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The Real God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen


God Rest Ye Merry GentlemenPsst. Here’s what that title actually means.

Somehow, God Make You Mighty, Gentlemen just doesn’t evoke the same Christmas spirit as God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. But, without the evolution of the English language, that is how the beloved Christmas carol would be known today. 

Like most of the earliest Christmas songs, it was penned as a direct reaction to the music of the church. Usually written in Latin and put to somber, dark melodies, church songs were hardly a source of comfort and joy.

While people continued to go to organized worship services, they created their own light, lively church music — outside the walls of the cathedrals and chapels — in common language. Their Christmas folk songs became the foundation of our cherished Christmas carols.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen was the most famous and loved of all the early carols. Written 500 years ago with an upbeat melody and a joyful message about the birth of Jesus, the song was sung for centuries before finally being published in the 1800s. 

Because Queen Victoria loved Christmas carols, the song won the approval of the Anglican Church. Soon the Protestant English clergy were enthusiastically teaching God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen to their congregations. Moving to Europe and America, the carol became a favorite throughout the Christian world, and it is still sung in much the same way that it was originally. 

Today, however, with the change of word definitions over time, few people fully understand the meaning of the carol. Now, when people say “Merry Christmas,” they mean “Happy Christmas.” Yet when God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen was written, “merry” meant “great and mighty.”  

So, in the Middle Ages, a strong army was a merry army, a great singer was a merry singer, and a mighty ruler was a merry ruler. (Just think about Robin Hood’s “Merry Men.”) When English carolers in the Victorian era sang “merry gentlemen,” they meant “great or mighty men.”

“Rest” also has a much different meaning in today’s world. In the Victorian era, it meant “keep or make.” So, in modern English, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen becomes God Make You Mighty, Gentlemen. Over time, the comma after the word “merry” has been lost as well. Using this translation, the old carol suddenly makes perfect sense, as does the most common saying of the holidays, “Merry Christmas.” In the language of today, have a “Great and Mighty Christmas!”

Holiday’s Rule Vol 2 — Various Artists

Listen To This

Holidays-RuleThe soundtrack that brings us into a joyful union of the Christmas spirit and warm gatherings of loved ones and kindred companions is something most of us build over time. We add to the mix songs of seasonal nostalgia and traditional foundations while enhancing the holiday mood like a candy cane garnish in a hot mug of coca.

One notable release this year is Holiday’s Rule Vol 2, which features everyone from Paul McCartney to Lake Street Dive. Song for song, this is the perfect shopping or road trip to Grandma’s house compilation. 

From the poppy a capella rendition of “Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney, Jimmy Fallon and the Roots to the sultry “Christmas Moon” by Grace Potter, these 16 tracks of classics wrap this season with a nice big bow. 

May this new addition to your Christmas soundtrack be the cinnamon broom for your ears this holiday season. 

- Chris Rucker

Semper Fideles


Semper FidelesSemper FidelesWith Toys for Tots and other community programs, this Marine Corps League Detachment brings generosity into play year-round.

The holidays bring out a giving spirit in everyone, and the Lt. Col. Jimmie Dyess Marine Corps League Detachment 921 is no exception. Its members support young and old alike.

With no Marine Corps Reserve in the area, the detachment sponsors the local Toys for Tots campaign by collecting toys and donations during the holiday season. Last year the detachment collected 86,263 toys for 28,754 children, 12,107 stocking stuffers and raised $58,752.66 – an increase of 1,174 more children than 2015 as well as 3,429 more toys and $16,269.20 more in monetary contributions. The increases occurred despite the reduction in volunteers from 2015. 

During the holidays, members of the detachment also visit the Georgia Veterans’ Home and bring Christmas gifts to the veterans.

