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It’s a Date

A & E

Music lovers can court their sweethearts with musical trips over the rainbow and across the ivories.

Fans of the cinema and of concertos can click their heels together and head to the Miller Theater this month for a pair of performances by Augusta Symphony.

To celebrate with valentines of all ages, music and movie aficionados can watch a screening of The Wizard of Oz on February 14, as the symphony plays the live musical score from the film.

Music Director Dirk Meyer will lead the orchestra in Harold Arlen’s score from the movie, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, as Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion make their way to the Emerald City. Ticket prices range from $36 – $100.

On Saturday, February 23, the symphony will perform “Mentors” with Meyer and Alon Goldstein on piano. Goldstein’s artistic vision and innovative programming have made him a favorite with audiences and critics alike throughout the United States, Europe and Israel.

The program will include Dvořák’s Slavonic Dance No. 1, Op. 46; Schumann’s Piano Concerto and Brahms’s Symphony No. 1.

Tickets range from $22 – $67. Beginning an hour before the concert, walk-up tickets for students and military personnel will be available for purchase at the box office for $10. A student is anyone under age 16 or anyone 16 or older with a valid ID.

Both performances will begin at 7:30 p.m.

The Prophet Speaks — Van Morrison

Listen To This

The love of music, the love of legends, the love of love are all wrapped in Van Morrison’s 40th studio release, The Prophet Speaks. Packed with six originals and eight covers, the album is a jazz-infused La-Z-Boy of crooning genius that only Morrison can coin.

After a slew of bland and bitter releases in the present years, Morrison offers an assorted chocolate box of tunes that are all sweet to the ears and the soul.

Something inside Morrison has ignited his admiration for enlightenment and respect for the masters of songmanship. Being one himself, he takes numbers by legends such as John Lee Hooker, Solomon Burke and Willie Dixon and crafts pure gold.

Morrison has never sounded so on point and clear while still maintaining his signature improvisational garble and slinking swagger around lush R&B grooves. Notable tracks of greatness are the buttery “Teardrops,” rifftastic “I Love the Life I Live” and 70s-laden “Gotta Get You Off My Mind.”

Overall, The Prophet Speaks is a fantastic addition to your love mix tape and a must-have for every Morrison fan.

– Chris Rucker

Funny Business

A & E

Who doesn’t love to laugh? Comedian Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias does, and he is bringing his standup routine to Bell Auditorium on February 28.

Iglesias is one of a handful of comedians who has headlined and sold out Staples Center, Madison Square Garden and Sydney Opera House. In addition to being one of America’s most successful standup comedians, he is one of the most-watched comedians on YouTube with more than 380,000,000 views. Iglesias also has more than 14 million fans on social media.

He recently was featured in The Hollywood Reporter’s Top 40 Comedy Players of 2018 issue alongside comedy giants Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock and Lorne Michaels.

Currently, he is in production as the star and executive producer of the upcoming multi-cam Netflix comedy series, “Mr. Iglesias” in which he plays a good-natured public high school teacher who works at his alma mater. Premiering this year, the series will include 10 half-hour episodes. He also will star in two standup comedy specials for the network.

Iglesias entertains his audiences with (mostly) clean comedy and noncontroversial material that appeals to people of all ages and all walks of life. So, throw on a Hawaiian shirt – you know he’ll be wearing one – and head out for a healthy dose of humor.

If You Go:

What: Beyond the Fluffy Tour featuring Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias

When: 8 p.m. Thursday, February 28

Where: Bell Auditorium

How Much: $37 – $67

More Info: augustaentertainmentcomplex.com

The Burning Island by Hester Young

Literary Loop

Journalist Charlie Cates has always believed in facts — in what can be proved — which is why she hasn’t fully accepted the “fact” that she secretly has vivid dreams and visions of children who need her help.

After her work on a high-profile missing-child case brings unwanted fame, she reluctantly flees to the lush Big Island of Hawaii with her best friend in The Burning Island by Hester Young.

Determined to avoid her disturbing visions, Charlie begins writing what seems to be a harmless interview of a prominent volcanologist. But her hopes for a peaceful vacation are soon dashed by haunting dreams of a local girl who went missing six weeks earlier.

In order to find the missing teenager and stop a dangerous predator from striking again, Charlie is forced to embrace the gift she has always tried to conceal. Meanwhile, someone is watching her every move, and the closer Charlie gets to the truth, the more distant her chances of ever leaving the island alive.

