downtowngreenvillegirl











Anyone who knows me knows of the deep, profound love I have for the music genre known as “The Blues”. Some of my earliest (& fondest) memories include sitting with my dad, listening to old, scratchy LP’s of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King…and of course, the great Robert Johnson. But one of my favorite bluesmen was an obscure musician from right here in the Upstate – Pink Anderson. Like many bluesmen, Pink was born in the rural South (Laurens, SC). Often thought of as the “Father of the Piedmont Blues”, he spent most of his career performing with a traveling medicine show and only made a few recordings before being “re-discovered” by young blues enthusiasts in the 1960’s. The art-rock band Pink Floyd was named in his honor (and NC bluesman, Floyd Council).

Downtown Greenville continues to honor its blues heritage with many venues featuring the music genre and many young (and not-so-young) musicians following in Pink’s musical footsteps. One of my favorite events at which to immerse myself in Downtown’s current blues scene is Smiley’s Blues Night at Smiley’s Acoustic Café. Presented by Palmetto Drum Co, this rockin’ bluesfest features some of the best musicians and songwriters our region has to offer. Join other blues fans every Wednesday evening to get schooled in the blues at this free jam session. For more information, visit http://www.smileysacousticcafe.com.

New on the blues scene, but already becoming a Downtown music landmark is Blues Boulevard Jazz. Located in RiverPlace (next to Riverworks Art Gallery), this cozy, intimate club offers some of the best local, regional and national talent anywhere. With live music every Tuesday – Saturday, it’s easy to catch your favorite performing blues and jazz standards, as well as original material, many of whom were regular performers at the now-closed Brown Street Club. For more information and a calendar of events, visit http://bluesboulevardjazzgreenville.com.

If you prefer your blues with a heavy dash of jazz, then High Cotton is the place to be! This “high-steppin’” eatery also features live jazz and blues every weekend, including a Jazz Brunch every Sunday. Featuring smaller trios of musicians, this club will make you feel as though you’ve stepped back into the 1920’s. For more information, visit http://www.mavericksouthernkitchens.com/highcotton/greenville.

Of course, another great way to catch the very best in Greenville’s blues scene is Main Street Fridays. Spotlighting the kings (and queens) of the blues jazz, with a little funk and soul thrown in for good measure, this free, outdoor concert series is one of Downtown’s most beloved spring/summer events. Join other music lovers every Friday (5:30PM) at NOMA Square to enjoy some wicked blues, swingin’ jazz, cool funk and sultry soul that’ll have you dancing in the streets in no time! For more information (and a band schedule) visit http://www.facebook.com/mainstreetfridays.

So there you have it blues lovers…Downtown Greenville’s certainly got the blues…and how! So, if you’re in the mood for something more than just the regular musical menu of hard rock, pop covers and dance tunes, give the blues a go! You’ll be glad you did!

A Little Something Extra: If you happen to notice any these bands performing at your favorite venue, be sure to catch their performance to really get a taste of the blues:

Mac Arnold & Plate Full O’ Blues: This local musician is the epitome of the “blues legend”. Former bassist with The Muddy Waters Band, Mac has shared the stage with such blues icons as Howlin’ Wolf, Elmore James and Jimmy Reed. His new band, Plate Full O’ Blues, infuses new blood into his music, while still retaining its original flavor.

J. Michael King & The Catfish Po’Boys: Regulars at Smiley’s Acoustic Café, these guys truly embrace the Piedmont Blues in a way that is joyful and…well…HAPPY (I know, “happy blues” is definitely an oxymoron). Long time fans of the Greenville music scene may recognize Michael & Joe from their former band, Jellyroll Antennae.

Marcus King (The Marcus King Band): This teen phenom’s guitar licks will blow your socks off! It should come as no surprise that he is the son of another local blues guitar icon, Marvin King. Be sure to catch this guy perform before he becomes a huge star!

Palmetto Swamp Congregation: With a frontman named Wolfman, you just know this band can play the blues. Mixed with a serious dash of Tabasco hot “swamp blues” this band’s music will have you “hootin’ & hollerin’” all night!