1.-2017-standup-at-Harris-JewelersHowever, the detachment, a nonprofit veterans’ organization for Marines, Navy corpsmen who served with Marines in the Fleet Marine Force and FMF chaplains, participates in community outreach and charitable activities all year long. The Marine Corps League, chartered by Congress in 1937, sponsors a Young Marine detachment for youths between the ages of 8 and 18. Similar to other youth organizations, it is designed to help young people develop structure and discipline in their lives through leadership training, growth and promotion opportunities, education and community outreach activities. 

5.-veternas-home-2Any parents interested in getting their children into this program can contact Albert Genao, unit commandant, at (910) 238-0499. The detachment also recognizes newly designated Eagle Scouts in the area, and each spring it presents citizenship awards to high school students in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. The detachment also supports the Doctors Hospital burn unit. 

A focus on supporting the military and veterans is a big part of the detachment’s mission. Each fall, the detachment supports Fort Gordon’s annual Tribute Run for the Fallen, which commemorates individuals who sacrificed their lives in the war on terror. Detachment members also are encouraged to spend time at the VA hospitals and support local veterans.

3.-Doris-and-MeekerIt is no surprise that the Lt. Col. Jimmie Dyess Marine Corps League Detachment 921 is so involved in the community. After all, it was named for someone who embodied caring and service to others. Lt. Col. Dyess was an Eagle Scout, a Carnegie Medal recipient and a Medal of Honor recipient who was killed in action during World War II. He is the only person on record to receive all three of these honors. 

The detachment is always looking for new members as well. Any active or prior-service Marines or Navy Corpsmen, or anyone wishing to support the charitable and outreach activities of the detachment, can help. For more information, visit augustamarines.com or email mcl921@yahoo.com.

- Senior Vice Commandant Randy Hirsch

Making a Joyful Noise


CHRISTMAS-CONCERTEvery family has its holiday customs, and Christmas with the Annie Moses Band is becoming a tradition for local residents. The band will perform its Christmas-themed show Wednesday, December 20 with a combination of folk and classical music. 

Comprised of Julliard-trained musicians from the same family, the band has a sound all its own. The siblings call their style “chamber pop,” a blend of classical, jazz and pop, mixed with some good old-fashioned country.

From the spirited “God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen” to the soulful “O Holy Night,” the performance features fiery string playing and stirring renditions of enduring favorites and fresh originals. “Christmas with the Annie Moses Band” stands on the PBS charts as one of the most frequently played specials of the season. 

Offering the best of beloved genres, the band appeals to audiences young and old ranging from classical connoisseurs and roots enthusiasts to jazz aficionados and bluegrass buffs. 

If You Go:

What: Christmas with the Annie Moses Band

When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, December 20

Where: Jabez S. Hardin Performing Arts Center

How Much: $49; dinner for an additional $25 (limited quantities available)

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

After the Snow by Susannah Constantine

Literary Loop

after-the-snow-Dec-2017A modern day Nancy Mitford, Susannah Constantine provides a rare glimpse into the secret lives of the scandalous upper classes in her debut novel, After the Snow.

It’s Christmas 1969, and 11-year-old Esme Munroe is living with her mum, dad and older sister in the Lodge House of Culcairn Castle, a grand estate in the Scottish Highlands.

All Esme wants for Christmas is for her mother to be on one of her “good” days – and, secretly, for a velvet riding hat. So when she finds an assortment of wet towels and dirty plates in her stocking, she’s just relieved Father Christmas remembered to stop at The Lodge this year.

But later that day Esme’s mother disappears in the heavy snow. Even more mysteriously, only the Earl of Culcairn seems to know where she might have gone. Torn between protecting her mother and uncovering the secrets tumbling out of the castle’s ornate closets, Esme realizes that life will never be the same again after the snow. 

An absorbing “upstairs/downstairs” tale with shades of English novelist Dodie Smith, After the Snow is perfect for fans of “Downton Abbey” and “The Crown.”

Captain Philip Canning Area Commander, The Salvation Army


salvation armyNumber of years in position:

Family: Wife, Captain Elaine Canning (Associate Area Commander); two children, ages 14 and 9

Why I’m Passionate About What I Do: I’m passionate about my role as a Salvation Army officer because it affords me the privilege of working with a broad range of individuals and organizations in order to create positive change in our communities.

