Fall Lines 2016 Award Winners Announced (& Photos!)

Fall Lines  

Congratulations to Selected Contributors to

Fall Lines - a literary convergence, Volume III

and Prize Winners

Jasper assistant editor Kyle Petersen with Claire Kemp winner of the Broad River Prize for Prose

Claire Kemp - Winner of the Broad River Prize for Prose

Claire Kemp's short fiction, The Doll Maker, was selected from finalists by award winning, Columbia-based author Julia Elliott.

Jasper literary arts editor Ed Madden is shown awarding the Saluda River Prize for Poetry to Kathleen Nalley

Kathleen Nalley - Winner of the Saluda River Prize for Poetry

Kathleen Nalley's poem, The last man on the moon, was selected from finalists by South Carolina Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth.

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Contributors' work selected or invited from more than 300 entries include:

Leah Angstman

Al Black

Julie E. Bloemeke

Laurel Blossom

Davi Travis Bland

Mark Burns

Jonathan Butler

Scott Chalupa

Tim Conroy

Ron Cooper

Pam Durban

Phillip Gardner

Terrance Hayes

Claire Kemp

Michael Miller

Tamara Miles

Patricia Moore-Pastides

Kathleen Nalley

Matthew O'Leary

Frances Pearce

Bo Petersen

Andrew Plant

Ron Rash

Mark Rodehorst

Eileen Scharenbroch

Maggie Schein

Randy Spencer

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Additional photos:

Fall lines 16 flowers

Bo Petersen

Eileen Scharenbroch

Julie Bloemeke

Jonathan Butler

Mark Rodehorst

Matthew O'Leary

Michael Miller

Scott Chalupa

Tim Conroy

Travis Bland

Fall Lines 16

 

Sincerest appreciation to Tapp’s Arts Center, Jonathan & Lorene Haupt, Sara June Goldstein, Bert Easter, One Columbia for Arts & History, Richland Library, Friends of Richland Library, South Carolina Academy of Authors, University of South Carolina Press, Muddy Ford Press, Columbia Museum of Art, SC Philharmonic, Rosewood Art & Music Festival, Deckle Edge Literary Festival,Lee Snelgrove, Annie Boiter-Jolley

photos by Bob Jolley & Julie Bloemeke

Fall Lines Program Announced for Thursday, July 28th at Tapp's

Fall Lines

Thursday, July 28th, 2016 ~ 7 – 9 pm

Tapp’s Arts Center ~ Columbia, SC

 

7 – 8

Reception

 

8 – 9

Welcome & Recognition of Honored Guests – Cindi Boiter

Awarding of Prizes – Ed Madden & Kyle Petersen

Readings

Scott Chalupa

Claire Kemp

Kathleen Nalley

Travis Bland

Matthew O’Leary

Eileen Scharenbroch

Bo Petersen

Mark Rodehorst

Tim Conroy

Julie Bloemeke

Mike Miller

Jonathan Butler

 

Sincerest appreciation to Tapp’s Arts Center, Jonathan & Lorene Haupt, Sara June Goldstein, Bert Easter, One Columbia for Arts & History, Richland Library, Friends of Richland Library, South Carolina Academy of Authors, University of South Carolina Press, Muddy Ford Press, Columbia Museum of Art, SC Philharmonic, Rosewood Art & Music Festival, Deckle Edge Literary Festival

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Fall Lines – a literary convergence launches third issue with a reception and reading at Tapp’s Arts Center July 28th

Fall Lines  

 

The Columbia Fall Line is a natural junction, along which the Congaree River falls and rapids form, running parallel to the east coast of the country between the resilient rocks of the Appalachians and the softer, more gentle coastal plain. 


 

Jasper Magazine, in partnership with Richland Library, USC Press, One Columbia, Muddy Ford Press, and The Jasper Project will release the third annual issue of Fall Lines – a literary convergence on Thursday, July 28th from 7 – 9 pm at a free reception at Tapp’s Arts Center. An annual literary journal based in Columbia, SC, Fall Lines was conceived as a mechanism for highlighting Columbia as the literary arts capitol of South Carolina.

A panel of judges selected 30 pieces of poetry and prose, from hundreds of international submissions, for publication in Fall Lines alongside invited pieces from Ron Rash, Terrance Hayes, Pam Durban, Laurel Blossom, and Patricia Moore-Pastides. Two prizes for the literary arts, sponsored by Friends of the Richland Library, will also be awarded including the Saluda River Prize for Poetry to Kathleen Nalley for her poem, “The Last Man on the Moon,” and the Broad River Prize for Prose, awarded to Claire Kemp for her short fiction, “The Dollmaker.”  Adjudicators included SC poet laureate Marjory Wentworth and award-winning author Julia Elliott. In addition, Fall Lines will also publish the winner of the 2016 South Carolina Academy of Authors Coker Fiction Fellowship, “I Can’t Remember What I Was Trying to Forget,” by Phillip Gardner.

The awards ceremony and reception will also feature readings by selected authors whose work is published in this issue of Fall Lines: Scott Chalupa, David Travis Bland, Matthew O’Leary, Mike Miller, Claire Kemp, Kathleen Nalley. Tim Conroy, Julie Bloemeke, Eileen Scharenbroch, Jonathan Butler, and Mark Rodehorst.

The editors of Fall Lines, Cindi Boiter, Ed Madden, and Kyle Petersen, are deeply appreciative of this year’s sponsors including Jonathan and Lorene Haupt, Sara June Goldstein, Richland Library, One Columbia for Arts and History, Muddy Ford Press, Columbia Museum of Art, the SC Philharmonic Orchestra, Rosewood Art and Music Festival, Deckle Edge Literary Festival 2017, and The Whig.

For more information please contact Cindi Boiter at cindiboiter@gmail.com.

BOOK REVIEW: CHUCK KLOSTERMAN'S BUT WHAT IF WERE WRONG? BY OLIVIA MORRIS (with a response from Kyle Petersen)  

But What if we're wrong "I've spent most of my life being wrong," states Chuck Klosterman in the opening sentence of his newly released book, But What If We're Wrong? (Blue Rider Press, 2016.)  From this initial confession, Klosterman builds his model of universal wrongness, stating that many theories held to be objectively true will inevitably be deconstructed in the future.  He deals with the durability of the theory of gravity, the importance of the U.S. Constitution, and predicts a morphing in the literary canon.  He supports his claims by including brief interviews with experts in these various fields, and even when they disagree with him, he continues to develop his theories.

