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Click & Clay


CHERRIELocal photographers and potters will show their wares at an open house in Harlem.

It’s always a good time to appreciate the talents of local artists, and Harlem Arts Council is offering a reason for area residents to do just that. 

The council will hold an open house Saturday, June 2 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Harlem Civic Center (old library), 375 North Louisville Street. The open house will feature the works of Chicks That Click Photography Club and Clay Artists of the Southeast.

Flour Dancer“We like to show the community artists that are here and highlight what they do,” says David Carlsen, the council president. “We felt like photographers and clay artists would work well together.”

The council, which was founded in 2014, focuses on visual, historical and performing arts. 

During the open house, local jazz musician Bill Karp will provide entertainment, playing the music of artists such as Tony Bennett, Michael Bublé, Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny Mercer, Nat King Cole, Harry Connick, Frank Sinatra and Sarah Vaughan. 

Pieces by the photographers and clay artists also will be for sale at the open house.

Wisteria 2Since its founding in January 2013, Chicks that Click has grown from six charter members to more than 80 members from across the CSRA. An average of 40 members participate in club-sponsored workshops and special events. The club, which meets monthly, holds five print competitions each year and several annual community service projects.

Clay Artists of the Southeast is a group of clay artists that meet monthly to share clay ideas and plan for future exhibitions. The group consists of men and women who enjoy the processes of ceramics, whether wheel-thrown or hand-built. The organization centers around promoting community awareness of present-day ceramic arts as well as providing educational opportunities for special needs and disadvantaged people.

CERAMICThe clay artists have participated in various events including Earth Day at Phinizy Swamp and Art in the Heart of Augusta. To further those goals, local grants have been awarded to the organization’s workshops “Face Jugs” at Enterprise Mill, “Kids Making Faces” at Lynndale Center, “Art in a Can” at Westabou, Raku workshop, “Sea Life Reef” and “Lizards, Skinks and Newts” at Immaculate Conception School.

If You Go: 

What: Harlem Arts Council Open House 

When: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Saturday, June 2

Where: Harlem Civic Center, 375 North Louisville Street

How Much: Free 

More Info: harlemartscouncil.org

Water World


Main photo-kayaksA new all-day, family friendly festival offers opportunities to play at the lake. 

New events never get old, and the inaugural Western South Carolina BlueWay Festival at Baker Creek State Park on Saturday, June 2 is the perfect way to kick off summer with land and water sport activities.

Local residents Tom Greene and Howard Lauderback, along with Savannah Lakes Village Outdoor Adventure Club members, are the masterminds behind the event, which is designed to showcase the local waterways and outdoor resources in the area. After all, Savannah Lakes Village in McCormick, South Carolina is bordered by 63,368 acres of protected land (including three state parks and Sumter National Forest), the 71,100-acre Clarks Hill Lake and the Little River Blueway Outdoor Adventure Region. 

Cow Kayak Rodeo“We hope people will enjoy a day at the lake with outdoor activities and try things they never thought to do before,” says Linda McClintock, who is handling marketing for the event.

Clinics and demonstrations will be held from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. and include kayaking, disc golf, fishing, geocaching, biking, standup paddle boarding and boating. Those who want a little competition can test their skills in a disc golf contest, kayak rodeos, horseshoes, corn hole and volleyball. 

If you like a good deal, then play your cards right at a poker run on Little River from 3:30 – 5 p.m. There is a $5 entry fee, and 100 percent of the fees will be distributed back to the winning hands. 

Pie Eating ContestThe kayak rodeo includes activities such as lassoing big “ducks” and tossing hula hoops onto a blowup cow. The festival also will feature a working dog demonstration, paddle board yoga, gun safety and updates about Savannah Valley Rails to Trails.

The proposed 35-mile trail project, which follows the late 1880s road bed of the old C&WC Railroad from Charleston to Anderson, South Carolina, is located in a scenic vegetated area along the Savannah River and the Little River area. Ultimately, the trail, which will be developed in four phases, will connect Calhoun Falls in Abbeville County to McCormick in McCormick County and Baker Creek, Hickory Knob and Calhoun Falls state parks.

A kids’ fun zone will include games, face painting, temporary tattoos, visor decorating and a pie-eating contest.