Community Groups and Charities I Love to Support: My favorite charity is The Salvation Army. Go figure! I work for, and support, The Salvation Army because it is one of the most trusted charitable organizations in the world. With more than 82 cents of every dollar going towards programs and services in local communities, its integrity and accountablity is second to none. When individuals give of their time and resources, they can be assured that they will be used to “Do the Most Good.”

Biggest Career or Life Obstacle I’ve Overcome and How: The biggest life obstacle I’ve had to overcome is myself. Coming out of high school and going through college, I had goals and dreams for my life. I spent 10 years in the financial services field and found myself to be successful in the pursuit of my plans. The crazy thing was that the closer I got to obtaining my goals, the more unhappy I was becoming. After a two-year debate between me and God, I finally surrendered my life plans to Him. Now I have the honor of serving God and his people and bringing hope into the most hopeless of places. 

Accomplishment I’m Most Proud Of: I am most proud of being presented with the 2016 Community Visionary Award in Shawnee, Oklahoma. In Shawnee, my team and I developed an innovative, grassroots strategy to develop understanding between the social classes, consolidate influence around the greatest needs in our community and create meaningful change in the lives of those impacted by poverty. One of the single mothers involved, who came from an under-resourced background, is about to have her first book published by aha! Process Inc.

What Your Childhood Self Wanted to Be When You Grew Up: As a child I always wanted to be a police officer so I could ride a motorcycle and catch the “bad guys.” “CHiPs” had undue influence on my young life!

Favorite Way to Spend Saturday Afternoon: My favorite way to spend a Saturday afternoon is to ride my bike down the Augusta Canal path, watch college football and spend time with my family.

Favorite TV Show: I don’t really watch any TV shows other than sports and news.

Favorite Movie: My favorite movie is Glory. Based on true events, it’s a great account of grace, mercy, redemption, understanding and a love that shatters all barriers. 

Favorite Sports Team: I’m originally from Atlanta, so I like all the Atlanta teams: Falcons, United, Braves and Hawks. The one exception is college football: Florida State University. 

Favorite Comfort Food: My favorite comfort food is pot roast, especially on a cool fall day.

Favorite App: My favorite app is the YouVersion Bible app.

Last Book Read: The last book I read was Great Teams: 16 Things High Performing Organizations Do Differently by Don Yaeger.

Dream Vacation: My dream vacation is a cruise to anywhere. I love cruises because the toughest decision of each day is, “Do I want a chocolate, vanilla or swirl ice cream cone for a snack?” 

Something That Has Changed My Life: Something that has changed my life is my relationship with Christ. As I mature in my relationship with Him, my perspective on life and the world has changed dramatically. When I look around me I see so much division, hurt and hate that it can be depressing. Then I open the pages of Scripture and find hope. I clearly see that if we as a people would be guided by laws of relationships as given by God, then this world would be a much better place. I strive to live by these standards, and it has made me a better person. 

Best Thing I Ever Learned: The best thing I ever learned is to love God with everything that you are and to love all those around you the way you desire to be loved.

One Word You Would Use to Describe Yourself: The one word I would use to describe myself is “discontent.” I’m never satisfied with the status quo of anything. I believe everyone and everything can be better than it currently is.

Favorite Hobbies: My favorite hobbies are riding my bike and spending time with family.

Secret Aspiration: I don’t really have a secret aspiration. One of my most important goals is to be the best husband and father that I can possibly be. I’ve got some work to do here!

Reality Show I Would Totally Win: I don’t really watch TV shows, so I have no idea what reality shows are on the air. I know it’s not considered a “reality show,” but I’m pretty good at “Wheel of Fortune.” 

Something People Would Be Surprised to Know About Me: Even though I’m only 5’3” I was a starting forward on my varsity high school basketball team. 

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.