The most striking aspect of this book is Klosterman's shamelessly egocentric assumptions.  Klosterman makes a series of bold claims about the future of literary greatness predicated on one single idea: that the person who will define our generation is currently unheard of.  This obscurity won't be in the sense that we define Kafka as "obscure."  Kafka was published and in a circle of writers and intellects.  But rather, Klosterman suggests that this person will be entirely unread in their lifetime.  In theory, this person is holed up in their room right now, shoving their work in a padlocked trunk.  Greatness will be defined by some ramblings on privacy, rotting away on the Deep Web, which archivists will comb through like archeologists to find a hidden piece of the 21st century.

While these ideas are intriguing, they rely on a series of assumptions about the future that Klosterman himself admits are impossible to predict.  Nonetheless, he fixates on the idea that future greatness will be attributed to someone unknown, even providing a list as to what they may write about.  Klosterman puts blind faith in every baseless conviction, coming to this conclusion via internal logic, despite most of history and experts advising otherwise.

Klosterman is dealing in pop philosophy.  He claims that someone unknown will rise to prominence because the future will want fresh perspectives.  Not only do they want a different perspective, but also one that has been entirely unheard of.  Because with the creation of the internet, most perspectives have been heard, and therefore the future will search for increasingly obscure writing.  Hence the Deep Web.  As evidence, Klosterman references Junot Diaz's idea that the literary canon is inevitably going to become more diverse.  Almost all well-read people agree with that.  This trend has already begun.  But from that idea, Klosterman assumes that the canon will rapidly become so diverse that the only new wealth of information will come from someone entirely unread.  While it is an intriguing concept, it is hyperbolized to the point of absurdism.

In the second half of the book, Klosterman deals with ideas such as "what if gravity isn't real?" and "what if democracy isn't so great?"  But these are not new ideas.  People have already philosophized, researched, and put into practice these theories.  On the flip side, the people who don't know these ideas are not given sufficient evidence to ever get a comprehensive understanding of them. The entire book feels like a summary of an offhanded remark Malcolm Gladwell made about the state of the world.

What If We're Wrong? still seems like it will culminate at the end; We feel like Klosterman will explain why he has chosen to predict the future of the literary canon, rock 'n' roll, the US Constitution, and the concept of gravity.  Instead, he just rambles about a series of things that he finds interesting, with little to no cohesiveness.  But he vehemently claims at the beginning of the book that it isn't a collection of essays.  He means to create an image of the future and a paradigm for examining the present.  But most of his arguments are predicated on platitudes, making the entire book feel underdeveloped, unsubstantiated, and unoriginal.

Response from Kyle Petersen, Assistant Editor of Jasper and Frequent Cultural Apologist:

I get your frustration, Olivia, and it seems reminiscent of a lot of the criticism of Klosterman's writing for his NYT column The Ethicist: that he is self-serving, represents other people's ideas incorrectly or superficially, and spirals around a bit in his own meta-reflections rather than advancing a cogent argument.

That being said, your point about "pop philosophy" is well-taken and seems to excuse the book in some sense. Since the concept of the book is patently absurd and admittedly impossible to pull off, and that Klosterman admits all of that right from the get-go, makes this a bit of self-aware sophistry that finds some amusement and stimulation in its own intellectual cul-de-sacs. Klosterman makes the kind of (relatively) astute points about literature, music, and television that he's known for while also providing plenty of the self-ingratiating humor that marks his signature style. He's a bit weaker on the science and politics ends of things, but it also feels like a nice way to illustrate how arguments about culture are always kind of arguments about how we understand the larger world as well. If the ride gets bumpy and digressive in parts, well, he warned us about that too.

There's a moment near the end of the book, in between talk of baseball statistics and octopi, where he gets to the nut of the rationale behind the book: "There is not, in a material sense, any benefit to being right about a future you will not experience. But there are intrinsic benefits to constantly probing the possibility that our assumptions about the future might be wrong: humility and wonder. It's good to view reality as beyond our understanding, because it is. And it's exciting to imagine the prospect of a reality that cannot be imagined, because that's as close to pansophical omniscience as we will ever come."

Whether or not the arguments in this book are uniformly solid (we can probably all agree they are not), the value in spending a few hours going through Klosterman's experience feels edifying, for precisely the reasons he suggests.

Announcing the 2015 Jasper Artists of the Year

It was a beautiful night of revisiting the best of the Italian Renaissance at the Big Apple last night when we announced and celebrated the 2015 Jasper Artists of the Year. Without further ado, the winners are: Martha Brim pictured with Jasper Contributing Dance Editor Bonnie Boiter-Jolley

MARTHA BRIM ~ 2015 JAY IN DANCE

Julia Elliott with Jasper Literary Arts Editor Ed Madden

JULIA ELLIOTT ~ 2015 JAY IN LITERARY ARTS

Craig Butterfield pictured with Jasper Music Editor Michael Spawn

CRAIG BUTTERFIELD ~ 2015 JAY IN MUSIC

Dewey Scott-Wiley pictured with Jasper Assistant Editor Kyle Petersen

DEWEY SCOTT-WILEY ~ 2015 JAY IN THEATRE

Kimi Maeda pictured with Jasper Editor Cindi Boiter

KIMI MAEDA ~ 2015 JAY IN VISUAL ARTS

 

Congratulations to all the JAY Winners and Finalists!

Thanks to Kristine Hartvigsen for photography, Mouse House for framing, Singing Fox for event planning, and Coal Powered Filmworks for Sponsorship. Special thanks to the shared talents of Duo Cortado, Cathering Hunsinger, the Trustus Apprentices, Chris Carney, and Jasper's Wet Ink spoken word poetry collective.

"It comes down, quite simply, to scale." - Kyle Petersen Endorses Andy Smith

Kyle Petersen There are a lot of reason I, along with so many others, support Andy Smith for City Council.

There’s the surface level stuff—he’s a progressive committed to LGBT and racial equality, a firm supporter and leader of our city’s sense of community and cultural growth, and a savvy administrator who has proven his ability to bring both imagination and expertise to the management of one of our city’s largest and most prominent non-profit arts organizations.

If we dig a little deeper, I might point to his keen awareness of how interconnected the arts are with not just the cultural but economic growth of a city, or that he has an impressive record of envisioning what kind of city he wants to live in and then setting about actually creating that city through his leadership of the Nickelodeon Theatre and Indie Grits.  That he’s proven to be inquisitive and engaged with important conversations about city planning and urban development as he’s continued that work, and that he brings a wealth of experience to the table through his experience with national groups like the Ford Foundation and Nord Family Foundation and serving on boards like the national Art House Convergence and National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture (NAMAC).

And all of that is important—values, vision, and experience. Who are you? What do you specifically plan to do? And how able are you to do it? That’s essentially the three questions of any political campaign. Or any other job interview for that matter.

