TOP STORY ‌ The Music Issue 

Does Charleston have a Signature Sound?

Fall is here. There’s crispness in the air. There’s a buzz of activity downtown. There’s traffic on the bridges. And it’s time for a quick look at who’s who and what’s happening in the local music scene — on paper, through the stereo speakers, on the cluttered stages, and elsewhere.

Ask 100 locals to define the local music sphere or the Charleston sound — you’ll get 100 very different answers. That diversity is a strong sign of a healthy situation — numerous cultural perspectives from a multiplicity of players, fans, and middlemen.

With this issue, we’ve assembled a collection of comments from local musicians and operatives in Charleston music. We pressed these people to name one song, album, or piece of music that best described, defined, or reminded them of the local music scene … something that tied in with their impression or opinion of the whole thing … something that popped into their minds when they considered their experiences or opinions of music in Charleston.

And we asked them to explain why.


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Gary Erwin

(singer, keyboardist, blues historian; a.k.a. "Shrimp City Slim")

"Charleston Blues," recorded in 1946 by Chucktown-born Bertha "Chippie" Hill. Walking the hallowed streets of the peninsular city, I prefer to daydream about our blues and jazz greats of yesteryear. Hill was an impish but leather-lunged singer who enjoyed some international success before being killed by a hit-and-run driver in Harlem in 1950. Great lyrics: "Charleston, South Carolina, baby, is where I was born/If you get there, baby, those Geechees put your water wrong/I'm goin' to Charleston, honey, but I can't take you/No, there ain't nothin' on King Street, baby, a crazy gal like you could do/I'm goin' back to the fish house, baby, and get me some shrimp/I've got to feed, baby, two or three hungry ol' pimps." In 1991, I tried to get Charleston to adopt "Charleston Blues" as its official song, but I guess they're holding out for "Charleston" off the CD Blues on the Beach by Shrimp City Slim!


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Kevin West

(singer/songwriter/bandleader/white rapper)

The first song that comes to mind is "A Little Help From My Friends" off The Beatles's Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. The one thing about the Charleston music scene is that most local musicians, bands, media, and club managers all seem to have a "we're all in this together" attitude. There have been plenty of times I've needed a cable, a mic stand, a speaker, or even a musician on short notice, and the show has always gone on – thanks to the friends I've made playing music in Charleston.


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Murphy Pitts

(drummer of The Killer Whales, "almost slappy, galoot")

The album Streetcore by Joe Strummer. I used to play Charleston at least once a month in the '80s. These days, it's only twice a year. Venues have changed, but not the fans. This album exemplifies for me an immeasurable diversity in musical styles, rhythms, and lyrical content. It reminds me of the many open-minded – and sometimes twisted – souls that hunger for everything musical. The real scene for me comes from the audience, not the musicians. "May I remind you of that scene, the spirit is our gasoline" – from "Arms Aloft." Rock on Charleston!


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Chris Sullivan

(lead singer and rhythm guitarist of Big Black Building, solo act)

The song that reminds me most of the scene would be "Talent Show" by The Replacements because it takes me back to being a young guy starting out – playing downtown on the Market, or house parties, or for a free beer tab and being really excited just because you were playing in front of people. That song just has a great sense of innocence and possibility about it!


Alan Brisendine
(drummer with Vehicle, Unisol, and Kevin West; saxophonist and keyboardist with Booty Call)
While there’s no particular song or album to generalize the diversity of music in this town, I think Little Feat’s Waiting For Columbus captures the feel of a live show in a way that can be compared to what you may experience at one of the many venues in Charleston, such as the Pour House, Music Farm, or Johnson’s Pub, where true music lovers tend to congregate. I can’t think of anyone in the audience on that album who could not be having a good time, and that’s what going to see really fine live music is all about.
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Kevin Kless

(one half of the Kevin & Jourdan acoustic duo, bassist with MacDaddy, guitarist with TNT)

The Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Under the Bridge" comes to mind. First, you have the bridge that has come to symbolize the city. Then, a musician can feel as if their only friend is the city they live in because the Citadel football team or the Blue Dogs are playing in town and everyone is there.


