The University of South Carolina’s Open Book series continues at 6 p.m. with Charles Johnson, author of Middle Passage, a novel about the slave trade that won the 1990 National Book Award. Johnson will talk about the book at the Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library; admission is free. Visit artsandsciences.sc.edu/theopenbook for details.
Jenks Farmer knows a lot more about gardening than you do — he’s designed gardens everywhere from the Riverbanks Botanical Gardens and the Seibels House to small urban spaces and private gardens for the rich and famous. But for all his knowledge, Farmer isn’t an arrogant jerk about it. Instead, he prefers to demystify gardening for the rest of us, and he avoids incomprehensible terminology. Today, he celebrates the release of his new book, Deep-Rooted Wisdom, with a book reading and discussion at Riverbanks Zoo. Admission is $10, and the event starts at 5:30 p.m. Visit jenksfarmer.com/deep-rooted for more information.
Speaking of books, the USC Press is holding a book sale from noon to 6 p.m. today and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday. Stop by the USC Press warehouse at 718 Devine St., and you’ll find hundreds of overstock or damaged hardbacks priced down to $10 and paperbacks for $5; you can also pick up top-selling items in perfect condition at a discount. Call 777-5029 for more information.
Race is a challenging subject and the name of a challenging play by David Mamet that the NiA Company is presenting this week at Trustus’ Side Door Theatre. The play — in which a white attorney and a black attorney at the same firm grapple with a case involving a rape allegation by a black woman against a white businessman — debuted on Broadway in 2009 with James Spader in a lead role. The New York Times gave it a mixed review, saying it “lacks dramatic tension” and stayed “well within the comfort zone” of a mostly white audience — but also noting that “the issues it raises … should offer ample nutrition for many a post-theater dinner conversation.” So, get ready for some post-play discussion. Curtains are at 8 p.m.; tickets are $20, $15 for students. Visit trustus.org or call 254-9732 to order; the show runs April 10-19.
If it’s April, it must be time for the River Rocks Festival, which supports efforts to protect our rivers by raising funds for the Congaree Riverkeeper. The festival features river activities such as kayaking and paddleboading, along with food, a kids’ area, music (Keller Williams, the Ben Miller Band and Stagbriar, to name a few) and more. It’s all happening at Riverfront Park, starting at noon and running all day. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the gate; visit riverrocksfestival.com to order online or see a list of advance ticket locations.
Most people who perceive a void in their community just whine about it; a select few do something to change it. Thomas Crouch is one of the change agents, setting out several years ago to launch Art Bar Agora, a celebration of art, music and food held — of course — at the Art Bar in the Vista. The open-air art market features 20-plus artists and vendors — among them Abstract Alexandria, That Godzilla Guy and NTN Primitive Woodworks. The fun starts at 5 p.m. and costs a mere $6. Also, the event features food by Joe Turkaly. (Mmm, food by Joe Turkaly.)
Free Times has been reporting since last year on the ColumbiaSC 63 project commemorating the city’s civil rights history. Well, now it’s time for the University of South Carolina’s dancers and musicians to have their say. The program, Our Journey Forward, features a new dance work by Tanya Wideman-Davis and Thaddeus Davis called We Hold These Truths, along with a new composition by jazz studies director Bert Ligon, as well as performances by the USC Gospel Choir and Carolina Alive. Best of all? It’s free. The program is at the Koger Center at 7:30 p.m.
What’s a theorbo? Go see the Columbia Baroque Soloists and you’ll find out. They’re at the Spears Center at Columbia College at 4:30 p.m., performing a style of French Baroque music developed and nurtured by composer Jean-Baptiste Lully, who served as director of music at Louis XIV’s Palace of Versailles in the mid-17th century. Tickets are $15 in advance and $18 at the door. Students? You get in free. Visit columbiabaroque.com for more information.
Free? We like free. The USC Wind Ensemble joins with trumpet soloist Allen Vizzutti for a free concert at the Koger Center at 7:30 p.m. It’s free, so you really don’t need any more details.
Why do people of some races tend to have worse health outcomes than people of other races? And what can be done about it? Well, since having a health-care system that abides by international norms and isn’t driven by perverse incentives seems to be off the table in this country, we’re not really sure. But Dr. Chanita Hughes-Halbert is a lot smarter than Eight Days, so hopefully she has some ideas. She’ll be addressing the topic “Improving Health Outcomes in Racial and Ethnic Minorities” as part of the Science Café series at Speakeasy in Five Points. It starts at 6 p.m., and it’s free. Call 354-5720 for more information.
British novelist Martin Amis is at the University of South Carolina’s Open Book Series at the Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library at 6 p.m. Grammy-winning singer-songwriter John Legend is at the Township Auditorium at 8 p.m. Martin Amis and John Legend on the same day? Well, look at you, Columbia — you’re all grown up. Find details at artsandsciences.sc.edu/theopenbook and thetownship.org.
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