However, Smith’s opponent in the November 17th run-off has his own qualifications, including a similar set of values, a long history with working in (and leading) municipal governments, and his own clear vision of the kind of role he would take up on the council. So why do I so ardently believe Smith is the superior choice?

It comes down, quite simply, to scale. Andy’s campaign slogan is “Think Big,” a phrase which strikes at the heart of his appeal. He believes, fundamentally, in creating grand, imaginative concepts and then executing them to the best of your ability. The Nick and Indie Grits are prime examples of this, of course. Before Andy, the former was a tiny niche art house theatre and the latter didn’t exist at all. Now, The Nick has grown by leaps and bounds as it has launched new education initiatives and programming ventures while reimagining the role of a community cinema in the 21st century. With Indie Grits, he began a quirky film festival focused on DIY filmmaking in the Southeast and then grew it into a nationally recognized multi-disciplinary arts event that draw submissions from across the country. That both also make huge economic impacts and are key parts of the Main Street revitalization just sweetens the pot.

I want to stress, though, that what’s key here is the way Smith both dreams big and in imaginative ways, and then makes things happen, not just his arts organization prowess. That’s an ability that will cut across all of the issues our city faces, from economic growth to quality of life to maintaining basic services. Andy is not going to simply settle for the status quo, for what’s minimally adequate, or for whatever we’ve done in the past. He’s going to ask ‘what’s the best version of this we can imagine?’ That’s the kind of vision and attitude that I want, and that we need collectively as a community, on City Council.

I implore you, registered voters of Columbia, to go out and vote not just to get a smart, forward-thinking candidate like Andy Smith elected. Go out and vote for the idea that truly is a “best future” for Columbia out there.

Kyle Petersen is Assistant  Editor of Jasper Magazine

 

Jasper Goes to Hopscotch, 2015 Edition

Photo by Thomas Hammond Photography, all rights reserved. In some ways, returning to Raleigh for Hopscotch 2015 felt like catching up with an old friend. This was the festival’s sixth year, and Jasper’s fourth year attending, so much of what the astoundingly dynamic and eclectic festival offered felt comforting, familiar. The convergence of noise artists and rappers, EDM ravers and folkies, metalheads and indie rock tastemakers is what makes this festival tick, with the diversity of its booking and venues locations (ranging from the seedy dive of Slim’s to the posh intimacy of Fletcher Opera House to the, well, festival-esque City Plaza) giving it the kind of distinct character and vibe such undertakings count on.

Photo by Thomas Hammond Photography, all rights reserved.

While talking about the event from year to year is always going to center on a few things focused primarily on the music itself. How did the headliners fare? Godspeed You! Black Emperor delivered a predictably swollen, cinematic head trip of a set that was a welcome counterpart to the opening night’s rain; TV on the Radio proved to be a phenomenal live band adept at bringing art rock to the masses; and Dwight Yoakam was a straight shooter who lets his songs bring the heat.

Thomas didn't like Mr. Yoakam's photography policy. Photo by Thomas Hammond Photography, all rights reserved.

Who blew the roofs off? Phil Cook & Friends at Fletcher felt like a celebration of everything that makes Hopscotch great as they played his new solo LP Southland Mission from start to finish (check out the amazing video our photographer Thomas Hammond shot below); Working with a dramatically different sets of tools, Lincoln Theater headliners Battles and Pusha T closed out Friday and Saturday nights respectively by putting on workshops on how to own the stage when compared to just about anybody; and Waxahatchee’s  last minute solo set proved just how entrancing some simple, heartbreaking songs and a voice can be.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uc6hfxGs7wQ&feature=youtu.be

What new discoveries had us buzzing? The haunting collection of traditional folk tunes by Jake Xerxes Fussell’s debut on Paradise of Bachelors is destined to end up on my year-end favorites list, and I’ll eat my shoe if Raleigh’s electro-R&B act Boulevards and/or upcoming rapper Ace Henderson aren’t making waves nationally by the end of 2016.

Mac McCaughan w/ The Flesh Wounds (moonlighting as the Non-Believers), another highlight from this year's festival. Photo by Thomas Hammond Photography, all rights reserved.

But part of what makes Hopscotch great is also what stays mostly the same—the day party traditions that range from the Trekky Records-centered lineups on Saturdays at Pour House to the noisy, avante-garde acts that fill Friday afternoon at King’s, the sprawling outdoor markets and official Hopscotch block parties, and the wonderful vendors and venues in Raleigh that team up to make the festival great from year to year.

Say Brother performing at the outdoor stage at Legends. Photo by Thomas Hammond Photography, all rights reserved.

What made this year especially memorable for South Carolina attendees, and what will hopefully be added to the list of traditions, is the collaboration between Stereofly, SceneSC, and Free Times that led to two day parties on Thursday and Friday that brought the first significant South Carolina presence to the festival since its inception.

While there have been some token inclusions from the Palmetto State in recent years—acts like Shovels & Rope, Say Brother, and Brian Robert’s Company have all been played official sets in the past, and Keath Mead got an early slot at Tir Na Nog this year—the bounty of North Carolina acts and the dearth of folks from our own music community has always given us pause, particularly when those NC acts benefit from national coverage of Hopscotch. This year was a welcome change.

JKutchma. Photo by Thomas Hammond Photography, all rights reserved.

Settling into the cool, dimly lit confines of Deep South on Thursday for an imitate, story-laden set from JKutchma followed by the haunting songs of She Returns from War and the electrifying country-rock of Say Brother at their sloshy best, even with their mid-afternoon start, was a great start to the festival; even better was the sprawling eclecticism of Friday’s day party at Legends Nightclub. Packed to the gills with mostly-SC acts, highlights included a grand opening from Charleston’s The High Divers, a classic rock-minded indie rock act with impeccable harmonies and a debut LP out 10/9, a fiery, mathy set from recent Post-Echo signees Art Contest, who recently moved from Columbia to Athens, GA, and a seasoned performance the Justin Osborne-led alt-country act Susto, which has been touring hard in recent months, including some opening slots for Band of Horses, Iron & Wine, and Moon Taxi. Recent Jasper centerfold Danny Joe Machado’s performance was another standout, provided a fascinating window into how an unfamiliar audience dealt with the acerbic persona The Restoration has created as a solo act.

The High Divers. Photo by Thomas Hammond Photography, all rights reserved.

More than any one performer, though, what struck me the most about these day parties was a sense of pride in South Carolina, as well as a rare sense of home community in a Hopscotch world where Jasper has always felt like an outsider before. Whereas in prior years “hopping” from set to set would be the norm for day parties as much as it is for the evening sets, we were happy to camp out at Legends all day on Friday, content to revel in our hometown riches before taking in the official schedule.

