Monthly Archives: September 2013

Umphrey’s Mcgee + Sound Tribe Sector 9

On August 24th in Alpharetta, GA at Verizon Amphitheater, I went to see Umphrey’s McGee & Sound Tribe Sector 9 play a concert for about 10,000 people. This show was the 8th of the bands joint tour, STS9 headlining this particular night. Each band is known for their own brands of high energy rock ‘n roll fusion.

umphmcgeeAnother aspect of their live performances that both bands are known for is their extravagant light shows. This night was no exception and in a huge amphitheater like Verizon the light shows were nothing short of amazing. Although I personally prefer UM, it was a refreshing change of pace for me to see STS9 hold it down for the second set. A live video released by UM displays the intricacy of their lights as well as the relevancy of the band. In today’s age it is important to keep up with social media & keep fans entertained even at home. By releasing free videos as well put together as the one attached, any fans yet to attend one of their live shows are immediately enticed. I would 100% recommend the show for anyone who enjoys rock music.


I had the pleasure to attend Vaudeville Revival presented by Carnivalesque at the Threshold Repertory Theatre in downtown Charleston, SC. Carnivalesque is a local carnival troupe consisting of acts such as a strong man, pain-proof man, burlesque and belly dancers, an acrobatic duo, and a very talented illusionist.

The act was surprisingly impressive. I was a bit worried a first because it was a spur of the moment idea to attend, I had never heard of the venue before, and the event was not heavily advertised. Sure enough, as the event took place, I was amazed at some of the tricks the troupe had pulled off. Also, the theatre staff were very friendly, helpful, and somewhat knowledgeable. The one thing the staff did have a problem with, was properly stating their mission statement. I had to do some research and found a lengthy list of bullet points labeled as the “mission statement”.

One thing I can point from our classroom lectures is the fact that this non-profit theatre takes advantage of the resources surrounding it. Its location is superb (84 Society Street), they use social media such as Facebook and Twitter to promote their events, and they have very affordable prices. As of now, the theatre seems to be doing a pretty good job keeping everything up and running.

I would definitely recommend the Carnivalesque act to anybody. It was very entertaining, and offered just the right amount of entertainment, and you cannot beat the price ($15)! I also would recommend for everyone to attend at least one event at Threshold Repertory Theatre.

Wildlife Management at Redux

On September 12, I checked out Redux Contemporary Art Center on St. Philip St. downtown. Before entering, it’s impossible not to immediately notice the huge mural of alien-like creatures; after seeing it, I absolutely had to walk inside. The work of Gwyneth Scally was on display, which included a few paintings as well as a lifelike display of jellyfish and a scene with a wolf sculpture and hanging trees. While I expected to see more quantity of work, I was amazed at the quality. Scally used a wide variety of mediums in her work, such as distorted plastic and cloth for the jellyfish. The wide array of mediums and settings made each work more interesting than the next, each transporting you to a new environment.

As I continued to peruse, I noticed that there are several studios for people to come and take classes or for artists to continue their work. This is certainly a strong point in attracting people. Redux also effectively uses Facebook and Twitter to keep their followers updated on any events or new exhibitions, giving them a technological advantage. I would definitely recommend this exhibition to anyone with interest in art. It’s free! For zero dollars and zero cents, why would you not want the chance to step into Gwyneth Scally’s world?

Experimental Music in Cato

In the quaint, soundproof room of 237 in the Cato Center for the Arts, I listened and watched as the New Music Collective presented an experimental music show. Earth People is made up of two brilliant musicians, Jessie Marino, and Eric Wubbels, who were performing their Modernist Love Tour as they make the trek from New York City to California. Before the commencement of the show, I met and chatted with the artists and the co-artistic director of NMC, Ron Wiltrout. Immediately I noticed how personable each of them were and no longer felt nervous about attending my first experimental music show.  When first experiencing a new genre of music you may fear that you will not understand it. However, Earth People began their show by giving a brief description for each of the pieces that they were going to perform.  By explaining what you would see, what you should hear, and why the composer wrote a certain piece, every one in the audience immediately had the same chance of appreciating and enjoying the pieces no matter what their prior expertise was. The pieces acted as experiments to see how certain sound waves would react with their surroundings, other objects, and with other sounds.

