The Art of Sound

Trey Maxwell aka Yoda

“The arts groups tend to refer to me as Yoda when it comes to technical things,” says Trey Maxwell. The Augustan and longtime sound engineer mixes sound and sets up staging for some of the Augusta area’s biggest concerts and arts performances, including Arts in the Heart, Westobou, Rock Fore Dough, the Augusta Players, Symphony Orchestra Augusta, Imperial Theatre and more.

It’s hard to find any local arts group that hasn’t worked with Maxwell, who once earned a shout-out by name from entertainer Don McLean during his performance with the Symphony Orchestra Augusta in 2009: “Hey, you guys don’t realize it, but you’ve got two of the best sound guys in the country here.”

Maxwell started in sound on the music side of things, “I was a musician who didn’t like to be on stage,” he says. In college, after watching sound guys on the mixing board and asking a lot of questions, he started doing sound for local, then regional, bands traveling up and down the East Coast.

While he was in Charleston, he was tapped to work with Spoleto, which jumpstarted him to another level. He soon was working with Porgy and Bess, the traveling show of Les Miserables, Riverdance, Carousel, even stints on Broadway and with the Kennedy Center. On the flip side, he also did sound and set up for popular bands such as

Hootie and the Blowfish and Metallica.

He came back to Augusta in 2001 to be a caregiver to his parents and has continued to combine his extensive sound experience in arts and mainstream music through his own company, Tracer Audio & Production Services.
When he’s sitting there at his mixing board (shoes off), he says he knows he’s done a good job when patrons leave with tears in their eyes after an emotional performance or when they leave just a little happier than when they got there. “There’s not much time for a personal life,” he admits, “but it’s never dull.”







Hot News!

Book Cupboards

They’re tiny, they’re adorable—and they’re free.

Little Free Libraries is a movement that is sweeping the U.S.—beautifully constructed little book “cupboards” filled with books for neighbors to swap and read.
Library “owners” maintain the libraries, ensuring they stay neat and clean, assuring that the book supply remains plentiful and interesting, and posting updates about their libraries to neighborhood Facebook pages.

In the Augusta area, keep an eye out and you just might spot one of these charmers while you’re out and about. Little Free Libraries have been seen in Summerville (on McDowell, Lombardy Court, Hillcrest, Hickman, Two Mom’s Cookies, Oxygen in Surrey Center and the GRU Literacy Center), in North Augusta’s Hammond’s Ferry and in South Augusta.

Well-maintained libraries are popular. According to Deb Barshafsky, who set up a Little Free Library on Lombardy Court this past spring, “My library has been in operation for almost a month and approximately 60 books have been shared among visitors…I stocked it when I opened it with 18 books and those have all been taken and replaced. I keep good books in there and I believe that encourages people to leave good books in exchange.”



By the Numbers

State of the Arts

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at some of the facts and figures you may not have known about Augusta’s arts community.

Years the Augusta Players, the area’s oldest performing arts group, has been opening to audiences throughout the CSRA.

Year the home of Lucy C. Laney, who started the first school for African Americans in Augusta in 1883, was purchased by Delta House Inc. and restored as a museum.

Removable labels used as seat markers that the Symphony Orchestra Augusta goes through in a single season of its Symphony Series, held at First Baptist Church of Augusta.

Pieces of public art the Greater Augusta Arts Council has catalogued as the public art agency for the city
of Augusta.

Raw and steamed oysters served at Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art’s annual Oysters on Telfair, one of their signature fundraisers. This year’s event is November 6.

Times Davidson Fine Arts has been named one of the top 100 schools in the country by U.S. News & World Report (2007 through 2013).

35 cents
Ticket price for an orchestra seat when the Imperial Theatre opened in February 1918. Original name was the Wells Theatre.

Year the Miller Theater closed. The last event held was The Nutcracker in the winter of 1984. Since 2005, the 1,567-seat theater has been undergoing a renovation to restore it to its former glory.

