Admiral Radio opens the Hampton Park Finale for Comfortably Pink, a Pink Floyd tribute band. | Photo by Wright Media

The second half of Piccolo Spoleto 2023 offers more chances to engage with the work of creative Charlestonians, visiting artists, emerging playwrights, musicians and actors. Other events focus on community celebrations, such as a sandcastle sculpting competition on Isle of Palms and a free Pink Floyd-inspired finale event curated by local concert producer Zandrina Dunning.

“What we’re looking to do is create an inclusive and complete presentation of our community,” said Scott Watson, cultural affairs director for the city of Charleston.

Engage with creative writers

The festival’s longest-running event exclusively devoted to fiction, Piccolo Fiction by Piccolo Spoleto and Blue Bicycle Books allows local and South Carolina authors to read brief short stories. The event will be held in the courtyard beside the King Street bookstore, and, following tradition, each story will begin with the words “I ducked into the alley…”

Owner of Blue Bicycle Books, Jonathan Sanchez said the event is a great way for folks to engage with up and coming talent. 

“I think we got a really good group this year,” he said. “I’m excited to meet Brittany Butler. She’s a little bit different in that she writes spy fiction. I’m also thrilled to have Gervais Hagerty, who I’ve known for a really long time and wrote a great book that takes place in Charleston called In Polite Company.”

Piccolo Fiction is free and open to the public at Blue Bicycle Books, 420 King St., 5 p.m. June 3. 

This year’s featured authors:


• Brittany Butler is a former CIA targeting officer who recruited spies and dismantled terrorist networks abroad. Butler has worked to promote the rights of disenfranchised Afghan women and girls. Her first novel is The Syndicate Spy, which tells the story of how female intelligence officers use their intellect and skills to bring peace to a war-torn region. 

• Gervais Hagerty grew up in Charleston and spent time as a reporter and producer for local radio and TV. After earning her MBA at The Citadel, she taught communications to cadets. She published her first novel, In Polite Company in 2021. A new novel is on the way.


• Y-Danair Niehrah writes historical fiction, focusing on the stories of the Degar people (the indigenous tribes of Vietnam). He studied creative writing at the College of Charleston before pursuing a master’s degree in fine arts at Queens University of Charlotte.


• Sara Peck is the author of three books of poetry. She grew up in Greenville, attended the College of Charleston, received her master’s degree in fine arts from Columbia College Chicago and teaches writing at the University School of the Lowcountry. 

For those interested in more of the art of spoken word, there’s the Sundown Poetry series, which this year will be held at Washington Square Park on Broad Street. Each reading starts at 6 p.m. with book signings to follow at Buxton Books around the corner. 

The first poets to perform this year were William Lee Kinard III, Marlanda Dekine and Eugene Platt. It’s free to attend the upcoming poetry performances by these writers: 

• Angelo Geter. June 2. Geter is an award-winning poet and teaching artist currently serving as the Poet laureate of Rock Hill. Geter is a 2020 Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow, and a National Poetry Slam champion. His debut collection More God Than Dead was published in 2022.

• John Milkereit. June 6. Milkereit, now of Houston and formerly Charleston, has appeared in various literary journals including Panoply and The Ekphrastic Review. Lamar University Literary Press recently published his third collection of poems entitled, A Place Comfortable with Fire.

• Kurtis Lamkin. June 7. Lamkin combines performing spoken word with playing the Kora, a stringed West African instrument. His poems have been published in many magazines and anthologies, and his latest recording, “Love Life,” can be found at

• Elizabeth Robin. June 8. Robin is a retired teacher and working poet on Hilton Head Island. She has three books with Finishing Line Press, most recently To My Dreamcatcher (2022). The 2021 Carrie McCray Nickens Fellowship winner, Robin emcees open mics and creates literary programs on Hilton Head.

• Long Table Poets. June 9. The group has met for 20 years to study and craft poems with teacher Richard Garcia, whose book of prose poems, Porridge, was selected by Poetry magazine’s editor as the best collection of 2015. 

Springtime celebrations

Piccolo celebrates the transition into summer with a loved festival tradition that takes place at the Isle of Palms front beach at 9 a.m., June 3, the Piccolo Spoleto Sand Sculpting Competition. Artists compete for prizes in different categories as they transform raw sand and water into beautiful works of art. Whether you’re a competitor or a spectator, this free event is fun for everyone.  

For the finale event at Hampton Park, the cultural affairs office collaborated with local music organizer Zandrina Dunning, owner of concert production company The ZD Experience.

The June 10 Hampton Park Finale event is a Pink Floyd tribute in celebration of the 50th anniversary of its iconic album, The Dark Side of the Moon

“When I was asked to do this, I was super-excited,” Dunning said, “So I immediately thought of just who could fill out this event and do it the right way.”

Johnny Mac will take on lead guitar and vocals with Scotty Friar, plus Tristan Sills on bass, Bill Nance on keys and OrganMaster Bank on saxophone. Also singing Floyd songs on stage are frequent guests on Dunning’s concert lineups; Zander Bowes of Columbia, S.C., and soprano Javetta Campbell. 

The concert starts at 5:30 p.m. with local indie group Admiral Radio on the Rose Pavilion Stage. At 7:45 p.m., a Pink Floyd tribute band called “Comfortably Pink” will take the main stage. Local light artist Lazer Catcher will provide hazy, colorful, Pink Floyd-inspired visuals. Dunning said folks should bring chairs and blankets to enjoy this free, family-friendly concert in the park. 

“It’s a cool thing to be partnering with the city of Charleston on this level,” Dunning said. “Producing something kind of from the ground up; I’m super excited about that. [ZD Experience creative director] Stephen Washington and I are putting this thing together and we’re just so excited to make it happen.”

For the full lineup of Piccolo Spoleto events, visit

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