Charleston's Logan Venderlic talks about moonshine, Waffle House, and Heart Heavy  

A Lighter Load

Folk-wave artist Logan Venderlic has performed on NPR's "Mountain Stage"

Jonathan Boncek

Folk-wave artist Logan Venderlic has performed on NPR's "Mountain Stage"

Logan Venderlic always wanted to perform on NPR's "Mountain Stage." He dreamed about the Larry Groce-hosted show. He talked about it. And one day his friends decided to do something about it. So they launched a DIY operation to get him there.

"I had a good friend who, without even asking me, decided to do this social media campaign where she got all of our friends to tweet at Mountain Stage demanding that they add me to the bill," laughs Venderlic, a West Virginian who moved to Charleston last year. "And I actually got a tweet from Adam, the producer, saying 'Please tell your friends to stop. The best way to get booked is to just send us your music in an email.' "

The folk-wave musician followed up the request, but after months of zero progress, he and his publicist took the matter offline and into their own hands. They headed to the stage's headquarters in Charleston, W. Va., and that move proved that persistence has its rewards. "We got to go backstage, and we actually drank moonshine with Larry Groce," Venderlic says with a smile. "He had this rocking chair he sits at, had a mason jar of moonshine, and shared it with us — and gave me a handshake agreement that I would play."

Venderlic wound up on that stage sure enough, performing alongside Ben Taylor, son of James Taylor and Carly Simon. That was a year and a half ago, about the same time that the musician moved down South. It was a great time for Venderlic's career — his first LP earned him a mention in Relix, The Washington Post, Huffington Post, and American Songwriter, plus Yahoo Music named the self-titled record one of 2012's top albums, alongside artists like Brian Jonestown Massacre and Sinead O'Connor. Despite that momentum, Venderlic relocated to South Carolina on a whim, taking with him all he's accomplished and endured. His experiences eventually inspired Heart Heavy, Venderlic's forthcoming album.

"The title is a double entendre," Venderlic explains. Heart Heavy refers to the difficult time the musician experienced after several deaths in his family, but it also speaks to a slightly different musical direction for Venderlic. "My first album was very heavy and poetic, and I had all these references from all kinds of poems and stuff that I'd read. I thought very deeply on each line, and it was great, but I think sometimes I got too far down the rabbit hole with the references and the illusions. So I wanted this album to be more from the heart, or from the gut. I wanted to write the first thing off my head and then polish that a little bit."

The result is a rockin' assortment of stories that seemlessly shifts from sweet doo-wop-style songs like "Darlin'" to "Favorite Son," an 1980s-type of tune that sounds a little like Starship. Many other songs are poetic folk tunes reminiscent of Conor Oberst.

As a songwriter, Venderlic isn't a day-in, day-out craftsman who's constantly working on new tunes. He comes up with songs whenever inspiration strikes, like with Heavy Heart's first single "I Saw the Light." City Paper debuted the track back in April. Featuring background vocals from one-time Charleston songstress Rachel Kate, the sunny song was conceived en route to Myrtle Beach. Venderlic had to pull over at a gas station to get it all down so he wouldn't have an accident. The coming-of-age track "Long Blue Couch" came to him while mopping the floor of a restaurant he worked at after college graduation. And "Greenville," the second single the CP debuts this week, is a road trip-inspired track he wrote before he ever even moved to South Carolina.

"Back in freshman or sophomore year of college, a few buddies and I packed up someone's grandmother's van, and we trekked down to Florida for spring break," Venderlic tells us. "One of my best friends from high school was going to school at Furman and asked us to stop by, so we met her around 2 a.m. at a Waffle House in Greenville. The song isn't exactly about that, but that was where it began."

"Greenville" premieres right here and soundcloud.com/loganvenderlic on Wed. Sept. 3. Venderlic's upcoming shows include a Sept. 6 gig at Royal American, Sept. 20 Bandswap performance at Royal American, and a full-band show Oct. 15 at the Pour House with A Fragile Tomorrow and Matt Megrue of The Loners Society.

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