We can’t praise the folks and bands who put this on enough. It can be hard to see or sense forward movement for a scene, but those few hours on Thursday and Friday felt like something.

Photo by Thomas Hammond Photography, all rights reserved.

 

Below are some selected photos from the festival by Thomas Hammond:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashammondphotography/sets/72157659157764610/

Jasper Announces New Music Editor

It was the natural thing to do. Kyle Petersen, having served as music editor of Jasper since its inception, had been so intimately involved in the day-to-day running of the magazine, acting as the editor's sounding board, copy editor, proofreader, and both music and literary guru. When the level of responsibilities grew greater than the editor could continue to juggle it was only natural that Kyle move into the position of assistant editor last spring.

But that left the position of music editor empty.

Not anymore.

Effective with the September/October issue of Jasper, Michael Spawn, handpicked by Kyle Petersen himself, is the new music editor for Jasper Magazine.

Michael Spawn 2

Michael Spawn was born in Johnstown, NY and raised in Simpsonville, SC. He is a contributing writer for Columbia's Free Times and Stereofly, the author of numerous short stories and two novels, and the drummer for Shallow Palace. His favorite dead band is the White Stripes. His favorite living band is pre-Ratitude Weezer. He graduated from USC in 2008 with a B.A. in English and he wants Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now" played at his funeral.

Welcome Michael Spawn!

Jasper Does Spoleto - part 4, Chamber Music & Chinese Opera

16853683562_50c36dce4a_z By: Kyle Petersen

One of the many amazing things about Spoleto is the diversity in its music programming, spanning from its acclaimed chamber music series and contemporary opera to noise-jazz and traditional folk music, with everything in between also being represented. While we’ve already written about the charming performance given by Americana duo Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell early on in the festival, we’d like to talk briefly about some of the more highbrow (and quite excellent) music we’ve also been enjoying here.

Bank of America Chamber Music

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We caught Program IV of this series last Wednesday and could not have been more satisfied with the experience. Programming director and violinist Geoff Nutall is a stylish and witty emcee whose rapport with the audience was worth the ticket price alone. Leading the patrons through the eclectic line-up of compositions with flair and poise, he kept the audience at ease even as the performances themselves set us back.

Alternating between uber-traditional fare (Mozart’s Sonata in G Major, K. 379, Beethoven’s An die ferne Geliebte, op. 98, and Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto no. 2 in F Major, BWV 1047) and more adventurous compositions from Huang Ruo, whose Chinese performance art opera Paradise Interrupted is also featured at the festival, and 20th century Russian composer Alfred Schnittke, the program’s variety and shifts in tone and texture presented a fascinating window into the historical breadth of chamber music as well hinting at all of the possibilities and potential that still exist for the format. Nutall and pianist Pedja Muzijevic opened with the virtuosic flurry of notes required for Mozart sonata, only to be followed up by the unusual instrumentation (violin, cello, voice, djembe, bassoon, pipa) required for Ruo’s “Flow… (I and II),” a folk-indebted piece that showcased the pipa, a traditional Chinese lute that we would later also hear used to great effect in Paradise Interrupted.

Next was the husband-and-wife team of baritone Tyler Duncan and pianist Erika Switzer, who took us through the Beethoven song cycle. The couple gave an assured performance, aided by Nutall’s helpful note that the English translation of the lyrics were printed in the program.

My favorite piece on the program, though, was Schnittke’s austere, enigmatic Hymn II, a piece which saw double bassist Anthony Manzo and cellist Christopher Costanza carefully align the movements of their bows as they produced fragile, ghostly timbres and atonal harmonies that prickled the spine.

The concert closed with an ensemble performance of the popular (and canonical) Brandenberg Concerto, with the slight twist of an E-flat clarinet, played by Todd Palmer, taking place of the traditional piccolo trumpet. The performers gave a lovely rendition of the tune, although audience members are more likely to remember the slapstick improv brought on Nutall and, between movements, oboist Austin Smith, who ostentatiously paused the performance to clean out his instrument.

It’s also worth noting that there was a beautiful moment between movements when a scattering of applause broke out, a bit of a faux paus in classical music performances. Not only did the audience, after some uncertainty, begin clapping along with those that jumped the gun, but they were urged on by Nutall, tradition be damned. It was a giddy feeling, and emphasized the warm balance of world class musicianship and casual relatability that defines the series.

Paradise Interrupted

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Later that day we caught the evening performance of Ruo Huo and Jennifer Wen Ma’s opera. It’s a bit of an abstract, high-concept piece that melds Chinese traditions with Western idioms that takes place in a dreamlike landscape. The music was breathtaking, particularly the gorgeous performances delivered by Qian Yi, the show’s star, and countertenor John Holiday, whose voice continues to haunt me, but it was hard not to get lost in the cerebral excellence of the set design. Many might remember Wen Ma name from her work on the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where she directed and designed the opening and closing ceremonies, and her work here has a similar mesmerizing effect. Using a large white performance space and unorthodox lighting, as well as a host of large props and trap doors, a vividly unreal world emerges and disappears over the course of the opera that has to function and opera differently given the limitations of each venue it’s performed at. It’s hard not to note that this kind of immersive, multidisciplinary approach is actually what’s needed in an art form too often grasping tenuously to its past.

Concert Review: Toro y Moi @ Music Farm Columbia

Photo by Jordan Young If the University of South Carolina marketing department was wise, they would have had a slew of cameras capturing footage of Chaz Bundick (Class of 2009), a.k.a Toro y Moi, taking the Music Farm Columbia stage this past Wednesday.

Not only is Bundick himself one of those irresistible success stories that colleges love to repeat--the beginnings of Toro y Moi were planted during his years enrolled at the school, and he’s skyrocketed in the music world since he graduated and released his debut LP Causers of This in 2010--but there were other reasons to trumpet this moment. After all, the Music Farm sits mere blocks away from campus, and it’s ushered in a wave of concerts over this past year that could sway hip college kids to attend, emphasizing the cosmopolitan nature of Columbia and the opportunities afforded here that, say, that school down the road in the Upstate cannot. Plus, although Bundick now resides in Berkeley, California, he has consistently noted his South Carolina roots, taking local bands on tour with him in the region and helping out in various ways, including offering a tune for a benefit compilation for Fork & Spoon’s Aaron Graves battle with cancer and producing (and releasing on his imprint) singer/songwriter Keath Mead’s debut.

And, if they had had those cameras, they might have noticed that, in the range of colors splashed onto the indeterminate black lines that served as a backdrop, there were briefly moments when garnet appeared, giving the effect of the band playing behind a USC logo.