Sponsored by:
Universal Plumbing

Amazing Grace


amazing graceA local fundraiser will bring community groups together to advocate for orphaned children.

Connected Hearts Ministry is dedicated to helping children who are difficult to adopt find forever homes. They include children older than age 5, sibling groups and children with special needs. 

“Because a lot of the children we work with are children that are often overlooked for adoption, they need someone to advocate for them,” says Misty Hudson, who co-founded the nonprofit organization with her husband, Brandon.

KalmbacherFamily1-(2)---CopyHowever, Connected Hearts Ministry cannot fulfill its mission alone. On November 11, the organization will hold its inaugural United for Orphans fundraiser to coincide with National Adoption Month. The event will join individuals, businesses, churches and organizations together to bring hope to orphans locally and globally. 

“We saw a growing need for funding and advocacy,” Misty says. “There are a lot of families in the area that want to adopt and that have a heart for orphan care. We want to bring everyone together for a special evening.”

The fundraiser will include food from Chick-fil-A, a photo booth, advocacy for orphans, a live and silent auction and live musical entertainment by George Dennehy. The musician, who was born without arms and adopted at age 1, plays multiple instruments such as the guitar and piano with his feet. During the event, Dennehy will share his personal story as well.

“We saw George play in Nashville three or four years ago,” says Misty. “We loved his story, and watching him play was the most humbling and inspiring thing we’ve ever seen. We’re thrilled to bring him to the area.”

2be8e0_6f8349bbf26144f7a40aabfe8f7c2c92-mv2_d_2048_1365_s_2A VIP pre-show will offer a special concert by Dennehy; a meet and greet, as well as photo opportunities, with the performer; refreshments and a chance for early bidding on auction items. 

The auction will feature goods such as a Napa Valley Epicurean Adventure, Tuscany Culinary Escape, Royal Caribbean Cruises, a family friendly Ultimate Broadway Adventure and a Kennedy Space Center Adventure. Other auction items include an Augusta staycation package, designer handbags, bicycles, restaurant gift certificates, passes to local golf courses, roller skating passes, Myrtle Beach campground passes and tickets to various entertainment venues and attractions. 

All proceeds will go toward supporting the mission of Connected Hearts Ministry, which – since adoption lasts a lifetime – does much more than connect orphaned children with forever homes.

The organization provides adoption funding to help families raise money to bring their child home. Once the child is home, the ministry also offers a medical sponsorship program to help families pay for their child’s ongoing medical expenses. As part of its foster care program, the ministry provides duffle bags filled with essential and personal items for children when they enter foster care. The bags include items such as hygiene products, clothing, blankets, a stuffed animal, a Bible and coloring books. 

Families must work through an accredited adoption agency to receive assistance from the ministry. 

“We really hope the CSRA will unite together and pool its efforts to make a huge impact on orphans in the area and around the world,” Misty says.

If You Go: 

What: United for Orphans, a fundraiser for Connected Hearts Ministry

When: 6 p.m. – 9:15 p.m. Saturday, November 11

Where: First Baptist Church, North Augusta

How Much: $25 general admission for ages 18 and older; $50 ultimate VIP experience for ages 18 and older; $5 ages 2 – 17; $5 childcare ticket for ages 2 – 12 (limited to first 50 children registered)

More Info: connectedheartsministry.org

Security in Cyberspace

Photo Credit: Phil Jones

Photo Credit: Phil Jones

A local cybersecurity expert is in the business of helping good triumph over evil in computer networks

It’s never a good idea to tug on Superman’s cape – even in cyberspace. Computer hackers who dare to toy with all that’s right with the virtual world just might run into their own kryptonite in the form of Security Onion Solutions.

Founded by Evans resident Doug Burks in 2014, the cybersecurity business peels back the layers of computer networks for clients. They range from the U.S. government and U.S. military branches to multi-billion-dollar utility companies and the healthcare, banking and financial industries.

“We’re fighting good versus evil,” says Burks. “I’m trying to do my part to help the good guys in their fight against evil.”

