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True Love: A Celebration of Cole Porter — Harry Connick Jr.

Listen To This

During this season of love, there is no better garnish to the vibe than a great soundtrack to set the mood.

The Cinderella effect of sultry big band jazz and buttery pipes can turn a card-table-paper-plate dinner for two into a romantic five-star-seven-course experience — just remember to light the candles.

The crooners of yesteryear are always the perfect go-to in painting the Valentine’s Day landscape, but thanks to Harry Connick Jr., a modern day, perfectly aged love-trap is right here, right now.

His latest release, True Love: A Celebration of Cole Porter, is a baker’s dozen bouquet of pure sonic chocolate. Connick draws inspiration and showcases his wide and ever-evolving range from the late Porter’s big Hollywood and Broadway fare by writing and orchestrating all of the arrangements.

His knack for theatrical complexity and sophisticated wit create intimacy with elegance and class, and his craftsmanship, though often underrated, is more apparent on this release than any other.

As you prep for this special season, make sure you are equipped with the finest essentials. True Love is a must-have in your arsenal.

To keep the mood going, be sure to secure your seats as Harry Connick Jr. is bringing his True Love: An Intimate Performance to our very own Bell Auditorium on March 14. Your valentine will thank you.

 

– Chris Rucker

5, 4, 3, 2, 1

Buzz

We’re counting down some of the hottest trends we’re crushing on in 2020:

5 Colors of the Year
Bye-bye, gray. From home décor to fashions, nature’s more comforting colors are back in a big way with happier shades from sea, land and sky. Depending on who you ask, the 2020 Color of the Year is:

Classic Blue (no explanation needed) – Pantone

 Naval (navy blue) – Sherwin-Williams

Chinese Porcelain (a blend of cobalt blue and moody ink blue) – PPG

Back to Nature (pale green) – Behr 

First Light (pale pink) – Benjamin Moore

4 Garden Trends
Gardening/Entertaining Combo. Farm-to-table meals continue to grow more socially interactive. We love the trend of savvy hosts inviting dinner guests to their gardens (even if it’s just a few containers on a patio) to pick fresh ingredients and then make a meal together.

Apps for Plants. Are your plants getting the right placement, light and water? Apps like Sun Seeker and Sun Surveyor track the sun, so you know if they’re in the right spot. The Organic Gardening Planting Planner app calculates the best growing period, and Vera even reminds you when it’s time to water them.

Vertical Gardening. It’s time to grow up. One of the best and easiest ways to add green to a small space is through vertical gardening. Try it indoors in a sunroom or outside on a patio, small plot of land, against a wall or even on a balcony.

Multi-Tasking Plants. We don’t just love their looks and flavor. We’re also completely enamored with plants like lavender, lemon balm, basil and mint that help repel pesky mosquitoes. Summer’s right around the corner, so get a-plantin’, people.

 

3 Food & Beverage Faves
Hello, fresh and flavorful. From trading alcohol for natural juices to fresh snacking from the fridge, here are three trends our taste buds are, well, nuts about.

Non-Alcoholic Happy Hour. Why should alcohol have all the fun? Mocktails – tasty zero-proof or spirit-free drinks – are delicious and becoming standard at happy hours, bridal showers and other social and business events now. We’ll drink to that.

Butters & Spreads. Share the love, peanut butter. Spreads made from other nuts and seeds – think sunflower butter, sesame butter and chickpea, macadamia or watermelon seed spreads – are becoming all the rage for their flavor, health and eco-friendly benefits. SB&J? Why yes, thank you. 

Cool Snacks. Snacks are moving out of the pantry and into the fridge. “Fresh snacking” – where foods contain protein and plant-based ingredients – is trending in a cool way with refrigerated protein/energy bars, drinkable soups and bottled smoothies. Don’t forget chilled fresh fruit, pickled veggies or hard-boiled eggs paired with yogurt, hummus or guacamole.

