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Category: Interviews (page 1 of 3)

Joe Kwon of folk rock band The Avett Brothers talks about Charleston and his own food blog

Image by Todd Roeth

 

 

Wednesday February 8, 2012

by Scott Wink of CharlestonFoodBloggers.com

 

Charleston, SC  –
The Avett Brothers are coming to the North Charleston Coliseum on Sunday February 12th, 2012.  We got to talk with Joe Kwon, the cello player in the band, that also happens to be a
pretty great food blogger.

 

Charleston Food Bloggers ( CFB ) :
What are some of the most commonly found snack foods found on an Avett Brothers tour?

 

Joe Kwon:  Well we were told by an RN once that we lose
too much water. So we do seem to have lots of water, sports drinks of choice,
kettle chips, granola bars, cereal, milk, OJ, and mixed nuts. Pretty boring,
huh? We like to keep it simple.

 

CFB:  How is each of the members of The Avett
Brothers different when it comes to food preferences?

 

Joe Kwon:  I probably shouldn’t go down that road. I
have the “pleasure” of ordering food for everyone and let’s just say,
sometimes that’s not the easiest thing to do. With the ever growing group we
have it’s difficult to find ONE cuisine that everyone will like. I will say
that our go to places are Thai, pizza, burritos, or burgers. Can’t go wrong
with those categories.

 

CFB:  What are you favorite songs to perform live?

 

Joe Kwon:  Oh, I love Laundry Room, Indolence, Once and Future Carpenter, I & Love & You, Go to Sleep, I guess those would be
my favorites but I love to play all the songs really. I get such a thrill being
on stage!

 

CFB:  Which musicians/songs are you currently
really wowed by?

 

Joe Kwon:  Interestingly enough I’ve been going back to
my classical roots as of late. I’ve been getting really into listening to old
symphonies with new ears. It seems as though for me classical music is
constantly evolving in my understanding of the pieces and I get something new
out of the pieces when I come back to them years later. I guess one song in
particular I’m wowed by right now is Song of The Birds by Casals. It’s a simple
and yet such a beautiful piece.

 

CFB:  Do you have any restaurants that you
absolutely must go to if you are in a certain city?

 

Joe Kwon:  I’m definitely starting to amass a list of
such places. It may not always work out the way I want it to so I never make it
a MUST GO type of scenario, but I will definitely try to sway the group to go
to one place or another.

 

Image by D.L. Anderson

CFB:  What do you think about Top Chef?

 

Joe Kwon:  I think it’s one of the only credible reality
shows on TV. I haven’t watched many episodes of the show but what I’ve watched
I’ve liked. We’re on the road too often to really keep current with any shows.

 

CFB:  What would make a perfect day of eating at
restaurants around where you live in North Carolina (breakfast, lunch, dinner,
dessert, and drinks)?

 

Joe Kwon:  Funny you ask this. I have this idea of what
it would be like to just take a day of eating in and around my area. All of
these restaurants are within 30 minutes driving distance of my home and I love
them all. I would start my morning off at Guglhupf Bakery for a nice light
breakfast of a quiche or bread and cheese, followed by a stop off at 3 cups to
get some coffee from Counter Culture coffee which happens to be roasted just
minutes from my house. I’d then stop off at one of three restaurants depending
on my mood, Thai China, China Express, or Sandwhich. Each of those three
restaurants has a favorite comfort dish I love to order and I can’t just choose
one. If money and time weren’t an issue here I’d drive out to Pittsboro, NC and
visit Fearrington House for a 5 course meal. At this stage of the eating game,
I’d be stuffed so I’d probably need to walk around a bit to digest. I’d drive
to Chapel Hill and park on the east side of Franklin Street and walk to Lantern
for some dessert and a cocktail. I’d then head back to Durham for a night of
beers at Fullsteam Brewery and hopefully have a DD to drive me home because I
love me some beer!!

 

CFB:  Have you ever eaten at any of the great
restaurants in Charleston?

Joe Kwon:  I have eaten at one but I don’t recall the
name. I remember they were known for their shrimp and grits. Maybe you know of
the place?

CFB:  I love your blog tasteontour.com   do
you have any other talents or hobbies?

 

Joe Kwon:  I’ve recently been turned on to wood working.
I’m just starting now but I’d love to get really into it. There is definitely
something special about creating things with your hands. I also love to take
photos, but recently I’ve been preoccupied with the wood working HA!

CFB:  Would you share a family recipe with us?

 

Joe Kwon:  Sure, if you ask nice. 

 

(Joe Kwon then shared and posted his mother’s kimchi fried rice recipe with pictures on his blog)

Recipes: Mama Kwon’s Kimchi Fried Rice (김치 볶음밥)

DateWednesday, January 25, 2012 at 8:20AM

Mom was over at the house yesterday and I couldn’t resist having her make me some kimchi fried rice before she left. She explained to me that kimchi fried rice is a dish that everyone loves in Korea. It is a dish probably originated, yet again, in the poorer communities of a way of using up every bit of resource. Kimchi is a fermented cabbage that has iconic state in Korea. There are hundreds of different permutations of the side dish, and every family has their own recipe.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the space or time (or permission) to post mama Kwon’s kimchi recipe, but I can post this simple recipe for when your stash of kimchi goes past it’s prime.

Behchu kimchi (napa cabbage kimchi) is what we’re working with here. Kimchi has several stages in it’s life cycle. Once it’s past it’s prime is when there are a couple things you do with it. Make kimchi chigeh (kimchi stew) or make kimchi bokumbap (kimchi fried rice). The dish centers around this over fermented kimchi, and some sort of protein.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:
1 lb over fermented kimchi
1/2 lb chicken, beef, pork, or tofu (any protein will work)
4 cups day old steamed jasmine or Korean medium grain rice
1 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

1 egg per person
Start by cutting up the protein into small half inch cubes removing all the fat and connective tissue. Next chop up the kimchi to small chunks as well, and set both aside. Bring a large frying pan to medium high heat, and add the oil and protein. Cook through. Add the kimchi, and stir fry all of it together for about 2 minutes. Add the cold rice, and incorporate into the kimchi/protein mixture. Stir fry for several minutes until the rice is heated through. Remove the pan from the heat, drizzle the sesame oil over the rice, stir, and eat right away, or heat up another frying pan to fry up your egg. The egg isn’t essential to the dish, but is totally worth it.

Bon Appétit!
많이 드세요
-Joe Kwon


Some of you may be asking where to get said ingredients. Well if you find your local korean market you can find both toasted sesame oil as well as kimchi. Make sure you’re buying the right kind of kimchi though. There are more than you can imagine.

Top Chef: Texas cheftestant has Charleston ties.


Monday January 23, 2012
by Scott Wink of CharlestonFoodBloggers.com

Charleston, SC  –  Season 9 of Top Chef has a larger than normal cast and lots of talent.  One of the cheftestants, Keith Rhodes, owns 2 restaurant in Wilmington, NC and has ties to the Charleston area.  His restaurants are Catch and Phun.  They feature lots of seafood and Southern dishes with an Asian flair.  Chef Rhodes made the cut on Top Chef to progress into the final cast only to be eliminated in a controversial, cut throat, judges table.  Despite being eliminated Chef Rhodes continues to stay close to the top of vote getters for fan favorite.  Top Chef season 9 is down to just a few remaining contestants so we thought we would talk to Chef Rhodes about his experience on the show and his restaurant Catch. 

