Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Summerville's Joseph Tedesco Plays From the Heart-A Story Of Tragedy And Triumph

Two days, two parties. Friday and Saturday nights are always entertaining at Coastal Coffee Roasters of Summerville with its acoustic lineup, but this past weekend was exceptional with two top headliners back to back on the schedule. Add to the mix a birthday party and it became a celebration of candles and music.

The two guitars were propped up on their stands. The head stock of one of the guitars had a fedora hanging on it. Later, we would learn the fedora was a subject of contention between its owner and his wife, a matter dealing with appearance. Joseph Tedesco is its owner, and he was making final preparations for his performance while Brad and staff catered to the party guests. Joseph has become a CCR favorite.

Joseph Tedesco's story is a one of tragedy and triumph. It is a human story. Speaking of more recent times, he recalled, "I stumbled on to Coastal Coffee Roasters and found a very comfortable venue and a very welcoming audience to what I want to do." Though he was born in New Jersey and later moved to Atlanta when he was seven, Joseph has been no stranger to the Lowcountry. In the 80's, he traveled from Atlanta on weekends many times to perform at the Shem Creek Bar and Grill.

Joseph started out on the drums when he was ten and turned to the guitar a couple of years later. His first band was The Rising Sun, established while he was only in elementary school. He began writing songs in his early teens and the first song he wrote was called "Prayer for Pocahontas". After high school, he began working with the Georgia Game and Fish Division and his music took a backseat for a time.

Eventually, Joseph moved to Colorado with the intent of continuing to work in wildlife or fisheries management, but once he settled in things changed. "Colorado can be very inspiring to creative people. Within weeks of moving west, I formed another band," he recounted. The band's name was the Cholla Canyon Band. They opened for numerous national headliners all over the state and did some pretty big shows all on our own name recognition. The band performed together for 12 years.

Then, a tragedy struck that would alter Joseph's course. "My older brother, a big musical influence on me, passed away suddenly and I hit the skids." He developed a panic disorder and eventually terrible stage fright, ending his music career, momentarily.

Joseph moved back to the east, this time to Charleston, and slowly started regaining the ability to perform again, which brings the story to Summerville and Coastal Coffee Roasters. Now, he sings his own songs and songs he feels close to or has some attachment to. He views this as a second chance to do what he loves.

Joseph summed it up this way, "I have played in front of ten thousand people and 25 folks at Coastal Coffee. The number of people makes zero difference to me anymore. I just do what I do, with all the truth and courage I have and hope to connect with at least some of them every night. If my 15 minutes of fame has already come and gone, I'm okay with that. If tomorrow I write that big radio song, I'm okay with that too."

Maureen O'Brien and Kathlene Lainhart
Friday, Joseph played his guitar, piano, and harmonica with non-stop energy and fun. Maureen O'Brien celebrated her 29th(?) birthday while he entertained the crowd with a mix of his own songs and requests of favorites from the happy crowd. Jacki Mallett sang a couple of songs to close out the evening. It was another fantastic night at Coastal Coffee Roasters.

Next time you are in Summerville, stop in and join the fun. Check their Facebook page for the week's schedule of entertainment.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Third Thursday In Summerville Is The Hottest Monthly Event In The Lowcountry-March's Edition Warmed The Chill

Hutchinson Square
The calendar indicates it is spring, but the temperatures outside remain uncharacteristically, southern chilly. Despite this annoying and persistent chill in the air, it could not keep residents and visitors of Summerville from enjoying one of the hottest monthly events in the Lowcountry, Third Thursday. This highly popular and acclaimed event affords attendees the enriching opportunity to experience and feel what is an everyday occurrence on the streets and in the shops of downtown Summerville, warm hospitality and uplifting community pride. I for one wouldn't miss it for all the sweet tea in the Lowcountry and D.R.E.A.M.'s March lineup of supporting amenities was shaping up to be very entertaining.