Food vendors will offer barbecue, hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages, fried fish, funnel cakes and more. Three bands will provide musical entertainment throughout the day, and festival sponsors will raffle off prizes such as a kayak during the event.

Tickets, which include parking, are available online. They also can be purchased at the Chamber of Commerce, Red Rooster, MACK, Pack Rat and Lee Builders in McCormick and at Plum Branch Yacht Club. Tickets are limited, so people are encouraged to buy them in advance.

“We are excited about this festival and hope that everyone will come and have a great time,” Linda says.

If You Go:

What: Western South Carolina BlueWay Festival 

When: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Saturday, June 2

Where: Baker Creek State Park, 386 Baker Creek Road, McCormick, South Carolina

How Much: $10 each or $20 family (two adults and children under age 18) in advance; $15 each and $25 family day of the event

More Info: bluewayfestival.com

Bug Off


1. Main photo-James Wilde 2009Although the incidence of insect-borne diseases have risen in the United States, a local physician says they are not prevalent in our area.

The number of reported cases of disease from mosquito, tick and flea bites more than tripled in the United States from 2004 to 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Between 2004 and 2016, more than 640,000 cases of these diseases were reported, and nine new germs spread by bites from infected mosquitoes and ticks have been discovered or introduced in the U.S. since 2004.

Fortunately, however, Dr. Jim Wilde, attending physician in the Children’s Hospital of Georgia pediatric emergency department and an infectious disease physician, says, “We have not seen an uptick in diseases borne by ticks and mosquitoes in our area. We do not have a huge burden of insect-borne diseases in the United States. 

Ticks can cause Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease, Wilde says, but these diseases are not prevalent in Georgia.

People also can contract encephalitis from the bite of a mosquito that is infected with West Nile virus, and symptoms include fever, headache, body aches and skin rash. However, says Wilde, “Most people who get it don’t know they got it. It is a relatively mild infection for most people.”

In addition, he says, “In the last 12 months, the Zika virus has disappeared from the U.S. mosquito population. 

However, he says, Zika still can be found in the Caribbean and South America, particularly Brazil, so people traveling to those areas, as well as to Africa and Southeast Asia, should take precautions against insect-borne diseases. Travelers should consult their physicians and check the CDC website to find out which diseases are common in the areas they plan to visit and find out what precautions they should take. Wilde also advises people to check the website three to four months before their international travel so that they will have time to take proper precautions.

“The biggest concern of insect bites is people scratching the bites and then getting secondary infections from staph. This can cause an abscess or a more widespread skin infection like cellulitis,” Wilde says. “We see 10 to 30 cases of abscesses or skin infections in the ER per week.” 

According to the physician, the best way to stay safe from insect bites is to keep from getting bitten in the first place. People should apply an insect repellant with DEET to exposed areas of the body before going outside, he says, and a repellant containing 30 percent DEET is safe for children. He also suggests that anyone who is going hiking in the woods can soak their clothing in permethrin beforehand.

“The extremes of age – the very young and the very old – are most vulnerable to insect-borne diseases,” Wilde says.

Life is Good on the Open Road — Trampled By Turtles

Listen To This

album coverIt’s been four years since Trampled By Turtles released their last critically acclaimed studio album, Wild Animals. In that time, the band took a well-deserved hiatus from constant touring to experience family and pursue personal projects. 

The result of this hiatus is a new, invigorated record, Life is Good on the Open Road, and it does not disappoint. As frontman Dave Simonette explains, this record is a “return to form” and is slated to be a collective favorite amongst the Turtles. 

After a successful retreat in the woods of Minnesota, the band was inspired to examine what matters most in life amidst the torrents of historic world tragedy and the loss of heroes. The largest mass shooting in American history, coupled with the untimely loss of Tom Petty, set the focus while layers of hope and the longing of togetherness compounded the glue.

Out of the gate, the group sets the ramble-bar high with “Kelly’s Bar,” a ditty pulled from Simonette’s time spent at a local pub, and the record is appropriately wrapped by the slow-waltzing closing track, “I Learned The Hard Way,” a heart-wrenched ballad of simple truth and boot-stomped reality. The tracks in between pull the string-heavy tightrope of inside/outside of the Turtle’s standard shell with departing strummed-goodness. 

This album is pure testament wrapped in beautiful chemistry and profound brotherhood. Family takes the wheel of the soul and makes everything sound wonderful on the open road of life. Enjoy the heat.