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All carping aside though, the show was excellent. Keath Mead opened up with his soaring, 70s-inspired melodies and guitar jams. Stripped of the warm, reverb-laden production of the record, Mead and his band felt almost from another era, in the best way possible. While the set got a bit soggy with ballads in its midsection, they opened and closed with some rockers that had the rather sizable crowd agreeably bobbing their heads.

Still, they were clearly stoked to see their hometown heroes return. In addition to Bundick, the live version of Toro y Moi features a host of familiar faces from Columbia’s music scene, including guitarist Jordan Blackmon, drummer Andy Woodward, and bassist Patrick Jeffords, with only recently added keyboardist Anthony Ferraro foreign to the Palmetto state. The band is ridiculously tight and quite adept at transforming the funky, synth-laden pop tunes that Bundick usually crafts alone in the studio into immersive, sweaty workouts, but it was hard to deny the impact of the more rock-oriented (and excellent) recent LP What For? had on the show. Tracks like “Empty Nesters” and “Half Dome” saw Bundick pick up an electric guitar for the first time in Toro, giving long-time fans a glimmer of his days The Heist & the Accomplice and Taxi Chaps while at the same time giving his sets a more varied sense of room to rise and fall, live and breathe.

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Bundick, always a shy presence on stage, seemed to find energy in the shifts between guitar and his array of keyboards, and his voice was in fine form throughout. The addition of yet another album to his catalog also seems to offer his live shows, for the first time, a true greatest hits feel. Only the choicest cuts from his earlier efforts made appearances as the group delved deeply into the new material. Highlights included the giddy power-pop blast of the aforementioned “Empty Nesters,” the Michael Jackson-esque jam “New Beat,” and the rippling one-two punch of the encore of “So Many Details” and “Say That,” two of the best tracks off of 2o13's Anything in Return.

In truth, though, it was hard to note exceptional moments in such a consummately professional show that also managed to revel so much in the slinky grooves that are indelible from Bundick’s output. It was difficult to stop moving for the nearly 90 minute set that Toro y Moi threw down, and I’d bet not a single soul left unhappy.

Here’s hoping the presence of the Music Farm Columbia with get Bundick and company back here more often now. -Kyle Petersen

 

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.

 

Recap: Jasper Goes to Hopscotch 2014

Each year, just a few short hours away from Columbia, one of the premier underground, experimental, and independent rock festivals takes place in the form of Raleigh’s Hopscotch Music Festival. It’s a startling epic and eclectic undertaking, with 170 acts playing on a dozen stages over the course of three evenings, plus hundreds of more bands playing the increasingly crowded collection of pre-, post-, and day parties that have emerged to create a marathon-like live music binge for as long as you can keep going. While relatively few South Carolina bands took part this year (ex-pats Octopus Jones, who moved to Raleigh last year from Myrtle Beach, were the only local connect with an official slot; Cancellieri and The Mobros, both of Columbia, played day parties), a bevy of North Carolina talent took the stage right alongside a menagerie of characters from the various fringes of the music world.

The most recognizable names on the bill each year are the City Plaza headliners--this year, De La Soul, St. Vincent, Spoon, and Mastodon--and some indie rock marquee names will always be sprinkled throughout (War on Drugs, Thurston Moore, Phosphorescent, Sun Kil Moon, and Jamie XX in 2014), but the real appeal of the festival lies in the sensory overload and the sense of surprise and discovery as each days unfolds. A complete rundown of the experience of one person couldn’t possibly capture the spirit of the festival, so, in lieu of throwaway lines about each of the forty-some bands I encountered this year, here are a few sets that stuck out.

De La Soul @ City Plaza

Although I couldn’t escape the sense that these guys were now unmistakably dad-like, there’s also no denying that they can still put on a hell of a show. Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the release of the seminal 3 Feet High & Rising, the trio was full of energy and embraced the traditional role of emcees with vigor, engaging frequently with the crowd with big smiles and playful asides. The fact they were performing on a huge outdoor stage at an indie rock festival in the South also seemed to be noteworthy, and the trio seemed especially cognizant of the fact--they even pulled some North Carolina MCs on stage to share in the moment.

Last Year’s Men @ Pour House

A Carrboro, North Carolina garage band that I wasn’t terribly familiar with, these guys put on a blistering show at the Pour House on Thursday night. Alternating between blistering up-tempo numbers that reminded me of The Libertines and a literal hopscotching of styles that ranged from the psychedlic-tinged garage rock of the 13th Floor Elevators to the shambolic alt-country of fellow Triangle favorites Spider Bags, this is the kind of rock and roll I can get behind.

The War on Drugs @ Lincoln Theater

Yes, the live show is a startling good approximation of what Adam Granduciel puts on record. But that’s okay when you’ve put out one of the best records of the year and take such obvious delight in resurrecting classic rock grandiosity for the indie rock set.

Little Black Egg Big Band @ King’s Barcade

This somewhat under-the-radar collaboration between the members of Yo La Tengo (Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley, James McNew), William Tyler, Steve Gunn, and Letha Rodman Melchior (who provided pre-recorded material) looks on paper like its gonna be a sprawling guitar fest, particularly when everybody save McNew walks on stage with a guitar. However, what actually occurred was a far odder and more mesmerizing experience.

While McNew manipulated Melchior’s pre-recorded material with a bevy of pedals and electronics, the four guitarists created a feedback driven soundscape that saw them blending their individual parts and only occasionally giving in to the urge to break above the din with a few pointillist notes. It was a noisy, beautiful experience as the five musicians worked off the undulating rhythms and sonic base that McNew provided to build to moments of pure cacophony that recessed into something more reserved although no less chaotic.

Oh, and this happened during a day party around lunch hour. My active imagination likes to believe somebody in the crowd slid into King’s during their lunch break to catch a taste of Hopscotch, and this is what they got.

St. Vincent @ City Plaza

In my Twitter feed this performance got comparison to both Madonna and Thurston Moore. The SAME SET. While I could do without the hand gestures (which worked, but were hardly earth-shattering) and the odd monologue, Annie Clark has a Prince-like range and performance ability. The mix of crunchy, synth-driven indie pop songs along with dreamier and noisier digressions throughout the set had the crowd eating out of the palm of her hand.

Spoon @ City Plaza

I heard a lot of murmured derision about Spoon as a headliner. Something along the lines of the group being a bit too “vanilla indie rock” for the adventurous ethos of the festival. And while I would have described myself as a casual fan, at least prior to this year’s excellent LP They Want My Soul , I loved this set. The band is very much “just” a rock band, but frontman Britt Daniels has just enough rakishness to engage a crowd and they’ve always been first-rate musicians. Hardcore fans, in fact, seem to focus on small moments and licks at the expense of the long view of their songs. Even still, Spoon has racked up quite a few amazing tunes over the course of eight full-lengths, and the set had a very “greatest hits” sort of feel even as they cherry picked the best from the new album. In other words, if you weren’t enjoying it, you might have been trying too hard.