W.R.E.S. Music Ensemble
My first planned stop for the evening was at one of Summerville's fast-becoming the number one hot spot, Coastal Coffee Roasters. Don't let the name fool you into thinking it is strictly a place to get some top-notch roasted coffee. It is much more. Upon exiting my truck across from CCR's white, brick building on East 3rd North Street, I could hear the sound of a drum beat emulating from the building. Inside there was standing room only, mainly proud, smiling parents, and a group of 18 kids comprising a music ensemble from the Reeves and Joseph Pye Elementary Drumming Club. All were rhythmically beating in unison on drums and having a good time, including the brave teacher who cued and directed the talented group of youngsters.

My next stop was the heart of downtown Summerville, historic Hutchinson Square. Evidence of Summerville's predominant spring flower was everywhere. The colorful azaleas were in full bloom. The smell of freshly popped kettle corn laced the air. The usual tents and booths lined the walkways. The sounds of light conversation and laughter emanated from the tables outside of Accent on Wine. The music and words of "Let Me Stand Next To Your Fire" warmed the crowd that gathered around the wooden, wagon stage and Jimmy Buffets' "Margaritaville" took them momentarily to tropical places.
The Vistas
The Vistas, one of the area's favorite party bands, were center stage in Hutchinson Square and dressed in their usual black suits and sun glasses, Blues Brothers style. A definite crowd-pleaser who sing with passion, the Vistas overcame the cool nip in the air and played like pros, even after all warmth had fled the night with the setting of the sun.

Ernie Eliason
I happened to bump into a pirate named Don Pedro(Ernie Eliason) before leaving the square. The finely dressed buccaneer was on shore leave giving the land lovers a peek at what to expect for the Flowertown Players presentation of Much Ado About Nothing starting April 4th. I bid farewell to the villainous rogue and moved on.

The traffic police were busy directing the cars and crowds on W. Richardson where Moncks Corner's one and only ukulele band called the Hot Shots played outside of People, Places and Quilts. In the back of Guerin's Pharmacy another group of guitar players and a fiddler informally played popular tunes and even invited some passersby to join in, if they so desired.

Over on Short Central, the usual art and craft booths were set up and more home-grown talent dazzled the large crowds entering and exiting the restaurants and shops. A musical ensemble called The Padgett Band played jazzy music. I recognized the bass player, John Daniels. John is a multi-talented musician who also plays the keyboards and trumpet for the popular Summerville band called Busker, a group that performs on a regular basis at Coastal Coffee Roasters.
The Padgett Band
Fleming, Michael, Ricky, and Jessica

Flowertown Players
Dave Keller, the original Busker, took me on a four minute walk to his quaint home where I got a glimpse of what he called his man cave, a building nestled in a beautifully landscaped backyard just a few steps off a deck. It is the place where the five member band practices their songs. He graciously honored me with a new t-shirt with the bands logo on it. Summerville hospitality at its best. We returned to Short Central and the festivities.

While the band took a break, a group of youngsters from The Flowertown Players performed some small skits. Nearby, Jewel Sweeney, owner of Downtown Crossing, was tending her tent and table of handmade goods set up in front of her store where a screen door made famous by a Post and Courier article hangs at the front entrance.
Jewel Sweeney and Downtown Crossing
It was another successful night for the businesses and patrons of Summerville, and it is only a prelude of what is to come. The cool weather will eventually give way to warmer days. I would be totally surprised if three weeks into April the chill of March would still be hanging around. Come on over for a visit April 18th. Join the fun and experience one of the hottest monthly events in the Lowcountry. I'll be there and would like to meet you. By the way, don't forget the 2013 Flowertown Festival in Azalea Park will soon be upon us, April 5-7.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

66th Annual Festival Of Houses And Gardens In Charleston March Through April-See All the History and Beauty Up Close And Personal

When I built my house back in Northeastern Ohio some years ago, part of my vision for the landscaping was to build rock mounds across the front of the property in various locations and fill them with an assortment of ground cover and flowers indigenous to the North, mainly perennials. To accomplish the scheme, hundreds of rocks of different sizes were needed. I collected the rocks from varying locations: Creek beds and new housing developments were prime collection areas. To justify the wanton abduction of the rocks from said locations, I coined a phrase, "The earth belongs to no man."

