Columbia's Favorite Poetry - Today, featuring Cassie Premo Steele

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In celebration of National Poetry Month the Jasper Project invited several artists, writers, and leaders in the Columbia arts community to share with us their favorite poems and most of them generously accepted.

We’ve put together this collection of our favorite poems and will be sharing them with you, poem by poem, day by day, over the month of April. Some of the poems are old and traditional, others are new and inventive. Some are whimsical, others are insightful. Some rhyme. Some don’t.

What they all have in common is that someone you know loves that poem – and this gives us such lovely insight into the soul of our community.

Thank you to everyone who shared their poetry with us.

And Happy National Poetry Month from Jasper.

 

Our fist poem is from poet and author Cassie Premo Steele.

 

Cassie Premo Steele

 

"My favorite poem is For Each of Us by Audre Lorde. Audre Lorde's poetry has been important to me throughout my life, so much so that I remember being in my twenties and feeling like life was worth living because I hadn't yet read everything she'd written. I love this poem especially because it is fierce and wise and supportive, but with the paradox of truth that makes Lorde a poet-philosopher. Power and pain exist together. Preparing a meal is essential, but there is more to life. The best politics come when we quiet down and do the work. Nothing is eternal, even the deepest love. And yet, we go on loving and nurturing in a spirit of pride and strength."

 

FOR EACH OF YOU

By Audre Lorde

 

Be who you are and will be

learn to cherish

that boisterous Black Angel that drives you

up one day and down another

protecting the place where your power rises

running like hot blood

from the same source 

as your pain.

 

When you are hungry

learn to eat

whatever sustains you

until morning

but do not be misled by details

simply because you live them.

 

Do not let your head deny

your hands

any memory of what passes through them

nor your eyes

nor your heart

everything can be used

except what is wasteful

(you will need

to remember this when you are accused of destruction.) 

Even when they are dangerous examine the heart of those machines you hate

before you discard them

and never mourn the lack of their power

lest you be condemned

to relive them.

If you do not learn to hate

you will never be lonely

enough

to love easily

nor will you always be brave

although it does not grow any easier

 

Do not pretend to convenient beliefs

even when they are righteous

you will never be able to defend your city

while shouting.

 

Remember whatever pain you bring back 

from your dreaming

but do not look for new gods

in the sea

nor in any part of a rainbow

Each time you love

love as deeply as if were

forever

only nothing is

eternal.

 

Speak proudly to your children

where ever you may find them

tell them

you are offspring of slaves

and your mother was

a princess

in darkness. 

 

 

Cassie Premo Steele is the author of fifteen books, including six books of poetry, and her new novel, The ReSisters, will be out later this year.

 

Cassie Premo Steele

Cassie Premo Steele

REVIEW: Jason Isbell @ The Township Auditorium

img_0048 By: Kyle Petersen

When Jason Isbell took the stage at the Township Auditorium this past Sunday, I wanted to tell you that it felt a little weird, mixed with a little sense of triumph. As if this was the apotheosis of the hard-touring rock ‘n’ roll musician done good, a story that countless musicians toiling in tour vans day in and day out could look up to and aspire to. I wish I could say that.

But the reality is, over the last few years Isbell seems to have matured seamlessly from seedy 300-person rock clubs to stately 3,000 seater auditoriums, and it felt surprisingly inevitable. Four years into sobriety and three years removed from the breakthrough success of 2013’s Southeastern, Isbell looked trim and dapper on stage, carrying himself with the air of a consummate, perhaps even slightly bored, professional. That’s not to say that the performance wasn’t amazing—after all, he is undisputedly one of the preeminent songwriters of his generation, with the kind of hotshot guitar skills and booming, soulful voice that would allow him to get away with songs as tenth as good. As he generally does these days, Isbell opened with a salvo of electric rock songs (including the old Drive-by Trucker Southern rock staple “Decoration Day” and the 2016 Americana Music Awards “Song of the Year” winner “24 Frames”) before switching to acoustic guitar and diving deep into his last two more songwriting-oriented efforts. The fact that the set is loaded with stunners (“Speed Trap Town,” “Cover Me Up,” “Alabama Pines”) helps, along with the fact that Isbell is at this point adept at balancing the more somber acoustic tunes with more sprightly ones like “Codeine” or “If It Takes a Lifetime.”

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Still, there were relatively few moments or features that genuinely stuck out thanks to the unerring professional consistency. One notable element for sure, though, was the elegant, top-notch staging and lighting, a new feature for longtime Isbell fans. Backed by pseudo-stained glass windows and often bathed in multiple spotlights when he stepped out to take a solo, there was an element of grandeur to the proceedings which felt wholly new. Another great moment was the knowing inclusion of “Palmetto Rose,” a welcome nod to the audience with its South Carolina subject matter. And, ever so slightly, the genuine joy the bandleader seemed to take in the ostentatious stage interplay he had briefly with keyboard/accordionist Derry DeBorja on "Codeine" and then, later, with guitarist (and SC native) Sadler Vaden during a staged-but-electrifying guitar duel. That latter moment, which took place during an extended take on the gnarly and riveting “Never Gonna Change,” felt like the most significant addition to the band’s live show and allowed them to end the regular set with a bang.

Perhaps the most telling moment, though, was when Isbell brought opener (and contemporary) Josh Ritter out during the encore to cover John Prine’s “Storm Windows.” Isbell briefly mentioned that he used to pay to go to Ritter’s show rather than bringing him on tour, an oblique reference to his newfound stature, but really it was the cover choice itself, along with the “Prine/Isbell” campaign ticket shirts at the merch table, that suggested the songwriter’s intended route in the coming decades. Having arrived at the upper echelon of the music world on his own terms and on the strength of his artistry, Isbell clearly intends to stay on that level with the consistency and persistence of his 70-year-old forbear.

And, judging by Sunday night's show, that shouldn't be a problem.

A CASE FOR THE ARTS - an essay by Jasper Intern Olivia Morris

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Art is a celebration of humanity's emotional and technical intelligence. It is what we build ourselves from  and what spills out of us, personal and universal at once. However, art has been pushed aside in favor of STEM subjects in schools. The Republican Study Committee has suggested the arts budget be eliminated entirely. In a world that devalues the emotional and intellectual value of art, an argument can be made in terms everyone can understand — money. Art is money. Areas with art make money.

Artistry-rich areas have a competitive advantage compared to cities without sufficient artistic activities. These areas attract visitors and businesses.  Increased art and culture in a region increases both the amount of foot traffic and the amount of money spent in the area.

