FASHION | Fashion freaks united

Can’t wait for Fashion Week to start on Tuesday? (We know, we’re super excited too.) The Side Show, produced by Spinster and Charleston’s Most Unique, can give you your fashion fix as this much-anticipated week kicks off. The Side Show is a celebration of alternative style, featuring threads from local shops and designers. The first half of the show will highlight street style from local shops like MaxJerome, b’zar, Worthwhile, and Global Awakening. After a half-time show from ukulele/kazoo extraordinaires the V-Tones, act two will showcase handmade clothing by local designers like Spinster, Rose Knot, Philadora, and Leigh Magar, as well as a special Collaborative Collection put together by designers. In line with the local theme, guests will be treated to yummies from OMcooking and Sugar Bakeshop as well as libations from Coast Brewery and The Trusted Palate. —Erica Jackson SATURDAY March 22, 8 p.m. $20/advance, $25/door. 501 King St. Downtown.

ART | Greetings from somewhere

Benjamin Bellas is a Chicago-based artist whose exhibition “Greetings from somewhere between a slow onset quarter-life crisis and fading off into my Andre Agassi days” is opening at Redux on Friday. We’re not sure what the title means. We’re also confused by the artist’s statement that, “Eliciting empathy from the viewer, the works become secrets whispered in driveways while waiting for meteors under fall skies. As such, each work is a multi-layered exploration into the moments of our existence that shape our relationship to the modern pursuits of enlightenment, purpose, and personal meaning.” (Taken from Bellas’ website.) We’re not even sure how four lighters in a row constitutes art. (There, we said it!) But the thing is, it looks pretty cool. We hope you’ll head out to Redux too and try to “get it” — you can even ask Bellas himself, who will be at the reception. In fact, he’ll be in town for a week before the show opens, creating art based on his Charleston experience. We can’t wait to see what he comes up with. —EJ OPENS FRIDAY March 21, 5-8 p.m. Redux Contemporary Art Center, 136 St. Philip St. (843) 722-0697,

MUSIC | An elegantly swingin’ journey

Horn player Charlton Singleton is a musical Renaissance Man: a teacher, bandleader, session player, and go-to musical guru. Most local bargoers recognize him as a member of popular party band Plane Jane. Musicians admire him for his skillful technique and versatility. This Saturday, Singleton steps away from his familiar combo setting and leads a 20-piece orchestra through a concert entitled “The South Carolina Hit Parade.” The big band concert offers a repertoire of jazz music composed by, or associated with, musicians from South Carolina, including Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Green, Joseph “Fud” Livingston, Buddy and Ella Johnson, Bubber Miley, and others. Featured musicians include saxophonist Mark Sterbank, trumpeter Chuck Dalton, trombonist Fred Wesley Jr. (a former bandleader for James Brown), bassist Kevin Hamilton, pianist Richard White Jr., drummer Quentin Baxter, guitarist Lee Barbour, and vocalists Tony Burke and Ann Caldwell. The South Carolina Hit Parade is presented by the newly established Jazz Artists of Charleston — a nonprofit organization formed to “cultivate a professional and healthy environment for musicians and audience members throughout the Charleston area in an effort to promote, support and develop the vibrant and creative jazz culture.” Local author and jazz critic Jack McCray is an advising member of the JAC Board. He recently dug deep into the history of Carolina jazz in a book titled Charleston Jazz. He covered the early period of the Jenkins Orphanage and the Avery Normal Institute through the swingin’ heyday of the 1940s and ‘50s to the modern-day jazz scene. The music of many of the vintage jazz acts covered in the book inspired McRay and Singleton to compile this special program for contemporary players. —T. Ballard Lesemann SATURDAY March 22, 7-9 p.m. $30/advance, $40/door. Charleston Music Hall, 37 John St. (843) 853-2252,

ART | Diners and dives down the road

Classic roadside eateries, from silver diners to taco trucks to straight-up dives, are a welcome change from the barrage of Burger Kings and Exxons that too often take over the roadside landscape. Boomers react with nostalgia, while younger folks seem to appreciate the cinematic, almost exotic quality of the places. Inspired by childhood road trips, Indiana native John Baeder (born 1938) has been painting these roadside icons for years, publishing several books along the way. Known as one of America’s best realist painters, Baeder works from photographs, using rendered oils and watercolors in painstaking detail. His attitude is that by painting these valuable old attractions, he’s saving them for future generations, when all that’s left are poor, sad copies of the originals. On Sunday, March 30, the Charleston Symphony Orchestra String Quartet will perform music inspired by the exhibit on the Rotunda at 2:30 p.m. ($15, $7/students and seniors, includes museum admission.) —EJ March 22-April 27. Gibbes Museum of Art, 135 Meeting St. (843) 722-2706.