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Jourdan

(lead singer for The Soul Bass Band, one half of the Kevin & Jourdan acoustic duo)

I believe a song which personifies the scene is "Everyday People" by Sly & The Family Stone. The song speaks of diversity. Charleston has developed a blend of many different cultures musically. As a result, it has become the "norm" to see most local bands rocking out different genres in one night.


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Michael Thompson

(singer, guitarist, songwriter)

If I had to choose an album to describe the Charleston music scene, I couldn't. The scene here is so eclectic that it can't be described by one song or album. One day any given venue could give you metal, and then the next day give you bluegrass. But, if I had to, I'd say Johnny Cash's American IV: The Man Comes Around. Cash, who was as distinctly Southern and country as Charleston, gives something to all of us by covering Nine Inch Nails, Paul Simon, The Beatles, Sting, The Eagles, Hank Williams, and "Danny Boy" on this album. Not to mention that the record is produced by Rick Rubin. If anything, Charleston embraces all things music, as did Johnny Cash.


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Fiona Phillips

(singer/guitarist with The Cool and The Sirens)

The album that reminds me the most of the Charleston Music scene, from my experience of course, would be Rumours by Fleetwood Mac – not too much explanation needed. I think we have a great group of musicians in this town, and I have met a lot of wonderful and talented people since I've been here.


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Andrew Hollowell

(co-owner of local venue West Ashley Bait & Tackle)

There's an old Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee song titled "People Get Ready." With all of the talented musicians, the variety of styles and unique venues to showcase these skills, it's a matter of time until a "Charleston" sound is recognized outside of the Lowcountry. So ... people get ready!


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Harrison Ray

(guitarist/vocalist of The April Invention, vintage pop enthusiast)

I would have to say at this time "Octopus Ride" by Syd Barrett. The Madcap Laughs album. To me, it paints a vivid picture of an observant musician stranded on a giant sailboat decorated and staffed by the Ladson County Fair committee.


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B.J. Craven

(longtime Charleston strummer, guitarist with Murrell's Inlet's Ten Toes Up)

Charleston's scene reminds me of George Clinton and Parliament's "Tear The Roof Off Of the Sucker." The line "You've got a real type of thing going down, gettin' down/There's a whole lot of rhythm going round," lends itself well to my experiences here. The bands fight to see who can make the most people dance. There is too much make-up and whining in music today, but Charleston is happily bouncing to its own beat.


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Kain Cameron

(rock, jazz, and music theatre singer; actress, and local radio personality for Y102.5)

"Piece Of My Heart" by Janis Joplin. It's a song that, for me, connects my experience in the local rock scene and with my local theatre experience in "Rock 'n' Roll Heaven" portraying Janis. I know what it's like to give a piece of my heart and have a part of it taken by the local music and theatre scene. Just like Janis' voice, the scene can be tough, hard, cutting, deeply soulful, sort of earthy with the occasional stroke of genius. I can relate to her grit and strength and her vulnerability and insecurity on- and off-stage. It's tough to be a woman in rock 'n' roll ... Janis knew that and I found that out, too, first-hand.


John Crain
(songwriter; bassist of The Stiff Joints, MacDaddy)
It would have to be, hands down, The Replacements album Pleased to Meet Me, which reeks of the Charleston music scene. The minute you start blasting the first song, “IOU,” you get a whiff of cigarette smoke and the taste of Cumberland’s cheap draft in your gullet. I mean, come on. “Shootin’ Dirty Pool?” Were those guys at the Firehouse in West Ashley when they wrote that song? What about “Red Red Wine on Sunday?” Every dedicated Charleston musician I know nurses the hangover from the lousy gig the night before at a downtown watering hole on Sunday. No blue laws, thank God. “Nightclub Jitters” literally speaks for itself.
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Bobby Ross

(The Windjammer's longtime manager, booking guy, sound engineer)

That's a tough question. I've just finished my 27th summer here, so there's a lot of music to consider. The first thing that comes to mind might be the Hootie boys. I remember one show around 1993 after some band played for a full house, I played "Hold My Hand" over the P.A. as a closing song for the night. Basically, the whole fucking bar started singing along with the lyrics – and this was before they'd hit the radio at all. I called Woody Bartlett [at 96 Wave] and said, 'Man, you've got to play this song on the radio!' A few days later, Miles Crosby played Hootie for the first time on commercial rock radio in Charleston.