Charleston Food Bloggers ( CFB ) :  Did you know any of the chefs from Top Chef: Texas before filming started?

Chef Keith Rhodes:  Everyone was new to me. I absolutely knew no one. There were several of the contestants that did know each other.

CFB: Which contestants surprised or impressed you the most?

Chef Keith Rhodes:  I liked talking with Chris Jones from Moto in Chicago.  I enjoyed hearing a lot about the restaurant’s philosophy.  It is not all about show, there is a lot of meaning in what they do over there at Moto. It was real insightful.  I talked to a lot of the chefs but as far as someone that I took some ideas home to think about it was definitely Chris.

Top Chef: Texas was unlike previous seasons that stayed centered around one home location.  This season moved all around the state of Texas and included every facet of what Texas could offer.  There was a minimal opportunity to cook with a lot of seafood.  I have traveled a lot and eaten a lot of food different types of food but I had never been to Texas.  It was my first time there and boy was it hot.  It was like 110 degrees.  They have a truly unique type of cuisine in Texas with lots rich influence from Mexico.

CFB:  This year they expanded the number of contestants. Were you guys running all over each other? 

Chef Keith Rhodes:  Yeah. It was intense.  It is really like stepping on a roller coaster.

CFB:  How were the judges?

Chef Keith Rhodes:   Padma, Gail, and Tom have seen thousands of chefs. They have tasted so much food.   Even with all of that experience they were still really nice people to work around.   I was honored to work with a FIVE TIME James Beard award winning Tom Colicchio.  Padma and Gail brought their wonderful personalities to the table as well.

CFB:  Have you changed or tweaked anything on your menu since your Top Chef experience?

Chef Keith Rhodes:   No, we are still doing our own thing here.  We do a lot of the modern and new techniques here at Catch already. We like to stay grounded to our Southern food with an Asian flair approach. 

CFB:  If dinners from Charleston eat at your restaurant for the first time what do you recommend they try first to get a good idea of what your cooking is all about?

Chef Keith Rhodes:  Right now things are changing because of the seasons but I would say our NC sweet potato salad. We blanch the sweet potatoes and give them a flash fry so that they get nice and crispy on the outside.  We serve it over baby spinach with a honey shallot vinegrette and some local goat cheese and sun dried cranberries.  It has some onions, some sweetness, and you feel good about eating it because it is on that bed of greens.  It is something that has been really successful and tasting that salad will let you know what we are all about.  We are about local, simplicity, and quality.

CFB:  The name of your restaurant is “Catch” which to me implies you are cooking a lot of seafood from local fisherman. Are you at the mercy of what they catch that day?

Chef Keith Rhodes:   We try to plan our picks weekly based on what fish is going to be available. So there are times when things are moving and changing on a daily basis.  Right now there is a lot of grouper and triggerfish.  We have tons of oysters and local shrimp.  All of our crab meat comes from Oriental, NC.  Our catfish comes from Greenville, NC.   We really try to say within the region.  We buy local whole fish and local produce that keep the flavors true to our area.

(seafood ceviche at Catch)

CFB:  Do you visit Charleston often?

Chef Keith Rhodes:  Yeah, I have been down there a lot. My mother-in-law actually lives in Moncks Corner. I know Sean Brock. I have spent quite a bit of time down there.

(Chef Keith Rhodes and his wife Angela Rhodes)

(2011 James Beard nominees: Chefs Sean Brock, Keith Rhodes, and Ashley Christensen)

I really have been so honored this year and I appreciate all the support especially from down there in Charleston.  That is a fantastic food scene you have down there.  I look forward to meeting you guys from Charleston.  When you stop by for dinner make sure you say hi.

CFB:  Thanks Chef Rhodes!

Lunch at High Thyme with radio personalities The Critic and Stupid Mike


Scott, Stupid Mike, and The Critic (l-r)


Click the arrow above to listen to the audio
.
The dishes are introduced by Executive Chef Taylor Still.


Executive Chef Taylor Still



Friday December 30th, 2011
by Scott Wink of CharlestonFoodBloggers.com

Charleston, SC  –  As 2011 comes to a close I am having lunch on Sullivan’s Island, SC at High Thyme with a few of my favorite Charleston radio personalities.  The Critic (James Voigt) and Stupid Mike (Mike Fili) from “105.5 The Bridge” are joining me to talk about food, New Year’s Eve, and some of their favorite things from 2011.

High Thyme is a nice restaurant right in the middle of that great strip of bars and restaurants on Sullivan’s Island.  They have been open for about 8 years and are located at 2213-C Middle Street next to Dunleavy’s Pub and the new Taco Mamacita’s.  High Thyme has recently started opening for lunch on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 11:30AM-2:30PM.

On this particular day the sun is starting to heat up the frosty morning chill.  We woke up to frozen windshields and then quickly had to peel off those warm outer layers and start questioning if we should be sitting on High Thyme’s now warm and inviting deck.

We start off with two plates.  One is the arugula salad with pecans, goat cheese, dried cherries, and a basil vinaigrette and the other is a sesame seared yellow-fin tuna served over a soba noodle salad with red chili ginger honey.  The arugula salad is beautiful and hit all the notes I like in a salad. I don’t like raisins but have been on a big dried cherry kick lately so this was perfect for me.  The tuna was also very light and delicate but packed a nice punch of complimentary flavors and just a hint of spice.

The second course was the grilled lamb salad with onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, pita triangles, and yogurt dressing.  The lamb part of this dish is the tricky part but I felt it was seasoned really well and had nice texture. The yogurt dressing was there but didn’t smoother out all of the ingredients so I was very pleased.

Next we tried the hot dogs and BBQ.  The hot dogs come in a pair and are topped with chili, cheese, slaw, and onions. It came with a side of cold macaroni salad. We had the Eastern NC style BBQ pork sandwich, with spicy red  slaw, and jalapeno hush puppies (not pictured).  Stupid Mike really liked the hush puppies and The Critic is a self proclaimed hot dog savant so these plates were definitely winners.


James Voigt, aka The Critic, is a self proclaimed hot dog savant

To finish off lunch we had a piece of their key lime pie with whipped cream.  I grew up in Florida so I have had hundreds of key lime pies in my day.  I have to say this was a really good version.  Is was a perfect balance of sweet and tart with the cracker crust that was firm and not too crumbly.



I will be headed back to High Thyme for lunch again soon. I already know what I want to try next time: the shrimp salad croissant and the braised beef sandwich.

Finding a new favorite place to eat or a new favorite dish can be something special.  Just like how when The Critic finds a new band or song that he likes he is happy to share his findings to the world. That same urge happens inside of me when I find or rediscover a great place to eat.  There are a lot of restaurant choices on Sullivan’s Island. Don’t let all the choices distract you from checking out or rediscovering High Thyme…….and definitely put them at the top of your list of lunch options!

Stupid Mike reading the menu???







