Charleston is often times considered the cultural hub of South Carolina. With industry in the area growing, most recently with the addition of Boeing, the area seems only poised to continue urbanization. In comparison to the Upstate, which is foothills and mountains, the coast, with access to import and export, has been historically a place for the spreading of ideas, art, and philosophy. Mercantilism starts with business and ends up in the exchange of ideas. Bluegrass music is tied to the mountains, and rightly so. The evolution of bluegrass and country music is deeply rooted in rural towns and villages, characterized by simple chord progressions, acoustic instrumentation, and beautiful multi-part harmonies. Simplicity is lost in urban areas, hustle-and-bustle, traffic, sirens at all hours.
Awendaw Green and the Charleston Music Hall have teamed up to bring some of the rural simplicity of the mountains to the growth of downtown Charleston. We all need escape. Spreadsheets, memos, e-mails, and the daily grind of office work can drive anyone crazy, “Yeeeaaahhh, I’m gonna need those T.P.S. reports by Friday, thaaannnkkksssss”, buzzes the famous evil boss, Bill Lumbergh, from Office Space. The hope with the Grass in the Hall series is to bring the best bluegrass/country/americana/folk music from around the country to Charleston, and in turn give us all a little relief from our nine-to-five. On the docket for the fourth installment were Underhill Rose, Barefoot Movement, and Flatt City.
Underhill Rose, from Asheville, North Carolina mix rock, jam, jazz, and R&B to create a unique roots sound with absolutely breathtaking three-part harmonies. “My very first CD was Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nathion, since Michael Jackson pretty much ruled MTV, they both influenced my tastes in my formative years,” Eleanor Underhill told the Charleston City Paper. “Throw in TLC, En Vogue, and Mary J. Blige, and you can see how R&B made its way into my musical psyche.” These three girls were so talented, weaving their harmonies, guitar, and banjo together in perfect unison.
Barefoot Movement returned to the Charleston Music Hall stage after helping us kick off The Grass in the Hall Series back in March. It is hard to put into words just how talented these four young people are. They were finishing up a six month tour that brought them all around the country. The tour sharpened their craft with a stage presence exuding a newly found confidence. We were amazed at how much t
his young band had progressed in four short months.
Flatt City, from Charleston, South Carolina, is a five piece bluegrass band that has a specific blend of bluegrass. They are driven by strong instrumentation layered wit
h strong vocal harmonies; the heart and soul of bluegrass. The mix is a concoction of traditional mountain music melded with modern sources. Banjos, fiddles, and mandolins all took turn with solos to the crowds delight.
With the introduction of Underhill Rose, the return of Barefoot Movement, and the local flavor of Flatt City, the fourth iteration of Grass in the Hall was one that thrilled everyone in the audience. An escape from the day-to-day to a world with handmade crafts, axe throwing, bow and arrows, forests, lakes, fly fishing, and a cold beer.
– Bennett Jones, CMH