Pop Rocks: 12 Bands back to entertain for holiday, a greater good

The Bands are back in town.


Despite appearances that things are unseasonably quiet in the 12 Bands camp, the organization is planning on spreading some Yule spirit this year. In addition to once again supplying the entertainment at the Augusta Light Up Spectacular tree lighting from noon-7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, at Augusta Common, the organization plans on offering one free download a day starting Dec. 14 and ending on Christmas Day.

Planned participants include 12 Bands regulars such as Tara Scheyer, Livingroom Legends and Will McCranie as well as newcomers to the annual compilation such as Zo Dunbar and Collective Soul frontman Ed Roland’s Sweet Tea Project. Each download will be a new, original song.

And while donations, which continue to benefit childhood cancer patients and their families, will be accepted, the foundation’s director Joe Stevenson said the goal this year is also on raising awareness. This is not the first time the format – which started as a simple Christmas concert and has expanded over the years from there – has shifted.

“We are always adjusting and always finding new ways to make something more exciting,” Stevenson said.

I, for one, always look forward to the 12 Bands release. The fact that it is free, well, that feels like a little holiday magic from a cause well worth this community’s support.


SOON, THE FIRST place I became truly familiar with in Augusta, the place where I learned to live by and love the codes of creativity, will be gone. In its place, I imagine, will be a vacant lot on a forgotten corner on the outskirts of downtown. Davidson Fine Arts – at least in the form I knew it – will be gone. Demolition of the original Davidson building, which has sat vacant for almost 20 years when the school moved to a new complex on 12th Street, has been approved and scheduled and so I, along with the many students who shared my experience, are saying goodbye.

I graduated from Davidson Fine Arts in 1986 as a member of the school’s first class. I’m proud to call myself an alumnus, although given my sometimes spotty achievements at the school, I wouldn’t be surprised to discover the feeling was not always mutual. Fair enough.

Since then, I feel like I have lived several lifetimes. I’ve lived a lot of places, both near and far. I’ve formed innumerable relationships, both significant and fleeting. I’ve stacked up experiences mundane and significant. I’ve married, had children and established multiple careers. A lot has happened since I left Davidson and, if I am being completely honest, a lot has happened because of Davidson.

The facts are these. I came to Davidson a shy, confused, unsure and deeply insecure young man. I left almost exactly the same way. But those years of being taught to think creatively and collaboratively have made all the difference. I will never be an extrovert. As much as I may have changed, I have also remained the same. But I am comfortable with that. I’m comfortable with who I am. Davidson was the safe place, my safe place, where I learned that everyone has a story, is worthy of respect and, when treated well, is more than likely to treat you well in return. I am a product of Davidson.

I did not gather at the flagpole Saturday, as many Davidson alumni did, to bid farewell. I was, in fact, out of town, but that’s more of an excuse than anything. The truth is those kind of emotional gatherings make me very uncomfortable. I’m also terrible at weddings and funerals. But I do plan on swinging by soon and perhaps liberating a brick from the flagpole wall. It, in itself, will not be worth much. But for me, it will be a significant, finite and tangible reminder of the place and, more to the point, the people that taught me to accept the person I was and have become. Because of that, even after it is gone, Davidson will always feel like home.

2015 Holiday Events: Lights displays, concerts, church services and more
Farewells go out to old Davidson Fine Arts school building


The Augusta Christmas Light-Up Spectacular and Christmas Fantasy Parade are Saturday, Dec. 5. From noon-7 p.m. at Augusta Common, entertainment will include 12 Bands of Christmas performances, children’s activities and more leading up to the tree lighting and fireworks. The parade starts at 2 p.m. downtown.