Benny Starr on stage

Benny Starr performs at the Columbia Museum of Art’s MLK Celebration on Sunday.

Wednesday 15

The University of South Carolina’s Civil Rights History & Research Center hosts a conversation today as part of its Recovering Untold Stories series that features some of the original plaintiffs and family members that were a part of the Brown v. Board of Education decision that ruled segregation unconstitutional (one of the cases that became part of that landmark ruling, Briggs v. Elliott, originated here in South Carolina). Held at the Hollings Library at 6:30 p.m., this is a chance to catch a glimpse of living history as they discuss the minutiae and aftershocks of a case that decisively changed the course of the United State’s racial legacy for the better. Admission is free, refreshments will be served. Visit for more info. — Kyle Petersen

Artist Colin Dodd’s portraits are more like episodes of This Is Your Life than they are mere paintings. In Dodd’s work, the subjects are often surrounded by the things that defined their lives. In “Portrait Of Pasolini,” for example, Dodd augments his rendering of Italian film director Pier Paolo Pasolini with moments from his films. Dodd’s work is going on display at the Koger Center for the Arts in an exhibition called Portraits Past and Present, for which there is an opening reception today at 5:30 p.m. Admission is free. Visit for more info. — Vincent Harris

Thursday 16

This year’s Martin Luther King Forum, Jr. Forum at USC includes an eye-opening event called A Dream Deferred: How the Criminalization of African American Girls Impedes MLK’s Dream, which will include a screening of Monique Morris’ documentary Pushout. The film examines the alarmingly high dropout rate among African-American girls, and the racial imbalances of the juvenile justice system. The screening is free (with invitation) and will be at USC’s Law School. Visit for more info on how to attend. — Vincent Harris

Friday 17

Jazz originated in the late 18th century, but it really came into its own in the 1920s. (What, you never wondered why folks called the 1920s the Jazz Age?) One hundred years later, jazz is everywhere: concert halls, elevators, television commercials, you name it. Even canonical works of classical music get a jazzy twist now and again. Case in point: Tonight’s Baker and Baker Series concert at the Columbia Museum of Art finds series director Noel Friedline leading a jazz trio and a string quartet through jazz-flecked renditions of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Pachelbel’s Canon in D and other monumental classical works. The concert starts at 7 p.m.; tickets are $35. Visit for more information. — Patrick Wall

[Online copy corrected.]

Prohibition didn’t outlaw the consumption of alcohol; the 18th Amendment just made the production, transport and sale of alcohol illegal. But life, as it were, finds a way, and so was born the speakeasy. The so-called Noble Experiment failed in 1933, but Historic Columbia celebrates Prohibition’s centennial by turning the Siebels House into a blind tiger from 6 to 8 p.m. True to from, there’ll be drinks and snacks and hot jazz; even truer to form, you’ll need a password to get in. You’ll need to buy a ticket to get the password, and tickets are $25 ($20 for Historic Columbia members). Visit for more information. — Patrick Wall

Remember when you were a kid and you’d get up on Saturday morning, grab a bowl of horribly unhealthy cereal and watch cartoons like Scooby-Doo or The Smurfs? Remember when you were older and you’d settle in on a Saturday night with, uh, other unhealthy stuff and watch the animated acid trip that is The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine? Well, you can relive both of those experiences at Rob Shaw Gallery & Framing with animator Ron Campbell, who worked on all of those animations and many more. Ron will be showing (and selling) artwork from his 50-year career and talking about it. Drop by the opening reception starting at 4 p.m. today; it’s free. The display and appearances continue through Sunday. Head to to find out more. — Vincent Harris

Saturday 18

Sure, you could sit at home and listen to your favorite true-crime podcast, or you could head over to Swamp Cabbage Brewing Company and let podcasters Jon Perry, Nicole LaPorte, and Jen Collins work their comedic magic on a grisly true-crime story as part of a live recording of their popular Talk Murder To Me podcast. Nothing goes better than comedy, unspeakably horrible crimes and craft booze, right? The murdery fun begins at 7 p.m., and tickets are $20. Visit for more info. — Vincent Harris

Sunday 19

Perchance you saw Free Times recent Best of South Carolina Music poll for 2019, read about Benny Starr and his moving and politically potent 2019 opus A Water Album, which landed at No. 1 on that list, and now you’re raring to see him live and in person? The Columbia Museum of Art’s got you covered today, as the rapper and Rodrick Cliche (who led the band on A Water Album through its hypnotic R&B grooves) perform as Native Son, offering, per the CMA’s website, “a contemporary musical experience that explores the themes of Black Power mashed up with classic movement songs.” The all-day event MLK Celebration: Music and the Movement also features DJ sets, film screenings, gallery tours and food vendors. It’s free to attend. Find out more at — Jordan Lawrence

Monday 20

In 1957, while speaking at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” In divisive times more than 60 years later, it’s a message that still holds great power. The legacy of King will be marked across the nation today during the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. In Columbia, the key event will be the South Carolina NAACP’s annual King Day at the Dome march and rally. The event will likely take on a political feel, as U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders is set to appear, and, as Free Times went to press, other campaigns were in discussion to attend. The march will line up at 9:30 a.m. at Zion Baptist Church on Washington Street, with the Statehouse rally set for 10:15 a.m. — Chris Trainor

Tuesday 21

The Blue Note Poetry series, which combines an open mic with spoken word and music headliners in a free-flowing outpouring of expression, returns to The White Mule tonight. Featuring the socially conscious Aiken polymath BiG Bailey as the featured spoken word artist with Sumter bluesman Stevie Harris providing the tunes alongside series house band Vasaboo Group. Expect things to get groovy. Open mic starts at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $5. Find out more at — Kyle Petersen

Wednesday 22

Patrick & Topher’s Variety Show-fer has become a weekly mainstay at the new Comedy Closet and a choice way of interacting with local comedians doing their thing. You can usually expect a monologue, some wacky sketch nonsense and a fun interview with a special guest each week. Show starts at 8:30 p.m., and admissions is $5 ($10 under 21). More info available at — Kyle Petersen

By now, I’m sure most of you know the gist of Wicked: What if the Wicked Witch of the West wasn’t actually a villain? I’m also relatively sure that most of you get that having such a popular, influential and technically impressive touring production touch down in Columbia is a big deal. So I won’t bore you with plot details or other minutiae — or rant at you about how “Defying Gravity” is an anthem for the ages. I’ll just tell you that Wicked’s two-and-a-half-week run at the Koger Center (presented by Broadway in Columbia) starts tonight with a 7:30 p.m. performance. Tickets run from $39 to $119. Go to for more info. — Jordan Lawrence

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