If, as Geoff and Dan at SpoletoToday have observed before, the Spoleto press room this year is not quite as buzzing with activity as in previous years, the unofficial top artist hangout spot this festival is more than making up for it. That would be African-themed Kudu Coffee on Vanderhorst Street, half a block from the old county library and directly across the street from St. Matthews Lutheran Church, home to this year’s Intermezzi concerts and rehearsal site for a grab bag of performances.
At [image-1]any given moment at Kudu, you’re likely to catch a significant cross section of the festival’s artists lounging about between gigs, fortifying themselves with a cuppa something, indulging a mid-fest game of chess, or soaking up the Charleston sun in the airy courtyard. Kudu’s also one of several locations you may end up at if you make the call to see the guerrilla-style street play I’m Gonna Kill the President: A Federal Offense, but you didn’t hear that from me.
In between shows yesterday afternoon, I stepped into the downtown locus for a quick pick me up and a wifi signal. A piano/double bass duo held forth in a corner, and the place was teeming with artists and in-the-know out of towners. Young members of the Westminster Choir buzzed in a corner, and Spoleto Festival Orchestra musicians nodded over New York Times blogger James Oestreich’s post about them from earlier in the morning. Charleston Symphony Orchestra choral director Robert Taylor stopped in for a cup to go, followed shortly after by Intermezzi pianist Andrew von Oeyen, Westminster Choir director Joe Miller, and Spoleto music director Emmanuel Villaume.
Villaume sat down for an espresso and a short chat, in which he mentioned the SFO’s scheduled trip to Greece for the Nafplion Opera Festival, following Spoleto, has been canceled, since the Greek government failed to come up with the promised funding.
Afterward, I dragged Kudu owner John Saunders out from behind the counter for a short conversation about what it’s like to be the festival’s unofficial artists’ lounge.