Summer Six(es) with Gillian Albrecht


Summer 6

It’s summer in the city and sometimes during this time of year we find ourselves with the weird sensation of (gasp!) free time on our hands.  Rather than letting this phenomenon catch you unawares on some stray Saturday afternoon, Jasper has you covered with our summertime series alliteratively called the Summer Sixes in which we ask members of the Columbia arts community to share their favorite top 6 films, reads, albums, or TV series binges.  We’ll be bringing you this throughout the summer so pay attention to What Jasper Said to learn more about what your friends and neighbors like to do with their spare time, and maybe get some ideas of what to do with yours.


We asked Broadway veteran Gillian Scalici Albrecht to help us out with her top 6 in any of the above categories and she — like other folks to come — was kind enough to help us out in almost all the categories. Read Gillian’s responses below, then check out some of her work at the end of the post.

Summer in SC is for me about staying out of the heat than anything else. I usually use the summers for my travels to new and exciting places, where for the most part it’s cooler but also since it is a quieter time in Columbia and have kids in school; it’s a good time to go and see the world. I am not a big television watcher and have not succumbed to all the reality shows as I am not interested in other peoples’ lives and all the talent shows are fun; but give me a good Broadway show anytime with hard learned talent and terrific productions! When I do watch it’s usually crime stories with real actors and good plots where I can disappear for an hour in a story of partial truth that is usually heart wrenching. I cry very easily and a good story gets me each time.

That said, I love travelling in Europe and am a person who loves seeing all the places that fill our history books. My choice of reading is generally anything that is filled with historical facts and a good story so it’s usually a good fiction novel based on history. I lived in Germany for many years and am fascinated with stories of World War II and love good stories and stories about families and survival. One of my favorite books is Sarah’s Key. Some of my favorite reads are “The Invisible Bridge” by Julie Orringer, the books by Philippa Gregory about Henry the VIII and his many wives and the lifestyle and historical facts surrounding it, like “The Other Boleyn Girl”, “The Virgin Lover.”  I can’t think of a more profound and moving film which says all of this like “Life is Beautiful” and “The Pianist.” A more recent film involving history and brilliantly done is “The Imitation Game.”

Broadway veteran Gillian Allbrecht
Broadway veteran Gillian Albrecht

Stories filled with struggle, sacrifice and success also like The Glass Castle and Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls keep life in perspective and are fascinating reads. More books I have enjoyed are “The Sandcastle Girls”, “Having our Say”, “The Help”, “My Sisters Keeper”, and “Water for Elephants”,

Contrary to what most people would think, I don’t listen to Broadway soundtracks. I don’t like the feeling of having to concentrate and think I have to study something but just want the pleasure of listening. I am an R&B fanatic. Love Quincy Jones, Lou Rawls, George Benson, Lionel Richie, Al Jarreau,  Pattie Austin and James Ingram, Natalie Cole, and can’t get enough of Whitney Houston and her amazing voice and some of the oldies like Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne and still love Diana Ross and the Supremes to sing along with.

And my all-time favorite is a good old piano bar with great jazz and a glass of wine looking at the ocean! Happy Summer!

Check out Gillian in her salad days!

Read more about Gillian in the current issue of Jasper Magazine and check out her latest project Broadway at USC.





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Tuesday is MAKE MUSIC DAY brought to you by One Columbia and friends

make music cola


This Tuesday, June 21, Columbia will take part in its second annual Make Music Columbia event. Music will be played just about everywhere, from Five Points, Main Street, the State House, Lexington and more. It’s a perfect indoor and outdoor event for music-lovers of all ages to experience all sorts of music, happening from 9 am – 9 pm. There will be music of all styles, from rock, hip hop, folk, jazz, experimental and anything in between.

Make Music Columbia is part of a broader network that is the Make Music Day Alliance. The first Make Music Day was in France in 1982, and it is now a worldwide event, with over 700 cities in 120 countries participating. It happens each year on the summer solstice, a great way to celebrate the longest day of the year.

Anyone is free to participate in Make Music Columbia, and there will be a number of mass appeals, which are large groups of people playing the same instruments together. These will take place at the State House, and anyone is welcome to walk up and join in. They’ll have ukulele songbooks, harmonicas and more for the crowd. No musical skill required!

There will be buskers all around the city along with other organized concerts, which are all free and open to the public. People are also welcomed and encouraged to sign up to either host or perform. This is primarily a collaborative effort, made possible by the committed work of One Columbia, Rice Music House and WXRY FM.




