Pop Rocks: Colon cancer fight takes center stage for benefit

Cancer isn’t something people like talking about. Colon cancer, in particular, is tough. There’s something about it that seems both intensely personal and devastatingly destructive. It’s the sort of thing that, if given the opportunity, is happily ignored and avoided. Which is a shame.


It is true that colon cancer is personal and painful; but it is also something that needs to be acknowledged. This is a disease, after all, that will be diagnosed more than 103,000 times in the U.S. this year. More than 50,000 people will die from colorectal cancer. Chances are everyone will be affected by this disease, be it their own diagnosis or the diagnosis of family, friends or loved ones. But what do you do when people keep compulsively quiet about something? That’s easy. You turn up the volume.

On Saturday, June 9, friends of Michael Scott Walden will gather for the third annual Shine for Scott concert at Laura’s Backyard Tavern, 218 S. Belair Road, Evans. The event, which kicks off at 1 p.m., will feature performances by Lark Gillespie, Bryan Robinson, Jam Samwich, the Atom Blonde, Artemia, Wesley Cook and George Croft and the Vellotones. The concert will also mark the first local performance by Augusta ex-pat Dana Andrews.

Admission is $10 for ages 13 and older. Proceeds from the concert will go toward research and screening programs, in addition to financial assistance to younger patients stricken with the disease and the economic realities of treatment. It’s a great show and a great cause.


ONCE MORE INTO THE FRAY. Last year I decided I had reached the end of an era. My feet painfully blistered, suffering the intense heat of a Tennessee summer, I bid farewell to the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, an event I had the great privilege to attend and document four times. Not only did I question whether I had the desire to endure the discomforts associated with camping out with 85,000 people, but I was concerned that I didn’t have much left to say.

Though I had received positive feedback regarding the annual shopping list I compiled at the event, I felt the concept might be getting a little dry. I truly thought I was done. My bad.

By the time this column hits driveways and digital byways, I’ll once again be making my way north to check out this year’s festival. This time, however, I’m going with a different mandate.

Augusta has become a town where concerts no longer need to happen in the traditional clubs, theaters and arenas. They happen in places where people had not expected to enjoy a professional concert experience.

Be it the new amphitheater in Evans (more on that below) or Westobou’s pop-up venue at the Old Academy of Richmond County Parade Grounds, promoters in the community are taking a more festival-driven approach to live music. This year I’ll be taking a look at Bonnaroo’s impressive infrastructure and ways that enormously successful event’s ideas might translate here. Stay tuned.


BLUEGRASS EVOLUTION. When I heard that after establishing itself at the Hippodrome in North Augusta that Papa Joe’s Banjo-B-Que was defecting to the new Lady Antebellum Pavilion in Evans, I was concerned. I have real affection for this event, and I felt that much of the magic was in the unexpected venue. It seemed appropriate and well-suited to the tone and requirements of a music/food festival. Sticking it behind a suburban grocery store just didn’t feel right.

What I discovered however is that a change in location was exactly what the Banjo-B-Que required.

It allowed the event to not only relocate closer to its core audience but also change, in very subtle and important ways, the way it is experienced. The music, though still rooted in the traditions of bluegrass, country and Americana, felt more varied and attractive to a larger demographic.

The barbecue competition, which had previously felt a little segmented, felt more integrated.

Everything seemed smoother, smarter and more professional. I’m pretty sure the move is not the only reason the Banjo-B-Que felt bigger and better, but it certainly couldn’t have hurt. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing how this event continues to grow and evolve moving forward.