- Chris Rucker

The Stowaway: A Young Man’s Extraordinary Adventure to Antarctica by Laurie Gwen Shapiro

Literary Loop

the-stowawayAward-winning documentary filmmaker and journalist Laurie Gwen Shapiro’s newest release regales readers with the true story of a scrappy teenager from New York’s Lower East Side who stowed away on the Roaring Twenties’ most remarkable feat of science and daring: an expedition to Antarctica.

It was 1928: a time of illicit booze, of Gatsby and Babe Ruth, of freewheeling fun. The Great War was over and American optimism was higher than the stock market. What better moment to launch an expedition to Antarctica, the planet’s final frontier? There wouldn’t be another encounter with an unknown this magnificent until Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon.

Everyone wanted in on the adventure. Rockefellers and Vanderbilts begged to be taken along as mess boys, and newspapers across the globe covered the planning’s every stage. And then, the night before the expedition’s flagship set off, Billy Gawronski — a mischievous, first-generation New York City high schooler desperate to escape a dreary future in the family upholstery business — jumped into the Hudson River and snuck aboard.

Could he get away with it?

From the soda shops of New York’s Lower East Side to the dance halls of sultry Francophone Tahiti, all the way to Antarctica’s blinding white and deadly freeze, The Stowaway takes you on the unforgettable voyage of a plucky young stowaway who became a Jazz Age celebrity, a mascot for an up-by-your bootstraps era.

Kevin Madsen – Recreation Chief Ranger, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers


PYSK-Kevin-MadsenKevin Madsen
Recreation Chief Ranger, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Number of years in position: 1 here, but 10-plus years as a park ranger across the country

Family: Wife, Amy, and too many cats

Why I’m Passionate About What I Do: I love the outdoors, and I love sharing that passion with others who come to recreate at the park. 

Community Groups and Charities I Love to Support: Goodwill and the Salvation Army. I also love the Habitat for Humanity folks. Whether you are donating or purchasing, it is always a win-win situation.

Biggest Career or Life Obstacle I’ve Overcome and How: College graduation. I took it one day, one semester, one class at a time. I never gave up even when it seemed nearly impossible. When I failed, I picked myself up and tried again.

Accomplishment I’m Most Proud Of: Eagle Scout

What Your Childhood Self Wanted to Be When You Grew Up: A firefighter—more specifically, a smoke spotter for the U.S. Forest Service

Favorite Way to Spend Saturday Afternoon: I love hiking in the woods along a favorite trail or going someplace I’ve never been. I love to explore.

Favorite TV Show: “Battlestar Gallactica” — the original series from the ’80s

Favorite Movie: The Empire Strikes Back 

Favorite Comfort Food: Chocolate chip cookies

Favorite App: Lake Guard

Last Book Read: Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey

Dream Vacation: Glacier National Park. Something big and beautiful and wild and unknown, yet not on everybody else’s list, like Yellowstone and Yosemite.

Something That Has Changed My Life: My cats. Everything you need to know in life you can learn from your cat. 

Best Thing I Ever Learned: It’s not about adding years to your life but adding life to your years. 

One Word You Would Use to Describe Yourself: Perpetual motion—I guess that’s two words. 

Favorite Hobbies: Hiking, exploring, scenic drives, music, movies, photography 

Secret Aspiration: I’d like to go to magic school, and I’m not talking about Hogwarts.

Reality Show I Would Totally Win: I wouldn’t be caught dead on a reality show!

Something People Would Be Surprised to Know About Me: I am not a sports fan. I don’t watch games of any variety.

For the Love of Barbecue


Steve-NunnIf you’re looking for a sweet or spicy barbecue sauce, there are “Nunn” like the ones that a Grovetown resident makes 

Any self-respecting Southerner has a heartfelt love affair with barbecue. It seems, however, that a healthy appetite for barbecue applies to transplanted Southerners by way of St. Paul, Minnesota as well.

Grovetown resident Steve Nunn, a St. Paul native and U.S. Army captain who is stationed at Fort Gordon, developed his passion for barbecue when he was 19 years old. His late uncle challenged him to a barbecue contest, and really, the outcome was inevitable. “I couldn’t let him win,” says Nunn. 

