Jasper asked local arts leaders to name their 6 favorite summer arts indulgences--ways to spend the kind of fancy-free time that only comes on those slow, sweltering, Southern summer days. Larry Hembree, whose past has seen him employed by or in charge of almost every major arts organization in town, (think Trustus Theatre, the Nick, Columbia City Ballet, SC Arts Commission, and more), chose two each from Jasper's top editorial subjects. His caveat was that each and every arts endeavor also required a little liquid lubricant to either bump up or smooth out the experience.
Here's how the good Mr. Hembree recommends you spend your next lazy summer afternoon.
Showing my age, I always like to revisit Carole King’s “Tapestry,” the 1972 Grammy Album of the Year and one of the bestselling albums of all time. In my past life as a hula-hoop champion (Wham-O produced competitions across the country in the summertime,) I had my most successful freestyle routine to the first cut on the first side (yes, a real album), “I Feel The Earth Move” until the hoop slipped from my hand while practicing one day and cracked the album. Currently, the award winning “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” is running on Broadway and sporting a national tour, which stops in Greenville in February. Listen to this album while sipping good red wine.
Speaking of Broadway, there has been nothing more exciting in many years than the soundtrack to “Hamilton,” oddly enough based on the life of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton (and I loathed history classes.) The show just won eleven Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. A very diverse score (and that’s an understatement), you’ll want to play it over and over, maybe accompanied by an Old Fashioned or Manhattan or both. This show will run on Broadway forever. There are no tickets available for the near future.
Like I needed another television series to get hooked on, I checked out the Netflix series “Bloodline,” mainly because a former UGA theatre student and fellow actor friend, Kyle Chandler stars in it. I was hooked halfway through the first show. A rich narrative, great characters and with an all-star cast including Cissy Spacek, made for plenty to pull one in. The second season has just been released. It takes place in the Florida Keys so it’s summer friendly. Tequila is perfect with this one.
And then there’s “America Ninja Warrior,” the NBC summer series that’s so hot it makes Famously Hot Columbia feel like Antarctica. Nothing else to say. Just watch it. A case of PBR or Budweiser and/or cheap box wine for this guilty redneck indulgence.
“The Magus,” a 1965 postmodern novel by British writer John Fowles. This is a book that I revisit a lot. I read it first when I fell in love with John Fowles' popular novel and film of the same title, The French Lieutenant’s Woman. The novel’s setting is exotic, roaming from Greece to France to the isolated forests of Finland. The plot’s twists and turns are riveting and Fowle’s pacing is masterful. Accompany this read with ouzo, for sure.
Hiding My Candy: The Autobiography of the Grand Empress of Savanna, by the Lady Chablis. Let’s just call this little read a very sassy autobiographical account of former West Columbia resident and prominent figure in the book and film Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. If you don’t know who she is, dig in to the book. This is a summer must-read for folks who might need some sensitivity training. It’s a quick read and if the narrative is offensive, don’t worry; she also includes beauty tips and recipes. Prosecco is mandatory for this one and will kill two birds with one stone; use it to make a toast to the power of diversity.