November: A Review

1404684_544439335633476_1318027768_oNov. 2 – Varna International presents Songs of Life: A Melancholy Beauty

This event was one of the most difficult ones we have put on at the Music Hall.  What we thought was a smaller choral show turned out to be a 200 person orchestra show (note to self: always attach the Music Hall tech rider to contracts).  The Music Hall stage is 40 ft. x 30 ft., and there was no way we were going to fit a 130 piece choir and 70 piece orchestra on the stage.  However, with some creativity, hard work, and some great help from the good folks at PDA, we were able to pull it off.  We took out the first three rows in the orchestra section (not an easy task seeing as how they are bolted to the cement floor), and then built a custom 20 foot stage extension out into the theatre.  We then brought in four 40 ft. x 10 ft. choir risers for the back of the stage, and we filled every inch of them  The end result was quite a fantastic sight.  This orchestral piece told the story of the 40,000 Jews who escaped Bulgaria in WW II.  It was very moving and emotional night for both the people on stage and in the audience.

Read more about this event from the Post and Courier HERE.

Nov. 8 – Bob and Tom Comedy Show

We brought back the Bob and Tom Comedy Show last month.  This show sold out last year, November 2012; however, the show did not do as well this year selling just under 400 tickets.  I think this drop in ticket sales was due in part to the fact that neither Bob nor Tom joined the troupe of comedians this year, but the four Bob and Tom Show regulars who showed up, Drew Hastings, Donnie Baker, Tommy Johnagin, and host, Kristi Lee, still brought on the laughs.

Read an interview with Bob and Tom Comedian Tommy Johnagin from Metronome Charleston HERE.

You can read more about the show from Charleston Scene HERE.

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Sold Out Crowd for Veronica Roth

Nov. 9 – YALL Fest

YALL Fest has turned into one of my favorite events of the year.  I have never seen so many people so stoked about reading.  The big event this year was the keynote speaker: Veronica Roth.  Roth is only 23, and her Divergent Series has already sold millions of copies world wide.  The first book in the Trilogy, Divergent, is also being made into a movie in 2014 starring Kate Winslet.  Watch the trailer HERE.  The big issue was that Veronica could only sign 500 books after her 10 AM talk due to her busy schedule.  This meant that 428 people who bought tickets to the sold out keynote speaker event were not going to get personally signed books. Being the wonderful bookstore that they are, Blue Bicycle Books went the extra mile to make sure they had plenty of stock books signed by Veronica before the event; however, people were still not very happy.  We took calls all week from people asking if they could camp out over night.  We did not have any campers, but when I showed up at the Music Hall at 7 AM, we did have 300 people lined up around the building.  Everyone turned out to be in good spirits, and the day went swimmingly.

While Roth was certainly exciting, the entire day was filled with great events with panels of Young Adult authors speaking about everything from Anti-Heroes to Southern Youth to Transgendered vs. Heteronormative relationships in fantasy fiction.  The day almost felt a bit like Comicon but without all the costumes.  Blue Bicycle Books had lines out the door all day, and authors also spoke at The American Theatre.  The event ended with another sold a crowd cheering for the band Tiger Beat (made up of all Young Adult Authors), and the YA Smackdown: an event where all the Young Adult authors come together and play some crazy games on stage.  The day was a blast.  We are looking forward to next year.

Nov. 15 – 16 – Encore Dance presents 2013 Holiday Spectacular

A local dance school performing segments of the Nutcracker and other original dances to Christmas tunes.  We did a few dance school events at the Music Hall this year, and they were great.

Balloon Drop!!

Nov. 20 – Pecha Kucha XX

What a night to remember!  Pecha Kucha XX just might be in the top 5 events of 2013 in our book.  For those of you who are not even sure how to announce Pecha Kucha (no it is not something dirty), here is a brief definition: Pecha Kucha, Japanese for the sound of conversation, is a mix of show-and-tell, open-mike night and happy hour that has become a forum for ideas on design, architecture and other forms of creativity. Devised in 2003 in Tokyo, Pecha Kucha Night has spread virally to over 135 cities around the world as an informal forum for creative people to meet, network and show their work in public.For more about Pecha Kucha you can visit the global website.  Each presenter is allowed 20 images, each shown for just 20 seconds, giving 6 minutes 40 seconds of fame before the next presenter is up. This keeps presentations concise, the interest level up, and gives more people the chance to show.

PK XX was a grand party celebrating twenty successful Pecha Kucha events in Charleston (the locations ranging from Memminger Auditiorium to Wragg Square to the Grow Food Warehouse).  There were 8 presenters from the creative fields in Charleston instead of the regular six including: Sully Sullivan (photographer), Paul Roof (Holy City Beard and Moustache Society), Nathan Durfee (painter), Marcus Amaker (poet), Gil Shuler (Graphic Designer), Ethan Jackson (Client Director//Partnership Development at Lunch & Recess), Ayoka Lucas (Fashion / Life Extraordinaire), Buff Ross (Graphic Design / First Man to walk across the country on Google Maps), and was hosted by Laura Ball (Musician / Creator of the Unedited Series).  These presenters were chosen out of the 120 + presenters that have presented at a Pecha Kucha in Charleston over the last seven years.  The arts are alive in Charleston indeed!!  Becca Barnet did an amazing art installation in the building hanging tons of clouds from the rafters and created a cloud podium.  Palmetto Brewery and Wine Awesomeness brought the liquid treats.  It was just a big grand collaboration.  And of course, one must not forgot the amazing performance put on by Elise Testone after the presenters.  Elise brought her full band with her and had a Pecha Kucha presentation of her own mixing her own songs with songs from musicians that inspire her.  A few more highlights from the evening: a balloon drop, Sully turning into a wolf on stage, the Pecha Kucha Twitter Feed, the twenty Pecha Kucha posters that were beautifully framed and hung by Artists and Crafstmen’s Hirona Matsuda, and of course, Terry Fox.  We live in a great town.  Enjoy it.  Go out into it.  Support your friends and family.

