Home Metro’s Best – Arts and Entertainment

Metro’s Best – Arts and Entertainment

1. Best Local Band

Funk You
Want to dance till you can’t feel your legs? Smile till you can’t feel your face? Get your funk on with Funk You and your wishes will come true. This six-piece Augusta-based band rouses its audience with an eclectic fusion of funk, reggae, jazz and hip hop resulting in a continuous wave of high-energy sound that will make you wonder what you ever did to deserve so much fun. The talented chaps of Funk You are Will Clark on drums, Will Foster on the keys, Gavin Hamilton on vocals and percussion, Evan Miller on guitar, Palmer Owens on percussion and Rob Thompson on bass. Rock on and Funk You.

Visit funkyoumusic.com.

2. Best Local Solo Artist

Ray Fulcher
Raymond Fulcher of Harlem won best local solo artist for his country style. Now a resident of Nashville, Tennessee, Fulcher spends his time writing songs about growing up country, going to football games and pretty girls letting their hair down. As well as playing all over the Southeast with his band, Country Line, Fulcher has released two albums — Turn it Up and Paint this Town — which are both available for download on YouTube.

Visit raymondfulcher.com.

3. Best Arts Organization

7. Best Music Event/Festival

Arts in the Heart
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Arts in the Heart of Augusta recently wrapped its 35th festival on the third weekend in September and, even though there were conflicts with other activities, it didn’t stop the event’s growth.

“We wondered what effect the Border Bash and game would have on the event,” Arts Council Executive Director Brenda Durant told the Metro Spirit shortly after the festival ended. “It was wonderful to find out the Friday night we beat our attendance records for 2014 and 2013.”

Attendance on Friday’s first day broke records, and the Arts Council says it sold more than 77,000 badges, and the Georgia-South Carolina game didn’t even seem to make a dent in Saturday’s crowds.

“We warned the cookers in the Global Village that Saturday might be a bit light but to expect larger crowds on Sunday. Again, we were wrong,” Durant said. “Saturday we broke all previous attendance records and Sunday did the same. We checked with cookers and artists to see how they are doing. China had a banner year and Germany’s only complaint was that they should have bought more food.”

Food, of course, isn’t the only reason CSRA residents and, to an increasing degree, others visitors from Georgia and South Carolina circle Arts in the Heart on their calendars each year, and food vendors weren’t the only ones having trouble keeping up with demands in 2015. Durant heard from more than one arts vendor who was worried about having enough inventory, and crowds packed all five stages for entertainment throughout the weekend.

And, as predicted, the Family Area was a big hit.

“This year, our Family Area team really created a fully activated city block,” she said. “We had our free hands-on crafts, as well as a wide variety of pay-to-create crafts for kids. The young artists market was so full we ran out of artist ribbons on Saturday afternoon. We had the stage going, street performers, a chalk art zone and all sorts of fun going on.”

All in all, Durant says the festival’s massive success may bring expansions next year, which will surprise no one who voted for it in either of these categories.

Visit artsintheheartofaugusta.com.

4. Best Local Visual Artist

Leonard “Porkchop” Zimmerman
We all love us some Porkchop. A designer at Wier-Stewart by day and all-round visual talent at all other times, Leonard has touched the hearts of many with his expressive robots, bold and brightly-colored characters and his free-to-share HAPPY campaign. Among Porkchop’s work are murals at the Augusta-Richmond County library and the Augusta Water Works along Wrightsboro Road, and one of the painted traffic boxes on Broad Street. The SCAD graduate developed his HAPPY campaign as a means of sharing hope and smiles with the world, an act that has brightened many peoples’ days with its positive message. Indeed, Leonard’s HAPPY robot stickers, badges, billboards and more can be found dotting the landscape of the CSRA and far beyond, including such distant exotic destinations as Japan, the U.K., Canada, New Zealand, and even Ohio. Want to share the HAPPY? Send an SAE to Porkchop at PO BOX 501, Augusta, GA 30903 and he’ll send you some stickers at no cost to you.

Visit makemyporkchop.com.

5. Best Dance Studio

Augusta West
When your alumni dancers are Tony Award winners (Sutton Foster) and “So You Think You Can Dance” winners (Kathryn McCormick), it’s not a big surprise to be named best dance studio. With more than 30 years of experience, Augusta West and its studio of Fury’s Ferry Road is home to five performing companies with 61 members total. They train dancers year-round in every style from ballet and musical theatre to hip-hop and tap, and travel throughout the U.S. to compete, perform and take classes. Those who come to Augusta West know that, when they walk out, they just might be on their way to becoming the nation’s next household name.

Call 706-860-0998 or visit augustawestdance.com.

