We had a fantastic time hosting DIG SOUTH, Charleston’s premier tech conference, all weekend long. As mentioned in the former post, Rosco Bandana and Dangermuffin kicked off the DIG SOUTH festivities Friday evening with a smaller show but a show full of heart, rock n’ roll, and crunchy jams. Saturday night we hosted Entropy Ensemble and Lee Fields and The Expressions.
Entropy Ensemble is an amazing local group that is made up of some of the strongest musicians in Charleston, a couple of whom happen to be some of my closest friends, so I was thrilled to have them on the Music Hall stage. The band was made up of Andrew Walker on piano and Rhodes, (Andrew also is the creator of JAILBREAK, an amazing bi-annual mutli-media arts night at the old city jail), Lonnie Root, (Charleston Music Hall’s resident cellist), Ben Wells on stand up bass, (I saw Ben play with Elise Testone last night opening for BB KING, kudos Ben), Stuart White on drums, Clay White on trumpet, Jonathon Kammer on alto-sax, Peter Dimery on baritone sax, and special guest Steven Fiore on guitar and vocals (Steven’s new album Youth and Magic come out Saturday, check it out). Entropy Ensemble is a unique instrumental group that presents performances that blur the lines between musical styles and genres. Whether it be an original piece or a loose instrumental arrangement of popular music, Entropy Ensemble’s main goal is to perform “good music”. From classical to jazz, to rock and popular music, each member of the group comes from a diverse musical training and background, bringing something different to the table. Saturday night they were doing one of their favorite and most popular shows covering the beloved Radiohead. Most people did not know what to expect but were immediately blown away especially when they went into “The National Anthem.” Stan Grey, DIG SOUTH’s founder, came up to me screaming over the raging horn section “They are killing it!,” and they certainly did kill it. Radiohead would have been proud. I know I sure was.
Lee Fields and The Expressions, billed as the headliner of the entire festival, took to the stage next. “There aren’t too many artists making soul music today who had a release in 1969, back when R&B was first beginning to give the drummer some. Lee Fields, however, is one such artist–or maybe he’s better labeled a phenomenon. Since the late sixties, the North Carolina native has amassed a prolific catalog of albums and has toured and played with such legends as Kool and the Gang, Sammy Gordon and the Hip-Huggers, O.V Wright, Darrell Banks, and Little Royal. With a career spanning 43 years, releases on twelve different record labels, and having toured the world over with his raucous-yet-tender voice, it’s mind-blowing that the music he’s making today with Brooklyn’s own Truth & Soul Records is the best of his career.”*
In the last week I have seen Lee Fields, Charles Bradley, and BB King, and might I add what an honor it has been to have seen such amazing performers back to back to back. If you know me, you probably have heard me rant many times about how strong the music scene is in Charleston, made apparent by the musicians flocking here from music capitols, such as Nahville, Austin, and Brooklyn. The fact that I was able to see these three musicians at three equally amazing and distinct venues, The Charleston Music Hall, The Pour House, and The North Charleston Performing Arts Center, all within a week is yet another testament to how amazing the Charleston music scene is and to how hard promoters, venue managers, and music enthusiasts are working to put on some great shows. I was amazed at how similar each set / set up was from one band to the next. Lee Fields and Charles Bradley almost had the exact same backing band, young white boys playing trumpet, sax, piano and organ, drums, bass, electric guitar except Lee had the addition of two beautifully rambunctious female singers. At each show, the band came on the stage first and played two instrumental songs to get the crowd riled up. I really liked this intro. The audience got to see and feel the band and sink into the music before they focused on the frontman. Each frontman was then victoriously announced and came out to do what they do best, win over the audience and put on an amazing show. Lee Fields blew the roof off the Music Hall. People could not stay in their seats, as they danced along the aisles and in front of the stage. His style and enthusiasm and appreciation for the few hundred that showed up was so refreshingly honest. All three artists have such a great sense of humility that puts them far above the rest. Thank you DIG SOUTH for a wonderful weekend. We look forward to working with you again next year! And thank you Charleston for keep the soul alive.
