New Leadership for the Rosewood Art (and Music!) Festival!


As the story goes, Arik Bjorn and Rockaways owner Forrest Whitlark came up with the idea of the Rosewood Arts Festival one night sitting on a pair of barstools. Over the years, the festival has grown a reputation for being a perfectly pleasant way to spend a Saturday in September, listening to a little music, checking out the art, and visiting with friends.

But when Arik Bjorn decided to run for public office this year, it became obvious that he wouldn’t be able to conduct his campaign and continue to handle the festival. Enter local poetry guru Al Black, who has stepped into Bjorn’s shoes as festival director and has big plans in store.

But he knows Bjorn is a tough act to follow. “Arik did an excellent job of running the festival since its inception six years ago,” Black says. “He has left us with an excellent legacy to build on. We will always stand on the back of his leadership and vision.”

Along with co-coordinators Jeremy Weisman and Bentz Kirby, Black is putting together a new version of the Rosewood Art Festival and the biggest change is the addition of the word music to the title of the event. According to Black, the Rosewood Art and Music Festival will take place on September 10th from 10 am – 10 pm, “then we will finish the night inside Rockaways with a salsa band and dancing.”

Among the other changes Black has planned is a juried visual art event with monetary awards and an emphasis on the literary arts, realized via spoken word poetry and a poetry workshop for children. Alexandra White will be coordinating the visual artists and Len Lawson will serve the same role for the literary artists. Black also plans to have jugglers, puppets, magicians, and other performers roaming throughout the festival space with live painters near the music stages. As for the music, a total of 12 acts will alternate on two stages.

But Black expects much of the same vibe that festival-goers have come to know and love from the Rosewood Arts Festival of years past. “It will continue to have all the same elements as before; we will just tweak and expand its base,” Black says. “It will continue to be free, and the owners of Rockaways will continue to be our gracious sponsor and host. We will still have Epworth Children’s Home selling drinks as a fundraiser. It will still be a fun place to be!”/CB


APOLLO  STAGE 10am   Blue Iguanas 12:00   Daddy Lion 2:00    Reggie Sullivan 4:00    Stillhouse 6:00   The Dirty Gone Dolas 8:00   Art Contest

Sheem One


DIONYSIUS  STAGE 11am    The Dubber 1:00     Sheem One 3:00     She Returns From War 5:00     Those Lavender Whales 7:00     Infinitikiss 9:00    Wallstreet & the Blues Brokers featuring Marv Ward


Sudden Cardiac Death Syndrome: It is as Bad as it Sounds — Part two of An essay in two parts by Bentz Kirby

Bentz Kirby

"So, when I feel disturbed about the deficiencies in my brain I remind myself that most do not survive this event and those who do are often in a vegetative state.  Indeed I am fortunate." -- Bentz Kirby

For part one of this essay read here.

(Continued from Monday, October 21, 2013)  May has filled me in on these events to the extent she can and how these events lead up to my survival.  I have no complete memory of the time after I pulled the car over until I awoke on Sunday.  Based upon her report and the fact I am alive, I am convinced that several miracles did occur. The first miracle is one I have already mentioned -- that I chose to take a different route than I originally planned. This placed me in the right place and right time to have the people who did assist me to be present.  Also, it was only a ten minute trip to St. Francis, the hospital in Greenville with the best heart surgeons.  If I had been in Pumpkintown on the way to Table Rock most likely the people necessary to resuscitate me would not have been available.   Second, May realized that EMS was not going to arrive quickly enough and got out of the car and starting waiving her arms.  A number of people stopped to assist.  Fortunately at least two men stopped who knew how administer CPR. At some time, the Easley Police arrived and they took over the CPR compressions.  This kept my blood circulating and oxygen going to my brain for the time I completely was gone.  Third, an off duty EMS technician with an AED machine arrived. If you do not know what an AED is it is a portable Automated External Defibrillator.  It is something that should be in all public areas and schools to be available in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest. The paramedic was able to direct those providing CPR and to apply the machine to me three times.


Fourth, I may owe some gratitude to ESPN and the Clemson Athletic Director as Clemson played their game that week on Thursday night on ESPN.  Had it been the usual Saturday afternoon game, traffic in Easley would have been at a standstill.  Most likely neither the paramedic nor the EMS ambulance would have been able to fight the football traffic and arrive in time to assist me and to get my heart beating again.  It is difficult for me to appreciate Clemson, but in this instance I am at least glad they played their game on Thursday.

