On the way to Normandy Farm the other day, we noticed an enormous mural on the side of College Lodge, heralding the return of native son and street artist Shepard Fairey to the realm of Holy City public art. A little digging yielded a wealth of info: he’s hanging out in town, he’s doing four more murals, and he’s got more range than the “Obey” and “Hope” prints that made him famous belie. Days before his installation at the Halsey opens, Fairey stopped by the Charleston Music Hall for an on-stage chat with Halsey director Mark Sloane. The Music Hall was packed, and the attendees ranged from aging hippies to heavily tattooed college kids. Guests bopped along to the Gang of Four soundtrack, tittering in anticipation of a glance at America’s political silk-screen god. Finally, Fairey emerged, a 40-something ruffian in a jean jacket. The crowd erupted in applause; he really is an art rock star.
The artist talked a lot about his early years in town, even getting in quite a few digs at the area elites — “I know exactly where Colbert got that character” — and overall fanciness of the Lowcountry. (“My parents weren’t allowed to put in a bay window. Heard a lot about that bay window.”)
Once he got past the shots at the Porter-Gaud and South of Broad set, though, damn, what a sharp guy. He talked about the creative process, his commitment to street art and its capacity to interrupt the status quo, and his long-held progressive political beliefs. In the background played a slideshow of his most noteworthy pieces, which are as powerful individually as they are taken as a whole. It was one of the most articulate and least boring artist talks that we’d ever been to — he spoke about the origin of the “Andre the Giant Has a Posse” stickers, got in a couple jokes at his own expense, and tinkered with a troublesome alarm clock throughout the course of the interview. His show (in conjunction with one by 84-year-old icon Jasper Johns) opens Thursday at the Halsey and promises to be a gorgeous punch to the gut.
On Friday we got our swerve on at Party at the Point with the Dubplates. After hearing horror stories about the first couple of weeks and long lines to buy tickets and drinks, we were pleasantly surprised by how easy and fast it was.
With cheap beer in hand, we moved closer to the stage and let the beauty of people watching set in. There were circles of young wannabe Rastafarians — dancing isn’t the right word — noodling and bouncing, like a peaceful mosh pit full of hippies. Behind us, a middle-aged gal was feeling the music. Eyes closed, arms up, she was lost in her own world where the sweet sounds of reggae were her soundtrack. And since it was Party at the Point, there was also a high proportion of children, who spun and twirled to the beats.
Before we knew it, we were lost in the music — that is until Big Hair Dave started talking in a fake Jamaican accent. The lead singer chimed in too with a Bob Marley-esque lilt. The kicker? He admitted to going to Wando. Who knew there were so many rastas in the Mt. P? We decided to let it slide and just went with it — isn’t that the reggae way?
On Saturday, it was pizza time. D’Al’s has come a long way since their first block party. We can’t place the year, but we recall one tiny stage, a smattering of pizza lovers, and Josef of Visualive break dancing. Saturday’s Elliotborough Block ‘n’ Roll on the other hand, had eight bands, two bars — thanks to the addition of Cutty’s — Bon Banh Mi’s food truck, free piercing sign-ups courtesy of Museum of Living Arts, and enough sunburnt, semi-dirty, half-clothed attendees to warrant it a success.
It was a chill scene upon our arrival. That was until the WO’SE African drum troupe took the floor. The troupe, with a few guest recruits, stepped and shook as onlookers sipped super foamy River Dog Saison. Thankfully the D’Al’s crew eventually removed that faulty keg, but while we were waiting in line for a replacement, Westbrook IPA in fact, we ran into the seemingly omnipresent Shep Rose of, say it with us, Southern Charm. And ya know what? Damned if it wasn’t a pleasure talking to him. Imagine a cheerful 6-foot-4-inch toddler, only handsome ... and with exquisitely aligned teeth — $10 says those are veneers — willing to chat with apparently just about anybody. That’s sorta the vibe we got from Mr. Rose. He shared that he was having a great day — we have a sneaking suspicion every day is a great day when you’re a Hilton Head Rose — and is considering moving to Sullivan’s Island. So Shep fans, Shepaholics if you will, consider that your cue.
Once back out in the sunshine, IPA in hand, we realized we were crisping like a hunk of lardon and decided to bounce before melanoma set in.