– Charles Carmody, CMH Director
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DIG SOUTH Interactive Festival came to the Charleston Music Hall Friday night with two of the best musical acts for their Sideshow. As this being the very first festival of its kind on the East coast, the Charleston Music Hall couldn’t be more excited to be a part of it. All attendees were able to explore the intersection of technology, social media, marketing and the arts in the heart of downtown Charleston. Smart companies and leading innovators from all over the country came together to spread their knowledge to the general public all weekend. DIG SOUTH’s Sideshows are an aspect of the festival that integrates music into the scene by bringing up and coming performers to the stage.
Dangermuffin and Rosco Bandana both played two separate shows for a very intimate crowd. The night kicked off at 7pm with local band Dangermuffin giving us everything they got. Since they are so well known in the Charleston community, everybody loved them. They have a true variety of styles from one song to the next that always captures the audiences attention. The Folly Beach trio know exactly what they’re doing as they already have four albums under their belt in just five years. Ranging from roots-rock, calypso, Americana and a little bit of ska, Dangermuffin put on a great show for us and we can’t wait to have them back on stage.
Rosco Bandana hailed all the way from the Gulf Coast of Mississippi just to join us at DIG SOUTH. The Music Hall thoroughly enjoyed what they had to offer, keeping the room energetic the whole night through. Even with two shows, they never skipped a beat. Rosco Bandana considers themselves an “Indie Folk Rock Band” with a little bit of blues, americana and gypsy fanfare thrown in. The seven piece band was a fantastic compliment to Dangermuffin. Even though they have just started out, Rosco Bandana is making a name for themselves-and they’re doing it big. The Charleston Music Hall would be lucky to have them grace the stage with their musical talent again.
-Sarah Roza, CMH Intern
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If you’ve never heard of Bill Burr, chances are you’ve seen him before. Actually, you’ve definitely seen him before, probably many times. It may have been in one of his Comedy Central specials, or one of the several major movies that he’s co-starred in, or on Letterman, Conan, or Fallon, or maybe you were lucky enough to catch one of his 300 or so yearly stand-up shows. If you were at the Charleston Music Hall last Thursday night, you were one of those lucky people. Bill and his crew packed the house at the Music Hall as part of their ‘Dirty South Tour’, which has sold out shows in over a dozen southern states so far, which is impressive considering Burr’s roots in Los Angeles and New York City. Before he had even arrived at the theatre, there was excitement and anticipation in the air as the venue staff awaited Bill’s arrival. There seemed to be more security guards present than for any other show at the Music Hall. Finally, about an hour before show time, the tour bus pulled up on John Street, and as Bill and his crew walked off the bus, it looked like one of those slow-motion movie scenes with “Damn It Feels Good to be a Gangsta” playing in the background.
Two opening acts entertained the crowd, playing two short 15-minute sets and left the crowd in hysterics. We already thought it couldn’t get much funnier, and then, finally, the man himself walked onstage, and 900 people went crazy. Bill shouted, “I haven’t even done anything yet!” The following 2 hours were filled with nonstop laughter and hilarity. Burr’s lively and intense style of comedy, ranting, and storytelling can captivate any audience for hours. Bill is the type of comedian who can insult a person right to their face, and leave them laughing with tears in their eyes. His subjects of humor range from religion and politics to the absurdity of life in show business, and everything in between. He delivers his ideas effortlessly, while seamlessly transitioning from one subject to the next, all the while making his audience think about important issues without even realizing it. Bill closed out his monumental two-hour set, and was kind enough to stick around after the show to meet the audience, sign autographs, and promote his new DVD special “Let It Go”. Then, as quickly as they arrived, Bill and his crew boarded the tour bus and they were off to their next stop on the tour. This was a truly special evening for the Charleston Music Hall. If you ever get the chance to see Bill Burr perform, do yourself a favor and buy a ticket, you won’t be disappointed.