 

2 Mediterranean Must-Haves
Cozy Canopy Beds. Medieval gets a makeover. The new style of canopy beds, slimmed down with modern metals and acrylics, have stolen our hearts. With or without drapery, we think the cozy “rooms” within a room are a dreamy way to end a day.

Extending the Olive Branch. Olive trees aren’t just for the orchard anymore. The trend for food scaping or edible landscaping continues to grow, and modest-maintenance olive trees are the new “it” plant for the twenties. Pot them and place indoors or out. With a little TLC, you’ll have your own crop.

 

1 Backyard Great Escape
No Place Like Dome. If you think igloos are just for Eskimos, then you obviously haven’t heard about the geodesic garden dome. Coming in assorted sizes from places like Walmart and Amazon, it can be used as a man cave, she shed, play area, greenhouse or simply a place to relax outdoors. It’s up to Mother Nature to provide sunshine to soak up during the day and stars for gazing at night.

Gardening Series

Home & Garden

Calling all green thumbs. Columbia County Library is holding a Gardening in Augusta Lecture Series at its Evans branch.

The series, which begins at noon on the last Monday of the month, features a different speaker and topic for each session. Upcoming lectures include:

February 24
Clyde Lester: Spring Vegetable Gardening

March 30
Julia Petrides: House Plants and How to Keep Them

April 27
Mary Louise Hagler: Cut Flowers for Spring Arrangements

May 18
Elliott Price: Propagating from Cuttings

June 29
Tripp Williams: Being Water Wise, Irrigation and Xericaping

July 27
Emma O’Bryant: Preserving Fruits and Vegetables

Rock, Classical & Musical Fairy Tales

Buzz

Augusta Symphony performances will cover the musical spectrum this month and there’s plenty to love.

On February 13, the symphony will present The Music of Billy Joel, featuring Michael Cavanaugh. Handpicked by Joel to star in the Tony-nominated Broadway musical, Movin’ Out, Cavanaugh’s style is a tribute to the original Piano Man.

He appeared in the show, which culminated with Grammy and Tony award nominations, for three years with more than 1,200 performances. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. at Miller Theater. Tickets are $38-$100.

On February 22 at 7:30 p.m., also at Miller Theater, Augusta Symphony will present Emperors with Misha Dichter on piano. The performance will include Mozart’s Overture to The Marriage of Figaro; Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, Emperor; and Brahms’ Symphony No. 3. Tickets are $22-$69.

On Sunday, February 23, the symphony will perform Musical Fairy Tales at Hardin Performing Arts Center as part of its Family Concerts at Columbia County series.

The concert is geared for audience members to introduce their children or grandchildren to the symphony with musical fairy tales, including L’Histoire de Babar with a narrator and the orchestra telling the story of the beloved little elephant. The concert begins at 4 p.m. Tickets are $30 for adults and $10 for children and students.

Southern Accents

Buzz

The music of rock ’n’ roll legends will come to life in a pair of concerts with Memphis overtones.

There’s gonna be a whole lot of shakin’ goin’ on at the Jabez.

The shakin’ begins Friday, February 7 with One Night in Memphis, a high-energy concert that commemorates the evening of December 4, 1956. That night, four of the biggest names in early rock ’n’ roll – Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash – gathered together for an impromptu jam session at the legendary Sun Studios in Memphis. Music fans can enjoy a rollicking night of rockabilly, country, gospel and pure 1950s rock ’n’ roll.

On Friday, February 28, concertgoers can continue to celebrate the life and music of the Man in Black with James Garner’s Tribute to Johnny Cash. Garner and his band faithfully recreate Cash’s biggest hits such as “Folsom Prison Blues,” “I Walk the Line” and “Ring of Fire.”

They also incorporate historical accounts and personal anecdotes about the American singer-storyteller into the performance. In a toe-tapping trip down memory lane, they honor Cash’s style as well as the boom-chicka-boom sound of his signature backing band, the Tennessee Three.