10 course meal at FIG wows local rockers Dangermuffin (a vegan, a vegitarian, and a pescetarian)



The location: F.I.G. Restaurant on Meeting St in Charleston



The chef: F.I.G.’s Chef de Cuisine Jason Stanhope


The band: Folly Beach’s own Dangermuffin
You can follow them on Facebook or Twitter for info on their music and upcoming shows




by Scott Wink of CharlestonFoodBloggers.com

Charleston, SC –   When I discovered the eating preferences of the guys from the Charleston band Dangermuffin I was intrigued.  The musical trio features lead singer Dan Lotti (a vegan), on drums Steven Sandifer (a vegetarian), and lead guitarist Mike Sivilli (a pescetarian… which means he will also eat fish).  The guys are hosting “Turkey Jam” Saturday November 19th, 2011 at the Pour House. Proceeds will benefit the Lowcountry Food Bank.  There will be about 15 performances both on the main stage and deck stage.


As I am setting up a dinner interview with the guys I pretty quickly realized that not too many Charleston restaurants cater to guests who have made these types of dietary choices.  F.I.G. Restaurant however was up to the challenge.  Talking to them in advance they said this was absolutely not a problem for them.  We would be in the hands of F.I.G.’s Chef de Cuisine Jason Stanhope. Stanhope formerly was Chef de Cuisine in Kansas City working with two James Beard Award winning chefs Debbie Gold and Michael Smith at 40 Sardines.


Chef Jason Stanhope came out and introduced himself to the guys and told them that he is always happy to cook for guests who enjoy fresh produce.  He said that a majority of the current mid-summer veggies this day came from Thornhill Farm (Our Local Foods Kitchen Table Cuisine) in McClellanville, SC or Blackbird Farms in Hendersonville, NC.   Blackbird Farms and Thackerary Farms on Wadmalaw Island, SC are considered sister farms due to the longtime friendship of the farmers.


Our server Tim brought us some vegan bread which was from Normandy Farms Bakery here in Charleston.  On the side was some olive oil, butter, and salts. 


As we sit around and talk Mike says he was the first of the group to experiment with vegetarianism.  He grew up in an Italian family and his mother was a great cook. She cooked lots of great vegetables and sides but there were always also lots of meats included.   He says just like any other kid he just accepted that if he ordered pizza it had pepperoni or if he ordered a sandwich it had turkey.   It wasn’t until he got older that he realized that the foods you choose to eat are truly your own personal choices and that meat isn’t a requirement.  One day he just decided to experiment with being vegetarian and never looked back.  Mike admits that sometimes but not often he will have some seafood so he currently considers himself pescetarian.


Dan explained that his transition to veganism started in 2006.  Mike and Dan became roommates and Dan would see some of the great things Mike would have to eat.  Until then he had never even thought twice about his daily intake of meat.  Then in 2007 he decided to make the move and started eating vegan.  He said within the first month he lost about 10 pounds and noticed his energy level was raised. 




First Course: Roasted peaches with thyme, cress, olive oil, aged sherry vinegar, and a pinch of salt.





What an amazing plate.  It was both beautiful and delicious. This level of quality was to continue throughout our meal.  The acid from the garnish and vinegar perfectly balanced the sweetness that came from the peaches.  The slight roasting helped to caramelize just enough of the natural sugars to really bring out the sweetness of the peaches. A slash of salt on top…..brilliant start.


As we ooohhhed and aaaahhhed over the peaches we discussed how South Carolina really produces more peaches than Georgia despite Georgia maintaining their reputation as “The Peach State”.  Steven chipped in with a smile “gotta let Georgia have something I guess.”  The New York Times this summer said that South Carolina ships 90,000 tons of peaches a year compared to Georgia’s 40,000 tons a year.


Mike led a pretty interesting discussion on how fast food companies focus on 99 cent meat products  like hamburgers but nobody is doing the same with veggies. Companies are making food products using the cheapest ingredients they can get with the goal of making money rather than focusing on what is healthy and tastes good, Steven added.  Dan noted that he was encouraged recently when big mass merchants like Wal-Mart announced that they are stocking more organic products because of demand from consumers.


One of Dangermuffin’s most memorable recent meals they tell me came in Milwaukee, WI at The Riverwest Co-Op.  They picked up some great black bean burritos while they were in town to play.  They played at the outdoor Bastille Days event with Los Hombres Calientes from New Orleans.  “It was cool to share the stage with those guys”, recalled Dan.  “It felt like the whole town was out. There was like 10,000 people just walking the city, eating, checking out all of the different stages, and listening to lots of different types of music.”


Second course (seen below): Cherokee purple tomatoes, small sun gold tomatoes, radishes, Saba , basil, olive oil, and salt.







Dan tells me, “A lot of people think it is hard to eat vegetarian and more so vegan while on the road but it is not that hard.  There are more resources now. Just like how we are able to use (GPS) navigation the iPhone has certain apps.  One of them is called Happy Cow that helps us find co-ops or restaurants that are vegan friendly.  A lot of the best places seem to be ethnic like Mexican, Indian, Chinese, or Thai.”


Steve says the only time they ever have problems eating good is if they are in a big hurry.  “We can find these great places for fresh great food but sometimes we are on a tight schedule trying to get to the next gig.  If we are traveling on the interstate and just get to stop for a minute then Subway tends to be our only choice or Moe’s.”  


“Try being vegan and getting something in a gas station….impossible. Everything has milk or honey products or is nothing but sugar”, added Dan.



Third and fourth courses (seen below):


Roasted peppers Shimla and Nardello peppers roasted, radicchio, pickled garlic, parsley, and olive oil.


Lipstick peppers and eggplant which were poached in acidulated water and marinated overnight. They added some pickled garlic, raw crooked neck squash, Marcona almonds, parsley, aged balsamic and rustic torn croutons.






Mike Sivilli and Steven Sandifer




Fifth course (seen below):  Shaved raw sprite melon, cucumber, tossed with lemon confit, lemon juice, lemon agrumato (citrus infused into olive oil), and garnish






Sixth course:  Tomato tarte tatin : 






Dan Lotti


Seventh course (see below):   vegetarian version (not vegan) of Ricotta Gnocchi with squash blossoms




Eigth course (see below):…..why don’t you guys guess. I can’t tell you everything





Ninth course: Blueberries, creme fraiche,and lime zest




Tenth course: perfectly ripe figs and peaches lightly dressed and balanced




Wow what an amazing meal of 10 vegetarian/vegan dishes they we got to share family style.  I have a lot of respect for what Chef Jason Stanhope is doing at F.I.G. as Chef de Cuisine under Executive Chef Mike Lata.  I can’t wait to come back to F.I.G. and I bet next time I will not think of meat as a requirement.



 

Some of my random favorite quotes from the night:

Honey is off limits for vegans. I don’t really see it but “rules is rules”.  -Dan


Pork belly…I call it Pig stomach.  -Steven


Bend Oregon. They take their beer pretty seriously there.  -Dan


I love me some roasted beets.  -Dan


Jason is a super talented guy.  -our server Tim


Tour van, no trailer. It feels like a Tetris game each night when we pack up. -Steven


Something I would like to get into is jarring and canning things. -Steven


We should invite Danger Mouse to one of our shows and see what he brings.  -Mike

We play a lot of disc golf. Steve is not as obsessive about it as Mike and I are. It’s the best thing when you are traveling 8-10 hours a day.  You get to get out of the van and run around in the woods.  -Dan






Artistic bonus feature!

Each of the guys was asked to express themselves with a marker and a napkin. 
Their ability to be creative and spontaneous was put to the challenge and they all passed with flying colors.  Here is what they turned in for their quick art projects. 