Open Mike Eagle @ Pour House

I saw a lot of great hip-hop at this Hopscotch, but Open Mike Eagle wins for just how damn good his writing is. Both self-reflective and wildly funny, the LA-based rapper made the most of his offbeat persona by wearing a backpack and having a number of talismans on stage with him. But really, with odes to qualifiers and references to House of Cards and comic books, I’m not sure he needed anything but the songs themselves. Check out his excellent new LP Dark Comedy.

Gems @ CAM Raleigh

Also from LA, this pop duo can at first glance seem like they are gliding by on sex appeal, but their swirling and shrouded dream pop tunes proved to be consistently good as the two created a drugged out mix of the xx and Beach House, all loaded down with reverb and ethereal vocals. It was entrancing, particularly in a the chic confines of Raleigh’s art museum.

Sun Kil Moon @ Lincoln Theater

This was by far the BEST set to hang out and talk to friends at.

Kidding. Obviously the wrong venue for the mercurial singer/songwriter, but at least I got this t-shirt out of it.

Hi Ho Silver Oh @ Pour House

One of my favorite random finds of this year’s fest, I was actually at Pour House to catch a lot of the acts that came after them, but this set stuck with me. The group alternates between giddy guitar sprawls a la Pavement, but more tightly wound and poppier and more languid, beautifully melancholic material. A four piece with vocal talent to spare, the harmonies were infectious, and the slowed-down-to-a-crawl take on Tom Petty’s “Time to Move On” was priceless.

Caitlin Rose & Phil Cook @ Pour House

These guys were ridiculously fun and informal with each other in addition to being a perfect musical balance. Cook showed off his virtuoso guitar skills on a few old blues and folk cuts and originals, while Rose’s well-honed country tunes and blow-the-mic-out vocals were equally pleasing. It was their rapport with the audience that stands out most though-- they shouted out trivia-like questions between almost every song (for instance, name the three best mullets of all-time) and gave off the kind of living room vibe that was so sorely lacking from Sun Kil Moon’s set the night before.

Loamlands @ Pour House

I loved Kym Register’s old band Midtown Dickens, so I was pretty excited to catch her new rock outfit Loamlands at this year’s Hopscotch. Part of the appeal of MD was the effervescent performance style of Register and childhood pal Catherine Edgerton, something that shines through in Loamlands, despite its more controlled and professional style. Register remains a solid songwriter, and the pretense-free Southern rock she and the band throws down feels so very “North Carolina.”

Mastodon @ City Plaza

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, there’s no denying that these guys have a pretty epic sound. While I’m not really familiar with their albums, this blistering set had me convinced that metal is really best experienced in a live setting, where the sheer physicality of the style comes through and the music is as loud as its meant to be.

Madison Jay / Well$ @ The Hive at the Busy Bee

Although these two MCs were pretty different from one another, the sense of how good local rap music is in NC came through with their back-to-back sets in this tiny room. Madison Jay has a bit of an old-school production sound to his jams, and he played that up a bit by coming dressed in a trendy three-piece suit. Well$, on the other hand, was all live wire energy that did little to impair his powerful flow, and the live accompaniment of a drum kit and saxophonist was a powerful demonstrated of how “real” and spontaneous live hip-hop can be.

Phosphorescent (solo) @ Fletcher Opera House

Matt Houck is another guy on the bill I’ve always been a fan of, but usually he performs with a full band. This set, with Houck accompanying himself on electric guitar or piano, was unimaginably poignant and direct, despite the singer/songwriter’s aw-shucks demeanor. Houck has one of those inimitable voices that can deliver simple lines with heartbreaking immediacy, and he knows how to play looping, reverb, and the natural acoustics of a room like Fletcher to maximum effect. It was a beautiful, wonderful way to close out my festival experience.

What Cheer! Brigade

...except this wild band of ruffians were on the streets outside of King’s as I rode pass. This punk-inspired marching band-turned-street performers had been spotted throughout Raleigh over the last few days spreading their gospel with the zeal of missionaries, and their adrenaline apparently peaked at the close of their official festival set sometime after one in the morning. The look on their faces was a priceless mix of absolute fatigue and pulsating excitement as the crowd cheered them on past the point of exhaustion. And THAT’s how a music festival should end.

For a full slideshow of photographer Jonathan Sharpe's Hopscotch 2014 photos, click here.

Indie Grits Review: The Great Flood, Screened at The Nick on Monday, April 14, 2014

cover One of the things that I have always loved about the film selections at Indie Grits is their desire to tell the stories about the South that have been pushed to the margins or swept under the rug, stories that can often feel jarring alongside the version of the region romanticized in Gone with the Wind or mocked in Bravo’s Southern Charm reality series. It’s a braver, weirder, and more exciting version of the South that Indie Grits is interested in, with a no-holds-barred examination of its past.

It’s fitting, then, that the first screening of the 2014 festival is of Bill Morrison’s The Great Flood, which looks at the devastating flooding of the Mississippi River over the course of the spring of 1927. It’s a beautiful and evocative film comprised almost exclusively of archival footage, much of which was pulled from the Fox Movietone collection housed at the University of South Carolina’s Moving Image Research Collections. Morrison manages to tell a painterly version of the disaster, with no voice over and spare use of placards, that subtly yet powerfully captures its social, political, and racial effects.

The film begins with a CGI version of the flood that interlaces recreated overhead shots and maps before cutting to the newsreels, where there are dedicated sections to sharecroppers, the 1927 Sears Roebuck catalog, levee construction, evacuations, politicians exploiting the tragedy, the unnecessary dynamiting of the levees in the Poydras area, the aftermath, and the migration of African-Americans into northern cities. While Morrison elegantly constructs a compelling narrative from his occasionally disparate material, it’s the extensiveness and poignancy of the footage itself that really inspires—the different approaches these cameramen take when documenting the sharecroppers (some of which was surprising humanizing, although other moments felt like outtakes from Birth of a Nation), the deteriorated film from long takes shot shot from rescue boats, the repeated looks of bewilderment from folks, black and white, who are losing everything and being filmed as it happens. Much of it has a surprising aesthetic beauty and humanity that recalls the work of the best photojournalists, although there's often a sense of distance and objectivity that can be equally heartbreaking. At times it is difficult to tell whether the original takes have been manipulated a bit, as the water can seem too slow or too fast to be real, and the quality of the footage varies from remarkably detailed to quite grainy. Regardless, the constant shifting of material keeps the audience on their toes and fully engaged.

