• Beaufort Lifestyle Magazine


Photography by PAUL NURNBERG

It’s that time of year again. Time to get outside, soak up some sun and attend the 59th Annual Beaufort Water Festival. Although it is so well run that it may look like the events “just happen,” the festival has an all volunteer staff over 400 people, lead by the most visible face of the Annual Beaufort Water Festival, the Commodore. Meet Brandy Gray, this year’s Beaufort Water Festival Commodore.
As befitting this year’s festival theme, “A Lowcountry Tradition since 1956,” Commodore Gray has the distinct honor of being the first former Pirette to become Commodore and she is the first second generation Commodore, as her Great Uncle James “Sammy” Gray was the Commodore in 1958. She is carrying on family tradition in fine style, with unflagging energy and a full slate of exciting events lined up for another fantastic festival.
Commodore Brandy Gray sat down with Beaufort Lifestyle at the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park to talk about this year’s festival.

Where were you born and raised?
I am a fifth generation Port Royal girl, second generation Commodore and the first ever Pirette to become a Commodore.

Tell us about your family.
My dear husband Mickey has been an amazing supporter for the many my civic hats I wear. Our daughter, Emma LaClaire, has been right there with us all the way. I can recall being pregnant during the festival a few years back and everyone was on “Brandy Watch.” I survived one of the hottest festivals and gave birth a few weeks later!

How long have you been involved with the Beaufort Water Festival (BWF)?
More than a decade.

How did you first get involved?
I was a Pirette in 1989 and 1990, then I got asked to chair the Bed Races for a few years, then I asked what else I can do to help. I worked my way up from staff, director and eventually around the table to the coveted spot! So from 2000 until now.

Why did you continue as a volunteer with the BWF?
I was amazed at the amount of volunteers and the hard work that went into the festival. I wanted to be a part of one of the most amazing events in our community and the proud to be a member of the Water Festival family.

What is your BWF favorite memory?
One of my greatest memories was when I received my jacket with the Water Festival crest on it. The eldest living Commodore at the time was my Great Uncle James “Sammy” Gray. He put that coat on me and grinned from ear to ear. It was a very special time for our family. He passed away a few months later and I am sure he is looking down still smiling.

What is your favorite event?
I love the parade. As a child I would site on the sidewalk at the Best Western and see the floats coming down Bay Street. My grandfather was a clown with the Omar Shriners and I watched him for many years march in the parade. Our parade is a picture of how our community comes together and shines in the middle of July.
I recall many years back when Palmetto Federal/Regions had the lawn chair brigade in the parade. Their staff wore matching outfits, carried green folding chairs, had background music and marched in the parade. Then at random they would breakout into a skit. Memories like these are what make our parade so great!

Traditions play an important role in the events but the BWF stays current by adding new and exciting events from time to time. What is new or different at this year’s BWF?
We had the first ever “Paddle Battle,” a paddle boarding and kayak event in May, that was a brand new event. Salsa Tuesday is new, and we are very excited to have Son Del Coqui, a fantastic ten piece mariachi band here for that event on Tuesday July 22.
We have changed the day of the Air Show from the second Saturday to the first Saturday, so the Air Show is on July 19 this year.  Also, DragonBoat Race Day has its own day this year, Saturday, July 26, with dragon boat races taking place all day.
In addition to our famous kids Toad Fishing contest on Saturday July 19; we will have the Coastal Education Expo from eleven to three with lots of interactive and informational booths to further knowledge of our beautiful low country surroundings. On Children’s Day, DNR will have a large touch tank for all the kids to enjoy.

One of the Commodore’s many tasks is to design the popular annual tee shirt. Tell us about this year’s tee shirt design.
Our vision for the t-shirts was a combination of the early years blended into our current year. William Rhett did an amazing job capturing those elements in our design. This design not only paints a picture of our history, it pays tribute to three of past commodores who pasted away this past year John Gentry, Sammy Gray and Ray Kearns. The other important tributes are the names on the boat. It is named in memory of my mom Peggy and in honor of William’s mom Nancy. This design is more than a painting, it is a symbol of our history, family, friends and our memories!!

What concerts do you have lined up for this year?
We are super excited to have two national recording artists this year. Our Concert in the Park will feature Craig Morgan and our River Dance will feature our hometown girl Marjory Lee opening for Eric Paslay. I have watched Marjory Lee over the years entertaining us in the Talent Show, to entertaining in various venues in town and on Fripp Island.

Tell our readers something they may not know about the BWF.
Our festival runs like a well oiled machine. Volunteers give up their vacations to work for ten plus days in the heat for upwards of fifteen hours a day. The Water Festival volunteers are a family that rises up for each other on a moment’s notice.

Anything else you would like our readers to know ?
Beaufort is an amazing community; the generosity of the volunteers and residents is overwhelming. We are truly fortunate to live in a town that cares so passionately about others. An overwhelming amount of support was exhibited when we assisted with the hometown event for Candice Glover. We were given a little over a week to pull off a spectacular event that would put Beaufort on the map. Volunteers came together at a moment’s notice crafting a plan to make this event happen. It is times like this that I am so very proud of my Water Festival family and our community.

Commodore Brandy Gray and her dedicated crew have lined up what is sure to be the most exciting Beaufort Water Festival ever. And in 59 years of Water Festivals, that is saying something! There are many sporting events such as horseshoe, bocce, volleyball, golf, and cornhole, badminton, and croquet tournaments taking place previous to and throughout the festival. Check the website for dates and times and for information on how to sign up.
Bring the kids and enjoy a week filled with fun, laughter and entertainment. It all happens at the 59 Annual Beaufort Water Festival!
For more information check out the Face Book page, Annual Beaufort Water Festival and visit the website

Of all the accomplishments, events and talents Phil Neubig is known for, the least of which is probably his swimming. And he has one huge box of ribbons won for his swimming, so that just gives you a brief idea of the scope of his life.The next time Phil competes will be after his 85th birthday. He joined the Parris Island Masters swim team in 1994. “Now,” he says, “all I do is muscle my way through the water. One of the reasons I joined the swim team was, that as a retired Marine, I was able to get on Parris Island.” Did I mention that Phil has a lively sense of humor? The other reasons he joined the swim team were that he wanted to learn to swim doing strokes other than the dog paddle; an athlete all his life, he enjoys the exercise. Although he grew up near the water in Louisiana, he didn’t learn to swim as a child. “I was born in the middle of the depression; my parents believed that you never took chances. Two of my friends drowned in the Mississippi in eddy currents, so my parents wouldn’t let us swim. I would sneak behind the levee and dog paddle around, I never learned anything else until I joined the swim team.”