Dan Lotti came up with a geographic representation of where they have recently toured.  Above the map appears to be an almost Dangermuffin version of the US flag.






Steve Sandifer nicely sketched a homage to the dinning area of F.I.G. The spacing of the lighting, art on the walls, and tables was very spot on.




Mike Sivilli drew his inspiration from pepper stems of the third and fourth courses.

                













Campfire food and Halloween candy: Brett Dennen shares ahead of his Oct 22nd show in Charleston, SC



Brett3.jpg Brett Dennen

 

( You can follow Brett Dennen on Facebook or Twitter )

 

Charleston Food Bloggers ( CFB ) : As a former camp counselor what are a few of your favorite songs and food items for a campfire?

Brett Dennen: Peaceful Easy Feeling“, I love to sing that song around a fire. And
for food, I like a big bowl of black bean chili and some cornbread.

CFB:  What are a few of your favorite restaurants?

Brett Dennen:  My favorite restaurants are Blue Plate Oysterette in Santa Monica, CA and El Molino in Boyes Hot Springs, CA.

CFB:  I love how your sound and style is so unique. Does that carry into your
diet? Do you have any unique or unusual things you like to eat or ways
to eat things?

Brett Dennen:  I mostly eat a lot of raw vegan food, but I love sushi. And I have a hard time resisting chips and salsa.

CFB:  Halloween is sneaking up on us again. Let’s talk about candy. People
usually come home and go through their bag of candy and divide it into 2
piles…..candy they like, “good candy” and candy they don’t like “bad
candy”. What would be a few things you put in each pile?

Brett Dennen:  “Good Candy” is always anything rich and chocolaty like Resse’s
cups or Twix or Milk Duds. “Bad Candy” is hard fruity stuff like Jolly
Ranchers. I can’t stand Good ‘n Plenty.

CFB:  Do you cook? If so do you have some specialties?

Brett Dennen:  Yes. I make a lot of raw food. Tacos and soups and lasagnas and
salads. Its fun to make raw versions of those. I’m also pretty handy
with cooking fish.

CFB:  Your new album Loverboy is so solid top to bottom. Which song on the album are you currently the most happy with?

Brett Dennen:  Frozen In Slow Motion. I think it is bumpin’. Love a slow jam.

CFB:  A lot of people like to look for meaning in artists’ songs. Do you like
to keep that stuff private or would you discuss some of your personal
experiences that inspired the song Sydney (I’ll Come Running). It
sounds fun and light with a great melody but lyrically it is a very
emotionally charged song of possibly friendship, guilt, and devotion…..
Would you share any small inspirations about that song with us? For
example some of my favorite lines are: “Allegations made in the school
yard Soccer moms gossip in the dog park Their bark is worse then their
bite”

Brett Dennen:  It’s mostly about standing up to bullies. But I wrote it for a
friend who was accused of something he didn’t do, and a lot of people
around started talking smack.

CFB:  I met the guys from Guster last month and went out to dinner with leadsinger Ryan Miller. They are great guys. I see that you will be doing
some shows with them later in the year and also that Luke Reynolds
contributed to Loverboy. How long have you known those guys?

Brett Dennen:
  I’ve known Guster since ’07 and I’ve known Luke for longer. Luke and
I used to be housemates, and he played in my band for a while.

 

EXCLUSIVE: Zac Brown Band’s Southern Ground Music and Food Festival menu for next weekend! (featuring chefs Sean Brock, Mike Lata, Rusty Hamlin and more)

 

Southern Ground Music & Food Festival
Oct 21st-23rd, 2011  in Charleston, SC

 

 Front Porch Stage  Box Menu:

(served family style)

Appetizers

 

 

 

 Moulard duck confit carnitas, tomatillo salsa, cabbage, roasted jalapeno
(Chef RJ Cooper of Rogue 24 in Washington DC)

 

 

 

Bourbon molasses pork belly, goat ricotta, black-eye hoe cake, fennel fig slaw
(Chef Rusty Hamlin of Atkins Park Tavern in Atlanta, GA)

 

 

 

Entrees

 

 

 

 

 

 

Butter Pea Pasta E Fagioli
(Chef Mike Lata of FIG in Charleston, SC)

 

 

 

 Cornmeal Dusted Flounder with Fall Vegetable and Blue Crab Succotash
&
Roasted Carrots with Tarragon and Brown Butter Crumble
(Chef Sean Brock of McCrady’s and Husk in Charleston, SC) 

 

 

 

Dessert 

 

 

 

Banana Pudding with a Vanilla Wafer Crumble
&
Mini Chocolate Pies in Graham Cracker
(Pastry Chef David Gaus of Bayou Bakery in Arlington, VA)

 


 

Friday October 14th, 2011
by Scott Wink of CharlestonFoodBloggers.com

Charleston, SC – This is going to be the menu for the 3 course dinner served at the 3 day Southern Ground Music and Food Festival organized by The Zac Brown Band.  The festival is to be held in Charleston, SC on Daniel Island from Friday Oct 21st-23rd 2011.  The meals will be served family style so you will get to taste each dish that is prepared.  The food will arrive at each table via a dumbwaiter system.  Zac Brown’s parter in these music and food events is Chef Rusty Hamlin.  He told us that the dumbwaiter system was one of Zac’s ideas.  As the food begins to rise up through that system Chef Hamlin says you can see how excited all of the waiting guests get as the try to get their first glimpses and smells of the food coming from underneath the stage.   This reminds me of how Garth Brooks used to rise up from underneath the stage surrounded by smoke to start his concerts.  Chef Hamlin says the purpose of these types of events is to, “marry food and music together on a new level.”  The menu will be identical on all three days and is sure to be a big crowd pleaser.  In addition to the 3 course meal Chef Hamlin says the bands 54 foot semi truck named “Cookie” will be serving up additional food and serves as a mobile kitchen.  You can expect:

 


 

creole jambalaya,
beef tenderloin sliders,
pork tenderloin,
and chocolate peanut butter biscuit pudding ( recipe )


 

There should be many other things available including Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ…….oh we haven’t even talked about the amazing bands that will be performing.  We will be posting an interview with Brett Dennen this week who will be performing on Saturday and is one of the acts we are most excited to see. Get your front porch stage tickets fast they are almost sold out!!!

(photos courtesy of The Zac Brown Band and Chef Rusty Hamlin)

Food Network’s Aaron Sanchez features Charleston on the show Heat Seekers this week







Thursday August 25th, 2011


by Scott Wink of CharlestonFoodBloggers.com




Charleston, SC – Chef Aaron Sanchez came to Charleston this summer to film an episode of his new Food Network series called Heat Seekers.  They were looking for ways that Charleston restaurants incorporate spicy foods into their menus.  They filmed at Pearlz (XXX spicy oyster shooter), Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ (Death Relish) and the food trucks Hello My Name is BBQ (spicy meatloaf sandwhich) and Diggity Doughnuts (spicy sriracha doughnuts).


 


You may remember Aaron from his Food Network shows such as Chefs Vs. City, The Next Iron Chef and Chopped.  Heat Seekers premiered this summer and the Charleston episode is set to premier on Friday August 26th at 10PM on Food Network.  We spoke to Aaron about his new show.


