Friday, 6 November 2015

PHOTOS: Brian Wilson, Al Jardine had a mini Beach Boys reunion at the Gaillard Center last night

As a journo grad student, I somehow blagged my way into the cool opera seats of Edinburgh Festival Theater in 2007 and have since proclaimed that to be the best night of my life — until now. Ten years later, Tim (my boyfriend) and I had the amazing opportunity to go backstage at the brand spankin' new Gaillard Center to photograph Brian Wilson and his band. I got to not only meet my favorite living artist but also fellow Beach Boy Al Jardine and stand-in BB from the ’70s Blondie Chaplin, who asked me to hold his drink before the crew huddled together for their pre-show pep talk and prayer. It was incredibly surreal. Here're some of our unpublished pics! 

God and I

My darlin'. Brian's crew liked his hat.

A practice shot before going backstage 

Me wondering if I'm about to actually meet Brian Wilson

Here's my review for the CCP, plus more of Tim's photographs:) 

God Only Knows

Posted by Kelly Rae Smith on Wed, Oct 21, 2015 at 8:01 PM

Last night, the Gaillard Center proved itself a remarkable venue in both sight and sound when the Beach Boys co-founders Brian Wilson and Al Jardine lit up the new stage with their 12-piece band and radiant vocal harmonies.

  • Tim Edgar
A dramatic velvet curtain backdropped the show, and band leader Paul Von Mertens described the stunning venue, with its apricot color scheme and tiered balconies, as being reminiscent of the Vienna Opera House.

Half an hour before the show, when the venue would fill for the sounds of Brian Wilson and his band - TIM EDGAR
  • Tim Edgar
  • Half an hour before the show, when the venue would fill for the sounds of Brian Wilson and his band

Blondie Chaplin, who was a Beach Boy back in the ’70s on albums like Carl and the Passions – "So Tough" and Holland, also performed. Last night, he shined in leading the band in "Sail Away," which he also sang, along with Jardine, on Wilson's new album No Pier Pressure, "Wild Honey, off 1967's Wild Honey, and "Sail On, Sailor," which he also sang lead vocals for on the track's original recording in 1972.

  • Tim Edgar

The concert opened with the complex, angelic harmonies of "Our Prayer" before segueing into "Heroes and Villains," two songs that left the audience nothing short of amazed and excited about what was to come. The set was only an hour-and-a-half-long in total as Wilson and company quickly but beautifully cranked out the Beach Boys hits, some more obscure tracks, and newer Brian Wilson songs. The encore alone — "All Summer Long," "Help Me Rhonda," "Barbara Ann," "Surfing USA," "Fun, Fun, Fun," and "Love and Mercy" — was worth the hefty ticket price.

  • Tim Edgar

Al Jardine's son Matt Jardine, who sang lead vocals in songs like "Don't Worry Baby" and "Wouldn't It Be Nice," could have been young Brian Wilson himself with his pitch-perfect falsetto. And Jardine Senior, who led the troupe in tracks like No Pier Pressure's "The Right Time," sounded like the same young man from the 1960s. As for Wilson, sometimes he sang lead, sometimes he sang backup, and sometimes he played his piano, but he was always present, even explaining the meaning behind several tracks — like "God Only Knows."

  • Tim Edgar

Another show highlight hit home locally when percussionist/vocalist Nelson Bragg gave a shoutout to Charleston's own A Fragile Tomorrow, whose latest LP Make Me Over came out this week. And before the concert, showgoers could hear "Forever" playing from the Explorers Club, the very Beach Boys-esque band with Charleston roots. Frontman Jason Brewer says they've been doing that on the Brian Wilson tour all summer long.

I had the rare opportunity to visit with the legends Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, and Blondie Chaplin backstage and snap some photographs (and Blondie even asked me to hold his drink!). Enjoy this intimate look at an impressive venue as well as the performance by one of the very best composers of the past century and his magnificent band. For the full setlist, keep scrolling.

Moments before the magic
  • Moments before the magic

The man himself in his recliner, which goes with him on tour - TIM EDGAR
  • Tim Edgar
  • The man himself in his recliner, which goes with him on tour

Backstage with Brian Wilson and Al Jardine before the concert - TIM EDGAR
  • Tim Edgar
  • Backstage with Brian Wilson and Al Jardine before the concert
Brian Wilson and crew take to the stage - TIM EDGAR
  • Tim Edgar
  • Brian Wilson and crew take to the stage
The rhythm section and more - TIM EDGAR
  • Tim Edgar
  • The rhythm section and more
Al Jardine - TIM EDGAR
  • Tim Edgar
  • Al Jardine
  • Tim Edgar