In 1905, The Crane Company Building inPhiladelphia was erected as a cast concrete emblem of modernizing architecture. Built in the manufacturing district of northern Philadelphia, the building transformed to meet the shifting American demands, first as a plumbing manufacture, then as a seafood processing plant.  After years of reeking of draft horses and half-frozen shrimp, the building closed and became dilapidated through the twentieth century.  In 2004, a group of local artists restored the building and established Crane Arts, a gallery space for established and emerging artists in Philadelphia. Crane Arts's 'Icebox' art projects have garnered international attention and were mentioned in Lonely Planet's article on top ten U.S. destinations. This is one of the numerous examples of how fostering artistic expression can lead to increased visibility and visitation of a region.

Stories like Crane Arts don't only exist in major cities. In Columbia, The Nickelodeon Theater hosts an annual arts and culture festival called Indie Grits. Andy Smith, the Executive Director of The Nickelodeon, shared the figures on how much this one festival contributed to the economy. Indie Grits had 10,267 attendees this year, all in one weekend. 38 percent of those people come from out of town, and therefore increased the profits going towards hotel and restaurants. On average, attendees spent $30 outside of the festival, mostly within a mile radius of the The Nickelodeon.  That is roughly $300,000 dollars being pumped into the non-arts sector over the course of one weekend.

Additionally, arts and culture jobs proliferate into jobs for other sectors. For every arts job that was generated in 2012, 1.62 other non-arts jobs were created as a result. The arts are constantly pumping more into the economy than they are taking out. For every $1 invested in the arts, there is a $1.69 in total output. The nonprofit arts industry creates an average of $135.2 billion every year, resulting in $22.3 billion in tax revenues across the national, state, and local levels. Lee Snelgrove, the Executive Director of One Columbia, brought the Arts & Economic Prosperity IV report on Columbia to our attention. It outlines the economic impact that the nonprofit arts and culture organizations have in Columbia. In the greater Columbia area, total industry expenditures total at $35,898,074.  Columbia alone generates revenues of $1,773,000 to the local government and $2,154,000 to state government.

When 97% of employers report that creativity matters to them when looking for an employee, the fostering of art is not only important to individuals, but also to businesses. South Carolina's economy is one of the most sluggish in the nation. According to Business Insider, South Carolina ranks as one of the most economically struggling states, the fifth worst in the nation. Instead of eradicating the arts, it has proven already to be more effective to bolster them. Arts and culture invigorate the economy and are vital to placemaking. The arts are not a part of the problem, but rather a part of the solution.

 

Olivia Morris

Why I Said Yes - Tess DeMint (aka Ed Madden) Explains Love of Trustus

From the Trustus production of The Brothers Size. Photo credit: Richard Kiraly

This is the fourth in a series of blogs written by Tess DeMint (aka Professor Ed Madden), a contestant in the 18th annual Vista Queen Pageant, a fundraiser for our beloved Trustus Theatre.

Please support Tess by visiting Trustus Theatre. Each vote costs $10 and all money goes to Trustus Theatre.

You can also donate to Trustus (and support Tess!) at Tess's donation site:  https://www.gofundme.com/fxudjbhs

I know my favorite row in the theatre.  I know my favorite seats.

I remember when Trustus Theatre staged Angels in America, one of the first if not the first regional theatre in the nation to do so.  I had seen the original New York production as a graduate student, and I taught the play at USC, so I was inclined to be critical.  But Trustus overwhelmed me with a beautiful, profoundly moving, and memorable production.

I remember Lonesome West and The Lieutenant of Inishmore by Martin McDonagh and other crazy Irish plays at Trustus.  The playwright was savagely funny, and the local production amplified his ability to make violence simultaneously hilarious and horrifying.

Which one of those plays was it that Alex Smith as the suicidal priest broke my heart?

I remember the rocking productions of Spring Awakening (yes they did that here and it was fucking amazing) and Hedwig and the Angry Inch—and being so tickled when Hedwig clearly directed the song “Sugar Daddy” to a couple of dear friends in the front rows.  (I won’t call out your names, Gordon and Doak.)

I remember taking my honors seminar to see Standing on Ceremony last spring as the semester began.  A collection of one-act plays about same-sex marriage, the performance introduced most of the very issues we were about to discuss.  The Trustus production (and talkback after) helped to set a tone for the rest of the semester as we began our own serious study of marriage politics.  I usually give students the option of a creative final project rather than a traditional research paper, and a couple of students wrote their own one-act plays, adding to the political and emotional complexity of what they had seen at Trustus.

More recently, I remember Chad Henderson’s haunting and gorgeous production of The Brothers Size.  The extraordinary acting (my Vista Queen fellow contestant Bakari Lebby and his colleagues were amazing), the minimal but strangely beautiful and convincing staging.  The intimacy of the sidedoor theatre.  The fireflies.

I remember Jim Thigpen—and later Larry Hembree—introducing a play and reminding us that we could always trust the theatre (trust us), even if we didn’t know the play or the playwright, because it would be good and it would be done well.  And I remember Kay’s smiling face at the ticket window, her easy laugh.

I remember working so hard for years with gay and lesbian organizations in South Carolina, and the way that Trustus would open their doors to us, the way they’d let us buy out the final dress rehearsal for a show as a fundraiser for our local community center.  The way the place filled with GLBT folks and their friends, laughing through The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, laughing at Hunter Boyle as the bitchy Santa Claus, laughing through tears at the end as the lesbian couple gave birth to a child and the gay couple resigned themselves to the new HIV drugs not working.  I remember a room full of people I loved laughing and feeling giddy and connected to one another, giggling at the silliness of When Pigs Fly, or stunned by the professional production of Take Me Out.

It was the Jim and Kay Thigpen School of theatre and aesthetics and collaboration and community and inspiration and love.  It was and is the theatre’s mission: “a safe space for exploration of the political, the personal, and all things human.” It was and is the theatre’s artistic mission: to produce works “that start and nurture dialogues.”  As they say on the webpage: “Our success will be measured by our commitment to collaboration and innovation, while our impact will be measured by the creation of a more diverse and vibrant Columbia.”

I remember that fundraiser at Most Fabulous, the huge spread of food Bert prepared, and the enormous bouquet of flowers—mostly from our yard—and a potted night-blooming cereus Bert put on the table, the large prickly arm of it reaching over the spread, ending in a tight white blossom.  I remember that it opened up during intermission, the incredible smell filling the bar.  A magical night.

I know my favorite row in the theatre, my favorite seats.  I know Bert and I will order a bottle of white wine, and he will have to get the basket of popcorn refilled at intermission.  I know it feels like home to be there.

So when Chad Henderson walked up to me at the Deckled Edge literary festival’s opening night and asked me to be in Vista Queen, I said yes.  I didn’t think about it: I said yes.  I was immediately terrified at what I had agreed to (though Bert was clearly delighted), but I said yes.