As part of his training to be a fighter pilot, in 1952 he had to jump in the water in his flight suit and swim a mile from the plane to land. This effort must have empowered Phil in some way because in 1954 “I brought Marianne (my bride-to-be) home to meet my folks. We went to New Orleans with my mother and sister on the ferry boat. On the way back, we missed the ferry so, in order to impress Marianne, I took my clothes off, jumped into the Mississippi and dog paddled and side-stroked my way across. The tug boats were trying to rescue me, my mother pulled out her rosary and started praying, which was the only reason I made it. The current took me a mile downstream so I had to walk back on top of the levee in my undershorts.” Asked if she was impressed, Marianne countered, “I had no idea what he was doing!”
Having only started swimming in 1994, Phil swam the mile in 46:34.38 in 1995. Perseverance paid off and in 2001, he swam that mile in 38:22.23. He still swims 3 days a week in the pool at Beaufort High. He was won 13 South Carolina state records. How? “I’m the only 84 year old who swims 1 mile, 1/4 mile and 400 yards. All the older guys swim shorter distances.” He’s been to the Nationals in Palm Gardens, FL. In 2013 he swam in the Pan Am Masters tournament in Sarasota, FL. And, he went with his son, Mike, for an open water 2 mile swim around the island of Fiji in 2005. Phil swims 12 races in every meet – 10 individual, and 1 or 2 relays. His system is that when he practices, in his first lap he takes only 3 breaths, in the second lap – 2 breaths, and in the third lap – none. “I’m the only guy not huffing and puffing. In flight training, I set three physical fitness records. I’ve torn each of my rotator cuffs twice while swimming. I started swimming when I couldn’t run anymore.”
And run he loved to do. As a pilot for 34 years for United Airlines, Phil would run when on layovers. He had a particular affinity for running through the more questionable parts of town where he might find pawn and junk shops and score an antique tool for his collection. He eventually acquired over 3,000 tools, but on his quest he found something that turned out to be quite interesting and have a much more residual effect. One night, in one of those pawnshops, Phil spied a 1929 geological survey map of Ontario, Canada hanging on the wall. It showed the portages that the hunters and trappers and fur traders used in the 1800’s. Phil remembered his 6 or 7th grade history and bought that map without even a second thought. The map showed a road that went the farthest north, to Pickle Lake, which was on an Indian reservation. Phil decided he would follow that map. So the next year, he put his 4 boys, ages 4 – 11, in the car and drove to Minnesota where they packed tents, got in canoes, and spent two weeks learning about camping. Since synchronicity always plays a part somewhere in our lives, Phil went to a Marathon Oil Co. annual meeting, the only stockholders meeting he ever attended, where he met the CEO who was a big canoeist. This man went into Canada by sea plane where he was dropped off and picked up later at the intended destination. Phil  was intrigued and got a copy of his canoe log and the next summer he took his two oldest boys and did a similar trip. The summer after that, in 1972, all four boys accompanied Phil and they drove to Pickle Lake in Ontario, Canada, which was at the end of the road. Phil was thrilled and amazed to find a Hudson’s Bay Company Store on the reservation; they bought a more detailed map along with some supplies and a 4 stripe blanket, which Phil still has. (Hudson’s Bay Co. has been famous for it’s point blankets for over two centuries.) “We canoed 95 miles roundtrip, we crossed 15 portages where we saw nothing and no one as the Indians no longer used canoes in favor of boats with motors. We learned the territory as we went, we shot rapids and falls. The water was 40 – 50 degrees; I had heard that the body adapts to cold so every day we swam. The first day we could only go about 100 yards but by the end of the trip, we could swim in that cold water for an hour; the body develops a thin layer of fat under the skin for insulation. Some days when the outside temperature was hovering around 30, that water actually felt warm! We repeated this trip 14 times until my youngest son was 18. We never saw a single person and we never carried a radio. If we had needed help, we would have had to have relied upon ourselves.”
Ten years before Phil was due to retire from United Airlines, he and Marianne drove around the country to see where they would like to live. “We stumbled upon Beaufort; it was the heart of the Marine Corps. We met Tony and Blanche Trumps and they started showing us property. In 1981, we found this lot where we wanted to build a house.” (See the story about the building of Phil and Marianne’s 20+ year journey to build their amazing house.)
If you ever meet Phil, sit down and have a chat. Have him tell you about that fateful day in 1958 when he kinda, sorta, borrowed a F9F6 Cougar fighter plane to take on a “training mission” from Illinois to Alabama where his wife was planning the funerals of her father and grandmother and almost, her husband. Have him explain that the weather turned bad and he was enveloped in a thunderstorm and he lost power to that one important instrument – the gyro horizon. He didn’t know if he was right-side up or upside-down when he went into an inverted spin and he had to make a decision, because at 760 mph, or mach 1, which is the speed of sound, when you are traveling a mile every 5 seconds, the next ten seconds for him represented eternity. With his altimeter unwinding as fast as his speed was building up, he knew he had to punch out and went through the canopy. Only he was taller than the spikes on the back of the ejection seat designed to break the canopy so his head hit first and his hard hat split in two, kept together by the chin strap. Ask him what was like to eject through the canopy of the plane where the “D” ring on his parachute and the toggle on his Mae West life vest got caught on the broken Plexiglas so his chute opened immediately which allowed his seat to tear through his parachute and rip it to smithereens, and he was hanging with a rope around his neck from the life vest while he descended 10,000 feet, starting at the speed of sound, until he reached the ground with a parachute that looked like something from your grandmother’s tattered rag bag. Ask him how it feels to be the only person to have survived something like that. He’s a great story teller – he will regale you with all the sordid details, and you will be amazed at his resilience, his humor, his drive, his competence, and his amazing bonhomie.


Photography by PAUL NURNBERG

It’s simple, it’s straightforward and it makes such very, very good sense: buy right from the supplier. In this case, buy from your local fisherman. Craig Reaves of the family owned Sea Eagle Market, has started the only Community Supported Fishery (CSF) in Beaufort. Sea Eagle Market’s CSF supports other fisherman in the region from Murrell’s Inlet, Shem Creek, St. Helena Island and Port Royal, so everything you buy comes off the boat somewhere close to home. There are many reasons to support your CSF and those are that you get freshly caught seafood, you form a relationship with the local fishermen, you save money, and you enable the fishermen to re-establish fleets, maintain their vessels, and keep the heritage that has been so important – especially to this part of the country – alive and thriving.

CSF is based on the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model, which has been a way for consumers to purchase local, seasonal food from farmers for over twenty five years. (Pinckney’s Produce in Beaufort is a CSA). CFS’s are popping up all over the country because they work – for the fisherman and the consumers. It’s like a joint venture – the consumer pays for the seafood in advance, enabling the fisherman to purchase supplies, etc. that he may need ahead of time.
The way it works is that you pay for a certain amount of seafood according to your needs, it runs by the season, specifically for Sea Eagle – 12 weeks. The seafood is dropped off at convenient locations in Beaufort, Port Royal, Callawassie and Hilton Head, and your seafood is in a cooler bag. You pick up your seafood, leave last week’s cooler bag, take the seafood home and enjoy it. For a family of 2 for 12 weeks, the savings over store buying are $180.00; there is enough seafood for 2 to 3 meals per week of the program. Every week, the selection is different but an idea of what might be in the cooler bag is: 1 1/2 pounds of shrimp, 2- 8oz. filets of fish (grouper, mahi, or perhaps triggerfish), 2 dozen clams and a recipe. The shrimp might be jumbo one week and peeled and deveined another. About twice during the season other South Carolina food products will be included, perhaps a bag of stone ground grits to make shrimp and grits.
If this is a new concept to you and you’re not sure if you will eat that amount of seafood, or you are planning to go away, you can freeze the seafood. You can have a friend pick it up if you’re out of town, and you can make a substitution if necessary due to allergies. Or you can share the program with a friend or neighbor, cooking together or alternating weeks. Every distribution of seafood comes with a recipe which allows the consumer to try new and different varieties.
Have you ever even thought about where that pretty piece of fish in the grocery store case came from, or how long it took to get there? 91% of seafood purchased in the US is imported. Most of the rest of it comes from an industrial seafood company and it has travelled well over 5,000 miles from the landing dock to the point of sale. Your fish has taken a journey equivalent to a road trip from Fairbanks, Alaska to Key West, FL. Actually, that salmon fillet may have come from a lot further away if it took the circuitous route from being illegally caught in Russia, processed in China (with salmon chum for extra yum), trans-shipped to South Korea for a stay in a warehouse, and then transported by sea to this country where it may again stay in a warehouse for several months before being loaded on a truck or train to it’s final destination. Sound appetizing?
The concept of Sea Eagle’s CSF is to feature South Carolina seafood, and keep it in South Carolina. On a day where 20,000 to 30,000 pounds of fish are off-loaded in Port Royal, they can get packed in a truck and be shipped to Boston for processing, then get shipped out of Boston and go all over the country. That creates a large carbon footprint. Craig’s ideology is to take the fish or shrimp from the boat, clean and pack them at Sea Eagle Market and load them in trucks that will deliver them to restaurants in South Carolina within 24 hours. The revenue stays in the state, the seafood is fresh, and a much smaller carbon footprint has been left.
Let’s look at the big picture – a whole lot of fish comes into this country from all over the world. Here are some of the problems with that. According to Marine Policy (48 – 2014), “Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is a significant global problem jeopardizing ecosystems, food security and livelihoods around the world. Our protein hungry planet faces an unprecedented crisis of overfishing  85% of all commercial stocks are now fished up to their biological limits or beyond.” Overfishing is only one of the issues, sustainable use of ocean resources is another, illegal and unreported fish are flooding the US seafood markets. These illegal and unreported fish pose a financial threat to our own fisherman and also to the consumer in terms of lack of information about harvesting and processing. Next time you reach for a can of tuna in the grocery store, be aware that, again according to Marine Policy, in 2011: 187,189 metric tons ( 412,676,869.4 pounds) of canned tuna was imported valued at $719,293,937.00 and fresh and frozen tuna imports totaled 107,679 metric tons (237,389,123.4 pounds) valued at $651,366,670.00. That $1,370,660,607.00 (yes, you read it right, that figure is one billion, three hundred and seventy million, six hundred and sixty thousand, six hundred and seven dollars) – for 650,065,992.8 pounds of tuna (six hundred fifty million, sixty five thousand, nine hundred ninety two. eight pounds) would be way better off spent at home on local fish; and those figures are only for tuna!
Do your research – buy local; support your community, rest assured that your seafood is local and sustainable. As Craig says, “There is a certain peace of mind that comes from supporting a farmer or fisherman. You not only get the best products available, but you’re also helping someone in your community.”

