• Beaufort Lifestyle Magazine

Story by CINDY REID  Photography by JOHN WOLLWERTH

 

While we swim or boat on the beautiful Beaufort waterways, we are typically enthralled with all the gorgeous nature around us. We notice the soft lights and muted colors of the marshes and the long legged birds that navigate more gracefully then we ever could with our kayaks, canoes and outboard motors. It is a pleasure to the eye to be on these waters. We are so occupied observing what is on the surface that we usually ignore what lies beneath us, below the water, under the muck and mud.
Diver and artifact hunter Lauren DeLoach has been looking below for many years. And not just looking- he has been finding historical artifacts since he was 12 years old. He still has his first find, an amber John Ryan cider bottle that sits among the many other antique bottles he has brought up from below. Growing up in Port Royal, Lauren says when he was a young boy he would “walk on the banks of the marsh and find a lot of bottles. Trash had been dumped on the riverbanks back then and you could poke around and find these bottles easily. That’s how I got interested in collecting them.” He says, “My mother would drop us off in front of ‘The Castle’ on The Point and we would drop a rod into the mud. Sure enough, we always found something down there.”
He says, “The old guys that fished along the shore line had them in their houses, and even rolling around in the bottom of their boats. You could always find something where all the old docks pilings were.”
A natural water man, Lauren also tried his hand at finding food below the surface.  “When I was 15, I had fifty crab traps during the summer. Edward Caesar, who made crab traps, gave me a little job and so I learned how to make them. I made mine myself, and I crabbed for three years.” Lauren thinks about for a minute and says, “It is a hard way to make a living.”

Bottles
It is also hard, if not impossible, to accumulate the kind of collection Lauren has assembled from his underwater finds over the last forty years. Collectors may spend years purchasing what they desire but Lauren has spent decades finding his artifacts underwater. He has bottles that date from the early 1700’s on past the Civil war, some predating the rice plantation era, some predate America.  He has Dutch glass bottles, mallet and English onion bottles, (which refer to the bottle shape), big bottles and little bottles. In Lauren’s collection are some of the rarest of these bottles, ones that have the initials of the owner stamped on them. Lauren says, “The initial markings were to circumvent the King’s tax.” (They are called sealed bottles because they have an applied glass seal, a molten glob of glass that has been stamped with words, initials or symbols, on side of the bottle.)
Not just aesthetically fantastic, his antique bottle collection offers the viewer a way to grasp a bit of our past. “History” is such a dry word but when we can hold an everyday item that was made and used hundreds of years ago we have the opportunity to make a physical connection, to get a real sense of the people who were before us,before they became our “history”.

FOSSILS
Lauren says “I started looking for fossils around 15 years ago, after old bottles became scarce. I was in the Morgan river and found two teeth on my first dive and that’s how it started.” He is too modest to add that he has since become one of the more successful fossil divers in the area.
The Megalodon shark was the largest of the prehistoric sharks; in fact it was the biggest predatory marine creature in the history of the planet. It’s body could reach lengths of 65 feet and its teeth could reach over seven inches. Lauren says, “Just think, when these big sharks were here, Beaufort was under 400 feet of water”.
Megalodon shark teeth are the prize to find, and for various reasons, the lowcountry is one of the very few places in the world where these massive 7-20 million years old teeth can still be found. As Lauren says, “The bigger teeth come from this area, they are out there in the deeper holes.”
Diving for Megalodon teeth in the lowcountry means you are blackwater diving, which is pretty much what it sounds like, which is diving without any light.  In addition, the diver has to contend with strong currents, tricky tides and the ever present alligators. This kind of diving is not for the amateur, and even the most expert diver may not make it back to the surface. In 2004 Lauren’s dive partner Vito Bertucci, one of the best known shark tooth divers in the world, died while on a dive with Lauren. This cannot be stated strongly enough- this is dangerous diving and not for the novice.
Megalodon teeth are not the only ancient finds Lauren has brought up from below. His fossil collection includes teeth from ancient giant sloths, wooly mammoths, petrified tree roots and many other amazing items. Something as simple as an oyster shell is incredible for its twelve inch size.
When asked if he was able to summon the memory of where he obtained everything, Lauren said, “Oh yes, I almost always remember where I found something.” From the care taken with his astounding collection, it’s easy to see that he would indeed remember. Lauren says at some point he and his wife Robbie plan to donate some of their more important pieces to museums so all will have a chance to  enjoy them as they have.

Creative Life
Lauren met his wife Robbie in Columbia, SC at an antique auction, and they have been married 21 years. They raised two children, now grown, Matt and Anna. They moved to the Lowcountry in 1991  and opened Bellavista, an antique shop, in downtown Beaufort in 1993. Their second store, What’s In Store, opened in 2000 on St.Helena Island.
They moved Bellavista to St Helena Island in 2006 and opened a third store, Octopuses, on St. Helena in 2006.
In 2006, Lauren and his wife were badly injured in a motor vehicle  accident on their property in North Carolina. His neck was broken extensively and he went through numerous medical procedures and surgeries. After being told by his doctors he would definitely never again dive, in fact he would be lucky to even walk, he said, “Give me a year and I will be back in the water.” Fourteen months later he was diving.
Lauren says his passions are diving and painting. “I like to stay busy. I don’t feel right unless I’m being creative.” He says, “I also love painting, I draw inspiration exclusively from Beaufort waterways, sounds and beaches. I like to paint people on the beach and water birds from photographs taken by my wife, especially the ones taken down at the Rookery in Port Royal.”
He adds, “When I head out in the boat early in the morning I am always reminded how fortunate I was growing up in such a beautiful place. I think it is like God gave us this giant buffet of beauty and nature in the lowcountry. And all we have to do is reach out and take part in it.”

 

Story by CINDY REID  Photography by SUSAN DELOACH

Beaufort Lifestyle caught up with Commodore Dan Thompson and First Lady Bonnie Thompson at the Henry Chambers Waterfront Park on a perfect Beaufort afternoon. Under a beautiful blue sky we settled down for a chat about the upcoming 58th annual Beaufort Water Festival. The team of Commodore, Coordinators, Directors and over 400 additional volunteers  puts on one of South Carolina’s premier festival events right here in Beaufort.
The events start with the co-ed softball tournament held in May and continues with various sporting events such as golf, horseshoe, bocce and youth soccer tournaments, sailing regattas, and a Family Fishing Tournament. The week of the Water Festival kicks off with the Opening Ceremony on Friday July 19 and runs through Sunday July 28 when it ends with the traditional Blessing of the Fleet.
Traditions play an important role in the events but the Water Festival stays current by adding new and exciting events from time to time.

What is new or different at this year’s Beaufort Water Festival (BWF)?
This year we are partnering with Dragon Boat Beaufort, which helps raise money for cancer survivors, with their dragon boat races, which will be on Saturday July 20 from noon to five o’clock. We will also be holding our Non-Profit Expo on Saturday July 27 from 12 – 4 in the park.

One of the Commodore’s many tasks is to design the popular annual tee shirt. Tell us about this year’s tee shirt design.
We wanted the tee shirt design to depict the festival and its events. Local artist Mary Thibault created and painted the design for us and she incorporated the raft race, the air show and even the Whistlers! Mary “collaged” the design elements and really captured our vision.

How long have you been involved with the BWF?
The First Lady Bonnie and I have been volunteers with the Water Festival for thirteen years.

How did you first get involved?
I first got involved when I was Reserve Police Officer with Port Royal and I was asked to help out with security for the Street Dance in 2000. (Dan has been a Reserve Police Officer for the City of Beaufort, also a volunteer position, since 2000)

Why did you continue as a volunteer with the BWF?
Our daughter was getting older and we felt this would be something good for us to get involved in as a family, which it certainly has been.

What is your BWF favorite memory?
Last year at Kids Day I brought our 50 pound Sulcata Tortoise Elvis to the park. All the kids were drawn to Elvis! They just wanted to touch him and have their picture taken with him.