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Lawson Roberts

(club owner and event organizer, Tonik)

When I think of local music, I always end up back at the "Bottle of Moonlight" tune by Uncle Mingo. They have such a strong mix of funk and progressive rock. The way that they utilized horn lines in songs and the tasteful arrangements that were put into play always stuck out to me. It's real easy in a town like Charleston to lean towards a jam band feel but to maintain the tight sounds that Scott Quattlebaum and the boys used is what really makes them stand out in the scene. My overall impression of the local music scene is that it has been quite evolutionary.


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Larry "Sugarbritches" Williams

(keyboardist and vocalist with shag/R&B showband The Coppertones)

You know, the scene is so diverse. Pick a night, you can hear speed metal, classic rock, power trios, jazz, bluegrass, funk, blues, country, alternative, or beach. I think what personifies it for me is Ray Charles. Draw a line from the first caveman beating on a hollow log to any one of those genres, and you have to draw that line through Ray. Listen to Ray's version of the old country classic, "You Are My Sunshine." Country, blues, soul, and jazz fused together and giving birth to musical genres yet unborn. That's what the music scene is here in Charleston: a melange of styles.


Leah Suarez
(singer and bandleader of Cuban/Latin jazz ensemble
Toca Toca)

Bob Marley’s “Jammin’” is the song that reminds me most of the scene. It’s the first one that comes to mind. Maybe it sounds a little obvious, but I think that reggae is one of the most prevalent influences in popular music in Charleston today, maybe because of its obvious connection to the Caribbean. Most consider it “feel-good” music with “easy” lyrics. His tell a history of thousands of years and the repetition of that history in the world today. I think Charleston and its music scene have a lot to learn from their roots in spirituals, blues, jazz, and language.
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J.R. Getches

(guitarist for MacDaddy and Smoking The Ghost)

For me, the definitive Charleston song is "Love Shack" by the B-52s. The lyric is evocative of the humid, erotic atmosphere of the party scene. The song appears to appeal to all generations and packs the dance floor every time the opening drum riff rings out.


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Stuart Johnson

(booking agent and sound engineer at A Dough Re Mi; guitarist with Allnightkungfu)

The song and album that come to mind is Marquee Moon by Television – a band that was at the forefront of the New York punk/new wave scene with intertwining guitars that seemed to jam on forever. The way that it reminds me of the local scene is that a lot of the people involved, both past and present, seem to have a very objective view of what they do, thereby stretching their genres, if they are capable of being classified at all. The other thing is that song reminds me of when I worked at The Village Tavern. It was on the jukebox.


Morgen
(Asst. Program Director, morning personality, The Bridge at 105.5)
The Charleston music scene, on a local level, is shedding its skin from acts like Hootie & The Blowfish, Edwin McCain, and The Blue Dogs. Though these guys have made a real place for themselves, the torch has yet to be passed. I’ve seen a lot of fantastic bands and artists since then that should have gone much further than they have, but even they have moved on to other things. Much to my dismay, the music industry has this idea that if you’re over 30 you may as well hang up your instrument — no matter that you’ve been busting your ass since your teens to get noticed. I see some bands that are buying into the “model.” Sometimes success is not in getting signed but in the experience and being true to your art. When I think of the Charleston music scene the song that comes to mind is “Better Things” by The Kinks from their album Give the People What They Want, because “I know tomorrow you’ll find better things.”
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Josh Terry

(tour manager for Motion City Soundtrack; manager for Leslie; booking agent for Owen Beverly and Ward Williams)

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers' "Learning To Fly" is a pretty good explanation of how hard the local bands in Charleston work. The song touches on the ups and downs in people's lives, their setbacks and their successes. For so many Charleston bands recently, we've seen several of them get major label deals and be given a better opportunity to take their music to a much larger audience than our small scene. Not to mention all the up-and-coming bands in the scene right now that are touring like crazy and starting to get some attention from other areas.


