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Works of Art

A & E

ChalkArtist2Artisans and entertainers take center stage at Art in the Park Fall Fest 
Creativity will be on display Saturday, October 20, at the 15th annual Arts in the Park Fall Fest, where artisans and entertainers in the area will showcase their talents. 

“From visual to performing arts, anything is fair game for Columbia County’s own fine arts festival,” says Regina Brejda, Columbia County Arts Inc. president.

The festival will feature a variety of performers including Columbia County Ballet and Musical Theatre Workshops. Fall Fest had 64 vendors from a variety of mediums last year, and event organizers are hoping to have even more artists at this year’s festival. 

“Along with music and dance, you’ll see everything from pottery, paintings and wood carvings to handmade brooms, jewelry and soaps,” Brejda says. “It’s a day of both two-dimensional and three-dimensional art.” 

The popular sidewalk chalk contest will be part of the festivities again this year as well. Local elementary, middle and high schools can enter a team for a chance to win money to support their schools’ visual arts department. The individual portion of the competition begins at 10 a.m. Participants can register at the main Columbia County arts booth. Registration is $20. Categories will be divided into age brackets, and prizes will be awarded for first and second places. An overall best of show winner will be named as well. 

If You Go:
What: Art in the Park Fall Fest 

When: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday, October 20

Where: Columbia County Library Amphitheater

How Much: Free admission; food and beverage vendors on site

More Info: columbiacountyarts.org; columbiacountyarts@gmail.com; Regina Brejda, (706) 267-6724

Egypt Station — Paul McCartney

Listen To This

Egypt-StationSeventeen solo albums after the collapse of the Beatles, Paul McCartney, aka Macca, is as inventive and relevant as ever with his new release, Egypt Station. The insurgence of rock ‘n’ roll is alive and kicking with the royal patriarch at the helm. 

Macca’s melodic style and open spirit envelopes his timeless mark as the approachable and playful Beatle for life. His unique English on the ball (pun intended) is prevalent on Egypt Station as he takes us on a magical and mysterious journey of life well lived with more to come.

Stylistically, Macca’s harmonies, rhythmic tones and purely bottled vocals are at the forefront of some of his most impactful songwriting to date. A prime example is the sobering ditty “Happy with You,” which hollers his view on a life well lived without foreign substances. Instead it’s simple love and the attraction of relational camaraderie that is the only drug at the end of the day.

In our polarizing society, music binds the differences and creates a playing field for everyone to enjoy without shocking-position or overstating an agenda. We can all rally the anthem of love and happiness and what makes life and the company of others so rewarding. Paul McCartney minds the gap, falls into the gap, and bridges the gap that music needs right now with a familiar hope for the horizons that give us the beautiful dawn and the majestic dusk. Egypt Station is the perfect soundtrack for experiencing life in real time and having a real time experiencing life. Deep thoughts for your day. 

- Chris Rucker

Cut from the Same Cloth

A & E
Enopion Theatre Company photos courtesy of Carol Rezzelle Storyland Theatre photos courtesy of Branch Carter

Enopion Theatre Company photos courtesy of Carol Rezzelle
Storyland Theatre photos courtesy of Branch Carter

The skills of local costume designers are bursting at the seams. 

Most of us, who are so inclined, only have to come up with a costume once a year for Halloween. The costume designers at local theater companies, however, create frightfully fabulous costumes all year long. After all, they have learned the tricks of the trade to treat audiences to their otherworldly talents and creativity.

Passionate & Professional
For almost two decades, Margie Garner has made the costumes for Enopion Theatre Company, which puts on three biblical shows a year.

“Margie and I have been working together for about 30 years through church drama and then the last 20 years with Enopion,” says Carol Rezzelle, the Enopion founder and director. “She is passionate about her work and makes our productions beautiful to watch. She sews the costumes, fits them to the actor and then attends every performance making sure the costumes are pressed and on the actor correctly. I couldn’t imagine Enopion without her.”

Margie used to do all of the work herself until Mary Rhoden started helping her with the last production. It takes Margie about six to eight hours to make a costume from scratch. Since she works fulltime at a medical billing company, she sews at night and on weekends.

Fortunately, however, she can repurpose or alter some costumes. “I put them all together one way or another,” says Margie, a self-taught seamstress who started sewing when she was 9 years old. 

Storyland-The-Nightingale(Photo-credit-Branch-Carter)In Enopion’s early years, Margie made 30 or 40 costumes per show. Now that the theater company has amassed an inventory of costumes, she makes 10 to 15 for each production.

“I usually spend as much time on the costumes as the actors do memorizing their lines,” Margie says.

Since 2011, Ooollee Brickman, who owns Vintage Ooollee in Augusta, has designed and sewn the costumes for Storyland Theatre. This theater company performs three fairy tale-based shows a year, and its mission is to introduce children to theater and encourage them to support the arts into adulthood.