BBQ-sauce-2x3For more than 20 years, Nunn has been experimenting with flavors and seasonings to perfect his barbecue sauces and dry rubs as well as his barbecuing skills. To him, barbecuing is a form of artistry. 

“Everybody has their own ritual when it comes to barbecuing. Everybody is an artist when it comes to barbecuing,” says Nunn. “You can meet strangers and talk about it forever.”

He started his business, Nunn Family BBQ, in 2016 shortly before he was deployed to Kuwait for nine months. While he was overseas, he “took an operational pause,” but he was able to launch his website near the end of his deployment in September of 2017.

He has developed a sweet barbecue sauce, which is available online by the bottle or by the case. The low-calorie, gluten-free sauce can be used as a marinade for steak, chicken, ribs or pork. “It’s a great dipping sauce,” says Nunn. “You can even put it on a salad.” He also is slated to roll out a new spicy sauce by the end of March. 

Nunn Family BBQBarbecue is a passion that must be shared with others, he believes, and he’s not alone in his thinking. “Everybody wants to taste each other’s sauce,” says Nunn. “When you barbecue, it brings out your personality. The sauce is my way of sharing something I love and enjoy.”

For more information, call (706) 814-1233 or visit nunnfamilybbq.com.

Sister Act


8x10-both-sistersA pair of siblings from Martinez could find themselves together on stage vying for the title of Miss America 2019

Between the two of them, Martinez natives Kendyl and Karson Pennington have won many beauty/scholarship contest titles and leadership awards – often the same ones, but four years apart. With the age difference between the two sisters, however, they have been in the same competition only once.

Well, they just might find themselves vying against each other again before too long. Kendyl, 23, will compete as Miss Boiling Springs at the Miss South Carolina Pageant June 26 – 30 in Columbia. Karson, 20, will compete as Miss Fayette County in the Miss Georgia Pageant June 12 – 16 in Columbus. If the Pennington sisters win the state crowns, then they will advance to the Miss America 2019 competition later this year. 

“That would be the coolest thing ever,” says Karson.

Kendyl agrees. “If you get that far,” she says, “you’ve already won by then.”

Defying the Odds
KendylThe sisters had a great experience when they competed together in the Miss Georgia Outstanding Teen pageant in 2011. Kendyl was 17 years old at the time, and Karson was 13. And as luck would have it, a random drawing among the 50 contestants put them in back-to-back placement.

“It was a Godsend,” says Karson. “If I had to go through that by myself, I don’t think I would have made it.”

They say it is rare for sisters to compete in pageants. In addition, Kendyl says, “Statistics say that you’re more likely to have a son compete in the Super Bowl than a daughter that competes in Miss America.”

If you ask the Pennington sisters about competing in pageants, however, they tend to say little about the contests themselves. They are more likely to talk about each other’s accomplishments or the charitable causes they promote as contestants for their platforms.

“It’s more about everything else that goes along with it. Everything I do to prepare for Miss South Carolina is only helping me in my professional career,” says Kendyl. “If you do it the right way, you’re doing things you’re already doing in life anyway.”

And they have been doing quite a bit in life already, thank you.

Kendyl is a 2016 honors graduate of University of South Carolina with a degree in philosophy and physics. She is finishing pursuit of a second degree in chemistry at USC this month and is interviewing with medical schools for fall admission. She hopes to become a pediatric oncologist one day.

As an undergraduate, Kendyl danced for the USC Coquette Dance Team and served as the Relay for Life captain at USC for two years. She also was one of the top Relay for Life earners for Columbia County for several years, and Relay for Life is her pageant platform. “I had a skin cancer scare when I was in high school,” says Kendyl. In addition, while she was at Lakeside, one of her teachers was diagnosed with breast cancer.

KarsonKarson, a University of Georgia sophomore, is double majoring in journalism and political science. She is in honors college at UGA and was one of 12 UGA women chosen from her class as an outstanding leader to be inducted in the Dean William Tate Honor Society. She hopes to go to law school to become a child advocacy attorney.

She dances for the UGA Georgettes Dance Team and serves as assistant chairwoman for UGA Miracle, a student-run philanthropic organization that recently raised $1.3 million for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta – the university’s Children’s Miracle Network hospital.