 


CFB:  How long have you know your Heat Seekers co-host Roger Mooking?


 Chef Aaron Sanchez:  I met him right before we started shooting and we became fast friends. We spent some time together in New York.  We went out to dinner.  We hung out and, you know, he is just an amazingly good person. He affects and touches people lives with his laughter and joy. He is just a talented and good guy that knows a lot about food. We are a very good team.


 


CFB:  What can we tell people to expect from Heat Seekers? 


 Chef Aaron Sanchez: What we are trying to do here is expose all the other elements of heat. Not necessarily just the spiciness which is the obvious element but you know the citrus and other nuances and flavor profiles you get from chilies.  We are also trying to highlight restaurants that serve spicy food that might not be recognized as such


 


CFB:  Why do you think people enjoy eating spicy foods with the pain element that is involved?


 Chef Aaron Sanchez:  I think people are trying to push themselves and really understand what food can do physically and emotionally so if you have the same basic flavors all of the time it doesn’t challenge your palate. It doesn’t challenge you. So when you have spicy food it allows you to pay attention to things you may not have paid attention to.


 


CFB:  Do you think more women are starting to get into spicy foods more these days?


Chef Aaron Sanchez:  Absolutely. I have seen quite a shift in the balance. It is not just about big burley guys who like spicy.  I have seen small little 100 pound girls taking it down. The heart is what matters.


 


CFB:  What do you do to cool down after trying those super spicy foods?


Chef Aaron Sanchez:  The secret for me is sour cream or yogurt and then mix that with sugar.  Mix a couple of teaspoons of sugar to 1 cup of sour cream or yogurt. A couple of spoonfuls of that will take about 80-90 percent of the capsaicin off of your palate.


 


CFB:  Within about how long?


Chef Aaron Sanchez:  It takes some time. It doesn’t happen right away. It is not instant but, it starts at least helping right away.


 


CFB:  What are your current flavors besides heat you like these days?


Chef Aaron Sanchez:   I am really liking how people are smoking meats right now. That is really one part of my game I want to improve on. How to really do great BBQ? I am also into Asian flavors and how subtle and intricate the preparations are.


 


CFB:  Not too many people do Latin fusion.  Why not?


Chef Aaron Sanchez:   For me fusion equals confusion.  If I am going to do a restaurant I am going to do it all one way.  If it is Asian then I am going to do all the way Asian and try to do as much respect to that food as I can and not confuse the message.


 


CFB:  If it is lunch time and you are on the interstate and nothing but gas stations or fast food around what do you do? 


Chef Aaron Sanchez:  I would just stay hungry.  I want something that is made with people’s hands or I would try to run something over that I can cook.


 


CFB:  What are your other hobbies? 


Chef Aaron Sanchez:  My wife is a musician so we do a lot of stuff around that. We are also Buddhists. We practice Buddhism and we belong to an organization called SGI. I also like to play basketball, I write poetry, I write books. My new book will be coming out in October from the publisher Atria. The book is called Simple Food Big Flavor.


 


CFB: Is it a recipe book? 


Chef Aaron Sanchez:  It has recipes and personal stories. I need to swing by Charleston on my book tour.


 


CFB:  We would love to have you back. We can’t wait to see the Heat Seekers episode you filmed here in Charleston.  The episode premiers on Friday August 26th at 10PM on Food Network.






Food interview with lead singer of Guster, Ryan Miller, at Chef Sean Brock’s Husk Restaurant.

IMG_4711AB(Chef Sean Brock of Husk with Ryan Miller of Guster)

Here is my interview with the lead singer of rock group Guster as they swung through Charleston, SC on tour.  We met and ate at the restaurant Husk.

Charleston Food Bloggers ( CFB ) : Did you know your band’s name “Guster” has some food implications?  Gust or gusto means to relish, taste or sample.

Ryan Miller of Guster: Yeah, but when we named our band I was eating Chef Boyardee out of a can and Swanson  dinners.  Knowingly, there were no food implications back then.  Apparently there is a pretty lascivious meaning too because sometimes it pops up while I am searching Twitter or Facebook.  Guster means something else completely to some people.  Weird. Your life will not be richer for going down that worm hole.

CFB: You guys seem to be doing some fun food stuff recently. I saw you having dinner with Daryl Hall on one of his webisodes. Is food something you are into these days?

Ryan Miller of Guster: There is a lot of overlap between touring musicians and…..I hate the word foodies…..but people that enjoy food and search it out. I am always looking for more unique or local stuff.  We spend our whole lives traveling the world and you gotta eat.  Then it occurred to us a few years into it that you don’t have to eat fast food.   In fact we can probably eat great food. We can eat interesting stuff that is unique to whatever state or city we are in.  We found out about ChowHound and I would spend an hour a day trying to figure out what people where eating wherever we were.  Then Yelp came along and streamlined that whole process. Now there are a bunch of websites we can go to that helps us figure out where the fun weird places to eat are that are super local.

CFB: What are some of your favorite places to eat or types of food?

Ryan Miller of Guster: In Charleston there is a bunch of great places I like to eat. One that recent place I really liked was Hominy Grill.  Charleston is one of my favorite cities in the country and definitely my favorite city in the south, mostly because of the architecture and the food.  I always eat well when I am down there.  I love BBQ.  I grew up in Texas on Tex-Mex and chicken fried steak. When we go to California I’ll always eat a bunch of Mexican food but also a bunch of and sushi.  I eat a bunch of seafood in the northwest and you know get some weird hot dogs in the mid-west.  I have my favorite burger joint in Boston, but I am definitely always up for trying new stuff.  Oh yeah and there is this vegan place in Kansas City we really love.  I like to try a bunch of stuff…. especially if it is blowing up on ChowHound or Yelp or RoadFood.

CFB: Do you like the new food truck trend?

Ryan Miller of Guster: I love food trucks, especially out in LA and Portland. They are great because you can try a bunch of stuff.  There are a lot of really amazing chefs doing food trucks these days. No question.  But sometimes I just like sitting down and reading a magazine too.

IMG_4722A(Ryan performing later that night in Charleston)

CFB: Do you guys do any cooking on the tour bus?

Ryan Miller of Guster: Barely, it’s not for cooking.  There is no stove. The fanciest we get is the George Foreman grill every once in a while.  I mostly try to eat well at lunch or dinner.

CFB: Are there any food shows on TV that you follow?

Ryan Miller of Guster:  Guy Fieri is pretty infuriating but I almost always like where he goes.  I appreciate what he is doing but I am more of an Anthony Bourdain fan.  I got into cooking with Cook’s Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen.  That is a really, really, dry program so it also got infuriating on a different level after a while. I watched Top Chef for a while but I don’t watch too much TV anymore.

CFB: Do you think all of the food TV shows are helping to step up the quality and diversity of food you can get in smaller towns?

Ryan Miller of Guster: I think it is cool that cooking is a cultural talking point.  These shows are ambassadors for what cooking is. You can’t taste the food but it helps you to know what to look for. Does it feel fresh?  Is it over seasoned?  Is it under seasoned?  There is a lot of emphasis on things that are made from scratch. Like the Guy Fieri thing.  He goes to places that start with raw ingredients and it really makes a difference.

CFB: It feels like rock and roll and the food world have a lot of similarities.