Nothing feels quite as rewarding as that moment when events from all directions crash and culminate in one moment. When divergent thinking patterns break linear trends and a multitude of stakeholders can all be satisfied within the greater accomplishments of the group product, something bigger than the sum of the parts is created. An experience such as this happened at the Charleston Music Hall on March 30th when the ideas of Charles Carmody (director of the Music Hall), Mike Bryan (guitar player in Hootie and the Blowfish), and promoter Rob Lamble crashed together to synthesize into an unforgettable evening of music and filming. With help from Trident Tech and College of Charleston Students for the filming process, the finished product is to play on network television. Cranes, scaffolds, and tripod lights were set up throughout the theater to get shots from all angles, both of the performers and of the audience members. Great ideas blooming into great products cannot be successful however without great patrons to consume the finished labors of love.
Our hope at the Charleston Music Hall is that when people come to events that they feel that they are part of something larger. Community is the backbone of a successful music hall, because without connection to the local scale it is hard to reach those that will ultimately benefit the most from the arts inside the theater. Each event is a long process, starting months before the artists actually get to do what they do on stage, but none of it matters if people do not come to enjoy. Live at the Charleston Music Hall starring Edwin McCain and Sam Bush is one event in which this was all the more prevalent because without audience participation the Austin City Limits style performance would have fallen flat. Without the excitement that the crowd on Saturday night brought the two episodes produced from the concert would have looked unentertaining, which they were far from. I saw people singing along, yelling their admiration at Edwin McCain and Sam Bush, and dancing in the aisles. When the finished product is cut, after editing and post-production polishes are placed on the film, what I think will really shine through is that people that came to the event had a great time. Not to mention Bush and McCain played two of the most solid live performances I have ever seen.
It makes me proud to call the Charleston Music Hall the Charleston Jazz Orchestra’s official “House of Swing.” This year marks the CJO’s fifth season playing in the Music Hall, and I love them all dearly. They are a hard working bunch with an insane passion for Jazz and spreading Charleston’s Jazz history. Charleston actually has a very rich and deep relationship with Jazz and many of the instrumentalists who were responsible for the development of the genre have hailed from our little coastal town. Big band jazz is certainly a sight to see. The force and movement that comes off that stage is astounding. Charlton Singleton, the CJO’s maestro and lead trumpeter, leads a strong team of seventeen instrumentalists made up of piano, stand up bass, guitar, drums, and a thirteen piece brass section.
The CJO plays six shows at the Music Hall each year. They kicked off 2013 with a tribute to John Coltrane back in January. Saturday Night, the CJO performed their second show of the year and paid tribute to Count Basie playing through his most renowned album, The Atomic Mr. Basie, which was originally recorded in 1958. On top of composing, conducting, and leading on the saxophone, Mr. Singleton also has a beautiful voice, and he started off the evening vocally leading his band in Basie’s The Late Late Show. The band then jumped right into the show and played two hour and half sets. One thing that I really appreciate about Charlton is that he is a passionate teacher, a prophet of his craft if you will, and wants people to really understand the depth and gravity of the songs that are being played on stage. At every show he makes a connection between the music that is being played and Charleston. For instance, two of the original members of the Basie orchestra were from Charleston. He truly loves both Charleston and Jazz and wants people to make the important connection between the two.
One of my favorite mental images of the night was when I was sitting side stage looking out at the band, and I saw all seventeen members’ feet tapping, well more like bouncing, to the tunes. These musicians certainly love the music just as much as their maestro. The CJO ended the evening with a sneak peak into their next show, Porgy and Bess, which will be performed at the Charleston Music Hall May 18th. If you have yet to see the CJO, then I would highly recommend coming out to their next show. I cannot stress how important it is for us to support our local arts and music groups. Charleston certainly is a beautiful place to live, but this beauty would amount to naught if it were not for the people and artists that make this city such as great place to live. Check out the CJO’s website here for more information on this fantastic organization, and I hope to see you at the next CJO show.