Both girls won Miss Lakeside High School, and they have received recognition for their leadership skills, academic success, extracurricular activities and community service as well. They were named Augusta Exchange Club Youth of the Year (2012 and 2016) and Georgia Exchange Club Youth of the Year (2012 and 2016). Both girls won the Ryan Clark Community Service Award/Scholarship (2012 and 2016) and were selected as Martinez Merchant Association Scholarship recipients (2012 and 2016).

Miss America Organization’s partnership with Children’s Miracle Network hospitals is a driving force behind their pageant participation for Kendyl and Karson. As a service requirement, contestants competing in Miss America-sponsored pageants are expected to raise a minimum of $100 for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals and the Miss America Scholarship Fund.

Karson, whose pageant platform is Reach Out and Read (ROAR), also appreciates the connection between her literacy project and the children’s hospitals. She delivers books – with Kendyl’s help sometimes – to children while they are hospitalized. “It’s the best feeling in the world,” says Karson. In addition, she says, “It is a gateway to get more involved in child advocacy.”

Karson has created literacy PSAs, and she is writing a children’s book, featuring Lucky the Lion, about the importance of reading. “You can’t do much in society if you don’t know how to read,” she says. “It’s such a disadvantage socially and economically. My platform is aimed at kids and adults.”

Kendyl-&-Karson-at-office-3Living and Learning
Kendyl competed in the 2013 Miss Georgia Pageant as Miss Augusta and in the Miss South Carolina Pageant last year as Miss Georgia-Carolina State Fair. In last year’s pageant alone, she took home almost $5,000 in scholarship money for finishing in the Top 10, winning the swimsuit competition and winning the community service award.

“It’s more than a beauty pageant. It’s not about who wins at all — all of the contestants are accomplished,” says Kendyl. “Becoming the best version of yourself is what it’s all about for me.”

The girls also got involved in the scholarship-based pageants for the educational opportunities they offer contestants, but they have learned life lessons as well.

For instance, Kendyl says, “Giving back is so important. You get so much out of volunteering.”

“Your character is the most important thing you have,” says Karson. “You learn to be truthful about yourself.”

While some people might have the idea that pageant participants are selfish or superficial, Kendyl and Karson say they have formed wonderful friendships with their fellow contestants.

“Everyone that I’ve met during pageants is incredibly genuine,” Karson says. “I love spending so much time with the other contestants during pageant week.”

Kendyl will tap dance during the talent portion of the pageant while Karson will perform a lyrical dance. “Dancing in front of thousands of people at football games makes it easier to dance on stage,” Karson says.

The contestants also participate in swimsuit and evening gown competitions. Both girls agree, however, that the interview portion, which carries the most weight, is their favorite part of the pageant. Apparently, the sash doesn’t fall far from the contestant. After all, their mother, Kathy, won the interview segment of Miss Georgia when she competed in the pageant as Miss Southeast Georgia in the 1980s. She helps her daughters sharpen their interview skills by having lively discussions about current events with them.

The sisters have taught each other a thing or two as well. Karson has learned to “keep trying” from her big sister, and Kendyl has learned to “keep a positive attitude” from her little sister.

“We really help each other,” Kendyl says. “We’re each other’s biggest resources.”

Until, of course, it comes to supremacy between the Bulldogs or the Gamecocks. . . .

On the Fast Track


exterior-museum-sideThe county is going to town with a trio of construction projects at The Plaza at Evans Towne Center.

Columbia County officials have long had a dream of creating a thriving downtown center in the heart of Evans. With three construction projects in various stages of completion underway at The Plaza at Evans Towne Center, a public-private venture between Columbia County and Meybohm Development Group, that vision is coming into focus.

lobby-1Construction on the county’s new performing arts center, which will anchor The Plaza at Evans Towne Center, got underway in early March. The project is expected to take 18 months to complete. 

At a groundbreaking ceremony in February, Ron Cross, chairman of the county Board of Commissioners, called the project a dream come true that will “benefit Columbia County citizens for years to come.” 

The facility will include seating for about 2,100 people, a main floor, two balcony areas with box seats, a concessions area and an orchestra pit that has the capacity to be lowered below the floor to accommodate extra seating. 

theater-seats“We’re looking forward to the first Broadway play or musical we can have for the citizens,” Cross says.

The $31 million-plus project was approved by voters as part of the 2017 general obligation bond in the November 2016 general election. It is being financed by the GO bond and SPLOST monies remaining from completed projects.