Watch presenter Marcus Amaker’s poem presentation HERE.

You can check out some more photos from the evening HERE thanks to Clay Austin Photography.

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James and Lucca Combined Bands

Nov. 21 – Brendan James and Tony Lucca with Vicci Martinez

The last week in November certainly was an amazing one.  The night after the great Pecha Kucha event we had Brendan James come back into the Music Hall.  James played at the Hall back in July with fellow Charleston local, Steven Fiore (who sadly has moved to Los Angeles….moment of silence…).  Well, Brendan James is having a baby and will not be playing for a while, so he wanted to get in one last show in Charleston before his baby hiatus.  He brought Tony Lucca with him this time.  Lucca was one of the favorites on NBC’s TV Show The Voice, is on Adam Levine’s record label, and also performed at the Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions Football game on Thanksgiving the week after he performed at the Music Hall.  I really liked the format of the evening.  Singer / songwriter, Vicci Martinez, opened up the evening with a shorter acoustic set.  We actually did not know she was on the bill until the last minute.  We wish we would have known because she was amazing, and we would have liked to have spread the word better.  After Vicci’s set, James and Lucca took the stage in a co-bill style presentation.  They actually played on each others songs and took turns swapping back and forth.  Brendan James has a solid local audience who are not afraid to dance and make noise.  It was a smaller crowd, around 200, but the performance was amazing, and everyone I spoke with about the event was very impressed with both Lucca and James.  I hope to see all three of these musicians back at the Music Hall sooner than later.

Read more about Tony Lucca in this City Paper Article HERE.

Jarosz on Garden and Gun's Backporch
Jarosz on Garden and Gun’s Backporch

Nov. 22 – Sarah Jarosz with Brian Wright

It is hard to believe that Grammy nominated singer songwriter, Sarah Jarosz, is only twenty-two years old.  Described by the Austin Chronicle as “a songwriter of uncommon wisdom”, Jarosz composes herself with such poise and grace that you would think she was much older.  We had the pleasure of setting up a Back Porch Session with Jarosz over at the Garden and Gun office in the afternoon before the show.  Garden and Gun is a bi-monthly magazine described as the “Soul of the South,” and they have held mini-shows on their back porch (which is only 20 square feet) for the likes of Jason Isbell, Steep Canyon Rangers, J.J. Grey, Holly Williams, and The Punch Brothers.  Jarosz’s session is not up on their site yet, but you can check out some of the other Back Porch Sessions HERE.

Jarosz has played in Charleston several times for sold out crowds at Spoleto and The Hippodrome (the old Imax theatre), but I think we found the perfect spot for her.  She sounded amazing in the Music Hall where you could here even the lightest touches of her Mandolin, Guitar, and Banjo (yes she does play all three).  She is touring on her new album, Build Me Up From Bones.  One of my favorite songs off the album is “Over the Edge.”  Jarosz played as a three piece, and the intricate harmonies and orchestration between her and her two bandmates on stage was simply amazing.  I would highly recommend you give Ms. Jarosz the attention she deserves.  She is definitely going places, and I would surprised if her new album does not win a Grammy.

People were also jazzed about the opening solo artist, Brian Wright.  Originally from Waco, Texas, Wright’s songs were haunting yet beautiful.

Read a review of the show from Metronome Charleston HERE.

The CJO's Conductor, Charlton Singleton, swingin' with style
The CJO’s Conductor, Charlton Singleton, swingin’ with style

Nov. 23 – Charleston Jazz Orchestra presents Holiday Swing

The Charleston Jazz Orchestra, another testament to the greatness of this city’s music scene, finished up their Fifth Season as an orchestra last month with their show Holiday Swing.  The 25 piece big band Jazz Orchestra performs six shows at the Music Hall each year, and we are proud to have been dubbed their official “House of Swing.”  Their rendition of The Nutcracker was quite impressive; however, one of my favorite songs of the event was The Grinch.  It was nice to see a light hearted side of the orchestra, as audience and musicians laughed together at the ridiculousness of the song.  The CJO also took us through songs from their shows in 2013 including: Coltrane, Atomic Basie, Porgy and Bess, Latin Night: Antonio Carlos Jobim, and World of Bebop.  The CJO is changing their times for their 2014 Season (which you can check out HERE) from 7 and 10 to 5 and 8 so make sure you come see one of their shows next year.

Check out some great photos of the event from Art Mag HERE.

– Charles Carmody, CMH