This year, Piccolo Spoleto Festival's annual harbor cruises feature some out-of-the-ordinary artists.
“This is a long-standing series that has evolved over time,” said Scott Watson, director of the Office of Cultural Affairs for the City of Charleston, which organizes the festival. “We are trying to make sure that it stays fresh and varied, and each successive year there is something new on offer.”
The Carolina Queen Harbor Cruise line, which features mostly blues musicians during the festival, will host (among other artists) the Tad Walters Band and Johnny Ace & Sidewalk Zydeco. The Spiritline Harbor Cruise ship will host jazz and eclectic music artists.
Brooklyn-based William “Willy Soul” Benrubi — photographer and DJ — is a College of Charleston alumnus who makes his first Piccolo Spoleto appearance this year. On Tuesday, he will present legendary DJ Rich Medina. Besides spinning tunes, Medina also teaches African-American music, history and culture at Cornell University.
“He is responsible for America’s original Afrobeat parties, to celebrating the life of Fela Kuti,” Benrubi said. The parties, called Jump 'n' Funk, are dedicated to the Nigeran activist and musical virtuoso.
Benrubi wants his contribution to Piccolo Spoleto to bring "eclectic cultural dance music to the festival, in terms of a global perspective,” he said.
Other artists performing in the series include Gino Castillo Quartet on the Spiritline on June 7 and Hitman on the Carolina Queen on June 9.
“Charleston harbor has a perfect, breathtaking view of the skyline and sunset,” Watson said. “We think it’s a great way for both locals and tourists to enjoy what is on offer during the festival.”
Basadi Dibeela is a Goldring Arts Journalist at Syracuse University.