Ryan Miller of Guster: I read this article about 6 months ago “Is Food the New Indie Rock?”.   It talks about all of these parallels between food and hipsters.  They have to find the weirdest ingredients and want things the purest.  It was maligning how hipsters have to be there first and how it has to be so cool and everything has to be so immaculately sourced.  On Portlandia how they did that thing with “I need to go meet my chicken”.  (see below…starts getting good about 1/2 way through)

They kind of nailed it in that sense. There is a lot of cross over with the elitist attitude.  Saying “I’m going to go here because no one knows about it yet”.  The guys that are cooking, like the really badass chefs, like Wylie Dufresne, and the dudes that do Animal in LA, there is a lot of cross over….David Chang. Those worlds are really melding all the time and in a great way. David Chang just put out a magazine called Lucky Peach. The first issue was on Ramen Noodles.  It was like a Rolling Stone the way it was produced.  It looked just like a music magazine and it really hammered home this point.  I would be just as excited to meet David Chang as I was to meet one of the dudes from Arcade Fire.

IMG_4686AB

(The famous cheeseburger at Husk)

CFB: Have you ever eaten at any of the celebrity chefs places?

Ryan Miller of Guster: David Chang is my speed.   I have also done the Mario Batali’s. There was a guy on Top Chef.  He was a molecular gastronomist.  He was a friend of a friend and we were going to go over for dinner and make chicken fried steak out of meat glue and chicken skin.  I would love to meet more of those guys and be in that world a little more.  I certainly enjoy it.

CFB: What is the  hardest thing to eat with a full beard?

Ryan Miller of Guster: I just need to keep it under control. It’s mostly just mustache. I do it now. I sacrifice and cut it down. I don’t want to eat hair with everything…..cotton candy.

CFB: What is a typical day like for you
guys while you are out on the road?

Ryan Miller of Guster: We all have developed other parts of our professional careers. I am a composer. I score for films and TV. Right now I am working on a movie. I work on the film during the day and do shows at night.  In the morning when I get up I might look on Yelp or ChowHound or ask some people where a good place to eat is.  I try to make sure and find a great lunch.  That might be my one exploration of the city. Depending on how it all filters out I might go out to dinner.  Food really serves as a launching point for exploring the city.  In St Louis if something looks cool but is really far out of the way I might get on my bike and ride to a weird part of town and that way I can explore and go farther afield.  We try to keep  a couple bikes with us on the bus.

CFB: Did you want to weigh in on some of the sadder stories in music this summer like Amy Winehouse’s death or Kings of Leon canceling their tour?  Band of Horses were their opening act. Those guys live in Charleston now. We were really bummed for them.

Ryan Miller of Guster: I can’t imagine that being that famous is easy and having to keep it up.  Having one of the biggest record of the year worldwide and them maybe your next one isn’t and having to be that guy. There is a lot of pressure being in that spot.   We have never been close to being that famous or having that many eyeballs on us and pocket books that are relying on you.  I only met [Kings of Leon] a few times and they were always super nice to me.   It is really hard to be a musician right now, especially a working musician. It is so hard to get people to focus on what you are doing and appreciate your music.  I am a lot less eager to bash people that are actually out there making it happen because I realize how much harder it is every day.  I am sure Band of Horses have a lot to say about that too.  The Winehouse thing is super sad. She was obviously very sick for a long time and it is a real bummer.  There is probably a lot of crossover between those people that are somewhat self-destructive and people that have something to say artistically that is valuable.

CFB: It seems like XM radio’s channel The Spectrum plays your stuff quite a bit.  Has some of these new technologies helped get your music out there a little more?

Ryan Miller of Guster: We are really big fans of all the technology.  The reason the music business is hard is because there are so many outlets now and there are so many great bands making great music.  Spotify has become a big thing here in the states recently and it’s incredible. XM is certainly an extension of that as is Pandora.  We debuted songs on our new EP on Turntable. It is on the front end of a lot of this stuff.  As long as you put the music first then it’s all great.  We certainly have had support from XM and appreciate it.

CFB: Is there anything you want to tell your fans in Charleston?

Ryan Miller of Guster: We just want people to come. Honest to God I love Charleston.  There are not that many cities in America where you can just walk around and all the houses are stunning and there is so much culture pound for pound.  Savannah and New Orleans are the only others that come to mind.  Just come out and see us.  I love to keep coming back here.

IMG_4699AB

(Me, Ryan, and local musician Johnathan Gray)

Morelli’s Gourmet Ice Cream in Atlanta raises the bar.

Friday, June 16, 2011
by Scott Wink of CharlestonFoodBloggers.com

Atlanta, GA –  We like ice cream.  Most people do.  We, however, like our ice cream to excite us the same way the rest of our meals do…..lots of different flavor combinations and lots of taste.  Forget vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate.   Think “coconut jalapeno”, “maple bacon brittle”, “balsamic strawberry”, “ginger lavender”, “Krispy Kreamier”,  and even “Feta and basil”.  These are only a few of the hundred of flavors of ice cream that Morelli’s Gourmet Ice Cream & Desserts at 749 Moreland Ave B-102 in Atlanta, GA 30316 serves.  This location does not have inside seating.  Customers wait in line outside and get their orders handed to them through a sliding window in the front of the ice cream shop.  At any given moment Morelli’s has about 20+ flavor options.  While that is great for trying new flavors it could be bad if you have a favorite flavor you want to eat on a regular basis.  I kind of like it though. It forces me to stay adventurous.

Top Chef contestant Kevin Gillespie of Woodfire Grill told us we had to go check them out. He has been working with Morelli’s owners Donald Sargent and Clarissa Morelli to develop a few of their cutting edge flavors like maple bacon brittle.  Kevin lives near Morelli’s and is a frequent customer.  The collaboration with Gillespie will continue this year when the second Morelli’s location opens this month.  Gillespie will be developing a sundae menu for that new location which will be located at 1221 Caroline Street.   

When we where in Atlanta recently we got to spend some time with owner Clarissa Morelli and even do some food photography for them.  They were trying to decide how to decorate their new location so we did a photo shoot to give them some ideas and get them started (see photos below).  We asked if they had any flavor combinations that fell flat or were too complicated for their customers and they answered “celery and guacamole”.  Interesting. I would try it.   I was also curious which flavor was one of their most popular and they informed me that their “salted caramel flavor sells 2 buckets to every one bucket of vanilla”.  Lastly, we asked them for some of their favorite ice cream places in the US and they said they really like Ici Ice Cream in Berkeley, CA,  Humphry Slocombe in San Francisco, CA, and Bi Rite Creamery in San Francisco, CA.