It was a labor of love. I spent many hours nurturing the plants and cultivating the mounds every spring. The daily ritual of toiling among the rock mounds brought me an inner peace resulting in extreme pleasure from watching the procession of colors and shapes produced by each individual species as spring flowed into summer and summer into fall. Red hot pokers, lupine, holly hocks, black-eyed susans, asters, cone flowers, salvia, stella doras, and low growing phlox were some of my favorites.

Azalea bloom in Summerville
I don't miss the snow of Northeastern Ohio, but I do miss the rock gardens, especially as spring approaches, which has been a little slow in coming to the Lowcountry this year. Just when you think it is going to warm up, cooler winds prevail. Despite the warm weather delay, the yearly azalea bloom has already begun, soon to be followed by other early season bloomers. Before you know it, Azalea Park in Summerville will be awash in a sea of magenta, as will all the gardens throughout the Lowcountry and historic, downtown Charleston.

In 1937 the writer of Carolina Gardens, Edward T. H. Shaffer, forever characterized the spirit of the Holy City with these endearing words, "Viewed as a whole, that bit of drifted yesterday caught between time and the rivers, called Charleston, is a city set in a garden." A casual stroll along any Charleston street during the peak blooming season of March and April will offer you the ideal vantage point for a colorful experience.

Charleston gardens
Tucked behind wrought iron gates, or stucco and brick walls, native varieties of dogwood, redbud, and fringe trees accent the private gardens of Charlestonians, as well as azalea, yellow jessamine, and wisteria. A few homes throughout the historic district are open to the public year round, but for the most part you can only glimpse the rich and diverse horticultural heritage of the "city set in a garden" from its sidewalks, except for a brief time in spring. The rare opportunity to wander beyond the iron gates and brick walls becomes a reality during Charleston's annual Festival of Houses and Gardens for the 66th time, this year of 2013 from March 21st to April 20th.

Wisteria hanging on iron fence overlooking private gardens
Tours feature seven to 10 properties each day in one of 11 neighborhoods, dating from the American colonial period, through the antebellum and Victorian eras, to early 20th century. Meeting Street, Wentworth Street, Anson Street, Tradd Street, East Battery, Church Street, Legare Street, Broad Street, Charlotte Street, South Battery, and finally King Street, distinctively noted as a street untouched by the great fires that ravaged old Charleston.

The highlight of each Thursday are The Glorious Garden Tours. This is a walking tour featuring eight to ten private gardens. Guides are stationed at each location to provide information about garden design, plant material and history. Included is a wine and lemonade reception at the Nathaniel Russell House, 51 Meeting Street, from 4-5 PM.

Morning History Walks, Plantation Picnic and Oyster Roast at Drayton Hall, Downtown Villa Picnic and Oyster Roast at Aiken Rhett House, Circa 1886 Wine Tasting at Circa 1886, and a Vodka and Rum Tasting with Firefly Distillery and featuring Vince Gilmore on "The Charleston Cocktail" at the Historic Charleston Foundation are scheduled throughout the festivals duration. You will need to reserve your spot - Click on the links for more information and scheduled days and times.  I'll see you around town.

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Great Night For The Third Annual "Dancing With The ARK Stars"-Eight Residents Danced For Charity

I have to admit I am not a big fan of Dancing with the Stars, and not because I have anything against dancing. I have been known to "bust a move" and "get down" once in a while at wedding receptions or social clubs. Watching it on TV just isn't my cup of tea, but for a good cause I would make an exception. That is, not to watching it on TV, but to being a spectator at such an event. Summerville, on March 9 starting at 7 pm, hosted such an event, The ARK Third Annual "Dancing With The ARK's Stars", at Pinewood Preparatory School, 1114 Orangeburg Road. The good cause was The ARK, Alzheimer's Family Support Services. General admission tickets for the event were $50 per person in advance or $60 at the door. The ticket price included heavy hors d'oeuvres, open bar, a silent auction, and ballroom dance demonstrations by Carolina Dancesport Dance Studios.