Photography by JOHN WOLLWERTH

Story by CINDY REID      Photography by SUSAN DELOACH

They are called the Sweetgrass Angels because, well they sound like what angels would sound like if they appeared in the form of three lovely ladies who just happen to harmonize together beautifully.
Elaine O’Connell Lake, Velma Polk and Penney Lynn Smith met at the audition for the University of South Carolina at Beaufort (USCB) production of “Honky Tonk Angels” in 2012 and very soon they knew they had something exceptional. The funny part was, none of the singers really wanted to be in the show, which follows the lives of three aspiring female singers. Penney had no intention of performing, preferring to remain behind the scenes as Musical Director. She had encouraged Velma, who had performed as a singer extensively throughout the last fifteen years but had never been in a musical theater production, to try out. And then there was Elaine, perhaps the most reluctant of the three ladies.
Elaine would never have even auditioned for the show without her husband Jason’s urging. Jason was designing sets for the musical and he wanted Elaine to try out. Elaine says ”I wasn’t going to go and Jason said ‘when are you ever going to do it?’ and so finally I went, arriving late.” She went and sang a solo, as did Velma. Then Penney had a hunch and got onstage to try a song with all three of them harmonizing, just like they would if they were in the show.
The first song they ever sang together was “Amazing Grace.”
Was it the hymn? Was it fate? All three ladies agree that separately they may have been fine, but when they sang together for the first time something new and wonderful was created. Velma says “We are all women of faith. The Lord brought us together, and our harmonies just clicked.”
Penney says, “I knew when we were at “Honky Tonk Angels,” that Elaine’s’ sweet pure angel voice and the power, strength and tenacity in Velma’s voice combined with my versatility and range was a beautiful combination.”
Velma says, “After the show people kept asking us ‘are you going to keep singing?,’ and we said we would if we had a place to sing.” Penney says, “Bonnie Hargrove, the Director of the Center for the Arts at USCB, kept telling Fran Tuttle of Lowcountry Produce how good we were and Fran offered their space for our first gig.” Elaine says “Penney came up with a bunch of songs and we did it!” And so the Sweetgrass Angels were born. A year later they celebrated their first anniversary by playing appropriately, at Lowcountry Produce.


The group is known for their classic three part harmonies on songs from the 40’s to today. They cover many genres, from beach music, shag, country, gospel, to disco which they are able to do this due to their lengthy musical resumes. As Penney says, “There are no prescripted roles for our harmonies, we are all true musicians, and in fact we all play instruments. We are so much more than karaoke!” Although they came together at the “Honky Tonk Angels” audition, their music roots go back much farther.
A native Beaufortonian, Velma has sung professionally for over fifteen years. She has had the pleasure of entertaining for several highly ranked public servants, including South Carolina Lt. Governor Brantley Harvey, as well as members of the U.S. Secret Service. She has also performed at several events hosted by acclaimed actor and Low Country resident Tom Berenger. One of her most treasured performances was singing back-up vocals on her son Donnie Polk’s CD. Both her sons, Donnie and Ben, are well known musicians as is her brother Doug Garvin. Velma credits her loving Granny for teaching her to harmonize and instilling her deep love of music, especially gospel. Velma especially loves, “Singing praises for my Lord most of all because He has blessed me so.”
Since her musical theater debut in “Honky Tonk Angels” Velma has appeared as a lead cast member in both “8-Track, The Sounds of the 70’s” and “Honky Tonk Angels Christmas Holiday Spectacular” at USCB. An accomplished musician, Velma also plays the piano. Married to Donald Polk, they make their home in Beaufort.
Elaine is originally from Pennsylvania and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in music with a focus on performance. She was the recipient of the Mary Landon Russell Award for Outstanding Musical Achievement and was a four year member of the Lycoming College Chamber Choir and Tour Choir with performances in Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia. Some of her previous lead roles in numerous plays, musicals and reviews, including “She Loves Me,” “The Boyfriend,” “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” “Arsenic and Old Lace,” and “The Perfect Wife.” After spending eighteen years raising her two beautiful daughters Misti and Bayli she appeared in “Honky Tonk Angels,” and followed that up with roles in “8-Track, The Sounds of the 70’s” and the “Honky Tonk Angels Christmas Holiday Spectacular.”
Elaine wrote and performed two professionally recorded CDs for children, “My Room” and ”Rockaby Moon.” (www.cdbaby.com/cd/elaineoconnelllake) She says, “They were originally written for my girls, but I was encouraged by a lot of ‘mom’ friends to share them.” (Daughter Misti did the cover artwork)                                                                                               In addition to her vocal talents, Elaine plays the mountain dulcimer. Elaine, Jason and their daughters reside in Port Royal.
Although she hails from Ohio, Penney has spent the past 25 years in the Low Country. She holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Eastern Kentucky University and a Masters’ degree in Education from Lesley University. Until her recent retirement after 28 years of teaching,  she taught band, general music, and string orchestra in Louisville, Kentucky, Savannah, Georgia, and Beaufort County.
With the Savannah Theater Company her credits include performances  in “Anything Goes,” “Nunsense,” “Pump Boys and Dinettes,” and “Chicago.” She has made numerous radio voice-over and television commercial appearances.  Penney is the vocalist for the Stardust Orchestra from Sun City, and she is also the vocalist for The Swingtime Orchestra, and sings with local professional jazz pianist Norm Gagne. She has also been a featured vocalist with the Savannah Jazz Orchestra and the Hilton Head Orchestra Big Band Bash. She has recorded several jazz/big band projects, including her solo CD “As It Should Be” with the legendary bassist Ben Tucker. Penney was the Music Director for the USCB production of “Always, Patsy Cline” and was  of course, in “Honky Tonk Angels.” She plays “all the string instruments, violin, and cello, bass” but says she never sang in college, stating “I was intimidated!” (causing this writer and the other angels to look on incredulously!) Penney and her husband Lain Smith, and their pets Bogey and Divot, live in Beaufort.


Some musicians appear to be playing in a world of their own, only barely acknowledging the audience. That would not be the Sweetgrass Angels. Their performances are not only polished and professional, they are warm and welcoming. You can bring everyone from your grandparents to your grandbaby and everyone is guaranteed to have a terrific time. The audiences include all generations, because Velma as says, “I think it is because we sing all types of songs. And we like them and they like us.”
Penney says, “We sincerely love sharing our God-given voices with others and making a personal connection by giving them a few hours to sing, laugh, love, dance and enjoy life. People come out and want to have a good time. And if we laugh at something –  , finishes Velma, “They laugh with us! We are ‘people people.’”
Elaine, “We love everybody who comes out to see us. It means a lot to us when the audience is moved by one of our songs. We can make each other cry when we sing “I will Always Love You” we all start tearing up!” Penney says, “They see the genuine love and respect we have for each other.”
With their extensive list of material, you would think they have a set list for each engagement, but Penney says, “We never use a set list, because each audience is different. We do it right in the moment.” Elaine says, “At first we had three hours of music, and now we have eleven hours of music we can choose from. When we started our sets seemed like they would be too long but now the time just flies by!”
Nor do the ladies have a rigid division of harmony within each song. Velma says, “It just happens, sometimes I’m ‘high’ and sometimes I’m ‘low.’”Elaine says, “And sometimes we switch halfway through!”

Fan Favorites

Penney says “Whatever the audience’s favorite is for the night, is our favorite. You see them singing along and it makes them happy!”Elaine thinks a moment and says, “’Moon Glow,’ which turned out to be beautiful, is a favorite of mine. And also ‘Just One Look’.” Velma adds, “The audience loves ‘Dancing Queen,’ and the girls try to get me to dance!”
Penney smiles and says, “And of course the audience loves ‘Boogie Boogie Bugle Boy.” Elaine adds “And then there is “Mama’s Broken Heart.” Velma says, “And the Eagles, “Already Gone!”
Elaine, thinking of her husband, says “Jason’s favorite is ‘Blue Bayou.’” Penney says “I like all of them best when we are doing them. We like everything as long as it is done well.” Velma says, “We sing songs we like,” and Penney adds “That sound good!”
For these performers the show is all about their audience. They all agree that the mood of the audience determines the songs they will sing on any given night. They feel they get as much back as they give out. As Velma says “If they weren’t there, we wouldn’t be there.” Penney says, “Even if we’ve had a bad day, one or two songs in and it is all forgotten.”Elaine agrees, ” It lifts the weight.”