Craig Sorrell’s Project: Featuring some seriously funky, New Orleans style jazz, soul & blues, this band has one of the biggest (and most loyal) followings around! Inviting a host of local blues & jazz musicians to sit in, you never know who might be playing at one of their performances.

True Blues: A longtime Greenville favorite, this band offers blues/rock that harkens back to the 1960’s. Referred to a “Greenville’s House Band”, the guys can be regularly seen performing at such local venues and events as The Handlebar and Main Street Friday.

This list is just a taste…there are many more amazingly talented blues and jazz musicians to be found in this area!



It’s SPRING! That time of year when Downtown erupts into a riot of color as trees & flowers bloom and people venture out after a long winter, eager to don their shorts & flip-flops and enjoy all that Downtown has to offer. Spring also signals the return of two of Downtown’s most beloved music events – Downtown Alive and Main Street Fridays.

Music lovers of all ages are encouraged to gather at NOMA Square (in front of The Hyatt) every Thursday at 5:30PM to experience some of the best musical talent the Southeast has to offer! The 2013 season of Downtown Alive kicks off the first official day of Spring (March 21st), with the 8 piece guitar driven southern funk rock of TJ Lazer & the New Detriots. The March lineup also features Orangeburg country crooner, Brad Jennings on the 28th. April not only spotlights some sweet bluegrass from local favorites, The Piedmont Boys, but also features a trio of acts from the Charleston area like Downtown regulars, Stereo Reform and The Tarletons, as well as a newcomer to DTA, Brave Baby. May does not disappoint with a plethora of rock, soul & Americana to choose from in the homegrown music of Mark Webb, Old You, Lyric and The Soul feathers…not to mention a kilt-flaring Scottish ceildh with The City of Greenville Pipes & Drums and the Celtic rock of Cleghorn to kick-off the Greenville Scottish Games on the 23rd! As the temps heat up, so does the music with June performances by cover band, The Sound Committee, local YouTube darlings, Outshyne, Downtown funk diva, Kelly Jo Connect and local fave, singer/songwriter Doug McCormick. Don’t let the steamy July & August weather keep you indoors…or you will miss some AMAZING music, like alternative tunes of The Wheresville Project, Charleston-based songwriter, Luke Cunningham, and Downtown music scene regular, Benton Blount in July and Midlands newcomers, The Reggie Sullivan Band, the adventure of Bushfire Stankgrass, the big ’80’s hair, flashback fun of Retro Vertigo and the incendiary guitar finesse of teen phenom, Marcus King & his band! Downtown Alive winds up with a performance by the winner of the Last Band Standing Battle of the Bands on the 29th.

If your taste in music leans more towards hot jazz and cool blues, then Main Street Fridays is the event for you! Join all the other music aficionados on Fridays at 5:30PM in NOMA Square to start your weekend in style! This year’s Friday musicfest begins with the powerhouse beach sounds of Jumpstreet on March 22nd. Also in March, enjoy the smooth sounds of Charlotte natives, 5th and York. April plays host to some familiar favorites such as True Blues and Wanda Johnson, as well as some new sounds on the Downtown music scene such as Soul Stew and Hot As A Pepper. Fridays get funky in May with a wealth of righteous local talent – Southern Crescent, Green Vegas, The Jamie Wright Experience, Wine Down and The Groove Planet with Whitney Walters. Hot temps equal hot tunes and there is plenty of both this summer with The Flashbacks, Shades of Brown, The Nightcrawlers and The Swingin’ Richards appearing in June, and The Derrick Dorsey Band, NuSound, 20 Point Turn and Cosmic getting July all hot & bothered. August starts to really rockin’ with The Robbie Ducey Band, Tobacco Road and The Rock & Roll Reunion and The Craig Sorrells Project and The Wiredogs bring on the heat to finish out the month. This much good music can’t just be contained in two seasons, so MSF continues the music experience into September with the wicked swamp rock of the Palmetto Swamp Congregation, the energetic showmanship of Encore, the scaulding hot funky rhythms of Earsight and the wild ride that is The China Bulls finishing up the MSF season with a bang!