“Ooollee is a dynamic, professional and competent woman,” says Barbara Feldman, executive director of Storyland Theatre. “Since Storyland Theatre performs for children, I have always been careful to use different costumes for each show, not repeating a costume for several years because children pay attention and remember everything they see. Ooollee is not only a source to us. Without her, many theaters in our community would be unable to costume their actors.”

Storyland-Sleeping-Beauty(Ooollee-red-hair)Photo-credit-Branch-CarterOoollee makes three or four costumes for Storyland a year, and she also does costumes for local high school theater departments and other small theater groups.

“I love working with Storyland,” says Ooollee. “Barbara introduces children to theater for the first time. I have met people who are actors today because they got their first exposure to theater at Storyland. I think that’s a beautiful thing that happens in this community.”

Ideas & Inspiration
To get ideas for costumes, Margie relies on the Internet and YouTube to research costumes and how to make certain things. In addition, she says, “Carol pulls pictures that she wants things to look like, and we go from there.”

Sometimes Enopion rents costumes, particularly ones that won’t be used again and again, and Margie alters them if necessary. However, she welcomes every challenge for each production. For Enopion’s upcoming show, “The Nativity,” for instance, she needs to make brand new animal costumes for a lion, a duck and a lamb.

For inspiration, Ooollee says, “We meet with the director to get an idea of their vision and look to see what patterns we can find. You’re only limited by your imagination. I have a bunch of creative people that work with me.”

Storyland-Rumpelstiltskin(Photo-credit-Branch-Carter)They include her main seamstress, Kathy Gillespie, who had a costume business in California for 35 years.

“I like the creative process,” says Kathy, who learned to sew when she was 8 years old by making doll clothes. “You can create your own look. I have a good knack for seeing the whole scene.”

She reads the scripts, makes a spreadsheet about every scene and creates a costume plot for each cast member and the characters they play. Then she takes measurements, does fittings and makes alterations.

“It’s a huge process,” Kathy says of making a costume. “I build it or find it or alter it. I’m a perfectionist. It takes a long time to get everybody’s hems right and work around their schedules.”

Kathy, who made her own clothes and Halloween costumes, of course, when she was growing up, delved deeper into costuming when her daughter became interested in theater in high school. Her daughter got involved with Augusta Players when she moved to the area 20 years ago, and Kathy has made some costumes for Augusta Players and Junior Players as well. 

“I enjoy the creative process, which I work on alone,” she says. “But I also enjoy the people I work with – the adults, the kids, the actors. I enjoy being part of that creative team.”

Personality & Performance
Margie tries to factor the personalities of the actors into their costumes. “Some will tolerate being flamboyant, but others won’t,” she says. “I have to take the characters into consideration, also. I try to put something in the costumes that the actors really, really like so they know that it’s their costume and not one I just pulled off the rack.”

That something extra might be as simple as a belt or using the actor’s favorite color. 

Fabrics also make a costume come alive. “Adding trim,” says Ooollee, “just changes everything.” 

For the biblical costumes, Margie often has to make them “plain and rough looking.” 

“I paint the costumes, dirty them up or dye them to make them look old,” she says. 

Ooollee takes the characters’ personalities into consideration when designing costumes. “Some might have a big personality or a demure personality, so you need to change the style,” she says.

However, Ooollee, who started sewing in high school, says the biggest challenge in costume making is having enough time to do it correctly. “It takes time to sew if you want to do it right,” she says. 

And the costumes need to stay just right, so the designers must always be ready for the inevitable wardrobe malfunction.

Margie keeps a bag of pins, tapes and clips handy. In addition, she says, “I usually have a sewing machine in my car, or I at least have a sewing kit with me.”

One of the biggest challenges is getting all of the actors ready on time so they can relax and get in character. However, says Margie, “I never calm down until the show is over.”

Ooollee says the dreaded wardrobe malfunction typically occurs during a quick change. However, she goes to all of Storyland’s dress rehearsals and productions to be on hand to solve any problem. “I take a sewing kit with me,” she says. “That’s what a dress rehearsal is for – to make sure everything works right.” 

Margie not only makes costumes for the performers. She also sewed all of the draperies for Enopion’s new performing space, Ivory Box Theatre, that recently opened in Martinez. 

“I like it all. I love doing the costumes. I love working backstage. I love all the excitement and camaraderie,” Margie says. “It’s a good, family atmosphere.”

And the clothes definitely can make the character. 

“I love to dress up in costume. You can put on a different face and a different outfit, and you can let your hair down,” Ooollee says. “You can put on a costume and become a completely different person.”

By Sarah James


Have a Big Time

A & E

ModelThe Oliver Hardy Festival celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.
Harlem once again will honor its native son with its annual Oliver Hardy Festival. For three decades Hardy, along with Englishman Stan Laurel, was one-half of Hollywood’s famous comedy duo of Laurel & Hardy. 