Fifth, I consider the fact that it was only ten minutes to the hospital once my sinus rhythm had been restored.  My cousins had come from the family reunion to meet May at the hospital and they reported that no one was in the Emergency Room at St. Francis.  The Emergency Room was empty, even though it was a Saturday afternoon.  Additionally two of their surgeons were available and I was immediately wheeled into the operating room.  I take this as a miracle since two of their top heart surgeons were waiting for me when they brought me in.

May is a little fuzzy on the details as she was understandably upset during this time.   However she does recall the police and the ambulance with the paramedics arriving.  Among other things, May reports they applied an AED and administered Epinephrine to stimulate my heart.  She does not recall how long all of this took.  During this time period, she realized the EMS personnel were not going to take me to the hospital if I was not revived with a steady pulse.

Additionally her thoughts at this time were that I needed to breathe and that she was not ready for me to be gone.  As May said, “We had not discussed anything about this” before that moment.  Really though, do people sit down and discuss their death that often?  She also remembers that the police moved her away from me so that the paramedics could work on me.

According to the hospital notes, this all transpired in about seven to ten minutes.  To you, this may not seem like a series of miracles but it does to me.  Especially since I am here writing this for you to read.

After I had begun my recovery, May began to research SCDS.  Neither of us had heard of it before.  May found a site where people who were survivors post narratives about their experience with Sudden Cardiac Death.  The survival rate for this SCDS is around two percent (2%) so if it happens to you, the odds are against survival. Interestingly I have been told the best place to have this event is in a hospital with a defibrillator machine present.  I read many of the stories on the site May found and one thing is clear, almost all of my fellow survivors experienced a series of fortunate events which contributed to their survival.

As stated above, when I regained consciousness I awoke to find tubes down my throat and in all my extremities. I found my arms and legs had been restrained.  Additionally my chest had a number of burns on it from the AED machines. My breast bone also felt extremely painful from the CPR and would continue to hurt for months later.  From the little I do recall, I was very confused and could not talk or communicate.  I later came to understand that this was from damage to the language side to my brain.  I am still recovering and it is estimated it will take me about two years to fully recover.

Once my sinus rhythm had been restored, the EMS took me to St Francis in Greenville, SC.  Unlike the movies, they would not allow May to ride in the ambulance with me.  In fact, the Police initially would not let her leave the scene because she was so upset.

My cardiologist told me that my brain would not have survived had it not been for the persons who administered CPR and the paramedic with the AED machine.  This kept enough oxygen in my blood to prevent complete decimation of my brain.  So, when I feel disturbed about the deficiencies in my brain I remind myself that most do not survive this event and those who do are often in a vegetative state.  Indeed I am fortunate.

I also want to tell you that if you know of anyone in the hospital for a health reason and you can visit them, please do.  It makes a real difference.  My first moment of joy was waking up to see May’s beautiful face and to know I was still with her.  It is a lonely feeling to have a serious illness and be stuck in a hospital bed.  The presence of a friend makes a true difference to the person who is ill.  Fortunately, I got to see everyone but one person who came by to see me.  And, even though my memory is clouded by the sedatives, I recall all the visits by everyone.  Especially my two friends from Thomasville (GA) High School who proved that 40 years does not necessarily break the bonds of friendship.  I am convinced that one of the things that truly is worthy of taking from the Bible is Matthew 25 where Jesus instructs us to “visit the sick”.  We do need each other and you are more important than you realize.

Bentz and Anna

Also, a symptom of the post-traumatic shock from this event is the anxiety I feel about the effect of this event on May and my daughter Anna.  I cannot imagine how it must feel to watch someone you care about suddenly drop dead.  My brother died from cancer, but we had a lot of time to prepare for that experience.  I just hope they are coping with their feelings.

bentz and may

There is much more to this story and I hope to write more about my experience in the future.  Before closing, I am constrained to say a word about the subject most people seem curious about, “what it is like after you die.”  I get many questions, even almost a year later like -- “What did you see? Did you see a bright light? Did you see a tunnel of light?  Did you feel the presence of an angel? A dead relative?”  Well it is difficult to recall what went on in my brain during the time in question.  The most I can say I recall is being in a room with four doors and a presence asking me which door I was going to choose.  My response was that I am not going through any door as I was going back to be with my wife, May.  Regardless of what science tells us about the chemical effects the process of dying has on us as humans, I am convinced that if I did not feel so attached to May, that I would have chosen to leave the earth.  How is that for co-dependence?  But, I was determined to get back to her.  To the extent I had a choice, I am sure I made the correct choice.

As a result of the lack of oxygen I have significant damage to my brain, especially the speech center.  However, my situation is greatly improved and I find that writing and singing are two activities which help my recovery.  (Although writing this has taken about 10 times more than it would have previously.)  As a result of my situation and in appreciation for all of those who helped me in my time of need, I would like to promote a benefit to purchase some AED machines to be placed where they are needed.  Unfortunately, I need to conserve my energy to heal and cannot organize such an event at this time.  However, if there are any among you would like to promote such a benefit, I will be happy to assist your endeavor.