What is your favorite event ?
I actually have two favorite events, Kids Day and the Toad Fishing contest, and both for the same reason. There is nothing better than to see the wonder and excitement on a child’s face when they win a prize or catch their first toad fish. But all of our events are great, we really have something for everybody. Our goal is to have a quality event for a reasonable price.

What entertainment do you lined up for this year?
The Parris Island Marine Band will be playing on Friday July 19. Local musician Chris Jones is coming back and country music artist Chris Cagle is our featured artist for the Concert in the Park on Saturday July 20.

Tell our readers something they may not know about the BWF.
Most people don’t know how much tourism the Water Festival brings to Beaufort. Folks come from all over and plan their vacation around the Water Festival! Also people may not know that part of our charter is to assist other festivals, and our equipment has been used at the Port Royal Softshell Crab Festival, Lt Dan Weekend and the Gullah Festival.

Where were you born and raised ?
I am from Detroit, Michigan. I joined the Marine Corps right after high school in 1983.

Tell us about your family.
I met my wonderful wife, Bonnie, who was also a Marine, while we were both stationed 29 Palms, California. We have been married for twenty eight years. Our daughter Amanda was born at Beaufort Naval Hospital in 1989.

How did you come to live in Beaufort?
Our last duty station was Parris Island in 1987. I received an Honorable Discharge from the Marine Corps in 1991 and went to work for Hargray Communications where I have been employed for the past twenty two years. First Lady Bonnie is a massage therapist at Island Wellness Shoppe on Lady’s Island.

Anything else you would like to add?
I would like to thank our many volunteers, civic groups and non-profit organizations who are very important to the production of the Water Festival. Equally important are our sponsors because without them the Water Festival would not be possible. Thank you!

For further information: http://bftwaterfestival.com/

Story by Barbara Kelly  Photography by Richard Darby

 

The ancient Chinese tradition of dragon boat racing has become  the world’s fastest growing water sport. International racing clubs exist in more than sixty countries and it is estimated that over 50 million enthusiasts participate in the sport each year. It should therefore come as no surprise to learn that Coastal Living’s Happiest Seaside Town, 2013 also boasts its own winning team, DragonBoat Beaufort (DBB). And that this summer, DBB will host Race Day, an exciting new event, during the 58th annual Beaufort Water Festival.

 

Over 500 competitors, many from out-of-town, and their cheering fans will join hundreds of spectators on Saturday, July 20th from noon to 5pm at Waterfront Park. As the dragon boats race on the Beaufort River close to the sea wall, everyone will have a great view of the action. Local and out-of-town 21-person teams can look forward to a fabulous event with formidable competition, a terrific party and a celebration of cancer survivors, all benefiting The Water Festival and the cancer survivor programs of DragonBoat Beaufort.
DragonBoat Beaufort a mixed cancer survivor/supporter team is constantly recruiting new team members and supporters.
Dragon boaters come in all ages, shapes and sizes.
Anything but a maudlin group of people commiserating over their challenges, this team is an amazing group of high-energy,
high-spirited individuals who are determined to fulfill DBB’s two-fold mission: To heal and regain physical and psychological strength and wellness through teamwork, camaraderie and competition and to raise funds to assist local cancer patients with needs they are unable to meet.
On May 4th , DragonBoat Beaufort raced in the Charleston Dragon Boat Festival and jumped from last year’s  participant class G to  class C. The enthusiastic team brought home gold and silver medals, beating their cousins, mentors and rival – Dragon Boat Charleston (DBC). DBC was the subject of the 2012 Beaufort International Film Festival’s award-winning documentary film, “Awaken the Dragon” that inspired the creation of Beaufort’s amazing team a year and a half ago.
I recently spoke with two members of the team who are cancer survivors. For ten years, Mary Ann Thomas battled a devastating form of breast cancer with all manner of treatments, beginning when her son was a small child.  She spoke frankly about how difficult and frightening those years were for her as a single working mom.
An unintended side effect of her treatment was damage to her heart and dragon boating has become a big part of her physical and mental conditioning. As a cancer survivor, Mary Ann feels an obligation to help others fighting this disease.
While vacationing in Paris after her recovery, she fell in love with her husband Jeff, who went on to purchase the Cuthbert House (Bed and Breakfast) as a retirement project. They were later married in the courtyard and continue to live happily ever after post-cancer.
Mary Ann’s journey is an inspiration to all of us, especially to Jeannie Wells, one of our newer team members. Diagnosed with lymphoma before Christmas, Jeannie began paddling while still in treatment. Although weak from her final round of chemo, she reports being ready to return to practice and plans to help with Race Day. Jeannie loves being out on the river and finds it healing to be among people who have undergone similar experiences themselves or with loved ones. Many team members have posted their stories on our website http://www.dragonboatbeaufort.org/team.html
The carnation ceremony, a tradition at dragon boat festivals with mixed survivor/supporter teams, will be held  at 2:30 on Race Day in memory of fellow paddlers who have lost their battle and in celebration of friends and family members who are still struggling with cancer. The positive response from the crowds observing the carnation ceremony last year at the Blessing of the Fleet was so overwhelming that this year, carnations will be available for the public to toss into the river as a tribute to loved ones.
If you enjoy fierce competition, crazy costumes, music, food, and the energy of hundreds of dragon boaters and wish to support a poignant community outreach effort please consider joining us as a sponsor, or as a corporate, neighborhood or friends’ team.  Each team should consist of 20 paddlers, one drummer with three alternates. As hosts, DBB will provide the boats, a steersperson, life jackets, and paddles on Race Day and during team training prior to the Festival.
All team members must be at least 14 years of age.
This year will be all about fun as we train the newbies to the beat of the dragon drums. Next year the serious competition begins.
To become a part of the first DragonBoat Beaufort Race Day, click the link on our website to let us know if you’re interested. Your office, department, company or friends will have a BLAST!
To donate, sponsor, organize teams, or to volunteer at Race Day, please call (843) 575-5542 or visit our Race Day website at www.raceday@dragonboatbeaufort.org.
Membership applications are available at our website: www.dragonboatbeaufort.org.
Come ride the dragon – whatever your role. Be there when the dragons invade Beaufort on Race Day!

 

Story by MARY ELLEN THOMPSON
Photography by JOHN WOLLWERTH

In so many fields we, the consumer, see the sum of the parts but have no idea whatsoever, how they all came together to create something that pleases us; just think of all the individual flavors that constitute a bottle of wine, or a delicious summer salad, or mouthwatering barbecue sauce. Beaufort is a hot spot for creativity, both traditional and non-traditional. We probably have more artists, musicians, and creative people here than regular folk. With all the natural beauty that abounds, it’s no wonder inspiration strikes those so inclined to ply their craft.
Terry Brennan is a master of creating something out of practically nothing, or nothing that most people would recognize as an artistic component. He makes three dimensional animals, wildlife, and sea creatures out of driftwood and all sorts of recycled materials. It may be easy for some to see that a rake makes a pretty good rooster’s comb, or a mop as a horses tail, but that’s only when we can see the sculpture as a finished product. As a child, Terry liked to solve the puzzles in Highlights Magazine where you find the hidden elements in the picture – like the shovel disguised in the bark of the tree. In his sculptures, the elements are hidden in plain sight and challenge the viewer’s visual acuity because some of them are just so unexpected, such as a stiletto heel as the center of a fish, or spots on an animal that are actually poker chips.