“We’re excited that the county has started the performing arts center,” says Lionel Prather, senior vice president of commercial development for Meybohm Commercial Properties.

The other projects include the first phase of The Plaza at Evans Towne Center, a walkable multi-use area, and a raised sidewalk that will connect The Plaza with Evans Towne Center Park. The $1 million sidewalk project, which includes brick pavers, trees, plants and crosswalks, is being funded by the 2017 GO bond and TSPLOST funds. These projects are expected to be completed in late May. 

theater-stageThe first phase of The Plaza features a four-story, L-shaped building that will include the Meybohm headquarters; retail, professional and restaurant space; and a rooftop terrace that can accommodate 300 people for special events. The project also features greenspace, streetscape and sidewalks. Professional tenants are expected to include cyber and software companies, local businesses that are looking for a Columbia County presence and restaurant concepts that are new to the area. 

“We are in talks with two companies now that would take up almost all the professional space that Meybohm doesn’t occupy,” says Prather.

Your Pie, a fast-casual craft pizza and beer restaurant, is expected to open in the development this summer. Preliminary plans also are underway for the second building, which will be built behind the first building and face The Plaza. The square, three story building will house retail space on the first floor and professional space on the second and third floors. 

Upon completion, the entire 22-acre site will include six buildings covering 150,000 square feet. The development will offer 60,000 square feet of professional space and almost 75,000 square feet of office space. 

“We are completing the county’s vision of a downtown area,” Prather says. “It’s going to enhance the whole area.”

Game of Privilege by Dr. Lane Demas

Literary Loop

Lit-Loop--April-2018From George F. Grant’s invention of the golf tee in 1899 to the dominance of superstar Tiger Woods in the 1990s, Game of Privilege: An African American History of Golf by Dr. Lane Demas challenges stereotypes and the fundamental story of race and golf in American culture.

This groundbreaking history of African Americans and golf explores race, class and public space in golf course development; stories of black golfers during the age of segregation; legal battles to integrate public golf courses and the little-known history of the United Golfers Association, a black golf tour that operated from 1925 to 1975.

Demas charts how African Americans nationwide organized social campaigns, filed lawsuits and went to jail to desegregate courses. He also provides dramatic stories of golfers who confronted wider segregation in their local communities.

Demas is the winner of the 2018 Herbert Warren Wind Book Award, which recognizes and honors outstanding contributions to golf literature.

“I’m proud of the fact that this book provides a narrative and historical content that’s accessible to everyone, especially the everyday golf fan,” says Demas. “It’s very humbling to receive this prestigious award and be recognized by a premier organization such as the USGA.”

The Wilmington Star News says, “The story [Demas] has to tell is enthralling. . . . Reminds us that golf can be serious business—and that it’s much more than a game.”

Got to Be There


michael jackson tributeBeat it to the Jabez to rock along with a world-renowned Michael Jackson tribute artist

Get ready for a thriller as renowned Michael Jackson tribute artist Michael Firestone moonwalks into the Jabez S. Hardin Performing Arts Center on Saturday, May 5 for “I Am King – The Michael Jackson Experience.” 

Firestone, who has performed for millions of Michael Jackson fans worldwide, has been hailed as the heir apparent to the pop artist in look, performance and authenticity. His ability to sing live while mimicking Jackson’s famous dance moves has made Firestone the most sought after MJ tribute artist in the world. 

Firestone was chosen as one of two official Jackson impersonators for the Michael Jackson Laser Spectacular shows in theaters and casinos all across the United States and Canada. Most recently, Firestone co-created and starred in “MJ Live” and numerous other tribute shows that still use Jackson’s image and video to sell tickets. 

Before Jackson’s death in 2009, Firestone had performed as a Jackson tribute artist in live shows such as “MTV Magic” and “Around the World” in Asia, “Legends in Concert” in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and “LaCage” and “Masquerade” in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Firestone also did guest appearances on “Larry the Cable Guy’s Christmas Spectacular” and the Asian variety show, “The Bon Show.” 

hat-and-glove-3x2“I Am King” will feature renditions of Jackson’s biggest hits including “Bad,” “Billie Jean,” “Thriller” “Man in the Mirror,” “Human Nature” and more.