    • Tim Edgar

    • Tim Edgar

    • Tim Edgar

    • Tim Edgar

    • Tim Edgar

    The setlist from the Brian Wilson, Al Jardine Oct. 20, 2015 performance at the Gaillard Center: 

    Our Prayer —> Heroes and Villains
    California Girls
    Dance, Dance, Dance
    Shut Down
    Little Deuce Coupe
    I Get Around
    You're So Good to Me
    Then I Kissed Her
    California Saga
    In My Room
    Surfer Girl
    Don't Worry Baby
    One Kind of Love
    Sail Away
    Wild Honey
    Sail On Sailor
    She Knows Me Too Well
    Surf's Up
    The Right Time
    Wouldn't It Be Nice
    Sloop John B
    God Only Knows
    Good Vibrations


    All Summer Long
    Barbara Ann
    Surfing USA
    Fun, Fun, Fun
    Love and Mercy

    REVIEW: Pharrell Williams performed "Freedom" with Mother Emanuel choir Sunday

    The "Happy" singer is working with an A&E project called Shining a Light

    Posted by Kelly Rae Smith on Sun, Nov 1, 2015 at 4:56 PM

    Pharrell and the Emanuel AME gospel choir lit up the church with "Freedom" on Sun. Nov. 1. - A&E
    • A&E
    • Pharrell and the Emanuel AME gospel choir lit up the church with "Freedom" on Sun. Nov. 1.

    This morning, R&B star Pharrell Williams paid a visit to Mother Emanuel AME and performed “Freedom” with the church’s gospel choir. Williams first released the track this year on June 30, nearly two weeks after the Emanuel shootings.

    Reverend Norvel Goff introduced the special guest to the congregation, saying Williams would be leading the choir in a “hip song.” Moments before, the entire church was on their feet singing and clapping as the choir sang an offertory hymn and the band – including a trumpet player and a lone tambourine shaker in the congregation — played in the balcony. The joyous atmosphere was just right for the performance to come.

    Wearing a black tuxedo, Williams addressed the church members earnestly, noting he’d visited a few other places in the area, including “the wharf.” He wasn’t more specific but perhaps he was referring to the waterfront site downtown that was once Gadsden’s Wharf, the former port of entry for African-Americans and the site where the African-American Museum will stand in a few years.

    The singer also commended the church on its strength — enduring fire, an earthquake, and the rain and wind of hurricanes throughout its existence.

    His appearance was brief — no more than about 15 minutes long — but the song was clearly inspiring. After Williams left the room, the reverend proceeded with the service, basing his sermon on Psalm 137: “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?”

    Today at Mother Emanuel AME - KELLY RAE SMITH
    • Kelly Rae Smith
    • Today at Mother Emanuel AME

    Williams’ performance will appear along with a discussion about race on the A&E programShining a Light: Conversations on Race in America on Fri. Nov. 20 at 8 p.m. The two-hour presentation will feature music from other big names, like Bruce Springsteen, Jamie Fox, and John Legend.

    Local poet and musician Marcus Amaker, who has written Emanuel AME-inspired poetry for both the City Paper and August’s Hi Harmony concert at the Charleston Music Hall, was among those interviewed for the program over the weekend.

    Shining a Light will also feature conversations with family members of victims, community leaders, law enforcement officials, and clergy from Charleston, Baltimore, Chicago, and Ferguson in an effort to empower communities by fostering understanding, eliminating bias, and addressing inequalities.

    We were welcomed to the service today, however phones and cameras were not permitted. So while we don’t have a photo to share with you, we’re also pleased that the network respected the sanctity of the church and its members, keeping the focus firmly on praise and worship.

    Update: The A&E network provided us with a photo this morning we're happy to share.

    INTERVIEW: Ben Folds talks about his love of Ke$ha, food packets from Jenny Craig, and making a masterpiece

    Ben Folds' latest collaboration is with New York classical ensemble yMusic who will tour with him this month
    Ben Folds' latest collaboration is with New York classical ensemble yMusic who will tour with him this month