 

 

 

 

 

Raised in New Jersey, Terry always liked to draw when he was a small child. “I’ve saved a drawing I did when I was three. My mom taught me the alphabet by drawing the letters to look like animals – ‘D’ was a turtle. I thought everyone could draw, I didn’t realize it was any special talent. When I was in seventh grade, I briefly considered mechanical drawing as a career because it seemed that I should do something that used my skills. When I was in tenth grade, my family moved to Dillon, SC and at that time murals on walls were very popular. I had a teacher who got me involved in painting murals in school hallways and cafeterias, which I really enjoyed. After high school I moved to Myrtle Beach where I worked in a sign shop and waited tables. It was there at Hooters, that I met my wife Wendy.
“I was trying to find a career that would suit my interests and my talents so I did a stint at Horry Georgetown Technical College, where I studied golf course management. Being a student had never been one of my strong suits and the introductory class there had nothing to do with golf course management, it was boring math. Once I realized the teacher took attendance at the end of class, I would go shoot pool, gamble for money, and slip into class during the last ten minutes so I could be counted.”
With that career option out of the way, Terry, Wendy and her two little boys moved to Savannah so that Terry could go to the Savannah College of Art and Design. “When we got there, I found out that the tuition was huge! Wendy, who makes friends with everyone she meets, met an antique dealer in Savannah who wanted someone to paint furniture for him; so I learned to paint furniture with different finishes. At the same time I got a job at the Savannah Mill Works where I learned more about woodworking; I was the radius guy! Both of those jobs really helped my creative side. But when we went back to Myrtle Beach for Christmas, our house in Savannah was robbed. I just couldn’t get over the feeling that the robbers knew just who we were, they’d seen photos of our family and since we had called the police I was concerned that they might try to keep us from finding out who they were. I just wasn’t sure that the family was safe so we moved back to Dillon. I had enjoyed the job at the Mill Works so I went to work in a cabinet shop in Florence where I became a master cabinet maker. I still wasn’t making enough money to support our family the way I wanted to so I went back to painting murals. People could understand the dollars per square foot they would spend for a mural better than they could understand the price of a painting.”
There were only so many murals that needed painting in Dillon at that time so Wendy and Terry opened a coffee shop; after a go at that, then they put the skills he had acquired as a cabinet maker and furniture painter together with his innate artistic sense and opened an antique store. “The antique store was exciting, we would buy pieces at an auction and put a little love into them and make some money. But then 9/11 happened and that was the end of that.” Meanwhile, Terry was painting. “I always did small paintings, they had pictures inside of pictures, parts inside of a part; I liked the discovery inside of a drawing. All humans love discovery; simple games are built on that premise, and my art is also.”
Terry’s work experiences took him to all sorts of places with a great deal of variety. He drove a potato chip route for a bit, moved back to Myrtle Beach where he waited tables and worked in another sign shop where he sandblasted signs – all of these pieces of his life added dimension to his creativity as an artist. After the death of his mother, Terry’s father and sister moved to Myrtle Beach and as a family they started their own business, the Artist Tree Studio, where they made signs, painted furniture and murals and sold art. About this time, Terry branched out into making sculptures, “I’ve always liked sculpture so I made a fish out of pieces of left over stuff. I let the random shape mimic the shape of the fish and then I painted it with bright colors. I wanted to power through the instinct of an object. I started to realize how fun and diverse the sculpture creatures were to make, how everyone is different. In the beginning I made fish, because all people connect with sea life. There’s not a place where fish don’t find their way in. So for that reason I’ll always make sea life, there are so many species. You wouldn’t think that something made out of coat hangers and broken toys would resemble a fish!” Terry explains how his pieces take form: “It begins with an instinctive shape. The pieces have to have a relationship to each other in each object; they must tell a story rather than just be a random assemblage.”
The Gallery on Bay Street in Beaufort showcases Terry’s art, and gallery owner Deanna Bowdish is one of Terry’s greatest fans. He has also done installations for the past three years at Art Prize in Grand Rapids, MI, shown at One Spark in Jacksonville, FL; he has demonstrated his technique at Artworks in Beaufort, and on Spring Island where people brought items and Terry fashioned them into sculpture while they watched. Recently Mayor Billy Keyserling gave American Idol winner Candice Glover a key to the city. Billy asked Jery Taylor, a local basket weaver, to make the structure of a key out of native bullrush; she affixed the bullrush to cardboard to stabilize it. Billy gave the key to Deanna, who gave it to Terry to paint a marsh scene in the center. Fox News captured the moment when Billy presented that basket to Candice and Terry’s art was there for everyone to see.
Just as he found the hidden objects in the puzzles he liked as a child, Terry sees the form, creativity and potential in every object he comes across. He can envision it in it’s natural form, or deconstructed and reworked to become something all together new and different. Connect with him on facebook at Artist Tree Studio and see where his vision takes him next.

Photography by SUSAN DELOACH

Joel "The Kid" Garrett

If you listen closely these days you can hear the sound of a youthful current running through town, a vitality that is keeping Beaufort from becoming just another sleepy Southern beauty. It runs on energy and fresh ideas, which Joel Garrett, a local radio broadcaster and station owner, has in abundance.
Actually, Joel  has enough energy to power his own station. He is a high voltage kind of guy, one who talks in exclamation points accompanied by big grins. And his drive and entrepreneurial spirit, fueled by a love of his profession, are a perfect fit for
Beaufort.
Joel Garrett is affectionately called “The Kid.”  He got this nickname early in his career.  Joel  was only 15 years old when he started in the  business.  He has been bringing music to folks ever since.

Radio Man

When asked why he chose radio, Joel says, “I can’t do anything else!” At 27 years old, he has over a decade of experience in his field.  And, while he may not be able to do anything else, he has proven that he can do radio exceptionally well.
Originally from Austin, Texas, Joel got interested in radio while still a teenager.  He says, “I was 15 years old and I walked into a place to get a haircut.  While I was waiting, a girl said ‘do you know so and so.’  But I was new to town and didn’t know anyone so she introduced us. The guy worked at the local radio station and I was invited to come and hang out. I was there! I would go along to remotes, help out at the station, all unpaid. They had a staff meeting and someone complained about how the tee shirts were being folded. Someone else spoke up and said ‘oh, that’s this kid, he is just hanging around, we’ll send him home, ‘and the station manager said, ‘When you have a kid who has been willing to work for free, you don’t send him home, you offer him a job!’ So that was my first job in radio. ”
He continues, “When I was seventeen, I paid my own way to a radio conference in Los Angeles.  I met a guy there who had a station in El Paso, Texas. We talked and the next thing I knew I was hired. I was always looking for the next good thing.”
Little did Joel know at the time, but that travel expense was probably the best investment he ever made.
After moving to El Paso, Joel  was hosting  a morning show in a Top 100 market. The ratings for the local station began to soar. This was the beginning of something big.  With ratings on the rise, other stations in the area began to take notice of this energetic  young  man.
One of those stations, owned by Clear Channel Radio, called and offered him a job as a Program Director.  They moved him to Midland-Odessa, Texas and he began working at KRMK(FM). “At 18 years old, I was the youngest Program Director in the company, “ Joel says, adding with a laugh “Of course, who else would want to go to Odessa, Texas except a kid eager for the job!”
Joel continued to work his magic.  Upon his arrival, KRMK was ranked eighth in the market.  In less than a year, the station was ranked number one.
Again, Joel found himself being sought out by other stations.  Three years later, Cumulus Radio hired him.  He was quickly deemed their “Fix-It Man.”  Cumulus would send him to markets where their stations needed some attention. He would usually spend 6 months to a year to rejuvenate the station and then move to another location.  Joel says, “This gave me an opportunity to see new places.  I was never made to go, I was just given the opportunity.  I liked the challenge.  It is a lot more fun to raise the Titanic than it is to keep it afloat.”
From the age of 15 to 23, Joel had worked in stations spanning 5 states: Texas, New Mexico, Louisiana, Arkansas and Arizona.  Next stop, South Carolina.