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Clay Ross

(guitarist, risk-taker, former Charleston jazz cat now based in New York)

Now, you know this is unfair 'cause I could come at this question all day, but I'm gonna play nice and pick one song. I'll imagine that I'm hanging at the house with all my favorite Charleston musicians. We're having some beers, sharing some stories, and taking turns with iTunes. I wanna tell everyone about my first roommate at CofC, how he was an intense character, how he threatened to kill me because I borrowed a pair of his socks, and how he turned me on to this great "black" artist named G. Love. Well, I later found out that G. is white, but that didn't change the way I felt about his song, "Baby Got Sauce." To this day, when I hear this tune, it reminds me of Charleston and the local music scene. It's got a little jazz, a little hip-hop, a funky back beat, and a mellow vibe.


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Chris McLernon

(guitarist/bassist with Weird Science, Hair-e-oke, Jack & Tyler)

"Dance To The Music" from the 1968 album of the same name by Sly & The Family Stone. Why? The element about the Charleston music scene that has struck me the most has been the sense of community. And like Sly and his band, it's a melting pot of people, styles, and cooperation from seemingly disparate corners of ages, abilities, styles, roles, tastes, and volumes. And when you harmonize all those pieces, you get dancing. Just like the song says. Can't get any better than that.


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Danielle Howle

(vocalist, veteran songwriter, guitar picker)

There are tons of Charleston and a couple Columbia-based artists on my latest album, Thank You, Mark. The groovy horn playing of Charlton Singleton, Stephen Spaulding, and Christopher Williams on the tunes "Walking Through the Black" and "Oh Swear." I wrote "I'll Be Blue" sitting on the stoop of 84 Cumberland St., after a gig at Theatre 99. Adam Blake plays drums on that and others. I think Jay Clifford arranging strings for my tune "Love is a Fall" and Ward Williams playing those amazing notes. I think Darius Rucker singing a duet with me on the Etta James/Harvey Fuqua classic, "If I Can't Have You," with those same horn players mentioned above, and Mark Bryan producing. But, I did write a song called "Dark, Like The Coat" about strolling Charleston's streets, on the album Skorborealis. My new record would not exist without Charleston's extraordinary musicians and their influence. All this inspiration ... I carry it with me gratefully every day of my life.


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Arleigh Hertzler

(guitarist/vocalist of punkabilly rock trio The Defilers)

I landed on "Don't Take Me For Granted" from Sex, Love, and Rock and Roll by Social Distortion. We've been lucky to do well around Charleston, and have a great time playing here. We do all we can to bring in the best bands that we play with around the Southeast when we're on the road so that the folks here in Charleston can see what other cities get to hear on a regular basis. The one thing that bugs me is when I hear people complaining that there isn't much going on in Charleston. When Social D or The Reverend Horton Heat come to town, tons of people show up, and while I know we're nowhere near as good as those guys, we're similar in styles, and so are a lot of the other bands we bring in. So, instead of sitting in the same old bar every night, make a point to go out and catch a live show. It might turn out that you're missing some really good local bands that are right up your alley.


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Trey Lofton

(owner and booking guru at the Village Tavern)

I would have to mention the 351 Cleveland self-titled disc [351 Cleveland] as a standout, recorded by a group of guys with deep roots in S.C.'s music scene. A short but nearly flawless album that boasted the best production values I have ever heard in a purely independently produced release by a group from S.C. Four years later, I still listen with frequency. Most of the guys are still playing in excellent groups, but this was certainly a high point. Criminally neglected anywhere outside of Greenwood.


Bryant Stowe
(radio host of “The Cutting Edge” and “Local Look
@ 10” on 96 Wave)

When I think of the local music around here, it reminds me of a song by the Supersuckers called “Rock ’n’ Roll Records (Ain’t Selling This Year).” I have had the pleasure of having most of the local bands from Charleston in the 96 Wave studio to chat and play tunes over the past several years, and I hear about how hard they struggle to make time to practice, get gigs, record CDs, and just make a living to support their music habit. Sometimes it makes me sick to see or hear how small a crowd is at one of their shows when I know how good the local bands are here. Please support your local musicians, local music stores — not the big boxes — and your radio stations that play local music.
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Jason Shields

(bass player of Charleston/Kansas trio The Capsules)

I can't help but think of the Muse album Absolution every time I think about music. It was all we were listening to around the time we moved out here and it kept coming up around that time. One of the first nights we were in town we went out to see a great local band, Maniquinn, and they were playing that album between sets. It's also the album that keeps us awake at 3 a.m. on tour or on our long treks between Charleston and our hometown, Kansas City.