Tickets are $44.95 for One Night in Memphis and $39.95 for the Tribute to Johnny Cash. Both concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. at Jabez S. Hardin Performing Arts Center. Dinner also will be offered before the shows at an additional cost of $25. Reservations are required. For more information, visit augustaamusements.com or call (706) 726-0366.

Apartments Proposed

Buzz

The Columbia County Board of Commissioners recently approved a plan to rezone properties near North Belair Road and Ronald Reagan Drive on the former site of Marshall Square Retirement Resort.

Under the proposal, 250-300 luxury apartments could be constructed in the area.

The property must be transferred to Southeastern Development Associates or a related company by July 1, and construction must begin by July 1, 2021. Otherwise, the property reverts back to its prior zoning.

 

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

Literary Loop

One summer morning, 12-year-old Edward Adler, his beloved older brother, his parents and 183 other passengers board a flight in Newark headed for Los Angeles. Halfway across the country, the plane crashes. Edward is the sole survivor.

Edward’s story captures the attention of the nation, but he struggles to find a place in a world without his family. He continues to feel that a part of himself has been left in the sky, forever tied to the plane and all of his fellow passengers.

But then he makes an unexpected discovery — one that will lead him to the answers of some of life’s most profound questions: When you’ve lost everything, how do you find the strength to put one foot in front of the other? How do you learn to feel safe again? How do you find meaning in your life?

Dear Edward is at once a transcendent coming-of-age story, a multidimensional portrait of an unforgettable cast of characters and a breathtaking illustration of all the ways a broken heart learns to love again.

“With its expert pacing and picture-perfect final page, Dear Edward is a wondrous read,” says Booklist. “It is a skillful and satisfying examination of not only what it means to survive, but of what it means to truly live.”

Break a Leg

Buzz

Columbia County has named iNNOVATION Arts & Entertainment as the booking consultant and theatrical series presenter for the Columbia County Performing Arts Center.

In the partnership, the county will self-manage the PAC and oversee its day-to-day operations. IAE will work closely with the county during the remainder of construction to ensure that the PAC is equipped to hold a variety of Broadway shows, concerts and events.

In addition, IAE will assist in the recruitment of the facility management staff, offer technical consultation and manage ticketing for the venue

License to Thrill

Buzz

Sophistication and fun. These are the notes that Augusta Symphony will strike at its third annual Augusta Symphony Gala Saturday, January 11 with the music of James Bond.

Featuring a blend of live performances and film clips, the gala will celebrate almost 60 years of the secret agent’s exploits with a performance by “The Music of Bond.” The European group is flying across the pond for the event to honor 007.

The black-tie affair will begin at 6 p.m. with a reception of light hors d’oeuvres, an open bar and, of course, Bond’s signature martini, the Vesper. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Platinum level tickets are $250; gold level tickets are $175.

Following the concert, platinum level guests are invited to a reception in the newly opened Knox Music Institute. The reception will include heavy hors d’oeuvres, desserts, a full bar and an immersive Bond experience.

On Saturday, January 18 at 7:30 p.m., the symphony will present “American Rhythms” with Clayton Stephenson, a 10-grade scholarship student at The Juilliard Pre-College Division who was admitted to the program at age 10.

The concert is part of the symphony’s project this season to record four works by American composer Miguel del Aguila. The performance will feature Aguila’s The Giant Guitar and The Fall of Cuzco, Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F and Copland’s Four Dance Episodes from Rodeo. Tickets range from $22 – $69.

Both performances will be at the Miller Theater.

Live, from L.A. and South Africa

Buzz

Take the sounds of great American crooners and big bands, combine them with the fire and energy of 1930s gypsy jazz, add a dash of Jamaican Rocksteady and what do you have? The Black Market Trust, direct from Los Angeles. Yes, they have an odd name (quickly thrown together when ABC hired musicians for its series, “Happy Endings”), but the old-meets-new, all-acoustic results — with a touch of Rat Pack-style humor — are musically innovative and just may hook you into being a fan.

The group, which consists of five world-class musicians who have performed on the biggest stages and with music’s most renowned artists, will bring its distinctive style to the area once again on Friday, January 24.