“Intriguing characters and unanswered questions keep the story moving at an engaging pace. Those looking for solid suspense stories, especially those with psychic or supernatural elements, will enjoy this novel,” says Library Journal.

For the Love of Dance

A & E

Photography by Kyle Froman, courtesy of
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

An Augusta native returns to Georgia to perform in the venue where he first entertained the idea of becoming a professional dancer.

As part of its 60th anniversary, 21-city North American tour, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will perform at the Fox Theater in Atlanta this month. And Augusta native Christopher R. Wilson, a 2013 graduate of John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School, will be part of the 34-dancer company.

“The Fox is the first place I saw the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. I was 10 years old,” says Wilson, who had started dancing a year earlier. “I started to feel their essence. I knew I would do this one day.”

He was encouraged to pursue dance after another Augusta native, Russell Joel Brown, who appeared in national tours of The Lion King, saw him in a dance class at a local summer camp.

Wilson danced with Ailey II, which features young dancers and emerging choreographers, for a year, and after auditioning for AAADT in April, he joined the company in May.

This will not be the first time he has returned to his home state since he became a member of AAADT, however. He came home from New York City during time off in October and taught dance and choreography at Colton Ballet School, Davidson and Jessye Norman School of the Arts.

“It’s important to give back and reach the next generation,” says Wilson. “I can’t do this forever. Someone has to do this after me.”

AAADT is a modern dance company that includes ballet, modern, jazz, hip-hop and contemporary dance artists, and the dancers will celebrate Ailey’s life and legacy with six performances in three different programs at the Fox.

“We are a very versatile company,” says Wilson. “I think that’s what makes us so special.”

He is looking forward to dancing at the Fox. “I can’t even imagine what that emotion will feel like when it happens, but I am very much ready to embrace it,” he says. “I am thrilled to take the stage where I first saw my dream company.”

He believes the dance company gives people a platform for expression.

“With dance, I’m able to say things I wouldn’t necessarily be able to put into words. It adds another layer to my voice,” says Wilson. “When I’m on stage, nothing else in the world matters other than that moment. I’m on stage telling people a story.”

He wants audience members to experience happiness, anger, joy or sadness through his performances.

“I want them to feel through me,” says Wilson. “Once that happens, I know I’ve done my job.”

If You Go:

What: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater 60th anniversary celebration

When: February 21-24; performances and show times vary

Where: Fox Theater, Atlanta

How Much: Tickets start at $29

More Info: alvinailey.org, foxatltix.com or (855) 285-8499

By Sarah James


Recycling Electronic Devices


electronics-recyclingSafely dispose of old computers, cell phones and other electronics year-round 

If you recently acquired new electronic devices, then it might be time to recycle the outdated equipment that is collecting dust around your home or business.

The Columbia County Recycling Centers on William Few Parkway and at Riverside Park recycle electronics year-round. In addition, hard drives are removed and destroyed onsite free of charge.

Anything with a cord is accepted including cell phones, computers, CRT monitors, electronic game consoles, fax machines, laptops, LCD monitors, office equipment, printers, scanners, phones, rechargeable batteries, routers, servers and TVs.

There is a $5 cost to recycle CRT monitors and a fee of 30 cents per pound to recycle televisions.

Hours at the recycling centers are 8:30 – 5:30 p.m. Tuesday – Friday and 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturdays. The facilities are closed on Sunday and Monday.

Quick Facts:

• Recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 homes in the United States a year.

• Americans throw out phones containing more than $60 million in gold and/or silver every year.

• For every million cell phones we recycle, 35,000 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.

Source: EPA

Keep in Touch


Mobile-App-LogoA new app enhances communication between Columbia County and its residents.

Looking for an easy way to pay your water bill? Trying to find the closest dog park? Want to buy tickets to a county event or adopt a pet?

Columbia County has launched a new app, “My County – Columbia County,” to communicate with local residents and visitors. “The My County app is the very first of its kind anywhere in the country, allowing citizens to access county information, communicate with county representatives and provide a way to make payments for county-related services,” says Cassidy Harris, county spokeswoman. 

Based on extensive research including internal and external feedback, the mobile app team targeted some of the county’s most frequently used resources in the initial release. They include news; community events; animal services; parks and recreation; maps; augmented reality, which helps people find their way around county facilities; 311 citizens reporting and messaging; development and payments. 

Residents can download the free app in the Apple and Google stores. Additional resources will be offered in a second phase in the future.