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Kenny Varner

(shaggy-headed bassist of Red Handed)

I am going to refer back to a 1989 album released on a not-so-well-known label – Nirvana's Bleach on Sub Pop. Let me tell you why this album reminds me of our music scene. If you put the this in your stereo, immediately you're overcome by raw and emotionally charged songs influenced by genres like punk, metal, and classic rock. Those sounds are found in every band in Charleston, one way or another. And like how Bleach was unknown to most of America in 1989, so is the rock scene here... and like Nirvana, I think Charleston will have its Nevermind.


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Jim Voigt (a.k.a. The Critic)

(morning show host and veteran DJ with 96 Wave)

When I first arrived in Charleston in '92, I was listening to The Woodman on 96 Wave, and I was instantly impressed when he played The Cynics' "Baby What's Wrong" and the Supersuckers' "Coattail Rider." I couldn't believe that this radio station in S.C. was so much cooler than the phony stations in ultra-hip New York City that I just left. Then I heard he was broadcasting live from the original Music Farm on East Bay Street and I had to investigate. Not only did I love "the dump" that was the old Farm, but on stage was Charleston's legendary – and best – hard rock power trio, Children's Choir. I remember thinking to myself, maybe I can get used to living in Charleston. And needless to say, nearly 15 years later, I'm still here.


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Michael "Atonal" Vick

(fretless guitarist extraordinaire, a.k.a. VVV)

Although I rarely ever consider Charleston's music scene as a whole; I feel the song "Joy" by Shakti represents the scene very well because most artists seem full of joy whether people are listening to them or not. At least, that is my experience.




Lorne Chambers
(West Of publisher, former music editor of City Paper)
When I first moved to Charleston in the mid-’90s I was exposed to alt-country. This was the heyday for 96 Wave. Bands like Uncle Tupelo, Cracker, Son Volt, and Wilco were in regular rotation. It was magic to me. These bands took all the things that were good about country music and gave it a twangy, indie rock feel. Wilco released A.M. in 1995, an album that will always remind me of that time in my life and of Charleston in general. In 1997, they played the Music Farm. Later that year, they played Wavefest along with Son Volt, The Jayhawks, Ben Folds Five, Cracker, and David Byrne. My life would never be the same. To this day, every time I hear “Passenger Side,” or “I Must Be High,” I can’t help but recall those reckless, carefree years. It’s as if that album is the soundtrack for a time and a place that seems almost surreal now. But that is the Charleston I choose to remember.
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Matthew Herring

(singer and guitar player for Milhouse)

I say "Sick Cycle Carousel" by Lifehouse, off No Name Face. The local music scene has changed dramatically since I was young. I remember coming down here – spinning from the buzz in the air about Jump, Little Children, Uncle Mingo, and even Hootie was partially claimed by the Lowcountry. All those days are gone. The local bands today are driven by the microwave generation's need to be gratified, and be gratified as instantaneously as possible. What could be a new offering to the crowd quickly becomes a Jack Johnson cover. But I don't blame the bands ... and I don't blame the crowds. It's a sick cycle carousel.


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Taylor Massey

(globally-aware turntablist at Torch)

Charleston's known for many things: colonial architecture, a vivid history, a brilliant art festival, the lively college crowd, and the tourism. In that light, to define the energy of Charleston's growing music scene, it's only prudent to describe the sights and sounds of Charleston through artists that truly represent the old merging with the new. Thievery Corporation's 2005 release The Cosmic Game is the first group/album that comes to mind when the question is posed, "what song/album defines our local music scene today." The album itself, with no mention of any one specific track, is a true "Tour" if you will, of the wonderful music that helped shape our modern scene here in Charleston, and everywhere else for that matter.