Direct economic spending contribution to Augusta due to the 2013 Arts in the Heart of Augusta festival.



From Augusta to China

A global curriculum is becoming even more important as the world grows smaller. This past year, Georgia Regents University officially opened a Confucius Institute on its campus, aimed at teaching Chinese language, culture and arts. The first course in Chinese language and culture launched this fall semester on the Summerville campus.
More than 400 Confucius Institutes are located at universities around the world, a unique partnership that invites professors from Chinese and American institutions to collaborate on new programs that benefit learning in both cultures. Each Confucius Institute also has a particular focus and GRU’s Institute is the first in the Western Hemisphere with a focus on Chinese medicine, a nod to its long history as a health sciences campus. A class in traditional Chinese medicine could launch as soon as spring 2015.

GRU’s Confucius Institute is only the fourth in the state and has partnered with Augusta’s Chinese community to help develop programming. To learn more, visit





Derelict String Band

Going Back to the future
by Mark Hodges

Derelict String Band is a group of folk musicians who are out of place and time, but they don’t let it slow them down. The running joke among the band members is that they ventured from the past into the present day in a DeLorean, bringing old-time Americana sounds to a new age. Yet the anachronistic truth is even more poignantly ironic, as they actually met through Craigslist and other social media websites. You can’t get much more modern than that.

According to Sam Forrest, the band’s guitarist, the group is made up of musicians with diverse backgrounds, such as punk, blues and country, but they all have a common goal.

That goal is playing organic roots music, inspired by the storytelling styles of the early 20th century. They do it with guitar, banjos, stand-up bass, mandolin and the occasional fiddle. Sound familiar? With bands like the Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons making waves nationally, it should.
Forrest recognizes that the Derelict String Band is part of a larger movement, and he suggests that the popularity of this style of music dwells in its honesty. The emphasis is on songwriting and performance, with the songs stripped down to their musical core.

There’s not much room for fluff or the superficial and that makes it come straight from the heart. Forrest believes that is why so many people are flocking to folk music.
That’s not to say that modern pop music doesn’t have its place in the group’s repertoire. The band likes to sneak in covers of popular and classic tunes, giving them what Forrest calls a “derelict twist,” surprising audience members and allowing them to connect even further with the band’s music.

The Derelict String Band plays regularly at a number of local venues, including Stillwater Tap Room, Sky City and M.A.D. Studios. They are also working on a full-length album release, which they hope to put out by the end of the year.



5 Faves

We asked Chef Edward Mendoza

From his restaurant Kitchen 1454 to his many catered affairs, Chef Mendoza certainly knows how to throw a good party. So we asked him: What are the five essentials for a great dinner party?

“A good playlist.”
It helps set the mood for the evening. Music and food go well together. Norah Jones, James Taylor and the Grateful Dead are some of my favorites.

“Multiple beverage pairings.”
Start with bubbles and end with port, along with many wines and beers to be had with courses.

“Fresh seafood and seasonal ingredients.”
Pick a theme for your party and build your menu around it. The closer to the home the ingredients are, the more you can go get yourself and pick and choose.

“Cheese and charcuterie.”
No good dinner party is complete without a huge display of cured meats and artisanal cheeses. is a cheese shop where for $100 they can FedEx all kinds of different cheeses.

“A venue that matches the theme.”
 Figure out how to make everything work within your party. If you have time and you’re doing a clambake, do it on the shore of the lake. If you’re doing a picnic, go by the river. [Plus] the right food, people and music to compliment the space makes for the perfect evening.





High Hampton Inn & Country Club

Why Go: Escape the heat of summer in the cool climes of Cashiers, N.C., where a rustic yet luxurious retreat awaits you in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Located on 1,400 forested acres, the High Hampton Inn with its hand-hewn twig furnishings and mountain lake views has been offering the best in Southern hospitality since the 19th century. Whether looking for a family adventure or a romantic getaway, the charms of this historic mountain lodge are sure to lure you back time and again.