“Oliver Hardy was born here, and the festival keeps his memory alive,” says Kennedy Sammons, Harlem’s Downtown Development director.

The event will include almost 150 arts and crafts vendors, about 30 food vendors, look alikes dressed as Stan and Ollie, old cars, a parade and all-day viewings of Laurel & Hardy movies. A stage at the Harlem Library will offer entertainment throughout the day by performers such as The Remedy, Tanner Duckworth and Augusta Youth School of Dance.

Food will range from pulled pork, hamburgers, hot dogs and cheese steaks to funnel cakes, fried Oreos, gelato and shaved ice.

“We want people to enjoy Harlem and come see what we have to offer. Most of our downtown merchants will be open during the festival,” Sammons says. “Harlem has the only historical downtown in Columbia County.”

The festival typically attracts more than 35,000 visitors from around the world.

If You Go:
What: Oliver Hardy Festival

When: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday, October 6; parade begins at 10 a.m.

Where: Downtown Harlem

How Much: Free admission 

More Info: harlemga.org

Aw, Shucks!

A & E

bash-picCentral Savannah River Land Trust celebrates success with its annual oyster roast and party at the river

Perfect fall evenings beg for perfect fall celebrations, and it will be hard to beat Central Savannah River Land Trust’s 15th annual Bash on the Banks. 

The popular event once again will feature an oyster roast with oysters from the Gulf of Mexico, classic Southern food catered by Sweet Magnolia’s Deli and Grille in Pelion, South Carolina, and local spirits from River Watch Brewery in Augusta and Carolina Moon Distillery in Edgefield.

Entertainment will include corn hole, a live auction, a raffle, live music by blues band Packrat’s Smokehouse, and new this year, a cigar bar.

Raffle items include a 12-foot angler’s kayak, passes to the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Palmetto Shooting Complex, a wood bowl turned by Dave Welter and gift packages from local boutiques. 

The auction will include experience-based items such as fly fishing lessons, a fly fishing trip and rounds of golf at area courses. In one of the highlights of the evening, local artist Richard Worth will paint a nature scene during the party, and the acrylic will be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

“We are celebrating everyone’s combined efforts of conservation success and the generous community support,” says Bethany Surles, the Land Trust membership and events coordinator. “This is our way to celebrate with the community. We couldn’t succeed without them.” 

The Land Trust is funded entirely by grants and donations. By preserving local forests, farms, rivers and open spaces, the nonprofit organization protects the quality of life in the area and leaves natural resources intact for future generations. Since 2001, the Land Trust has protected more than 7,300 acres of land throughout Georgia and South Carolina.

Preserved areas include 315 acres in Columbia County, 1,761 in Richmond County and 773 acres in Aiken and Edgefield counties such as Greystone Preserve in North Augusta. Through partnerships with local developers, the Land Trust has saved more than 2.5 miles of the banks of the Savannah River along the edge of Columbia County. The conservation organization has preserved land in several Columbia County neighborhoods as well. 

“It’s our desire to connect conservation properties throughout Columbia County. With both green spaces and the greenway project, we are focused on this high density and developed area,” says Surles. “For any remaining landowners who are interested in still preserving their land, we would love for them to reach out to us.”

In the meantime, however, past accomplishments must be celebrated. “We are really elevating the experience this year,” Surles says. “It’s going to be a great event. We’re really excited.” 

If You Go:
What: 15th annual Bash on the Banks 

When: 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Thursday, October 25 

Where: River Island Clubhouse 

How Much: $75 admission; $20 drinks (three alcoholic beverages, unlimited soft drinks), $5 single drink; $20 raffle tickets

More Info: csrlt.org

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Literary Loop

hardcastle“Somebody’s going to be murdered at the ball tonight. It won’t appear to be a murder and so the murderer won’t be caught. Rectify that injustice and I’ll show you the way out.”

It is meant to be a celebration, but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed. 

But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden — one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party — can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again, ending every time with the fateful pistol shot. The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath.

“Pop your favorite Agatha Christie whodunnit into a blender with a scoop of Downton Abbey, a dash of Quantum Leap and a liberal sprinkling of Groundhog’s Day and you’ll get this unique murder mystery,” says Harper’s Bazaar. 

“Turton’s debut is a brainy, action-filled sendup of the classic mystery,” says Kirkus.

Ladies’ Night


Tents-2Pick up a “passport” for shopping, music, hors d’oeuvres and wine tasting – plus a chance to win big prizes – in downtown Harlem.

The Georgia Bulldogs football team might have the night off, but downtown Harlem will be open for business for its third annual Harlem Ladies’ Night Out on Saturday, October 20. 

The event, presented by The Harlem Merchants Association and Landrum Florist and Antiques, is open to all ladies who like shopping, music, good food and good friends at a fun-filled evening. Ladies can pick up their passports and maps in front of the Harlem library and then visit stores where they can enjoy browsing through the merchandise, wine and hors d’oeuvres. 

