Krewe De Columbi-Ya-Ya Kaptains Tom Hall and Kristian Niemi on parades, the blues and beheadings


With Mardi Gras Columbia a mere 2 days away, Kristian Niemi can barely contain his excitement.

“The parade! The bands! The food! The drunken shenanigans!” said Niemi. “Dress for the occasion—the crazier the better!”

Niemi, along with Tom Hall, Emile Defelice and Eric McClam, are the original “Kaptains” of the Krewe De Columbi-Ya-Ya, who organized Mardi Gras Columbia parades and festival the past two years. This will be the third annual Mardi Gras Columbia organized by the Krewe.

The first Mardi Gras Columbia, raised money for Wil-Moore Farms after a fire destroyed their barn. Organized in 3 weeks, the 2011 Mardi Gras Columbia managed to raise $2500. Last year’s Mardi Gras Columbia had an even bigger turnout, attracting over 4,000 people and raising money for the Animal Mission of the Midlands.

This year, the Krewe de Columbi-Ya-Ya will again raise funds for the Animal Mission through a pet parade.

“Fortunately, no local farmers have had losses,” said Tom Hall. “Also, an animal parade is fun.”

“We're all animal lovers and we like the idea of people dressing their dogs up for the parade,” said Niemi. “Soni [Jim Sonefeld, president of Animal Mission] is a good friend and they needed another fund-raising avenue, so it was a natural fit.”

Registration for the pet parade, which costs $5, begins at 10 a.m. at City Roots. Pet owners walking in the pet parade are encouraged to dress up their pets in the best Mardi Gras attire. Prizes will be awarded to the best-dressed pups.

The pet parade will be led by King Bud Ferillo and Danielle Howle, as well as Grand Marshall Larry Hembree, managing director of the Trustus Theater.

Hall said he is “looking forward to the coronation of the new King and Queen during the parade, which will be presided over by Drink Small. Born in Bishopville, S.C., “Blues Doctor” Drink Small has sung dirty blues and gospel music for nearly 6 decades. Drink Small will also perform live during the festival.

Last week, King Bud Ferillo jokingly called for Hall’s decapitation should he fail to deliver during his musical performance with the Plowboys. Hall responded to His Majesty’s threat:

“I cannot let down the King, so if I don’t kick ass, I deserve beheading. I hope my kids aren’t there then.”


Yippee-Ya-Ya! 2013 Mardi Gras Columbia parade and festival Saturday Feb. 9

Krewe de Columbia-ya-ya Poster by The Half and Half.


Dust off that jester’s hat and prepare to catch beads. Mardi Gras Columbia is back, hosted by the Krewe de Columbi-Ya-Ya and featuring a parade, food and festivities Feb. 9 from noon to 10 p.m.

This will be the third annual Mardi Gras Columbia. The first Mardi Gras Columbia was organized in 2011 as a fundraiser for local Wil-Moore Farms, after a Feb. 2011 fire destroyed their barn.

Musician Tom Hall, along with others involved in Columbia’s local food community, formed the Krewe de Columbi-Ya-Ya to raise money for Wil-Moore Farms. The 2011 Mardi Gras Columbia raised $2500, helping Wil-Moore Farms to pay for a new barn.

Proceeds for this year’s Mardi Gras Columbia will benefit The Animal Mission, which funds free spay and neuter programs throughout S.C.

The 2013 Mardi Gras Columbia will kick off with a parade from noon to 1:30 p.m., starting and ending at City Roots, 1005 Airport Boulevard. After the parade ends, the festival begins at City Roots, which will have live music performances and food, including Cajun, Creole and Charleston Lowcountry cuisine.

The Mardi Gras Columbia King and Queen this year are director and Travelstead Award winner Bud Ferillo and musician Danielle Howle, who will also perform live during the festival.

Other musicians and bands set to perform at Mardi Gras Columbia include Carey Hudson of Blue Mountain, The Captain Midnight Band and Andy Friedman.




Introducing His and Her Majesties

King Bud Ferillo and Queen Danielle Howle

“My goodness, I was born a peasant and am now a King,” said King Ferillo, excited to reign as monarch of Mardi Gras Columbia.

King Ferillo and Queen Howle ascended to the 2013 Mardi Gras Columbia throne, previously occupied in 2012 by King Emile DeFelice, founder of the All-Local Farmer’s Market, and Queen Debbie McDaniel, owner of Revente and Sid and Nancy.

King Ferillo’s first command as ruler of Mardi Gras Columbia was to declare his motto “Every Man is a King and Every Woman is a Queen.”

“I am asking Tom Hall, the minstrel maestro of Ya Ya Land, to amend and sing appropriate lyrics to Louisiana's populist Governor Huey Long's campaign song ‘Every Man A King’,” said His Majesty.