Lowcountry

Joel had aspirations of owning his own station one day.  He and two coworkers hired a broker, and the search to buy a station was underway. The broker found a station for sale in the Lowcountry, an the trio traveled to South Carolina to take a look.
He says, “I had never been to South Carolina before three and a half years ago when I went to Hilton Head.” Joel and two partners bought a Hilton Head radio station in 2010.
National recognition came to Joel while he was at Hilton Head. He was named one of the “30 Under 30” by Edison Research, a major media research company, in the broadcasting field. “The honorees included on-air talent, programmers, Chief Engineers, station owners, syndicators and sales managers.”www.edisonresearch.com .  Joel says, “Top 30 under 30 is a contest Edison Research did to find the Top 30 Radio people under 30 years old in the country. Nick Cannon from “America’s Got Talent” was in the same group of 30 that I was in that year.  We were honored at one of the largest radio conferences in the country in Baltimore.”
Joel says, “Hilton Head was fun for a couple of years but I found myself gravitating to Beaufort. Everything I really liked was in Beaufort.  My first experience in Beaufort was fantastic.  I had been asked to come over from Hilton Head to help judge a talent show put on by J.W Rone at ArtWorks.  I was highly impressed with the local talent and the professionalism by the folks over at ArtWorks.”
After that, Joel was hooked. He began spending more time in Beaufort, coming over and hanging out with the locals.  He became determined to find a way to break into the Beaufort market on a more permanent basis.
As luck would have it, an opportunity arose.  “The Galloway’s owned a local AM station here.  We started talking with them and they had recently gotten approval from the FCC to have an FM signal, which was 94.5 and would be the only local station in Beaufort,” says Joel.  The partners saw this as a perfect opportunity and purchased the station.
Joel’s love for radio began to shine even more.  He fell in love with Beaufort, and with this new station. He began to see this station as a permanent situation for him in what he had found to be his new home.  So, he made a deal with his partners and sold his shares of the Hilton Head station to become the sole owner of 94.5.

 

Joel "The Kid" Garrett

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beach, Soul and Rock-n-Roll

From their website……. “Beach, Soul and Rock-n-Roll. Beaufort, SC has a new radio station that is sure to make you sing along in the car and take a walk down memory lane. Hits from the 60′s 70′s 80′s. Get the most from the Coast! Dust off the shag shoes. Stroll down memory lane. Move to the Motown Music and Rock to the classics. We are playing what you want to hear most at 94.5 The Coast! Playing the hits from the 60′s 70′s and 80′s.” www.945thecoast.com
Joel says “I did a lot of research and what I found was that Beaufort is completely different than other small markets. Beaufort wanted more beach music, not less, and a lot of Motown, and familiar feel good music.” He programs all the music himself and, when asked if he personally prefers more contemporary music, he shakes his head no and says, “I grew up listening to this music with my parents while we were boating- I love the music we play. Some of my favorite artists are Van Morrison, Willie Nelson,
Jimmy Buffet, Robert Earl Keen and Kenny Chesney.”
One of the pleasures in having a local station is tuning in and hearing your friends and neighbors doing their own radio spots.  Always keeping it local, Joel likes to use new voices for his spots, sometimes even pulling in folks who have stopped to say hello and check out the station. ”If someone has an interesting voice, I love using them here at the station.” he says.

The station is located at Habersham, at street level in the market area. Passerby’s can look right in the big picture window and watch the on air people at work. Joel says, “I looked around and Habersham had a good, fun but peaceful feel and great people.”
Joel is located at Habersham as well, as he has an apartment directly above the station. He says, “I love it here. It is a community within a community. And it’s only ten minutes to downtown Beaufort.”

Beautiful Beaufort

Being part of the community is important to Joel, as he says “We are happy to do anything that helps out, and we get to be involved with all the charities, fundraisers and festivals. The great thing here is that 90% of the money raised goes directly to those who need it.” Being a sociable guy, he laughs and says, “A lot of the things we do for the Coast I would be participating in anyway.”
“It is easy to make good relationships here, Beaufort has culture, it has history and it has beauty. I love Beaufort, I have fallen in love with Beaufort and I am really happy here. I love being on the water- I’m a boater- I try to take one weekend day a week to golf or boat.” He pauses and thinks for a minute.
“You can be yourself here in Beaufort, and people have treated me great. Good people, good karma”.

Story by MARY ELLEN THOMPSON
Photography by JOHN WOLLWERTH

"Big Frank" Waddell

 

 

 

 

 

Standing at a height of 6’6” “Big Frank” Waddell commands attention as well as space. With a certain astute thoughtfulness, Frank reveals himself piece by piece, often with an oblique sense of humor. When he sings the songs he has written, you can watch the feelings play across his face as he reminisces about his travels and life experiences. As he says, “A big part of playing is the emotion that goes into the music. I have songs that will bring a tear to your eye, they bring a tear to my own eye.
“I love story songs; one of my favorites is Stand on God’s Word. I met  a woman sitting in a rocking chair and she told me about her life: Her mama died giving birth to her and her daddy held it against her. Her daddy got drunk a lot and was mean to her. She spent time in church to escape him. One day she got a Bible and hid it under the floorboards in the house. When her daddy yelled at her she would stand on that part of the floor over where the Bible was hidden because, in church, the preacher had told the congregation to ‘Stand on God’s word,’ and she took that literally.”
Frank grew up in Greer SC. After high school he joined the Air Force where he was in aircraft maintenance until his retirement in 2004. Since then “Big Frank” has been traveling the world writing songs, telling stories and bringing joy to all who listen. It didn’t start out that way; “I grew up singing lots of gospel music in church choirs. But when I was a little boy I didn’t want to sing, I wanted to play ball. My mother was reading the paper one day and she saw an announcement for the Kiwanis Boys Choir.  ‘I’m going to sign you up,’ she told me and my brother. My brother went into the auditions, I hid in the bathroom. He went outside afterwards and I followed him; my mother came to pick us up and he told her I had hidden in the bathroom. She grabbed me by the ear and took me back inside. The choirmaster played a note on the piano and had me sing the note, one after another. My brother and I both got into the choir. There I was – not wanting to sing, my mom made me go, and a month later I was singing on the local kiddie
television show!”
Obviously something about the music appealed to him because he bought his first guitar when he was sixteen. “I was in high school and working in the textile mill when I heard about this moonshiner who had an old guitar for sale. I drove up the dirt road of Glassy Mountain, and found him next  to a box of empty paint cans, spray painting a truck turquoise. I told him that I’d heard he had a guitar for sale, he went inside and brought it out. I asked him to play it then asked him the price. He wanted $27, which I had in my wallet. I gave him the money and he told me ‘This guitar has been on this mountain for a long time. I’ve owned it three times, the last time I traded a washing machine for it.’ Now that area is a gated community of millionaires.
“I taught myself to play, and I wrote my first song, Daddy’s Got Soul, for and about my daddy, in 1972. There were a lot of things about soul at that time; if you looked at soul as integrity and character, then my daddy had soul. I dedicated Mothers Day Song to my mother. The Christmas Miracle is a true story about when I was a boy at a 5 and dime or 10 Cent Store, as they were called, I realized I had only a penny left and still had not bought my youngest sister Jill her gift. Being Christmas Eve and I only had 50 cents to start with, I sadly put the penny in the gum ball machine and instead of the candy or gum falling out, a pin made of rhinestones laid out in cursive writing spelling ‘Jill’ came out.  I had it wrapped and gave that to her the next morning. There were six children in our family, but we didn’t get one musical thing from our daddy. My older brother is a career Minister of Music, my younger sister sings in church. When we were little, my sister used to play the piano and the other five of us would gather around and sing.” In the intervening years, Frank has recorded three CD’s that he calls “Family Folk,” which include many of the songs he has written about his family, his daughter Mindy, son Frankie, and grandchildren Parker and Sheldon.

