Musical entertainment entering the SEWE lineup
The Southeastern Wildlife Exposition is expanding into the realm of major musical entertainment, partnering with the Charleston Gaillard Center to kick off the celebration of art and wildlife with a performance by the Steep Canyon Rangers.
The Grammy-winning, North Carolina-based band will present its own special brand of bluegrass music in the Gaillard’s 1,800-seat venue, from 7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Feb. 16. In its 41 years, this will be the first time “a concert of this size and scope” has been on the SEWE agenda, according to President and CEO John Powell.
“A big objective of mine is to work with other local partners – a rising tide raises all ships – and SEWE is a natural place to start with this,” says Gaillard Center President and CEO Lissa Frenkel. “They’ve been in our building and our partner for many years. John and I started talking and immediately realized it was a fit. We feel strongly about conservation. We’re just delighted.”
“We have a partner like the Gaillard Center which does a tremendous job of supporting the arts in Charleston, and we wanted to look at one of the ways we could work with them,” Powell adds. “Music is a natural progression.”
And why did the leaders at SEWE and the Gaillard choose The Steep Canyon Rangers as SEWE’s first major musical production? Frenkel says the band relates to the mission of both organizations.
“Bluegrass has very deep roots in the South. It really made sense for us to put a spotlight on the type of music celebrated here,” she says. “And bluegrass music is going to sound absolutely perfect at the Gaillard. It’s a home run in a couple of different ways.”
“We knew our demographic would like it a lot. I know it will be successful,” Powell points out.
The Steep Canyon Rangers originated when band members were in college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. They burst onto the bluegrass scene in 2007, with an album titled “Lovin’ Pretty Women,” and they released three albums in 2020. In between, they were discovered by actor, comedian and banjo player Steve Martin, who helped introduce them to hundreds of thousands of fans. Today, the Steep Canyon Rangers are major players in the bluegrass, country and Americana genres.
Is the music part of SEWE’s schedule going to continue to grow in future years?
“I hope so,” Frenkel says. “It’s a great compliment to the festival.”
Powell adds: “We have art, wildlife, conservation education and sporting demonstrations. So why not music?”
Three full days highlighting the expertise of artists, exhibitors and wildlife experts, Feb. 17 through Feb. 19, follow the Thursday-evening performance by the Steep Canyon Rangers, with several other events scheduled to take place at the Galliard, all of them scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
They include presentations by adventurer and television star Forrest Galante; an up-close look at natural ecosystems and the birds, animals and reptiles that inhabit them by the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary; “Wings Over Water,” a film co-produced by Ducks Unlimited, which provides a look at the Prairie Pothole Region of North America; and films presented by the National Marine Mammal Foundation, followed by interaction with NMMF scientists and veterinarians.