FASHION | Project runway

After a huge inaugural year in 2007, Charleston Fashion Week is back for round two, featuring more shows, more parties, and more celebs than before. The five-day event, hosted by Charleston magazine, echoes NYC Fashion Week in Bryant Park, with a distinctly Charleston flair. Guests can expect a new runway design within the tents at Marion Square along with more than 30 ready-to-wear collections from Biton, Hampden, Brooks Brothers, LulaKate, Mary Norton, K. Morgan, and more. New this year is an Emerging Local Designer Night on Friday, featuring six winners from a recent design contest, along with a bridal couture show with both high-end and local designs on Saturday morning. General admission tickets are $30, getting you into all of the night’s shows (five to six per night), along with a cash bar and food vendors. Or go for the VIP ticket ($52) and get priority seating for the night, open bar, and food provided. Get your drink on with the models (and guests like SNL’s Finesse Mitchell, Project Runway finalist Jillian Lewis, and maybe some surprises) at free City Paper-sponsored after-parties all week. Tuesday the party’s at Chai’s, Wednesday is at Raval with DJ MooMoo, and Thursday’s at Torch with half-price Bellatinis and a fashion exhibition by Cary Weber. Friday’s party at Club Trio features music from DJ Akfool and Atlanta’s Loose Chain2 (there will be a cover charge, unless you have a CFW ticket). Saturday night, don’t miss the swanky red-carpet finale gala (if you can snag tickets), with an open bar, food, and entertainment ($70) at Marion Square. A portion of the proceeds from the week go to Dress for Success, an organization that helps disadvantaged women achieve independence by providing professional attire. —EJ TUESDAY-SATURDAY March 25-29. $30-$52, (843) 971-9811, Marion Square, Calhoun and King streets.

FAMILY | Camping makes a comeback at the Aquarium

Kids spend a lot of time inside these days, thanks (but no thanks) to television, video games, and heightened terror alerts (OK, maybe that last one is less of a factor). Fortunately, there is a new exhibit at the South Carolina Aquarium — Camp Carolina — which encourages all of us to get out and experience nature. The mastermind behind this exhibit, the fittingly named Kevin Kampworth, deserves major props. Chloe Byers, marketing and public relations coordinator for the Aquarium, says the Camp is “really fun, exciting, playful, and interactive,” and she is not just blowing smoke. The recreated campground comes complete with a river (not life size), Bowers Bait and Tackle Shop, a climbing wall, and loads of local critters — there are skunks, snakes, salamanders, and even a flightless bald eagle. Plus, all this is presented in new and unusual ways — snakes slither underneath the porch of the tackle shop and frogs hop just above your head as you climb through the fallen log. Young’uns go absolutely crazy when let lose inside this place (trust us, we’ve witnessed it) and adults seem to enjoy themselves, too. Camp Carolina succeeds in its mission to bring outdoor-size fun indoors. —Meaghan Strickland.

S.C. Aquarium, 100 Aquarium Wharf. (843) 579-8600.

EASTER | Hippity Hoppity, Easter’s on its way

Whether you are part of a family or flying solo, Charleston has a basketful of fun things to do this Easter weekend. If you’re looking for something to do with the kids, Saturday is your lucky day, with various events and egg hunts going on around the Lowcountry. The Kids’ Eggstraordinary Eggstravaganza at Rosebank Farms on Johns Island promises baby chicks, bunnies, and other barnyard animals as well as hayrides with the Easter Bunny and, of course, an egg hunt ($5, free/children under 3 & adults over 70. 843-768-0508). The Easter Eggstravaganza at Middleton Place in West Ashley features an egg hunt led by the Easter Bunny himself (11 a.m. $25/adults, $5/children. 843-266-7473). The Charleston Easter Egg Hunt 2008 at the College of Charleston Athletic Field boasts 15,000 candy- and prize-filled eggs, jump castles, temporary tattoos, and giveaways. Better yet, a professional photographer will take pictures of your little darlings with the Bunny (11 a.m. free). The City of Charleston’s Easter Eggstravaganza (sensing a theme here?) at Hampton Park has the traditional Easter egg hunt, but it also has a magic show, activity stations, games, prizes, jump castles, refreshments, and an audience with the Bunny (11a.m-1p.m.).

When the candy madness has worn off and you’re looking for something a little tamer, the whole family can rise before the sun on Easter morning for a sunrise service at Folly Beach. Pastors from three area churches provide your Easter dose of prayer, scripture, and preaching out on the pier. If that doesn’t fulfil your spiritual needs, check out Gospel Fest 2008 from 3-8 p.m. at Riverfront Park in North Charleston (Free. 843-554-8605). —Madelyne Adams SATURDAY-SUNDAY

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