DIG SOUTH: Entropy Ensemble & Lee Fields and The Expressions

April 13, 2013

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.  Entropy EnsembleThe 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.”*Lee Fields

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