Made from Scratch

A version of this recently appeared in October/November issue of South magazine.

Ashley bio photo_credit Tim Robison
Author Ashley English. Photo by Johnny Autry.

Southern cook and homesteader Ashley English cooks up an awareness for healthy eating and living through classic Southern recipes and traditions in her latest cookbook, “Southern from Scratch.”

As if dropped from a Southern heaven above, Ashley English’s tenth cookbook, “Southern from Scratch,” was released earlier this year, claiming the hearts of food enthusiasts and, well, just about anyone who enjoys authentic Southern cookin’.

The success of this new Southern classic may be attributed to the progressive mindset English displays towards using smarter and healthier ingredients in classic Southern food, a lesson she learned from her family.

“I thought the reason my family was in poor health was completely based on their diet,” English confesses. “But when I really started to look at it as I was older, I realized it wasn’t necessarily the Southern foods they were eating. It was the processed foods that had weaseled their way in. It’s so important to be mindful of the past.”

As a result, English—who holds degrees in holistic nutrition and sociology, and has worked with a number of nonprofit organizations committed to social and agricultural issues—presents a warm and down-to-earth homage to Southern home cooking that uses reflections on the past as a way to create a happy, healthier future.

“I think, in so many ways, [holding onto the past] informs who you are, who you become,” she says. “Hopefully, as we age, we take what we have learned in the past and use it as a catalyst for bettering ourselves and our lives. We should learn from our mistakes, our families, and our families mistakes.”

With more than 150 classic recipes, “Southern from Scratch” will help you build a from-scratch Southern pantry of your own, from which you can cook and make the most of local ingredients, all while creating traditions of your own.

“I’m able to pass on these traditions to my sons, and they will potentially pass them on to their own families, which is exciting,” English says. “I hope my readers will do the same.”

Whether you’re a hardcore homesteader like English, a novice cook, or simply passionate about good ol’ Southern cookin’, pick up “Southern from Scratch” to create traditions of your own.

Ain’t Clownin’ Around

A version of this recently appeared in October/November issue of South magazine.

In the wake of the creepy clown epidemic, South magazine sat down with Stitches the Clown, one of those creepy clowns scaring the South and co-owner of the Dead City Clowns, to discuss the clown epidemic, his most memorable scares, and just how scary he thinks he really is.

South magazine: Tell me about yourself and the Dead City Clowns.

Stitches the Clown: You wanna know the real story or the folklore story?

SM: Tell me the good, juicy one.

SC: Dead City Clowns actually started because of the Ringmistress. She is a 400-and-something-year-old witch who learned how to remain young by removing all of the good and positive in someone, leaving them with the darkness, hatred, and all that good stuff.

SM: Well she sounds amazing.

SC: Yeah, she’s a pretty girl. But myself, I was a traveling magician that would go around with the circus and what not, way, way, way back in the day. She would actually attend my shows, without me knowing about it. She was doing her thing. Draining me of all of the good, every night when I performed. Until one night I was doing the saw the girl in half with a box act. Well, that night, I decided to go ahead and actually saw my assistant in half, leave her on the stage, walk off and cut the next clown’s face off with a shovel, put it on my face, and once I ran out, the Ringmistress was waiting there for me. That’s kind of how Dead City Clowns got started and from there, we went around, collaborating, and now we’re 25 [clowns] strong.

SM: Tell me about the mission of Dead City Clowns.

SC: Our motto is “spread the fear.” We go around the States and the world, providing unique forms of entertainment. People travel from states and states away to come see us.

SM: On a scale of Pennywise to Freddy Krueger, how scary are you?

SC: I would decimate them both.

SM: That’s what I like to hear. What’s your most memorable scare?

I’ve had people urinate, defecate, jump over things, end up bleeding trying to get away from me. But I think when people collapse and pass out are the bests.

SM: I would say that’s pretty successful.

SC: *Laughs evilly*

SM: What did you think about those clown sightings and hecklings about two years ago?

SC: It’s stupid. People just wanted to be known on social media. It fizzled out as quickly as it started. You want to get scared, come see us.

SM: What’s up with the name Dead City Clowns?