Extra Angels

Jason Lake, Elaine’s husband, is the fourth angel because he is the wind beneath their wings. He does it all, from designing their fabulous website, to being in charge of their equipment and background music. He is at every event, setting it up and taking it down, ensuring that all goes well. “Jason is the unheralded angel!” says Velma, “Jason is a miracle worker. He takes care of everything and keeps us on the straight and narrow!”Penney adds, “Jason is amazing, we couldn’t do it without him. Not only does he do all the technical work, he finds us the music we need, which can be very detailed and complicated.”
Other ancillary angels warrant mention, namely Brad Ballington and Dusty Connor, who provided the ladies hair and makeup for the “Honky Tonk Angels” show and have continued to be huge supporters. The ladies say “They are part of the team, and they are so good to us.” In fact the ladies will be models for Brad and Dusty at an upcoming hair show in Myrtle Beach. (Their plan is to break out in song on the runway but don’t tell anyone!)

New Horizons

In addition to performing in local venues and private parties, the Sweetgrass Angels have spread their wings and have done shows with the Stardust Orchestra, and also at the Awards Banquet for the Hilton Head Rotary with a big band. Penney says, “Eddie Wilson put it together and it was our first time with a band, and we loved it! At that performance, vocalist Huxsie Scott, a gospel and jazz singer, sang with us and asked if we could come to Dublin, Georgia to perform gospel.” “We love gospel music,” says Elaine. Favorite hymns as a trio include “Wonderful Merciful Savior “and  “I Go to the Rock.” They have performed at Grace Hill Baptist Church and anticipate performing gospel music in the future.


The ladies remain grateful and surprised at their success. Penney says, “I knew the good Lord had a plan but I never imagined we would be this successful this quickly!” Velma says “Never in a million years did I expect this to happen. The Lord has led me where to go, and here I am.” Elaine adds, “Singing together just lifts us up.”
If you look closely at the photo of the angels on their website you will see each lady is wearing a necklace with the initial of the character’s name they played in “Honky Tonk Angels.” Just a sweet reminder of where they started, and as they say,”It represents what brought us together.” That may be where they started but its clear their friendship and love for each other keep them together. That and their dazzling three part harmonies!

Story by H.D. Yelin
Photography by SUSAN DELOACH

Capitol Records, at the corner of Hollywood and Vine, has been housed in a building shaped like a stack of records (remember those?), with a stylus at the top. The penultimate floor was, in 1959, the home of the A&R Department: Producers charged with building the Artists and Repertoire of the singers, musicians, composers and arrangers who were good enough to be clients of the record company–whose co-founder was Johnny Mercer.
At the tender age of just-turned-30, Ed Yelin, a short, skinny, balding arranger from Buffalo, New York, moved into his dream office on that floor, and began a producing career that spanned decades. His first recording assignment was in the now-legendary Studio A, the perfect acoustics of which have preserved forever the work of Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Woody Hermann, Stan Kenton (his mentor), Dean Martin, The Four Freshmen, Peggy Lee, Cannonball Adderley, Ray Anthony (known in the halls as “Ray Agony”), Miles Davis, Jo Stafford, Bobby Darin, Stan Freberg, Judy Garland, Nelson Riddle, Sue Raney (his wife at the time), Nancy Wilson—to name but a very few.
He didn’t record them all, but he knew them all—and countless more (Quincy Jones; Terry Gibbs; the Candoli brothers; Wayne Shorter; June Christy; Lester Young; George Shearing, Lionel Hampton—I can’t remember them all). He knew he had died and gone to heaven. How does a miracle like that happen?
Love. A relentless, unconquerable optimism. And a sense of humor that never, ever quits. I should know. I’ve been his wife for twenty-five years.
With a love of music that drove him, inspired him, thrilled him, overjoyed him, he started his career in the fourth grade, when he and his best friend Eddie Plant teamed up to perform the “Volga Boatman” trumpet duet for the school assembly. Rehearsing the night before, the two Eddies stood in front of a mirror, blowing their trumpets—not to perfect their technique, but to see who could make his face get redder.
Needless to say, they blew out their emboucheres. Once they took the stage, they could not blow a note—so, being nine, they put down their instruments and started fighting. As Mark Twain would say, let us draw the curtain of charity over this scene.
Eight years later, at 17, Ed enlisted in the Army, and was assigned to the band in the Army Air Corps. His job was usually to play Reveille—at a flagpole a mile from the barracks. He paid another guy $1 a day to do it for him—which may also explain why, when time came to drill, he was handed a wooden gun.
Nonetheless, after basic training at Lackland (San Antonio) and a temporary assignment outside at McClellan (Sacramento), he was sent to Washington, D.C., and was honored to play at Mount Vernon on Washington’s Birthday. Although he had grown up in Buffalo, he had never played his horn outside in that climate—and so did not know to keep his mouthpiece in his pocket. When he put his trumpet to his lips—again, he never got out a note.
A summer at Tanglewood followed, studying the twelve-tone scale with Arnold Schoenberg. He went on to study at Schillinger House (now Berklee School of Music) in Boston. His adoration of jazz took him to Manhattan, to hear Dizzy and Bird—and he was once and for all, terminally, hooked on the founders of Bebop, and the many great artists to follow. And he would know many of them.
But love—adoration, really- can be a tangling, mangling thing, as so many have learned. Ed volunteered to sing in a double-chorus, double-orchestra performance of Gustav Mahler’s Eighth Symphony at Carnegie Hall (I don’t know if it was Stokowski, or Bernstein conducting; either will do). The day of the performance, the opening note brought Ed to tears, and he wept all the way through it. Again, he did not get out a single note. Of course, he had a much better reason than 1) a busted embouchere, or 2) a frozen lip.
This may be when he began to turn from performance to production.
Notwithstanding his own performance issues—he could actually play the trumpet, under the proper conditions—he began arranging for Dave Garroway, on the Today Show in New York. But his dream was to produce at Capitol Records, in that far-off paradise, Los Angeles. Since he couldn’t see a way just to show up there and demand a job, he got as close as he could: As a salesman for Capitol in New York, peddling vinyl to radio stations, and occasionally taking artists around for interviews.One of those artists was Stan Kenton. In those hours in the car, talking jazz, something about Ed impressed Kenton—who went back to Los Angeles after one of those trips, and said to the Powers That Were, “You ought to hire that kid.”
A month later, Ed—who would forever after be “Kid” to Frank Sinatra—was one of six vice presidents for Artists and Repertoire on the penultimate floor of the exotic round building at Hollywood and Vine.
What makes a great music producer? A love of presenting everything—the artist, the song, the sound, the feel—at its best and highest potential. And that means, more often than not, showing humans that they are—and can be—better than they ever dreamed.
He did that for me, and turned me from a reformed lawyer into an A-list screenwriter. In the years at Capitol, he “passed” on “Eentsy-Teentsy Teen-Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”—and was proud of it. He was a founding member of NARAS, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the home of the Grammys. He and his artists were nominated for many, and even won a few. He was approached by Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss to be a founding partner in A&M Records, and passed; not so proud of that, of course. But his optimism and sense of humor kept him from being envious, or jealous, or disappointed.
He went on to found his own production company, doing the music for many award-winning national advertising campaigns—Ford; Firestone; Dodge; Volkswagen; In’N’Out Burger. Even Fancy Feast cat food. (He says the crystal goblet was his idea. We’ll never know.)
Along the way, he became the proud father of two amazing sons—neither of whom is a musician, oddly enough—who to this day are as kind and loving to him as they can be.
At 85, he sometimes forgets some of his long and amazing career, but music always brings him joy (unless it’s my Golden Oldies from the 70’s—“Three chords,” he says. “It’s just the same three chords.”) Interestingly, the day he proposed to me, we heard the same song three times: Once in the car, once in a restaurant, and once in a nightclub. It became, of course, our song: Gershwin’s “Our Love Is Here to Stay”–and it has.
His life, his travels, his family, his dogs, his music—all have come to him through his great love for them, and stayed with him through his amazing, contagious happiness, and unfailing kindness. And so he has lived a life shaped by love. And miracle of miracles, he has given me one, as well.