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Mike Szemly

(guitarist with Summerville's neverthaless)

"Original Fire" from Audioslave. I kind of molded it to be about the "fire" that many local musicians have ... and some have lost. That deep-down desire to move someone with your music, to write something cool and have people dig it. Sometimes you get lost in a paycheck and forget why it is you do what you do in the first place. We are lucky to have a scene where you can constantly find that "original fire burnin'" and be sent home inspired.


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Skye Suarez

(local music agent and band promoter; staff writer for Charleston's Free Time)

"Diamonds on My Windshield" By Tom Waits is the song. It's blues and jazzy funk with a shot of mountain moonshine rippling through the water ... that's as close as I can get to giving a brief summation of the Charleston music scene.


Tom Hamer
(drummer with the Fire Apes, The Hed Shop Boys)
The album Emotional Geography by the Killer Whales — and the self titled EP as well. [Guitarist] David Bethany and the Whales! I remember watching them on Star Search from a buddy’s house when we were just beginning to play music. Inspirational stuff, that record — and they were from my hometown of Charleston! “Marlene” was the hit song. Drummer Murphy Pitts was my freakin’ idol ... Charleston music scene at its finest!

Rik Cribb
(singer, songwriter, solo act, guitarist of Rik Cribb
& The Problems)

Whenever I hear the Killer Whales — anything off of Emotional Geography — it brings me back to the real reason I started playing … I mean Murphy fuckin’ Pitts, dude … and the smell of the old Windjammer and Myskyn’s — it was another universe. That guy was the king of the Roto-toms and the sound of David Bethany’s Roland Jazz Chorus amp. Shit. That is the sound, to me, of the music scene and why I wanted to be part of it.
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Evans Putman

(local freelance music writer, plogger, trivia master with The Post & Courier's "Preview")

I guess right off the top of my cranium I'd have to go with Devo's "Freedom of Choice." On any given night in the scene you can see a band or artist playing bluegrass, rock 'n' roll, funk, reggae, metal, punk, rockabilly, and so much more. Then you also have local bands that take a variety of genres, stir them up in a big ol' pot and come up with a recipe of their own. "Freedom of choice ... is what you got." Use your "freedom of choice" and get out there in support of our local music scene because in many other cities our size, your options are about as exciting as choosing between regular or curly fries.


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Shawnté Salabert

(freelance writer and longtime City Paper contributor)

"Make Me a Mixtape" by The Promise Ring. I really, really refuse to call them "mix CDs." They'll always be mixtapes to me, and although I've always been a fan, my affection for them grew exponentially while I lived in Charleston. They were traded amongst friends and lovers, each one a tiny peek into a particular relationship – there was the series of under-the-radar indie-rock I received from a friend who now resides on the Other Coast; a purple disc of soulful love jamz given to me by an ex-boyfriend, and the Birthday Mix from an old roommate – in fact, the person who introduced me to the song above, which we used to belt at the top of our lungs while we drove with the windows all the way down, wind whipping through our hair. So, make me a mixtape ... just throw some Charleston on there, if you will.


Amy Hutto
(midday DJ for 98X, Production Director, and host of
“Local X”
)
AC/DC’s “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ’n’ Roll).” I think everything about this song captures the scene. The entire scene has progressed to a great place, and continues to grow! It’s hard out there, but every band out here makes it look so easy and we all keep pushing on together. The Charleston music scene has “big balls!”

Rob “Bon” Liotti
(lead vocalist for local AC/DC tribute TNT)
The one song, title, and musical lyric that is for me most analogous to the scene originally comes from Down Under — “It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock ’n’ Roll)” by AC/DC, of course. It is the phrase that all musicians have and do live by whether they have heard the song or not.
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Brady Waggoner

(MC/DJ with Dub Island Sound System)

As David Rodigan would say, I'm a dancehall reggae fanatic. So I have to represent with a landmark dancehall must-have. General Degree's "Traffic Blocking" has to remind me most of my experiences playing in Chucktown. It's a solid and sweaty dancehall standard about women so hot they stop traffic. If you've ever been to a Dub Island Show at Barrier Island on Saturday and seen the cars lined up, you'll know what General Degree is talking about. That's the closest thing to seeing a Jamaican sound play out in Grange Hill or Savanna La Mar of Westmoreland, Jamaica. Cars pack the country roads there for miles.