For more information contact

Bentz & Cindi ("smoking" a candy cigarette at Annie's & Kyle's wedding) -- Happy to be able to publish my friend's story. Keep on writing, Bentz. You are loved. -- cb

Jerryfest XI -- A Guest Blog by Bentz Kirby

What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been ...


Long, long ago in a universe far, far away there were two marching band nerds who lived in Lugoff, SC.  The young girl loved the Beach Boys and harmony singing.  The young man loved movies.  They played in the Lugoff-Elgin High School Marching Band and were friends, but had no idea of the journey they would make together as they grew into adults. Certainly they had no idea of what it would lead to this weekend.  This Saturday, September 29, there will be a celebration of 20 years of Loose Lucy’s which will take place at the eleventh Jerryfest at Utopia Food and Spirits.  So come out to 3830A Rosewood Drive, Columbia, SC to celebrate with Jenn and Don and their friends.

Although Jenn and Don McCallister had been friends in high school, it was after graduation when they both discovered their love for the Grateful Dead and the music of Jerry Garcia.  As is the case with a number of their peers, this led to traveling on the road to see the Grateful Dead at various locations like Greensboro, Chapel Hill, Boston, Philadelphia, and the like.  A visit to Loose Lucy’s (named after a Grateful Dead song) at 709 Saluda Avenue in 5 Points will show you they may not be on the road any more, but they are faithful to the friends and style they learned along the way.  The store is jammed with merchandise with a message.  You can always smell the sweet incense as you approach the store and hear the sounds of the Grateful Dead music playing inside.

Loose Lucy’s was started in Hilton Head and grew out of the vendor culture around the Dead tours.  Don and Jenn did not participate in that part of the origin of Loose Lucy’s. However, they did recognize what the shop meant to the culture and people who understood the music of the Grateful Dead.  They began as customers, moving to employees and to store owners in short order.  It was not what either was looking to do with their life and time, it just seemed to be the thing to do to help carry on the spirit of the larger Grateful Dead family.  When Mickey Hart spoke at Jerry Garcia’s funeral, he said it was up to the individual Dead Heads to carry the spirit back to their communities and keep it alive.  Owning and managing Loose Lucy’s has allowed the McCallisters to keep that spirit alive for twenty years now.

Being small business owners is not an easy life. Although Jenn and Don work hard at keeping the store in business, it also has allowed them the freedom to express their creativity in many ways.  They have at least three envelopes they decorated in the Grateful Dead archives.  (The Dead must be hoarders.)  Don has authored a published novel, Kings Highway and another novel, Fellow Traveler, is slated to be published by Muddy Ford Press this year.  Additionally he has a number of award winning short stories which have been published, including one in a Grateful Dead anthology.  Jenn has written songs with one of her bands, Stillhouse.  She is in another band, Jellyroll and Delicious Dish, with her friends, Bentz and May Kirby, which will be recording an album soon.  In her free time, she is a certified Zumba instructor who helps others keep fit in a fun way.

So, it seems logical that Jenn McCallister would be the driving force behind Jerryfest.  It is a celebration of the life and music of Jerry Garcia.  Jerry was the lead guitarist and one of the song writers for The Grateful Dead but he cast a much wider musical net.  He was a proficient player of both the pedal steel guitar (think Teach Your Children by CSNY) and the banjo.  He covered bluegrass and gospel music styles with the Jerry Garcia Band and Old and In the Way.  He also was, despite his denials, the spiritual leader of the Grateful Dead.  Jerryfest is a time for local musicians to pay tribute to Jerry’s music and influence, and Jenn certainly is the flame keeper of Jerryfest.  The origins of Jerryfest in Columbia go back to Kevin and Kelly Webb.  They formerly owned a bar in 5 Points named Minglewood (also named for a tune the Dead played).  In 2002, when the bar was only four months old, they realized that August 1, 2002 would have been Jerry’s 60th birthday.  They decided to invite a few bands in to celebrate, printed up some posters and took them to Loose Lucy’s and Jerryfest was born.  This phase of Jerryfest lasted for three years.  Then it was obvious to them Jerryfest had outgrown Minglewood.  The Webbs sold the business in 2005 and passed the torch on to Jenn.