“It’s very user friendly,” Harris says. “You can make it what you

Block Party

A & E

1.-Buildiings-3x2Professional Lego artists will showcase almost 100 creations.

Calling all blockheads. For the first time, the BrickUniverse Lego Fan Convention is coming to the area. The event will play upon Lego’s long-standing popularity and ingenuity with attractions and activities built around the world’s favorite plastic building blocks.

The first convention was held in Raleigh, North Carolina in 2015, and since that time thousands of Lego fans have attended shows to see live Lego builds and life-sized Lego models. 

3.-EdgeofGloryVisitors can build their own masterpieces in the Building Zone, the Lego Friends Building Area, Big Brick Building for younger fans and the Star Wars Zone. Lego merchandise also will be available for purchase in the Lego Retail area. 

For inspiration, attendees can visit with renowned Lego artists Jonathan Lopes of San Diego, Chicago-based Rocco Buttliere and Paul Hetherington of Vancouver, Canada.

Lopes will showcase more than 30 of his select Lego displays including an 8-foot model of New York City’s Woolworth Building.

2.-Poseidon-4x6Buttliere will bring 50-plus massive Lego models of famous landmarks from around the globe such as the world’s tallest skyscraper in Dubai and the Westminster Palace in London.

Hetherington will display the five Best in Show Award creations he won at Brickcon in Seattle and his “Batman vs. Joker Gotham Theater Showdown,” which was named the 2016 Lego Creation of the Year by the Brothers-Bricks. 

Tickets for the convention typically sell out, so early booking is recommended at brickuniverse.com/augusta.

If You Go:

What: BrickUniverse Lego Fan Convention

When: Saturday, January 26 – Sunday, January 27; 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. each day

5.-buildingzone-2x1Where: Augusta Convention Center

How Much: $13 online; $18 at the door, if tickets still are available; free for children ages 2 and younger 

More Info: brickuniverse.com

Hill Climber — Vulfpeck

Listen To This

Listen-to-This-JAnVulfpeck, known for its quirky fun-sauce of multi-instrumental sunshine is back with a smooth, jam-full release titled Hill Climber just in time to ring in the new year. 

Hill Climber is 10 songs of just what the doctor ordered for entering 2019 — an arsenal of hope, joy, love and happiness. 

Known for a smattering of VHS -infused EPs, Vulfpeck has matured from unique soundtrack vibes to infectious pop tones of sticky-good tunes that now unveil the vocal candy of Theo Katzman, a founder from inception.

Katzman’s newfound voice and lyrical genius round out the soundscape that has made Vulfpeck such a contagious draw. 

Tracks like the bass-hopping “Half of the Way” and slinky roller jam groove “Darwin Derby” set the pace for the driving kinetic grooves of “Disco Ulysses” and the love potion jam “Love is a Beautiful Thing.”

Life is better with a full Vulf-cup. Drink as much as you want. They will leave you thirsty for more.

– Chris Rucker

Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny

Literary Loop

Lit-Loop-coverWhen a peculiar letter arrives inviting Armand Gamache to an abandoned farmhouse, the former head of the Québec Provincial Police discovers that a complete stranger has named him one of the executors of her will. Still on suspension, and frankly curious, he accepts and soon learns that he is one of three executors — and none of them had ever met the elderly woman.

The will is so odd and includes bequests that are so wildly unlikely that they suspect the woman must have been delusional. But what if she was perfectly sane? 

When a body is found, the terms of the bizarre will suddenly seem less peculiar and far more menacing. But it isn’t the only menace Gamache is facing. 

The investigation into what happened six months ago — the events that led to his suspension — has dragged on, into the dead of winter. And while most of the opioids he allowed to slip through his hands in order to bring down the cartels have been retrieved, there is one devastating exception.

Enough narcotic to kill thousands has disappeared into inner city Montreal. With the deadly drug about to hit the streets, Gamache races for answers. As he uses increasingly audacious, even desperate, measures to retrieve the drug, Gamache begins to see his own blind spots. And the terrible things hiding there.

Center of Attention

Photos courtesy of Meybohm Real Estate

Photos courtesy of Meybohm Real Estate

Planning and discussions for a downtown area in Columbia County have been years in the making, and the project finally is coming to fruition with the opening of The Plaza at Evans Towne Center.