“It’s like a big scavenger hunt,” says Marla Logan, a Harlem business owner. “The ladies can get their passports stamped and enter them in a drawing for door prizes at the end of the night at Red Oak Manor.”

Door prizes include items such as a flat screen television and Yeti coolers. A free concert by the band Harlem Sons will begin about 7 p.m. at Red Oak Manor. Kicks 99 also will broadcast live for the event’s Guitar Pull ticket stop. 

“The event is free. However, if you wish to participate in tasting wine in our storefronts, there will be a one-time $5 charge for a wristband,” Logan says. “We just want people to visit and explore downtown Harlem.”

If You Go:
What: Harlem Ladies’ Night Out 

When: 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. Saturday, October 20; free concert begins at 7 p.m.

Where: Downtown Harlem 

How Much: Free admission; $5 wristband for wine tasting

More Info: Downtown Harlem, GA Facebook page

Paying It Forward

Photography by Addie Strozier

Photography by Addie Strozier

Medical services are in demand at FaithCare Clinic – and so is the need for more volunteer physicians. 

Most churches are relatively quiet on a typical Tuesday evening. At Wesley United Methodist Church in Evans, however, every other Tuesday night is full of energy and activity. 

On those nights, the education building is converted into a healthcare facility where 30 to 40 people volunteer their services to provide free medical care at the FaithCare Clinic from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The clinic, which was the brainchild of former WUMC pastor Glenn Ethridge, provides patients with acute minor illness and ongoing primary medical care, professional counseling and some prescription drug assistance. 

Patients must meet three criteria to be eligible for treatment at the clinic. They must be Columbia County residents, have no health insurance and be below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

“This is one of the wealthiest counties in the state, but we have a significant amount of individuals in our county that don’t have access to medical care,” says Lewis Bandy, a retired medical administrator and the clinic’s administrator.

Volunteers-with-ComputersNowhere Else to Turn
FaithCare originally operated at Evans Surgery Center when it was founded in 2002, but it moved to the WUMC education building about 3.5 years ago. The clinic includes a check-in area, waiting room, interview room, nurses’ station, electronic record keeping and a pharmacy assistance program. Sunday school rooms are converted into exam rooms.

FaithCare is part of the Greater Augusta Healthcare Network, which was established in 2007 to address the need for quality, affordable healthcare in the area.

The network includes four hospitals, seven community clinics, the east Central Health District and eight community service providers. Of the seven clinics, FaithCare is the only one in Columbia County.

On a recent Tuesday evening, 35 volunteers took care of 25 patients at the clinic. The volunteers included four physicians, four nurses, a counselor, a dietitian, 17 administrative personnel and eight students.

Of the patients, 15 visited the clinic for medical appointments, five visited the pharmacy, four came for counseling and one received a dietary consultation.

In addition, says Bandy, “Doctors Hospital provides routine lab and x-ray services for free.”

The clinic sees patients by appointment only, and they are treated most commonly for high blood pressure, diabetes, respiratory ailments, obesity and smoking. The clinic also offers free flu shots, which are funded through a mission of the church.

Dr.-Richard-Melcher-with-Student“Wesley has always been very community-oriented,” says volunteer Ross Meschke, a pharmaceutical drug representative and WUMC member. “Many of the patients are among the working poor or are single women who have lost their health insurance because of divorce. Most of our patients have jobs, and most of our need is chronic.”

Natalie, an Evans resident, was at the clinic for pharmaceutical services, which she receives once a month. She first came to FaithCare when she had a broken leg in June 2017.

“When you walk in the door, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from. The love of God is shown when you walk in the door, and they get you what you need,” Natalie says. “My life has changed drastically by coming here and seeing these people and seeing the smiles, the love and the outpouring of hope and prayers we’re given.”

James, an Appling farmer who has no insurance, has received medical care for knee and back pain from the clinic for two or three years. He also has been referred to Project Access to take part in a sleep study.

Project Access is a Richmond County Medical Society outreach program that provides healthcare for uninsured, low- to moderate-income residents of Richmond and Columbia counties. FaithCare refers patients to this program for specialty care.

Sr.-Laura-Mulloy-&-Student“They help me a lot,” James says of the clinic volunteers. “I don’t know what I would do without the clinic. It would be real rough.”

Patients usually hear about FaithCare by word-of-mouth, but currently the clinic is not accepting new patients because of the shortage of volunteer physicians. Bandy says it is particularly difficult to find behavioral health caregivers. “A lot of patients are in need to talk to somebody,” he says.

However, Paul Schantz, a retired VA chaplain, has filled that void by volunteering at the clinic. “You come in here, and you see hurting people who have nowhere to turn. I try to be a positive presence for them and offer encouragement to them,” he says.

Through its pharmacy assistance program, FaithCare provides its patients with no- or low-cost prescription drugs. However, the clinic does not prescribe narcotics or controlled substances.