Why?  Because I love this theatre.  Because of so many good memories and so many amazing plays.  Because of the community Trustus makes possible and the community it enables and sustains.  Because Chad asked me.  Because I know which seats are my favorites.

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Exclusive: South Carolina Filmmakers Chris White & Emily Reach-White Premiere Teaser for New Project

UNB_Teaser_Vimeo-Cover by: Wade Sellers

Greenville filmmaker Chris White likes to keep busy. White, along with his wife and filmmaking partner Emily Reach-White, were fresh of their city-by-city filmmaking tour of their award winning feature film Cinema Purgatorio when they decided to move full speed ahead with their current production. “As my wife Emily and I wait to secure funding for our next feature, we thought it’d be fun to make a series of short films with our family, friends, and favorite collaborators” says White. The result is Unbecoming, a five-film anthology shot over the summer of 2015. The teaser premieres online today.

The project navigates an assortment of narratives that revolve around themes of personal devolution and change. They include a retired U.S. Senator with a dark secret, an in-school suspension that leads to a teacher with a captive audience of one, two lost souls’ unlikely meeting at a roadside diner, the stomach-churning memory of True Love lost, and a father’s last will and testament passed on via workshop mixtape.

White began raising funds for Unbecoming through an Indie Go-Go campaign in June of 2015. On June 22nd of 2015 the film was fully funded. “There is no commercial objective with Unbecoming,” he explains. “It was meant to be a playground to try an artistic endeavor, but there were still expenses. The Indiegogo campaign was a way for me to go to friends and long time supporters of my work and ask for their support and let me play with this idea.”

Additionally, White had a growing desire to work with veteran actors on a project. “I had worked with a number of known actors on other people’s projects but not my own. You realize why these actor’s have and continue to work—because they are really good at their craft.” As a result, Chris and Emily reached out two to veteran actors who they had previous relationships with.

D'Arbanville

The film stars Andy Warhol discovery Patti D’Arbanville, who got her start career in the art pop pioneer’s Flesh and L’Amour. Her long career features a mix of television and film credits that include Modern Problems, Real Genius, Miami Vice and Woody Allen’s Celebrity. Starring with D’Arbanville is Michael Forest. Forest may be remembered as the Greek god Apollo in the Star Trek episode “Who Mourns for Adonis?” His 60 year film and television career spans such notable projects as The Twilight Zone, Gunsmoke, Amarcord and Cast Away.

Chris and Emily had a previous relationship with D’Arbanville, so they approached her about starring in the film during a visit to North Carolina. Forest was a tougher get, as he had largely been retired from television and film, only visiting fan conventions for his Star Trek connection, although he did take a recent turn appearing in Vic Mignogna’s Star Trek Continues series. “I had met Michael while working on Star Trek Continues” says White of the connection. “He was interested in the project but wanted to be talked into it.” Additional cast includes Aaron Belz, Teri Parker Lewis, Bill Mazzella and Lilly Nelson. All five films were shot and produced within a short drive of the White’s home in Greenville.

Unbecoming’s theatrical premiere is Sunday, April 3rd at the wonderfully historic Tryon Theater in Tryon, North Carolina. Future screenings will be announced as they are scheduled.

 

UNBECOMING \ Teaser from Paris MTN Scout on Vimeo.

To buy tickets to the Tryon premiere:

http://unbecomingtryon.bpt.me/

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Jasper's Best Records of 2015

1117 Magnolia This is what it comes down to at the start of every New Year. We Columbia music fiends must look back and take stock of all that happened in the past twelve months. A lot of music was hurled at the listening public and, as the case always is, some of it stuck and some of it slid sadly to the floor. And so, Jasper proudly brings to you our list of the top ten favorite records coming out of our city in 2015. Remember, this list is not the product of one mind, but of many – a rag-tag team of editors, artists, and general ne’er-do-wells. Dozens of albums got votes, but these are the ones we (mostly) agreed on. As always, we hope you enjoy or at least satisfied by our conclusions. Good, bad, or ugly, all comments and criticisms are welcome and can be directed to michaelcspawn@gmail.com.

Cheers,

Michael Spawn, music editor

10. Ugly ChordsHarbinger

True to the band’s name, Harbinger isn’t always pretty. It’s sometimes dissonant, often cacophonous, but never, ever, dull. The odd moment of quiet intricacy is nothing more than the tornado’s eye, with a dust storm of howling vocals and frenetic guitars lurking only moments away.

9. Debbie & the SkanksLive & Buck Wild

The philosophy behind Live & Buck Wild exemplifies what Debbie & the Skanks are all about in a way that a ‘proper’ studio debut could never match – hit the Jam Room, gather your friends, stock the cooler, set up the mics, and hit Record. It’s both a studio recording and a live album from one of the few bands cavalier enough to ignore the pitfalls and smart enough to see the rewards inherent in such a venture.

8. ColorBlindColorBlind

This is easily one of Columbia’s most satisfying hip-hop releases of the year. On paper, the pairing of local hip-hop don Fat Rat da Czar and singer/songwriter Justin Smith might seem a bit strange, but it’s hard not to get behind a project whose entire reason for being is the promotion of racial equality and an honest look at how we, as both Americans and southerners, take stock of our past and present. And it doesn’t hurt a bit that the record shirks none of the sonic quality we’ve come to expect from da Czar.

7. ET AndersonET2

There’s some debate as to whether this sophomore release lives up to its predecessor, Et Tu,____?, but as valid as either view might be, an equally strong case can be made that it really doesn’t have to. As a standalone record, ET2 finds mastermind Tyler Morris allowing his musical paranoia stretch to potentially dangerous limits while never losing or altering his innate gift for indie-rock songcraft.

6. Abacus En Theory

It can be safely said that no Columbia metal band had a better year than Abacus, and En Theory is the unapologetically rotten fruit of their labors. For listeners who aren’t wool-dyed devotees of hardcore heavy metal, it can be difficult to digest something this aggressive and impenetrable. It’s even more difficult, however, to deny it when a given record has sufficiently rocked one’s ass clean off.

5. New SCMore Success

New SC’s debut, New Success, introduced Columbia to this six-deep collective of emcees, guided by Fat Rat da Czar. As solid as the mixtape was, More Success finds New SC a little older, a little wiser, and draped regally in the sort of swaggering confidence perfectly suited to a group with the single-minded, sink-or-swim-together mentality that defines their latest work.

4. fk. mt.fertilizer

The best kind of punk rock always arises when a band simply wants to rock as best they can, only to find that they can’t repress their natural penchant for raunchy aggression and a spitfire attitude. fk. mt. may not consider themselves a punk band, but neither did Nirvana, the band’s closest aesthetical antecedent.

