• Beaufort Lifestyle Magazine

Featuring Nikky Finney, Anthony Grooms, J. Drew Lanham, Cassandra King Conroy and Tim Conroy

The Pat Conroy Literary Center will hold its second annual March Forth on March Fourth, commemorating the second anniversary of Pat’s death, on Sunday, March 4th, at the Frissell Community House at Penn Center on St. Helena Island. The Penn Center, a place of quiet dignity and rich history, is a perfect setting for the day-long embrace of nature, poetry, fiction, and fellowship among writers and readers in the heart of Conroy’s beloved lowcountry.

      Founded in 1862 by Quaker missionaries and one of the first schools for freed slaves, the Center is nestled in the quiet majesty of the lowcountry, surrounded by live oaks and loblolly pines. The Frissell Community House, located on a sloped embankment at the Center, served as an important interracial gathering place for leaders of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s. It was a place familiar and dear to Pat, not only for what it embodied and protected, but also in a more intimate way from his days as a high school student at Beaufort High. Pat first visited the Center in October, 1960 with Gene Norris, his English teacher, and later met Martin Luther King Jr, Julian Bond, and other prominent civil rights leaders there. Pat, in a speech that he gave at Penn Center in 2010 said, “I watched my whole country change because of meetings that had taken place at Penn Center.” And now Penn Center also serves as a gracious gatekeeper to the cemetery where Pat is buried.

      March Forth on March Fourth will feature National Book Award-winning poet Nikky Finney, two-time Lillian Smith Award-winning novelist Anthony Grooms, master naturalist and memoirist J. Drew Lanham, poet and retired teacher Tim Conroy, and best-selling novelist Cassandra King Conroy.

      Registration is $22 for all-day admission with an optional $18 for a catered box lunch by Debbi Covington. There are three menu options available online. Lunch reservations need to be made by noon, Thursday, March 1st. Register online at patconroyliterarycenter.org.


10:00–11:30 a.m.: Nature walk at Penn Center led by J. Drew Lanham

Noon–1:30 p.m.: Welcome by Cassandra King Conroy, Tim Conroy’s presentation on Pat Conroy’s Great Love of Poetry, optional catered box lunches

1:45–3:00 p.m.: Nikky Finney’s keynote poetry reading

3:00–3:30 p.m.: break and book signing

3:30–4:30 p.m.: Anthony Grooms’ discussion of his novel The Vain Conversation

4:30–5:00 p.m.: book signing, opportunity to visit Pat Conroy’s gravesite

     Presented in partnership with the Penn Center, this event is sponsored by a gift from Erin and Matt Devlin and by a grant from the South Carolina Arts Commission funded in part by a generous award from the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina.

story by Cindy Reid     photos by Susan DeLoach

Call Sheet

     Call sheet: A list, usually created by the first assistant director, of actors who will be required on set for each day’s shooting, what scenes are scheduled and which locations will be used.

     Calling all movie lovers, film buffs, festival goers and film festival fans. It’s that time of year again when our town is transformed by film makers and film lovers into the closest thing to Hollywood this side of the Beaufort River. Starting February 21 and continuing through February 25, this will be the twelfth annual Beaufort International Film Festival (BIFF) and organizers are expecting their largest crowds yet. Last year, over 12,000 people attended some part of the festival over the course of five days, and as the festival grows every year, so does the size of the crowd.

     The festival schedule has been adjusted to a week later in the month than it has been held in the past, in order to avoid scheduling conflicts with Beaufort’s growing reputation as a Valentine’s Day destination, and with the Savannah Book Festival. Going forward, the festival will continue to be held in the time period between Valentine’s Day and the Academy Awards, and next year there will even be an additional day added to the festival schedule.

     Ron Tucker, President, Beaufort Film Society and  Co-Film Festival Director, says “This year is more of an ‘out of the box’ year. Starting this year, we will be screening all the feature films at night. This will be the first year that we host the Screenwriter’s Workshop and also a feature film on Thursday night. We are doing this in order to reach people who are out working all day but would like to see the feature films.” (At the price of $6.00 a film, you can’t beat this deal!)

     This year, approximately forty three films will be screened starting Thursday February 22 at 9 AM at the University of South Carolina Center for the Arts theater at 805 Carteret Street, Beaufort. “Our Official Selections represent the very best in filmmaking brilliance. Every human emotion will be affected ranging from intense anxiety to a pull of the funny bone.” stated Rebecca Tucker, Co-Festival Director. “Films from France, Israel, Canada, the United Kingdom and Mexico are among the selections, giving audiences a very diverse group of films to see. “

     Ron says,  “Filmmakers from around the world will be coming to the beautiful city of Beaufort from Paris, LA, NYC, Portland, Arlington, Lynchburg, Honolulu, Charlotte, Haifa, Washington DC, Jacksonville, Huntsville, Atlanta, Greenville, Charleston, North Hills, Mount Pleasant, North Charleston, Calgary, Brevard, Simpsonville, Bluffton, Caldwell, Fort Mill, Hilton Head, London, Findlay, India, Spartanburg, Orange, Morelia Mexico, Columbia, Bologna, Abbeville, Mandeville and places we probably don’t know about yet.”

     “It’s growing” says Ron, “This is the most films we have ever had at the festival. We have question and answer time built in the schedule for every filmmaker coming. We are also including films not in competition, such as the ones from ‘Reel South,’ the South Carolina ETV program hosted by Darius Rucker.”

