, heat was close by.

Saw stands in a row serving popcorn in large bags, cheeseburgers and wood-fired pizza.

Or maybe it just smelled wood-fired.

Saw a hint of the holidays up on the back of the stage.

Santa appearing before Thanksgiving. 

Even before Halloween.

Maybe he's there all year long, ready to sit in with his guitar?

I wandered around the chairs and picnic tables and swing sets. Looked over at a pretty elaborate playground for the kids.

Several chairs were suspended from the oaks on strong ropes and people lolled and enjoyed the music.

Had not thought to bring marshmallows. Other did though.

This was my first visit to Rocktoberfest, at the place Ed White had formed as a friendly gathering spot for friends and families to relax and enjoy year-round from 6 pm - 10 pm.

It's 15 miles north of Charleston, up Highway 17 north, next to the Seewee Outpost.

Eddie told me that on a summer night, more than 500 people would park nearby and walk a lighted path around  a small lake and take a seat.

You can bring your own chair and it's a BYOB kind of place.

A family can pack in their dinner and have an inexpensive good time under the stars.

A $5 donation is paid at the entrance. I read they used to pass a collection plate. This is probably more efficient.

Because I had arrived after dark, I had missed the first three acts: Well Worn Soles, Patterson Barrett and Circus Mutt.

I'll keep an eye out to see if they appear at another spot around town.

This is so relaxed, I wandered onto the edge of the stage to get a shot.

This is the hot keyboarder and lead guitar of "The Southern Belles," down from southern Virginia.

I noticed the group was all men and no ladies. Maybe the name was an old one.

Each set runs about 45 minutes so soon the stage was re-set for a raucous group from Brooklyn, New York, "Ted Hefko and The Thousandairs."

He sounded more New Orleans than Brooklyn or the Bronx and I caught him later to chat.

"Yes, I lived in Louisiana for 10 years but was born in Wisconsin. Now I'm in New York."

He started out playing the sax, switched to clarinet and ended shaking a tambourine. 

It was a good sound and a crowd-pleaser.

Ted came back and sat in with the last act of the evening The "Swampcandy" duo from Maryland.

Ed announced they had been here several times before, well received and had been added to the show at the last minute.

I noticed we went past the usual 10 pm close but fans stuck around for the added bonus set.

The fires had died down and the vendors had shut down their food service.

Being a BYOB, there was still a celebration feeling in the crowd.

I wandered around and saw signs and posters from past Wednesday evening events.

It had taken me quite a while to come up mid-week to enjoy the music and the rustic setting but I am glad I did.

I'll be back.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

So far, my teeth do not come out like the stars at night.

So far.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Ice cream visitor to the Holy City...

 Douglas Quint was in good humor Sunday when he brought his Big Gay Ice Cream truck to town.

Charleston is part of his Southern Tour 2014

His brick and mortar stores are in New York City but he likes to hit the road

He was in Raleigh before here and heads to Atlanta next.

After that, the ice-cream-on-wheels heads to Birmingham, Alabama and Oxford, Mississippi.

 Crowds formed early and the line stayed long during his scheduled 3pm to 10pm stay.

I got there a little after five and the line was out of the parking lot of the sponsor Butcher & Bee and around the corner.

It was a younger, smiling crowd and conversations centered on what new clubs, bars and eateries had opened downtown.
 I stood on line for about an hour and stuck around to eat and enjoy my soft-serve Pecan Gobbler.

My buddy had the green-tinted Goodzilla cone, peppy and
covered with Wasabi pea dust.

The link above to the BGIC truck has pages that describe the different treats and the ingredients.

I also learned that "hard" ice cream is served at 0 degrees, while "soft" is presented at 20 degrees.

Being warmer has an impact on what you sprinkle or dip. Also it would be hard to form that little loop on top unless it's a softie.

I chatted with the young couple in front of me and stood behind Trevor Wagner long enough to memorize the tour route of the group he had enjoyed in Fayetteville, NC,  back in August.

Wilson, a hard rock group from Detroit, Michigan, should not be confused with another group named Wilson, Trevor advised.

I didn't. This is the correct link.

(Wasn't the ball Tom Hanks befriended in Cast Away named Wilson? That was the brand name stamped on the football  - his only companion while he was marooned.)

But - I digress.

Saw a few people doing a cone balancing act while trying to take photos with their phone cameras.

My point & shoot Canon sx260 is designed to fit in a tight grip as I take photos one-handed.

Himanshu Trivedi was snapping a shot of his son and not even a drop of ice cream was harmed in the making of this photograph.

I was still standing in line and did not have to cope with juggling camera and cone.