What To Do: After settling into your room head to the lobby for a traditional Southern meal, afternoon tea or cocktails—or simply relax with a good book on the porch and enjoy the fresh mountain air. For a little more active entertainment you can dive deep into Hampton Lake, explore one of eight hiking trails, play a round of golf or tennis, sign up for an up close and personal falconing demonstration or take a guided fishing excursion to one of the area’s clear mountain streams or rivers. There is also a full service spa and health club onsite, conplete with fitness classes and a full menu of spa treatments.

What Else: The resort has a complete schedule of programs for children and teens. And for an unusual treat, every Thursday and Saturday, the inn’s “favorite furry llama friends” are available to hike with guests, compete in a llama Olympics and even caddy for golfers.

What To Eat: The inn features two fine dining restaurants as well as a market where gourmet salads, sandwiches and other sundries are available. A trip into the nearby town of Cashiers is another fun excursion where an array of charming shops and restaurants offers hours of shopping and dining opportunities.

Distance From Augusta:  About 153 miles or an approximate three-and-a-half hour drive.



On Screen/Off Screen

Hodges Usry, Filmmaker

Hodges Usry has been making a living in film for the past 11 years. The Augusta native started out filming spoofs of the TV show Cops with his friends, using his parents’ old JVC handheld video camera. After graduating from SCAD, he dove right into full-time film and commercial work. One of his big moments? Being a finalist and a North American winner in Chevy’s 2012 Superbowl Ad Contest for his commercial A Soldier’s Home. Usry has been spending the year touring the U.S. with country music artist Corey Smith, filming music videos and a tour documentary, but his particular brand of storytelling will soon be seen again on the small screen in a new ad for McDonald’s.




Thinking Outside the Box

Subscription-based services for makeup, dog treats, even fashion are all the rage. So why not art? Former gallery owner Molly McDowell and marketer Mary Hull Palmer are basing their new business,  Outside the Box Fine Art, on this concept.

Focusing on collecting, celebrating and travel, Outside the Box offers patrons the opportunity to “subscribe” to four out of eight visual artists, then receive a quarterly piece of original fine art. In addition, they will enjoy four U.S excursions—cultural events and parties where they can rub elbow with other art lovers, tour unique galleries and enjoy the culture of other cities. Outside the Box also plans to host an international excursion where patrons can explore intimate places, unique galleries and artists’ studios in the heart of some of the world’s cultural capitals.

As with McDowell’s former and beloved Mary Pauline Gallery, the artists with Outside the Box will be recognized Southeastern artists who display their work in fine museums and galleries across the U.S., including names such as William Dunlap, Edward Rice, Tom Nakashimi and Philip Morsberger. Many small galleries have been forced to close due to the economic downturn, but says McDowell, “This is a new way to connect artists and patrons…and reconnect people to galleries and museums.”
Outside the Box Fine Art held its launch in Charleston, S.C., in June. To find out more, visit




Tip Top

Artist Edward Rice is one of only five (and the only artist) to earn this year’s coveted Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award, the highest honor given by the South Carolina Arts Commission. The award recognizes outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts in South Carolina.

A native of North Augusta, he is widely recognized for spare, airy and light-imbued architectural paintings that are meticulous in their realism. His work focuses on the details of architecture—windows, dormers, walls, gables—that usually go unnoticed. His latest series, which exhibited earlier this year in Columbia, S.C., presents a modern take on old-fashioned notched fortresses.

A painter for the past 35 years, Rice gets much of his inspiration from local architecture. For more about Rice’s work, visit or



Westobou Festival

2014 Highlights
October 1-5

Westobou Festival event tickets are on sale now. For the most updated information
and details visit or call (706) 755-2878.

