The performance scheduled for Friday night in Bell Auditorium of a touring male strip show brings back memories of when local police 45 years ago arrested cast members of a touring musical for taking their clothes off in the same auditorium.
Magic Men Live, taking place at 8 p.m. Friday, July 28, marks one of the rare occasions when a show in either the municipally-owned Bell Auditorium or James Brown Arena has been advertised as “must be at least 18 years old to attend.”
In fact, can any reader recall such an age limit imposed on a local government-owned facility? Usually that’s a condition you see applied to shows at area nightclubs that have a 21-year-old or older policy anyway.
Tickets for Magic Men Live, which has traveled to more than 100 U.S. cities and performed for more than 150,000 people, are priced at $77, $52 and $27, and attendees are promised in the Augusta Entertainment Complex online posting “comedic skits and theatrics, sexy dance moves, audience participation and, of course, more than a little skin.”
So that does raise the question of whether Bell Auditorium ticket takers will be checking IDs.
It was a totally different story when the nationally touring rock musical Hair came to Augusta in March 1972. Everyone knew that at the end of the first act in the award-winning musical about ‘60s hippies and Vietnam War protesters that the script called for a brief scene performed on a darkened stage in which the cast would be singing totally nude.
And the Augusta Police Department, then separate from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, let it be known that if such a display happened there certainly would be arrests for public indecency and the show might be shut down. You can imagine what that did for ticket sales that night, and you also can understand how high the tension was as the end of the first act approached.
Sure enough, the cast took off their clothes and, sure enough, Augusta police officers did what they felt was necessary to uphold the city ordinances. Originally, Augusta Police Chief James G. Beck threatened to arrest 12 naked cast members, but eventually only a token male and female formally were charged. They immediately were bailed out of jail after being booked, and later some minor fines were paid on their behalf in state court and the case was closed on the incident.
That was more than four decades ago; long before X-Rated movies came to be shown in Augusta at movie theaters other than “art houses,” and before all manner of artistic expressions could be found online.
More than likely, Magic Men Live in Bell Auditorium will be a pretty tame affair compared to the night Hair came to town. So expect a fun show and have a great time if you are 18 or older.
SAVANNAH SINGER AT THE COUNTRY CLUB: The Country Club Dance Hall &Saloon on Washington Road is offering Chuck Courtenay and his band on Saturday night, July 29. Visit augustacountry.com.
Courtenay was born in Savannah but grew up on a cattle ranch in Lake Wales, Fla. His early musical influences came from his father being a touring country music pianist who loved Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Conway Twitty and Vern Gosdin.
He and his own band have toured extensively, opening for country music stars and playing at major events such as the Beaufort (S.C.) Water Festival. His latest four-song CD Good Side of the Bar was produced in Nashville by Dave McAfee, Toby Keith’s longtime drummer.
One of Courtenay’s special moments was having country music superstar Miranda Lambert drop by the Wild Wing Cafe in Savannah’s City Market one Saturday night unannounced and spend time talking with him afterward.
In 1998, Courtenay won the Jimmy Dean True Value Country Showdown talent contest. He and his brother, Jason, have often performed together as The Courtenay Brothers.
DUO SPIRIT FIDDLE IN AIKEN: The duo Spirit Fiddle consisting of fiddler Robin Warren and guitarist Brian Clancey will perform at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 29, at the Aiken (S.C.) Visitors Center and Train Museum, 406 Park Ave.
Formed about 15 years ago, the duo has been seen at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and music festivals throughout the nation. Their appearance will include songs from their seventh album named Tribute, which is dedicated to their parents for instilling music in their lives.
Clancey also has been part of the Boston-based band Adam Dewey &Crazy Creek for more than 10 years and part of the bluegrass group Rye Whiskey.
ERNIE WREN &THE LONE RANGER: Why does it not surprise me that long-time local music fan and retired banker Ernie Wren also was at the same performance seeing The Lone Ranger and Lassie that I was on July 20, 1957, at Jennings baseball stadium in Augusta?
Surely, other than fellow Applause columnist Ed Turner, Wren must have seen more local shows than about anybody in this area.
“My mother also took me to that afternoon show and I had not thought about it being 60 years ago,” Wren emailed me. “I was not yet 10 at the time and have always thought back to the enjoyment I got from seeing that show.
“I remember that (Lone Ranger TV series actor) Clayton Moore had hurt his leg and was limping and was not able to do some of the things he probably normally would have done.
“At the end of the show they led (his horse) Silver in front of the seating in the stadium where all of us kids could see him up close, and I have told people over the years that that was the prettiest horse I have ever seen.
“Me and my mother were walking along toward Walton Way when they were driving The Lone Ranger away, and he had the passenger side window down where the kids could speak and wave to him.”