3. Danny Joe MachadoD A N A S C U S

With Danascus, Daniel Machado gave us not only another document of his exceptional songwriting, but the most lovably unlikeable musical character since Tony Clifton. It’s a pie-eyed treatise on the egos and insecurities of creative people and, like all good satire, the truths it illuminates are funny and uncomfortable and brilliant and sad.

2. Marshall BrownSecond Childhood

Reviews of Marshall Brown’s early work were prone to Jeff Buckley comparisons because of his extraterrestrial vocal range and light musical touch, but Second Childhood’s pop adventurousness reveals an artist more in stride with Sergeant Pepper-era Paul McCartney or Pet Sounds’ Brian Wilson. This may well sound like bold praise, but it’s also a bold record, and one that only gets better with each listen.

1. Brian Robert1117 Magnolia

At least from a male point of view, appreciating Brian Robert’s solo debut is a dual exercise in catharsis and masochism. On one hand, his everyman tales of late-night bars, unreachable women, and the painful process of getting to know oneself transcend those of most country and Americana artists of any level. On the other hand, to uncover bits of your life in his lyrics is to confront the aspects of yourself most of us would prefer to sweep aside. Brian Robert sings on behalf of every well-intentioned asshole among us, and does so with a vocal sadness that all but wrings out the heart.

Ballots collected from Kyle Petersen, David Travis Bland, Greg Slattery, and Michael Spawn. All words by Michael Spawn.

 

Preview: if ART's December exhibition One / Group: Michael Cassidy + Mark Flowers + Jaime Misenheimer + Jay Owens

Columbia’s if ART Gallery’s December exhibition, One / Group: Michael Cassidy + Mark Flowers + Jaime Misenheimer + Jay Owens, is now on view. The show opened December 4th and will run through January 2, 2016. With the exhibition, if ART Gallery presents four artists who are new to the gallery: Michael Cassidy, Mark Flowers, Jaime Misenheimer, and Jay Owens. Cassidy and Misenheimer will be giving a gallery talk on Saturday, December 12th at 2 pm. cassidy4 Queen Anne's Lace 5

West Columbia resident and Michigan native Michael Cassidy has lived in the Columbia area for more than a decade. He earned an MFA from the University of South Carolina. Cassidy was included in this year’s 701 Center for Contemporary Art’s South Carolina Biennial 2015.

Flowers HourlyWage

South Carolina native Mark Flowers, who lives in the Ashville, N.C., area, has been a presence on the South Carolina art scene for decades despite having taught for more than two decades in Pennsylvania. Flowers used to show at Columbia’s Morris Gallery, which closed more than a decade ago, where he had his last solo exhibition in 1999. The current exhibition at if ART Gallery presents a new entrance into his home state for Flowers, who earned in BFA from the University of South Carolina. His work is represented in museums throughout the Carolinas, including the Columbia Museum of Art, the Greenville County Museum of Art and the Gibbes Museum in Charleston.

Yellow Cat

Columbia resident Jaime Misenheimer, who is from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, in 2014 received her MFA from the Hoffberger School of Painting, Maryland Institute College of Art, in Baltimore, one of the most prestigious MFA programs for painting in the country. She holds BFA and BA in History from the University of South Carolina, where she teaches art.

Owens, Jar

Upstate South Carolina native Jay Owens, who lives in Travelers Rest, S.C., attended Winthrop University before earning his BFA from Utah State University. He traveled to Niger, in West Africa, to study pottery. He also studied ceramics at the Peters Valley Craft Center in New Jersey and Haystack Mountain School of Craft in Maine and worked as a studio assistant at Penland School of Crafts.

REVIEW: Jingle Arrgh the Way! at Columbia Children's Theatre by Melissa Swick Ellington

Jingle-Poster-Web-232x300 Holiday cheer abounds at Columbia Children’s Theatre with the lively production of Jingle Arrgh the Way!: A ‘How I Became a Pirate’ Christmas Adventure (book, music and lyrics by Janet Yates Vogt and Mark Friedman; based on a story by Melinda Long). Snappy dialogue and raucous physical comedy amuse audiences of all ages in this companion to the popular How I Became a Pirate, also produced previously at CCT. Young Jeremy Jacob goes on another adventure with Captain Braid Beard and his crew; this time, their destinations include the North Pole and his school’s Christmas play. The show’s comedic success was made evident in the enthusiastic audience’s glee at the opening night performance I attended with my eight-year-old daughter and our friends. (My daughter was hooked before the show even started, as she declared with excitement: “I love that the title of the play is a joke! Jingle Arrgh the Way is supposed to be Jingle ALL the Way, get it?”)

Top-notch performers bring the holiday romp to life, led by the engaging Ashlyn Combs as Jeremy Jacob and the captivating Lee O. Smith as Braid Beard. The hilarious pirate crew features talented actors including Julian Deleon as the charming Pierre, Andy Nyland as the irrepressible Sharktooth, and the marvelous Brandi Smith in the role of Maxine. Charley Krawczyk makes a memorable appearance as Santa, and Paul Lindley II delights viewers in the role of Swill as he spouts information to a hilariously excessive degree. (Kaitlyn Fuller plays Swill at certain performances.)

The actors’ appealing banter draws children into the pirates’ world, highlighted by nifty special effects and plenty of “wow” moments. Director Jerry Stevenson steers this ship with gratifying expertise, and Crystal Aldamuy contributes entertaining choreography. Lindley provides strong musical direction; audience members will especially enjoy singing along with “pirate” versions of familiar holiday favorites.  Donna Harvey’s vibrant costumes work beautifully with the inventive set (designed and constructed by Harvey and Jim Litzinger). The capable production staff also includes Mary Litzinger, Toni Moore, Deleon, Nathan Fuller, Natalie Combs, Candice Fuller, Betsy Siemers, and Dianne Lee.

My young companions both gave Jingle Arrgh the Way! rave reviews. Our nine-year-old friend observed: “Swill is really funny. My favorite part was when Santa met the Captain. That was fun.” My daughter contributed: “I loved that the play is about the pirates from How I Became a Pirate. It was great that the pirates helped Jeremy Jacob with his school Christmas play! Also, there are some scenes that remind me of the book Pirates Don’t Change Diapers. I liked that the actors were the same performers from when they did How I Became a Pirate. Jeremy Jacob, the main character, is my favorite. Kids should go see this funny play!” Audiences will want to stick around after the show, as the traditional post-performance cast appearance for autographs and photos is always a hit with families at CCT.