Eight of Summerville's notable residents were paired with professional dancers from Carolina Dancesport. Mildred Blanton(Retired Real Estate Professional), Cammy Groome(Principal at Newington Elementary School), Margi Pizarro(Attorney at Pizarro Law Firm), Ellen Priest(Publisher, Summerville Communications), Con Chellis IV(Owner, Allstate Insurance Agency), Bill Summers(Director/VP, Vision Financial Group), Jordy Tupper(Contractor, G Tupper III Construction), Richard Waring IV(Chief, Summerville Fire Department) were the eight brave souls willing to put it all-on-the-line. This was Carolina Dancesport's second time. It is located at 1850 Wallace School Road in Charleston.

Bill and Aura Lee
The Donovan's and Friends
Chris of Summerville Journal Scene and Paul Zoeller
After parking my truck upon arrival, I was escorted by golf cart to the entrance where the arriving patrons were greeted by photographers and attendants. It was like walking the red carpet for the Oscar's. - Well, maybe that is a bit of a stretch, but for visual purposes it will suffice. I paid the sixty dollars and made my grand entrance. The men were decked out in suit and tie. The women in formal dresses and gowns, for the most part. Being the nonconformist I am, I wore a blue, argyle sweater and tan dress pants. I pressed some flesh and rubbed shoulders with the who's who of Summerville while I enjoyed the all-you-can-eat buffet, which was very tasty. Cheese platters, little meatballs, some very good tasting fish fillets, a variety of other meats, and other side dishes you would expect for such a spread.

Chelsea and Aura Lee
A half hour into the festivities, the host alerted everyone it was time for the first round of the dancing contest to begin. There was a sizable dance floor laid out with elegant, dark blue covered tables skirting its perimeter on three sides reserved for family members and close friends of the dancers. The rest of the spectators sat in the bleachers along the wall. An elevated judges table was set up on the fourth side. There were three judges, just like the televised version of Dancing with the Stars.
Bill and Teresa

The lights were darkened and the first couple was introduced. Cammy Groome, the school principal, took to the floor with her preselected professional dancer. The pair danced to "Hot For Teacher" and Cammy moved like no principal I have ever seen. The judges gave her 9's. My very good friend, Bill Summers, was second in line. Bill and his instructor Teresa Rogers danced to C-Lo Green's "Forget You". The judges in the end gave Bill and his partner 8's. Unfortunately, Bill did not make it to the final round, and that was perfectly all right with him. In conclusion, with a sigh of relief he said, "I'm feeling pretty good, now that it is over." Put a cell phone in Bill's hand and he will dance circles around any consultant or sales rep.
Jordy and Lorna

After all the couples were judged and scored, Con Chellis, Cammy Groome, Ellen Priest and Jordy Tupper were selected for the dance off. It was now up to the audience to vote. Con Chellis and Lorna Parkinson took honors doing a swing routine. Although in my humble opinion, Jordy Tupper and Lorna Parkinson's routine to Kenny Chesney's "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy" was the most entertaining. In the end, Mildred Blanton proved that age and graceful sophistication go hand in hand and was awarded the People's Choice.
Ellen and Josh
Mildred Blanton
The Master of Ceremonies, Steve Mandell, brought added energy to the proceedings and hands down could give Tom Bergeron of Dancing With The Stars a run for the money. The silent auction offered some unique items for bid and the open bar loosened things up. I had a few rum and cokes that made me a little light on my feet and put some tango in my step.