 

"Big Frank" Waddell

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frank came to St. Helena Island in 2005,  “I came to the area from Charleston looking for a second home for a weekend get away. I fell in love with Lands End, wrote a check the first day I went there and closed two weeks later. For a while, I did keep a home in Mt. Pleasant, but after about a year I got rid of it and made St. Helena my home.”
With friends Carroll Brown and Michael Reno Harrell, “Big Frank” performed to a full theater this March in “Song Writers in the Round”  at Artworks in Beaufort. In that kind of setting, Frank explains that “I play whatever comes into my mind. It depends on whatever the others are playing, I don’t want people to cry at two songs in a row. I have a list of songs taped to the back of my guitar but when I’m sitting in the middle, bookended by two other musicians, I decide on the spot what to play next.” But you won’t find Frank singing his heart out to a room full of people who aren’t paying attention: “If I’m going to play and nobody’s going to listen, I’ll just stay home. I’ve got a nice Lazy-Boy recliner.  When you’re singing about your life, it’s humiliating when people don’t pay attention. I may sound like an old fuddy-duddy, but it’s different with age – you have to know how to enjoy yourself.
“I wrote a song, Let the Free Bird Fly, to which people in the audience in a folk club in Scotland just start to sing along in the final chorus. It gave me cold chills to hear one of my creations that they’re so into that they couldn’t sit quiet. I also like to play songs like Marty Robbins’ El Paso – I play a lot of stuff that other people don’t play any more. I’m part of a very large songwriters group in Charleston, SC.” Mostly he plays his own story songs, many of which are deeply embedded by scriptures once heard in those early gospel singing days, but he also favors writing Americana folk and comedy songs.  With a wry smile, Frank admits “A couple of years ago I wouldn’t sing karaoke; I thought I was too good for that, after all I was a professional singer! Then I met a woman who told me the only fun she had was singing karaoke. Because I had been judgmental and critical, I realized I could have a blast singing karaoke; now I look forward to it – I just have fun!”
Music is often the center point of Frank’s travels. Recently, Frank went to Branson, MO where he went to seventeen shows in seven days; and on a road trip to Alaska, he wrote four songs along the way. He’s played in Costa Rica, England, and Canada, but Scotland is one of his favorite places. Frank also has plans to play in a songwriters group this June in Nashville, TN in a venue similar to the Bluebird Cafe.
Comfortable with his many rich and varied interests and talents, Frank can often be found in the swimming pool at the YMCA when he is not singing or writing. He finds swimming therapeutic both mentally and physically. He says he “takes spells with cooking and reading;” a favorite author is David Baldacci and his taste in books runs towards history. However, in addition to his CD’s, Frank has also written a book about his family history which took him to three states for research and ten years to write. He is currently working on two essay collections of short stories entitled “If Old Guns Could Talk” and “If Old Guitars Could Talk.”
At home in the kitchen, Frank loves to describe his kitchen creations – he will put an assortment of whatever is in his cupboards into the crockpot and concoct a unique feast. His favorite television show is Gunsmoke; however, he says,  “When I was in the Air Force, everyone was sports oriented. I could watch game after game after game. But now in the second part of my life, I only watch football, baseball, or basketball in the play-offs, and NASCAR in the last ten laps.”
Someone who takes good care, Frank is not only thoughtful, kind, and generous, but also keenly observant. It is as if he digests his experiences and emotionally processes them until he can present them in a vernacular that is familiar and without pretense. Some of his songs are true, some are spiritual, some silly, others funny; and then there are those, that as the lyrics reveal themselves, make you feel like you are opening a gift. First and foremost a fascinating orator, “Big Frank” Waddell has a resonating deep baritone voice that is a joy to hear, whether sung or spoken.

Story by MARY ELLEN THOMSPON

Photography by PAUL NURNBERG

 

Tom CoxRichard Darby

 

 

 

 

 

Steve DankoDick Nalwasky

 

 

 

 

 

A band, in and of itself, is not an entity, especially one that came together randomly; it is disparate, a sum of its parts. Each person’s story contributes essentially to its formation, its success, and its personality. But, that’s what makes it interesting.

Elements:

Steve Danko – 6 and 12 String Guitar and Vocals
Richard Darby – 6 and 12 String Guitar and Percussion
Tom Cox – Bass Guitar
Dick Nalwasky – Harmonica
How the band got its name:
Beek Webb’s bluegrass jam sessions at the Foolish Frog were posted as music being played from “7 – 9 p.m., and sometimes later.” The bluegrass musicians usually left early and this group stayed as long as they had an audience.

Background:

Steve Danko:
Steve came to Beaufort in 1985. “I grew up in Barberton, OH and Columbia, SC in a house where music was always playing, records were stacked up on the hi-fi. I took piano lessons, and played the trombone and tuba in high school. In college, at Clemson, I played the tuba in a marching band with which I got to go to five bowl games concluding with winning the national championship.
“When my little sisters were still in high school they wanted to go to a concert, but my father said they couldn’t go unless I accompanied them. The concert was by an artist I had never heard of before, John Denver! I liked it and him so much that I went home and bought a guitar and started teaching myself to play. I played by myself until I came to Beaufort and got involved with Beek Webb’s Bible School Group, so named because it was a little building where we practiced that had once been a Bible school.”

Richard Darby:
“In the  60’s folk era I sold my Gibson guitar, selling that guitar is a decision I regret today, for an acoustic guitar. I taught myself to finger pick, playing wherever I could and with whomever I could. Somewhere along the line, life got in the way and I stopped playing; why I cannot remember. Fast forward 20 years.  A friend of mine custom built a steel string guitar with a classical wide neck which I coveted, I told him if he ever sold it, I would buy it, and eventually I did. I still play that guitar today in the band. About 10 years ago, I stopped playing and didn’t play again until I got to Beaufort in 2009. Playing in this band is a dream come true, one of the things I decided I wanted in my life was to perform.” Richard and his wife, Barbara, were headed to Panama for retirement, but fell a bit short of their destination and ended up here.

Tom Cox:
“I grew in Indianapolis. When I was in grade school, they were looking for a bass violin player, I played classical music in the school orchestra from sixth grade through high school. When I was in college at Perdue University, the bass violin wasn’t very popular so I traded it for a bass guitar. I played whenever I could. I’ve needed to play ever since, it’s therapy, it keeps me sane.”
Tom came to Beaufort by way of Savannah. He and his wife, Anita, rented a house in Tybee Island, then Dick got a job in Beaufort so they moved here. Then he got a job in Savannah so now he lives in Beaufort and works as accountant is Savannah.

Dick Nalwasky:
Dick grew up in New Jersey and moved to Pittsburgh after college, where he owned a small steel distributorship. He started playing the harmonica when he was five, took accordion lessons in his younger days and is a very accomplished musician. His harmonica kit includes 11 harmonicas all in different keys.  He loves to play so much that he even plays while he is driving!
He and his wife Celeste came to Beaufort six years ago after searching the East Coast for a warmer weather home. Sailors, Dick and Celeste had come through Beaufort on their boat on their way from Florida to the Chesapeake Bay

Genre:

“We play the music you like to hear!” –  An eclectic blend of folk, rock, Irish, and Western. When they play in a bar or restaurant, their sound is “softer” – the volume is adjusted so you can hear, talk, enjoy the music as well as your companions, and not be overpowered by the volume.

The Men Behind the Instruments:

The Sometimes Later Band members are blue jean boys, the authentic Levi variety; casual fit – no pretense, no embellishment, no designer labels. Just conscientious, affable guys who love to play music and are continually creating a sound of self expression. Their casual appearance and ease belies the hard work that goes into creating their own unique approach to the music.
Behind Richard’s ever present smile lies an impish mischievousness and evident sense of good humor. His curiosity and sense of adventure are a touchstone for his creativity.
Tom’s serious side slips away as he tells tales about himself, such as having a yardstick taped to his arm in 6th grade when his teacher, Mrs. Brown, was instructing him how to keep his bow straight; or reminisces about his days in the “Fabulous Danger Boys Band” back in Indiana.
When Dick gets going on that harmonica, he spins and dances and tips his cap as he gets lost in his sheer enjoyment of playing the music.
And when Steve wraps his clear vocal accompaniment around the lyrics of Summertime, the result is that the music has a barely perceptible but still noticeable hauntingly ethereal quality. It makes you want to recline under a magnolia tree, sip a mint julep and drift into a fog of hot summer nights, catching fireflies and fond memories.
Although each of the components is evident and distinctive, nevertheless it is one enveloping and cohesive sound that the audience experiences. All in all, the Sometimes Later Band’s music has a quality of friendship about it, an intimacy, like they are singing around a campfire with old friends.

How They Came Together:

Steve:  Started playing in Beek‘s bluegrass jamming sessions at the Foolish Frog. The rest of them met there. After the bluegrass musicians stopped playing for the night, Steve felt he was just getting warmed up and wanted to keep playing. “I loved it when the audience and other musicians would join in the music and sing along.”

Richard: “Steve and I met at the weekly bluegrass jam that was at the Foolish Frog Restaurant on St. Helena’s Island. We both preferred playing folk rather than bluegrass and several months later, the idea of Sometimes Later began to become a reality.”