Columbia Children’s Theatre will present Jingle Arrgh the Way! on Saturday, December 12 at10:30 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, December 13 at 3:00 p.m. There will also be a special “Late Night Date Night” adults-only performance on Friday, December 11 at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $10 for children ages three through adult; tickets for seniors and active duty military are $8. (For Saturday 7:00 p.m. performances, tickets are $5.00). To purchase tickets, visit http://www.columbiachildrenstheatre.com or call (803) 691-4548.

BREAKING NEWS -- Ed Madden is Named City of Columbia's First Ever Poet Laureate

Ed Madden - Columbia's Inaugural Poet Laureate

As one of only a few southern cities to create the position, One Columbia for Arts and History and the City of Columbia are proud to announce the selection of poet Dr. Ed Madden as Columbia’s first Poet Laureate. Madden will serve a four-year term that begins January 2015.

Madden is the founding literary arts editor of Jasper Magazine.

Recognized by Mayor Benjamin and the members of City Council in a resolution passed on October 21, 2014, the honorary position of Poet Laureate will “encourage appreciation and create opportunities for dissemination of poetry in Columbia, promote the appreciation and knowledge of poetry among the youth, and act as a spokesperson for the growing number of poets and writers in Columbia.”

“Dr. Madden is not only a world class talent and scholar but also a leader who, through his actions as well as his words, exemplifies the very best of who we are and who we hope to be,” said Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin. “We’re honored to have him serve as our city’s first Poet Laureate and confident that he will exceed our highest expectations.”

"Ed has led poetry summer camps for a number of year and has some good ideas of how to involve kids and families into the activities he'll conduct as poet laureate,” states Councilman Moe Baddourah, the chair of City Council’s Arts and Historic Preservation Committee. "I believe he's the right person to take on this job."

Dr. Ed Madden, Associate Professor of English and the Director of Women’s and Gender Studies Program at the University of South Carolina, holds a PhD in Literature from the University of Texas at Austin. Originally from Newport, Arkansas, he has lived in Columbia since 1994. He has published three books of poetry and is currently working on a fourth entitled Ark, to be published in 2016. He is the recipient of the inaugural Carrie McCray Nickens Fellowship in poetry from the SC Academy of Authors as well as a fellowship for prose writing from the SC Arts Commission.

His first scheduled readings as City Poet Laureate will be part of the State of the City Address on January 20, 2015 as well as for the commemoration events for the 150th anniversary of the burning of Columbia on February 17, 2015.

“I am excited to have been chosen for this position, and really honored to be the first poet selected,” said Madden.  “Columbia is a city so rich in writers, I’m also very humbled.” He is looking forward to using this position to promote poetry and the literary arts in the area.  “I want to be a champion for poetry, language, and the arts, and I want to use poetry to document the life and culture of the city.”

Dr. Madden is excited about the possibilities of community work and hopes to work with local schools, libraries, and writing groups. He particularly hopes to develop forums for youth and student voices, and he’s planning a project on walls and windows that would highlight the work of community writers in public spaces.

One Columbia will provide financial support for the Poet Laureate to conduct activities that support the organization’s mission to promote and strengthen the arts in Columbia.

“It’s a privilege to be able work with Ed,” Lee Snelgrove, Executive Director of One Columbia for Arts and History states. “He has the skills and ambition to craft the position of poet laureate into something very special that will bring even more recognition to the City for it’s deep pool of artistic talent and strong support for the arts.”

Dr. Madden was selected to serve in this role by a selection committee representing the literary community, city government and academia. The members of this committee were: Nikky Finney, winner of the 2011 National Book Award for poetry; Tony Tallent, Director of Literacy and Learning at the Richland Library and Board Chair of One Columbia; Councilman Moe Baddourah; Michael Wukela representing the office of Mayor Benjamin; Jonathan Haupt, Director of the University of South Carolina Press and One Columbia board member; Sara June Goldstein, Senior Coordinator for Statewide Partnerships with the SC Arts Commission; Cynthia Boiter, co-founder of Muddy Ford Press and editor of Jasper Magazine; and Alejandro García-Lemos, a Columbia artist and founder of Palmetto Luna.

"The choice of Ed Madden, as Columbia's first poet laureate, is a lovely luminous moment for our city and state,” says Nikky Finney. “Poetry has the grace and power to both inspire and guide. The city of Columbia and the state of South Carolina need more poetry in its heart and soul. Ed is absolutely the one to help direct it there and there.”

An official presentation will take place on January 15, 2015 between 6-8pm at the Seibels House (1601 Richland Street). The event will also feature the official launch of Columbia’s One Book, One Community 2015 selection of On Agate Hill by Lee Smith and will be hosted by Jasper Magazine, who will be celebrating the release of their January issue and Historic Columbia who will feature the series of events commemorating the 150th anniversary of the burning of Columbia. The event is open to the public.

God, Gays, and Notre Dame - a guest blog by Sheryl McAlister

Thomas said to himself: “I always wished I could be loved like that. Cosmically. Painfully, to excess. Until the day he died, (W.H.) Auden struggled to love himself. Struggled to reconcile his love of men with his devotion to God. Perhaps the only time the two ever met in harmony were in his poems.

“Maybe the act of writing was like – like an act of blood-letting. What a way to live, your heart pressed like a flaking flower between the pages, waiting for someone to translate its beats, smile down at it instead of frown, cry for it instead of against it. What a sad existence; but what exquisite passion…”