This is the type of ice cream shop that every great food town needs.  Something similar to Morelli’s would do well in Charleston.  A lot of Charleston’s dessert places stop much shorter that Morelli’s in pushing the limits of flavor or have limited access.  Here are my 3 favorite creative frozen dessert places in Charleston (I don’t like frozen yogurt):

  • Paolo’s Gelato (in Atlanta and Charleston)  is typically really good but they only have a couple of flavors a day and they are not nearly as creative.  
  • Roots Ice Cream  is the closest thing we have to Morelli’s but they only sell from a small cart at farmers markets or other events.  Hopefully they can find a permanent location and expand their daily selection. I think it would be a guaranteed winner.  They are trying a CSI (community supported ice cream) for a 12 week season this summer.  You pay for the whole season and then pick up your pints once a week at the farmers market.  I really liked their beet flavored ice cream!
  • Diggity Doughnuts food truck has some great ice cream sandwich specials which usually consist of a scoop of ice cream stuck inside a fresh doughnut.  They make crazy good doughnuts.  I am not sure if they are all vegan but I do no they make many great tasting vegan options.  I need to find out more info about the ice cream they use.  Could it be diary free? Maybe but probably not…..so many questions. (Note to self……talk to Roots and Diggity and find more information about their stuff….maybe an in depth summer feature on them)

The next time you are in Atlanta stop by one of Morelli’s locations and sample some of their great flavors. If you are a fan of Top Chef ask for one of Kevin Gillespie’s flavor creations.  (“Hot”lanta in summer) + (Morelli’s ice cream in your hand) = (not so bad).

Maple bacon brittle

Krispy Kreamier….tastes just like the donuts!!!

Piccolo Spoleto: Each year the Marching Abominable band wanders the streets of Charleston delighting the city free of charge.







Monday May 23rd,  2011
by Scott Wink of Charlestonfoodbloggers.com

Charleston, SC – For the past 21 years Atlanta’s Seed and Feed Marching Abominable has been appearing in Charleston during Spoleto. They are a community band with outrageous costumes and lots of energy.  They appear typically 3 times during Spoleto.  For 2011 they are scheduled to appear at noon on May 28th in Marion Square as part of the free children’s festival. Then later that night they perform their pajama march from 11PM-midnight at the US Customs House.  Their 3rd and final show in Charleston this year will be on Sunday May 29th from noon-1PM on the steps of the US Customs building (200 East Bay Street in downtown Charleston).  More details of their Piccolo Spoleto performances can be found here: http://www.piccolospoleto.com/?cat=114


I know I personally wandered across their performance for the first time in the Market during the pajama march many years ago.  I had no idea what was happening and I loved it. I have made a point to see at least one performance by them every Spoleto.  L enjoy them because It is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and seeing this show just puts a smile on my face and reminds me to live life one day at a time and enjoy it!!  You can follow them on Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/seedandfeed  or Twitter @seedandfeed .   Make sure you read the 10 questions below that we asked a few of the band members. We discuss logistics, preparation for the show, their favorite places to eat, some memorable experiences and what brings them back year after year. 


Q#1 Charleston Food Bloggers ( CFB ) :  It seems like the band has so many members you guys wouldn’t be able to all eat at the same place….”Table for 40 please!”.  After so many years of coming to Charleston you must have a pretty good system for handling that. Can you briefly talk about coordinating meals?


Band:


Katharine Chestnut aka Drumbabe (Bookie and cymbals)- For the most part, we are all on our own when it comes to meals. Some of us have favorite restaurants and will book reservations well in advance. I, for one, made reservations for 6 at SNOB just a couple weeks ago for Saturday night. That is the night we do our PJ march. 

When word gets out about a good place, you will find Abominables popping in at different times. When the Bookstore Café was on King  (now Charleston’s Cafe in Mount Pleasant) , you would frequently find us overrunning the place in the mornings.

There is really only one exception to this on Friday night. Most of us arrive on Friday sometime and we do coordinate a get-together where the bulk of our members are staying. We’ll purchase loads of pizzas and everyone is invited to bring a dessert. We do the usual things there like socializing, enjoy each other’s company and, of course, play music. Although in this case, it is usually a guitar or two with group singing.


Charles (former band manager and trombone) – An attempt many years ago to go out for a group dinner (completely unplanned — just started with a few people gathering in the hotel parking lot and things started snowballing — became legendary (not in a good way) and known as the “Dinner from Hell”. Hasn’t been tried since — for good reason.

Q#2 CFB:  What are some of your most memorable or favorite restaurants/meals in Charleston?


Band:


Katharine Chestnut aka Drumbabe (Bookie and cymbals)– One year, I was seated with 4-5 others at the chef table at SNOB and we got to watch the kitchen as we ate. Another time, we were having breakfast at the Bookstore Café (formerly on King but now Charleston’s Cafe in Mount Pleasant) with about 15 members in the restaurant. One member ordered the Oyster Omelet. When it arrived, she was so in love with the taste, she started moaning and carrying on. Think of the scene from ‘When Harry Met Sally’ with Meg Ryan. Another patron (not an Abominable) said she wanted whatever LouiZe was having. We, of course, thought it was hilarious and still talk about it years later.


Alan Taylor (current band manager and trombone)  – Several years ago my favorite restaurant , ‘Slightly North of Broad ‘ received a bad review in one of the local papers. I already had reservations and I remarked to my co-diners that this was either going to be a big disappointment or an outstanding experience. Well it was the latter and the service and the food was perfect. No restaurant anywhere has topped this dining experience.


Julie Sammons –  Bowen’s Island – before the new building – with rain beating on the roof.  She-crab soup all over town, but especially at Magnolia’s or Blossom.  Coast Bar and Grill – love that they use sustainable seafood, it’s delicious, and it’s walkable from our accommodations.  Caviar and Bananas forms the base for many happy meals on the go.

Charles (former band manager and trombone)
 – The group I usually hang out with is not the most imaginative about trying new things. We tend to have our “traditional” activities — Friday nights are usually at Tommy Condon’s.  Our Sunday beach experience in the last few years has started with lunch at Poe’s Tavern.  We must make a stop at Hyman’s for lunch as we are leaving town.


Dave (bass drum)  – We had a great meal at the Boat House one year when we had kind of an extended family reunion.  We found a good little French place near McAllister Dorm on King St. call La Fourchette



Q#3 CFB:    If people come across one of your events on the street they may be caught a little off guard.  What are some of the most memorable responses you have seen people have to a performance?

Band:


Katharine Chestnut aka Drumbabe (Bookie and cymbals) – Most people at Spoleto are in a good mood and on vacation. They are ready for a good time, even if it is a little offbeat. We have a lot of fans that have come to expect us at Spoleto so most of our members wear SFMA t-shirts as we walk about the city. We have folks regularly ask us when we will be performing and have even had ‘fan clubs’ show up at performances with signs welcoming us (i.e. We heart Seed & Feed).

As for performance reactions, it varies. At the children’s festival on Saturday, we have those that come to expect us and show their delight by clapping and dancing at our appearance. For the newbies, they are taken aback at first but quickly get into the spirit of joy that we bring with us everywhere. Our appearance (costumes) are a giveaway that something wonderful is happening. Our Despicables (i.e. The dancers that help us find our way through the crowds) do a great job of engaging with the audience and encouraging them to dance.

This is our 21st year coming to perform at Spoleto. The first couple years, we were not really invited (ok, to be truthful, they had no idea we were coming) but after a few years, visitors to Spoleto were asking the organizers about our schedule. We have been a part of the Piccolo schedule for many years now. There was period of time that Piccolo would pay us an honorarium but, honorarium or no, we are there every year. We foot the bill ourselves. Our band looks forward to this event all year long. These are our final performances before taking a break for the summer, a reward for our members for a season well done.

Alan Taylor (current band manager and trombone) – We get varied responses. Some like to pretend that we are not there an others follow us to see where we are going. I like to catch the reaction of our Spoleto Virgins (first timers in the band) when we do our Pajama March and turn the corner and up the steps to a huge audience waiting at the Customs House.


