Longtime Charleston-area musician Chuck Bigbee was a revered blues-rock guitarist, performing at monthly blues jams at Cumberland's and other clubs around town with various musicians. Sadly, he passed away last summer after a heart attack.
It came as a blow to many of the older rock players and fans in the local scene. This week, on the first anniversary of Chuck's passing, family and friends are coming together to honor and remember him with a full-day rock 'n' roll event and fund-raiser.
The "Chuck Bigbee Memorial Benefit" features live music from many of Chuck's colleagues and bandmates. Chuck's brother, veteran guitarist Everette Bigbee, will be on hand with blues/rock band Big J. Hosaphat — a group initially formed under Chuck's guidance.
"The band suffered a devastating blow on July 16, 2005 when Chuck died," says event organizer Celie Daily, Chuck's girlfriend. "The guys took a few months off, then practiced in October and November with Neal as the solo guitar player, but it just seemed empty without Chuck there. Everette's name came up several times as a replacement for his older brother, but by Thanksgiving, it was looking as if the band would just fizzle out. In January things changed. Hearts began to heal from the loss and the time was right for Everette to step in and become part of the band. He came to practice and it was as if there was life to live again. It was immediately apparent that this band was different now."
The solidified band features Bigbee and Neal Haga on guitars, Shane Niles on lead vocals, David Clark on drums, and Don Bailey on bass.
"Everette is much more a rock guitar player than Chuck was, and that's the direction the band took," she adds. "He is very well known around town for his awesome playing and has been in many bands over the years in town, as well as hosting open mic nights."
Everette began hosting weekly "open mic" events on Mondays at Art's in Mt. Pleasant and on Thursdays at the Checkered Flag Bar & Grill in West Ashley.
The band Big J. Hosaphat officially came into being around the end of February. They played their first gig in front of a full house last March at The Checkered Flag Bar & Grill. They followed through with shows around town at Art's, Bert's, and Big Deck Daddy's. Their bluesy repertoire includes many of Chuck's compositions and other original pieces as well as some classics by the likes of The Band, Zeppelin, Allmans, Stones, Doors, Floyd, Hendrix, and Skynyrd — plus some jazzy and prog-rock surprises.
Music starts at 3 p.m. and continues through the night. Proceeds from the doors and otherwise benefit the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association.