Computer Power
Burks got his first computer and learned to program at age 7. “Computers have always been my thing,” he says. “As a kid, you’re always told what to do. But I learned when I was a kid that I could tell the computer what to do. When you give a kid that kind of power, it’s addicting.”

Another epiphany came when he read The Cuckoo’s Egg by Clifford Stoll in middle school. The book recounts the true story of a computer invasion by a German hacker who sold information to the Soviet KGB in the 1980s.

“I didn’t enjoy reading at all, but I stayed up all night reading that book,” says Burks. “It really resonated with me. It got me excited about computers and security.”

When he graduated from Evans High School in 1995, he knew he wanted to attend Augusta State University to study computer science. Burks, who worked in the school’s co-op program and held fulltime positions during college, graduated from Augusta State in 2005. He worked in cybersecurity for several years before starting his own company.

“In the early days of hacking, the Internet was the wild, wild West,” says Burks. “Then it went to digital graffiti, and now it is big business. People make a living by breaking into networks.”

Security Onion is a collection of free software, which can be used for network security monitoring and intrusion detection. It has been downloaded 450,000 times worldwide. “A free and open source of software is a tremendous advantage for the user,” says Burks. “The software works right out of the box, and it’s infinitely customizable.”

Offering multiple layers of security and monitoring, Security Onion helps information technology and cybersecurity professionals track network traffic and gives clients alerts, contextual data and additional information about suspicious activity.

“It allows you to tell the story of what the bad guy did,” says Burks. “It can uncover how a hacker broke into a system, what he did while he was inside the network and what he took. It acts like a secondary camera for your network. It gives you information to reconstruct the crime.”

Center of the Cybersecurity Universe
Burks provides professional services such as installation and conducts training classes across the country, including a cybersecurity conference at Augusta University in September. In 2010 Burks received the Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC) Security Expert Certification (GSE), which is the most prestigious credential in the IT security industry. He was the 24th of the 180-plus people in the world who have achieved the designation to date.

He also is working with the university and local community to show the world the cybersecurity skills that the area has to offer.

“It has been amazing to see the transformation of the Augusta area through the years,” says Burks. “I’m blessed that all of this cybersecurity stuff is right here in my backyard.”

For instance, a groundbreaking ceremony for the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center at the Augusta University Riverfront Campus, formerly Augusta Golf and Gardens, was held in June. The university’s Cyber Institute opened in September 2016 on the Summerville campus.

The U.S. Cyber Command at Fort Gordon, which is expected to bring thousands of jobs to the area, broke ground on its new facilities at Fort Gordon last year. 

“Fort Gordon is the hub of everything that is happening now. This is going to be a snowball effect,” Burks says. “Cybersecurity as a whole grows so fast, and it changes so dynamically.”

Crocodile Rock


concertElton? Almost. Hop and bop to the sounds of the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer with a renowned Broadway performer

Broadway entertainer Craig A. Meyer has made a name for himself in theater, film, television and music. Throughout his career, however, he repeatedly was approached about his striking resemblance to Elton John and his uncanny ability to sound like the rock ’n’ roll star. Eventually, he was persuaded to impersonate the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer. 

This month Meyer will bring his talents to Evans with “Almost Elton John and the Rocket Band.” He will perform chart-topping hits such as “Benny and the Jets,” “Philadelphia Freedom,” “Rocket Man,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” “Daniel” and “Candle in the Wind.”

Celebrating the character, costumes and charisma of the famed singer and pianist, Meyer is considered the best Elton John tribute artist in entertainment. With his strong vocals and piano talents, he helps his audiences remember when rock was young.

If You Go:

What: Almost Elton John and the Rocket Band 

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, November 10

Where: Jabez S. Hardin Performing Arts Center

How Much: $49.50; dinner for an additional $25 (limited quantities available)

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

The Rooster Bar by John Grisham

Literary Loop

Lit-Loop-Nov-2017New York Times bestselling author John Grisham’s newest legal thriller, The Rooster Bar, released October 24, takes you inside a law firm that shouldn’t exist. 