Columbia County had a prime piece of property in Evans that was ripe for development into a town center. Meybohm Real Estate was looking to establish office space in the rapidly growing county. Their goals had all the makings of a great alliance between two heavyweight players. 

After all, E.G. Meybohm, chairman of Meybohm Real Estate, says, “Columbia County has been a big part of our business for a number of years. It has a lot of growth going on. We thought we had a chance to do something special for Columbia County as well as for ourselves.” 

Meybohm-119That something special turned into a public-private partnership between Columbia County and Meybohm to build a $65 million, mixed-used, downtown development in the heart of Evans at the intersection of Ronald Reagan Drive and Evans Town Center Boulevard. 

After almost three years of working together, the first building in Phase I, the Meybohm Building, is scheduled to open by the end of September.

Meybohm-102Thoroughly Modern 
The four-story, 58,000-square-foot Meybohm building includes a basement; retail space on the second floor, which is on street level; the Meybohm headquarters on the third story and a special events venue on the rooftop. The building includes four restaurant spaces, and Your Pie, a pizza and craft beer establishment, will be located on the second floor.

Other potential tenants include cyber and computer software companies, medical and legal offices, and insurance companies. 

Meybohm-123“This is a good spot for anyone who is looking to relocate, add another location or come to this market,” says Lionel Prather, senior vice president of commercial development. “We’re down the street from the courthouse, so having a law office close by would make a lot of sense.” 

The new Meybohm office allows the company to consolidate services such as its new homes and relocation divisions into one space. The office features polished concrete flooring; throw rugs; open, collaborative work space; a Success Center for training and lots of windows.

Meybohm-120“There is such a beautiful view on the back side of the building, and we incorporated a lot of glass on the back to take advantage of it,” says Meybohm. “The floor-length windows make it very inviting.” 

The brick building was designed to have an industrial look like an old mill. “You want something that’s new, but looks like it has always been there,” says John Cates, chief operating officer. 

The building has other modern amenities such as a high-speed wireless network. There is a public network for the lobby and parking areas and a private network for Meybohm. 

“From a real estate perspective, our business is changing,” says Mike Polatty, president and chief executive officer. “We wanted to create an office where the younger generation and existing Realtors want to come to work every day.” 

Along with the available retail space, the rooftop is a welcoming feature for the community as well.

With 1,300 square feet for corporate events and other parties, the rooftop includes indoor space with a bar, an industrial warming kitchen, five TVs and a partially covered veranda with ceiling fans overhead and heaters in the winter. The space can accommodate up to 300 people and seat 120 to 140 people. A preferred list of caterers is available.

More to Come
The 22-acre site, which will be anchored by the Columbia County Performing Arts Center that is under construction, will include two additional phases. Each phase has the capacity for three buildings. 

The second building in Phase I will include 45,000 square feet of retail and professional space, and the third building will house 20,000 square feet of professional or retail space. The second and third buildings will front the PAC.

However, the 225-space parking deck, which is part of Phase II and has been put out for construction bids by the county, will be the next structure built. 

“It’s going to maintain its integrity,” Polatty says of the development project. “It’s going to look like it all belongs together as new pieces are added.” 

The county sought public input about the development of the area, and Cates says community members offered good ideas, particularly about potential retail tenants. 

“If retailers in places like Atlanta, Charleston and Charlotte can see that there is a consumer demand for them here, it helps us pitch this space to them,” he says. 

A farmer’s market as well as additional green space for events will be built next to the PAC. 

A raised crosswalk across Evans Town Center Boulevard connects The Plaza with Evans Towne Center Park to slow traffic and to make it seem like a typical downtown area. The road also is designed to be closed during events. 

“It slows the road down to make you feel like you’ve arrived somewhere,” says Cates. “There are world-class events here. This will turn an isolated venue into a gathering space.”

Most of the events at Evans Towne Center Park and Lady Antebellum Amphitheater attract 8,000 to 12,000 people. “This is a natural adjunct to that,” says Meybohm. 

The PAC will attract even more events – and people – to the area. In addition, a terraced green space in The Plaza allows for concerts and other uses of the venue.

“We want the community to feel like they can come here and stay here,” says Prather. “They can spend quality time in the area.” 

Residential development is shifting to Columbia County, Meybohm says, and The Plaza could include residential space “if there is a market for it.” The residential spaces could include apartments or townhomes. However, says Meybohm, “it has to be affordable.”