This was a good enough reason to come downtown on an Autumn Sunday afternoon.

Met some nice people and, after finishing my cold treat, wandered into The Daily, recently opened by Butcher & Bee, and chatted with the young manager.

She explained it was more than just a coffee shop.

The link goes into detail but what I caught was they sell beer and wine and Butcher & Bee allows BYOB so it's a win-win situation for both.

I took a peek inside the ice cream truck as Douglas was adding what looked like sea salt to a cone.

I would have asked him for details but the crowd of eager customers came first and I did not want to add any delay.

Besides, the sun was setting and it was getting cooler.

He did tell me he figured they had served about 250+ people that afternoon.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

Yes, I am still on my diet.

How much could ONE cone matter?

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Caught in the act!

Thirty photographer joined me on a walk through the Historic District Saturday.

Half a dozen were from out of town but the rest were locals.

It was the 7th annual Scott Kelby World Wide Photo Walk and globally, involved more than 20,014 photographers in
1,052 cities, according to the WWPW website.

My photo group has done this before and, years past, staged four walks on the one day: Downtown, North Charleston, Mt. Pleasant and Summerville.

A man from Georgia tried to do all four!

This year we concentrated again on the Historic District.

Wandered from Waterfront Park, down the Battery and back up Meeting and side streets, and ended with lunch at Tommy Condon's.

The crowd quickly strung out as individuals stopped to concentrate on certain sights that caught the eye.

At times, I felt like I was herding cats!

Sometimes it meant getting down among the cobbles to get the angle you wanted.

Something about "no stone unturned" ran through my mind.

Enthusiasm ran high on this perfect weather day. A printed map indicated the general area and streets we would take but freedom to just roam around was the reality.

 All of the pictures taken will be uploaded and ONE will be selected as best of the day in Charleston.

It will be submitted to the Kelby folks to compete internationally for some pretty fabulous prizes.

 Canon cameras is one of the major sponsors this year.

It was a fun day and, because I would be one of the judges, my photos would not be in the composition.

I just stepped back to show what the others were doing and snapped a few whimsical scenes that caught my eye.

There is no "wrong" way to contort yourself to compose a photo.

 I saw a lot of variations on ways of getting the perfect shot.

I only saw one other person with a small, compact Point & Shoot digital camera.

Large, expensive DSLRs (Digital Single Lens Reflexes) were the order of the day.

That meant accessory bags and backpacks for additional lens and filters.

Saw a few tripods carried by some who wanted to explore 15-30 second long exposure shots, using Neutral Density filters, to create unusual effects.

I had made a decision 12-13 years ago when I put aside my bulky 35mm film cameras to embrace this new - much lighter - use of P/S cameras.

The aged door that takes you up to the belfry of the 1761 St. Michael's Episcopal Church had a splendid, weathered look that I liked.

No, I have never been up inside the steeple but have gone through the ground floor church and adjacent cemetery.

I didn't twist the knob but assume it was locked to keep out curious passers-by.

Several weeks ago I had toured high observation decks of old churches in 5 Central European countries.

Best views around!

I might look into getting a inside for a peek over my lovely hometown.

If it works overseas, it could work here.

 I suggested to a few they might want to go up to the rooftop of any of several downtown parking garages for spectacular viewpoints, and something different from street level.

Even with your feet flat on the ground, if you look around, and choose different angles, you can create something unusual.

I immediately saw that Charleston possessed possibly the world's largest water taxi.

Well, that's what the sign seemed to say...

in my carefully-planned view from Waterfront Park.

(Has everyone noticed the fountains have legal-looking signs warning there are no lifeguards on duty?)

Maybe another should warn against diving?

I suspect lawyers and insurance carriers are involved here.

As in years past, the group gathered at Tommy Condon's Irish pub and seafood for a refreshing lunch and beverage on the cool outside deck.

Despite all of the fancy cameras gathered, I got everyone's attention and snapped a group shot with my phone camera.

Not sure all saw the irony of that!

Then I asked everyone to place their cameras "in a pile" on the table to note the presence of DSLRs.

That is a LOT of equipment!

I hope YOU will join the 8th annual World Wide Photo Walk next year.

It's an excellent way to get out with fellow photographers and explore your own hometown.

As I used to say in ads when I promoted Southern California in my long-ago tourism days: "Millions of people come thousands of miles to see what we have in our own backyard."

(Click on the photo for more details).

Oh, and that shot of some tourists apparently "stealing" a cannon ball from White Point Garden, it is a fake picture.

I doctored it by moving objects around.
No police were involved.

No crime, no foul.

But, I noticed, there is no sign saying you CAN'T take one?

Would be quite a souvenir.