Meschke helps arrange for the provision of sample drugs from major drug companies and helps patients understand the free or reduced-cost programs the drug companies offer. He also trains volunteers to fill out the necessary paperwork. Meschke, along with Dr. Laura Mulloy and retired RN Joe Kendall, have been with the clinic since its beginnings.

Medical-Student-Volunteer-CoordinatorsTraining Future Physicians
The patients are not the only reason the FaithCare doctors volunteer at the clinic, however. The opportunity to mentor medical students is a big draw for them as well.

“The clinic is good for the community, but it’s also good for training our future physicians,” says Mulloy, a professor and the chief of the Division of Nephrology at Augusta University. “It helps first-year students feel comfortable in their skin in a white coat.”

The medical students talk to the patients in the interview room about their history and present their findings to the physicians.

“Being able to interact with real patients is better than interviewing someone who is acting,” says Julianne Gillis, a Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University student volunteer coordinator. “We also have to present to the doctors, so they really help us get experience that we’ll have to use throughout residency.”

Her fellow MCG student clinic coordinator, David Reehl, finds other benefits from volunteering at the clinic.

“It’s good exposure to faith-based medicine to an under-served population in the community,” he says. “We learn how to integrate faith and spiritual healing into our practice.”

The student coordinators also make sure patients at the clinic are seen in a timely manner, which is an indispensable part of the services.

“I love taking care of the patients, and I love having students here. Teaching is my first love. I wouldn’t be in medicine if I couldn’t teach,” says Mulloy, who has served as FaithCare’s medical director for about nine years. “And it’s valuable for the students to give back and do community service early in their careers. Ninety percent of what we do is listening to people and talking.”

The doctors benefit from listening to the students as well. “Talking to them is refreshing,” says Dr. Nathan Brandon, an anesthesiologist and pain physician. “They ask questions and keep my brain awake.”

Brandon also finds that the variety of medical needs at the clinic gives him a break from the routine of his practice.

“I like it when the patients say, ‘thank you,’” says Brandon, who has volunteered at the clinic for six years. “I get to know these people.”

After the last patient leaves, Mulloy presents a case study to the students.

“I like to teach. I come up with a clinical vignette. I usually pick something I’ve seen during the day,” says Mulloy. “The students can ask questions. There’s not a lot of pressure. They’re not getting a grade. We’re just here to help them learn.”

Marie-Melcher-&-NataliePhysicians Needed
Since it was founded in 2002, FaithCare Clinic, a free, appointment-only clinic that provides primary medical care to uninsured Columbia County residents, has treated about 700 patients. The clinic, which operates from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. every other Tuesday at Wesley United Methodist Church, currently serves 70 to 90 active patients, but it is not taking new patients at this time.

The clinic staff draws from a pool of about 45 volunteers, but only four of them are physicians – Dr. Laura Mulloy, a professor and the chief of the Division of Nephrology at Augusta University; Dr. Karen Phelps, a family practice physician at Eisenhower Army Medical Center; Dr. Richard Melcher, a retired internal medicine physician; and Dr. Nathan Brandon, an anesthesiologist and pain physician.

However, they would love to have some company. 

“We’re not asking doctors to come every other Tuesday for the rest of their lives,” says Mulloy, who also serves as the clinic’s medical director. “If a doctor could volunteer three or four times a year, that would be a gift. They could work for two hours a night, or agree to see five patients. It’s a public service to the community. As health care providers, that’s part of the reason we’re here. They can come one or two times and see if they like it.”

In the past, the clinic has had eight to 10 volunteer physicians. However, some no longer volunteer because they have moved away or their practices have changed. The FaithCare doctors also have found that other physicians are hesitant to volunteer because of concerns about liability or being overwhelmed with patients.

Case-Study-2However, the doctors are covered for malpractice by the Georgia Volunteer Health Care Program through the state Department of Public Health. FaithCare physicians are not under contract, and the appointment-only nature of the ministry prevents them from having to see more patients than they can handle in an evening. The volunteers even get a free meal prepared by WUMC members.

In July, FaithCare had to cancel one clinic because there were not enough physicians available. And if more doctors volunteered, then the clinic could expand its reach to serve more patients.

“Come visit and see what we do,” Brandon says. “Once they see what we do, they wouldn’t be worried about malpractice.”

For more information, email the clinic administrator, Lewis Bandy, at lew.bandy@gmail.com.

By Leigh Howard

Kick the Dust Up


_Main-photoAwarding-winning country music singer Luke Bryan brings his 10th annual Farm Tour to North Augusta. 

Each fall since 2009, country music superstar Luke Bryan has taken his high-energy tours to farms across the country to celebrate his Leesburg, Georgia upbringing and to honor American farmers. This year the fifth stop of his six-city Farm Tour will bring him to Misty Morning Farms in North Augusta.

More than 100,000 fans have attended the tour each year since its inception. Through the tour, which is celebrating its 10th year this fall, Bryan has given back to the farming community by awarding college scholarships to students from agricultural families that are attending colleges or universities near Farm Tour stops. To date, more than 50 scholarships have been granted.