(From “Beneath My Skin,” By Zachary Wendeln.)

~~~~

Opening night for “Beneath My Skin,” written by young playwright Zachary Wendeln, is October 2, 2014, in South Bend, Indiana. Thomas is the leading character. Wendeln’s work was selected as the premiere show in the University of Notre Dame’s Fall Theatre Festival, as part of its main stage theatre series. An original student production, “Beneath My Skin” explores themes of love, loss, pain, secrecy and shame through 42 years of a man’s life as he comes to terms with his own sexuality.

The work is particularly poignant in that the story is told through the eyes of both the troubled Thomas as well as Thomas’ daughter, who finds her father’s journals and seeks to understand his pain. The thematic exploration suggests a maturity beyond Wendeln’s 21 years.

San Francisco and New York City provide the backdrop for the story which spans more than two decades and focuses on the complex, secret lives of several men during critical periods of the gay revolution. Even the music – Billie Holiday to Joan Jett — takes you back.

“The ‘60s and the ‘80s were two turning points of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) history,” Wendeln says, referring to both the Stonewall Riots in 1969 and the AIDS crisis, which began in the early ‘80s. “I wanted to look at the attitudes and how they’ve evolved and shifted,” he says. “And how they’ve influenced where we are today as a society.”

Some have called the gay rights movement the last frontier of the civil rights movement. Whether that’s true or not remains to be seen. Today’s groundswell of support for marriage equality across the country represents yet another significant push toward full equality in this country.

This young man from the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, set out on a journey of his own when he started this work. And what he found, he says, as he “researched the tumultuous timeline in LGBT history during the ‘60s, ‘80s and ‘90s, was a lot more hope than I expected to find.”

Oh, the idealism of youth. Zach’s statement seemed to be the one moment where any hint of naiveté showed itself. Yes, there were those who came before, who were young once and full of passion and promise. And they fought the good fight until the next generation took its turn.

“I expected to find that queer culture and queer society wouldn’t have been as alive back then,” Wendeln says. “What I found was that people were trying to get their voices heard. And I wanted to take a look at the juxtaposition between the mainstream idea of being gay versus what it meant to be gay back then.”

Wendeln must have been born an old soul, fascinated by the way things used to be. Not because he wanted to go back there but because he had a deep appreciation for what came before him. When I met him in 2008, he was 16 years old. Or 15, I can’t remember exactly. I was crazy about him from the start.

I remember he was writing a screenplay on a 1926 Underwood typewriter. “I wrote all my assignments on that typewriter,” he says.

He had an easy way about him. Smart. Happy. Well-adjusted. The only son of parents who were fortunate enough to be able to introduce him to incredible life experiences and smart enough to ensure he earned them. Knowing his folks, I’m pretty sure he grew up in a house that treated intelligence and laughter equally.

“My parents didn’t spoil me,” he says by phone from South Bend. “I had to work hard. They taught me not to take gifts for granted, and not to be boastful.”

There is a level of self-awareness about him that surely must set him apart from his peers. Most certainly, from his peer group. For instance, his high school senior essay “The Inhumanism of Robinson Jeffers” was selected by the Robinson Jeffers Tor House Foundation for its permanent research archive. He was writing about Jeffers’ observations of self-centeredness and indifference, and he was doing so from the perspective of a tech-savvy, gadget-happy Generation Y-er.

Not the sort of kid to want or to refurbish an 88-year-old manual typewriter, much less to use one.

One has to wonder where the characteristics of his “Beneath My Skin” characters come from. Thomas seems a lot like Wendeln. A good guy. A good friend. A poetry lover. Loyal. Kind. Serious.

Every two years, the Notre Dame Theatre Department selects one or two original student plays. The students, who have studied under Anne Garcia-Romero, submit one-act plays for consideration. Wendeln’s “Beneath My Skin,” is “a very special play,” says Garcia-Romero, Assistant Professor in the Department of Film, TV and Theatre at Notre Dame. “It’s remarkably honest. I’ve seen its development from the first scene (as an assignment in her class) to the final presentation.”

A committee of three selected the piece. “We were all struck by how well-crafted it was,” she says. “It was poetic and moving. And it addressed a very important issue of our time. It was completely compelling.”

A line in the University of Notre Dame’s mission statement reads: “…God’s grace prompts human activity to assist the world in creating justice grounded in love.”

In a world constantly evolving and challenging those of us in it to make choices that could set or alter our life’s path, the selection of “Beneath My Skin” — as well as another gay-themed play “Out of Orbit” — as student productions is a courageous move. The spotlight will shine on this bastion of Catholicism. And it will be judged – rightly or wrongly. But this professor and her colleagues seek to ensure a safe zone for their students to create. And they do not waver in that commitment.

“Our departments and our Dean are all advocates for academic freedom,” Garcia-Romero continues. “These plays fall into that with themes of equality and discrimination. With struggles of coming out and who you love.

“Our department is a safe place for students to work and learn,” she says. “We protect them – above and beyond the themes of the plays. They can develop in a safe space.”

Garcia-Romero touts the University for sanctioning Prism ND , the school’s first official organization for LGBTQ students and their allies. “This is a major step,” she says. “People have been working for decades to make this happen.”

So when the curtain rises for the first time on “Beneath My Skin” this gifted young playwright won’t be concerned with public policy or social justice. He’s simply earned the right to be there … and learn.

“For a playwright, the finished product is more like a workshop production,” Wendeln says, explaining the difference between a full production and one that allows the writer to evolve with the process. “This is a learning process,” he says. “There will be minimal costumes. I will get to play a hand in auditions and casting.

“I will consult with the Director and Producer,” he continues. “The process allows the writer to write and edit new material with the feedback we receive. (The performance) is not about getting to the end. The hope is that you learn the full process.”

The play opens Thursday, October 2, and runs through Sunday October 12. The double billing includes “Out of Orbit.” For more information, check out http://performingarts.nd.edu/calendar/

Wendeln is a senior this year with a double major in English & Film, Theatre and Television. He has made Dean’s List for the Irish all five terms. He is active in campus theatre and opera groups and will direct the musical “Into the Woods,” as well as another serious play “Loyal Daughters and Sons,” vignettes regarding sexual abuse.

“Zach is a remarkably talented artist with wonderful potential in the creative arts,” Garcia-Romero says.

Wendeln grew up near Cleveland, a town known lately for welcoming LeBron James home and recruiting Johnny Manziel. Neither fact is significant to this young man. In all likelihood, after college, he will never go back there. Giving a grateful nod to the local playhouse in Aurora, Ohio, his post-graduation days will likely take him to Chicago or across the pond to London’s West End.

He spent last fall in the UK, and it is there that he feels the most at home. “Ideally, that’s where I want to end up,” he says. “There are more opportunities – the indie theatre scene for young and upcoming artists. There’s just something I love about London.”

On track to graduate in the spring of 2015, his resume reads like a theatre veteran’s and includes young writer’s awards from the University of Iowa and talent search programs from Northwestern. The list of accolades is long. The future is bright.