Merging their love of everything from Cole Porter and Sinatra to Lennon/McCartney and Brian Wilson, the artists will perform some of their favorite Great American Songbook standards. Concert tickets are $39.95.

On Tuesday, January 28 and Wednesday, January 29, South Africa’s Belinda Davids will present “The Greatest Love of All” in a tribute to Whitney Houston. The vocalist, who will be accompanied by a six-piece band and dancers, will perform some of Houston’s greatest hits including “I Will Always Love You,” “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and “How Will I Know.”

Directed by Johnny Van Grinsven and launched in 2013, the show has entertained audiences across the United States, Canada, Europe, South Africa, Asia, United Arab Emirates, Australia and New Zealand. Tickets are $44.95.

All of the concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. at Jabez S. Hardin Performing Arts Center. For $25, dinner also is offered before the shows. Dinner reservations are required. For more information, call (706) 726-0366 or visit augustaamusements.com.

Hyperspace — Beck

Listen To This

Welcome to 2020. While the reality of highly anticipated dream-worlds of flying in cars and beaming ourselves from planet to planet are still on the distant horizon, at least we have new music that reflects the predicted signs of the time.

Way back in 1994, Beck Hansen exploded onto the scene with the pop-locking, laptop-folk release Mellow Gold, a mixtape of seemingly random tracks that explored the uncharted realms of creative riffing with alien beats and word-code. Little did we know, Beck was embarking on a mission 26 years in the making.

Through his career, he has continued to dazzle and confuse, all while preparing us for the future of modern music. With his latest release, appropriately titled Hyperspace, we find that Beck has seen the future and we are just now catching up. Hyperspace is a technicolor masterpiece that melds an analog VHS chillwave vibe with unexpected breaks and tempos that fit perfectly into a melancholy stratosphere of emotion and curiosity.

Beck’s vocal range has matured beyond his years, and Hyperspace is a refreshing soundtrack to begin the year, confirming that modern music has real depth. As far as our futuristic expectations go, at least we have great music and shoes that will tie themselves. Cheers to the new year!

 

– Chris Rucker

Ice, Ice, Baby

Sports

Forget the cold, and warm up to the idea of disc golf, chili and fighting hunger.

The 13th annual International Disc Golf Center Ice Bowl is coming up, and the fundraiser is open to professionals, amateurs and juniors. Some people, however, need not register for the festivities. Namely, no wimps and no whiners. Them’s the rules.

For those who can refrain from whining or complaining, the Professional Disc Golf Association-sanctioned singles tournament will be held Saturday, January 25 at Wildwood Park in Appling.

Check-in begins at 7 a.m., and the first round starts at 9 a.m. The second round begins at 1:45 p.m., and the awards ceremony is set for 6 p.m. Early player check-in also will be available 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Friday, January 24 in the IDGC lobby.

To help alleviate hunger in the area, the Ice Bowl will benefit Columbia County Cares and Golden Harvest Food Bank.

“This is a feel-good event where philanthropy is more important than competition,” says Zach Shafer, the IDGC manager. “In the past three years, we’ve raised enough to provide about 25,000 meals.”

In 2019, the tournament featured 167 participants who raised $2,900 and 676 pounds of food. Out of 197 Ice Bowls across the country, the Wildwood Park event finished 28th in cash raised and 12th in food raised.

Food donations can be brought to the IDGC any time from January 20 through January 25. For every two food items donated, participants will receive one raffle ticket for the opportunity to win prizes during a drawing at the awards ceremony. Raffle tickets also can be purchased in the IDGC Pro Shop during the event.

For lunch between rounds, the IDGC once again will partner with the Augusta Disc Golf Association to feature its annual chili cook-off. Disc golf competitors will vote for the winner, who will receive a trophy and all-important bragging rights for a year. Chili chefs should coordinate with the ADGA to enter the cook-off.

Supporters can provide crackers, cornbread, drinks or other goodies to accompany the meal as well.