     Awards will be presented in the areas of Features, Documentaries (Feature and Short), Short Films, Student Films, Screenplays, Animation. Comedy and Audience Choice. Also winners will be named for Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Director. Ron says, “This is the first year that every director nominated for Best Director is scheduled to be here and attend the festival.” The awards winners will be announced at the  Red Carpet Reception and Awards Gala on Sunday, February 25th, also at the USCB Center for the Arts.

Key Light

     Key light: the main light on a subject. Usually placed at a 45 degree angle to the camera-subject axis. In high key lighting, the key light provides all or most of the light in the scene.

     For those new to the BIFF, a short introduction to its visionary founders Ron and Rebecca Tucker is in order. Rebecca, originally from Elizabethton, Tennessee, is the co-founder and Vice-President of the Beaufort Film Society since 2009 and Co-Director of the Beaufort International Film Festival since its inception in 2007.

     Formerly, Rebecca served as producer, director, writer and Marketing Director for Sandbar Productions, also doing business as Good-To-Go Video, from 2001 through 2013, specializing in documentary style productions featuring the United States Marine Corps.

     Rebecca served as the company liaison with the major network and cable providers like The History Channel, The Learning Channel, A&E, National Geographic and others. Rebecca was a key producer for over 600 Recruit Graduation Video Programs at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC. Rebecca is a member of the Carolina Film Alliance and the International Documentary Association.

     This year Rebecca has been heavily involved with promoting each film, and the festival, on social media platforms such as Face book and Instagram. “We are featuring one film a day” says Rebecca, “and I think the film makers appreciate how much we support them and work to keep their films in the spot light.”

     Ron is originally from Woodruff, South Carolina and served in the Marine Corps for twenty one years, retiring at the rank of Captain in 1992. He served three tours in the Beaufort area during that time and is a veteran of the Persian Gulf War. In 1993, Ron formed a video production company, Sandbar Productions, LLC dba Good-To-Go Video.

     From 1994–2013, the company produced a series of documentary productions about the Marine Corps and provided content for many of the leading film and television providers to include The History Channel, National Geographic, ABC, CBS, NBC, the BBC and many more. GTGV has been awarded over 25 national and international awards for production excellence. From 1999-2013 GTGV produced over 600 graduation ceremonies at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC and made DVDs available for the new Marines and their families.

     In 2004, Ron became the Chairman of the Beaufort Regional Film Commission as part of the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce. In this position, he served as a member of the Executive Committee of the Chamber Board of Directors. He was certified by the Association of Film Commissioners International in 2004. Ron is currently a member of the International Documentary Association and Carolina Film Alliance and is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and holds a Master’s Degree in Management from Webster University.

     Being named ‘STS Top 20 Event’ by the Southeast Tourism Society is only the latest of many honors BIFF has garnered over the years and it takes a whole cast of characters to make that happen. Just a few of the folks that contribute their talents every year are: Don “Music Man” Lehman, who is returning for the tenth straight year to BIFF, playing the best of jazz, blues and more at the opening and closing ceremonies. Susan DeLoach, Official Beaufort Film Society and BIFF Photographer and Debbi Covington, Official Caterer. Anneliza Itkor is the Awards Gala Emcee and has been a Finalist Juror for many years. Simone Griffith and Candace Brasseur, have also been Finalist Jurors for many years and their contributions are invaluable. These are just a very few names among the many that create the full BIFF experience for the film makers and film goers.

 Magic Hour 

     Magic hour: The short time just before sunset when light levels change dramatically and very quickly, enabling golden shots.

     This year, BIFF 2018 marks the inaugural presentation of the Pat Conroy Lifetime Achievement Award. The award is named for bestselling author and Academy Award nominated screenwriter Pat Conroy, who was a long time resident of Beaufort, SC before his death in March 2016. “It is with the blessing of the Conroy family that we have named our most prestigious honor in the name of Pat Conroy. Beaufort’s long film history began with Pat when his novel The Great Santini was made into a feature film and shot right here in Beaufort,” said Rebecca .

     The award is being presented to Military Technical Advisor, actor and author Dale Dye. Ron says, “If you look at his body of work in the film industry over the past three decades, read the stories from the directors he has worked with like Robert Zemeckis, Steven Spielberg and Oliver Stone, you’ll see why we’re so very honored to present the first Pat Conroy Lifetime Achievement Award to Hollywood legend Dale Dye.”

     Dale Dye was the Military Advisor on three productions shot in the Beaufort area, Forrest Gump, Rules of Engagement, and the television pilot Semper Fi. Ron says, “ He is one of the most recognized and respected players in the movie and television industry and his work has had a huge effect both behind and before the cameras, particularly in projects with a military theme. He has been credited with single-handedly changing the way Hollywood makes war movies.” Dale Dye’s work  has ranged from technical adviser to acting roles in war movies such as Platoon, Casualties of War, Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers. He also hosted the History Channel’s documentary series, The Conquerors.

     Dale is a native of Southeast Missouri. In 1962, he graduated as a cadet officer from Missouri Military Academy with hopes of attending the U.S. Naval Academy. When that failed and there was no money available for college, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and reported to boot camp in January 1964. He served in Vietnam in 1965 and 1967 through 1970 surviving 31 major combat operations.

     He emerged from Southeast Asia highly decorated including the Bronze Star with V for Valor and three Purple Hearts for wounds suffered in combat. He spent 13 years as an enlisted Marine, rising to the rank of Master Sergeant before he was chosen to attend Officer Candidate School. Appointed a Warrant Officer in 1976, he later converted his commission and was a Captain when he was sent to Beirut with the Multinational Peacekeeping Force in 1982-83. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland with a Major in English.