Mark, Todd and Zola came to law school to change the world, to make it a better place. But now, as third-year students, these close friends realize they have been duped.

They all borrowed heavily to attend a third-tier, for-profit law school so mediocre that its graduates rarely pass the bar exam, let alone get good jobs. And when they learn that their school is one of a chain owned by a shady New York hedge-fund operator who also happens to own a bank specializing in student loans, the three know they have been caught up in The Great Law School Scam.

But maybe there’s a way out. Maybe there’s a way to escape their crushing debt, expose the bank and the scam, and make a few bucks in the process. But to do so, they would first have to quit school. And leaving law school a few short months before graduation would be completely crazy, right?  Well, yes and no . . .

Pull up a stool, grab a cold one, and get ready to spend some time at The Rooster Bar.

It’s Fair Time!


It’s Fair Time!The Columbia County Fair continues to spin out fun, along with lots of surprises

Get ready for a whirlwind of entertainment as the 51st Columbia County Fair kicks off November 2 for ten days of pulse-pounding midway rides, outlandish stunt shows and wacky fair food.

This year’s lineup includes returning favorites such as demolition derbies, Chase’s Racing Pigs, a petting zoo and a master chainsaw carver.

New attractions include Lady Houdini, Tree Man Stilt Walkers, Peter Hart & Atlanta Puppet, Cowboy Woody, Michelle’s Magical Poodles, a daring High Dive Show and Horses, Horses, Horses.

The Merchants Association of Columbia County, a non-profit organization of local business volunteers, presents the fair each year at its fairgrounds on Columbia Road across from Patriots Park. Special amenities include free parking with security, free golf cart shuttles, free nightly entertainment and free admission for kids 3 and under.

Proceeds from the fair benefit many local charities and provide scholarships to seniors from each Columbia County public high school. For more information, visit columbiacountyfair.net.

2017 Fair Schedule:
Thursday, November 2
Hours: 4-11 p.m.
Admission: $7; free admission 4-4:30 p.m.
Unlimited Rides: $20
FFA Judging: 6 p.m.
Musical Entertainment: Branch & Dean – 7 p.m.

Friday, November 3
Hours: 5 p.m. – midnight
Admission: $7
Unlimited Rides: $20 from 9 p.m.-midnight
Musical Entertainment: Tim Cadiere and the WashBoard Road Band
Senior Night: $4 admission for adults 55 and older with ID card
Military Appreciation Night: $4 admission with military ID

Saturday, November 4
Hours: 11 a.m. – midnight
Admission: $7
Unlimited Rides: Buy unlimited ride stamp 11 a.m.-3 p.m. for $25 and use it all day
Free Ride Special: All rides free 11 a.m.-noon
Musical Entertainment: Spider Murphy
Dance Entertainment: Augusta Youth School of Dance – 7 p.m.

Sunday, November 5
Hours: 1 – 11 p.m.
Admission: $7; $1 off with church bulletin
Unlimited Rides: $20
Musical Entertainment: Little Roy and Lizzie, 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Monday, November 6
Hours: 5 – 11 p.m.
Admission: $7
Unlimited Rides: $20
Demolition Derby: 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, November 7
Hours: 4 – 11 p.m.
Admission: $7 or free admission with 7 cans for the food bank
Unlimited Rides: $15 if purchased 4-4:30 p.m.; $20 after 4:30 p.m.
Musical Entertainment: Scrapiron, featuring Brian and Levi Herrington – 6 p.m.; A Little Off the Top – 7 p.m.

Wednesday, November 8
Hours: 5 – 11 p.m.
Admission: $7
Unlimited Rides: $20
Musical Entertainment: Tony Howard Motown Review
UGA Georgettes Dance Team: 6 p.m. 

Thursday, November 9
Hours: 5 – 11 p.m.
Admission: $5
Unlimited Rides: $20
Musical Entertainment: Two Way Crossing – 7 p.m.