SC: We’re proud to call Savannah, Georgia our home. It’s the Dead City. I like to think we’re pretty much dead inside.

SM: Do you have a specialty act, or do you just like to scare the hell out of people?

SC: We do fire performances. Ignis does fire spinning and I do fire breathing and eating. We also do sideshow performances, like putting nails in our skulls, glass eating, et cetera. We also do a lot of behind-the-scenes charity work. When we became an official organization of clowns, part of our mission statement was to help and give back, when and where we could, whether that is doing an event for autism awareness, or scaring kids who are terminal.

SM: What’s coming up for Dead City Clowns?

SC: We’re going into Haunt Season, so we’ll be in the Warehouse of Horrors in Hardeeville, South Carolina all season, while other clowns in our crew will be traveling around to South Carolina, North Carolina, and Alabama. We have our own vape juice line called Dead City Clouds put out by mastervapes.com, and our own moonshine called Dead City Night ‘Shine, a blackberry moonshine produced by Jasper County Distillery that can be found in South Carolina, too.

SM: Wow. There won’t be one mile of the South that won’t be shaking in their boots.

SC: It’ll be raining fear.

SM: Last question. Give me your creepiest clown laugh.

SC: *Laughs evilly, again*

SM: That’s creepy. I just got chills.

To hear Stitches creepiest clown laugh and the entire interview, visit southmag.com. To see them at Warehouse of Horrors, visit warehouseofhorrors.com.

An update on the Film Revolution, from the desk of South magazine

A version of this recently appeared in the October/November issue of South magazine, as the introduction to the annual Film section.

It’s no secret that the South is in the midst of a film revolution. For years—thanks to tax incentives and other money related laws—Hollywood has been movin’ South and making itself at home. And while money sure does talk, it’s also the local talent and charm that keeps Hollywood coming back for more.

Take William Mark McCullough, Savannah native and full-time actor, for example. McCullough has been in a variety of star-studded Hollywood hits, including “An L.A. Minute,” “Logan Lucky,” and “American Made,” in which he worked alongside Tom Cruise.

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Amanda Calamari | Photo by Cedric Smith.

Then there are folks like Amanda Calamari, Savannah native, film connoisseur, whose stunning grace and talent have led her from majoring in theatre at the Savannah Arts Academy, to working on the big screen as an extra in “Baywatch” and “Poison Rose,” just to name a few. This is what the South has to offer, and filmmakers around the world are recognizing that. “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” didn’t put Savannah on the map for no reason.

For this year’s Film Issue, we decided to focus on why the industry is shifting and how it can benefits locals. With help from former CBS Casting Director Andra Reeve-Rabb, “Twilight” star Jackson Rathbone, local villain aficionado Patrick Roper, and many, many more insiders, we are able to give you this behind-the-scenes look of the film revolution.

To read the entire Film Revolution section, visit southmag.com.

Tips on Starting Young with Myles Truitt

A version of this recently appeared in October/November issue of South magazine.

Teen star Myles Truitt explains his advantage as a child actor.  

In typical Hollywood fashion, “Kin,” the 2018 science fiction action film starring Dennis Quaid, James Franco and Myles Truitt, has proven once again that film can imitate reality, and it’s learning by imitation that perfects an actor’s talent.

Similar to how Truitt’s character, 14-year-old Eli Solinski, discovers a secret weapon, Truitt has discovered his own secret weapon in real life: acting.

At just 11 years old, Truitt started his acting career at an Atlanta theater camp, and by 16 was working on feature films with Dennis Quaid and Donald Glover. And it’s starting at a young age that gives him an advantage to others in the industry.

“[You] get a lot of information at a young age,” Truitt says. “[Starting early] is a huge advantage because not only do I have Dennis Quaid helping me with acting tips, but I have Zoë Kravitz and James Franco, who have all helped me learn to focus.”

Through working with such big name stars, Truitt’s career is on the upward; his next movie, “Dragged Across Concrete,” features Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn.

Full Circle

A version of this recently appeared in October/November issue of South magazine.

Written by Gen Fuller and Cory Hott.