Enjoy living in the "Holy City"...or just visiting.

Always keep a camera handy. 

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Old ..and Recent.. European History

Budapest was where I saw the most graphic connections to past conquerers of Hungary.

This was taken in the House of Terror (Terror Haza) on Andrassy Ut. It displays pictures of victims executed inside the building's dungeon.

The tank was part of Soviet response to the 1956 Revolution. 2,500 died during the failed attempt for freedom.

The country endured 50 years of "double occupation," by the Nazi and then the Communists.

The Soviets left in 1991 and freedom was reborn.

This building was restored and dedicated as a museum to make sure the past was remembered as a guard against future terrors.

No pictures were allowed inside, which is strange. You'd think they would want the whole world to see the horrors the country endured.

Under the Nazis in 1944-45, Jews were marched down to the bank of the Danube and told to strip, remove their shoes and face the water.

Then they were shot in the back and the impact dumped the bodies into the river and were carried away.

A grim memorial, "Shoes On  The Danube," was created in 2005, showing 60 pairs of rusted period shoes cast out of iron.

Different sizes and styles show that nobody was spared.

The day I stopped to view, flowers had been placed in many of the shoes.

Relatives? Residents? Survivors? I don't know.

Very moving though as visitors like myself angled their cameras to record the scene.

A grim reminder of a horrible time.

Not all of the scenes were this solemn in Buda and Pest. Yes, two cities, divided by the Danube.

Pest, cosmopolitan and sprawling, abounds with historic sites and sights.

Buda, reached by climbing many, many steps or a swift funicular, is high up on Castle Hill, with great vistas.

Up there, we toured the Matthias Church, overlooked Fisherman's Bastion and snapped pictures of the magnificent Turul bird statue. Was all done in a few hours.

Apparently arrived at the same time as several busloads of foreign visitors. Shoulder to shoulder in some places.

Finished and hopped on the correct bus and was whisked back down to the larger city in a few minutes of scenic travel.

Wanted to take a closer look at the Chain Bridge, the first built of many bridges crossing the Danube.

Very impressive with the stately lions guarding each side.

A steady stream of visitors gave some activity to the scene.

I had read a suggestion that if you tilt your camera just a bit higher, you still capture the scene while eliminating the people below.

Here they add an element I wanted but I did use that suggestion in many crowded churches, synagogues and palaces.

The Hungarian Opera House is on Andrassy Ut., a boulevard described as "The Champs-Elysees"of Budapest.

It also was across the street from the 4-room flat (apartment) we rented for our stay in the Capital. Handy.

The English-Tour was late in the day on a rainy afternoon.

The very large crowd was divided into 4-5 tours in other languages.

As we all started out, it was a Babel of voices and accents.

The Barouque  and Renaissance Revival architecture dated back to 1884 and was carefully restored and enhanced on its 100th anniversary.

 We saw a familiar face at Freedom Square, also known as Liberty Square.

President Ronald Reagan was standing tall in a 2011 bronze statue honoring him as the man who ended the Cold War.

He stands close to the U.S. Embassy, facing a WWII  Communist Memorial dedicated to the Red soldiers who died in 1945 liberating Budapest from the Germans.

Locals are not pleased with it being there but agreements were made to let it remain.

Nearby is another reminder of the city's past - a monument to the victims of German occupation. This also is contraversal and was completed earlier this year, late at night, with police guarding the site.
 On a much lighter note, shops seem to offer a full array of whatever one wants or needs.

Wonder if the inflatable doll I saw being carried by a young man in Bratislava came from here?

Oh, never mind, it appears to be simply a store that sells lingerie.

Move along, nothing to see here.

And, speaking of moving along, one does not need to trudge along on sore feet to see all the sights.

The ubiquitous Segway has shown up in all of the cities on my tour.

The down side, it appears, is you are not allowed to steer with one hand as you hold your camera and take pictures with the other.

And I didn't see any cup holders on the two-wheel transports.

That church in the background is Saint Stephen's (Istvan's) Basilica.

Fantastic views of the city from the observation deck at the top. Sorry, no Segways allowed up there. You have to use your feet.

Walking around on our own, or, in his case, with a narrated tour, we saw the Hungarian Parliament Building.  It houses the Crown Jewels so security was tight and no photos allowed.

The twin-towers of the Great Synagogue were impressive as was the "Tree of Life" in the garden. This is the second-largest synagogue in the world, accommodating 3,000 worshipers.

This was the courtyard of our flat at Andrassy Ut 29.

We are on the second floor, on the right, with lights on.

It came with a kitchen and a washing machine but no dryer.

