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Birney Imes: Friday night on the town


Birney Imes


The contents of this article have been modified since its original posting.


Friday night was not one for counting flowers on the wall, smoking cigarettes or watching Captain Kangaroo. With apologies to the Statler Brothers, on Friday evening, assuming one had the energy, tickets and invitations, it was possible in River City to attend a reception for a national ceramics exhibition (spread over two locations), a talent show, a blues concert and even a pajama party. 


Your humble reporter was not invited to the pajama party and by the time the blues concert rolled around, he had endured more than a dozen acts in the talent show. He''d had enough music for one evening. 


He and his date repaired to one of their favorite haunts on Highway 45 where they enjoyed a late dinner and learned about Vietnam from their favorite sushi chef, she a native of Saigon. 


Mississippi University for Women ceramics instructor Al Holen is responsible for the ceramics exhibition. I''m not going to call Al irrepressible, because I don''t know her that well, but I''ve never seen her unenthusiastic and without that wonderful crooked smile. Judging by the quality of the show she''s organized, Al has the respect and trust of ceramic artists across the country. 


The Eugenia Summer Gallery on The W campus was crowded for the duration of the two and a half-hour opening. The Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau''s red double-decker bus shuttled gallery goers between The W and the Rosenzweig Arts Center, where work from Mississippi ceramists is being shown. Interestingly, the work at the RAC is more figurative while that at the ESG is more functional, i.e. cups, saucers, serving bowls and tea sets. We Southerners have to tell our stories, even if it''s with dirt. 


The exhibition offers locals a rare opportunity to educate oneself about ceramic art. The show will be up until Feb. 4. 


Across the street from the RAC, "Showtime at the Trotter," featured an adult talent competition followed by a concert by R&B singer T.K. Soul. The show was the first in a series of events in this year''s Martin Luther King/Dream 365 celebration, which includes a gospel program 5 p.m. today at Lee Middle School and a MLK Memorial breakfast 8:30 Monday at the Trotter. 


The talent show, as talent shows are wont to be, was a mixed bag. The emcee encouraged the audience to boo bad acts and when they did, a hyper, gnome-like creature in a Fred Sanford T-shirt (Ken Cornelius of Starkville) bounded onto the stage and shooed away the hapless performer. 


Note to future talent show contestants: Please, just say no to Whitney Houston. Muzik in Action served as the house band and provided backup for the contestants. During a musical interlude Joe St. John turned to the table -- Beth, Meagan Coughlin and Whirllie and Willie Byrd -- and said, "That guy on the sax is phenomenal." 


The chief was talking about Simeon Weatherby, who in addition to playing music and being a phenomenally nice guy, is married, father of a little girl and working on a degree in math at MSU. 


Also in the combo are drummer Rafeal Heard and Ashanti Cullen on keyboards. Left to their own designs, Muzik in Action plays smooth jazz and would be happy to be part of your next event. 


Another nice guy, Harvey Gordon of Starkville, finished in the top three with his rendition of "I Don''t Want to Know."  


"Harvey is going to barber college in case this singing thing don''t work out," the emcee joked in his introduction. Gordon, who is a student at Gibson Barber College in West Point, said, though he''s been singing since he was 5, he was nervous. 


If she was nervous, Kala Brown didn''t show it. She came on stage, and as each of the contestants before her, rubbed a piece of a log for good luck before kicking off her high heels and barefooting it through a rendition of "Blame it on Me," by Chrisette Michele. 


Daughter of Kay and Owen Brown, Kala attends East Mississippi Community College, sings in her church, Northside Baptist, and declared after her performance that she is going to be a R&B star. 


If Friday night''s audience has anything to do with it, that will be soon. They voted her tops in the competition. 


As to how the pajama party turned out, I''m told 10 humans and one fat kitty had a warm and cozy good time. Just as pajama parties should be.


Birney Imes III is the immediate past publisher of The Dispatch.


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