These much loved music series’ are completely free and are enjoyed weekly by thousands of music lovers. Beer and other beverages are available for sale, but an ID bracelet as proof of age(for a cost of $1) is required to purchase alcohol. And like most city-sponsored events, families are welcome, but please leave your pets at home. For more information on these events, visit the official city page at http://www.greenvillesc.gov. See you Downtown!



Well, Downtownies…February 12th is Fat Tuesday, otherwise known as Mardi Gras. For those who don’t know, it is the day preceding Ash Wednesday, the start of the 40 days of Lent, when traditionally, you give up sweets ( and general frivolity) as a symbol of fasting.  Fat Tuesday (and the weekend before) is a customary time of celebration and decadence and no city does it better than New Orleans.

Now, anyone who knows me, knows of my love for the Crescent City. It is probably the only place with even a chance of ever pulling me away from my beloved Downtown Greenville. This time of year, I find myself feeling a little nostalgic for my “other” city. If you also feel the need to experience Mardi Gras – NOLA style – but can’t make the trip to the Gulf Coast, Downtown Greenville offers a little bit of The Big Easy, right here in the Upstate.

Probably the closest you can come to Bourbon Street without leaving Main Street is Ford’s Oyster House & Cajun Kitchen.  Located on South Main, this fun-loving eatery offers some of the best Cajun cooking outside The Quarter. And do they know how to do up Carnival Season! Starting this weekend, Chef Damon has created a special Mardi Gras menu that’ll make you start your own Second Line! They are kicking off the festivities on Saturday with a boisterous Masquerade Ball in their upstairs rooms, with dance music from DJ Apollo, drink specials and all the throw beads you can catch. The cost is $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Costumes are strongly encouraged. The festivities continue on Fat Tuesday with a party worthy of its own parade krewe. DJ Apollo will return to provide dance music and drink specials and party favors will having you shouting “Throw me somethin’ mister” in no time!

Not to be outdone, Smiley’s Acoustic Café, throws  its own Mardi Gras soiree, that has become nearly legendary in the Greenville music community.  Featuring a casual jam session with members of local faves, The Work, Smley’s is all about “le Bon Temps”! With New Orleans inspired food & drink specials, Moon Pies and throw beads galore, this celebration will make you feel you’re in a rockin’ juke joint in the Treme’!!

Since Mardi Gras is all about “living it up, before giving it up”, a stop by a Downtown bakery on this most  decadent of Tuesdays may be in order. Chocolate Moose on Main,  is the perfect place to indulge in some sweet,  delicious cupcake debauchery! With cupcake flavors in Southern favorites like Red Velvet, French Toast and Bourbon Pecan Pie, your taste buds will be jazzed up big time!

The Mardi Gras festivities may put you in the mood to hear some of the music New Orleans gave birth to. Brown Street Club offers some mighty smooth jazz nightly from Tuesday to Saturday. On the 12th, enjoy the talented trio of Brendan Williamson and friends.  With the cool atmosphere and the hot tunes, you’ll think you’ve stepped into a underground jazz club on Frenchman Street.

So, there you have it Downtownies – lots of ways to experience a little NOLA in the DTGVL! So, let your hair down, kiss a stranger, dance in the street and Laissez le Bon Temps Rouler! See you Downtown!



Well, we’ve made it through 2012…despite the Mayans’ (& others) predictions to the contrary. Now you are looking for ways to ring in 2013 in style. No worries…Downtown Greenville offers several events to help you make this New Year’s Eve an evening to remember!