     As a lifelong movie buff with a special penchant for war movies, Dale decided to head for Hollywood when he retired from active duty in 1984. His idea was to see if he could help make war movies more realistic and improve screen portrayals of military men and women. He founded Warriors, Inc., a business with the stated agenda of shining some long-overdue positive light on the people who serve and sacrifice in American military uniform past, present and future.

Over the years, Dale built his business into the premier military consultancy to motion pictures and television employing his well- respected, rugged and realistic method of fully immersing actors in a boot camp-style training program before the cameras roll. To date his firm has worked on more than fifty movies and TV shows including several Academy Award and Emmy winning productions.

     Dale also founded Warriors Publishing Group which publishes a premium slate of military-themed books written by veteran authors. Dale Dye is a published novelist, screenwriter and director as well as a consummate character actor with critically-acclaimed appearances in many films and television productions.

     He is currently in pre-production with what will be his feature film directorial debut in the World War II themed film No Better Place to Die. (the preceding biographical information was provided by the Beaufort International Film Festival). The Pat Conroy Lifetime Achievement Award is sponsored by Leslie and Landon Thorne.

     Set Decorator Missy Ricker will receive the prestigious Behind the Scenes Award for her nearly twenty years of career achievements in the film and television industries. This award is presented to a South Carolina film or television professional, “Who very often works quietly off camera but whose efforts are vital to the success of team production efforts. Those many unheralded moments sometimes spanning an entire career are recognized with this award,” said Ron.

     Missy Ricker is an East Coast set decorator for the film and television industry, based in Charleston, SC, where she shares her home with husband and fellow crew member, Joey Ricker.

     Originally from Virginia, Missy began her career in theater and gradually moved into the film industry as a set dresser and ultimately as a set decorator. She earned her MFA in Photography and Filmmaking from VCU in Richmond, VA in 1994, and is currently an appointee to the Film Production Academic Advisory Committee at Trident Technical College, a Member of the Board of Directors for the Carolina Film Alliance™, and a proud member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 491 Studio Mechanics Union.

     Her most recent credits include the pilot for the television series The Sinner starring Jessica Biel, Christopher Abbot and Bill Pullman, The Inspectors television series, seasons 2 and 3, on CBS Saturday mornings starring Jessica Lundy, Brett Green and Terry Serpico, and the latest feature film in the Halloween franchise starring Jamie Lee Curtis. (the preceding biographical information was provided by the Beaufort International Film Festival) The Behind the Scenes Award is sponsored by Edie Smith and Eugene Rugala.


     Wrap: End of shooting. As in, “That’s a…”

     Ron says, “Word has gotten out among film makers because they are encouraging each other to submit their films. Our festival runs very well, our town is beautiful and I think our reputation for Southern Hospitality plays a role as well. In fact, this year we adjusted the schedule and planned the awards gala for Sunday evening so that our film makers can spend time seeing our area and perhaps envisioning future projects here.”

     Ron and Rebecca agree, “Every year the bridge from Beaufort to Hollywood gets shorter!”

     For more information about the 12th Annual Beaufort International Film Festival, visit www.beaufortfilmfestival.com. The festival is produced by the Beaufort Film Society.

     The festival dates are February 21-25, 2018 with the Red Carpet Reception and Awards Gala taking place on Sunday, February 25th at the University of South Carolina, Beaufort, Center for the Arts.

     The Beaufort Film Society is a nonprofit, 501 (c) 3, member-supported organization, dedicated to providing the highest levels of entertainment and education to the public from all areas of the film industry.

Something For Everyone

Imagine vacationing next winter in Colorado’s beautiful Crested Butte ski resort or relaxing in a five-star villa overlooking the stunning Knysna Lagoon in South Africa. Maybe you prefer to stay closer to home and spend a week this summer in the scenic mountain community of High Hampton in Cashiers, North Carolina, or indulge in a six-night getaway to The Barclay, a luxurious condo in downtown Atlanta’s prestigious Buckhead, renowned for its upscale shops and trendy restaurants.

     Whatever your fantasy getaway, you’ll have the chance to make it a reality this February when these extraordinary vacation packages come up for auction at the Beaufort Memorial Hospital Foundation’s Valentine Ball.

     A highlight of the annual fundraiser benefiting Beaufort Memorial Hospital, the silent auction will feature an extraordinary collection of items that include everything from a Sunday afternoon oyster roast for 50 in the ACE Basin to a scotch tasting for eight on the veranda of the historic Secession house in downtown Beaufort.

     The much-anticipated auction will take place at both the Cocktail Affair Feb. 9 and the Valentine Ball gala Feb. 10 being held at Tabby Place in downtown Beaufort. Descriptions of most of the 115 auction items can be viewed at www.Valentineball.cbo.io starting the second week of January. Select photos will be available for viewing.

     To make it easier for bidders, items will be listed by category, such as travel, sports and art. Each item will include a minimum starting bid and minimum bid increment. Guests will have the opportunity at both events to submit bids on the website using their cell phone or other mobile device. They will be notified via text if they have been outbid.

     Participants will need to complete a simple online registration before they can submit a bid. This year, online bidding on the silent auction items will accepted starting Feb. 1.

     The auction committee chaired by Laura Beall, Melissa Derrick and Amy Lang worked diligently to secure a vast array of items ranging from the unique to most sought after.

     Among the more unusual items being auctioned off is the “Five Alarm Firehouse Birthday for 20.” The party for little firefighters will be held at Station No. 2 on Ribaut Road and will include a tour of a fire truck, demonstrations and a fire hat and sticker for each child.