It was a great night of entertainment and fun for a wonderful cause. I look forward to next years edition of "Dancing with the ARK Stars". Enjoy the pictures. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Rebecca Roubion And Jake Etheridge Light Up Coastal Coffee Roasters-Summerville's Hospitable And Vibey Venue

Busker was bustin' it Friday night at Coastal Coffee Roasters and the people were lovin' it. The band, for sometime now, has been a crowd favorite at this Summerville hot spot. When they finally took to the floor around 7:30 pm, the house was packed. At one point, Dave hit the floor and played the guitar on his back, reminiscent of the wild and crazy Angus Young of AC/DC. Unfortunately by then, the battery on my camera was depleted, so I couldn't get the surprise move on video.

Coastal Coffee Roasters has acquired the worthy reputation of being the gathering place for some of the Lowcountry's finest acoustic performers, and a stopover venue for musicians passing through the Charleston area on tour. I have been introduced to quite a few talented singer/songwriters since CCR established its acoustic series. Two of the standouts for me have been Molly Durnin and the duo Rebecca Roubion and Jake Etheridge of CherryCase. Rebecca and Jake are separate solo artists, but have collaborated on songs and recently toured together.
I have always been partial to musicians who play the keyboards, being somewhat a kindred spirit. So, when Rebecca Roubion visited Coastal Coffee Roasters, my interest was aroused. And when she sang the sentimentally haunting song "Break" while playing her Yamaha, accompanied by her touring partner, Jake Etheridge on acoustic guitar, I was won over. Rebecca is New Orleans, LA born, Mobile, AL raised, studied communications at LSU, and after college made the leap to Nashville, Tennessee that is, Music City. "That was when my dream materialized into something tangible, real. I knew I needed to take it seriously," Rebecca recalled.

Rebecca has been playing piano since age 7. Age fifteen, she experienced an emotional epiphany from which countless pages of poetry were created and the birth of her first song. Her love for her Louisiana roots have remained strong. Life is the tapestry from which she draws her inspiration.

Awendaw Green

Coastal Coffee Roasters
Rebecca met Jake Etheridge through their producer, Taylor Bray of Maple Studios in Nashville. They began to write songs together and came up with "Make Up Your Mind". "Once we realized we were musically compatible, we decided to hit the road together," Rebecca related. And that is what they did. They began their tour in Mobile, AL and traveled across the southeast to South Carolina where they performed in places like Columbia, Greenville, Awendaw, and beautiful Summerville, where I had the pleasure of meeting Rebecca and where she won my admiration. "We were always pleased to get to play unique, hospitable and vibey venues," Rebecca said, speaking of Coastal Coffee Roasters. "Coastal Coffee Roasters was easily one of our favorite stops."

Rebecca's latest release, November of 2012, was "FIELDS". It consists of four songs showcasing "a perfect blend of indie piano pop, with tastings of soul and folk." Recently, she has been busy playing shows in Nashville, filming a music video, and promoting the release of her next compilation of tunes born from the heart and lived in the soul.
Jake Etheridge is a native of South Carolina. He is the frontman for a band called CherryCase originating in Columbia, SC, but has made the move to Nashville since its inception in 2006. The name CherryCase was inspired by a miscommunication.  "I was in a punk/rock cover band and on the phone with my then drummer about the name of the band. He suggested the name 'charity case' and I thought he said 'cherrycase'. I thought it was great. He thought it was lame." They parted ways and genre. "I started writing more chill acoustic songs. I named the side acoustic project 'cherrycase'."

Jake has an EP out entitled "Think Of Me" and  is currently in the studio recording new songs. On March 15th, he will be returning to Coastal Coffee Roasters.

Can't see the "FORESTS" for the trees, you need to be standing in the right "FIELDS". Just some fun with a well known idiom. Seriously, purchase a copy of "FIELDS", take a listen, and you too will be won over to the Rebecca Roubion camp. Once the milestone of 1000 copies sold is reached, "FORESTS" will be released. I eagerly await her return to the Lowcountry.
Click Here For - Love Me Now by Rebecca Roubion