Published on November 14th, 2012 | by Ballard Lesemann0
Jail Break 4 Combines Music, Art, Dance, and More
The semi-annual Jail Break may have started out as a celebration of visual and performance art in the Charleston community, but the series has blossomed into a full-blown jamboree with a diverse lineup of artists, musicians, comedians, and dancers. The fourth installment of Jail Break is set to go down on Sat. Nov. 17 at the historic Old City Jail on Magazine Street. It looks like it might be the biggest and most diverse one yet.
“This one is the biggest we’ve ever done,” says Jail Break organizer Andrew Walker, a local pianist and promoter. “We’ve continued to expand the programming to keep with the premise of including any kind of artists who want to come in and celebrate. We put a big call out to artists, and we got theatrical people, dancers, comedians — all sorts of artists. I think the word got out.”
The Jail Break 4 lineup features four local bands: pop-rock group Crowfield, singer/songwriter Rachel Kate (of the Local Honeys), roots-rock trio Dangermuffin, and acoustic act Southwood Duo. A series of performances by Dancefx, Peace Love Hip Hop, HomeSpun Hoops, and Annex Dance Company will be presented by the Charleston Dance Alliance. Local comedians, actors, painters, sculptors, and artists will be on hand throughout the jailhouse, courtyard, and walkways as well.
Walker initially had the idea to create Jail Break in the fall of 2010 after organizing Entropy Arts. “It’s a sister organization to the Entropy Ensemble, which is probably how most people in Charleston know me,” he says.
Walker, along with violinist Javier Orman, initially formed the Entropy Ensemble as a sophisticated tribute to Radiohead. They worked with bassist Ben Wells, cellist Lonnie Root, and drummer Stuart White, among other local musicians, and they gradually branched out from the Radiohead material. Entropy Arts is a natural extension of the band’s creative attitude.
“Entropy Arts has a similar philosophy in the approach to presenting collaborative arts. I try to wait for the right opportunities to do something. With the Old Jail, I was just walking around that neighborhood, and I noticed how awesome it was as a space. There’s room outside for music, and the inside is intriguing for installations and art.”
Walker co-produced the first Jail Break with Social Wine Bar as part of their Starving Artists Series. This year, he partnered with Charleston Dance Alliance and veteran promoter Rob Lamble’s Ear for Music.
“The whole premise of Jail Break is to celebrate local artists here in Charleston and showcase what they’re doing,” Walker says. “I just don’t feel like there’s enough opportunity for that, given how many artists there are in Charleston. We’ve got the Piccolo Spoleto for us, but that falls short. It’s just a single opportunity. Kulture Klash came along, it was a decent way for artists to come together and celebrate what was going on, but that’s gone as well. There just seems to be that void, so people in the community and artists have responded really well to Jail Break. They recognize it as an opportunity that keeps growing.”
Stand-up, improv, and sketch comedy play major roles in Jail Break expanded roster this time around. Many local art events feature local musicians and bands in addition to the featured artwork, but they rarely include comedy. In a way, Charleston’s comedy and improv scene is like an undervalued kid brother to the music and visual art side of the community. Walker seized the opportunity to feature local comedians after crossing paths with local comic Evan Berke.
A young veteran of clubs and theaters in and out of town, Berke reached out to his local colleagues and assembled a solid lineup of Charleston comics, including Dusty Slay, Sarah Porter, Lauren Krass, Danny Green, and comedic musical duo Introducing Fish Taco.
“Evan is a great organizer and a hungry comedian and producer,” Walker says. “I met him when I was working at the Hippodrome. He was a college senior, and he approached me with ideas. I saw some of myself in him because when I was finishing college, I was starting to produce shows, too. With Jail Break, Evan took an inch and went a mile, organizing a series of stand-up and sketch performances in a really cool room inside the Old City Jail.”
Unlike some of the more formal and stuffy art-based events around town, Jail Break’s organic structure offers a more casual and interactive atmosphere There’s nothing too academic about it. Between the odd venue and their festive approach to presenting sophisticated art, Jail Break has been able to attract serious artists while luring others who would otherwise have never experienced the art, music, and community.
“In a way, the venue does all the work for us,” Walker says. “We’re just facilitators. I work with a handful of people on this, and it’s almost like we just open the door and it happens. It’s amazing that every time it’s happened, it truly booms a celebration. We try to stay away from people recognizing this as party, but we have beer and wine, so it does have that vibe. It’s more of an event. Other events try to hook people with the party thing, but we do it the other way around. We’re getting a wider demographic of people participating and coming out to it, so it’s working well.”
“I’d definitely credit the uniqueness of the venue,” Walker adds. “It influences everything about our branding. We worked with artist named Matt Cipov to create a logo and artwork for Jail Break, and he created these great images — some super quirky branding and characters based on the venue and spirit of the event. I think it all starts with the inspiration of the venue and follows through with the festival spirit.”
Jail Break 4’s Musical Lineup:
Southwood Duo, 5-6 p.m.
Dangermuffin, 6-7:15 p.m.
Rachel Kate, 7:30-8:45 p.m.
Crowfield, 9:30-11 p.m.
Jail Break 4 takes place from 4-11 p.m. on Sat. Nov. 17 at the Old City Jail (21 Magazine Street). Admission is $15 in advance and $20 at the gate. Visit JailBreakCharleston.com for more info.
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