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From left to right: DW Moffett, Chair of Film and Television, SCAD School of Entertainment Arts, Matt Nickley, writer of “The Buzz,” Shasta Ford, producer of “The Buzz,” Andra Reeve-Rabb, Dean, School of Entertainment Arts, Mark Tymchyshyn, Chair of Performing Arts, SCAD School of Entertainment Arts

With 25 years of experience, SCAD Dean Andra Reeve-Rabb gives us an inside look as life as a casting director, creating the only casting office in the world at the university level, and what to do during an audition.

Andra Reeve-Rabb, dean of the Savannah College of Art and Design’s School of Entertainment Arts, looks around her simply decorated casting office. The office, located in Crites Hall, has only two desks, a couch, a conference table, and a flurry of headshots taped all over the walls.

“This office is set up exactly like my office was at CBS,” she says with a smile. “At CBS, I would see 75 actors a day. All I wanted, honestly, was for the next person to walk through the door to be ‘the one,’ because then I could move on to the next billion parts I had to cast. I never understood why people didn’t make rooms like these safe for actors. It puts them at ease and makes their performance better.”

Reeve-Rabb was born and raised in North Carolina and attended the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, where she earned her B.F.A. in acting and directing. After graduating, she ran to New York City. Her first year in the city landed her an internship with the casting office of a then-unknown Conan O’Brien.

“On day one, they said, ‘Andra, we need three Santa Clauses, two baby New Years, and a homeless man…in two hours,’” she says, frantically. “I knew immediately it was what I wanted to do.”

Her time studying to be an actress and director—and brief time in New York City acting—led her one step further to be a casting director.

“I understood the language on the other side of a table like this,” she says, “and it gave me a little bit of a super power.”

Reeve-Rabb’s time at “The Conan O’Brien Show” eventually led her to CBS, where she became the director of prime time casting for CBS New York. It was her responsibility to find the talent for shows such as, “The Big Bang Theory,” “CSI,” and “How I Met Your Mother,” just to name a few.

It’s her understanding of the inner-workings of the industry that have led her to “discover” the likes of Daniel Craig and Idris Elba.

“There are actors who walk in and you just know,” she says. “When I was at ‘Conan O’Brien,’ I loved casting so much that I would cast student films in the area. I remember working on one and bringing in this young girl. Her audition literally took my breath away because of her honesty and believability.”

The young girl was a young Natalie Portman.

“[Her] talent has led her to cast, oh, you know, nearly every single night of the week for prime time television,” laughs JJ Maxwell, public relations and marketing manager for SCAD. Maxwell has worked closely with Reeve-Rabb to show the world the excellence that is occurring under her watch.

While on vacation in Savannah, Reeve-Rabb was introduced to SCAD President Paula Wallace, who took an interest in her.

“President Wallace said, ‘Well tell me what you do.’” Reeve-Rabb recalls. “So I told her what I did at CBS, and she said, ‘Why don’t you do what you do at CBS, but here [at SCAD]?’”

That simple conversation led to not only the creation of the first and, to date, only casting office at the university level in the world, but also to Reeve-Rabb bringing her entire career full-circle, allowing her to work on the opposite side of the industry.

“The exciting part about being at SCAD and starting this casting office is that we’re in Hollywood now,” she says. “I’ve been able to reach out to my industry friends in L.A., New York, and Atlanta, and say, ‘You have an incredible talent pool here. I have nearly 300 actors who are training to do what you’re casting for.”

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In the past two years she’s placed students in 252 roles on professional projects, from Netflix shows, to movies being filed in Savannah.

“SCAD has immersed students into a real-world setting, preparing them for what they will actually experience on future production sets, something unheard of in the academic world,” says President Wallace.

What could be more amazing than having your first scene as an actor with John Travolta or Morgan Freeman? Being cast in a Netflix show and getting to film 12 episodes in New Zealand–and then going back to class the next day?

“I now get to see the Daniel Craig’s and the Idris Elba’s as they are starting out in their freshman years of college,” she says.