Most performances can be caught in Five Points, Main Street, and The Village at Sandhills, and there will be outdoor concerts at Tapp’s Arts Center and The Lula Drake on Main Street. There are still a lot more places to enjoy performances, and these can be found at

“The idea is to create so much music that people encounter it during their daily activities,” says Ashleigh Lancaster, Office Manager at One Columbia. “The idea that you can fill a whole city with performances like that is really exciting… It makes the streets feel so alive.”

Lancaster believes this is a great event for Columbia to be able to participate in a worldwide event while also enjoying the stress–relieving qualities of music. It can put a smile on people’s faces, and give them the opportunity to let go during the week.



  • First up – Join the Sound Circle! 
    Led by Girls Rock Columbia, make music using your voice – strange noises, bleeps, boops, even screams come together to create a unique chorus! Starts around 6pm.
  • Then – Learn the Harmonica!
    Thanks to Hohner, we’ll be handing out 100 free harmonicas! Walk right up and learn how to play – then we’ll try our new skills as a group. Starts around 6:30pm.
  • And, then – Uke it Up!
    The Cola Ukulele Band will perform their sweet tunes for you, but not before teaching you a few things they’ve learned! Be sure to bring your ukulele. There will be some books on hand with sheet music. Starts around 7:15pm 


So no matter how talented or less-than-talented you feel in your musical abilities, Lancaster and all the other good folks organizing Make Music Columbia invite you to make or just enjoy some music this Tuesday, June 21. It’ll be a great way to celebrate the summer solstice, and join the worldwide Fête de la Musique (meaning both “festival of music” and “make music” in French).

Hand music


– Ony Ratsimbaharison

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BOOK REVIEW: Patti Smith’s M Train by Mary Catherine Ballou


(Photo: M Train, Smith 133)
(Photo: M Train, Smith 133)


“I stood in front of the fence on tiptoe and peered through the broken slat.  All kinds of indistinct memories collided.  Vacant lots skinned knees train yards mystical hobos forbidden yet wondrous dwellings of mythical junkyard angels” (Smith 136).


M Train (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015), the latest book from acclaimed musician and poet Patti Smith, takes readers on a dreamlike journey of her adult life, chronicling both the profound and the mundane.  Throughout, Smith manages to elevate her grounded, daily routine of drinking black coffee into a ritual that serves as a stepping-stone to ethereal destinations encompassing her past, present, and future.


Documenting trips across the globe, Smith constructs a portrait of her intensely private yet at the same time professional life, from the early stages of her marriage to Fred “Sonic” Smith – including an account of their trip to an abandoned penal colony in French Guiana in homage of Jean Genet – to her pilgrimages to the burial sites of esteemed authors and artists.


While Smith continues to enjoy success in the professional field, M Train provides readers with an intimate depiction of her private existence, leaving few quirks behind.  Yet while she portrays herself as an artistic recluse of sorts, her curiosity and wanderlust takes her in many directions, including Casa Azul, the former home of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo; the Tokyo graves of authors Akutagawa and Dazai; and, the New York landscape of the Rockaway Beach boardwalk, where she purchases an abandoned bungalow just before Hurricane Sandy strikes.


Combined with the central role of memories and dreams, M Train incorporates both prose and poetry-laden accounts of Smith’s sundry encounters with friends, acquaintances, locations, and objects.  Whether unveiling imaginary or real-life occurrences, M Train absorbs the reader from the start, weaving a tapestry of philosophical and geographical quips unique to Smith.  “I had a black coat,” Smith writes.  “A poet gave it to me some years ago on my fifty-seventh birthday.  It had been his — an ill-fitting, unlined Comme des Garçons overcoat that I secretly coveted” (160).  She continues, “Every time I put it on I felt like myself…The pockets had come unstitched at the seam and I lost everything I absentmindedly slipped into their holy caves…I loved my coat and the café and my morning routine.  It was the clearest and simplest expression of my solitary identity” (160).  Smith’s effort to understand and forge her own identity remains one of the most prominent themes throughout this book.


While the topics in M Train, including Smith’s black coat and her obsession with obscure cafés, detective shows, and deceased authors, each serve as personal anecdotes, the stories transcend her individual life to strike universal chords relatable to readers, ranging from the drudgery and pleasure derived from daily routines or losing precious belongings in airports or torn pockets, to weathering great storms, reconnecting and reminiscing with friends, and learning to cope with life’s tragedies.


A hybrid of poetry, prose, and photography, M Train exposes both the surreal and real, while Smith transforms the reader into a confidante who can share these experiences with her.   Throughout this book, Smith reveals that she is more than a rock star – she’s an artist, mother, wife, daughter, sister, muse, and inspirer.  M Train exemplifies her efforts to come to terms with the mysteries of life, while her own trajectory through it all draws upon experiences in the personal and public arena.  Most importantly, Smith’s experiences lend M Train a philosophical dimension seldom found within celebrity culture.

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