Since then it has been held at Headliners, the old Utopia, and The Art Bar. This year the celebration returns to Utopia.  The event is from 4:00 P.M. til 11:30 P.M. on Saturday, September 29th.  There is no cover charge.  The music begins at 5:00 with 5 Star playing a bluegrass tribute to Jerry.  They are followed at 6:30 by Jackaroe Acoustic.  Next up is Alien Carnival at 8:00.  Finally, the evening is topped off at 9:30 when Stillhouse with Bitteroot sends another Jerryfest down the road.  On the “no” list are pets and coolers.  Do not bring either of these.

Come on out everyone and celebrate twenty years of Loose Lucy’s and Jerryfest XI.  The spirit is alive and so are you.  The trip continues so get on the bus!

--Bentz Kirby

(Bentz Kirby is an older child who practices law and loves to play music.  He has the most wonderful wife and family and is in general a lucky man. Reach Bentz at

Grant Peeples -- Real Country -- A Guest Blog by Bentz Kirby

“Well the trailer smells like cat piss.”

As I prepare to write this blog about the upcoming Grant Peeples Alien Carnival House Concert at my house on June 13, I realize that I have become an evangelist for Grant Peeples.  I hope this blog can explain why.

Earlier this year I had never heard of Grant. Right before I went to Thomasville, GA for the funeral of a close friend, I found someone on Facebook who lived there and was sponsoring an amazing house concert featuring Sam Baker and Gurf Morlix with Grant Peeples opening. I had seen Sam Baker and heard of Gurf Morlix, but not Grant. Out of curiosity, I contacted Donna Mavity, the woman bringing this amazing music to the small town. She invited us to drop by, so May and I went to visit her.  She gifted us with three CDs recorded by Grant. Since my iPod was broken, I put them all three in the cd changer for the return trip to Columbia.

Now at first I was not sure what to think about Grant. His vocal phrasing and rhythm is not what one would call conventional.  I remarked to May that I was not sure how people sang with him, although they seemed to do just fine.  Long pauses at unusual times, words seemed almost out of place, and a rough and gravely voice which drove the words home.  Drove them home hard.

As has often been my experience, you have to keep listening to something until you “get” it, especially if it is not like anything you have heard before.  He started to get my attention when he opened a song with the lyrics, “Leaving her was easy, once she done throwed all my shit out in the yard.”  Alright Grant, you got my attention.  And I identified with him even more when he said, “I know why the poets drink and smoke, shoot dope and die young.  At least poets used to. Nowadays you can’t count on poets much.”   That struck a nerve with me for sure.  I mean he was putting it out there,. For example --“I don’t think much of you poets these days.”  Then, the next song came on, Real Country with its opening lyrics, “Well the trailer smells like cat piss.”  Now that sounded like real country to me.

So, on the car ride I became a convert and a lover of Grant Peeples’ songs because they are real, they are gritty and they are as honest as any music I have ever heard.  The phrasing and rhythm to his songs at first threw me off.  Then I realized it was the rhythm and phrasing of his soul.

Fortunately, I got to see him perform at Springfest in March of 2012.  (Met him at the urinal in the bath house that morning.  Can you say “Awkward!”)  Seeing him play his songs live and in person was another revelation. Grant Peeples puts all of himself into the presentation of his children, the songs.  It is personal. It is down to the bone.  It is, to borrow from myself, Real Music.

Which leads me back to my duty as an evangelist – to get the good news out to Columbia.  I hope to convince Columbia’s songwriters and lovers of good music that if you are not present at this concert, you are going to miss an opportunity which you will regret.  It is not my nature to tell another songwriter she needs to listen to someone or hear a particular artist, but in this instance I am telling you.  Be here on Wednesday, June 13.

 Grant Peeples has released five albums since 2007.  His biography on his web site tells the story of his journey and it is an interesting journey which includes ten years of not writing a song.  His albums are:

  • 2007    Down Here in the County
  • 2008    It’s Later Than You Think
  • 2009    Pawnshop
  • 2011    Okra and Ecclesiastes
  • 2012    Prior Convictions

The songs on these albums cover a lot of ground.  They describe very well a liberal and free thinker’s life in a conservative South and in the uncertain times post 9/11.  These songs also tell the stories of those people who live in the rural areas of the Florida panhandle.  He reflects a slice of this life very accurately, right down to the smell of the cat piss.

So, what am I preaching about is just a simple house concert.  However, if you fail to attend, you will regret it.  Maybe not today, but soon. Very soon.  Cause Grant Peeples is real and so much more than just country.  He is a shining hope for the possibility of the future of our country expressed through honest music.  As Grant says, “My people come from the dirt ... Okra and Ecclesiastes.”

Date: June 13, 2012

Time: 6:00 PM, music at 7:00 PM

Reservations are required.  For reservations call or email Bentz Kirby at:


Suggested donation, $15 and 100% goes to Grant Peeples