– Charles Carmody, CMH Director
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Crowfield’s Goodbye, Goodnight, So Long show was nothing short of amazing. On Friday, March 15th, the local Charleston five-man band got up on stage to perform their last concert as a group. After six successful years together, Tyler Mechem (guitar/vocals) Parker Gins (drums/vocals), Ben Meyer (bass/vocals), Whitt Algar (keys/vocals), and Ryan Holderfield (guitar/vocals) collectively decided that it was time to part ways and move on to other interests. Everyone in the theater that night could tell they didn’t want to leave.
The evening began with a song writer in the round pre-show that included Luke Cunningham, John Wesley Satterfield and Ryan Bonner-some of Crowfield’s closest friends. An hour later, Crowfield took the stage and their fans went wild. Lead singer, Mechem, could hardly believe the love that the audience was giving them from start to finish. With each song (there were 28 of them!), everyone in the crowd belted out the lyrics to their Southern Rock/Americana tunes as if they were the ones telling the story. Every now and then someone would yell out “Don’t break up Crowfield!”, showing the band how much they are truly appreciated in the Lowcountry scene. In between the songs, Mechem made sure to give his thanks as well.
As the night went on, Crowfield brought out surprise guest performers who have played with them in the past, such as various guitarists, a section of horn players and standup bassist, Jonathan Gray. Their first set was made up of older material, which was not any less known than the more recent songs that were played after intermission. With the set break, it seemed like the crowd got even more energetic and sentimental for the second half of the show. Which, of course, made it harder for Crowfield to leave the stage.
The decision to break-up certainly could not have been easy for the band. But they now know that at least the 800+ people that filled the Charleston Music Hall will always remember them for the way they shared their stories. Crowfield has permanently left their mark on Charleston by the lives they touched through their music. They have left a legacy that no one will forget. – Sarah Roza, CMH Intern
On Wednesday, March 13th the Charleston Music Hall welcomed the Whirling Dervishes of Rumi to its stage for an enlightening performance of personal and spiritual revelation. Presented by the South Carolina Dialogue Foundation and hailing from Konya Mevlana University in Turkey, the Dervishes delighted the audience by offering a look into an essential part of Turkish customs, history and culture. The performance was a “meditation in motion”, in which the Dervishes were accompanied by mystical music consisting of flutes, strings, percussion, a chorus and poems by Rumi. The origin and roots of Sufism lie in the life and practices of the Prophet of Islam and the Qur’an. Sufism espouses a well-founded and thoroughgoing interpretation of Islam, which focuses on love, tolerance, worship of God, community development, and personal development through self-discipline and responsibility. A Sufi’s way of life is to love and be of service to people, deserting the ego or false self and all illusion so that one can reach maturity and perfection, and finally reach Allah, the True, the Real. The Order of the Whirling Dervishes is one branch of the vast Sufi tradition of Islam. The universal values of love and service shared by all Sufis are very much relevant to the social and political realities of today, and this ritual, which is only performed by the Order of the Whirling Dervishes, has come to symbolize these values in the hearts and minds of millions throughout the world. The Whirling Dervishes program is performed for audiences to translate one of the remarkable ways of achieving this state of sublime: the way of Rumi, the great Muslim mystic and poet. Due to the traditional and religious manner of the performance, audience members were unable to applaud until the Dervishes had left the stage. The acknowledgement that they were in the midst of something both extraordinary and unique, however, was evident from the respectful silence and mutual captivation demonstrated.