Mac Arnold & Plate Full O’ Blues “Blue Year’s Eve” Parties at The Handlebar have taken on an almost mythical status. Nothing welcomes a whole new year quite like the incendiary blues of Mac Arnold and his “juke-joint rockin’” band. This celebrated bassist, who played with the legendary Muddy Waters, can definitely be considered a beloved musical institution here in the Upstate. Joined by his fellow bluesman from Chicago, Mr. Joe Moss, Mac aims to rock in 2013 in style!  Don’t miss this opportunity to experience the genius of this blues icon! Tickets are $16 ($18 for those under 21) and are sale now at The Handlebar. For more information, visit www.handlebar-online.com.

For a chance to see a blues star in the making, swing on by Mac’s Speed Shop and rock out to the blazing guitar licks of teenaged phenom, Marcus King. This very talented young musician and his band will be ringing in the New Year with some wicked tunes that’ll be impossible to sit still through. This special NYE performance is free to Mac’s customers, and starts at 10PM. For more information, see www.macsspeedshop.com.

Flashback to the 80’s at Wild Wing Café with Greenville’s favorite retro band, Retro Vertigo!  Featuring big hair and sunglasses at night, these sharp dressed men perform everything from The Talking Heads and Devo to REO Speedwagon and Cheap Trick.  For only a $5 cover charge at the door, you too can rock out to…well…U2! There will be drink specials and party favors galore, as well as a free champagne toast at midnight! For details, call 242-9453.

RockHouse Greenville says “Why limit the festivities to just ONE location, when you can have the NYE Bash to end all NYE Bashes at TWO locations?” This year, their New Year’s Eve Party will take place at both Ford’s Oyster House & Cajun Kitchen, as well as The Lofts at Falls Park. The $20 cover charge will get you a Hollywood-style Red Carpet Arrival, free Champagne toast, pulsating dance music from 2 DJs and drink specials unlike any other club in Greenville. To purchase tickets and for more info, visit www.rockhousegreenville.com.

If you prefer to welcome 2013 in a more relaxed, laid-back manner, then head over to Smiley’s Acoustic Café for their Smilin’ New Year’s Eve.  Chill out to the indie tunes of Kelly Jo Connect, followed by those Downtown faves, The Swingin’ Richards. As always, there is no cover charge…just a good time with good people. For more information, see www.smileysacousticcafe.com

For those looking for a hot NYE party with some cool jazz, you are in luck! Two of Downtown’s premier jazz clubs are ringing in the New Year in their own stylish manner. High Cotton will be serving a special New Year’s dinner, with music provided by the Jamie Wright Experience. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 335-4200. Not to be outdone, the Brown Street Club will be ushering in 2013 with a little help from the smooth sounds of  Dan Z followed by The Shane Pruitt Band.  For more information or to make reservations, see www.brownstreetclub.com.

For Downtown thespians looking to start 2013 in a dramatic fashion, the Greenville Light Opera Works invites you to join them for their 2013 New Year’s Gala and Fundraiser at Centre Stage. This benefit event for Greenville’s Light Opera Works will feature an open bar, a dessert buffet, dance music provided by Innfusion and both silent and live auctions. Opera and musical theatre lovers will also be treated to a special cabaret performance by Ms. Andrea Leap as well as a sneak peek performance of GLOW’s 2013 season. Tickets for this swanky soiree are $100 per person/ $180 per couple and can be obtained through www.greenvilleopera.org.

So there you have it Downtownies…eight ways to ring in the New Year…to suit every party style and budget. And, as always, if you’ve enjoyed too much revelry of the alcohol-related manner, please take a cab home. We want you around to enjoy all the fun Downtown Greenville has to offer in 2013. Happy New Year!

Just in case you’ve had too much fun, here are numbers to some of the area’s Cab Companies. Please remember that this is their busiest night, so be patient and expect delays …

Yellow Cab – 864-233-6666

Greenville Metro Cab – 864-235-8807

Budget Cab – 864-233-4200



If you are one of many who saw this year’s blockbuster movie, The Hunger Games, you would know that the rich traditional music of the Appalachians featured throughout the soundtrack was almost as central to the plot as the characters themselves. One song in particular, Daughter’s Lament, truly embodied the haunting depths of the main character, Katniss Everdeen. This weekend, the trio who wrote and performed that poignant melody, The Carolina Chocolate Drops, will grace the stage of The Handlebar in Downtown Greenville.