Hmm. We soon noticed an overhead drying rack with clothespins in the hallway and lowered it to hang our now clean laundry.

A rope and pulley raised it back up toward the tall ceiling.

(Click on the photos for more details).

A Metro stop was just a few doors away.

Beats a Holiday Inn anytime!

Did I mention I cancelled my dieting for this trip?

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Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Pour House: Music venue and canvas for artists.

For the last few years, The Pour House, a popular music Venue on Maybank Highway, has invited artists to come paint images on its walls.

I'll get in touch with Alex, the owner, and get details on how this came about.

It's bright, colorful and very imaginative.

A few night ago I was enjoying a band playing in Charleston for the first time and walked around looking at new murals and paintings.

I commented that I should come back in the daytime to take some pictures.

The next morning I remembered I had NOT remembered to close out my tab when I left. Duh.

That would explain why my credit card was not in my wallet.

You don't expect a phone call to be answered by a late night club early in the morning, so I called later in the day.

Yes my card was there and I could get it around 5 when the club's restaurant The Lot would open.

I drove out to West Ashley and my card was waiting for me. A $5 tip had been added - standard in cases like this - which actually was a little less than I would normally add to my bill.

Peace of mind restored., I wandered around, taking pictures of the colorful images.

A lot of artistic talent was on display.

"Homegrown Microphone" summed up the PoHo's encouragement of local musical talent.

In addition to the touring regional bands - and some national acts - that play inside, there is a very large outdoor deck area that hosts locals for free concerts.

Mainly cover bands, the tribute players outside have an elevated, covered stage with an excellent sound system.

Paintings adorn the walls out there too.

Daytime is the best time for photography but I have admired these at night as well.

The variety is truly amazing.

Views based on song lyrics abound as well as whimsical views of the world.

The Pour House celebrated its 10th anniversary earlier this year and I salute the decision to make inside smoke free.

The deck was added to serve the smokers and evolved into an expanded outdoor show stage  with stand-up tables and its own bar.

And, plenty of paintings.

Started going to the venue when it was still on Savannah Highway.

I remember you were encouraged to bring and play your own copies of jam bands and other groups featured on "Wide Spread Wednesdays.

Wondered if their clients would trek further out when they moved into the new space, but that was not a problem.

On my latest visit I saw that the carpet had been ripped up and the concrete floor had been acid-washed.

I also saw the outdoor billboard being changed.

The top row shows who is playing outside on the deck.

The lower section lists the bands appearing inside the club.

I had seen Dead Winter Carpenters the night before.

It was their first time in South Carolina.

The 5-piece Alt-Country band from N. Lake Tahoe had it's touring bus break down and they were driving a rented van.

Enjoyed their sound and hope the bus is running again soon.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

*WSMFP refers to the after party for the 2-night appearance of Wide Spread Panic...WSP.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Sunset....in Prague.

One of the benefits of photography is the sense of revisiting a scene.

Right now I have 4,339 digital memories, taken during two and a half weeks roaming through five countries in Central Europe.

I get a selfish thrill when I can recreate something I saw for less than a second and share it with others.

Cloud formations and a golden sun sending shafts of light everywhere are fun to capture.

But not always just sitting there, waiting for you.

It might be raining or there's totally no clouds.

You may have made plans to meet some people inside.

Or you emerge from a museum or castle and the light is all wrong.

But, when it all comes together, you snap the moment forever.

Capturing a great sunset, or the moments when twilight slowly changes the view, depends on luck.

When you do see the elements coming together for an exciting visual end of day, find a spot to relax, have a beer and watch for the moment.

That castle you just rode a tram up a steep hill to explore now looks majestic up there.

You walked up and down a lot of steps so a cold one is due. Have a seat.

This is Prague, capital city of the Czech Republic, and not even the halfway point of my photo vacation.

It is a romantic riverside location enhanced by graceful bridges and a skyline punctuated with medieval church steeples.

Wait a minute, that sounds a little bit like Charleston.

Which has TWO rivers.

Oh, but the churches are not nearly that old.

Point goes to Prague.

Prague Castle looms large across the Vitava River, above the Charles Bridge.

This scenic span connects the quarters near the castle with Old Town and it's sprawling Square.

Most of my day had been spent eating foods new to me and sampling local national beers.

Well, sure, I went up and toured the Castle and walked down to view the Charles Bridge from various angles.

What a great place for street photography!

And statues. Man, they have a lot of 'em.

Everywhere you looked there were religious monuments, and as the sun settled, beautiful lighting effects were created.

A photographer's lucky day.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

I just remembered I have several hundred more pictures I took with my phone camera.

More editing.

Yikes, I'll never be outside again to see a sunset.

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