The SC Historical Irish Society recently graced our venue with the ever-talented Irish-Folk outfit Derek Warfield and the Wolfe Tones. One of the jolliest Irishmen you’ll ever meet, Derek has spent just over 50 years on the road, bringing his gift of song to thousands of audiences worldwide. Derek made his first appearance on-stage at the age of six, and since then has performed everywhere from Carnegie Hall in New York City to Royal Albert Hall in London, as well as numerous radio and television appearances along the way. The evening began with a brief introduction by Gary Allan, President of the SC Irish Historical Society, before welcoming Derek and his four-piece band to the stage. Derek jokingly suggested that the audience make themselves comfortable, as it was likely they would be there until around five in the morning. The band consisted of acoustic guitar, electric bass, Irish flute, Irish banjo, and all five members on vocals. The multi-talented Derek brought out his Irish bodhran drum for several of the songs, rousing a cheer from the audience of about 500 people. Throughout the evening, the music was lively and conjured images of old Irish pubs and dancehalls. The band’s songs are steeped in story, and Derek provided the audience with a back-story to each song. The content of the songs ranged from tales of young love to the sinking of the Hunley submarine, and none failed to move people’s hearts and feet. During intermission, Derek and the band could be seen mingling among the crowds in the lobby, shaking hands, taking photos and laughing with their audience members. The night had a true feeling of community, and there seemed to be no separation between those on stage and those in the audience. The second set opened with a lively jig, and it seemed as though the night was only just beginning. The show only got better as the night went on, and after a near 3-hour long set, the band regrettably had to wind down the show, and closed out the night with a rowdy rendition of the national anthem (of America, that is). The crowd gave a standing ovation, Derek proclaimed “God bless America, and God save Ireland!”, and the crowds left while still singing and humming the songs of the evening. The night was a coming together of cultures, hearts and minds, and this is exactly what the Charleston Music Hall is all about.
– Michael McCrea, CMH Intern
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Welcome to the Charleston Music Hall Blog. My name is Charles Carmody, and I am the director of the Charleston Music Hall. I started back in July 2012, and I have loved every minute of helping breathe life into the Music Hall. I get to wear many hats at the Music Hall doing everything from booking shows, to marketing and graphic design, to managing our wonderful ushers, bar, and box office, to helping with lights, sound, and tech, to maintenance, and yes, even bathroom cleaning. Even though the days can get very long, I feel incredibly lucky to be working at one of the best venues in my favorite city on earth, Charleston.
We have had an incredible year thus far at the Music Hall. The Charleston Jazz Orchestra, our resident big band jazz group, helped kick off the year with a tribute to John Coltrane and will be performing five more shows in the Hall this year. The great Jeff Mangum graced our stage playing to a sold out crowd. We kicked off the Charleston Music Hall Local Series with The Holy City Pop Show: Explorers Club, Slow Runner, and Luke Cunningham. We kicked off our bluegrass series, Grass in the Hall, with Town Mountain, Cumberland River, and The Barefoot Movement. We kicked off our dance series with an Argentinian Tango Troupe. We hosted SEWE this year and got to play with penguins, foxes, and eagles. Shovels & Rope played a homecoming show to a sold out theatre. Sol Driven Train got down with their CD release party. Elise Testone played to a sold out crowd for a very special Valentine’s Day show. Crowfield also played their final show ever in the Hall. Whew! It is hard to believe it is only March.
We also have some amazing events on the horizon. Our Local Music Series, Grass in the Hall series, and Dance Series, are all gearing up for subsequent shows. We are kicking off our Live at the Charleston Music Hall Series, a live filmed for TV show, (think Austin City Limits meets Inside the Actors Studio). Sam Bush and Edwin McCain will kick off the show March 30th. The amazingly funny comedian, Bill Burr, will be throwing down some jokes on April 11th. DIG SOUTH, Charleston’s premier tech conference, will be holding sideshows in the Music Hall, Danger Muffin, Lee Fields, and more April 12th and 13th. We are also hosting one of the best Celtic bands in the county, Solas on May 10th, and the list goes on and on.
With all this action going on at the Hall, we wanted to make a way for you to join in on the action and keep up with the fun. We are going to be using this blog to post pictures and write ups about each show, so that you can follow along with the crazy great things that are going on at the Hall these days. I hope you enjoy following along, and I hope to see you in the Music Hall sooner than later.
Cheers, Charles Carmody Director, Charleston Music Hall