Bursting on the music scene with their Grammy-Award winning Genuine Negro Jig in 2010, the Carolina Chocolate Drops have brought back the old-style fiddle and banjo based music that has long been a part of the Piedmont region.  Striving to freshly interpret this work, not merely recreate it, this trio also strives to highlight the central role African-Americans played in shaping our nation’s popular music from its beginnings more than a century ago. After researching styles of Southern black music from the 1920s and ’30s—including string-band music, jug-band music, fife and drum, early jazz – they shape it into a melody that can best be described as a “living, breathing, ever-evolving” work of musical art.

 

Mastering an eclectic assortment of instruments, including 5-string, minstrel & plectrum banjo, quills (a small African-American panpipe), snare drum, bones and the unlikely addition of the cello and the kazoo and coming from different worlds, the group has somehow managed to draw on their differences to create a sound that melds together perfectly. North Carolina native, Rhiannon Giddens, the daughter of a classically-trained singer, was also herself a classically trained opera singer. Long fascinated by folk and bluegrass, this talented songbird taught herself how to play the fiddle before joining a Celtic band.  Upon reading about legendary fiddler, Joe Thompson, Rhiannon joined him after a performance for an impromptu jam session and her interest was sparked. Partnering with Dom Flemons, a banjo player and poet from Arizona and guitarist Hubby Jenkins from NYC, the Carolina Chocolate Drops were born.

This Friday, July 13th The Handlebar will play host to this talented trio of artists. Tickets are $16 ($2 more for those under 21) and are available at the venue for their 9PM performance. Come see why critics are raving over this iconic band and experience the sublime sounds that got them invited to Carnegie Hall to perform with the likes of Taj Mahal, Art Garfunkel and Jackson Browne…you’ll be glad you did!

For more information on “The Drops”, visit the official webpage at http://www.carolinachocolatedrops.com

For more information on this show and others at The Handlebar, visitwww.handlebar-online.com



Growing up in Georgia, my best friend and I would anxiously count down the days leading up to the 4th of July. Then, when the big day was less than 24 hours away, my older brother would load us up in his tiny MG (it’s a good thing we were also tiny) and cross the Savannah River over into South Carolina to purchase fireworks. It was against the law to actually sell fireworks in Georgia, but for some reason, it was okay to purchase the mini-explosives elsewhere and bring them into the state. Then, as darkness fell over our suburban cul-de-sac, my brother and father would shoot off bottle rockets, firecrackers and Roman candles, much to the delight of the neighborhood kids, who gathered to watch at a safe distance. As a child, I didn’t think the 4th of July could get any better…but, boy, was I wrong!

One would think that Greenville, with a history rich in Revolutionary War stories, would have a blast of a 4th, and our Red, White & Blue Festival strives to do just that!  Showcasing one of the state’s largest fireworks displays, which, I hate to admit, is so much better than the one my family produced, this free event is a favorite with young and not-so-young alike. From 5PM until 10:30PM, Downtown Greenville will be a celebration of our freedoms with live entertainment, great food and children’s events, encompassing Main Street from Court to Camperdown. Kicking off the live music will be Nashville recording artists Outshyne at 5:30PM, followed at 7:30PM by The Army Ground Forces Band’s Jazz Guardians.  And what would the 4th be without fireworks?  To really pay tribute to the birth of our nation, Downtown’s fireworks display will be synchronized to patriotic music, starting at 9:45PM. For more information about the festivities, visit http://www.greenvillesc.gov.