Tom: “I ran into Steve just playing around town. At one point I was too shy to play in public but my wife encouraged me; I played with Irene Goodnight and Tina Fripp. One night the band asked me to sit in, so I came to play with them and it’s worked out well.”

Dick: Richard and Steve were playing together when Dick dove right in on his harmonica. “I fell away from playing til I came here, I heard about the jam session and wanted a local connection.” Dick occasionally played with other local musicians, such as Kirk O’Leary, to gain experience and to see if had the “right stuff” to go forward with his music. When Dick joined the band, he quickly became the band’s manager.

Humorous Musical Memories:

Steve: “I became enamored with Irish folk music while attending a conference in New Orleans. We closed the place down four nights in a row.  Just a few years ago, I took a week long tour of pubs (and Guinness), and traditional music (and Guinness) in Ireland driving from Dublin to the west coast and back with a friend who also attended the conference in New Orleans.”

Richard: “In junior high school on Long Island NY, I took up the clarinet; after six months my instructor told me to try another instrument. So in high school, I bought a used solid body wood Gibson Les Paul Junior (it seemed to weigh a ton!) and formed a 5 piece rock band that played most of our high-school dances. Six months later, my voice changed and the band members kicked me out of ‘my’ band!”

Tom: “When I was in the sixth grade in Mrs. E’s vocal music class; she had an accent and every time she said ‘third’ it came out as ‘turd.’”

Dick: “When I was a teenager my mother told me to enter a talent show in which I played Lady of Spain on the accordion.” Did he win any accolades in that show? The answer was flat out, “No!”

Commentary:

Richard: “We have all hitched ourselves onto Steve’s star. What I think distinguishes Steve’s playing and singing is the fact that he is a storyteller. The songs we play have emotional content that come out, not only in the lyrics, but also in the arrangements. When I first met Steve and we were beginning to play together, he would tell me my playing was technically good but I played mechanically. ‘You’ve got to feel the song’, he would say. I would nod my head and think to myself that he was being a bit ridiculous. Now, after a year of playing together, I understand just where he is coming from. Steve is a storyteller – a troubadour – a lyric poet. If he doesn’t feel the emotional content, he won’t play it. In fact, as a band, we all feel that way. One or another of us will bring a song to practice thinking that they may work for our ‘sound’. But, if we cannot get the emotion into the song musically, we will not perform it. There are  several songs we have practiced the whole time we have been together that we have yet to perform because we cannot make the arrangement work to enhance the emotional content. But, we will continue to work on them until we get it just right.”

Wisdom:

Steve: “I heartily concur with violinist and orchestra leader Andre Rieu who states that ‘music creates energy.’ Attend a live concert or musical theater and discover for yourself.  I encourage everyone to pick up an instrument, bring along the family, join in the fun and experience the magic.”

Aspirations:

“We’re ascending; we’re always learning; we’re always introducing new music and new styles of music. We want to be more then a jam band, we want to be more polished. We want to get to the next level and play in a greater regional area.”

 

 

Upcoming Gigs:
April 20 and Memorial Day Weekend:  Mossy Oaks Music Park Bluegrass Festival Festival in Guyton, Georgia.

April 12, May 3: Lowcountry Produce

As soon as the weather warms up:
The Back Porch Grill

The band also enjoys concert events at
Randy Woods Guitar Shop in Bloomingdale, Georgia.

Story by CINDY REID

Photography by PAUL NURNBERG

Amanda BrewerAmanda Brewer

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mountain stream cool water clear. That’s what it sounds like when Amanda Brewer sings. She makes “The Star Spangled Banner” sound good. She is one of those singers who makes it sound easy while singing something very hard. Bottom line, you just want to hear more.
And she is nothing if not versatile, from fronting her own group, “The Brewer Band,” to being a Worship Leader for her church’s band, all the while holding down a demanding day job as Reference Manager at the Bluffton branch of the Beaufort Library system.
Amanda is a woman on the go, on or off her new motorcycle. Her most recent big purchase is a Harley Davidson Sportster 2003, painted a very cool mystic blue with pink flames.  “I have just started to learn how to ride so that is my next project,” she says, “Mac and Paul from the Brewer Band ride, and people from my church band ride as well. I am doing this so I can get out there and enjoy the lowcountry’s back roads and really see the beauty around us.”

It’s a Family Tradition

An only child, Amanda was born in Newport News, VA, where she lived until two years old. Then her family lived outside of Raleigh, North Carolina until the 6th grade when they moved to Lynchburg, South Carolina. Lynchburg is, as she says, “A one stoplight town between Florence and Sumter. Although it was a small, agricultural town, the slower paced way of life and strong sense of community helped mold me into the person I am today.”
There was a big plus to growing up there. She says, “Grandma’s house was two miles down the road. What a blessing to get to grow up two miles away from grandma’s homegrown country cooking! “
A love of southern cooking wasn’t the only gift passed on to Amanda. She says, “I am one in a long line of musicians. My paternal grandfather, Richard Brewer, was a preacher and traveled on weekends with a family gospel singing group, “The Brewers.” My father, Marty Brewer, and his brothers were each part of the family music group and learned to play instruments and sing.”
And on the other side of her family, “My mother is a pianist and choir leader. My mother’s mother plays organ and my mother’s father leads the congregational singing at their church.  It’s only natural I would play and sing too!” Mom Nancy Huggins and step dad Bill Huggins now live in Columbia, South Carolina. Amanda says, “They are by far the biggest Brewer Band fans!”

Brewer Band

“The band is my first choice to do my music and it’s going great!” says Amanda. It’s a full band consisting of Amanda on lead vocals, guitar and keyboards, William “Mac” McClelland, bass guitar and emcee, Paul Lazo on trumpet, Duncan Aspinall-Winter and Murray Steen on electric guitar and Dana Scaglione handles drums. She says, “We just played at the Twilight Run at Habersham, which was really a musician’s dream, having lots of people there listening to our music” (Approx. 2000 people attended the event). As for the future, she says, “We love playing in Beaufort and we are expanding to Bluffton and beyond. Sometimes I play with a trio (me, Mac and Paul) and sometimes as the whole band, but I really love playing as a full band the most.”
The Brewer Band is known for their extensive and eclectic song list. When asked what songs she particularly likes to sing with the band, Amanda thinks for a minute and says, “Definitely ‘These Boots are Made for Walking,’  is a song I never intended to do! Mac suggested it and I begrudgingly agreed to give it try and it was so much fun we added to our song list. The audience is why we play it, they just love it!”
She continues, “Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams’ is another favorite, because it is not an easy song for a vocalist and it’s challenging. I love to sing it and the band likes to see if I am going to be able to pull off the right notes! It is fresh every time we play it.” Although known for her vocal skills, Amanda also plays guitar and some piano or keyboard.  She says, “I also dabble on drums although the Brewer Band guys say I play like Animal from the Muppets! I also own a mandolin and violin that I would love to learn to play someday soon.”
Band member Mac McClelland says, “Amanda is the rock star librarian! And the Brewer Band is the single best party band in South Carolina. We do everything from the Jackson 5 to Adele- including ‘Disco Inferno!”

Community

Amanda says, “I grew up in church and have always sung in church. I came across Contemporary Worship when I was in college, and found it was for me. I am the Worship Leader at my church, The Link, and I am honored to be using my gifts in a ministry setting.”
The Link is a 150 people congregation that meets at the YMCA in Port Royal Sundays at 10:30 AM. A contemporary church, services include a live band that plays worship songs, also known as contemporary Christian music. As a Worship Leader, Amanda says, “I am in charge of the band, which means I run practice, choose the songs, and I am also the lead singer. It is basically the same role as a choir director.” And there was an added benefit she says, “That’s how I met the members of my band, at church.”