The film also benefits in large part, given the lack of words and explicit narrative, from the arresting score composed by guitarist Bill Frisell, which was worked out over a series of rough cuts shown in advance by Morrison and ultimately recorded live at a screening in Seattle. Mostly featuring Frisell’s signature tone manipulations and the languid trumpet and cornet playing of Ron Miles, as well as Tony Scherr on bass and Kenny Wollesen pulling double-duty on drums and vibraphone, the quartet mainly focuses on capturing the haunting spirit of much of the footage, although they build to more distorted and fiery climaxes when the physical film itself begins to get too degraded or stark, and they also provide a couple of sprightly jazz during two appropriate sections (the jauntily cynical politicians section and the rapid-cut sequence on the Sears Roebuck catalog).

While the film’s experimental nature means it likely won’t be for everywhere, it’s hard not to think about the power it holds as historical documentation and social and political argument. Whether paired with the study of literature from that time period like William Faulkner’s The Wild Palms or William Alexander Percy’s autobiography Lanterns on the Levee, or with the modern-day explorations of Hurricane Katrina or the impacts of global warming, Morrison’s work deserves a wider audience and further interrogation. –Kyle Petersen

In Jasper No. 3, Vol. 4: Young Bands on the Brink -- Death of Paris

"In a music scene largely characterized by indie rock bands playing on the fringes of mainstream interest, Death of Paris sticks out a bit like a sore thumb. And it’s not because they are corporate or moneyed—if anything, the group is the most DIY act in town. It’s because they so clearly want it more. “'We just look at the band as more as a job,' say multi-instrumentalist/synth maestro Blake Arambula, who founded the band with singer Jayna Doyle in July of 2009. “We have a good time and have fun with it, but it’s something we work at every single day.' ...”

For the full story and photos, check out the magazine starting on page 12 below:

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:

Live Music Review: Jonny Lang & Buddy Guy @ The Township Auditorium

2014-02-08 20.53.41 As much as I love live music, I kind of get why people can get down on going to rock shows. It can often be a frustrating experience—a din of guitars and drums played by musicians who look like they don’t even like to be on stage, and vocals either inarticulately delivered or buried under the instrumental barrage. Even if the music is good, sometimes the experience isn’t.

That was not the case this past Saturday at the Township Auditorium.

In a warm-sounding auditorium that has booked a slew of blues-inspired guitar slingers of late (Warren Haynes’ Gov’t Mule project played just a few days earlier, and the Tedeschi Trucks Band headlined in mid-January) Jonny Lang and Buddy Guy performed in the grand tradition of bluesmen who know what it means to put on a show.

jonny lang

Jonny Lang, more than 40 years Guy’s junior, rightfully opened up the evening. Lang has been a guitar protégé since his teens, releasing his smash debut Lie to Me at 16 and, following a stint in rehab in his early 20s and a slew of questionable releases in the aftermath of that experience, returned to form on last year’s Fight for My Soul release. Lang’s guitar chops were never in question as he roamed the front of the stage repeatedly to give everybody a taste of his lightning fast shredding, even if he still suffers a bit from the selection subpar material. More importantly, though, he probably won the crowd over even after the guitar-awe died down with the fact that, despite wreaking of the blues, Lang and his deep-grooving four piece backing band tend to end up more in soul and gospel territory than a standard 12 bar. He’s truly underrated a singer—there were moments where the band got quiet and he showed surprisingly nuance for music that can too often get a little blustery, even scatting a bit with a falsetto that I didn’t even know he had. Ill-fated Macklemore haircut aside, it was also nice to see that his performance style seemed entirely genuine. He spent most of the evening with his eyes closed in unswerving ecstasy, almost as if conjuring up whatever faint connection he had to the legion of blind bluesmen who paved the way for the kind of music Lang now makes.

buddy

Following up Lang wouldn’t be easy for most, but I’m not sure if anybody has ever showed up Buddy Guy. At 77, I was a bit concerned that Guy’s prowess might have begun fading a bit, but I shouldn’t have been. With a remarkably similar line-up to Lang’s band, Guy delivered a set that not only demonstrated why he’s considered a primary influence on 60’s blues-guitar gods like Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimi Hendrix, but also that his unique style of blending standard Chicago blues with noisier and more unpredictable elements is still fully intact. While he was in fine voice throughout the evening and seemed so comfortable in the role of bandleader and entertainer that his gravitas seemed to envelop the entire auditorium, it was some of his standard trademark tricks—playing long guitar solos while wandering deep into the crowd, suggestively (well, provocatively) playing his guitar with his, um, crotch area, and delivering up some ribald humor (“I came here tonight to play something so funky you can smell it!”) that were likely still the most memorable moments of the show. My only complaint is that the show ended a tad too soon for my tastes, and without Lang returning to the stage for some sort of collaboration.

2014-02-08 22.42.06

However, judging from the crowd’s mood upon leaving the venue, I can safely say that you should never pass on an opportunity to ever see these two performers if you can help it.  -Kyle Petersen

From POST-ECHO -- PASSAGE is here!

post 2 Local record label Post-Echo is releasing the final segment of its five-part film experience PASSAGE on Tuesday, December 3rd. What began as an almost journalistic exploration of abandonment in the South morphed quickly into a complex, multi-part movie. After putting out an audiovisual graphic novel called DRIFT last year, it seemed only fitting for the label to begin work on the production of its first interactive film.

 

Although Post-Echo was created in official terms in September of 2011, the idea to produce collaborative artistic content came almost a year earlier when Post-Echo founders Justin Schmidt and Franklin Jones formulated the idea that later became DRIFT. The collaborative hopes to act as an outlet for artists in which they are provided with resources that might not otherwise be readily available. Post-Echo certainly carries out the typical role of a record label through the CDs and vinyls it puts out. But the group also uniquely focuses on the production of content that displays components of all the visual arts.

 

The making of PASSAGE began with simplicity. The crew would drive around for lengths of time, searching for broken-down places – places whose own dilapidation provided life to the stories that Post-Echo wished to tell. Throughout the course of the five parts, the filmmakers delve into a variety of themes, including meta-interaction, voyeurism and post-industrial abandonment.

 

“With Passage, we’ve sort of mashed all of these ideas together to build a metaphoric Jenga tower of a narrative,” says Franklin Jones, who acts as writer, editor and director of the film. “Every installment has been about raising the height of the tower, and in part V, we hope to knock the whole thing down to better reveal the pieces.”