6. Best Place to Take Music Lessons

Portman’s Music
Whether you are looking for private lessons, kids classes, adult music instruction or summer camps, Portman’s Music Superstore offers lessons in everything from learning to play the trombone to exploring the world of Bluegrass instruments. Known as the largest music store in Georgia and serving the Peach State since 1936, Portman’s is widely acclaimed for its quality instruments and outstanding music academy.

Visit portmansmusic.com

8. Best Local Radio Station

9. Best Morning Radio Show

Kicks 99
Hosted by Mike Tyler, Jenny Perry and WB, the Kicks 99 Wake Up Krew helps folks of the CSRA start the day with some the best in new country, the latest news, and a lot of laughs. Kicks 99 is part of the Beasley family of local radio stations, and the host of the annual Guitar Pull. Some of the hardest working radio personalities on air; Kicks 99 prides itself on its passionate and loyal listeners and community-focused events. Seriously, these guys are all heart. Find out what all they are doing by following them on Facebook, or check out their website for the latest in news, country music releases, ticket giveaways and more!

Visit kicks99.com.

10. Best Talk Radio Host

Austin Rhodes
Love him or hate him, you can’t deny Austin Rhodes has his finger on the pulse of Augusta. A controversial talking head on WGAC each afternoon, Austin has been around long enough to know better, but he still manages to push people’s buttons and get to the heart of many a local news story. Whether he’s voicing his thoughts on current national events, local politics, the goings-on of Richmond County’s finest or just talking football, Austin is undoubtedly the master of getting this town talking. Once anointed “the most dangerous man in Augusta”, even his Facebook page contains a disclaimer for the easily offended — truly, you have been warned.

Visit wgac.com.

11. Best TV Personality

Jay Jefferies
When Jay Jefferies is on the air in the morning at local NBC affiliate WAGT, there’s no telling what might happen. And that’s just one of the reasons why the Augusta area has embraced the forecaster, who joined WAGT’s weather team in 2005. But that’s not the only reason. Sure, his presence when we’re not quite awake on weekday mornings is more than likely to make us laugh and get our day off to a good start, but Jay isn’t just a good-natured jokester. He’s also a serious community activist who often uses his drumming and acting talents to help worthy causes. He and his partner in crime, Barclay Bishop, often host events, and Jay has been known to get out of the car and work the crowds when he acts as grand marshal in parades. His latest cause, however, is one that’s near and dear to his heart. After a brush with heart disease and a warning stroke, Jay now uses his spare time informing others of the warning signs and urging them to take care of themselves. So, we asked you: What’s not to love? Your answer? Nothing!

Call 706-826-0026 or visit nbc26.tv.

12. Best News Station

12WJBF
Back in 1953, WJBF News Channel 6 signed on the air as the ABC affiliate for Augusta and the CSRA and, ever since that time, the station has been deeply committed to serving the local community.

“Our biggest priority is our commitment to our community and to our viewers,” said Scott Elledge, production manager at WJBF. “We want to report everything accurately and our news to be timely. But, more importantly, accuracy is our big calling.”

Local viewers have come to know WJBF as the most reliable station in town, due in large part to the commitment of its news team, he said.

“We have a great staff of veterans, mixed with young folks with great new ideas,” Elledge said, adding that many of the journalists on staff have been a part of the news station for more than 20 years. “We believe strongly in connecting with our viewers, not only through television, but also through our social media process. So we are just very fortunate that we have a great group of journalists.”

After serving the entire CSRA for more than 60 years, Elledge said the news station has become a part of the community.

“We live here, we work here, we go to churches and to the grocery stores alongside our viewers. We are just one of the many in this town trying to get through the day just like everybody else,” Elledge said, chuckling. “And one thing that has always impressed me on a personal level about our staff is that our guys will stop and talk to our viewers and talk to folks out in public.”

It is important for the WJBF staff to let the public know that it cares about this community, he said.

“Because of that relationship with our viewers, we build that closeness,” he said. “We are part of your family. That is just how we see ourselves and that’s how we feel when we are out in the community. We are a big family.”

With that close relationship comes a lot of responsibility that WJBF doesn’t take for granted, Elledge said.

“We are here to watch out and inform folks of anything that is going on,” he said. “We want to provide them with any information that they need. And not only news content, but also sports, weather and community events. Our goal is to keep people safe and keep people informed.”

WJBF’s commitment to the community goes beyond just covering the news.

Throughout the year the station sponsors and coordinates numerous community events such as Toys for Tots, Halloween with a Heart, Coats for Kids and Shoeboxes for Seniors.

The station also takes great pride in honoring local community leaders for their service through initiatives such as the Golden Apple Award for outstanding local teachers and the Scholar Athlete Award for students who excel both on the playing field and in the classroom.

“We are very much involved in the community in that aspect,” Elledge said. “We feel like we have to be good stewards of our community and be a part of our community as well. That is something we really pride ourselves on.”

Visit wjbf.com.