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Mark Your Calendar: Asian Festival
The SinoElite Acrobats will be part of the 2011 Savannah Asian Festival, coming to the Civic Center June 11

The 16th Annual Savannah Asian Festival will take over the Civic Center for six hours on Saturday, June 11. Of course, there’ll be a cultural marketplace, where one can learn about (and buy stuff relating to) the niceties of Asian life and culture...

... Ah, but what draws people, and a lot of them to be sure, is the food, from Polynesia, China, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, India and Thailand.

The entertainment includes the Orlando–based SinoElite acrobats and Matsuriza Taiko drummers, and Shufang Chen, a prominent Taiwanese Gu–Zheng musician. Of course, martial arts demonstrations are part of the plan, too.

The City of Savannah’s Department of Cultural Affairs sponsors the free event, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Jazz in Jax

Feel like taking a drive this Memorial Day Weekend? The Jacksonville Jazz Festival is going on just a few hours south on I–95, and there’s a pretty impressive lineup of performers this year.

To wit: Herbie Hancock, Natalie Cole, David Sanborn, George Duke and Marcus Miller (all three playing together), Mavis Staples, Dianne Schuur, Eddie Palmierei, John Pizarrelli, Boney James, McCoy Tyner, and a multi–generational band called Bitches Brew Revisited, which lovingly plays and re–interprets the music of Miles Davis’ most legendary fusion album.

The festival takes place May 26–29 at locations all over downtown – inside and outside – and everything is free. Check out The festival has a Facebook page, too.

And now, this

• Academy Award–winning actress Whoopi Goldberg will address SCAD’s 2011 graduating class at the Savannah Civic Center, at 9 a.m. June 4. She’ll speak to the Atlanta SCAD grads later the same day.

Wormsloew, Jeff Beasley, Southern Tide and Junkyard Angel are among the local performers scheduled to play a June 5 benefit (1–5 p.m.) in Morrell Park. Sponsored by the Bama Club, it’s to raise funds to help tornado victims in the hardest–hit areas of Alabama. There’ll be a live auction, and food, and a kids’ area, and tickets are $30 for families, or and $15 per person (half price with military ID). Children under 12 will be admitted free. All proceeds are 100 percent tax deductible. Call (912) 441–1168 to learn more.

• Interesting stuff coming to the Ships of the Sea Museum: The Goliards, Savannah’s early-music ensemble, will perform June 4 on sinfonye (medieval hurdy-gurdy), psaltery (medieval zither), harp, straight-bore recorder, harpsichord, vielle and rebec (medieval fiddles) and a variety of percussion instruments. Claire Frazier and Frank Bright will give a concert July 23, for the opening of “West Broad Street School: A Thirst for Learning.”

And my personal favorite, featuring three of the city’s coolest musicians: “Rockin’ Cigar Box Guitars,” Eric Culberson, Georgia Kyle Shiver and Roy Swindell (with Richard Leo Johnson and Scott Ainslie on video) playing museum-model cigar box guitars.

• For your theatrical edification, the “jukebox musical” Smokey Joe’s Cafe will in production June 21–Aug. 6 at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina in Hilton Head. It’s written around the vast catalog of classic 1950s rock tunes by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller (“Hound Dog,” “Yakety Yak,” “Why Do Fools Fall in Love,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Poison Ivy” et cetera). See By the way, they’re doing Hairspray through May 29.