          I enjoyed listening to the experiments take place but what was more exciting to me was that I understood what they were trying to do, because I had been given this prior knowledge.  I thought they picked a space that perfectly matched their show because there were only about twenty chairs set up in the room and about that many people showed up. Also, because we were in a small soundproof room, the music filled every space and was impossible to ignore. On each chair there was an optional evaluation sheet to be filled out during or after the show which was a great way for them to get immediate feedback from an informational source, their audience.  Almost everyone wrote down feedback and handed it to Ron on their way out. The show was free admittance but they were accepting donations, something that not many people took part in simply because they did not have cash.  With NMC being a non-profit organization they should be thinking of different ways to get donations, possibly electronically through the internet, or even stating on their flyers that donations are welcome, so people could come prepared.  I recommend going to an NMC event to anyone because of the extremely personable artists and staff, and the free admittance and location on campus is convenient to students. Also, the quaint space and small audience made the experience so much more personal and enjoyable.

Improv with Theatre 99

            Improv is one of the more curious forms of entertainment out there. Not nearly as widespread as classic, heavily rehearsed and perfected entertainment, it is created completely on the spot, which in itself may restrict its audience to those who can handle the spontaneity. When done right it leaves one wide-eyed in a state of disbelief, while when done wrong it leaves one cringing into their chair. When done right it leaves one wide-eyed in a state of disbelief, while when done wrong it leaves one cringing into their chair. I had the opportunity to experience the former reaction at Theatre 99 in Charleston, SC on Wednesday.

            Immediately upon entering Theatre 99 you are presented with a sense of intimacy and community. The woman taking my ticket feels just as part of their collective as the performers who left me laughing for an hour. The theatre isn’t totally visible from the street, and it’s a small little place, so you really do feel like you’re a part of it too. This vibe will surely encourage many audience members to return, as the theatre itself combine with the audience-involved nature of improv does foster the idea that the audience is welcome and accepted.

One thing that did not impress me about Theatre 99 was their lack of clear mission statement or transparent records. Multiple Google searches and scouring their website left me nothing as far as a mission statement, nor were their records available on Guidestar. After leaving such a trusting and intimate sense of community from the show itself, qualities like this serve to jeopardize the audience loyalty if they suspect Theatre 99 isn’t truly putting all its money towards its not-so-clear mission statement.

Overall the people of Theatre 99 are doing a unique service to Charleston in a very amicable and effective way. They have clearly fostered a community of loyal audiences, as well as generating positive reviews, somewhat word-of-mouth, to bring in new audiences that are welcomed as if they had been there all along. I am interested to see how they grow further as a theatre, and how they adapt to the internet age more fully to reflect their sense of community that they show in person on the digital stage.

The Evolution of African American Music

A few weeks ago, my director planned for our cast of 12 women to attend a community sing at Central Baptist Church featuring Dr. Ysaye M. Barnwell. I come from a Catholic family, but I wouldn’t consider myself a very religious person and I had never heard of a community sing before. As I was walking into the church I did not know what to expect. Was it going to be an intimate concert with just Barnwell performing, a worship service with a guest appearance, or a sing along? It turned out to be a group sing involving all attendees. I had chills the entire time listening to voices of all sizes, colors and background coming together to form one voice.

We learned about the different spiritual chants and folks that are the root of African American music and how their culture and music evolved over time. It correlates a lot with how the arts began within the Church. Layering harmonies one after the other created more than just a choir of singers but a performance of artists. All of the songs that we learned were directed towards God and brought members of the Church and community significantly closer to one another through the art of music.  I would most definitely recommend this event to others, especially those interested in music, singing and the African American culture.

Monday Night Concert Series

On Monday, September 16th 2013 the Department of Music at the College of Charleston presented the Monday Night Concert Series, held in the Recital Hall of the Simons center of the Arts. This evenings concert is part of the Remington Master Series, dedicated to the incredible career of Mrs. Emily Remington. 

The two performers were Lori Phillips (soprano), and her husband, Jay Baylon (bass-baritone). The couple was accompanied by Robin Zemp, a talented musician and teacher of the SOTA here at the College. Phillips began the concert with a few solo preformances exhibiting her incredible range and power. Phillips ability to convey emotion through her voice and body language had the audiences attention incredibly focused on every movement. Baylon had a solo preformance following Phillips, until collaborating in a moving emotional display for a duet. Most of her songs were about love, pleasure, and pain. When the baritone (her husband) was introduced into the composition, the entire direction of the piece began to change from less chromatic dynamic tones to a flowing synchronization between the two. The eye contact between the two preformers was really what stood out to me. I’ve never seen a more synchronized emotional display on stage.

I definitly reccoment the Monday Night Concert Series to any  interest in the vocal arts and the private organization of world talent on our school stages. I also reccomend that everyone check out the Remington Master Artists series, all hyperlinks are listed above. The reception after the concert was amazing, and the show was only one hour. Free food and short performances are definitly a plus for any art student trying to budget time.