“Theatre is what I want to do with my life,” he says. “For a while, I was on a different track, but after my experience in London, I want to be in the theatre – writing, directing and acting.”

His game plan is anyone’s guess, but he says he’s burned out academically. “I don’t have a plan after graduation, and it’s terrifying,” he says. “For the first time I haven’t known what’s next. There was middle school, then high school and then university. This is the first time it’s felt like a transition in my life.”

Whether he ends up in Chicago, London or New York’s Broadway … I’d bet the farm we’ve not heard the last of him.

Copyright 2014 Sheryl McAlister - reprinted from Old Broad, New Trix by Sheryl McAlister

Sheryl McAlister is a writer and PR consultant. She was Senior Vice President and Corporate Public Relations Executive for Bank of America. And she is a former sports writer and editor.  She writes personal essays for her blog Old Broad & New Trix: Musings of a 50-something in a digital world. http://oldbroadnewtrix.com/

Sheryl McAlister

 

Live Music Review: Jack White @ The Township Auditorium

  Photo by David James Swason

It didn’t feel like a Wednesday night in Columbia.

The presence of rock superstar Jack White alone was enough to make things feel unusual, but you also had excellent competing shows at the Music Farm Columbia, Tin Roof, Foxfield Bar & Grille, and New Brookland Tavern. An embarrassment of riches for what is ordinarily considered an off music night in this town.

Alas, I was one of a few thousand who packed the sold-out Township Auditorium for a show that was practically championed as the show of the year before it even happened. Such is White’s reputation as a live performer, as well as his stature in the rock world.

Opener Olivia Jean kicked things off with a set that seemed straight out of the headliner’s playbook, blending a bit of high country twang and rock and roll boogie into a garage band setting. And while her more-than-capable backing band followed her down every turn, a muddled sound mix left most of the words lost in the shuffle for an audience unfamiliar with her material. Given that her new LP is due out on White’s Third Man Records soon, I might look back more kindly on this set in retrospect when I have a stronger sense of the songs. As it is, though, it felt like a band gliding on the personality and character of its frontwoman, and also like a collection of musicians who would make a damn fine Jack White cover band.

White of course is known for his love of quirks, antics, and gimmicks as much as he is for blazing hot garage-blues guitar work and Zeppelin-esque grooves. The show’s set made much of a specially-assembled blue curtain, old school television, and other vintage equipment set center stage. The color blue and the number three were the main motifs (White’s in his “blue” stage now, and the number is likely a reference to his record label), but mostly the stage menagerie blended into the background.

Because Jack White takes this s*** seriously. Backed by a five piece band hell bent on following their notoriously impulsive leader through the paces, White proved his live wire reputation by sliding in and out of songs in chaotic bursts of frenzied guitar work and only occasionally signaling to his band what he was doing. As has been his pattern of late, the show mixed songs from his two solo efforts with a fair smattering of White Stripes tunes, the odd cover or two, and some choice cuts from his work in The Raconteurs and Dead Weather, but it rarely seemed to matter to the audience, who were eating out of the palm of his hand.

Photo by David James Swason

While I can’t say I was entranced as the rest of the crowd—the quality of White’s singing in particular, which is easily the weakest of his considerable skills, varied over the course of the evening, and, as with the Stripes, the energy and bluster of the sound occasionally belied less-than-engaging material—it’s undeniable how spellbinding White is as a performer. Personal highlights included his blistering transformation of the Stripes tune “Little Room” into rock therapy writ large, the masterful rendition of Dick Dale’s “Misirlou,” and the faithful, elegantly wrought take on the acoustic “You’ve Got Her in Your Pocket.”

White’s band is also part of what makes these shows so good too—drummer Daru Jones, positioned stage right, embraced the physicality of Meg White’s drumming and demonstrated flagless energy, showmanship, and just the right level of chops for White’s material, and the interplay between Fats Kaplin on violin and Lillie Mae Rische on fiddle was as surprising as it was spectacular. And the entire ensemble was adept at capturing the luxurious interplay found on White’s solo efforts—opener “High Ball Stepper” and “Three Women” off Lazaretto as well as Blunderbuss’s “Missing Pieces”  all showcased the dynamic chemistry of the group.

Fitting for a rock show of such proportions, most audience members left the show with their ears ringing and their throats sore, as White took arguably his two biggest hits—“Steady As She Goes” and “Seven Nation Army”—out for the full rock star spin, coaxing the audience to sing along and building each to a fury that transcended their recorded incarnations.

As I was leaving the auditorium, basking in the warm ear-ringing of rock and roll excess, I heard a number of still-dumbstruck audience members still sing-shouting the riff from “Army.” It seemed appropriate, as White’s signature tune has become nothing more than a clarion call for the survival of rock and roll.

Last night, at least, that call was answered.

 

IndieGoGo Fundraising Campaign for Local Filmmaking Camp S.M.I.S.T.

10444733_10154261764490611_4987253734215984714_n Are you a big fan of the Indie Grits Film Festival? What about Girls Rock Columbia? Man, wouldn't it be great if somebody combined those two ideas??

As it turns out, local filmmaker O.K. Keyes has. She is currently working to raise funds for SMIST (Space. Movement. Image. Sound. Time.), a self-proclaimed "workshop-in-the-woods for women DIY filmmakers." Based on the premise that most DIY film shoots require Jill-of-all-trades rather than dedicated experts, the camp offers a vast crash-course in the basics of filmmaking as well as instruction on the ethos of independent and experimental filmmaking. With guest speakers, nightly screenings, and a daily morning "Meditation in Maya [Deren]," this is an ambitious, and awesome, undertaking worthy of your support if you care about feminism, local filmmaking, or just the young women in your community. Keyes is a top-notch filmmaker herself (she was a co-winner of last year's 2nd Act Film Festival), and she's already put a lot of sweat (and financial) equity into making this camp--something that she likely would have loved as a young women herself--a reality.

Check out the IndieGoGo video and fundraising page here. The campaign runs through July 24, 2014.

http://vimeo.com/99601028

 

In Jasper Vol. 3, No. 4: Record Reviews - The Mobros' Walking With a Different Stride

"Like so many other things worth writing about, I first heard about the Mobros in a bar. After consuming many beers, an older gentleman started telling me about this two-piece blues band he had seen the previous weekend. Because Americans receive two-piece blues bands with the regularity of a utility bill, I listened to him rave about his latest discovery with a mild air of cynicism that I have since come to regret. He told me that they were too young to be as good as they were, and that they were one of the tightest local acts he'd ever seen. As it turned out, he was pretty much dead-on.

In the years since they've appeared, the Mobros have become one of the most talked about bands not just in the state, but in the entire Southeast. Columbia music veterans speak of them with the sort of pride and amazement usually reserved for parents whose teenager has been allowed to skip the tenth grade. It's for this reason that the Mobros' first proper release, Walking with a Different Stride, has been so hotly anticipated.