Now for many people, the 4th is not the 4th without some baseball, a picnic and a parade. If you want to save the Red, White & Blue festival for later (or just want to swing by long enough to catch the fireworks), start your Independence Day with the Freedom Celebration and Picnic at the Vietnam Memorial at Cleveland Park. From 11AM until 3PM, join your fellow Greenvillians to celebrate our freedoms and to thank those who kept them for us. For details on this event, call 242-4110. After your picnic, and perhaps a stroll Downtown, join the residents of the North Main area for their annual Earle Street 4th of July Parade. Starting at 7PM from Earle Street to Main, this small neighborhood parade celebrates our independence in an event so All-American, it almost looks like a Norman Rockwell painting. For more information, call 232-5332. Or, if you want to celebrate America by catching a bit of America’s Game, head to Fluor Field at 7PM to cheer on the Greenville Drive (plus, it’s a primo location to catch the Downtown Fireworks display). For ticket information, visit http://www.milb.com.

The fun doesn’t stop there! Get the kids excited about our Independence Day celebrations by stopping at The Children’s Museum first for a little Red, White & Blue Art (at 1PM).  Looking for something to entertain the grown-ups after the fireworks? Then treat yourself to some Red, White & Blues at Smiley’s Acoustic Café with Freddie Wooten & Friends or Smoke on the Water with Jellyroll Antenna. With all these ways to celebrate our independence, I think even George Washington would be impressed! Happy 4th of July!

For a list of these and more 4th of July Events in and around Downtown Greenville, check out http://www.facebook.com/DowntownGreenvilleSC/notes#!/notes/downtown-greenville-sc/fourth-of-july-celebrations-in-downtown-greenville-beyond/380510058670266



You usually wouldn’t think of cool jazz, hot food and a rare cancer in the same thought, but you will after attending Brown Street Alive! On Saturday, June 23rd, historic Brown Street will become one big jazzy, jammin’ block party with food, fun and more as traffic is blocked off and music lovers are encouraged to dance in the streets. Sponsored by the Sarcoma Warriors of the Upstate, this family-friendly event is guaranteed to raise funds, awareness, as well as spirits, to fight this debilitating disease.

Not many people have heard of this rare, aggressive form of cancer that attacks the muscle, fat, cartilage, arteries and nerves – all the things that “hold” our bodies together. Because it is so incredibly rare (only .01% of the population will ever be diagnosed with it), there are few support systems for patients and their families and very little research done on its cause. Because it is so rare, most cases are diagnosed in later stages, making treatment difficult and very costly. Because this cancer is so rare, there are no pink ribbons (and a huge cause marketing campaign), there’s no race for its cure and yogurt companies do not make donations based on the number of lids sent in by customers. There are only these fearless Sarcoma Warriors, at “the ready” to do all they can to help those dealing with this dreadful disease.  Thinking of themselves as “Hired Henchmen”, this amazing organization works tirelessly to support patients and their families in fighting the “good fight” – by offering not only financial assistance, but emotional support, medical information and a voice in issues that affect those stricken.

Fast forward to this weekend and Brown Street Alive.  Featuring food, drink, games, prizes, silent auction and a vintage car and motorcycle show, this event is a crowd pleaser for all ages. But it’s the caliber of music that will make you glad you ventured off Main Street to follow the sweet sounds of jazz. Most of the bands taking part in this special event are familiar to regulars to the Brown Street Club. From some grumpy old jazz men to a teen-aged phenom whose guitar licks are incendiary – you will hear jazz that ranges from old school to rockin’ blues. Beginning at 4PM, three bands, Grumpy Old Jazz Men, The Marcus King Band (with Brendan Williamson) and Java, will be performing outdoors in a concert that is very family-friendly. Later on, starting at 6:30, The Adam Knight Trio and Shane Pruitt will be performing inside the more adult-oriented Brown Street Club.

So be sure to mark your calendars for Saturday, June 23rd and make your way to Brown Street for some cool tunes and hot times. The music is free, the food and games are very affordable and the cause is priceless. Fighting cancer never sounded so good!