Theatre 99: The Have Nots!

A few weekends previous I attended an improv show at Theatre 99 down on Meeting Street. The comedy group that was performing was called The Have Nots!, and being a relative newbie to the improv scene in general I was excited to see what the evening had in store. Initially I was nervous; not for me, but for the performers. Regrettably I have a large amount of performance empathy for anyone on stage, especially for the judgement or co-operation of an audience. It often gets in the way of my own enjoyment, but these performers hit it off so quickly with the theatre that I was not given time for my own worry. Practically the entire show was based off of audience participation, eliminating any chance of a disinterested viewer. It was a rare moment for any joke to land badly and I was laughing along within minutes, with everyone around me seeming just as enthusiastic as I was to be there.

What interested me most about the evening was the demographic appeal of the performance. There were people in the rows ranging from age eighteen to what must have been their late sixties. Everyone was enjoying themselves equally. This form of comedic, improvisational theatre creates a huge amount of general appeal; there is a much larger demographic base for them to draw upon for shows than other arts mediums. It appears it is easier to sell easy laughter than an enlightening gallery opening. It’s not just educated, middle-class, middle-aged Americans showing up for shows, but a wide range of people from different backgrounds coming from Europe on the cruise ships or simply Charleston natives.

Overall, I would highly recommend this evening for others. It’s a great event to go to with friends or family, regardless of age. Anyone looking for a comedic release should definitely head down, especially as ticket prices were low enough to enjoy the show and still get dinner afterwards.

New Music Collective: Earth People

On September 5th I saw a concert featuring the band Earth People. This experimental duo performed on the second floor of the Cato Center for the Arts, in a show sponsored by the New Music Collective. Overall, I am fairly neutral towards the show. On the one hand, the artists took a lot of risks, playing very experimental music. I appreciate their ingenuity and attempt to make music out of objects like pencils and barrels, or screeching pre-recorded voices. Regardless of my admiration of their style of choice, the music itself was not to my liking. Although the pencil-tapping demonstration was interesting, it lasted 15 minutes, way beyond the audience’s attention span. Also, after one segment in which an amplified cello and harsh digital sounds clashed for at least 10 minutes, I cannot say I walked away confident that I would hear again.

As with any art event, there exist some parallels between my experience and the event that I went to. For example, before the event, I had no prior knowledge or education about experimental music. Perhaps, had New Music Collective been proactive about educating the public about contemporary music, they would have had a better turn out and a more engaged audience. On the positive side, the event clicked well with the organization’s mission-an important part of any organization. In keeping with their mission to develop “a community around contemporary music in the South Carolina Lowcountry,” the event was small and had a close-knit, communal feel. They also strive to have “accessible dialogue” between the audience and the artist, which held true during this event. We were able to go up to the performers after the show and ask them questions. We also picked up on the band’s internal banter, since we weren’t more than 10 feet from where they played.

In the end, I recommend this event to my peers. Although the main-stream application of Earth People’s music is questionable, something this wacky and experimental is a must for those interested in different takes on music.


Lack Of Applause

On September 7, 2013, I went to see the coproduction of The Flowertown Players
and South of Broadway Theatre Company’s production of Jean-Paul Sartre’s “No Exit” at the James Dean Theatre in Summerville, SC.  The play was set in hell and not the hell that we think of when someone mentions the place but rather a small room with three small fabric benches, no windows, artwork, and dully painted walls. With a cast of only three, each narrated their own story of how they ended up in this place they called hell and why each believed they ended up there.  Most of the story was bland; lacking humor and any sort of thought-provoking dialogue.  The play ends with all three characters laughing as they realize that they are already dead, cannot kill one another, and they are stuck in the place called hell forever with no way of escaping.

This theater seats approximately two hundred people and roughly, twenty people were in
audience that evening.  After seeing the play, I do not believe that many people knew of this play other than season ticket holders and few fans of the theater.  Summerville is a family oriented city with lots of young families and I feel that this play did not appeal to the demographics of the area as there was a feeling of disconnect between the play and the audience.  The play may have done better in an area like Charleston where there is more of an interest in the art of theatre and an appreciation for less popular plays versus an area like Summerville where people just want to get out for the night or participate in an activity that is more family friendly.

I would not recommend this play to others.  While it was interesting to see, what Flowertown Player’s is producing versus other theaters in Charleston the twenty-dollar ticket was not worth the performance given.