Her passion for connecting the pieces between casting, acting, and directing, and her ability to find that chemistry that transforms words on a page to Emmy-nominated and award-winning pilots, has seamlessly translated into her work at SCAD. A poster for, “The Buzz,” a collaboration between 120 students from seven different departments at SCAD that won a College Emmy, hangs prominently and proudly on the walls of the casting office. In 2018, Reeve-Rabb was named one of Variety magazine’s “Top 10 Entertainment Educators in Film and Television.

“That’s truly the most humbling thing that’s happened to me in my career. I’m not saying that to brag,” she says, leaning forward in her chair. “I’m saying that if Variety looks at what we’re doing at SCAD and points to that, that means we’re doing something amazing.”

And humble she stays, with her mirrored CBS office to remind her from where she came. Now working on the opposite side of the industry, Reeve-Rabb has become a prime example and lesson in the art of coming full circle.

Visit scad.edu for more information.

Southern Crafted

A version of this recently appeared in October/November issue of South magazine.

Savannah may have been late to the craft party, but we sure did show up in style.

It’s been nearly a decade since the explosion of craft distilleries in America, and with more than 1,500 open distilleries across the country—almost 300 of those opened between 2016 and 2017 alone—it was only natural for the trend to start migrating to Savannah. But per usual in the Hostess City, the trend came late, with Savannah’s first distillery since the Prohibition Era—Ghost Coast Distillery—opening up in early 2017. 

And although Savannah has its fair share of craft breweries, it’s still surprisingly lacking in quantity when compared to the rest of the nation. But thankfully, in typical Savannah fashion, we practice quality over quantity, and with distilleries and breweries like Savannah Spirits and Moon River Brewing taking the lead, Savannah won’t have a need for quality assurance. 

The oldest craft brewery in town, Moon River Brewing opened in 1999 thanks to an obsession with creating the ideal restaurant and brewing experience. A large variety of brews are made in-house, with some available year-round, some only seasonal, and some surprises, with bottling occurring in the coolers downstairs. 

And thanks to the surge of interest in breweries and distilleries, being a brewer in Savannah isn’t as lonely anymore.

“I think there’s a lot of talent in this industry when it comes to making beer,” says John Pinkerton, co-owner of Moon River Brewing. “We’ve seen a lot of breweries cycle through over the years, but more have seemed to stay recently, so it’s a lot less lonely as a brewer.”

The secret to longevity as a craft dispenser isn’t quite a secret at all. According to Pinkerton, it’s all in the passion and craft. 

“If you have the passion and the knowledge, you’ll do okay here,” he says. 

Take it from a Southerner

A version of this recently appeared in the October/November issue of South magazine.

Southern icon Jackson Rathbone reveals his secrets on acting.

No matter how many roles Jackson Rathbone plays, there’s one he will never stop playing or being influenced by: the role of Southerner.

Born in Singapore, but primarily raised in Texas, Rathbone always has, and always will be, a Southerner at heart—and for that, he will never apologize.

“[I feel] lucky to be a Southerner,” he says. “I was raised in Norway and Texas as a child, so I was able to adapt into a new group or have a new group adapt to me.”

Using the environment from which one was raised, Rathbone explains, can be useful for discovering the role he or she is set to play. It’s being a Southerner that helped his many diverse roles, such as Jasper Hale in the “Twilight Saga” and Sokka in “The Last Airbender”—two roles not quite known for being Southern, yet influenced by pure Southern morals.

“He really is the all-Southern boy,” says Michael Geiser, Rathbone’s co-worker and friend. “He lives in Austin. He wears cowboy boots and shoots guns. He raises his family with Southern morals.”

One of those Southern morals that is essential to growing in the acting industry, Rathbone explains, is graciousness. “You must be gracious,” he says, “which will help you grow and learn. Ask for help and advice. Be respectful and keep good manners.”

Although many of his roles weren’t of the Southern variety, his upcoming role in the movie “Heart, Baby!”–the true story of two best friends on a journey to discover the true meaning of friendship, faith and heart–makes up for it with a heavy amount of Tennessee and Texas accents, and stays true to his role as Southerner.

“Twilight” will be re-released via home entertainment and in select theaters on October 23. “Heart, Baby!” will be in theaters this November.

Overnight Luxury

A version of this recently appeared in August/September issue of South magazine.