More Info on the Bands Performing at Brown Street Alive…

Grumpy Old Jazz Men: Seen regularly tearing up the stage with their old school style, this group of jazz masters will make you feel anything but grumpy. They will be performing on the outdoor stage from 4PM to 6PM

The Marcus King Band (with Brendan Williamson): A favorite at several Downtown venues, including The Handlebar, Smiley’s Acoustic Cafe and Chicora Alley, this rockin’ blues band, fronted by teen guitar prodigy, Marcus King, is a must-see (they will also be performing at Main Street Friday on August 24th). Performing with guest musician (and another familiar face on the Downtown music scene), Brendan Williamson, this band will be taking the stage (outdoors) at 6PM, and burning it up until 8PM. For more info on this amazing band, visit http://www.reverbnation.com/marcuskingband

Java: Another regular of the Brown Street Club, this entertaining band is as heart-thumping as the caffeinated beverage from which they grabbed their name.  Be sure to check out their next Brown Street performance on July 21st. Going onstage at 8PM the guys will be closing out the event with their crowd pleasing, eclectic playlist until 10PM.

Adam Knight Trio: Often seen at High Cotton as well as the Brown Street Club, this talented trio will soothe your soul with their signature cool contemporary jazz. Kicking things off inside the Brown Street Club at 6:30PM, this threesome will provide delectable dinner music until 9:30PM. If you get the chance, try to catch them at their next Brown Street Club gig on July 24th. For more info regarding this band and their music, visit www.adamknightmusic.com

Shane Pruitt Band: Another group you’ve seen around Downtown at places like The Handlebar and Smiley’s Acoustic Cafe is the Shane Pruitt Band. With rockin’ tunes that will set your booty to shakin’, the guys will be closing things out in the Brown Street Club starting at 9:30PM. Catch them now, because they won’t be back at Brown Street until September 8th. For more info on this bodacious band of fellows, visit http://shanepruittband.com

To learn more about this event, Sarcoma Warriors or the Brown Street Club, visit http://sarcomawarriors.org or http://brownstreetclub.com

 



What do a Beauty Pageant where men dress as women, a call to Paint the Town Red, a Concert with some of Greenville’s Best Bluegrass and a bunch of little Rubber Ducks have in common? A week full of fun, all for great causes! This week, some Downtown Greenville venues will play host to 4 fundraisers that are so much fun, it outta be illegal!

The first event is the 5th Annual Womanless Beauty Pageant, hosted by the St. Francis First Mates. On Wednesday, May 2nd, the stage at The Handlebar will be “graced” by the “alluring beauty” of several contestants – who in their “real” lives are not only local physicians, health care providers, business owners and other professionals, but real men!  Dressing the part of the stereotypical beauty queen, and performing various “talents” for your amusement, this group of guys are good sports for a great cause! Funds raised will benefit the local chapter of The American Cancer Society & Relay for Life.  The contestants take the stage at 7:30PM and tickets are on sale now for $15 in advance, $20 at the door. So come on out and have a good laugh at the expense of these brave male souls! For more information, visit The Handlebar’s website at www.handlebar-online.com.

 The next event is also one of Greenville’s favorite May events – The Red Party. Each year, AID Upstate invites others to “Dine With Friends” as part of their annual fundraising and Aids Awareness campaign. After having dinner with your pals, participants are invited to The Red Party to enjoy drinks at the cash bar and free desserts. Everyone is welcome to attend this year’s Salsa-themed soiree at ZEN Greenville on Saturday, May 5th. The steel drums and the flowing rum will start up at 9PM and last until midnight! There is no need to purchase advance tickets, but a $50 donation is requested (and greatly appreciated) at the door. Funds raised will provide supportive services to those Upstate families affected by HIV/AIDS.  For more information on The Red Party, AID Upstate or to participate in “Dining With Friends” visit www.theredparty.com.

The Handlebar steps up again to lend its venue to a great cause!  This Saturday, they will play host to the best in blues, bluegrass and rock n’ rhythm at Musical MAYhem!  Featuring such local gems as Fat Cat Daddy, Neal Carpenter & The Younger Brothers, The Broadcast and Sanctum Sully, this event will set your toes to tappin’ and your tail feathers to shakin’! The show starts at 7PM and benefits Gateway House, a local non-profit that assists adults who are battling mental illness. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 the day of the show. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit www.handlebar-online.com.