“This is part of something much bigger. This will give Columbia County an identity going forward,” says Cates. “A lot of this doesn’t exist in Columbia County yet. This building and this area is a little bit ahead of its time. Everything we’re doing is new, and it’s different. It’s something you’re seeing in larger markets.” 

By Betsy Gilliland

Ride on Time


Buzz-Bike-appColumbia County has a new app to help small vehicle operators safely navigate through traffic signals at area intersections.

Traffic mitigation is one of the biggest concerns in Columbia County, and officials are offering a mobile application to make traveling easier countywide for small vehicles such as bicycles and motorcycles.

The county’s traffic engineering department has partnered with EmTrac Systems to design and implement the app, Ride on Time Columbia County, which is available for a free download in the Apple and Google stores for iOS and Android. Columbia County is the first place in the United States to release this app, which initiates phase sequence for traffic signals, to the public.

Phone-picAs a small vehicle enters the detection zone, or virtual loop, of a traffic signal, it sends a notification to the intersection for triggering a green light. As part of the pre-emption system, the Ride on Time Columbia County app will not necessarily trigger a green light for the motorist, but will ensure they are not skipped during a traffic phase. This will increase riders’ safety on county roadways by discouraging them from making illegal turns while waiting for signals to change.

Currently, 67 units have been installed at intersections with traffic signals throughout the county. Only intersections in construction zones are not yet equipped with the technology, but units will be installed and activated at these intersections once construction is complete.

Any future intersections in Columbia County will be required to have the EmTrac receivers installed once they have been completed and released to the traffic engineering department. Any user who has a problem with the app should contact the traffic engineering department at (706) 868-4223.

Meeting Its Match


Dr.-Ravindra-KolheMCG is part of a groundbreaking approach to cancer treatment
People always hope that there will be a breakthrough in cancer treatment. Now, local researchers will be involved in a new medical trial to assess the effectiveness of targeting cancer-causing genes rather than cancer types.

The Georgia Esoteric and Molecular Laboratory at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University has been selected as a laboratory for the National Cancer Institute’s Molecular Analysis for Therapy Choice, or MATCH trial. It is the seventh academic lab in the nation designated for the trial.

The NCI-MATCH trial will enroll up to 6,500 patients at 2,400 participating sites across the country. These patients have solid tumors or lymphomas, which have progressed despite standard treatments, or rare cancers with no consensus treatment. 

For the trial, physicians send patient biopsies to these labs for analysis of cancer-causing gene changes, including mutations and amplifications. Patients are enrolled in one of nearly 40 treatments based on identified changes, regardless of their cancer type. 

“We are privileged to join the laboratory network for this groundbreaking national trial that we all hope will improve cancer treatment by precisely targeting a patient’s gene variants,” says Dr. Ravindra Kolhe, molecular pathologist and director of the GEM Laboratory in the MCG Department of Pathology. He also is the primary developer of a new test called Augusta OncoTarget.

One of the latest additions to MCG’s GEM Lab, Augusta OncoTarget includes next-generation sequencing that enables large numbers of genes, and an unprecedented number of known cancer-causing variants in those genes, to be tested simultaneously. 

“We believe this comprehensive analysis will help provide scientifically sound and personalized therapy targets for consideration by patients and their physicians,” Kolhe says.

A Joyful Noise

A & E

Celtic-Angels-ChristmasCelebrate the holiday season with songs that have a classical, country, contemporary or Celtic twist

Worship services, baking, shopping, gift wrapping and family fellowship are some of the traditional hallmarks of the holiday season. However, it would be impossible to celebrate Christmas without music. Two upcoming holiday concerts will showcase the place that holiday tunes hold in our hearts – especially when the music comes with a folk music or a Celtic twist.

The Annie Moses Band will perform a Christmas-themed show with a blend of folk and classical music on Wednesday, November 28. The band, made up of musicians from the same family, 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. Tickets are $49.

On Monday, December 10 the Irish Cultural Academy, in association with CMI Entertainment (USA), will present the first Christmas tour of the Celtic Angels Christmas production, a holiday celebration of Christmas in Ireland, highlighting yuletide music from across the centuries. The show features vocal and instrumental seasonal favorites alongside Irish, contemporary and original Christmas themes – with Celtic flair, of course. Routines by world champion dancers will accompany the music. Tickets are $44.50.

The shows will begin at 7:30 p.m. at Hardin Performing Arts Center. Dinner reservations for a pre-concert meal are available as well. For more information or to order tickets, visit augustaamusements.com or call (706) 726-0366.