If You Go:
What: I Am King – The Michael Jackson Experience, featuring Michael Firestone

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 5

Where: Jabez S. Hardin Performing Arts Center

white-hat-9x14How Much: $46

More Info: (706) 726-0366 or augustaamusements.com

The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman

Literary Loop

The-Italian-Teacher-bookWhat if your father was one of the 20th century’s most celebrated painters? How would you define yourself against that kind of talent and machismo?

In The Italian Teacher, his third novel, Tom Rachman sets in play just that dynamic. Bear Bavinsky is a world-famous painter, a first-class narcissist and father of 17 children who he treats with careless, sometimes callous, warmth.

Bear’s shy son Pinch loves to paint, but his ambitions are snuffed by his father’s offhand critique: “I got to tell you, kiddo. You’re not an artist and you never will be.” After that, nothing in Pinch’s life seems to gel.

When Bear abandons his family, Pinch strives to make himself worthy of his father’s attention, first trying to be a painter himself; then resolving to write his father’s biography; eventually settling, disillusioned, into a job as an Italian teacher in London.

With Rachman’s signature humanity and humor, The Italian Teacher examines a life lived in the shadow of greatness. If you enjoyed William Boyd’s Any Human Heart, you’ll love this portrait of Pinch, who has the good luck to both outlive and survive his famous father, and to find, in the end, a way to take ownership of his difficult legacy.

- Sarah Harrison Smith

Rev Your Engines


gray-carA national Mustang show is wheeling into Columbia County for the second time in four years

People don’t have to cue up Ray Charles to have the Peach State on their mind this month, thanks to the Mustang Club of America. The organization, which has four national Mustang shows annually, once again will have one of them – “Georgia on My Mind” – at the Columbia County Exhibition Center on Memorial Day weekend.

cars-outsideMike Anchor, president of the CSRA Mustang Club, says about 350 cars from all across the country, including 30 to 40 local cars, will be on display at the show.

“The Mustang is an icon. It’s been around for 54 years,” says Anchor, who lives in Evans. “Everybody you run into has a Mustang story. They talk about the Mustang they had or the one they dreamed about having. The car brings everybody from all over the world together.”

inside-exhibition-centerFriday evening activities will include a hospitality reception/meet and greet, and judging in 15 divisions will begin on Saturday. Judges typically look for cleanliness, workmanship and overall quality. Unrestored cars, which usually are low mileage with original factory parts and equipment as ordered, are judged on originality. Unrestored or restored Thoroughbred Mustangs must have the original or correct era parts such as fan belts, batteries, exhaust systems, etc. Absolutely no reproduction parts are allowed. 

Saturday evening festivities will feature a banquet catered by Diablo Southwest Grill, followed by a casino night party and an auction, at Savannah Rapids Pavilion. Community members who are interested in attending can visit motosho.com to purchase tickets at $40 each.

All proceeds from the event will benefit the Rebecca Erryn Moon Foundation, which fights childhood cancer. When the CSRA Mustang Club last served as host for a national show in 2015, it raised $20,000 for the foundation. Since 1989, the local Mustang club has contributed at least $150,000 to various charities, Anchor says.

Those who attend the show can do more than admire Mustangs and raise money for a good cause, however. Vendors will be on hand to sell car parts as well as merchandise like jewelry and Tupperware. 

blue-car“We would like for people to come out and enjoy the cars, make new friends and support local charities,” says Anchor. “It’s all about having fun. I have made friends all over the world because of a car.”

If You Go:
What: “Georgia on my Mind” MCA National Mustang Show

When: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Friday, May 25 and Saturday, May 26; 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. Sunday, May 27

Where: Columbia County Exhibition Center, Grovetown

How Much: Free

More Info:csramc.org

John Luton Columbia County Director of Community and Leisure Services


John-Luton-(2-of-2)Number of Years in Position: 2

Family: Wife, Jenifer; children, Holly (4), Camille (2) and Eli (6 months)

Why I’m Passionate About What I Do: In Columbia County, the best is the standard. I love working with a team and for a community with high expectations that strives to be the best. It’s what attracted me to Columbia County five years ago and what motivates me every day to do what I can to enhance the quality of life for residents. Seeing employees that I lead have success in what they’re passionate about, and experiencing the impacts of what we do on the community, is gratifying.