“I can’t believe we’ve been doing this 10 years,” Bryan says. “Our goal was to bring a show into towns like the one I grew up in that normally wouldn’t get this kind of opportunity while honoring the American farmer at the same time. I can’t express how much it means to me that these towns continue to support this vision. 

The country music artist and “American Idol” judge garnered his 20th career No. 1 single in March when “Most People Are Good” hit the top spot on the Country Aircheck and the Billboard Country Airplay charts. This was his 12th straight Billboard No. 1, the longest current streak among all artists. The song also was the second consecutive No. 1 hit from Bryan’s What Makes You Country album.

Bryan is a two-time Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year, a five-time host of the ACM Awards and the 2017 Super Bowl LI national anthem performer. He has sold more than 10 million albums and more than 40 million tracks with three billion music streams, and has performed for millions of fans on tour.

At the concert, chairs and blankets can be set up in designated areas but no coolers will be allowed. Tickets must be presented for access to parking areas, which open at 2 p.m.

The Farm Tour concludes October 6 at Doug Yates Farms in Ringgold, Georgia.

If You Go:

What: Luke Bryan Farm Tour

When: 6 p.m. Friday, October 5

Where: Misty Morning Farms, 306 Currytown Road, North Augusta, South Carolina

How Much: Tickets – $51 in advance; $60 at the gate, $175 VIP; parking – $5 in advance; $20 day of 

More Info: lukebryan.com

Dive On In


1. National Public Lands Day JSTScuba divers – along with terra firma-loving volunteers – can participate in a cleanup effort at J. Strom Thurmond Dam. 

In conjunction with National Public Lands Day, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is looking for volunteers to participate in a cleanup at J. Strom Thurmond Dam at Clarks Hill Lake on Saturday, September 29. 

The event also is affiliated with Project Aware, a nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to cleaning up ocean environments. 

NPLD_2015_SBR_9194_4x6H“Project Aware focuses on oceans, but everything eventually will end up in our oceans,” says Tara McNaylor, manager of Bubbles or Not in Harlem. “We have a huge problem with trash as a society.”

Volunteer scuba divers and kayakers, who help transport trash to shore, will conduct debris cleanup of the river side of the dam. Landlubber volunteers can help clean up along the shore.

Land projects will include debris cleanup, brush clearing and trail and park maintenance along the shoreline, islands, recreation areas, coves, old road ends and bridge areas. Land volunteers should wear closed-toed shoes and long pants and bring plenty of water. 

NPLD (1)The cleanup will begin at 8 a.m., and a barbecue lunch for volunteers will follow at noon. Check-in for the event will be at the Below Dam South Carolina Recreation Area, 384 Power Plant Road, Clarks Hill, South Carolina.

Volunteers should plan to arrive a few minutes early for check-in and a safety briefing. They will receive a free T-shirt (while the supply lasts). Volunteers can register as individuals or groups, and they are asked to sign up by Wednesday, September 12. 

The divers will attempt to dive below the dam if the power generation schedule allows. Alternate sites will be East Dam and West Dam. 

Martinez resident Justin Walter, who is a member of the dive teams for Columbia and Richmond counties, first organized a group of divers to volunteer for the cleanup five years ago.

NPLD 2017 (1)“It’s a great way to help the environment. You see a lot of trash and debris when you dive underwater in this area,” he says. “The cleanup also provides a free opportunity for local divers to dive.” 

Last year was the first year that Bubbles or Not volunteers participated in the cleanup. “We had about 30 divers and support staff with Bubbles or Not for the dive cleanup, and we hope to have at least that many this year, too,” says McNaylor.

Divers found items including TVs; fishing lines, lures and poles; auto and boat batteries; boat motors; mattresses; bottles and cans.

Bubbles or Not, which partners with the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, will offer two classes in conjunction with the cleanup as well. A three-hour class to teach non-divers about ocean conservation will begin at 5 p.m. at the store on Friday, September 28.

Underwater Cleanup DiveThe shop also will offer a Dive Against Debris class, which includes PADI certification, during the cleanup. This class will include a brief overview before the cleanup and the dive itself.

Bubbles or Not also will sell mesh, reusable cleanup bags for $10 for the event. “Every penny goes directly to Project Aware,” McNaylor says. The bags are included in the Dive Against Debris class fee.

For more information or to get a volunteer registration form, call Bubbles or Not at (706) 901-5045 or Ranger Ben Werner at (864) 333-1131. Forms also are available online at balancingthebasin.armylive.dodlive.mil. Completed forms can be dropped off or mailed to the Thurmond Project Office, 510 Clarks Hill Highway, Clarks Hill, SC 29821. 

They also may be faxed to (864) 333-1150 or emailed to CESAS-OP-T@usace.army.mil. 