Reckless Mercy
Band Members: Stephen Jeffrey, Alex Castillo, Adam Brinks, Tony Cox.
Beaufortonian Stephen Jeffrey, who brought this group together with Alex Castillo, says “God has taken all of our shortcomings and failures and made Reckless Mercy.”
Reckless Mercy’s primary description would be Christian Rock, however their music reaches far and wide in an Americana/Folk/Rock/Alternative Country combination genre which bikers love, church goers and non-church goers respond to, as well as people who have no idea that this music carries a message, follow. The lyrics, written mostly by Jeffrey, although often the other members contribute a song or a phrase, are not in your face in a hymnal sort of way, nor are they preachy, but they do carry a strong message.

“I want to say I’m sorry
And leave my sin behind
Beaten and discouraged
With a pain I can’t deny

Sit down and write my feelings in words I can’t express
Just to say I love you, nothing more and nothing less.”
(To Say I’m Sorry)

Their videos: Ain’t No Grave, Turning Over Tables, Walk On, were created in collaboration with Stephen Wollwerth. So powerful and full of life, they stand alone, acting as invitations to enter the world Reckless Mercy portrays – fortitude, fear, redemption, hope, salvation, and always at the bottom and top of it all – faith.
In Ain’t No Grave, the cinematography will have you hooked right along with the first chord. There you are, in a graveyard at night surrounded by fog and eerily hanging Spanish moss. If you can resist swaying, tapping your foot, and the urge to clap along with this, you may be ready for the grave. Turning Over Tables lures you in with the harmonies; Adam’s award winning shy smile and Alex’s playfulness, will begin to contrast as the tempo and action escalate and quickly juxtapose with Stephen’s solemnity and Tony’s intensity, both visually and musically.
Some people believe in coincidence, and some eschew the very concept, but many people will agree that at least, once in awhile, something arrives in our life at the very moment we need it most. Those things come to us “out of the blue” as if the word blue represents the sky, which in turn, represents heaven. Four men, united by faith, joined together by serendipity, have formed a kinship that delivers their message in musical form to minister to those who, like them, are searching. In one way or another, those “blue” moments brought these four together like a sequence in connect-a-dot pictures we used to do when we were children.
As the assortment of guitars, mandolins, banjos, drums, and other musical instruments come out, Stephen displays the artistically added press-on tattoos as the artwork he has applied to the head of the cigar box guitar that he built for himself. Everyone looks on and admires his ingenuity.
Stephen Jeffrey: Born in Walterboro, SC; thought he wanted to be an art teacher when he was growing up. But, one day when he was sitting in the chair, the local barber suggested beauty school to him and shortly thereafter, off he went to the Charleston School of Cosmetology. One of his teachers there was Beaufort’s beloved Dusty Connor, who remembers Stephen’s commitment to the pursuit of his studies. “That boy was dedicated! Every day Stephen would arrive early for class, then one day he wasn’t early, he wasn’t on time and just when everyone started to be concerned, he walked in. It turned out that he had car problems and walked a good deal of the 50 miles from his home to the school.”
Stephen feels that his calling to minister to people is amplified when they are sitting in his chair, “Sometimes, they can’t even look at themselves straight in the mirror. The things that were done to people, words that were spoken over them, need to be broken. I have to talk to that person, to help them feel better about themselves; it has become part of my ministry.”

“We want so bad to seek the approval of our fathers
We want so bad to hear affirmations from our mothers
You see their dreams began when we were little boys
Wanting sometimes to fulfill their dreams that were destroyed.”

Stephen was sitting in a church in Orlando, FL when he was about 20; the pastor turned around and looked him, and said, “You: apricot hair, chains, combat boots –  do you play music?” Stephen answered, “No.” The pastor replied, “Watch what happens in six months.” That Christmas, out of the blue, his brother gave him a guitar.”
Stephen remembers singing in a Baptist Church with some friends when an old man told him to keep going; “I’d never planned on it, but God knows what we don’t. If we’re willing to be open, God will get us where we need to be. The mountain is high and we can only see the part of the road that we’re on at the moment, but that is enough to keep us going; the whole picture isn’t revealed all at once.”
Alex asks: “Hey guys, are we going to wear plaid?” The unanimous response is “Plaid!” These boys love their plaid shirts and take armfuls of them to photo shoots and gigs. They pay attention to detail. Perfectionists with humility, they want to do their best, not for their personal egos but in the eyes of the God that saved them from themselves. That’s not to say they don’t have egos, they are all good looking and talented men with a fine sense of humor to boot, but it’s their gratitude to a Higher Power that sustains and guides them. And their sense of brotherhood is tangible.
Alex Castillo: Born in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, spent early years in Bogota, Colombia;  both parents were preachers in the Church of God in Bogota. When he was in Bogota, Alex played the recorder in the school band and sang in the church choir. “I was brought up in a church and household that taught me that Jesus loves everyone, that we are all the same in the eyes of God. When I was 9 we moved to a small town in rural Georgia and it was a huge culture shock. Racism was everywhere and I remember seeing Klansmen handing out brochures in a park. I couldn’t wrap my head around how I was treated – a Spanish boy being bullied in a Southern redneck town. So I hopped the church fence and became rebellious because I thought God had let me down.”
Alex describes those years as being a curious lost teenager who was searching for answers. Some of that searching inevitably led to trouble and he found himself in a detention center. Metaphorically and realistically, that place and his life at that time, were places of darkness where he could find no joy. Then, out of the blue, a man by the name of Neil Bush showed up. Neil was a music minister and he talked with Alex and shared his own story, he took his top teeth out and told Alex that his teeth had disintegrated as a result of using crack. Alex recalls,  “I saw what I had been looking for in a cafeteria in a detention center – that everyone is broken.”
One night, Alex was leading a worship in a venue in Port Wentworth, GA that had been a truck stop bar, it had pool tables, a boxing ring, and a stage. There, he met Stephen who was wearing bell bottoms and had long hair, Alex had long hair also – they hit if off immediately. Over time, they decided to start a band, added a touring drummer, and got some studio time in Asheville, NC where they recorded their first CD together.
Adam Brinks: Born in Grand Rapids, MI.  In high school he got a phone call, out of the blue, from an Army recruiter who said to him, “Have you ever thought about your future?” “I had never had been out of Grand Rapids, MI. In 1998, after graduation, I got on a plane and went to Ft. Jackson, SC. From there I was sent to Virginia, then to Ft. Campbell, KY, next to South Korea for two years, and back to Ft. Campbell.” A Chinook Helicopter mechanic, in 2007 Adam chose the opportunity to transfer to Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, GA.
Adam had a musical background – “My mothers family is musical. When I was in school I played in the band and I practiced 45 – 60 minutes every night. I played the trombone, the upright bass and bass guitar. My band leader and my mother’s persistence kept me on the musical path.”
When he was a child his family went to church all the time, but he stopped going during the time he had been in the Army – there had been lots of moves, times away because of deployments. Since 2001 Adam has deployed 11 times to Afghanistan, and 1 time to Iraq. Later this year he will go to Afghanistan again. “But,” he said “I knew I needed to be part of a church and my wife said she needed me to go to church with her, so we went. The first thing I saw when I walked in was Alex and his wife on the stage. The Holy Spirit hit me between the eyes when I got into that church and saw Alex on the stage; I asked how I could be a part of that. It turned out that the bass player they had was leaving.”
Alex and Stephen were part of Soul Music Ministry at that time. The first day Adam was to practice with them, he was riding his motorcycle, had an accident and broke his collarbone.  Adam’s desire to participate in what they were doing was so strong that he went to practice anyway, bleeding and broken; the symbolism of that was not lost on any of them.
Adam’s military background has taught him about leadership, chain of command, doing duty, and following your leader.  “I saw Alex and Stephen as spiritual leaders, I had to be part of what they were doing, it never occurred to me to do otherwise. Now we’re submitted to that church; we’re raising 4 small children in a Christian home. I have been on active duty, I have 4 more years. I don’t see what the future holds but I know God will take care of us.”