Friday, November 10
Hours: 5 p.m. – midnight
Admission: $7
Demolition Derby: 7:30 p.m. 

Saturday, November 11
Hours: 11 a.m. – midnight
Admission: $7
Free Ride Special: All rides free 11 a.m.-noon
Unlimited Rides: Buy unlimited ride stamp 11 a.m.-3 p.m. for $25 and use it all day
Musical Entertainment: Sassy Brass
Chainsaw Carving Auction: 9 p.m.

Sunday, November 12
Hours: 1-11 p.m.
Admission: $5
Unlimited Rides: $20 

Dirk Meyer


PYSK-Maestro-Dirk-MeyerMusic Director, Symphony Orchestra Augusta 

Time in position: 3 months

Family: My wife, Paula, and our two cocker spaniels, Teddy and Harvey. The rest of my family lives in Germany, where I am from originally.

Why I’m Passionate About What I Do: I truly believe that music can make us better human beings. Experiencing a concert together can connect total strangers in a shared experience – a shared emotional experience that may range from the melancholy to the exuberant. In a time of virtual realities, these are true social connections that create empathy for our fellow humans. 

Community Groups and Charities I Love to Support: I like good journalism, and I like classical music. Therefore, National Public Radio and several of its classical music member stations are always on top of my list. In addition, both Paula and I are passionate about the enormous problem of plastic pollution that our modern world faces, and so we like to support environmental causes that focus on this issue.

Biggest Career or Life Obstacle I’ve Overcome and How: I think the biggest obstacle in the career of a conductor is the huge amount of rejection that one experiences over the years. This is mostly because the competition is so enormous. For any job that we apply for, there are usually 200-plus applications. The one and only way to deal with this problem is persistency. I have managed to ignore, or at least blend out, the endless stream of rejection that conductors will experience during their careers: be it from people who are questioning their talents, from losing out to competitors whose main qualification is “who they know,” or from the countless rejection letters that I have received over the years. No matter how personal each one of these might feel, you have to just get up and try again. 

Accomplishment I’m Most Proud Of: To be where I am today. When I started out, all I was hoping for was to somehow get paid for making music. Today, I am the music director of two professional orchestras and a professional opera company. I never would have dreamed this to be possible.

What Your Childhood Self Wanted to Be When You Grew Up: For a brief period, I was following every boy’s dream of being an astronaut or an airplane pilot. But then I decided pretty early on that I wanted to be a conductor. By the time I was a teenager, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. 

Favorite Way to Spend Saturday Afternoon: Cueing up my German Bundesliga and watching my favorite soccer teams with my dogs.

Favorite TV Shows: “Seinfeld” and “Game of Thrones”

Favorite Movies: The original Star Wars trilogy and The Name of the Rose

Favorite Sports Team: Die Mannschaft (German National Soccer Team)

Favorite Comfort Food: Goulash over homemade spaetzle 

Favorite App: My Spotify Music App

Last Book Read: Dictator by Robert Harris

Dream Vacation: Exploring the cities, countrysides and culture of Indonesia and Bali. I find this part of the world fascinating and extremely beautiful. I have been to Thailand and Malaysia, but I have never been to this group of islands, and I hear it is amazing.

Something That Has Changed My Life: Not something, but someone: My wife, Paula. 

Best Thing I Ever Learned: If you truly belive in something, you can make it work.

One Word You Would Use to Describe Yourself: Resilient 

Favorite Hobbies: I love to cook, and I love to travel.

Secret Aspiration: One of these days I would love to get my pilot’s license.

Reality Show I Would Totally Win: A reality show for people who know absolutely nothing about reality shows 

Something People Would Be Surprised to Know About Me: When I was 19 years old, my hair was shoulder long and I played lead guitar in a heavy metal band. 

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.

