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How to spend your Labor Day weekend in Charleston: Elvis, jazz and more

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Lowcountry Jazz Festival

If you ask me, the words “smooth jazz” may sound even cooler than the actual sounds of smooth jazz. In keeping with its Labor Day weekend tradition, the Lowcountry Jazz Festival at the Gaillard Center will gather all that coolness and all that smoothness into one place beginning Friday. Well, technically. Friday’s All White Party Affair, featuring Grammy-nominated R&B artist Anthony David is sold out, so if you see a bunch of people along Calhoun Street wearing all-white attire, you know they are coming or going from the opening night of this 11th annual festival.

Day One on Saturday will feature performances from The Sax Pack (how cool is that name?), Grammy nominee Richard Elliott, Peter White (guitar), Keiko Matsui (piano), DW3 (jazz fused with R&B and Latin soul) and The West Coast Jam Horns.

Get a weekly list of tips on pop-ups, last minute tickets and little-known experiences hand-selected by our newsroom in your inbox each Thursday.

Dav Koz and Friends

Dave Koz & Friends will perform Sunday at the Lowcountry Jazz Festival. Provided/Antonio Dixon/Gaillard Center

Day Two on Sunday will feature performances from Dave Koz & Friends, part of his Summer Horns tour with Gerald Albright, Rick Braun, Kenny Lattimore, Aubrey Logan and Adam Hawley, in support of his latest CD, “Dave Koz Presents: Live from the Dave Koz Cruise.” Side note: It looks like this annual cruise is a pretty big deal. The 2020 cruise to Amsterdam and the British Isles is already sold out (performers include Regina Belle, Brian McKnight and Sinbad). In addition, Sunday will feature Marion Meadows (also a semi-pro cyclist), Grammy winner Kirk Whalum (also an ordained minister) and Jonathan Butler (raised in Cape Town, South Africa).

Kirk Whalum  jazz

Grammy winner Kirk Whalum (also an ordained minister) will perform at this weekend's Lowcountry Jazz Festival. Provided/AW/Gaillard Center

The Lowcountry Jazz Festival is the primary fundraising event for Closing the Gap in Health Care Inc., a nonprofit that focuses on decreasing health disparities and increasing health literacy, particularly among African Americans and the under-served populations in the local community and the state. Proceeds also benefit the Thaddeus John Bell M.D. Endowment Fund, which provides scholarships to those pursuing health science degrees at MUSC.

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 31 and Sept. 1

WHERE: Gaillard Center, 95 Calhoun St., downtown Charleston

PRICE: $68-$153

MORE INFO: 843-242-3099,,

Blue iguana Repticon

The Repticon animal expo returns to the Omar Shrine Center this weekend. Provided/Repticon


Considering how I reacted upon finding a snake in my driveway last week, it is highly unlikely that I would be the most chill person in a room full of those slithering serpents, even if they were behind glass. But for those of y’all who aren’t a total spazz like I am, Repticon returns to the Omar Shrine Center this weekend.

This reptile and exotic animal expo has it all, with a mix of vendors, breeders, educators and more, which goes above and beyond what you would find in the average pet store. There will be free-entry raffles on both days, as well as seminars from experts in the zoological field of herpetology (amphibians and reptiles).

Green Tree python Repticon

The Repticon animal expo returns to the Omar Shrine Center this weekend. Provided/Repticon

Most of the vendors will allow “live interactions” with the animals, you know, to make sure that the whole family is comfortable bringing that new pet spider home.

Looking to spruce up your red-bellied toad’s terrarium with some moss balls? Search no more. Habitat decor will be one of many things available for purchase.

An extra little nugget I found: There won’t be any constrictors over 6 feet, no crocodiles over 30 inches and no venomous reptiles, because they are against vendor regulations. So, you can buy a python that’s as “tall” as Tom Hanks, but not as tall as Bradley Cooper. That’s a relief now, isn’t it?

Lizard repticon

The Repticon animal expo returns to the Omar Shrine Center this weekend. Provided/Repticon

WHEN: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 31 (9 a.m. VIP entry); 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sept. 1

WHERE: Omar Shrine Center, 176 Patriots Point Road, Mount Pleasant

PRICE: $10 adult; $5 ages 5-12 years; free for ages 4 years and younger; VIP and two-day options available online


Elvis shrine

The Charleston Pour House will host its annual Elvis Ain't Dead Fest on Thursday. File/Mark Humphrey/AP

Elvis Ain’t Dead Fest

In commemoration of the anniversary of Elvis’ death on Aug. 16, 1977, the Pour House presents the Elvis Ain’t Dead Fest 4 on Thursday, a celebration of “the greatest hoax in history.”