For these transplants from the North, being Southern hosts was always in their nature.

Monique and William Armstrong had it all in the North; Monique: a career at the United Nations that allowed her to mingle with folks from all over the world, wearing $1,000 suits and scarves; William: a flourishing career as an artist, working on films with the likes of Steven Spielberg, Barbara Streisand, and Woody Allen. The couple had two houses in New Jersey, six blocks away from the ocean, a guesthouse, and a loft in New York. Or, as Monique puts it, “We were just having fun.”

But in 1999, while working as the lead scenic artist on the sets of The Legend of the Bagger Vance, William fell in love with the history and architecture of Savannah. He called Monique down from New York.

“Choose a home,” he said. “We are staying.”

Monique and William purchased a brick shell and a temporary home, and then hired the construction crew from The Legend of the Bagger Vance, who completed the restoration in record time. (Monique acted as head contractor for
the project; the home is now registered with the National Register of Historic Places.) But after they couldn’t sell their temporary home like they had intended, they decided to keep both.

“So, we started a bed and breakfast and I became an innkeeper,” she joyously says. The outcome: the Armstrong Inns Bed & Breakfast, which now consists of five historic townhomes scattered throughout the city.

The walls of each building are adorned with William’s New York-Nantucket artwork and Lowcountry paintings that help the viewer to see the world differently and uniquely. The halls are filled with Monique’s attentive hostess abilities; the kitchens are brimming with food she stays up late into the night making for her guests.

Running a bed and breakfast can be hectic and chaotic throughout the day, yet, in typical Southern fashion, the couple moves from task to task with poise.

“I cannot plan what I am doing from day to day. Some would say, ‘This woman, I cannot do her life,’” Monique jokes. “I am very blessed because I move from one thing to the other without getting scared, and if something is to happen, I say, ‘Ah well,’ and go with the flow. If you make plans, you are frustrated. You are stressed.”

Perhaps their tenderness and hosting abilities are a result of their former life of luxury in the North, or perhaps it’s simply in their nature.
And although the two would deny the titles of Southerners, they possess all of the characteristics and qualities that define the ideal Southerner.

As Monique reflects back on first moving to Savannah, she says, “It is scary, a new life, but it is a life. It is wonderful. Here in Savannah, we are just in the right place. I know it. I just know it.”

5 Ways to Bond with Your Pup

A version of this recently appeared in August/September issue of South magazine.

The dog days of summer are here, but that doesn’t mean you and your furry friend can’t have fun. Man’s best friend relies on you to provide some entertainment and, thankfully, here in the Lowcountry there’s plenty of fun to go around.

Paddleboarding 

Paddleboarding is the fastest growing water sport in the South. Putting your pup on a board with you can be a rewarding adventure to get y’all outside and having fun. Places like East Coast Paddleboarding on Tybee Island make it the perfect opportunity to give your pup some sensory overload while you enjoy the local waterways and views.

Brunch

We love dogs here in the South, so most restaurants are either dog friendly or do something special for pups. Stop into J. Christopher’s, for their Puppy Chow Meal, a dish created specifically for your four-legged friend. It’s made of eggs, sausage, bacon, and potatoes, and served cleverly in a dog bowl.

Walk the marshes

Whether you’re a runner or just looking for a stroll, Whitemarsh Preserve is 150 acres of marsh for you and your dog to enjoy a little nature-infused stress relief. With nearly 13 acres of brackish marsh, two acres of open fields, and more than two miles of trails, there’s plenty to keep your dog barking up the right tree.

Bathing with your dog

Contrary to popular belief, bathing with your dog can be an enjoyable experience. Taking note from Pavlov’s dog theory, putting some of your pups favorite toys in the tub and keeping some treats on hand can make your dog excited for bath time. Hoping in with your furry friend to show them it’s okay can even make them less stressed.

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Naptime

That’s right, naps. According to a Mayo Clinic study in 2017, sleeping with your pup is a good thing. The study showed that people who slept with their dogs in their bed or elsewhere in their room had a higher quality of sleep than when they would sleep without them. So pull up a pillow and let your pup snuggle on in.