Community Groups and Charities I Love to Support: I am involved with several citizen advisory boards including the Recreation Advisory Board, Community Events Advisory Board, Monument and Public Art Committee, Greater Clarks Hill Regional Library Board, Friends of the Euchee Creek Greenway and Animal Services Advisory Board. I also work very closely with the Columbia County Convention and Visitors Bureau, whose mission of promoting the county as a destination marketplace is one I’m very passionate about.

Biggest Career or Life Obstacle I’ve Overcome and How: At one of my previous jobs, my department director was suddenly let go, and I was thrust into a leadership role. I was challenged to manage a brand new $17 million park (tournament complex) with only a quarter of the budget that was originally allocated to operate it, but with the same expectations for success. The park’s construction was controversial, and we faced a great deal of negativity from the public. Many couldn’t wait to see it fail. Our staff used this as motivation and rallied together. After just one year in operation, the total economic impact generated by events hosted at the park was greater than the cost to build the park itself. I still draw from lessons learned from this experience every day and consider it a crucial point in my professional development.

Accomplishment I’m Most Proud Of: I’m very proud of many professional accomplishments I’ve been able to achieve at this point in my career, but the success would mean nothing without being able to share it with my wife and kids. So, I’m most proud of being a husband and a dad.

What Your Childhood Self Wanted to Be When You Grew Up: Some sort of professional athlete

Favorite Way to Spend a Saturday Afternoon: Couch, multiple TVs, full slate of college football

Favorite TV Show: “30 for 30”

Favorite Movies: Hoosiers, The Jerk

Favorite Sports Team: Clemson Tigers (2016 College Football National Champions)

Favorite Comfort Food: Steak and potatoes

Favorite App: ESPN

Last Book Read: Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons                                                         

Dream Vacation: Anywhere tropical would work, but a safari-type trip sounds fun

Something That Has Changed My Life: The birth of my first child…then again with the birth of my second…then again with birth of my third…

Best Thing I Ever Learned: Treat others the way you like to be treated. Simple, but something I try to always remember whether it’s with personal relationships, dealing with the public or managing staff.

One Word You Would Use to Describe Yourself: Thankful

Favorite Hobbies: Clemson sports, golf, poker, spending time with the family

Secret Aspiration: I’ve always thought I would have been a good coach or sportswriter. I actually wanted to major in journalism in college, but Clemson didn’t offer it. And I certainly wasn’t going to USC.

Reality Show I Would Totally Win: I used to say I would win “Alone” on the History Channel. But my wife likes to remind me about a recent trip into our backyard woods, when I stumbled over my own feet and sliced my leg, pretty badly, with the hatchet I was carrying. So I won’t be auditioning for that.

Something People Would Be Surprised to Know About Me: I’m hesitant to share, but I’m pretty good at impersonations. I don’t break them out that often because people tend to hound me to do my impression of them, and you never know how someone will take it. My high school basketball teammates persuaded me one time to do my impersonation of our coach, in front of our coach. So I did. All my teammates died laughing, coach’s face turned red as he laughed awkwardly and insecurely – and I never played again.

What person do you think we should know? If you’d like to suggest someone we should meet, email editor@columbiacountymag.com and tell us why.

Semicircle — The Go! Team

Listen To This

TheGoTeamSEMICIRCLECOVERrgb-1507736711-640x640The Go! Team is the electric company of vintage ’60s riffs and double Dutch chants rolled into a pep rally of retro urban-garage-cardio beats. A concept that was birthed in Ian Parton’s parent’s kitchen, The Go! Team creates an infectious groove and bombastic sonic wall of organic emotion and raw exhilaration.

Nearly two decades after the critically acclaimed Thunder, Lightning, Strike, Parton’s project dives deep into the Motor City, enlisting the Detroit Youth Choir to serve as the vocal force behind the English band’s latest release, Semicircle.

With youthful pop magic, Semicircle boasts an innocent and optimistic revel that carries a common chord throughout each track while creating a nostalgic gymnasium of varsity cheer. Out of the gate, the opener “Mayday” shines the ray of warm lush urban horns and marching band step-dives into a loop of choreographed magic. 

The momentum remains and is highlighted on the field day anthem “Semicircle Song” and roller-skating jam “All the Way Live.” As the days grow longer and the season gets warmer, The Go! Team is laced up and ready for some sidewalk sprinkler fun.

- Chris Rucker