“She sits quietly by the window
Lost in her thoughts
She’s waiting and she’s praying
For her husband in the war
Trying to fight back feelings
Of loneliness and fear
She prays to the Father
Who always lends an ear”

Tony Cox: hails from Asheville, NC. After graduation in 1985, he went into the Army the following year for the next 5 years. Tony started playing the drums when he was 4, had his first drum kit when he was 5 and went on the road at age 6. He came from a musical family – his uncles and father played with the Southern Gospel group, the Peacemakers, and they took Tony along to play with them. He traveled with them until he was 7 at which time the school board insisted that he attend school. His uncle drowned in 1976 and that was the end of the Peacemakers.
Having played all kinds of music all his life, in 1990 Tony decided to give it up because he realized he had seen what music and touring and playing certain venues did to families; he wanted his children to be raised in a stable home. However, in 2008 he decided to give it another go and play music with his two sons, carrying on the family tradition. When his older son went away to college, they disbanded.
When Reckless Mercy was playing in Asheville, Tony sat in with them and after a bit of soul searching, decided he wanted to be their drummer. He made a phone call to Stephen and left him a message telling him that he wanted to play with them when, out of the blue, Stephen called Tony and asked him to be their drummer. Tony told Stephen, “Hang up and listen to your phone message!”
Tony summarizes, “We were brought together for a reason. We respect one another; three years ago we were four guys who played music together, we have transformed our goal into a ministry. Our common desire is to stand out of Gods way and let Him take us where He wants us to go. Now we are playing about 45 weekends a year and traveling all over to do so.” As a band, they all have families, jobs, and one is in active military duty, yet they get together to play almost every weekend. Our strength, and faith, comes from making mistakes.”
Stephen concurs, “We’ve all tried and come up wanting. We share our stories and see who walks through the door.”
Be sure to catch their performance at the Port Royal Concert Series sponsored by ArtWorks where they will be playing on May 17, and at Beaufort’s Homegrown Music Fest held at USCB on Saturday, June 7.
For more information, please find the Reckless Mercy videos on youtube or vimeo and visit their website: www.recklessmercy.com

Story by  CINDY REID      Photography by PAUL NURNBERG

For the uninitiated “barbershop” is  beautiful music made by voice only. Specifically barbershop singing is acapella, four-part, close harmony vocal music, which means the singers create music by voice alone without musical accompaniment. For the last fifteen years, the Beaufort Harbormasters have been making beautiful music together and sharing it with the community.  The Harbormasters consist of twenty gentlemen, from which there two separate groups of four men who make up the Tidal Fource and the EU-4-IA quartets. The Harbormasters are the entire group, singing as a chorus. In addition there is a women’s barbershop group, the Beaufort Belles.
As red, white and blue as our flag, the barbershop quartet roots go so far back that no one really knows when they began. Barbershop quartets often sing the standard songs that form the canon of popular American music and have been an entertainment stable from the mid 1800’s to today. Tim McGrath, President of the Beaufort Harbormasters, says, “Barbershop is a uniquely American music, it roots are in gospel, folk songs and several other genres.” Tim has been singing eleven years with the Harbormasters and says , of barbershop music, “It is some of the most fun you can have singing it ,and listening to it. Almost any music can be sung in this style”.
Tim continues, “Any number of songs can be done in barbershop style, which is very close in style to 50’s doo-wop. We have also done a Beach Boys melody, but traditional love songs are mainly what we sing.”
Every Valentine’s Day, the Harbormasters are available to deliver personal singing valentines to lucky recipients. It is a very popular gift, in fact this year they delivered 52 singing valentines. Tim says , “This year we sang to all kinds of people, from to a nine year old girl to a Marine drill sergeant. We were all over Beaufort!” He says the reactions of the recipients usually start at total surprise and always end at complete delight.
Jim Valieant is the group’s Musical Director, and although this is his first experience with barbershop music, he has been professionally  involved with music for many years, as a band director and as a church music director. This is Jim’s second year with the Harbormasters and he says ”I fell into this by complete accident. And they were crazy enough to hire me on! I have always been a fan of acapella singing. Barbershop is a distinct American art form, and we have so much fun!”
The Harbormasters and the Belles  are non-profit groups, whose primary goal is to enrich the community by supporting local events and charitable causes with their time, talent and treasure. Throughout the year they provide entertainment at no cost to many different audiences such as nursing and assisted living homes, hospitals, meetings of civic organizations and gatherings at military bases. In addition, they are available for a donation at private functions of various kinds. The Harbormasters, with the Beaufort Belles, present an annual show every March that is a principal source of funds for their expenses for music, professional chorus directorship and their charitable donations.
Tim says “We sing at nursing homes, at assisted living facilities and  at Beaufort Memorial Hospital. We love cheering people up and being the bright spot in their day.” And he says when the fellows have spare time,  “We love to go down to Bay Street and we have no problem sticking our head in a door of a local shop and just start singing!”
The Harbormasters may sing traditional music in a traditional style but they are far from stuffy and are always seeking new tunes to adapt to their singing style. When asked what are the most unexpected songs they sing, Tim answers,  “We have done Broadway tunes, “How Deep is the Ocean” and “We Call the Wind Mariah.” You never know what we will sing!”
Acapella singing has gained popularity in recent years due to campus singing groups and such shows as “Glee” and the movie “Pitch Perfect.” The Harbormasters are thrilled with the renewed popularity of acapella and joined forces with Beaufort High School Voices program by taking six high school students to “Harmony Weekend “ at Clemson a few years ago.
The men meet every Monday evening for rehearsal and every rehearsal opens with “old songs,”  such as “My Wild Irish Rose,” “Let Me Call Sweetheart,” “Heart of my Heart.” Tim says that not everyone who enjoys singing in the chorus necessarily enjoys singing in a quartet, and that is just fine. He says, “To the men out there- come out and join us! You will find us a welcoming group. We do not hold auditions- it is fun singing!”
“We can’t stress enough; we are twenty guys who are great friends. No experience necessary here. But we have two rules:
Rule #1 Have Fun
Rule # 2 Check rule number one!”
Tim smiles broadly and says, “It is joy for all of us, it’s happy, we look forward to it.”
The Beaufort Harbormasters meet every Monday evening from 6:45 – 9:00 PM, at the Sea Island Presbyterian Church, 81 Lady’s Island Drive on Lady’s Island. www.beaufortharbormasters.org

University of South Carolina Beaufort’s Center for the Arts is planning an inaugural Music Festival.  “We are putting out a call for musicians, bands and local craftspeople to participate,”  states Bonnie Hargrove, USCB For The Arts Center Director. The event is being held to raise funds to support the USCB Center for the Arts.
Beaufort Homegrown Music Fest will be held at USCB Center For The Arts Campus on Friday June 6th and Saturday, June 7th.
The festival will be held on two stages, one inside and one outside.  The outside stage will be set on the lawn in front of the campus, as will food and beverage vendors and local craftspeople.
Music will be played concurrently on both stages from 1 -6 pm. After 6, the music will be continued on the main stage inside until 10 pm both days of the festival.
Hargrove adds, “In creating this inaugural event, we hope to further our vision of an annual festival for local musician, bands and music lovers alike, to share each other’s appreciation for great music in an accessible and affordable venue.”
“We have some bands secured and are looking for more.  We would love to hear from all of our local bands and musicians and give them an opportunity to be on our stage,” say Tammy Gates with USCB Center For The Arts.
USCB is also looking for sponsorships of this event.  Two of their main sponsors, Eat, Sleep, Play Beaufort and Beaufort Lifestyle have been working with Hargrove and Gates in the organization process.
Gene Brancho of Eat, Sleep, Play Beaufort says, “I am very excited to be a part of this event.  I think this will grow into a huge annual event for Beaufort.”
Beaufort Lifestyle’s Julie Hales adds, “We are thrilled to be asked by USCB to join their team in helping get the word out on this event.  Plans are coming together great.  Both Bonnie and Tammy are very excited and we are happy to be included in that excitement.”
“USCB’s Center for the Arts encourages cultural and economic development within the City and County of Beaufort by hosting art exhibits, theatrical events, concerts, and other performances.”


We are looking to hear from local musicians and bands in Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton, and Colleton Counties, in the following genres:
Blues, Country, Jazz, Gospel, Classic Rock, Easy Listening, Folk

USCB Center For The Arts will provide the following : Stage, audio board, 4 mics, speakers and a technician.
Musicians will need to provide: Instruments, cords and amps.
Deadline to apply is
April 15 , 2014
Please email tgates@uscb.edu for application.