    Before our phone interview with Ben Folds even begins, the piano-pop star — whose humor has been well documented in his music for the past two decades — is already giving us some pretty valuable blackmail material. "A call-recording app, huh?" he says after the "record" signal sounds. "That's like something people probably use in divorces and stuff for, like, child custody. In fact, you might sell some things if I were to say stuff like [cue very Southern accent], 'Bitch, I told ya, I'm takin' the kids and goin' 'cross state lines. You cain't stop me. I'm drunk. Fuck it!' That might be helpful."
    Folds will cross state lines as soon as he embarks on a tour with classical sextet yMusic in support of last month's release, So There,a superb collection of chamber-pop songs and piano concertos. But today, he's just driving around, cracking jokes. "I'm passing a Jenny Craig next to an Edible Arrangements," he says, giving us the play-by-play. "Oh man, it's awesome. It's a Jenny Craig that'sright between a pizza kitchen and an Edible Arrangements. They just have to put blinders on and walk straight in to Jenny Craig's and get their little food packet."
    Clearly, it's a good day to get inside the head of the man who once hilariously covered Dr. Dre's "Bitches Ain't Shit" and rose to fame in the mid-'90s with Ben Folds Five and their goofy brand of alt rock. From the early days of the band's Whatever and Ever Amen— with its demands like, "Give me my money back, you bitch ... and don't forget to give me back my black T-shirt" ("Song for the Dumped") — to his solo career (See this year's exceptionally silly "F10-D-A" off So There), Folds has found endless creativity and a lot of success in, for the most part, keeping it lighthearted.
    For example, if you've ever been to one of his shows, you'll know he's also known to perform interactively with the audience and compose songs on the spot. In fact, he says he has a few from some Charleston shows he's performed in years past. And sometimes these songs make it to a studio album, like So There's "Phone in a Pool."
    "We record all the songs I make up when I'm playing gigs, and my sound man is kind enough to compile them for me and just send them to me," Folds explains. "So I've got hundreds from every year, and sometimes when I'm thinking about making an album, I'll just pore through them because I think they're just spontaneous, unguarded, neat little melodies."
    Folds really did throw his phone in a pool, by the way — that part's not made up. "[That song] makes me think of when I threw my phone in a pool, and Ke$ha jumped in and got it out with all her clothes on," he says.
    Yep, that Ke$ha, who Folds has openly and unapologetically admired for several years. From the time Folds covered Ke$ha's "Sleazy" in 2010 to his collaborations with everyone from Weird Al to William Shatner, Folds has never shied away from shocking his fans. And recently, with "I'm Not the Man," he almost had the chance to associate himself with Al Pacino, too.
    "It was written as an attempt to land a song for Al Pacino to sing in this movie [Danny Collins] they made him sing in," Folds says of the track, which didn't make it into the film after all. The premise sees an aging rocker rethinking his life after receiving a letter from the late John Lennon. "And it was supposed to be this watershed moment where he realized he'd grown up and he didn't need to keep repeating his younger self, and I thought that I could relate to that."
    Folds' career is full of not only ambitious efforts but spontaneous ones, too, like the time he and author Nick Hornby set out to write and record a full album (Lonely Avenue) in three days. Or when he and Amanda Palmer, Neil Gaiman, and Damian Kulash wrote and recorded eight songs in eight hours. Folds says that, many times, projects like those are dreamed up only days beforehand. And that's what makes them so inspiring.
    "Sometimes those things happen like that," Folds says. "I'm always open to it because it reminds me that a three-and-a-half-minute song can take three-and-a-half minutes to write. And that is very helpful when you're writing, when you know it doesn't have to be a big fucking masterpiece."

    PREVIEW: Sufjan Stevens: North Charleston Performing Arts Center Mon. Nov. 9

    • Provided
    BAROQUE POP | Sufjan Stevens
    w/ Gallant
    Mon. Nov. 9
    7:30 p.m.
    North Charleston Performing Arts Center
    Ever since his promotional prank of vowing to write an album for every U.S. state, Sufjan Stevens and his enthralling brand of orchestral pop have been treasured by the kinds of listeners who also hold dear Beirut, the Shins, and Arcade Fire. Stevens did complete two of those state albums, though — 2003’s Michigan, an homage to his home state, and Illinois, the 2005 release for which he is best known. The multi-instrumentalist is also loved for his lo-fi folk leanings (Seven Swans, 2004) and Christmas-themed offerings, like 2006’s five-EP box set Songs for Christmas and Silver & Gold: Songs for Christmas, Vols. 6-10 from 2012 (tally ’em up and you have a total of 100 quirky holiday songs that’ll make any indie diehard freakishly excited about Christmas, too). This year, Stevens dropped Carrie & Lowell, a delicate collection of songs that stay true to the artist’s whimsical style without being explosively cheerful. That can be attributed to the fact that this record is named after his stepfather, who co-founded Asthmatic Kitty Records with the musician in 1999, and Stevens’ mother, who left his family when he was very young, dealt with depression, and died of cancer in 2012. The grief and retrospective longing on the record are understandably palpable. This time, Stevens’ quivering vocals are close to a whisper, and the electro-pop fervor is no more, replaced with a soundscape that is still lush and expansive yet achingly poignant — a banjo or ukulele plucking gently throughout each tender melody. Much like the ones that came before, this album is repeat-rotation worthy and certainly creates an argument to drop everything you’re doing on Monday to experience the music for yourself live. This tour comes complete with a dramatic stained-glass window-like light show to place you perfectly in Stevens’ enchanting sanctuary of song.