Picture Perfect


Picture PerfectPaint the town red (or any color you choose) at an evening of art and entertainment.
Each November the annual Art After Dark, presented by the Artists’ Guild of Columbia County, shines a light on local artists, and this year will be no exception.

The guild’s signature event gives local artists the opportunity to showcase and sell their works including watercolors, oils, acrylics, photography, pottery, fiber arts, jewelry and mixed media. Guests can participate in a silent auction, which benefits the guild’s scholarship fund, as well. Each year the guild offers a $1,000 scholarship to a high school senior that plans to study art in college.

Complimentary hors d’oeuvres, as well as beer and wine at a cash bar, will be available. Live entertainment will be provided by jazz musician Fred Williams. 

If You Go:

What: Art After Dark

When: 7 p.m. – 10 p.m. Saturday, November 4

Where: Jabez S. Hardin Performing Arts Center 

How Much: Free

More Info: artistguildcc.org

Notes of Blue — Son Volt

Listen To This

listen to thisThe No Depression genre movement has been a long-standing undercurrent of artists that hail from the outer rim of the Americana Folk galaxy — mixed bag of vagabond troubadours who scour the rust that corrodes the modern blue-collar swagger of Friday nights, beach chairs and overflowing red plastic cups to reveal tones of the true grit that propels the victory and defeat that craft the American dream, leaving no story untold.

Missouri’s own Son Volt, fronted by No Depression patriarch Jay Farrar, delivers an authentic soundtrack of heartland blues and crossroad opportunities on their eighth studio release, Notes of Blue

Farrar, who was the maple syrup to Jeff Tweedy’s gravel in the iconic band Uncle Tupelo, has always taken the reflective route in his songwriting. Channeling the likes of Nick Drake and Woody Guthrie, Notes of Blue delivers a raw account of Farrar’s own struggles and victories with identity, purpose and courage with a relatable, gold common thread that accentuates the crushed velvet seats of opportunity as we slow-roll down the streets of life.

Notable tracks include “Promise the World,” a galloping march of good advice and lush lap steel guitar, “Cherokee St.,” a dusty ol’ stomper and “Threads and Steal,” a tune that would make Johnny Cash jealous. Notes of Blue or any selection from the Son Volt library is the perfect companion for an autumn road trip or backyard fire pit gathering. 

- Chris Rucker

Down to a Fine Art


Down to a Fine ArtThe timing might be different, but Art in the Park Fall Fest should feel reassuringly familiar to local fine and performing arts lovers.

Usually held in the spring, the annual Art in the Park got rained out after about an hour in May. It’s back with a fall twist, however, and many of the same local and regional fine arts vendors that set up booths at the previous event are expected to return this month.

In addition to vendors’ booths, the event will feature entertainment by local performing arts groups throughout the day, a sidewalk chalk contest and children’s activities. Food vendors include Chick-fil-A and Big D’s BBQ. 

“If Fall Fest goes well, we could have the event two times a year,” says Regina Brejda, Columbia County Arts Inc. president.

Columbia County Ballet will kick of the entertainment with a fall-themed performance. Other performers will include Musical Theatre Workshops, VOCE, Suzuki Strings of Augusta, Patrick Duncan, Denise Mundy, Harmony River Chorus, Augusta Youth Dance, Kane & Co. Dance Productions and Augusta Junior Players. 

Attendees can explore their creative talents by tie-dying T-shirts or entering the popular sidewalk chalk contest. The sidewalk chalk contest features competitions between local public and private elementary, middle and high schools. Individuals also can compete in a separate contest for a $20 registration fee, which includes chalk. Cash prizes will be awarded to the first, second and third place winners in each category.

In addition, Brejda says, “Nonprofit art organizations will be awarded their grant checks at the closing ceremony of the event.”

If You Go: 

What: Art in the Park Fall Fest

When: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday, October 14

Where: Columbia County Library Amphitheatre

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

More Info: columbiacountyarts.org; columbiacountyarts@gmail.com; Regina Brejda, (706) 267-6724 or Jillian Decker, (706) 730-5273