The fundraiser also will include a silent auction for rare discs and other memorabilia. Bidding will close about 10 minutes before the start of the awards ceremony.

The event can accommodate 216 participants, and Shafer hopes to have 180 entrants. “Competitors will come from about six states, mostly in the Southeast,” he says.

The cost is $35 for professionals and amateurs and $30 for juniors 18 or younger. Registration closes at 8 p.m. Thursday, January 23. For more information, visit discgolfscene.com or call (706) 261-6342.

Dragonfly by Leila Meacham

Literary Loop

At the height of World War II, a handful of idealistic young Americans receive a mysterious letter from the government, asking if they are willing to fight for their country.

The men and women are from very different backgrounds — a Texan athlete with German roots, an upper-crust son of a French mother and wealthy businessman, a dirt-poor Midwestern fly fisherman, an orphaned fashion designer and a beautiful female fencer.

All answer the call of duty, but each do it for a secret reason of his or her own. They bond immediately in a group code-named Dragonfly.

A dramatic cat-and-mouse game begins as the group seeks to stay under the radar until a fatal misstep leads to the capture and firing-squad execution of one of their team. But is everything as it seems, or is this one more elaborate act of spycraft?

“Meacham ratchets the suspense ever tighter, while providing fascinating backstory on the intrepid five [American spies] as well as delivering a detail-rich portrait of Paris during the Occupation,” says Booklist.

“Meacham’s nail-biting tale will please fans looking for an intricate story of spycraft and deception,” says Publishers Weekly.

Dueling Pianos

Buzz

The Winter Nocturne concert at USC-Aiken continues the university’s celebration of its all-Steinway school status. 

Steinway artist Pascal Rogé and his wife, Ami, will perform at the Winter Nocturne concert at the Etherredge Center for the Fine and Performing Arts on the USC-Aiken campus at 7 p.m. January 30. They will perform selections from their upcoming recording of the music of Les Six in the dueling piano concert.

Pascal Rogé, an award-winning recording artist from France, has performed in almost every major concert hall in the world and with every major orchestra across the globe. In addition, he has collaborated with the most distinguished conductors in history.

Since the husband and wife started playing recitals for four hands/two pianos, they have travelled the world to appear at prestigious festivals and concert halls including New York’s Carnegie Hall, London’s Kings Place, The Sage Gateshead, Sydney Opera House, the Hong Kong Joy of Music Festival, the Singapore International Piano Festival, the Australian Festival of Chamber Music, the Beijing International Piano Festival, the Canberra International Music Festival, the Incontri in Terra di Sienna in Tuscany and the Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival. They also have recorded several CDs dedicated to the French two piano and four hands repertoire.

USC-Aiken has been an all-Steinway school since February. After extensive fundraising efforts to raise $360,000 with the help of Turner Keyboards, 10 Steinway pianos were delivered to the university for its the stage as well as its classrooms and practice rooms.

“If you are a musician, you know that Steinway is the gold standard of pianos, and Pascal Rogé is one of our favorite Steinway artists,” says Judith Goodwin, USC-Aiken development officer.

Tickets to the concert are $25, but admission is free for all students. For more information, call (803) 641-3305 or visit usca.edu/etherredge-center.

Moving In

Buzz

Evans VFW Post 12190 is holding a grand opening ceremony for its facility, located at 4290 Triangle Industrial Drive in Evans, from 10 a.m. until noon, Saturday, January 11.

The event, which is open to the community, will include speakers, a potluck meal and a tour of the facility. The renovated, smoke-free building, formerly an AT&T call center, includes a canteen, full kitchen, walk-in refrigerator and offices.

“We’re a brand new Post, and we did not have a building up to this point,” says Matt Andrews, post commander.

Currently, the Post, which includes members from Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan, has 140 members. However, the organization would like to increase its membership.

“Our goal is to get more than 1,000 members,” says Andrews, who served in Iraq in 2005. “With our community base, there’s no reason we can’t. We want to be active in the community, and we want the community to know that the VFW is here.”

For more information, visit vfwevans.org.