Charles (former band manager and trombone)  – This was not MY experience, but several band members loved it when Mikhail Baryshnikov took THEIR picture when he spotted the overly costumed group walking down the street. Our fantasy is that he has them on his refrigerator at home.


The most unique crowd reaction that I did experience was also an event that surprised most band members. Two of our members got married during one of our Sunday patriotic concerts — but no one except them, their families, and the conductor knew anything about it. We were surprised suddenly, in the middle of the show, to be witnesses to a wedding, and the audience loved it too.






Q#4 CFB:  We really love the costumes and characters.  Is everyone responsible for coming up with their own costumes or is there a wardrobe/prop closet they can pull from if needed? 


Band:


Katharine Chestnut aka Drumbabe (Bookie and cymbals)- LOL! There is NO closet that we all pull from. The Bookie will call a basic theme of costume for each performance. Saturday children’s festival = Tacky Tourist (a long time theme we have use for years that includes bright, happy colors). Saturday night PJ march = well, you guessed it, PJs. Of course, we all each have a different idea of what that means. Sunday patriotic performance = Red, White and Blue. Most of us costume in varying degrees and we find treasures in all types of locations: thrift stores, yard sales, and, in years past, we used to all descend upon the vintage clothing store, Grannies Goodies (on King).


Dave (bass drum)  – Most of the longer term members just bring down plastic tubs full of stuff so we could each outfit 2 or 3 more, but you know, you can never have enough and the sparklier the better.


Q#5 CFB:  Do band members get to try out different roles or mainly stick to one specialty. For instance does a trumpet player ever ask to be a dancer/cheerleader for a performance?


Band:


Katharine Chestnut aka Drumbabe (Bookie and cymbals)- Members typically have a single instrument or role that they play. However, we have plenty of members that are bi, or tri-sectional. One example: one trombone player acts as a field marshal regularly but can also fill in as a snare drummer when needed. It is very fluid.


Dave (bass drum) – The Abominables can be whatever they want to be at any given gig. Most of the Dancers (Despicables) usually don’t play instruments, but some instrument players will come as Despicables if they don’t want to play or can’t play for some reason.


 
Q#6 CFB:  What songs or musicians are you really into right now?


Band:


Katharine Chestnut aka Drumbabe (Bookie and cymbals)– The band plays a variety of music but the main genres are: traditional Sousa marches, pop, Latin, Swing. Lately, we have been adding new tunes that I would categorize as funk, Latin and even some original songs / arrangements written by some of our members. We have a Music Selection Committee that is constantly looking for new tunes that we think that our audiences would like as well as if we would like to play. Of course, we have some standards that will never go away (i.e. Sing, Sing, Sing, King Cotton, etc.).


Dave (bass drum)  – Some of the (band’s) best (songs) have been arranged by our own members for special occasions such as Creep Show for Halloween.


Julie Sammons –  We have fans in and many of us are fans of other street bands around the world. We are all different but love taking music to the streets. Those include Pink Puffers (Italy), Fanfare Le SNOB (France), Hungry March (NY), Extra Action (SF). Also love Amanda Palmer, Adele, and I can’t wait to see what Jack White does next.

Charles (former band manager and trombone)  – Sometimes a song we think we hate magically becomes one of our favorites once we realize it’s working for our band.

Q#7 CFB:  Are there any cool guest/honorary band members you have ever invited or performed with?


Band:


Katharine Chestnut aka Drumbabe (Bookie and cymbals)- Spoleto seems to be place that I see that occur most. We have a guest bass fiddle from the Charleston area that has been playing with us for more than 10 years. We also have a guest twirler that comes out each year. I’m not sure were he lives but he almost always shows up on Sunday and put on a great show on the Custom House steps. Additionally, since Spoleto is a big deal for us, we will get some Abominable alumni too.


Alan Taylor (current band manager and trombone) – Once we had your director of the Charleston Symphony try to direct us. I don’t think he knew how to handle us.


Julie Sammons –  Many local Atlanta musicians have joined us or invited us to play with them – most notable is probably playing with the Indigo Girls in the 90’s in Atlanta, at SXSW in Austin, and on the pier in Seattle. Willard Scott conducted us during the Atlanta Olympics.

Charles (former band manager and trombone)  – Francine Reed and the Indigo Girls are among the more famous performers who have had positive experiences with us. At least WE thought they were positive!


Q#8 CFB:  What are some of your favorite restaurants outside of Charleston?

Band:


Katharine Chestnut aka Drumbabe (Bookie and cymbals) –  The Kitchen and Lucille’s in Boulder, CO and The Flying Biscuit & Babette’s Café in Atlanta. The band hangout each week after rehearsal and very often after a performance is Manuel’s Tavern in Atlanta.


Dave (bass drum)  – We usually eat at Shem Creek on the way back (home). 

Julie Sammons –  In Atlanta: Sotto Sotto, Sushi Avenue, Brick Store Pub, Crawfish Shack. Shout out to band “homes” Manuel’s Tavern and Euclid Ave Yacht Club. Elsewhere: Sportsmans Lodge, Apalachicola (think Bowen’s); Terminal Brewhouse, Chattanooga; Pepolino, NY; 6th Street Food Trucks, Austin.


Q#9 CFB:  What is it about this group that has helped keep you involved for so many years now?

Band:


Katharine Chestnut aka Drumbabe (Bookie and cymbals) – I like to say that this is my big, dysfunctional, band family. Even with a group as diverse as this, we have a very strong sense of community within our ranks. Even if members move away, the bonds of the band keep you connected.


Charles (former band manager and trombone)  – The ability to have an outlet for playing and performing but with the ability to show up when it best suits your own lifestyle and other obligations is the best thing about the band. I try to be there most of the time, but I know I won’t be chastised if I’m not.

Julie Sammons –  We get a lot of joy from surprising people, the band’s essence is about bringing fun to the community. On a deeper level, the band is a musical version of Dr. King’s Beloved Community. No matter where you are from or how well you can play, you are welcome to contribute to and share in the happiness we try to foster around us.

Q# 10 CFB:
What are a few things you would l like to tell Charleston about the band?


Band:


Katharine Chestnut aka Drumbabe (Bookie and cymbals)- We bring joy through our music. Having a creative outlet creates a larger sense of well-being. Being a part of that creativity, even as an audience member, our music and antics will fill your uplift your heart. Embrace the zaniness and jump for joy with us!


Alan Taylor (current band manager and trombone)  – We hope that the audience is enjoying the performance as much as we enjoy bringing it to them. It’s just for the pure fun of it. 


Dave (bass drum) – We work all year at our day jobs and play most weekends from Labor Day to Memorial Day (Spoleto).  We love the crowds and there are probably 5 or 6 gigs a year that everyone loves to do with Spoleto and the trip to Charleston being the highlight.  You can’t believe the excitement when we march down Market Street at midnight and round the corner to the Customs House and find a throng (500-1000) people who have just come out to see us perform the Midnight Pajama March.  We get the same feeling on Sunday Morning when we repeat the same march in Red, White and Blue and do our Patriotic Concert.


Charles (former band manager and trombone)  – How much we love their enthusiastic support over the years. We always feel like stars when we come to town.


Special Thanks to Katharine Chestnut (pictured below) aka Drumbabe