Crafts will be for sale at this event as well and craftspeople are invited to apply.
We are accepting applications in the following categories:
Jewelry, Woodworking, Art, Glass, Metal, Sculpture, Pottery and Ceramics, Fiber, Collage.
Deadline to apply is: April 15, 2014
Please email tgates@uscb.edu for application.
Sponsorships for the “Homegrown Music Festival” are available!

We would be delighted to answer any questions so contact us at the above email address or please call: 843-521-4145 for more information.



Zipping above the Charlotte Motorway in the face of oncoming race cars, gently floating above the Beaufort waterways over the marshes and oyster beds, or hovering above a fog-laden, musician filled graveyard long after dark, are images that Stephen Wollwerth captures with his camera attached to a remote controlled helicopter. After watching his videos, everything else looks well, somehow flat.
Stephen had always like model aircraft, but they were an expensive hobby, so he sold them when his children were born and other obligations took precedence. But passions die hard; Stephen explains, “When my son was three, I thought, ‘I want to get back into that, but I want to make money doing it.” He continues, “There is a lot of faith in my background; everything begins with prayer.” Buoyed with that faith, Stephen bought a remote controlled (RC) helicopter kit, which took him 3 to 4 months to build and then he attached a Canon 7D camera to it.  Chris Petry, now Chief of Operations of Beaufort-Jasper Water & Sewer Authority, hired him to create a public service video; the aerial cinematography was a hit, the film won an award and is being used at the University of Arizona in the Department of Environmental Sustainability.
Stephen spent his early years in Syosset, on Long Island, New York. When he was ten, his father died of brain cancer. His mother, Ginnie, married Walter Stooksberry and the family moved to Nebraska for the subsequent years. Immediately after graduating from North Central University in Minnesota, Stephen was invited by the Superintendent of the Singaporean Assemblies of God to teach guitar and music performance in Singapore for six months.  He came back to the United States for a year and a half before moving to China where he did missionary work for two years. Those were auspicious years for him; he met his wife Jenny there, and became fluent in speaking Chinese. His mother’s illness brought him back state-side; eight months later Jenny joined him and they were married in October 2004. Two weeks later they moved to Beaufort.
Of the five boys in the family, John, Brian, Brad and Bruce, Brad was already in Beaufort by way of the military, and older brother John followed Stephen here. At the time, Brad had a tile setting business, and hired his brothers to work with him. John, of course, is a well known photographer in Beaufort and much loved by this magazine. It seems that John and Stephen both inherited love and aptitude for photography from their father, Henry.
One project close to Stephen’s heart was creating a documentary, “Tropical Storm Sendong,” in the aftermath of the typhoon that hit the Philippines in 2011. In March 2012, he took Jenny, and sons Judah and Jacob, to Iligan which is in Northern Mindanao, where Jenny is from and her uncle is a pastor, and on the board of the Nehemiah Foundation. Stephen’s mission was to raise $20,000 for the people who had been made homeless by the floods, who were living in tent cities under the very poorest of conditions. His emotionally wrenching documentary gained momentum on social media and the money was raised.  As a result, the Iligan government  gave an additional $150,000 for houses to be built for 52 families on land that Jenny’s uncle, and the Foundation, had donated.
Innovative in his approach, Stephen says he was the first person in the world to put a Blackmagic Cinema Camera on a high-tech RC rig. When West Coast based Mi6 Films needed an East Coast crew to film aerial shots of NASCAR’s going around the track at the Charlotte Motor Speedway for a segment of a Fox Sports 1st premier commercial “Happy Days Are Here Again” in August 2013, Stephen was just the man for the job. The footage of cars racing at 200 mph, when seen from above, is dizzying. As stated in Visual Imaging News “‘The director, Joseph Kahn, was looking for a really dramatic wipe reveal of the stadium and motor speedway with fans cheering and waving,’ said Stephen Wollwerth. ‘We were also able to capture a long straight high speed shot where we cleared the fence and dropped down to just over the track level as cars were passing underneath.’”
Some of his most creative and as he says, most fun, works are music videos of the local band, Reckless Mercy. “What sets you apart is how creatively you think; everyone can possess equipment, but not everyone possesses creativity. It’s imperative to create imagery the viewer doesn’t expect.” It seems that everyone who sees those videos, falls in love with the band. In one, while they are singing the 1930’s song, Ain’t No Grave,  Stephen is busy filming the different components to make them look seamless.
Opening: full moon nestled in a dark milky way sky shedding just enough light to discreetly outline a church steeple; a lone musician, leaning up against a tree, playing the banjo.
The Mood: creepy yet redemptive; the ominous suggestive shadow of a gravedigger, back-lit fog drenched Spanish moss dripping heavily over gravestones.
Best Shot: a guitar player high up on the branch with the moon spilling through just at the junction where branch meets tree.
Biggest Challenges: creating the right light effects in the darkness, swirling the fog through the graveyard, the effortless look of raising and lowering the coffin by some supernatural force.
As Media Director of Praise Assembly, Stephen’s musical talents come to the forefront.  “I play guitar, I’ve led the music at church every week for the past ten years, leading on guitar while singing. I have a performance degree in classical guitar, but I don’t play much classical any more, so I play electric and acoustic guitar proficiently.
“When I’m not working, I’m usually trying to find a good way to spend time with my kids. I love running; normally I’ll get up and run 8 to 9 miles a few times a week before work. That time I also spend in prayer, I pray at least an hour each morning before I work.”
Currently in the works is the production of a feature film called ‘Revelation, end of days.’ “I had a vision where the Angel of the Lord appears to John in the Book of Revelation. I see this airing on the Bible or the History Channel. We shot for 3 months and produced 3 minutes of film; it’s just too big at the moment.” Currently part of a GoFundMe project, Stephen further explains,  “We’ve used our own funds to begin the project but we realize that in order to keep the entire project at an extremely high quality level we need the help of all who believe that the world needs to see Biblically based movies. As you can imagine, the imagery in the book of Revelation would need world class CG artists to create. Imagery such as a 7 headed 10 horned dragon chasing a woman is not easily filmed, but can be accomplished.  We want to release this movie on a national level only when it’s worthy of theaters.” (Visit www.gofundme/revelation for a film clip.)
Self-admittedly competitive, Stephen holds fast to the cutting edge, which is what puts him at the top. He is also charismatic, visionary, and just this side of brilliant. Those attributes, coupled with his faith, will undoubtedly transport him successfully forward. “My greatest goal, vision, dream, is that wollwerthfilms comes to the level of Paramount Pictures and beyond, ultimately creating many movies and television series.  It seems that in film and TV today, everyone is familiar with evil, destruction and darkness; how bad ‘bad’ can be, and everybody is trying to make another horror/zombie movie. But I’ve not seen much in the media that does justice to exemplifying how good ‘good’ can be. I believe it takes far more creativity to convey the latter because it’s so much deeper and multifaceted. Evil can be described in obvious terms, but good is best described as a mystery unfolding.”

For more information: https://www.facebook.com/WollwerthFilms and/or www.wollwerthfilms.com