     Busy guests may opt for the “Squeaky Clean!” item. It includes four hours of professional house cleaning, carpet cleaning, a $200 voucher for outdoor house cleaning services, detailed window cleaning and a $100 dry cleaning gift certificate.

The eclectic collection of auction items also includes:

     •  A Lowcountry boil with beer and wine for 20.

     •  Installation of three 15-gallon trees of your choosing.

     •  A portrait session with a professional photographer.

     •  A Guided Hunt and Lunch for four at Ogeechee Plantation.

     “We’ve got everything from a purse donated by a local boutique to a private ballet lesson,” said Foundation senior events manager Brenda Molony. “With such an extensive collection of items, everyone will have the chance to participate in the fun.”

     Now in its 29th year, the Valentine Ball has raised more than $4.7 million to date for a wide array of hospital needs. Proceeds from the 2018 event are earmarked for the renovation of Beaufort Memorial’s surgical pavilion.

     Deadline to purchase tickets for the Cocktail Affair and Valentine Ball is Jan. 12. For more information, visit valentineball.org or call the Foundation at (843) 522-5774.

story by Julie Hales     photos by Paul Nurnberg

Light has many forms…some as simple as the sun…others, more complicated and man-made. Sometimes light is simply used to help us see, to perform our jobs, to read, to see our loved ones. Sometimes, light is used to make us see things in a different way, to enhance, to beautify, to bring to life….to entertain.

    Entertain…that is what happens within the walls of the theatre at USCB’s Center for Performing Arts.  That entertainment comes in different forms…singers, actors, set designers, costume designers, stage hands, sound designers…and lighting.

          Lighting is a crucial part of the equation.  Without good lighting, even the best of the best may possibly not look their best.

   So, the role of the lighting designer is, by far, an important element.  And, USCB has one of the best, KC Newcomb.

   KC was born in Hampton, Connecticut., but moved to her mother, Cora Newcomb’s, hometown of Beaufort when she was only two years old. She has called Beaufort her home ever since.

    By definition, a theatre lighting designer works with the director, choreographer, set designer, costume designer, and sound designer to create the lighting, atmosphere, and time of day for the production in response to the text, while keeping in mind issues of visibility, safety, and cost. (Wikipedia)

     Lighting designers know how to make the best use of the subtle and powerful medium of light, creating effects that can be changed at will to match the mood of the action.

   KC Newcomb has been working at USCB since she graduated from Beaufort High School in 2005.  She says, “During high school I did technical theatre.  Shortly after graduating, Carol Knapp, a friend, asked me to volunteer to work back-stage with her with the Harbor Master’s Show. I agreed. Shortly after, I met with the Technical Director and was offered a job.”

   While working at USCB, KC attended Savannah College of Art and Design. She graduated from SCAD Cum Laude, with a BFA in Production Design and a concentration in Lighting Design.  “While working at USCB, I fell in love with theatre and lighting design. I decided this was the best career path for me,” she says.

   KC definitely chose the right career path for herself.  As they say, as long as you are doing something you enjoy, it never seems like work. Well, this young lady definitely enjoys her profession. “Lighting Design is my passion – I cannot imagine doing anything else. I love walking into the theatre. It gives me a sense of calm and I feel at home there. When I walk into the theatre, before the show begins, before the lights come on, I feel like I am walking into church and sometimes I get chill bumps up and down my arms,” she said.

   Many of the general public have no clue what a lighting designer does. We only know that we get to see the finished products that the designers have created. KC shares with us a little about what a lighting designer does, “My mom likes to say, ‘I turn the lights on and off in the theatre.’  It is a little more complicated than that:  I like to say I bring the show to life.  We can have the same set for the entire length of the show and it can look completely different depending on the lights.  I can invoke the mood of the scene, the time of day, and the general atmosphere.  I can make a sunset look romantic, scary or hazed over with fog. I can make a living room look cold and frigid…or homie and warm.

     KC says her most rewarding experience at USCB has been working with the children’s theatre. “I have been working at USCB long enough now that I have watched the children grow up and do great things with their lives – including working in theatres around the country.”

   She also shares that her most challenging experiences has been doing amazing lighting designs with outdated equipment. But, this is no longer a problem.  Recently, USCB received funding from both Beaufort County and the City of Beaufort to do some renovating at the theatre. The renovations have been a God-send to the staff at USCB and they are so thankful to the county and city for all their help.

   The entire renovation cost a little under a million dollars. Beaufort County contributed $500,000, the City of Beaufort contributed $125,000 and the University covered the remaining costs.

   The renovations included updating the rigging, the over-stage battens, including a moving electric batten, updating the sound system, adding surround sound, and (KC’s favorite part) a top-of-the-line full LED lighting plot — complete with brand-new light board.

   “These renovations have meant so much to me.  They have given me the ability to have more range and more creativity in my designs. The lights are brighter, cleaner and easier to work with,” she adds.

   She also points out that the renovations make the entire process a much easier one for everyone involved in the theatre. “I would not be able to make my lighting designs come to life without the rest of the production team at USCB – Set Designer, Greg Rawls; Set Painter, Mary Ann Ford; Costume Designer, Pat Willcox; Sound Designer, Uri Tinsley. We are a team,” she says.

Story by Gene Brancho     Photos from Eat Sleep Play Beaufort

Small businesses come and go…not just here in the lowcountry…but all across our nation.  Generally, these closings are due to the economy or poor management.  But, here in Beaufort, we have a local business closing…for none of the typical, standard reasons.

      The journey for Joli Home Accents is coming to a close. Mother and daughter owners, Cheryl Hunter and Allegra Craig, are closing up shop.  This decision was made from love, due to Allegra’s illness.

      Allegra Craig was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015. Sadly, the cancer has returned.  This time, she will be fighting a harder battle and will be in treatment for quite some time.

     The journey for Cheryl and Allegra began about 12 years ago. After falling in love with gorgeous Beaufort and moving here from the Philadelphia area, the two decided to mesh their areas of expertise – interior design and event planning – to create a shop filled with items to decorate locals’ homes and to help Southerners entertain.

     The original shop opened in October of 2007, located in Habersham’s marketplace. The ‘shopgirls,’ as they refer to themselves, gained a smattering of loyal local followers both in and out of the neighborhood. By the summer of 2011, Joli had outgrown its small Habersham space, and the girls decided to make the move to Bay Street.

     Moving to Bay Street was a new adventure. It allowed the ‘shopgirls’ to truly achieve the mission they had from the beginning, to serve the local community.

     “We love our out-of-town visitors,” explains Hunter, “And getting to know our neighbors and our community members was the icing on the cake. We’re going to miss our regulars, many of whom have become friends.”

     Putting her family first, Cheryl is closing the store so that she can be there for her daughter.

     “We’ve loved being here and have been a fantastic mother-daughter team over the years,” Cheryl said. “When a family member becomes ill, other family members must alter their lifestyle and take on some of the role functions of the ill person, which in turn affects their own normal role functioning. I need to be able to be there for her, completely focused and completely available.”

     The popular store will be open around January 16th for a five day closing sale. “Whatever is left over after our sale will be donated,” Cheryl says,   pointing out that both Friends of Caroline Hospice and CAPA, two local organizations which operate thrift stores, will be the recipients of leftover merchandise and store fixtures.

From Cheryl and Allegra

     We’ve loved these days…

     Many of you, our dear customers and friends, know that the younger partner in our mother daughter partnership was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015. Some of you know that the cancer has returned. Unfortunately, Allegra will be in treatment for quite a while and the treatment is no picnic.

     The older partner in this arrangement wants to be able to drop everything at a moment’s notice to be available for Allegra. All of the mothers who read this will understand. It is for this reason that we have decided to close our shop, Joli Home Accents.

     To paraphrase an old Billy Joel song, we’ve loved these days. We have loved being a part of our charming Bay Street shopping district. We have loved our fellow business owners. We have especially loved you, our customers. You have made Joli a joy to own and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

     Joli will reopen for a five day clearance sale in January. Please check our Facebook page and Eat Sleep Play Beaufort for dates and further information.

     Again, we want to thank you all for your loyalty and patronage. It has been a privilege and “We’ve loved these days.”

Cheryl and Allegra, The ‘Shopgirls’

story by Cindy Reid   photos by Paul Nurnberg

Falconry is the hunting of wild quarry in its natural state and habitat by means of a trained bird of prey. Falconry is an art. It requires long hours, constant devotion, finesse, subtlety and skill. The falconer must train a bird of prey to fly free, hunt for a human being and then accept a return to captivity.

     In a sport that started thousands of years ago, one might be surprised to find a practioner here in our modern world. But really, nothing should be a surprise in the lowcountry, not even a current day falconer and his very well trained bird of prey.

     Met Bruce Dunbar, General Falconer. He and his hawk, David, make an elegant and sure footed team as they tramp and fly, respectively, through the gorgeous live oaks of a local pecan farm on a hunt. David, a four and half year old Red-tail hawk, swoops and glides above our heads, never going far from Bruce, as they work in tandem in a present day illustration of this truly ancient art.

     Being a falconer is something rare in our society. Bruce says, “There are only 2000 to 3000 practicing falconers in the country, out of 5000 licensed falconers. It is a very long process to become a falconer, it requires a substantial amount of time and resources upfront, and it’s not something to be taken lightly. It is not just a sport. Falconry is a lifestyle.”

Becoming a Falconer

     Bruce, originally from Atlanta Georgia, attended Georgia Southern and graduated in 2013 with a degree in Biology.  He says,  “In college I wanted to do more with wildlife, but I didn’t know what I wanted to focus on so I started volunteering and then working at the Center for Wildlife Education and the Lamar Q. Ball, Jr. Raptor Center on campus. “ He worked at Georgia Southern’s Center for Wildlife Education for two years as a student volunteer and after graduation as Assistant Curator for two years.

     Bruce says he became interested in becoming a falconer while working at the center. The center’s director and Master Falconer Steve Hein trained Bruce, guiding him through the laborious process and apprenticeship necessary to become a licensed falconer.  Bruce is a currently a General Falconer and is now able to train others, although he stresses that becoming a falconer is a deep commitment.


     An apprentice falconer must catch their bird in the wild and are required to have a license and a sponsor before doing so or they can be charged with a federal crime and go to jail. A young hawk is captured in the wild, after it has learned to hunt, but before it is an adult. After capture, the extensive training begins. This is not training a pet or exotic bird. This is training solely directed in the art of hunting live animals as a team of human and bird of prey. Of training, Bruce says,”A falconer’s main goal is to earn the birds trust.”

      Bruce’s bird David, a male Red Tailed Hawk, was trapped by Bruce in Georgia in the winter of 2013.  The training and expertise needed to train and care for a bird of prey is very extensive and requires much time, commitment and patience. Not only does the falconer need to train the bird, they must also learn everything about caring for a wild bird including learning to diagnose and treat raptor ailments, which can include fungal infections and West Nile disease. Their diet is specific; raptors are obligate carnivore and subsist on a diet of raw game meat such as mice and quail, which generally has to be mail ordered. David weighs 2.2 pounds, which is a good healthy weight for this bird.

     They are not what we would term sociable animals. Bruce says, “Red-tails are solitary animals and, outside of mating season, see other raptors as threats and competition.” They are entirely self sufficient.  “David would  be fine if left in the wild, he would be able to feed himself and would survive just as well as if he never been in captivity,” says Bruce, “ His lifespan would most likely be shorter though, hawks in captivity live up to and around twenty years, but in the wild only around two and a half years. “

     Bruce uses a travel box to transport David to hunts and demonstrations and says “Hawks get used to whatever you condition him to do. He does very well at demonstrations and will be perfectly content on his perch. As long as he is used to something he will do well. Stress for a hawk is whatever he is not used to.”

The Hunt

     Falconry is a hunting sport. Some falconers work with a trained hunting dog, others work as a team of falconer and bird only. Bruce and David work together, and Bruce’s job is to flush game out for David to spot and kill. Squirrels, mice, rabbits and other small mammals are what they are hunting. Bruce says the Red-tailed hawk needs open spaces. “Red-tails thrive best in open forests and fields. This is a hunter,” he says, “and he is constantly looking for movement.” David’s visional range is two to three miles but he doesn’t wander far; in fact you can almost always see where he is during the hunt.

     Bruce says, “Red tails sticks very close because they need to be in the action.” David follows Bruce, watching from trees, and he will swoop down in response to Bruce’s whistle commands. Small bits of food also bring the hawk down to Bruce’s gloved hand. Bruce says, “He sees me as a food source and responds accordingly.”

Seeing David in action is a thrill. All economy of motion, he flaps his wings in forward propulsion, then flies in a silent glide. It all happens very fast. He is in complete control of himself and the situation.

     Like all birds of prey used by falconers, David has bells fastened on his legs.  This is so the falconer can tell what the bird is doing and where he is based on the slightest bell sounds. Bruce says he is always listening to the bell and can differentiate between the slightest variations and so knows where David is at any time out in the field. They are a team, man and bird, working together.

     Watching the two work together one can see the years of training and trust that has been established between them. There is deep respect and appreciation on Bruce’s part for what this magnificent bird is able to do, and for what they accomplish together.

Lowcountry Life

      As regarding the past and future of the sport Bruce says, “Falconry has been documented as far back as 2000 BC, when raptors were being used by humans to hunt in ancient China. It is the predator most referenced in history.” And of today he says” Falconry is currently experiencing a renaissance in United States. It has only been in the US for roughly 100 years and the number of falconers has doubled in the past twenty years in the US. North America has brought new birds into the falconry world such as the harris hawk which is now one of the most used birds in the falconry world.”

     Bruce lives on Fripp island with his girlfriend Jessica Miller, the Head Naturalist for Fripp Island. That works out well because as Bruce says, “When you live with a naturalist, it’s ‘oh we have a hawk living with us’, and takes it all in stride.” After three years of professional falconry in the Brunswick GA area, Bruce is currently employed at Fripp Island and available for falconry hunts and demonstrations through On The Fly Outfitters out of Brunswick, GA. (Contact info is through their face book page or call Adam Hein at 912-536-5808.)

      “Falconry means something different to everyone. It is a connection to nature that you can’t get anywhere else. It is a primal event and you are in the front row to the action.” He pauses and says, “Personally, it speaks to me and keeps me going.” Watching Bruce and David working together is a rare treat and speaks to all of us who in thrall to our natural world.

story by Cindy Reid     photos by Susan DeLoach

Motown and More, a new show debuting at the USCB Performing Arts in February will bring together some of our region’s best musicians, Marlena Smalls, Velma Polk, Elaine Lake and the renowned Lowcountry Jazz Band as they team up once again for a show that will play tribute to the great Motown artists.  They will be performing music from Aretha Franklin, Dianna Ross, Gladys Night and the Pips plus a few surprise selections.

     Beaufort is a small town with big talent. It doesn’t get any bigger than an evening with these three fabulous singers and Beaufort’s own celebrated jazz band lead by David Hershey. Each is s star in their own right but when they team up- watch out! Any genre of music they chose would be good but choosing the music of Motown makes this an extra special evening. As Dr. Marlena Smalls says, “Everyone enjoys the Motown sound, it has the blues of the south, the New York sound, the Los Angeles sound and so Motown music represents the various sounds from many communities of America. At the same time as Motown’s popularity you still had the blues and rock and roll, but Motown is in the soul of all of that music.”

Marlena Smalls

     She ought to know, as Dr. Marlena Smalls is an internationally known vocal artist and the founder and director of the The Hallelujah Singers. Born in Ohio to South Carolina parents, she began singing in Ohio and went to Central State University before embarking on her singing career. Dr. Smalls’ talents have taken her around the globe and she has toured heavily in Europe, performed for the Queen of England, and held a concert in the Frankfurt Opera House in Germany.   In 1985, she founded the Gullah Festival in Beaufort, which would celebrate the culture and preserve its many traditions, and by 1990, she had formed the Hallelujah Singers to preserve the Gullah culture of the South Carolina Sea Islands. Dr. Smalls and the Hallelujah Singers have performed at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC and their CD Juba is now sold in the Smithsonian gift shop.

     She is a sacred music vocalist, also singing gospel, contemporary, jazz and blues. Inducted into the South Carolina Black Hall of Fame in 2004, Marlena has performed for the Queen of England and many U. S. and international dignitaries. She has worked with film producer Joel Silver and Academy Award winners Tom Hanks, Demi Moore and Glenn Close. In addition to many productions for PBS, SCETV and GPTC, she is known to international audiences as Bubba’s mom in the Academy Award winning motion picture “Forrest Gump”.

     Of course the women will be visiting the hits of the Supremes and in addition Marlena will be singing “Try a Little Tenderness,” “Fever” and the Joe Cocker arrangement of “Unchain My Heart” by Ray Charles. She says “We all had a great time last year collaborating on the Etta James show, and I am excited that I am a part of it again. This is something that is just good. The music makes you feel good. There is nothing better than sharing. Just share the good.”

Velma Polk

     A native Beaufortoian, 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. 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, amongst other show. An accomplished musician, Velma also plays the piano.

     For this show, Velma will be performing the Aretha Franklin hit “Think,” done in the style of the Blues Brothers movie, as well as “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” among others. She says she loves working with her collaborators, “We are such a good team and work so well together. Honestly we are all worker bees! Everyone, Dave, Marlena and Elaine are so talented but we aren’t in competition because we truly complement each other.”

     She says, “This is the music I grew up with and it brings back such memories. That nostalgia is real and the artists of that era were so good, I like so many of them. Dusty Springfield is right up there for me, she is a favorite personally.” Velma says, “We are all really excited for the show and I know it is going to be really fun!”

Elaine Lane

     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,” amongst other shows. Elaine wrote and performed two professionally recorded CDs for children, “My Room” and “Rockaby Moon.” In addition to her vocal talents, Elaine plays the mountain dulcimer.

     As one of her solo songs, Elaine will be performing “Gee Whiz,” a number suggested by collaborator Marlena Smalls. Elaine says, “I have never sung this song before so it is fun and exciting to have a new song to debut!” Of her fellow performers she says,”We absolutely love working with each other, it is a joy to be on stage with these ladies, and the band. We have so much respect for each other.” She says, “I love the artists and the music of the Motown era, Velma and I sing several songs already in our show from that time. For many in the audience this will be a trip down memory lane. It is Motown and ‘more’ so there will be a few surprises as well. It is going to be a very entertaining evening for everyone.”

The Lowcountry Jazz Band

     The Lowcountry Jazz Band is a sub-group of the Lowcountry Community Concert Band, which is sponsored by University of South Carolina Beaufort’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI). They are primarily an academic group that promotes and curates jazz in the context of a large ensemble dynamic or “big band.”  Band leader Dave Hershey is a retired US Army musician who retired after 24 years of service as a Trumpeter and Music Production Specialist.  He has held the position of soloist on national and international tours, Principal Player, Section Leader, Group Leader, and Music Support Division Chief during that time period. His assignments were in Kaiserslautern, Germany; Ground Forces Band in Atlanta, GA; and the US Military Academy Band at West Point. Dave served as Chief Recording Engineer and Producer for the acclaimed West Point Bicentennial Commissioning Project.  Dave Hershey is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and has been a member of LCCB for 2 years.

     “I like Motown because it really started the cross pollination of the blues and introduced the blues to a much wider audience,” says Dave, “This concert will, at the very least, be fun because music brings people together on both sides of the stage. In the Lowcountry Jazz Band, fun is the first ingredient to all of our rehearsals and events. Last year’s success has us all filled with anticipation for this year’s show.”

     Dave says the musical arrangements were done by his old friend Paul Murtha, who was the chief arranger for the United States Army Band. He and Dave were at West Point together and Dave says, “I knew what he could bring to this type of show and he had done a wonderful job on the previous show so why change?” Dave says, “I was lucky enough to be in the audience for his music back at West Point, and we are fortunate to have him do these arrangements.” He says, “To sum it up, performing with these wonderful musical people is like preparing a special meal.  Last year’s recipe was Etta James and this year it’s Motown and more; when you start with gourmet ingredients and apply some hard work mixed with love….you know a memorable musical feast will be had by all.”

     “Motown and More” will be performed February 17 – 18 at the USCB Center for Performing Arts in Beaufort, SC. Ticket prices are Adults $30, Senior Military $25 and Students $15 .

     For further information go to www.uscbcenterforthearts.com

story by Carol Lauvray   photos by Susan DeLoach

Each year, Kevin McNamara travels 3,750 miles from County Clare, Ireland to Beaufort to capture the essence of the Lowcountry on canvas. Many days during December and January this year, you’ll spy him standing on the dock by the former Dockside restaurant in Port Royal under a large umbrella. With his palette of oil paints, standing in front of an easel, he’ll be painting the idyllic scene before him—the shrimp boats moored at the dock, golden marsh grass, and pristine waters of Port Royal Sound.

     Kevin says he prefers to paint outdoors, reacting directly and spontaneously to his subject, rather than in a studio from photos.

     He finds inspiration for his paintings in the waters here in Beaufort and concentrates on the effects of the changing light and colors. Kevin says, “A painting evolves over several sessions and I adjust the colors and their relationships as I go, using brushes and palette knives to create my artwork. I’m always trying to build a tapestry of paint marks that reflect the beauty I see and there’s a child-like enthusiasm to my approach. All paintings are just flat images on canvas, but when I look at a painting after I finish it and see there’s a spark of something special I’ve captured—I call it the ‘X-factor’—then I’ve accomplished what I set out to do.”

     Kevin first came to Beaufort four years ago with his wife, Rachael Montejo, a photographer with artistic talent in her own right who studied photographic printing. The couple met in Cape Cod in 2013 and married in 2016. They heard that Beaufort was a center for art, came for a season then, and have been coming back every year since. “I love to paint in Beaufort because of the wonderful water scenes and the great network of bridges here,” Kevin adds. He says he has also painted scenes elsewhere in Port Royal and at the Gay Fish Company dock and other locations on St. Helena Island.

     Raised in Dublin, Ireland, Kevin has been drawing since he was two years old. During his school years, his teachers would catch him drawing instead of paying attention in class. Kevin says his father was a major influence in his life and a very discerning person. “My father would tell me specifically what I did well and what I could do better. He always encouraged me to paint every painting as if it were my last one.”

     Kevin studied at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin where he earned his degree in 1985 in fine art painting and the history of art. A year before leaving college, he had his first exhibition as a part of the Emerging Artist Show organized by Guinness Peat Aviation, and the same year he participated in the Young Artists exhibition in Dublin.  Just as here in the U.S., Kevin is sought after in Ireland for his paintings featuring water scenes. He participated in the show ‘Four Irish Painters’ on prestigious Cork Street in London with the Messums Gallery and Petley Gallery. Kevin says that his artistic inspirations are such painters as Impressionists Claude Monet, American Childe Hassam, and Russians Konstatin Korovin and Valentin Serov.

     McNamara presented a selection of 50 works at the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach, Florida from November 2007 through January 2008. Gary Libby of that museum described him as “a painterly realist with leanings into Impressionism.” Since that time, Kevin has participated in several one-man and group art shows in America, London and Dublin. In addition, he has completed a number of portrait commissions and teaches occasional painting workshops.

     For the past 20 years, Kevin has been working in both the United States and Ireland. He was an artist for Walt Disney Productions in the Animation Department, as well as working in Ireland and England, on such animated classics as Tarzan, Mulan, Thumbelina and All Dogs Go To Heaven 2. For those animated films, Kevin painted backgrounds to exacting and intense color specifications to precisely match them from scene to scene. “That work taught me to be extremely discerning about color and light and how they relate to each other,” he explains.

     Kevin and Rachael now divide their time between a home and studio in Lehinch on the rugged West Coast of Ireland and living here in Beaufort. Their home in Ireland on “The Wild Atlantic Way” is perched 275 feet high on a mountain, overlooking rolling pastures dotted with cattle and the famous Lehinch Bay. From their living room window in Ireland, the couple can see in the distance O’Brien’s Tower near the Cliffs of Moher. Kevin and Rachael say they would love to find a small cottage in Beaufort to purchase so they could live here three to six months each year. They’d also like to develop painting workshops to present in Beaufort when they return next winter. Kevin’s paintings are handled in the Lowcountry by the Hagan Fine Art Gallery & Studio in Charleston, SC, www.haganfineartcom. To learn more about Kevin’s work, visit www.kevinmcnamara.us.

     About his craft and talent, Kevin says, “I have a very simple way of looking at my art and a real love and appreciation for God’s creation and the beauty of the scenes that I paint. I want to share that with others.”

My name is Jon Rembold.  I am very fortunate to be married to my wife Heather, who is my most trusted partner in this amazing and sometimes crazy journey we call LIFE.  We have four wonderful children:  Molly (15), Alyssa (13), Samuel (12), and Thomas (9).

     I grew up in Western NY (Salamanca) but have been in Beaufort for 19 years.  Heather and I often say that we got here as quickly as we could!

     I’m employed as the Airports Director for Beaufort County.  In that role I am responsible for the Hilton Head Island Airport and the Beaufort County Airport (Lady’s Island).

     I’ve been with United Way for three years (almost) as a Board Member and have served as Chairman for the past two years.  The United Way’s purpose or mission is to mobilize resources to solve human problems.  Simply put, the United Way of the Lowcountry  exists to help people, our neighbors,  in Beaufort and Jasper Counties.  The United Way of the Lowcountry partners with many local organizations to provide materials, services, funding to those in need through the Community Impact Program but also coordinates its own crucial programs such as the Help Line and the Early Grade Reading Program.  It’s really amazing how many people volunteer their time to help with these programs.

     It’s immensely satisfying to see the human spirit that we are blessed with here in the lowcountry.  The responses to Hurricane Matthew and then to Tropical Storm Irma were nothing short of heroic.  The staff worked countless hours to help coordinate relief funding and to help connect people in need with the best agency to solve their particular problem.  It’s humbling to realize that any one of us is really just one crisis or one stroke of bad luck from being in desperate need of help.  We tend to feel invincible if we are employed and basically happy.  But the fact is tragedy can strike anyone at any time.  We need to remain thankful, humble and helpful.

     Working alongside the United Way of the Lowcountry has been immensely rewarding.  From the relationships I have cultivated with our awesome staff and selfless board members to the many volunteer opportunities that are available, I feel fortunate be associated with an organization of this caliber.  You asked me to describe some of my favorite times with UWL.  That’s a challenge but I can mention a couple as a sampling…A particularly gratifying and fun event was filling backpacks with supplies for school children who might not have the resources to arrive at the first day of school with all of their supplies.  Being a Dad of four and having a teacher and administrator as a wife, I understand many of the dynamics that happen in these little ones’ lives.  This event was a lot of fun and ensured hundreds of our youth were all geared-up for day one!  Another rewarding event was a dedication that was made at the ribbon cutting for the new headquarters building on Ribaut Road in Beaufort.  During that ceremony, we dedicated a tree to the memory of Jim McCornock, a truly dedicated and amazing member of our board and campaign leadership who recently passed away.  Jim’s wife, Beth, was there with us to share that moment and it was a great way to honor Jim, who worked tirelessly for years to help raise money during our campaign.  Jim is sorely missed, but, it is the memory and inspiration of people like Jim who make the United Way of the Lowcountry a special, meaningful, and impactful organization.