The 7th annual Westobou festival, October 1-5  will offer patrons a full schedule of engaging artistic programming. This year’s festival includes a diverse lineup of rising stars and art veterans. Festivalgoers will be encouraged to expand their understanding of art and take part in culturally rich, thought-provoking experiences.

This year Westobou continues to spotlight its five signature genres, Music, Dance, Film and Spoken Words, and Visual Arts while also introducing new event features. The Old Academy of Richmond County is once again the hub for a majority of festival happenings. Some marquee performances will take place at other area venues, including the Imperial Theatre and the Mary S. Byrd Gallery on GRU’s Summerville campus.
Featured Daily


Featured Daily

Fine art paintings, sculpture and installation will be on display daily during the Westobou’s multidimensional series of events. The Old Academy of Richmond County will feature an exhibition of SCAD alumni works curated by Susan Laney. Laney specializes in photography and contemporary art from both emerging and established artists with a focus on Southern artists. Artists presented in the exhibit include Marcus Kenney, Katherine Sandoz, Melinda Borysevicz, Tobia Makover, Michael Porten, Elizabeth Winnel and Will Penny.

Uptown, the Mary S. Byrd Gallery of Art on GRU’s Summerville campus presents Voice Off, a two-channel video and sound installation by internationally renowned artist Judith Barry. Barry will present an artist talk on Thursday, October 2, from 4-5 p.m., at University Hall, room 170.

The Old Richmond Academy Gallery doors open daily at 10 a.m. with artist talks and related events scheduled throughout the week. An opening reception Wednesday evening, October 1,  at the Old Academy will kick off the festival and celebrate the opening of the exhibits. An artist’s reception will be held on Thursday, October 2, at the Byrd Gallery from 5-6:30 p.m. immediately following Barry’s artist talk.


Thursday, October 2
Complexions Contemporary Ballet
Imperial Theatre
749 Broad St.

Overflowing with power and speed, Complexions presents a spellbinding program that merges ballet, contemporary dance, jazz and hip-hop into one thrilling experience. Founded by Desmond Richardson and Dwight Rhoden, Complexions brings to the stage a range of dazzling work encompassing everything from big, dynamic ensembles to poignant duets and solos. These body-bending dancers execute high-octane moves with stunning style and brilliant artistry.

Rhoden and Richardson have awakened audiences to a new, exciting genre that combines the best of athleticism, lyricism and technical training and experience. Their creative vision is restricted by nothing but the limits of the human body itself.

Marking a second appearance at Westobou, Complexions was the first dance company to perform at the festival in 2008. Don’t miss their exciting performance at Imperial Theatre, October 2, at 8 p.m.


Friday, October 3
Amos Lee featuring Allen Stone,
Patrick Davis and the Rablin’ Fevers
Old Academy of Richmond County
Parade Grounds, 540 Telfair St.

In true Westobou fashion the festival will present a variety of music events including a chamber series and an all-star line-up at the historic Parade Grounds of the Old Academy of Richmond County. 

On Friday, October 3, venue gates will open at 4 p.m. Ramblin’ Fevers, an Augusta group, will open the show at 5 p.m. Singer-songwriter Patrick Davis, who has built a following in Augusta over the years, will also perform as well as Washington native Allen Stone. Stone a self-proclaimed “hippie with soul” has found success on his own terms and is due to release another album later this year.

Amos Lee and his full band will headline the evening. A singer/songwriter whose music style encompasses folk, rock and soul, Lee released his debut album 10 years ago and continues to garner critical acclaim while performing live shows that keep fans coming back for more.  A graduate of the University of South Carolina, Lee has toured as an opening act for Norah Jones, Bob Dylan, John Prine, the Avett Brothers, Zack Brown Band among others.  Preview his newest album Mountains of Sorrow, Rivers of Song before the show.


An exciting lineup of events celebrating film and the written word were awaiting final approval at press time. The Color Run and the Westobou Ferris wheel are back this year along with plenty of other new events and surprises sure to appeal to the entire family.


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