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Travis Allison

(singer, keyboradist, bandleader, session man)

Tom Waits' "(Looking For) The Heart of Saturday Night" actually comes to mind when I think about all the good variations of music coming out of the local bars, restaurants, and nightclubs on any given night of the week. It's always a good night to go see live music here in Charleston.


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Eric "Lunar"

(band manager/promoter, Lunartik Entertainment)

Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" reminds me of the scene over the years. Not the style of the song itself, although it is a great one, but the message. The idea that someone will do whatever they have to in order to continue on in spite of major obstacles and setbacks is one that I've seen time and again in Charleston's music scene: the bands, the venues, the radio stations. I've seen a lot of peaks and valleys in Charleston's music scene over the years, but I don't doubt with the intensity of the artists and their supporters and the fans that it will continue on and continue to survive.


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Hermann Mutant

(vocalist for Hybrid Mutants, "chief burger flipper" at McNeill's Pub)

When thinking of the Charleston band scene, I think of The Beatles' Abbey Road. A collection of gems whose only connection is being in the same place at the same time, and one of them has no shoes.





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James McKinney

(guitarist and string player in Good News, The Sound Affects, ex-Velveeta)

Although my contribution to – or detraction from – the local music scene was playing cheesy '80s music, I have a real passion for Southern roots music. I feel that the album Decoration Day from the Drive-By Truckers defines a very important aspect of our music scene. The blazing riffs from three guitars harken back to the glory days of Southern rock in the '70s. To me, this album reflects unique Southern culture and values. It is a vast departure from the commercialized country music that is programmed on radio stations.


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Kevin Hanley

(musician, Chord & Pedal overlord)

Bud Collins' "White Trash Spiritual" from The Preppy Fakebook. Believe it or not, 96 Wave used to play local music every afternoon and I heard this gem the first week I lived in Charleston. I had a hard time believing it was a local band and it made me excited about the prospects of living here. As fate would have it, I ended up working at a place with one of the members of Bud Collins. Within a month, I filled in on drums for them at a Music Farm gig with Superchunk. I met countless local musicians during that time, and I count many of them today as great friends. One of whom was Bud Collins' bassist, Bill Carson, who, incidentally, christened the name "Chord and Pedal." The Preppy Fakebook remains, in my opinion, one of the best albums to ever come out of Charleston.


Sadler Vaden
(guitarist and vocalist of Leslie)
This is a recent discovery for me, but I think it has to be Elvis Costello’s “Welcome to the Working Week” off of My Aim is True. I just think about my group and all of our other comrades that know what it’s like to be “weekend warriors” and havin’ to come back to those jobs after an especially good time over the weekend. “I know it don’t thrill you, I hope it don’t kill you!”
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Charlie Geer

(drummer, author, world traveler, ex-Curious George)

I'm thinking "Hey Nineteen" by Steely Dan. Slick production, all silk and cheese on the surface, with a sinister undertow. Too, I sometimes feel ancient when I'm walking King on a Saturday night. Everybody's 19, and other than the fine Colombian and the Cuervo Gold, we got nothin' in common, no we can't talk at all.


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Tim Davis

(vocalist of Columbia/Charleston band The Soul Mites)

The Charleston music scene reminds me of not one but many different styles. From the eclectic remnants of Jump, Little Children to the hard edge hits of Number One Contender, I feel the area has much to offer not only to the Southeast, but to the world. With Jimbo at the Music Farm, Bobby at the Windjammer, Trey at the Village Tavern, and a host of other great music venues here in Chuck Town, we have the right environment to build and sustain the kind of music scene that keeps us fresh and innovative. As Nirvana would put it, Charleston is always "In Bloom."


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Ryan Brown

(manager at The Map Room, player in The Apologies)

I always thought our local band Hot Charlie with tracks like "Swiss Army Dildo" and "Turkish Prison Surprise" brought me back to the days when the gang and I would be riding to nowhere in my crappy '83 Datsun singing "Bitchin' Camaro" by The Dead Milkmen or They Might Be Giants' "The Statue Got Me High." It's that freewheeling, geeky, wiseass, sometimes nonsensical humor that we craved. Remember: "If you don't got Mojo Nixon / Then your store could use some fixin'."

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