Last but certainly not least on the list is the 2012 Reedy River Duck Derby! Let Kentucky keep their thoroughbred racing horses, we’ve got cute ‘lil rubber duckies! This most beloved of Downtown’s annual events takes place Saturday, May 5th at Reedy River Falls Park and benefits the many local charities assisted by the Rotary Club of Greenville. A mere $5 will purchase a certified racing duck to enter in the race (MUCH less expensive than a horse), or you can purchase a “Quack Pack” for $25 and receive 6 ducks for the price of 5 (all to better your chances of victory). The race starts at 2:30PM with participants battling for an array of fabulous prizes. If you would like to purchase a duck for the race or wish to find out more about this event, visit: www.reedyriverduckderby.com.

So there you have it – FOUR fantastically fun events that’ll tickle your funny bone, shake your booty and help your neighbors in need – what could be better?  Now all I have to do is find a tiny little jockey to ride my Duck Derby entry! See y’all Downtown!



“Music legend” is a label that sometimes gets handed out too often. But in the case of Upstate native, Mac Arnold, the title is certainly more than well deserved. From his early days of playing a homemade guitar to his work with his current band, Plate Full O’ Blues, Mac has been a virtual shaman in this most southern of music genre. Fans and followers will have the chance this weekend to pay homage and see him in action at The Handlebar.

Those who knew Mac as a youngster must have had some inkling that this man’s music resume would read like a “Who’s Who” of blues, rock and R&B legends. Learning to play guitar on an instrument his brother made from a gas can, Mac went on in high school to form his own band, which included none other than the Godfather of Soul himself, James Brown. After a stint with The Charles Miller Band, Mac left the southland in 1965 forChicagoto work with celebrated sax man, A.C. Reed. A year later, at the age of 24, Mac was playing bass for the legendary Muddy Waters and sharing the stage with the likes of Howlin’ Wolf, Junior Wells, Elmore James and Jimmy Reed. Backstage, Mac was often found jamming with the rock stars of the day – including Eric Clapton, Paul Butterfield and Elvin Bishop (It was rumored that guitar god, Jimi Hendrix was inspired by Muddy’s band).

After more than a year with Muddy, Mac ventured out on his own to form The Soul Invaders, playing back-up for such acts as The Temptations and B.B. King. Following a trip to South California (and falling in love with the mild weather), Mac moved to L.A. where he worked with TV innovators such as Don Cornelius of “Soul Train” and comedian Redd Foxx (that familiar bass line on the “Sanford & Son” theme was performed by Mac), as well as R&B artists such as Bill Withers.  But the call of his home town was too strong and Mac returned toSouth Carolinato retire on his farm in the 1980’s.

It was a chance encounter with a singing mechanic that brought Mac back to the blues. Max Hightower has had a longtime love for anything relating to the blues. After wearing out a second hand copy of “Muddy’s Mississippi Live”, he decided to pursue a career in music. Following a few years of bouncing from band to band and stage to stage, Max was working at a trucking company when in walked one of his blues heroes. After many a deep conversations with the fellow musician, Mac decided it was time he came out of retirement. With the addition of Austin Brashier on guitar, Dan Keylon on bass, Mike Whitt on drums and, of course, Max on keyboard and harmonica, Plate Full O’ Blues was born.

Mac came back to blues like a man starving for a good meal. With several albums and music DVD’s to date, tours that have spanned the USand Europeand praise from music critics from all walks, Mac and Plate Full O’ Blues have certainly proven that they’re here to stay! This Saturday, the 28th they’re back at one of their favorite venues, The Handlebar, for their 6th Annual Cornbread and Collard Greens Festival. The band takes the stage starting at 8PM until Mac decides it’s time for y’all to head on home! Tickets are on sale now at The Handlebar for $14 ($2 extra for those under 21). If you buy a $20 ticket, you get some down-homeCarolina cookin’ to enjoy before the show! So, head on out to The Handlebar this weekend for some smokin’ hot blues from a man who will certainly be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame one day! See you there!



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