The evening will be full of all things King, featuring the music of Young Elvis, Gospel Elvis, Bluegrass Elvis, Rockabilly Elvis and Fat Elvis. Performers include Mel Washington, The Marshgrass Pretty Mamas, Teresa Parrish, Mike Martin & The Beautiful Mess, Dante’s Camaro, ’17 Comeback Special (2018 winners of the Battle of Elvi) and Schema.

Young Elvis by window

The Charleston Pour House will host its annual Elvis Ain't Dead Fest on Thursday. File/Alfred Wertheimer

Costumes are highly encouraged and no worries if you can’t get the sideburns right, reps from Redux Contemporary Art Center can paint those on for you. Redux also will have an art installation from its summer students, inspired by theories of what “really” happened to Elvis Aaron Presley in 1977. Be sure to keep your eyes open, as event organizers are convinced the “real” Elvis will be in attendance, taking a break from living his best life in Argentina.

Additional food and art vendors will be set up out on the deck, including Brown’s Court Bakery, Gray Cat Records, FK Vintage, Threads Todisco and Charlietown Prints.

WHEN: On the deck: 4 p.m. doors, 6:15 p.m. music; On the main stage: 8 p.m. doors, 9:15 p.m. music Aug. 29

WHERE: Pour House, 1977 Maybank Highway, James Island

PRICE: On the deck: free admission; On the main stage: $12-$15

MORE INFO: 843-571-4343,

Footloose kick white back

Justin Gaskill as Ren in Charleston Stage's production of "Footloose" at the Dock Street Theatre. Provided/Chris Rogers/Charleston Image Works


It’s time to cut loose, kick off the Sunday shoes and lose the blues because you’re burning, yearning for somebody to tell you that “Footloose” has opened at the Dock Street Theatre, presented by Charleston Stage. The musical is based on the 1984 film with Kevin Bacon, about a teenage city slicker who moves to a small town in Utah and makes everything all crazy when he finds out that rock ‘n’ roll and dancing are prohibited.

The production will run well into September and includes some of the bigger hits from the film, such as “Holding Out for a Hero,” “Let’s Hear It for the Boy,” “Almost Paradise” and, of course, Kenny Loggins’ “Footloose.”

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 30-31; 3 p.m. Sept. 1; additional evening and matinee performances Thursday-Sunday through Sept. 22

WHERE: Dock Street Theatre, 135 Church St., downtown Charleston

PRICE: $29-$71

MORE INFO: 843-577-5967,

PechaKucha 35

The Charleston Arts Festival folks are again teaming up with the Charleston Music Hall folks for the next PechaKucha event, PK Charleston 35, on Wednesday. PechaKucha, Japanese for “chitchat,” is a bit like an adult version of show and tell (20 slides, shown for 20 seconds each), which encourages collaboration and includes some of the top artistic, creative and entrepreneurial minds in our local community.

Giovanna De Luca

Giovanna de Luca, artistic director with the Nuovo Italiano Film Festival, is one of the presenters at PK Charleston 35 at the Music Hall. Provided/Charleston Music Hall

Featured presenters for this next installment are: Giovanna de Luca, associate professor of “Italian and Film” and director of the Italian Studies program with the College of Charleston; Taylor McCleskey, frontman of local band Beach Tiger; Michele Seekings, owner of Spire Art Services and co-founder of Intro; Cookie Washington, art quilter and activist; Aaron Zych, owner of Heart of Gold Gallery of fine art; Kali Holloway, senior director with the Make it Right Project; Kyle Barnette, co-founder and artistic director with What If? Productions; and Jackson, Gabe and Riley Silverman, I Heart Hungry Kids project; with emcee Stephanie Burt, food writer, critic, podcaster; and music from DJ Professor Ping.

Jackson, Gabe and Riley Silverman

Jackson, Gabe and Riley Silverman of the I Heart Hungry Kids project are presenters at PK Charleston 35. Provided/Charleston Music Hall 

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 4

WHERE: Charleston Music Hall, 37 John St., downtown Charleston

PRICE: $12-$14

MORE INFO: 843-853-2252,

Reach Liz Foster at 843-937-5581. Follow her on Twitter @TheDizzyLizzieB

Senior news clerk and staff writer

Senior news clerk and staff writer Liz Foster joined The Post and Courier team in 2012 and, among other things, compiles events and writes the My Charleston Weekend column for Charleston Scene.