Hall’s band the Plowboys are set to play at this year’s festival, and the King has high expectations for Hall to put on a good show. His Majesty has decreed that, should Hall fail to meet expectations, then “off with his head,” although His Majesty, famous across Ya-Ya Land for a good sense of humor, will probably only put Hall in the stocks.

King Ferillo is pleased to sit on the throne alongside Her Majesty Queen Howle.

“I couldn't have a niftier partner than Queen Danielle of Awendaw,” said His Majesty. Queen Howle also expressed her excitement for the upcoming festival.

“I am feeling excellent Kung fu for Feb 9th,” said Her Majesty. “May the spirit of the Ya-Ya's great love and awakening powers prevail over all.”

-- By Giesela Lubecke



Krewe de Columbi-Ya-Ya - "What we lacked in organization we made up for in sheer audacity ..."





I can't begin to tell you how much fun we had last year, but maybe the photo above will help you understand.

Yes, that's me, chief instigator at Jasper Magazine on the far right, and to your left you see the be-stogied Kyle Petersen, grad student and USC English instructor as well as music editor for the magazine who, in lieu of a drum is appropriately banging on an empty panettone tin with relish. Continuing left and behind Kyle is Ed Madden, literary arts editor of Jasper, poet and one of USC's most beloved professors. Further left is Bob Jolley, aka the Beer Doc, Muddy Ford Press publisher, ER physician, and general founder of the feast out in our neck of the woods and, beside him, our eldest, Annie, grad student, USC instructor, political junkie, and newly the queen of distribution for Jasper Magazine. (Had she not been dancing out in Seattle, our youngest Bonnie, would most assuredly been in this photo as well.) In keeping with the family affair, my sister-in-arms, Kristine Hartvigsen, associate editor of Jasper, photographer, and the voice of experience around here, is pictured below arm-in-arm with the boy we wish were our little brother, local artist Michael Krajewski. And below that, Ed is pictured with his beloved, Bert Easter, antiques-meister and an integral part of university students' first year experience.



The day started early at City Roots Farm as we rolled up to a small but growing crowd of friends and soon-to-be friends dressed in their finest purples, greens, and golds with assorted costumes that ranged from a crawfish to a local artist who had fashioned a boa from discarded plastic grocery store bags.

What we lacked in organization we made up for in sheer audacity, and before we knew it, we were parading down Rosewood Boulevard to the beat of the Next Door Drummers. We lit our stogies and passed our flasks of the finest adult beverages. We sang, we chanted, we threw beads to shocked but delighted onlookers. In the vernacular of the 1960s we seriously let it all hang out. Returning to our starting point at the farm, we feasted and drank and listened to good music as the night wore on.

All this happened as a result of a few weeks preparation.

Well, folks, we've been working on Mardi Gras 2012 for a year now and, Sisters and Brothers, this year we are blowing it out of the water!

With close to 20 bands on board already,  a food truck rodeo, a much larger marching contingency that includes some of your favorite local artists and Columbia's own Alternacirque and more, the addition of a canine parade as well, this year's Mardi Gras Festival hosted by the Krewe-de-Columbi-ya-ya is sure to go down in history.

So this I posit to you: If you are reading this blog you are either a lover of the arts and Columbia's arts community or you are a friend of this magazine. Either way, you are a perfect candidate to attend this year's festivities either as a reveler, as one of the smart folks who grabs one of the last spaces to become a member of the original and hosting krewe, the Krewe de Columbi-Ya-ya, or by starting a krewe of your own!

And starting your own krewe is decidedly easy-breezy -- we have very few rules & all we ask for is $50 to offset parade costs and that you have at least 10 folks in your krewe. 

Are you listening folks at The Whig, Trustus, Art Bar, Tapp's Arts Center, Town Theatre, Workshop Theatre, The Betty Page Turners, Jam Room, Hunter Gatherer, 701 CCA, and every freaking department or program at any of Columbia's universities? What better way to bond and let off steam and show your city spirit than by representing yourselves proud and loud at Mardi Gras?

We roll on Saturday, February 18th and this year our theme is "Going to the Dogs" which means we also have a canine contingency in our walking parade. You can register and walk your pup in the parade and we'll donate the $5 registration fee to  The Animal Mission. Other proceeds will go to benefit Doku Farms.

Come on out, Friends and Neighbors -- we're growing large and one of these days you'll be so happy to look back at the beginnings of what is sure to be a great Columbia tradition and know that you were a part of the start of it all.


Laissez les bons temps rouler, Columbi-Ya-Ya!







The Making and Celebrating of Jasper #3 - What to Expect

When we started planning Jasper #3 we looked at the date the magazine was due and thought -- really? Would anyone really be interested in a new issue of an arts magazine so early in the year -- so close to Christmas? Having increased the size of Jasper #2 by 8 pages we thought that maybe we should ease back for #3 and go back to our original 48 pages. We also thought it would be a good idea to make the issue somewhat literary heavy, given that so many folks would still be in that holiday state of mind in the middle of January, and not much would be going on in the performing or visual arts. So we thought.