Library Life

After earning a  Bachelor of Arts degree (Speech Communication and Religion double major) from Charleston Southern University in 2004 and a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from the University of South Carolina in 2006, Amanda moved to Beaufort to start her career as a reference librarian. She has been a Beaufortonian since 2007.
Currently she is the Reference Manager at the Bluffton branch and is keeping very busy. She says, “Right now we are getting Summer Reading programs ready for the whole library system from Hilton Head to Beaufort. “ She adds, “Summer Reading programs are for all ages, we have an exciting program for kids, teens and adults. The theme this year is ‘Dig into Summer Reading,’ which is all about archeology and nature. The programs will include movies, lectures, and all kinds of interesting programs.”
Amanda just finished hosting a Downton Abbey Viewers Club, sponsored by The Friends of Bluffton Library. “We met every week and discussed the show and I made presentations on relevant topics such as funeral practices of the era, weddings of that time and so forth. We had a season finale tea, which was a lot of fun!”

Unplugged

Musicians may play a lot of different music professionally but they often turn to one genre of music when they want to unwind. Amanda says when she has down time, “I really like to listen to singer-songwriters. Give me a guitar and meaningful lyrics, just the music minus everything else. Patti Griffin, Bonnie Raitt and Mindy Smith are my favorites, that’s who I listen to time and time again, especially when I just want to relax. I like anything that is ‘unplugged’ versus over produced bands.”

What’s Next?

Amanda would like to expand her musical talents to include songwriting. “I like the advice one of my favorite musicians, Edward McCain, said about songwriting. He said ‘write a bad song, an awful, cheesy song, just to get started.’ So I will try that advice because there are songs locked inside me, I just need a way to open that lock.” She laughs, “Maybe riding my motorcycle down the back roads will do it.”

You can follow Amanda and The Brewer Band at these links.
www.thebrewerband.com
www.facebook.com/thebrewerband

Story by MARY ELLEN THOMPSON

Photography by JOHN WOLLWERTH

Ami Rabinowitz

A gracious, gregarious, and very talented young woman, Ami Rabinowitz is a musical whirlwind. She performs in The Beaufort Symphony Orchestra, she teaches violin, viola, and beginning cello in her studio and she teaches two Youth Orchestras as well as teaching in three schools.
Ami began studying and playing music as a young girl. “I was nine when I found out about the String Project at the Community Music School at USC in Columbia SC. They came to my school and I was inspired by them to want to learn to play. I had wanted to play the cello but started out on the viola; I was really into it.”  When Ami was six, she had a very brief love affair with ballet, as many little girls do, but it proved not to be her forte. “I wanted to take ballet but got kicked out of the class because I couldn’t stand still and had to switch to gymnastics. I’ve always loved ballet though. When I was at the Governor’s School, I had three ballerinas as room-mates.” Now she is happy to play that music, rather than dance to it.
“I was raised by my grandparents, Louis and the late Kris Rabinowitz. When I was in the tenth grade, I moved with them to Beaufort where I went to Beaufort High School for one year, then I was accepted to the South Carolina Governors School for Arts and Humanities in Greenville SC, where I graduated. Then I went onto The Hartt School, which is the performing arts conservatory of the University of Hartford in Connecticut. I wanted to go there because it had a strings project modeled after the USC Strings Project. I was inspired by my many great teachers and also the great musicians I’ve had opportunity to play with.”
“At age fifteen, when I was attending Beaufort High, I was performing in the Youth Orchestra and also started playing in the Beaufort Symphony Orchestra, where I was the youngest member, at the time, as well as playing in The Savannah Youth Orchestra. I moved away for school and college, but then I came back. Fred Devyatkin saw me and asked me to come back and play in the Orchestra. We’re so lucky to have him!” What are Ami’s own musical aspirations? “I would like to play and perform with more musicians and travel to play with other symphonies that are close to our area.”
What, exactly, is the difference between the violin, the viola, and the cello? Ami explains, “The viola is bigger and heavier than the violin and they are different registers and have a different timbre, they read different clefs; the viola is alto clef, the violin is treble, and the cello is bass.  Someone could maybe play the viola and the violin but the cello is different altogether, due to holding it vertically, whereas one holds the violin and viola horizontally.” She also says, “In middle school I got bored so I tried some different instruments such as the oboe and the bassoon. I’d love to learn to play the guitar and the piano, so I could accompany my students. The difference between playing the viola and the guitar is that the guitar is based on rhythmic chords and the viola is based on melodic line.”
Some of her students are as young as three, they start out on an instrument resembling a violin that Ami has fashioned out of a tissue box and a ruler so they can learn to hold it under their chins. “Those three year olds had older siblings that play and they really wanted to learn also. Ages two to six are really a musical sensory period in a child’s development.”  Her face absolutely lights up when she talks about her students and music: “I’ve been teaching for five years now and I find great joy in listening to them as they continue to get better. I really enjoy teaching; seeing the kids want to create music with their friends, and have the confidence to play independently – that’s really exciting!”
Ami’s biggest group of students is the First Orchestra, which is now a group that numbers about twenty. “The music is pretty hard for the students. The second to sixth graders learn how to play in a group, and follow a conductor.” The First Orchestra began three years ago as part of the after school program at Artworks, but the music may have been a bit disruptive to the other programs so Ami took it over and moved it to the Beth Israel Synagogue, where they still hold some of the concerts, and then to her studio. It is composed of students from various schools as well as home-schooled students, so it is a diverse group.  She also teaches three string quartets who play gigs, weddings, and community events.

Ami Rabinowitz

Between playing in the Orchestra and teaching, Ami admits that she doesn’t have much free time these days. Her tastes run to the the more complex and thought-provoking in music, art and literature. When she had more leisure time, she preferred authors such as Ayn Rand, Aldous Huxley, and George Orwell. Her favorite viola player is Yuri Bashmet; and on the list of her most admired composers are the classics – Beethoven, Bach (The Cello Suites), Hindemith, as well as Dvorak, and the Russians – Stravinsky (Firebird and Rite of Spring) and Tchaikovsky (Nutcracker). Ami smilingly admits, “I like the Russian composers, I’m a great fan of the romantic era!”  She also enjoys going to art museums when she has the chance.
Where does Ami see herself in five to ten years? “I would like to have an additional studio, so that I could have more teachers and reach more students, and expand my two orchestras. I love to see when older students coach the younger ones because you notice things about your own playing when you teach.” What are some of the obstacles she faces?  “In addition to paying for the lessons, the parents have to make a commitment to oversee their children’s practice; even the very little ones should practice for ten minutes three times a day, until they can focus for a 30 minute practice session. But the payoff is worth it – the students develop focus, the ability to follow directions, and the discipline of practicing to achieve a goal.  Students learn how to express themselves through their playing and develop a lifetime love of music; and if they keep with it, it is a great way to get great scholarships to college. It would be nice to have some angels who would pay for lessons for those children who can’t afford it, and the donation of any of the instruments I teach would be so very welcome!
“I feel like it is important for our community to realize there is an outlet for classical music in our town, especially with the depletion and lack of support for string programs and teachers in our area public schools.  Sure all the students want to play pop music at first on their instruments, but there is a reason that the music of Mozart and Beethoven has been played for the last 300 years and is still continually being performed.  Many of my parents don’t even realize there is a symphony in town when their children start lessons.  Symphonies are dying all over the country due to the instant satisfaction of being able to listen to music whenever people want, i.e. ipods and youtube.  We have a thriving symphony in Beaufort, and we need to support the culture to ensure it’s sustainability.”
Coming up on the Beaufort Symphony Orchestra’s schedule are two concerts that Ami is looking forward to with great anticipation, especially since one of her students just joined the Orchestra. On April 18 and 21 is a special event which The Beaufort Symphony Orchestra’s website describes as:  “‘Hollywood Extravaganza,’ our final concert, will offer something unique to Beaufort concertgoers! “Film Score in Reverse” is designed to have our own Beaufort Symphony provide the live music on stage, while a movie screen projects sequenced clips from some of the most famous movies of the Silent Age. This program, known as ‘Flicker,’ includes musical selections from A Night On Bald Mountain, Danse Macabre, Peer Gynt Suite, Finlandia and The Firebird Suite.”
The other event is a Side by Side Concert which will be held on Sunday, May 19 at Beaufort High School where the Beaufort Youth Orchestra members will sit next to the Beaufort Symphony Orchestra members playing the same instruments. This is a first for Beaufort and everyone involved is quite excited about it as there will be at least eighty musicians on the stage. The program will include pieces from Les Miserables, West Side Story, and classical selections from Vivaldi and others. (TIckets are only $20, students $5; please visit the website: www.beaufortorchestra.org, or call Greta Maddox at  843-476-1310, for more information.)

