Westobou kicked off Thursday with smaller festival this year

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The Westobou Festival began Thursday with flashes of color.

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Chris Bonham dances with Rayito Calderon Thursday evening during the Augusta Tango Mini Festival at Casa Blanca.   ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF
ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF
Chris Bonham dances with Rayito Calderon Thursday evening during the Augusta Tango Mini Festival at Casa Blanca.

Banners, lanterns and signs in green, yellow, pink, orange and teal were hung at venues across the city as festival organizers kicked off the first of 10 days of events celebrating local, regional and national talent.

They signal a symbolic change for Westobou, which will present a smaller but easier-to-navigate festival this year, with color-coded schedules that aim to help audiences find their way around the 50 performances that make up the 2011 lineup.

That’s far fewer performances than past festivals, which routinely featured 200 events.

This year’s festival focuses on fewer events but bigger acts, including one-of-a-kind performances and collaborations, said Molly McDowell, who was hired last year as the festival’s new curator and art director.

With more high-profile events, such as Thursday night’s world premiere of Transfigured Time: Music for the Films of Maya Deren, composed and performed by Mac McCaughan, the festival hopes to attract a greater regional audience, McDowell said.

“We’re getting calls from people coming from North Carolina, Florida,” she said. “People are aware of what’s going on in Augusta.”

Other headlining events include Rosanne Cash and Blue Rodeo at the parade grounds of the Old Richmond Academy tonight, public radio host Ira Glass at Augusta State University on Saturday, Branford Marsalis, performing with Jessye Norman, at the Imperial Theatre on Monday, modern dance company Momix at the Imperial on Oct. 6 and 7, and Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings at the parade grounds Oct. 7.

For the first time, the parade grounds will function as a home base for the festival.

“It’s beautiful; it’s new for us; it’s different,” McDowell said. “It’s what we’re all about at Westobou.”

Also for the first time this year, the festival was separated from Arts in the Heart, the long-running international festival also held in September.

“It’s extremely rewarding watching this event come together,” said Cameron Nixon, the chairman of Augusta Westobou Festival Inc. “We have scheduled and planned events with a particular level of excellence. We’ve got room to grow, but I’m confident that we can say, with this many high-quality shows, people will want to come to Augusta.”

MORE ONLINE

CALENDAR: Browse a complete schedule of events at augustachronicle.com.

STORIES: Read previous stories about this year’s performers at augustachronicle.com/westobou.

WESTOBOU FESTIVAL

The fourth annual Westobou Festival, Augusta’s 10-day celebration of the arts, features big names, collaborations and one-of-a-kind performances. Tickets are available for many performances, and nearly half of the festival’s 50 events are free.

WESTOBOU EVENTS

TODAY

Noon: Art at Lunch with Art Rosenbaum, Morris Museum of Art; $10-$14

3:45 p.m.: Maestro Timothy Powell’s Incarnatio Mysteria, Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School; $4-$10

5 p.m.: The Whiskey Painters of America Annual Exhibition Opening Reception, The Zimmerman Gallery; free

7 p.m.: I Waltzed with God the Morning of Genesis, Paine College; $7-$10

7 p.m.: Rosanne Cash with Blue Rodeo, Academy of Richmond County; $30; table for eight, $500

7:30 p.m.: Maestro Timothy Powell’s Incarnatio Mysteria, Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School; $4-$10

SATURDAY

1 p.m.: Tara Scheyer and the Mud Puppy Band Children’s Performance, Old Academy of Richmond County; free

5 p.m.: Porter Fleming Literary Competition Awards Ceremony and Reception, Morris Museum of Art; free

7 p.m.: Reinventing Radio: An Evening with Ira Glass, Grover C. Maxwell Performing Arts Theatre; $25

9 p.m.: Langhorne Slim, Sky City; $12

SUNDAY

1 p.m.: Artrageous Family Sunday: Instrument Petting Zoo, Morris Museum of Art; free

2 p.m.: An Afternoon with the Arts, Arts & Heritage Center of North Augusta; $4-$7

3 p.m.: Harry Jacobs Chamber Music Series – Quarteto Vivace Brasil Grover C. Maxwell Performing Arts Theatre; $7-$25, no one younger than 6 allowed

5 p.m.: I Waltzed with God the Morning of Genesis Opening Reception, Paine College; free

7 p.m.: New England Spiritual Ensemble, St. Paul’s Church; $25

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countyman
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countyman 09/30/11 - 12:51 am
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The Arts in the Heart

The Arts in the Heart Festival can expand and will continue to grow.. The Westobou needs to become one of the premiere festivals in the entire south. Southeast Tourism ranked the Westobou festival as one of the top 20 festivals in 2011.

Techfan
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Techfan 09/30/11 - 05:49 am
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WOOOO, Southeast Tourism.

WOOOO, Southeast Tourism. That's puts Westobou in with other such fabulous festivals as, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Winchester, Tenn, Suwanee Day, Suwanee, Ga., and 2010 Hometown Holidays Parade, Forsyth, Ga. When you're ranked up there with some podunk town's Christmas parade, you know you've made it.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 09/30/11 - 06:33 am
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Understand this is not about

Understand this is not about drawing huge crowds. They want a smaller, more acclaimed festival with cultured and manageble audiences. This is not First Friday...hopefully.

floridasun
310
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floridasun 09/30/11 - 08:46 am
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I applaud the Westobou

I applaud the Westobou Festival for refocusing on quality over quantity.Looking forward to attending some of the events.
They need to distinguish themselves from Arts in the Heart of Augusta which is more about quantity.
Both festivals are good, they just serve different audiences.

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