urprisingly enough, for a reasonably small town, Beaufort has a well kept secret. From the 12th to the 16th of February is the 8th Annual Beaufort International Film Festival (BIFF), held in the University of South Carolina Center for the Arts, with over 31 films shown over a period of three days, and bracketed by two to-die-for parties. But, shhhh… don’t tell because the majority of viewers come from over fifty miles away. This year, five foreign countries are represented – Germany, Australia, China, Canada and the Russian Federation. Ranging from 4 minutes to 98 minutes in length, films cover the following categories: Features, Documentary, Shorts, Animation and Student Film as well as Screenplays, and then there are Awards. Many of the films are South Carolina premieres, two are world premieres, and the student film category is dominated by the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, NC.
The 20th Anniversary of Forrest Gump is this years theme. Prior to that screening on Friday evening, there will be a sixty minute special film, The Magic Behind The Making of Forrest Gump, in which behind the scenes moments and footage will be revealed. See how Forrest was able to run carrying Bubba’s heavy body, find out how a golf course on Fripp Island was created in a war scene; it will make watching the movie (again) a more enlightening experience.
Tireless leaders of BIFF and the Beaufort Film Society (BFS), Ron and Rebecca Tucker work all year long to find the best of the best. Seven years ago, Ron had a vision and his unflagging efforts have brought this event a long way from it’s inception in 2007 with 500 people attending.The films selected are winnowed down from one hundred and fifty entries from all over the world. A select panel of judges watches all those films and chooses them on the following criteria: impact, technology, content and festival fit. Last year about 8,000 people came from all over the place to enjoy our film festival. On Wednesday evening, February 12, the festivities will begin with the Filmmakers Opening Night Reception held at the Old Bay Marketplace Rooftop. Several restaurants provide tasty bites of food with an abundance of wine, beer and water for drinks; the inclusive price is only $25 for BFS members and $35 for non-members. This party is not to be missed and is a wonderful place to meet and chat with the people involved in the film making process.
On Thursday, films are screened from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday evening a Wine and Cheese Reception starts at 7:00 prior to the Screenwriters Workshop and Table Read at 7:30.
Friday presents another day of films starting again at  9 a.m. and culminating with the Special 20th Anniversary Screening of Forrest Gump at 7:00 p.m. followed by Lowcountry Weekly’s Mark Shaffer moderating a discussion about the movie with Film Editor Arthur Schmidt and other special guests.
Saturday begins at 9:00 a.m. with films in the Animation and Student film categories and a special presentation of South Carolina Indie Grants Films. At 1:00 on Saturday afternoon is the Gary Sinise Foundation/Healing Heroes of the Lowcountry Presentation and the wonderful Documentary, AKA Doc Pomus at 2:00. But it’s not over yet – Saturday night’s wrap-up party begins with the Awards Ceremony Cocktail Hour at 7 p.m., catered by Debbi Covington; and the Awards Presentations begin at 8:00. This evening is always peopled with stars, want-to-be stars, and some people who just like to dress up as film stars; you never know who you might see – Scarlett O’Hara, Marilyn Monroe, Hedda Hopper and Clark Gable are just a few of the guests.
The Beaufort International Film Festival website (www.beaufortfilmfestival.com) provides the schedule, synopsis, and trailers of many of the films. But, because many of the trailers are short, perhaps some more in-depth information about a handful of the films will pique your interest:
The One Who Loves You (Feature) had two sold-out screenings at the 36th Starz Denver Film Festival last November. The film’s official website reads, “It’s 1974. Gloria Bethune faces a bleak existence when she retreats to her small hometown after failing as a singer in New York. She falls for a grifter who claims to be the former manager of a famous Country singer. Through this flawed man’s apparent faith in her, Gloria’s passion for singing is reborn, but she is pushed into uncharted territory. Enhancing the 1970′s flavor of “The One Who Loves You” is its roots-inspired Country soundtrack, which features music by the critically acclaimed singer-songwriter Phil Lee (“The Mighty King of Love”). The movie also includes a new recording of Lee’s “I’m The Why She’s Gone” by hard-core country maverick and Austin Music Hall of Famer Dale Watson, as well as scorching performances by country Academy of Country Music Awards nominees Jann Browne (“Ain’t No Train”) and Joy Lynn White (“One More Time”).”
Pechorin (Feature) was Winner of Best Feature Film at the 2012 London Film Awards. This description was presented by the County Theater for the New Hope Film Festival – “Based on Mikhail Lermontov’s classic Russian novel, A Hero of Our Time, this arresting film by Moscow-based auteur Khrushch Roman is a smoky, contemplative journey into the human soul. Our hero is dying on a rickety cart. The scene around him: nothing but desert. But the life he has led has been anything but barren. Hasn’t it? A bon vivant and debauche who has lived only for the moment, he is suddenly grappling with questions that long evaded him: what is life all about, and because it only ends in death, are its trials and pleasures even worth the effort? His past indifference to everything except himself, when contrasted with the surrounding, windswept sands that he will join soon enough, make him appear, on reflection, at best a greenhorn and a show-off. Pechorin deems this unacceptable. So, unable to lift his body a single piad, he will instead raise his spirit by choosing the final action of an intelligent, and indeed outstanding, man: to judge oneself without mercy. Roman’s brilliant adaptation is worthy of Lermontov’s original.” In Russian with sub-titles.
Masque (Short) has won too many awards to list here. Here is the synopsis as stated in their press kit. “Colorado McBride is an infamous character who has led a sordid life as a prizefighter, gambler and henchman for a ruthless gang. An undefeated heavyweight champion, McBride is highly recognizable by his hideously scarred face that reflects not only his pugilistic profession but his dark and loathsome past. McBride’s boss informs him that tonight’s championship fight will be his last; “you’re past your prime”, the corrupt boss states, and he demands that McBride throw the fight to “this younger stronger man”. In defiance, McBride refuses to comply; he is drugged between rounds, ruthlessly beaten, and left for dead. Dragged to safety, by his loyal stallion, Colorado is found by a compassionate countrywoman who endeavors to nurture him back to health. As Colorado slowly heals, he quizzically observes the captivating caretaker who has taken him in. He is mesmerized by her beguiling beauty and demeanor. Quietly taking on his share of chores around the farm Colorado develops a doomed attraction to Grace. She shies from Colorado’s romantic advances, as he is the antithesis of all that Grace represents. She confesses to McBride that the man who might win her heart would possess “the face of a saint, a mirror of true love.”
Completely broken, McBride sets out in search of a mysterious Maskmaker, a gifted artisan who he believes can alter his appearance with the hope of winning the woman with whom he has fallen in love.The Maskmaker, who Colorado has brutally harmed in the past, empathetically agrees, and sets about creating a lifelike mask for McBride. With his newfound identity his outward appearance is transformed; on the inside, a change has also begun. The Maskmaker reveals to McBride that the mask cannot only cover his face, but holds a promise to “heal the man” if his desires are true. McBride returns to Grace as Cole, an attractive gentleman poet who asks if he can lodge for a time on her “peaceful and reflective” property so he can put his thoughts into words. Cole assists with the workings of the farm — even putting an old gristmill back into operation. Grace is engaged by the character of this kind and gracious stranger. She becomes enamored by “Cole” and his genuineness. Cole gives the Maskmaker money and requests that, in his behalf, he make financial amends to people he has formerly wronged. Inadvertently, McBride’s former cronies discover he is still alive. The boss and his gang ride into the country and confront a non-resistant “Cole” who they are confident is McBride in disguise. In front of his newfound love the mask is brutally ripped from his face to reveal…”
Moment of Tooth (Animated) was created at the Savannah College of Art and Design as part of a collaborative class. It is an absolutely enchanting story of Maurice, an elephant, while on his journey to becoming a tooth faerie gets his chubbly little elephant self stuck while trying to retrieve a tooth. In the four minute film there are so many elements combined that tell a much bigger story.
AKA Doc Pomus (Documentary) is the story of Jerome Felder. Born in Brooklyn and paralyzed as a child with polio, he was a blues singer who became one of the most brilliant songwriters with over a thousand songs to his credit, such as “This Magic Moment,” “Save the Last Dance for Me,” and “Viva Las Vegas”. In the film, there is a clip of him explaining his passion, “To be a successful songwriter, you have to write songs, it’s not like you want to write songs or you’ve figured out the best way to make a living. There is some kind of terrible force, and sometimes it’s out of control, and you have to keep writing and writing, even when there’s no meaning to it. You know you’re not going to make any money at it, you know it’s going to take up all your time, and you know nobody’s going to give a damn anyway. But, someday, you’re in the street and somebody is singing a song that you’ve written and you want to go up to that person and say, ‘Hey, I wrote that song,’ but they’d think you’re some kind of nut so you never do it.”
Discovering Dave – Spirit Captured in Clay (Documentary) is set a little closer to home. The film, which took more than two years to complete, was produced by Mark Albertin, of Scrapbook Video Productions, and George Wingard, of the Savannah River Archaeological Research Program. Wingard and his team discovered a shard of a “Dave” vessel in 2006, thus was born the idea for this documentary which traces the story of Edgefield, South Carolina slave potter, David Drake, who used his skills as a craftsman to create beautiful pottery during the turbulent 1800’s. Despite being born into slavery, not only did he produce thousands of pots, he also learned to read and write and several of his jars are inscribed with verses of his poetry. Often signed and dated, his vessels can be seen in several museums.
Tickets can be purchased in several ways – all events passes, day passes, and single film tickets. The best bet is to join the Beaufort Film Society as a member (www.beaufortfilmsociety.org) which will give you discounts on the Film Festival events, discounted ticket prices at the Plaza Stadium Theatre in Beaufort, and a discount for the “Beaufort Movie Tour” as well as other benefits. However you get there, just don’t miss this wonderful event which made MovieMaker Magazine’s 2013 list of the Top 25 Coolest General Film Festivals in the World!