In the event of severe weather conditions, National Public Lands Day events will be cancelled. No rain date is scheduled. National Public Lands Day is a nationwide day of service for volunteering at local, state and federal park lands.

The cleanup also is part of Georgia’s statewide Rivers Alive program.

All Ashore — Punch Brothers

Listen To This

Punch+Brothers+-+All+Ashore+CoverIt has been 12 years and five records since the inception of the great hybrid-genre-twisted Punch Brothers emerged onto the Americana landscape. 

Along the way we have heard this five-piece group reinvent their sound in many ways, but all in part due to the skilled leadership of the genius that is Chris Thile. After the success of his flagship pop group, Nickel Creek, Thile experimented with a jazz-infused bluegrass concept, covering the likes of Britney Spears and Radiohead and dabbling in blues folk, which has culminated into a unique mix of styles on their latest release, All Ashore

All Ashore is a heavily melodic tromp through nine tracks of lush plucks and haunting strings. The endearing undertones of committed relationships and beautifully crafted landscapes chase the lighter moments and add warmth to the deeper, emotional swings.

As with every Punch Brothers release, there is a sense of concept and wild abandon that allows the musical journey to flourish and explore new, uncharted territory. The cinematic vibe of protagonistic wonder leads the way to rising action and a perfectly crafted climax as each track bleeds into the next. It’s the perfect soundtrack for study halls and coffee shops everywhere.

- Chris Rucker

Get in the Race


1.-Main-photo-the-runFeel the burn for a worthy cause – a 5k run that benefits firefighters and their family members who are battling cancer

While wearing their gear and air packs, Grovetown resident Phillip Weathers, a firefighter at Savannah River Site, and his co-workers have been regular participants in races to raise awareness about local charities. Then Weathers decided to up his game. Five years ago he founded FireK FiveK to help fellow firefighters and their family members that are battling cancer. 

In 2010, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health launched a study, which was completed in late 2015, of almost 30,000 firefighters in Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco. The results of the study showed that the firefighters had higher rates of certain types of cancer than the general U.S. population.

2. Firefighters“We know what the risks are, and for most of us, it wouldn’t matter. We’d still do the job,” says Weathers. “We want to raise money for the firefighters that need help. We also want to raise awareness and find better ways to do the job.”

Once the proceeds from this year’s race are distributed, FireK FiveK will have given more than $10,000 to firefighters in need in the past five years. 

The 5k typically attracts 120 to 150 runners, and this year Weathers hopes to have 200 racers in the field. Participants can register as individuals or as teams. The course, which is fairly flat and has multiple water points, is USA Track & Field-certified this year. It also is on the list of races for Run & See Georgia Grand Prix, a series that encourages runners to travel and race across the state. 

3. trophiesTop performers in each age group, as well as the top male and female finishers, will earn trophies. In addition, says Weathers, “Firefighters will compete for a bragging rights trophy that looks like the Stanley Cup.” 

The family friendly event will include a live DJ, inflatables for kids, face painting, displays of firefighting apparatus and more. Hot dogs, hamburgers and beverages will be available at no charge, but donations are welcome. Prizes will be raffled off at the event, and calendars featuring firefighters that have been helped by the fundraiser will be sold as well.

“In the last one or two years, the support has been outstanding from the people that have come on board. This year is shaping up to be a big year for us,” Weathers says. “It’s really cool to be a part of this.”

4. Ninja turtleIf You Go: 

What: FireK FiveK

When: 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. Saturday, October 6; check-in begins at 7:30 a.m.; race begins at 9 a.m. 

Where: Lady A Pavilion, Evans Towne Center Park

 How Much: $30 – $85 for race participants; spectators are free 

More Info: firekfivek.com

Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen

Literary Loop

Harry's-TreesThirty-four-year-old Harry Crane works as an analyst for the U.S. Forest Service. When his wife dies suddenly, he is unable to cope. Leaving his job and his old life behind, Harry makes his way to the remote woods of northeastern Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains, determined to lose himself. But fate intervenes in the form of a fiercely determined young girl named Oriana. 

Oriana and her mother, Amanda, are struggling to pick up the pieces from their own tragedy — Amanda stoically holding it together while Oriana roams the forest searching for answers. And in Oriana’s magical, willful mind, she believes that Harry is the key to righting her world.

After taking up residence in the woods behind Amanda’s house, Harry reluctantly agrees to help Oriana in a ludicrous scheme to escape his tragic past. In so doing, the unlikeliest of elements — a wolf, a stash of gold coins, a fairy tale called “The Grum’s Ledger” and a wise old librarian named Olive —comes together to create a golden adventure that will fulfill Oriana’s wildest dreams and open Harry’s heart to a whole new life.

Harry’s Trees is an uplifting story about the redeeming power of friendship and love and the magic to be found in life’s most surprising adventures.

Magic Moments


The-DriftersGet ready to go Under the Boardwalk, get All Shook Up and recapture Time in a Bottle.