A Splash of Artistic Southern Style

A version of this recently appeared in August/September issue of South magazine, as part of the “Six Southern Artists” series, which details six artists who exemplify Southern artistry.

Southern style can be hard to define when it comes to art. As we think about what Southern style truly means, some of our favorite Southern artists—who have either worked hard to define their own terms of Southern style or have stumbled upon it gracefully—keep coming to mind. Whether they are well-known painters like Daniel Smith, who has a permanent gallery in the Telfair Museums, or artist Mollie Youngblood, who just recently opened up her first gallery and shop in downtown Savannah, these six artists are the epitome of artistic Southern style.

Thankfully for artist Mollie Youngblood, Savannah has always been open-minded when it comes to art, despite its oftentimes conservativeness. Youngblood graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2007 with a B.F.A. in Painting, and after a few years of teaching privately, opened her own gallery and shop called Bohemia South.

Layered in hand-painted recycled sheets, armchairs upholstered with patchwork, and a mass of plants in eclectic jars and pots—situated at the south end of Forsyth Park in Savannah—the shop parallel’s Youngblood’s own artistic style: Bohemian, infused with Southern.

Youngblood’s work ranges from carefully crafted jewelry, hand-painted baby and women’s clothes, mixed media paintings, and more. But no matter what ingenious artwork she creates, it will always adhere to her aspirations as an artist: to introduce a little fun to Southern style.

“Savannah is quirky, but I think in every traditional home there are the exact same things I sell here, but in a traditional way,” Youngblood says. “You could have your gorgeous white sofa and put this quirky patchwork upholstered throw pillow on it to spice it up. A lot of things are traditional. I just do it in a funky way.”

To read the full article and the other writers’ contributions, visit southmag.com.

Ready. Aim. Profit.

A version of this previously appeared as part of the “Passion to Profit” series in the June/July 2018 Power Issue of South magazine, which details five entrepreneurs who have managed to turn their lifelong passions to careers. 

Guns have always been a staple in Buck Holly’s life. From deer hunting as a kid to his nine-year stint in the Marines, there’s no doubt his fondness for firearms is more than just a passion. After years of different career choices—all involving guns, no less—he’s finally been able to start a business that allows him to make money, yet be with his family, while still actively pursuing his passion.

“When we had our third child, I wanted to be home more, travel less,” Holly says. “And that’s why I ended up forming my current rifle manufacturing company, so I could be at home building and shooting guns competitively. I wanted to turn my hobby into a profession that allowed me to be home more and enjoy the bene ts of that industry.”

He’s now the owner of C&H Precision Weapons, a successful and innovative custom rifle shop in Richmond Hill, Georgia. C&H Precision was Holly’s solution to having a passion for working with rearms and not being able to spend time with his family. The majority of the company’s business is building guns for the shooting enthusiast. The minority of the company’s business was designed after realizing a need for keeping the machinery in the shop running; upgrading pistols and other rearms became a way to not only evolve the company and strengthen their portfolio, but also help clients find interesting and innovative ways to tailor their rearms to their personal specifications.

Holly is no stranger to finding innovative ways to remedy firearm deficiencies. Six years after leaving the Marines, he began working for the Department of Defense as a contractor. When members of the military found issues with their weaponry, they would send a memo of the issue to Holly and his team, and he would develop a solution to the issue, whether that be a gadget for the weapon or an entirely new weapon altogether.

But the long and winding, firearm-fueled route (which included hog extermination and brand ambassadorship for Advance Armament Corporation) to the creation of Holly’s rifle manufacturing company has led him to one of the most successful ventures of his career.

“If you’re going to buy a racecar,” Holly proposes, “You can either buy it from a nationally ranked racecar driver or from some little shop that has no pedigree. People say they’ve built guns, but my team is trained.”

His team is made up of nine individuals from across the country, all nationally ranked and trained. Why do they do it, some may wonder?

“We do it not only because it’s fun,” Holly answers, “But because we’re good at it. It shows the quality of our workmanship. We must be doing something right.”
C&H Precision Weapons is located at 459 Edsel Dr., Richmond Hill, Ga. To find out more, visit chpws.com.