 

The final part of PASSAGE is 48 minutes, significantly longer than its predecessors. It features an original score from JFS (Jason F. Stroud) that Jones best describes as “electro voodoo folk metal.” The release will bind together the individual parts, while also providing viewers with an ending that is neither clean nor easily explainable. The creators hope to spark thoughtful conversation at the end of the film and allow room for the viewers to think freely and form their own opinions on the movie’s meaning.

 

“The conclusion won’t necessarily come with a nice, little bow, but the gift wrap will indeed be interpretative,” explains Jones.

 

Jasper music editor Kyle Petersen interviewed both Jones and Schmidt in the September/October issue of Jasper magazine. Petersen discusses Post-Echo’s creation and the various projects it has embarked on in thorough detail. The article can be read online at www.jaspercolumbia.net.  

 

Several minutes of self-reflection were required after viewing each installment of PASSAGE for myself. The film strained my brain in the best of ways, and I have nothing but appreciation for the time and thought that went into its conception.  

 

To learn more about Post-Echo, visit www.post-echo.com. All parts of PASSAGE are available on the site, as well as music from Post-Echo artists.

 

 

Movie credits are as follows –

 

Writer/director/editor – Franklin Jones

Principal Cinematography – Justin Schmidt

Additional Cinematography – Jason F. Stroud, Franklin Jones, Corey Alpert, Sean

                                                Shoppell, Caitlin Hucks

Visual Effects – Jason F. Stroud

Visual Art – Eli Armstrong

Starring – Bobby Markle

 

Music

Part I – Cancellieri

Part II – Koda

Part III – Forces of a Street

Part IV – Devereaux

Part V - JFS

Welcome Wade Sellers -- Jasper's New Film Editor

jasper screens It was about this time two years ago when a small group of us gathered in my living room out at Muddy Ford and discussed what we wanted out of the new Columbia arts magazine we were building, Jasper. Having written for national magazines for years, I felt comfortable on the writing side of things. But having always been peevish about people talking -- or worse, writing -- about things they know little about, it was important from the start that we only bring in staff members who know a great deal about their subject matter. Experts in the field, if you will. Folks who have the vocabulary and are proficient in the theory and methods about which they would write.

It was a pretty small group of us at first. Ed Madden took on the literary arts and Kyle Petersen, music. Thankfully, Heyward Sims agreed to be our design editor -- a huge task and a huge load off of my mind to know that our words and photography would be handled by someone who would respect them, as well as enjoy and experiment with the process of putting them on paper. And Kristine Hartvigsen was and continues to be a great source of advice and encouragement.

It didn't take long for the magazine family to grow with long-time theatre aficionado August Krickel joining the staff as theatre editor,  Bonnie Boiter-Jolley as dance editor (it seemed only natural), and Forrest Clonts as photography editor -- another huge job given that Forrest is responsible for arranging for all the photographs to be taken, and then editing them and preparing them for publication. Last summer, Annie Boiter-Jolley signed on as our operations manager -- a tremendous underuse of her skill set, but we're thrilled to have her. Just before Christmas this year, Chris Robinson from USC joined us as our visual arts editor -- a position I had been wanting to fill with the right person since the inception of the magazine. And now, finally, local filmmaker and documentarian Wade Sellers has come on board as our film editor.

Jasper's new film editor Wade Sellers

 

Wade is the owner and executive director of Coal Powered Filmworks and, among many other things, the person who brings you the excellent SC ETV series on South Carolinians and their involvement in WWII. Wade is always hopping on a plan and heading for all points exciting so I'm practically over-the-moon that he has agreed to share his wisdom with us. And when I say that he has wisdom and experience, I'm not kidding -- in all aspects of filmmaking. He has served as the director of four films, cinematographer on seven, writer on three, and editor and producer on two, not to mention working as camera, gaffer or grip on nine more. And he's been nominated for two Emmys.

Wade came to work ready to make things happen in the Columbia film community. You'll see the product of his work in the next issue of Jasper coming out on Friday night, July 12th. And you'll also hear him announce some exciting news about an additional film festival in Columbia (organized with the blessing of our friends at the Nickelodeon.)

So please help us welcome Wade to the Jasper family. He fits in so well - it feels like he's been here forever.

Southern Exposure New Music Series: Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians

  Steve Reich

One of the most compelling parts of Columbia’s arts scene is the Southern Exposure New Music Series, a series of FREE concerts put on by the nonprofit each year that explore contemporary classical and world compositions as well as some of the masterworks of the 20th century. The shows are often standing room only affairs, largely because of the depth and quality of the performances, which have a reputation for being wildly eclectic and stunning in equal measure.

If you’ve never been, consider going this weekend to a performance of Steve Reich’s seminal Music for 18 Musicians. Reich is perhaps the definitive composer of the second half of the 20th century, and this is his most famous piece—a gorgeous work of pulsating musical minimalism that builds (and contracts) ever-so-slowly as melodies and harmonies are gradually added to create a mesmerizing, hypnotic effect that is best experience live. The 18 musicians comes from the fact that the piece requires at a minimum four pianists, six percussionists, four female singers, two clarinetists, a violinist, and a cellist—parts which will be ably handled by 18 of USC’s most talented students in the School of Music (many of whom will be also be tackling more than one instrument in the course of the performance). Directing the work is USC piano professor Phillip Bush (who is also performing—the composition is traditionally performed without a conductor), who has played the piece numerous times around the world with Reich himself. Bush will also be giving a short talk before each performance.

Here’s  a complete performance available on YouTube (you really have to see it live though):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXJWO2FQ16c

 

And, in the tradition of the increasingly collaborative arts scene we have in Columbia, local painter Blake Morgan will have his paintings on exhibit in the gallery for both performances. His involvement is sponsored by Pocket Productions!

A note on composer: Reich’s music always feels like waves upon waves of sound to me—while the careful the listener can note the subtle, ceaseless shifts in rhythm, melody, and harmony, there is something visceral about the listening experience as well, that hits you in the gut. That’s likely the reason Reich’s music has enjoyed such popularity outside of traditional contemporary music circles as well. While his compositions are usually debuted in the finest concert halls at this point (a stark contrast from his earlier years, when his work was shunned by the elites), Reich still gets an audience outside of those confines, even at rock festivals. Check out this video, where Reich and Bang On A Can’s Dave Cossin perform to whopping audience at the rock-centered Bloc festival in east London.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=lesDb9GsQm4

The series will be giving two performances of Music for 18 Musicians: on Friday and Saturday, April 12-13, 7:30pm, at the USC School of Music Recital Hall, 813 Assembly Street (next to the Koger Center), 2nd Floor. Admission, as always, is free.

 

K. Petersen, Jasper Music Editor

Correction: The original post incorrectly stated that Blake Morgan would be painting live during the performance. He will not be.