It didn't take long for us to realize that there was way too much going on to reduce the pages of the magazine -- in fact, we increased them even more. Jasper #3 will be 16 pages longer than Jasper #1. But the fascinating thing about putting together a magazine that is reflective of the arts community it represents is how organic the whole process is. For example, our choices of cover artist and centerfold artist easily gave way to our choice of venue for the celebration of the release. Our Jasper Reads story led us to our choice for Guest Editorial. An essay written by an esteemed visual artist on how social service can act as a muse for creation directed us to another story on a local theatre troupe that we quickly made room for and wrote. Our story on Columbia's choral arts scene suggested an obvious choice for entertainment at our release event. Things like that.

The other thing that surprised us was just how much would be going on in the performing and visual arts community this early in the calendar year.

This week has been packed already with an abundance of diverse and stimulating art. Tuesday night we had the opportunity to visit Tom Law's Conundrum concert hall and sit in on Jack Beasley's The Weekly Monitor, which hosted Elonzo, Magnetic Flowers, and Henry Thomas's Can't Kids.

Magnetic Flowers blew us away, by the way, and we've listened to their new CD 4 times in the last 24 hours. For more on Magnetic Flowers, read Kyle Petersen's story in Jasper #3. We were also pretty charmed by the raw almost 80s sounding tunes of the Can't Kids. I look forward to hearing what Kyle has to say once he gets a chance to listen to their new CD.

Wednesday night saw us attending the opening reception for Thomas Crouch's new show in the Hallway Gallery at 701 Whaley. We're pretty big Crouch fans already, and it was great to see some of his new work and to meet his mom, duly proud of her boy. Kudos to Lee Ann Kornegay and Tom Chinn for making blank wall space meaningful. We  hope to see more and more businesses do the same. There is no shortage of art to hang on Columbia's walls.

Which brings us to Thursday night -- the celebration of the release of Jasper #3 as well as Night #1 in Columbia Alternacirque's 3-Night Festival of Doom. We hate missing this first night of the only kind of circus we're ever interested in seeing, but we're reassured that there are two more nights of awesomeness we can avail ourselves of AND Ms. Natalie Brown -- the mother of the tribe -- will be visiting us down at the Arcade as soon as she's off the boards at CMFA Thursday night. For more on Natalie Brown, read Cindi's article on her in Jasper #3.

Much like this issue of the magazine our release event scheduled for Thursday night has grown far beyond our initial intentions. Rather than being a quiet evening of acoustic music and intellectual conversation, as we thought it might be, it has turned into a multi-disciplinary arts event.

Here's what to expect:

  • 7 - 7:15 -- a performance from the balcony of the Arcade Building by the Sandlapper Singers (Read Evelyn Morales's piece on them and the rest of the choral arts scene in Jasper #3)
  • 7:15 - 7:30 -- Kershaw County Fine Arts Center will perform three of your favorite songs from the musical Chicago
  • 7:30 - 7:45 -- the NiA Theatre Troupe will perform
  • 7:45 - 8 and throughout the evening, a young acoustic guitarist named David Finney will play classical guitar
  • then, starting about 8 pm rock 'n' roll time, Tom Hall has arranged for the nationally known and esteemed Blue Mountain band featuring Cary Hudson to perform
  • Chris Powell's The Fishing Journal will follow them up (See Jasper #2 for a little ditty on the Fishing Journal)
  • and then, the Mercy Shot, with Thomas Crouch from Jasper #2, will play.
  • In the meantime, Michaela Pilar Brown will be displaying her most recent work in the Arcade lobby, and
  • street artist Cedric Umoja will be demonstrating his work (Read more about Michaela in Jasper #3 as well as Alex Smith's article on Cedric), and
  • all the galleries of the Arcade Mall will be open -- including those of our Cover artist and Centerfold!
  • Throughout the evening we'll have the return of our famous EconoBar with cheap beer, decent wine, and big spender craft brew at $2, $2, and $4 respectively, and
  • a nice little cheese spread courtesy of our friend Kristian Niemi and Rosso, as well as
  • a sampling of delicious roasted coffees from SC's own Cashua Coffee, and
  • the Krewe de Columbia-ya-ya will be on hand to school us all on the importance of parades, beads, beer, and dogs.
  • And, of course, there will be the release of Jasper #3.

Not a bad night for free, huh?

Please join us in the historic Arcade building on Main and Washington Streets, Thursday night, January 12th from 7 until 11 pm as we celebrate the art that makes us all get up in the mornings. The afterparty is at the Whig. We hope to see you both places.

Thank you for your support, Columbia.

-- Your Friends at Jasper