Story by CINDY REID

Photography by SUSAN DELOACH

The Bull Grapes

There is authentic and then there is lowcountry, rolled in the pluff mud and baptized in the salt water marsh authentic. You either are or you ain’t and the Bull Grapes have the bona fides 0r as Kirk Dempsey says, “We are Salt Water Soul.” A local trio consisting of Kirk Dempsey, Adam Granade and Tim Devine, the Bull Grapes play a wild and woolly mix of “gut bucket blues,” country songs, and foot stompin’ songs from who knows where. Front man Kirk Dempsey keeps the ball rolling, handling the vocals, harmonica and guitar (including cigar box) while Adam Granade keeps the beat on the upright bass with Tim Devine on guitar.
Kirk Dempsey is “Proud to say I am from Frogmore, South Carolina.” He and his wife Elaine, and daughters Madison, Caroline and Sarah live in his grandparent’s former house on the farm that has been in his family for three generations. He says, “I grew up on the side of the road selling tomatoes. I was the youngest of four. My brother and sisters were always bringing home new records (Sonny and Cher, The Partridge Family), but one day my brother brought home Led Zeppelin 4. That really stuck. I used to listen to “Misty Mountain Hop” and “The Levee” song to get pumped up for the drudgeries of Sunday school.”
He says, “From that day forward, I went backwards, and every artist that Led Zeppelin would name as an early influence I would listen to. Throw in a couple of Buck Owens eight tracks. And there you have it. “
Adam Granade was born in Milledgeville, Georgia and was living in Vermont until moving to Coosaw Island three years ago with girlfriend Taylor Webster. Adam plays the upright bass in the band, but is a consummate musician who also plays the banjo, guitar, cello, piano, drums and most recently has been playing and rebuilding fiddles.
Adam says the upright bass, (aka his “Bawss Bass”) is “the one that is the most fun, I can ride the bass and keep the sound going.” On being a Bull Grape he says, “Kirk is just fun, he lets me be me. I think I am able to help people relax and play better. I don’t think I am a front man, my goal is to make it easy, and I want to be the guy that allows you to shine.”
He thinks the Bull Grapes music resonates with audiences because “People enjoying hearing something fresh”.
Tim Devine grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. After working and playing music in Chicago for years, he moved to Beaufort about 4 years ago. A graphic designer, Tim lives on St. Helena Island. He says, “I play guitar. Acoustic, electric, baritone, bass, zither and a few other guitar-like contraptions that I built, and slide whistle. I think most of which I have played with this band.”
He says, “I love Beaufort and I really like the way live music is appreciated and scheduled around here. We get to play at some of the most beautiful settings, and we’re usually wrapping it up around 10 or 11. In other bands and places I’ve played, we usually wouldn’t get started until 11 or later and it would usually be in a dank old bar. Next week we have a gig at 9 am, that’s a first for me.”

BEGINNINGS
Adam says, “ Last August Kirk called me and asked me to play with him at the Sand Dollar, and after that we started hanging out and playing music at his house on Frogmore. We were walking in the back, through the fields and vineyard and Kirk grabbed a bunch of grapes off the vine and said ‘Bull Grapes!’ That was it, that was our name. Around December we added Tim as a permanent fixture in the band, and Greg Brooks sits in a drummer when he is in town.”
Kirk says, “We were playing at Nippy’s in Beaufort at the time, I just can’t say enough about how Nippy’s supports local musicians, we always have the best time playing there for the people.”
Tim remembers, “I met Kirk at a campfire, maybe it was Fourth of July, and he got out his harmonica and started playing. I wanted to get to know this guy! At the time, he was playing at Nippy’s so I started sitting in. We have a blast playing, I look forward to playing with these guys.”
As Kirk says, “I am a very basic musician, I get by with six chords and I don’t even play half of them right, oh well. A buddy of mine, Brian Bowen said, “Surround yourself with people that know what they are doing” just before he fired me as his bass player. So, I bring that with what I brought, and Adam and Tim (along with Greg Brooks) bring the rest. They are very good musicians, so much, that they know where I am going before I get there.”
Tim adds, “We just kind of fell together because we had the same appreciation for the songs we play, it’s not rocket science, it’s just the good ol’ good ones, with maybe a little bit of The Cramps and Tom Waits thrown in.”

Kirk DempseyAdam GranadeTim Devine

 

 

 

 

 

Playlist

What the Bull Grapes bring to the party, or campfire, or oyster roast, is their version of many classic blues songs, what could rightly be called the soundtrack to ‘old weird America” (a term borrowed from Greil Marcus). At a recent get together/rehearsal/photo shoot under a towering live oak tree at the farm, Kirk was strumming his cigar box guitar and singing softly, “In the pines, in the pines, where the sun never shines”… and then Tim and

Adam picked up the melody and the trio spontaneously played this old folk song, which dates back to the 1870’s, making a musical connection that wavered across the salt marsh to Southern Appalachia where the song was born.
They do this a lot, playing an old song you barely remember, but is wedged into your subconscious. When they get to singing and grooving, the song feels like your own soundtrack, the one you kind of forgot about until you heard Kirk pound out “Baby Please Don’t Go” and then it all comes back to you. He throws a little Jim Morrison “Doors” in the middle of it and you climb aboard and don’t get off till the last chord is struck. Same with “Black Maddie” or “Killing Floor.”

“Killing Floor” By Chester Burnett a.k.a. Howlin’ Wolf

I should’a went on, when my friend come from Mexico at me
I should’a went on, when my friend come from Mexico at me
I was foolin’ with ya baby, I let ya put me on the killin’ floor

Lord knows, I should’a been gone
Lord knows, I should’a been gone
And I wouldn’t been here, down on the killin’ floor

Maybe we haven’t literally been down on the killin’ floor but when the Bull Grapes play it we can sure remember feeling like we should’a went on at one point, before it was too late, and that’s what the blues can do , bring up that sad, nasty but ultimately satisfyingly universal feeling.
“Boom Boom,” a John Lee Hooker blues song, is a crowd favorite, a stomper that really only reaches its full power when Kirk gets into the “haw haw haw, hmmm, hmmm” part. It takes a big man to make a big noise and, as it has been pointed out, he has the bona fides.

Boom boom boom boom
I’m gonna shoot you right down,
right offa your feet
Take you home with me,
put you in my house
Boom boom boom boom
A-haw haw haw haw
Hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmm
Hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmm

The Bull Grapes can switch it around, going from a delta blues number to a way back country classic. They cover Merle Haggard’s “Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down,” which is essentially a blues song via country’s famed Bakersfield Sound.

“ Tonight the bottle let me down
It let your memory come around
The one true friend I thought I’d found
Tonight the bottle let me down

I’ve always had a bottle I could turn to
And lately I’ve been turnin’ every day
But the wine don’t take effect the way it used to
And I’m hurtin’ in old familiar ways”

Probably the song that chews it all up and spits it back out is Willie Dixon’s “Hootchie Cootchie Man”.

“Gypsy woman told my mother
Before I was born
She said “You got a boy-child coming,
Gonna be a son-of-a-gun
He gonna make pretty women
Jump and shout
And the world’s gonna know
What’s it all about…

I’ve got a black cat bone
I’ve got a mojo too
I’ve got a little bottle of Johnny confidence
I’m gonna mess with you
Hey! I’ll pick you up
Lead you by the hand
And the world’s gonna know
I’m your hoochie coochie man”

The essence of the lowcountry boil of salt water, Hoodoo, and cigar box guitar playin’ is all right there and the Bull Grapes make it all alright. So go get yourself a tall sweet tea or cold frosty beverage and catch the Bull Grapes at one of their gigs, either here in Beaufort or up at the beautiful Irvin~House Vineyards on Wadmalaw Island outside of Charleston. I guarantee you will have a stompin’ good time.