The Hardin Performing Arts Center will be rockin’ and rollin’ this month with performances that evoke feelings of nostalgia with their music. 

On Friday, September 14, The Drifters will show how they brought several firsts to the music business. They were the first rock ’n’ roll group to include string instruments in rhythm and blues music with the song, “There Goes My Baby.” They were the first group to sell two million records with the pop classic, “Up on the Roof.” Their hit “Under the Boardwalk” is the most played R&B disc of all time, and in a 15-year span, The Drifters were part of the longest running sold-out concert show in Las Vegas history. The Drifters also have sold more than 200 million records across the world, a feat that has been topped only by Michael Jackson, the Rolling Stones and Adele. Tickets are $44.50.

On Friday, September 21, A Tribute to the King featuring Travis LeDoyt will showcase the genius of Elvis Presley, whose songs shaped a generation. Born in 1977, the year Presley died, LeDoyt never saw the King in person. However, with his remarkable resemblance to the man and his talent to emulate Presley’s voice and style, he captures the essence of the star in his prime. Specializing the 1954-1959 years, LeDoyt offers those who never saw Elvis Presley perform the next best thing. Tickets are $39.50.

A.J. Croce, son of the late Jim Croce, comes to the area Wednesday, September 26. Although he has experienced a lifetime of comparisons to the father he lost when he was only 2 years old, his music bears little resemblance to that of his singer-songwriter-guitarist father. The younger Croce, a piano man-singer-guitarist, has a sound that is part New Orleans, part juke joint and part soul. Tickets are $39.50.

All concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. For tickets or more information, visit augustaamusements.com or call 706-726-0366.

Making Tracks


4. Jean & Gary RussethA Harlem man combines his love of woodworking and historic vehicles to create lifelike sculptures of a 19th century locomotive and vintage cars.

People can find all kinds of ways to spend their golden years. Some cultivate a hobby. Others prefer to volunteer. Still others like to keep history alive. Local resident Gary Russeth, a Minnesota native who retired in Harlem in 2005, is into all three.

3. 1911 Stanley SteamerIn his spare time, Russeth and his wife, Jean, run their Ollie Also and Stanie Too Fine Mess Old Car Museum of Harlem, Georgia, where he displays his large woodcarving sculptures of a train and vintage automobiles.

“I’ve always been an enthusiast of Laurel and Hardy, and I thought Harlem was a good place to retire,” says Russeth, a former Marine who spent his professional career making life support equipment for helicopters.

He and his wife had visited the community for the annual Laurel and Hardy Festival before retiring here. Now they stay busy with the museum, where his wooden replica of the General, a 4-4-0 steam locomotive built during the 1850s, sits outside. However, Russeth would like to find another home for the train.

2. Russeths With Train“I’d like to put it on permanent display someplace, and I’d like to keep it close by,” he says.

After all, the project is one that is near and dear to his heart, so he wouldn’t want it to stray too far down the tracks. Russeth completed the half-scale replica, which is 26 feet long and 54 inches wide, in 2016 with recycled pieces of wood after four years of work.

“I’m still futzing around with it. I made smoke and steam coming out of it by using Dacron to make it look more authentic,” he says.

1. MuseumHe even built wooden tracks to sit beneath the locomotive. He admits that the real reason he built the train replica, however, was to have a place to put his half-scale marionettes of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.

Russeth says he has made about 50 trains through the years. He also has had a lifelong fascination with automobiles and their art of design, and he started carving model cars when he was 13 years old.

“I have always been interested in wood and making things,” says Russeth. “I want to keep the history of old vehicles alive.” 

Ready to get stainedIn addition to the General, he has seven wood-carved vintage cars, along with a real Model T Ford, on display at the museum.

The car replicas include a full-size sculpture of a 1919 Model T Ford touring car, a 1910 Studebaker electric motor car, a 1903 Model A Ford, a 1902 Curved Dash Oldsmobile, a 1907 Buick G Ebony and Ivory, a 1908 Maxwell and a Stanley Steamer.

The Model T features life-size soft sculptures of Laurel and Hardy, and the 1926 license plate represents the year the comedy duo first teamed up for the film, 45 Minutes from Hollywood.

A realistic crank starts the motor when a dashboard switch is turned on, and an internal electric motor provides the sound of a roaring engine. Head, tail and side lights are illuminated when the motor is running.

The sculpture also features a working, two-man, fold-down top; steering and a realistic-sounding horn. Russeth, who also volunteers at the Laurel & Hardy Museum, considers this sculpture a tribute to Henry, Stan and Ollie.

The Studebaker sculpture features working doors, hoods, steering, wheels and windows. Varnished rather than painted, the Maxwell showcases its wood origins.

The museum is located at 415 East Boundary Street in Harlem, and it is open, Russeth says, “whenever we get a call.”

“People who come here are not disappointed,” he says.

For more information, call (706) 361-5695.

By Todd Beck