And the album is good--there's no doubt about it. All of the brothers' strengths are on full display. Kelly Morris has a rich, soulful voice that would be unusual even for an older and world-wearier man, while drummer Patrick Morris deftly melds creativity with discipline and plays in perfect syncopation with his brother's galloping guitar lines. For added flavor, breezy harmonies are spread throughout the album with effective economy. As recorded proof of the duo’s talent as musicians and songwriters, Different Stride is a success; but it lacks a certain energy that has always been integral to the band's appeal.

The Mobros aren't exactly at fault. This is the sort of problem you run into when a live band this good tries to translate its stage energy into another form altogether. Some bands do it with ease while for others it can be like gluing a lightning bolt to the sky. But the problem really has less to do with the artist and more to do with the way people consume the music in their own community. A big-time national touring band may only come around once or twice a year, so the record is really the best you can do while you wait to see them again. When an act as undeniably talented as The Mobros is something local, and it's not that difficult to see in person, an album will always feel second best. But really, it's not unthinkable that the Mobros could become a national touring band someday soon, and when that happens, Walking with a Different Stride might benefit from reappraisal." – Michael Spawn

For more record reviews, click through the image below:

Record Review Section p1

In Jasper Vol. 3, No. 3: Young Bands on the Brink -- Stagbriar

"There are certain assumptions you are going to make about a band that calls its first album Quasi-Hymns, Murder-Ballads, and Tales of How the Hero Died, but perhaps the most accurate one for Stagbriar, an indie folk-rock band led by brother-and-sister duo Alex and Emily McCollum, is that they are nothing if not artistically ambitious. The album opens with, true to its title, a murder ballad of sorts. But, aside from that, it is probably not what you are expecting. ..." -Kyle Petersen For the full story and photos, check out the magazine starting on page 15 below:

In Jasper Vol. 3, No. 4: Indie Grits - Cue Seth Gadsden

"The Indie Grits Film Festival returns for its eighth session this April 11th through the 20th in Columbia. Hosted by the Nickelodeon Theater, South Carolina's oldest art house cinema, what started as an intimate local independent film festival has skyrocketed to become one of what MovieMaker magazine has named one of the "Top 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World." Over the past seven years Indie Grits has established itself as the Southeast's premier film and culture festival by offering attendees a cross section of do-it-yourself media makers as well as annually expanding the festival to include elements of performance art, food, and music. ..." - Wade Sellers For the full story, check out page 38 of the magazine below:

In Jasper No. 3. Vol. 3: 2014 Masters of Art--Lee Sipe, Phillip Mullen, Tyrone Jeter, and Stephen Chesley

"There are artists in any community who set the standards. Artists whose work others admire, study, and learn from. Their bodies of work demonstrate not only the artist's professional evolution but her or his process of problem solving--the artist's journey from questioning and exploration to a place of accomplishment, control, confidence, and finesse. Studying these artists' work is like reading a book you can't put down or traveling to a place you'll never forget. There is so much there to take in. So much to take away. We call these artists Masters. ..." For more, including large-scale photos of these artists' work, start on page 46 of the magazine:

In Jasper No. 3, Vol. 3: Feature - Filmmaker Steve Daniels

"The Old Columbia Speedway sits off Highway 321 in Cayce, South Carolina. Overgrown brush and trees hide the old asphalt track from plain view. A disjointed array of old Big Wheels and tricycles are strewn throughout the brush. They are painted and rigged to look like the bastard plastic and metal children of post apocalyptic automobiles. Next to the three wheeled destruction machines are a mish-mash of weapons, including golf balls with nails glued to them to look like road spikes, machetes, and axes. An old suitcase sits open on the ground, holding a variety of Super 8mm film cameras. To the right, a variety of snacks, crackers, and candles are spread on top of a fold-out table. A cooler sits open, full of ice,  bottled water, and sugar free Red Bulls. A low rising cement wall with newly painted black and white racing checkers divides the brush from the old asphalt track. Filmmaker Steve Daniels stands on the track, holding one of the cameras. He turns, then walks back towards the makeshift camp of his new film, M is for Marauder. ..." - Wade Sellers For the full story, check it out here:

In Jasper Vol. 3, No. 3: Record Review - The Restoration's New South Blues EP

new south blues cover  

"The title track to The Restoration new EP is a song that has been featured in their set list for a year or two now, and it’s one of their best. A jaunty, bluesy melody is tied to lead songwriter Daniel Machado’s scathing political critique of the “new South” as he connects the dots between the South of the day and the one he castigates in his more historically-oriented fare.  It’s full of jaw-droppingly good one liners (“‘You lie!,’ Boeing Jets / Don’t tread on Neo-Confederates” and “Literary legacy / Bob Jones University” are two of my favorites) as he refers to the South as “the most trusted brand” for ignorance and bigotry. In short, it’s a stunner, and it also marks the evolution of Machado as a singer, as he’s gotten more surly and irascible since some of the more romantic material on Constance. That voice is evident on his other, more tossed-off efforts here, the blues jam “Keep On Keepin’ On” and the cutting acoustic number “Nobody Cares Who You Are.”

The EP is rounded out by a richly arranged effort by bassist Adam Corbett, “Possible Country,” which narrates a rather odd eavesdropping experience in a bathroom stall, and a 12 minute ambient/field recording expedition called “Sketches of the State Fair” which has some percussion and free jazz-style fingerpicking overdubbed onto the background sounds of the fair. It’s an interesting piece that unfortunately marks the dividing line between the more serious efforts here (the title track and “Possible Country”) from the odds and sods feel of the other numbers. Still, given the overwhelming concepts that typically accompany a Restoration record, New South Blues also has the virtue of presenting the group as “just” a rock band, and a pretty damn good one at that." - Kyle Petersen

For more record reviews, check out pages 14-15 of the magazine here:

 

In Jasper Vol. 3, No. 3: Record Review – Youth Model's All New Scars LP

YM Cover Art "This pop-rock turn from longtime drummer Matt Holmes comes across as an impressive studio collaboration, with Holmes taking songwriting and composition duties but allowing Archer Avenue producer Kenny McWilliams to track bass, guitars, keys, and backing vocals to elegantly flesh out the drummer’s originals. The end result is an album that escapes feeling too generic through the fact that Holmes is an able songwriting craftsmen and an understated-yet-engaging vocalist who gets McWilliams’ hyper-polished treatment. And while Holmes borrows from a host of influences, from The Black Keys and OK Go to The Killers and Kings of Leon, he tends to be a synthesizer rather than imitator, lending Youth Model a pleasant (and surprising) sense of authenticity rather than a crass bid for mainstream success." - Kyle Petersen

For more record reviews, check out pages 14-15 of the magazine here:

In Jasper Vol. 3, No. 3: Movies And Cotton--And Movies About Cotton

"During production of her 2004 experimental, non-fiction film Cabin Field, independent filmmaker Laura Kissel became interested in the life cycle of the cotton plant. Cabin Field focused on a mile-long stretch of agricultural land in Crisp County, Georgia, and, during production, Kissel visited a local cotton gin. In the course of that visit a local farmer told her that all of the cotton being processed at the gin was being sent to China. Witnessing the small town of 500 and the Hispanic workers who labored at the gins, along with their dependence on China's need for cotton is what set in motion the concept for Kissel's feature documentary Cotton Road Movie. ..." For more, read the article on page 6 here: