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First my apologies for this extra long entry, but I haven't had a chance to blog in a while as last week we were wrapping up the May 2009 Arts issue—

look for it in your mailbox or on newsstands this week, or check back online on Friday, May 1st for the online content, including our cover story on Charleston-born artist Shepard Fairey of Obey Giant and Obama Hope fame. I just love, love, love this cover—Mujer Fatale by Fairey—as well as the feature profile “Shepard Fairey Has a Posse” written by Stephanie Hunt.

Right after shipping, some of the Charleston staff and I were off to Greenville to meet with our G-the magazine of Greenville, SC cohorts and attend their inaugural Giving Back Awards. They did an amazing job with the celebration as well as the selections for their award winners. Read about these inspiring people on the G website and
check out the party pics.

I left with a few ideas for Charleston mag’s upcoming 5th annual Giving Back Awards in September. I can’t believe it’s already been five years! Be on the lookout for nomination forms soon.

Side note: If you’re heading up to Greenville, be sure to go to the fabulous Persian restaurant, Pomegranate on Main. The crew from Charleston and I dropped in before the awards to toast home editor Ellen McGauley’s birthday. We popped into the bar of this cool, modern space on West Main Street and were pleasantly surprised that they offer free “Tini Tizers” when you order a glass of wine or drink. I had the Pomegranate martini (delicious) and sampled the not-so-small offerings of house-made hummus, Mast Mousir (a dip of yogurt, Persian garlic, and spices), and Mirza Ghasemi (a bruschetta-style dip of smoky eggplant, tomato, and garlic) all served with pita - Yum! I can’t wait for another excuse to go to the Upstate to go back for dinner.

The next day, my boyfriend and I were off to Wilkesboro, North
Carolina, for Merlefest. It was my third time attending this bluegrass festival held for 22 years in honor of Doc Watson’s son Merle who died in 1985. If you enjoy traditional or contemporary bluegrass and/or Americana music, make your plans for 2010. It’s a great four-day event, with every generation represented, and it’s very family friendly as they don’t allow or sell alcohol.

During the day, we typically head in to the shows (you’ll have to look at the
lineup to believe the amount of music being played). This year we loved the Grammy-award nominated SteelDrivers (unbelievable musicianship!) and enjoyed the alternative and slightly dramatic Cadillac Sky. We missed seeing the highly recommended Mountain Heart and the Carolina Chocolate Drops, who were a huge Spoleto hit last year at the Cistern.

Rather than stayng for the headliners at night (this year Emmylou Harris and Doc Watson graced the main stage), we headed back to the campsite, where our friends Perry and Janice Darby and Hank and Allison Cagle (they’re the ones behind the bluegrass-meets-Pura-Vida style at the Surf Bar on Folly Beach) have created a gathering spot under an old sail-turned-tarp for friends and musicians from Charleston and beyond. This becomes the ultimate late-night pickin’ parlor, with Perry, Hank, Norm, Eddie, and Kyle jamming and random musicians dropping in. Thanks guys!

If you want to get a taste of bluegrass but don't want to travel, you’re in luck. The Punch Brothers are playing The Cistern on May 28 for Spoleto Festival 2009. This show is sure to sell out so get your tickets now. To read more, check out Stan Gray’s Note for Note article in the May 2009 issue of Charleston.

Whew! It was a whirlwind of a week, and I’m already juggling the schedule of
events for the weekend ahead. Here’s what I’m thinking about:

Thursday, April 30: "1968 Controversy and Hope: Iconic Images by James Karales” opens at Rebekah Jacob Gallery with a lecture by Julian Cox, photography curator of the High Museum, Atlanta. This show represents the late photographer's work documenting the Civil Rights and Vietnam War era. The opening reception is Friday night, and the show continues through June 15.

Friday, May 1: Charleston Art Walk. I don't always go simply because they are so popular (read: crowded), but I can't miss attending the farewell show at Eva Carter Gallery. I’m a big fan of her big, colorful abstract expressionist canvases and of Eva as a human being--you really can't beat that East Tennessee drawl! And no worries, Eva’s not leaving the Lowcountry, she’s simply moving to her studio on Wadmalaw where she'll be open by appointment.

Saturday, May 2- The Surfers Healing Folly Beach 5K Fun Run & Splash Down looks like a lot of fun but I’m already working out with Louie's Kids Fit Club on Saturday a.m. My new friends are getting eady for the Daniel Island Kids Triathlon in June!)
For some great music, there's the Project Okrurase/United Artists of Hope concert up at the Navy Base at Noisette starting at 4 pm. The lineup includes The Secrets at 8 p.m., Dub Island Soundsystem at 9 p.m., The Afromotive from Asheville with Special Guest Powerful at 10 p.m., and a drum circle finishes the night at 12 a.m.

Sunday, May 3- Lowcountry Local First’s Chef’s Potluck features top toques from restaurants like Anson, Fish, Glass Onion, and Monza dishing out great eats using ingredients from local growers promises to be a big hit. Add live music, locally made beverages and sweet treats, great weather, and a gorgeous location (Middleton Place) and you’ve got the makings for a great Sunday afternoon.