The Buzz

June 15, 2012

‘Mr. Darion & Friends’ are here to tell stories

The Buzz

A blog from The State's political team of Cassie Cope, Jamie Self and Andy Shain. Email tips to

STORY TIME: “Mr. Darion & Friends” is a performance series featuring masterful storyteller Darion McCloud on stage with an assortment of his friends sharing big and tall tales.

The series, to be staged at Trustus Theatre, begins July 10. McCloud and friends will perform three shows a week for four weeks. Well, that’s if the funding comes through. By his estimation, McCloud thinks “Mr. Darion & Friends,” geared toward families, will cost about $10,000 to produce.

That’s why he’s started a Kickstarter campaign. He’s got until June 24 to raise the money through the funding platform for creative projects. (To see the campaign video — hey, it’s an election year — visit

The series will pair McCloud with Native American storyteller Will Goins, singer and actor Kim Harne, African drummer Seitu Amenwahsu and singer and actor Sam McWhite.

“I’ve been kind of doing it unofficially for a year,” McCloud said of the production. “I’ve never done it to this scale before. This full-blown incarnation is only a couple months old in my brain.

“Storytelling is the base. These are all extremely talented people.”

The performers will, of course, share stories, but they will also sing, play instruments and dance.

“It’s a really smart show,” McCloud, the creative director of the NiA Company, said of the family variety show. “At the end of every show, we have a 10-minute talk back so people can ask questions.”

The shows will be held at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Tuesday and 11 a.m. Saturday next month. The $10,000 will go to space rental, advertising and paying performers.

“All that together adds up,” McCloud said.

STYLISH WEEK: The inaugural Columbia Style Week wrapped Saturday night with a runway show — not in the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center as advertised — in the Saki Tumi parking lot. It’s not clear why the last-minute change was necessary, but the runway, from pictures I’ve seen, looked cool as it was backlit by parked Audis. (I had to be out of town last week, so I didn’t get to attend any style week events. I have talked to several people who attended shows.)

The parking lot show was not unlike the guerilla fashion events one might see in New York, but was it ideal for a finale? What was ideal was that the seats were filled, with a good number of people standing. I was told that at one point Alicia Zeigler, CSW’s primary organizer, didn’t even have a seat.

CSW ticket prices were too high (the lowest for a runway show was $40) for a first-year event, I thought. So it wasn’t surprising to learn that two-for-1 deals were being offered through social media sites.

(To be fair, there was a time when Charleston Fashion Week instructed interns to walk the streets handing out free tickets, a former intern told me. It’s a fairly common practice to give away seats when a venue needs to be filled. Even Drake, one of today’s biggest pop stars, gave away seats to his February concert at the Colonial Life Arena when he visited Dreher High School.)

The look of CSW was on point, I was told by Mikelle Street, vice president of promotions for USC Fashion Week and a magazine editor. He went to the finale and the Friday night show at 701 Whaley.

“The show at 701 Whaley was one of the best shows I’ve seen production-wise,” he said. “It was a very well produced show.”

Planning for CSW 2013 has already begun. In an advance news article, I noted the dearth of local designers and stores represented. Zeigler told me she hopes to have more local participation next year. If CSW is going to grow and become a signature event for the city like, say The Indie Grits Festival, it’s going to need local support.

For a more thorough recap, visit Jai Marshall’s blog, The Fat and Skinny on Fashion, at

SPEAKERS WANTED: TEDxColumbiaSC, the local iteration of the national program that seeks to share ideas worth spreading, is looking for speakers for the 2013 conference. Nomination — or application, if you’d like to nominate yourself — is due by July 6.

According to a press release, “TEDx speakers are changing the way we see ourselves, our community, and our world. Their works ranges from the field, to the classroom, to the lab, to the stage and studio. They are creators, problem-solvers, researchers, and challengers of the status-quo.”

The speakers at the inaugural TEDxColumbiaSC motivated, inspired and gripped the audience. It was a showcase of Columbia’s talent and entrepreneurial spirit. To nominate yourself, or someone else to be a speaker at TEDxColumbiaSC 2013, visit

See what I’m talking about by watching the speaker videos at the TEDxColumbiaSC website.

IDOL AUDITION: Quick, who won the last season of “American Idol?” Actually, that was an easy question because the winner’s name is Phillip Phillips. (According to, he was released from the hospital earlier this week following an “intense surgical procedure to deal with kidney stones.”)

Who won two seasons ago? Off the top of my head, I can’t recall and I don’t care to look it up. I’m kind of burned out on “Idol.” But, if you’re an aspiring singer, you’re probably not — and your time to shine might be now. Or in January.

“American Idol” will be holding auditions Tuesday at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte. Registration begins at 7 a.m. Sunday and goes until 7 a.m. Tuesday. There’s no overnight camping allowed, and large items — according to the arena’s website, that means lawn chairs, blankets, etc. — won’t be permitted. Food and beverages will be sold. Good luck.

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