For me, the most frustrating treasures are those that, for many, remain undiscovered.
Ours is a community that, culturally speaking, is something of a stacked deck. Those who complain about Augusta’s dearth of entertainment – and there are a lot of them out there – are clearly not digging deeply enough. They haven’t made it a mission to discover those things they might come to embrace and love.
Granted, the fault is not always with the audience. There are entities that have struggled, either because of resources or infrastructure, to get the word out. It can be a struggle. But that does not make them any less worthy of admiration or patronage. In fact, I would argue that the cultural resource that feels like a discovery, like a secret unearthed, often resonates in a different and perhaps more significant way.
With that in mind, I wanted to highlight a couple of my favorites – one relatively new and the other an Augusta tradition for nearly 60 years. Both are worthy of spending some quality time with and both, I feel, have something significant to offer to audiences that might not have otherwise given them a chance.
GEORGIA REGENTS University has had, on and off, a free film series for some time. Lately however, it has become something more, something special. Instead of merely corralling a few favorites from the art house circuit, curator Matthew Buzzell has elected to program both current and classic fare, building a series that includes mini festivals, retrospectives, and a perfect pairing of new and old.
An excellent example of this is a day of French cinema he has planned for noon until 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 15, at the Maxwell Performing Arts Center on the GRU Summerville campus. Admission is free.
Screenings include The Red Balloon and a restored print of Umbrellas of Cherbourg (a personal favorite), Mood Indigo, the new film by Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind director Michael Gondry and the documentary Winter Nomads. Old and new, joined by theme and a commitment to excellence.
Umbrellas – a spectacular and, for the uninitiated, unexpected film – is worth the effort alone. The added features, well, they just make this an embarrassment of riches.
FOR THE SECOND highlight, I have, in the past, written about the education Augusta offered me. It’s where I really came to love and foster a serious interest in all things creative. Sunday mornings were a big part of that. Sunday mornings and the Parade of Quartets.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have never been a true student of gospel music. I don’t carry deep knowledge of who did what and why it is important. But the songs and – more significant – the way they were presented, profoundly affected the way I process music.
It was those quartets, musicians whose names I did not know, trafficking in deep grooves and sharp suits that taught me that music wasn’t always about technique or striving for perfection. It was watching the Sunday morning Parade that taught me that the best music comes from a place of honesty, authenticity and being a true believer.
I don’t know what the viewership of the Parade of Quartets is today, and I’ll admit that I tune in only occasionally. But knowing that it is there, knowing that there are those groups singing with soul about souls some 60 years after Parade’s initial broadcast, is comforting. Tune in to Parade of Quartets at 10 a.m. Sundays on WJBF (Channel 6) and at 10 p.m. on MeTV.