Out of my element in Charleston music scene
January 20, 2011 1:37 PM   Subscribe

Let's say you're looking for a band to play at a conference for 500 river and watershed activists in Charleston, South Carolina in June. Let's also say you're doing this from Portland, Oregon and know next to nothing about the music scene in that beautiful coastal city. Finally, let's say that your fellow staff members have barred you from booking another bluegrass band ever again, yet this isn't exactly a Top 40/cover band crowd. What's a soul to do?
posted by vverse23 to Travel & Transportation around Charleston, SC (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
how much spendable money do we have?
posted by radiosilents at 1:40 PM on January 20, 2011

Maybe check out the local entertainment newspaper City Paper? There may be some resources for you there -- Music + Clubs, Local Bands, Live Music,
posted by Kronur at 1:47 PM on January 20, 2011

Book a bluegrass band and call them 'Americana?' Better yet, book an actual Americana band like the Carolina Chocolate Drops.

Also, Brave Combo is an awesome crowd pleasing band polka/salsa band (no really.) They are a hell of a lot of fun. Make sure there's a place to dance, though.
posted by cross_impact at 1:52 PM on January 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

Railroad Earth

Why no bluegrass? Are the staff member's taste at odds with your own or that of the activists? or are they just looking for a change? RRE may hit the sweet spot. Not all Earl Scruggs & such, more of a jam band. 1 2 3
posted by TDIpod at 2:02 PM on January 20, 2011

I bet Drivin N Cryin will travel to Charleston for a gig in front of 500 people. I saw them in Richmond VA last year in a bar with maybe 100 people. If the crowd is from the SE and a little older (30+) they'll probably be familiar with DnC.

More generally, Google up some Charleston nightlife / music blogs and follow then for a few weeks. I suspect you'll uncover at least a couple of good prospects that way.
posted by COD at 2:03 PM on January 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

What other genre of music could you possibly choose for a conference of river and watershed activists in South Carolina?
posted by geegollygosh at 2:07 PM on January 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

What other genre of music could you possibly choose for a conference of river and watershed activists in South Carolina?

Come on nOw, yoU aNswered The posteR's question with a question. whY?

Snark aside, I imagine they had bluegrass for the last five years. I know how Portland hippies operate.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 2:20 PM on January 20, 2011 [4 favorites]

I'm from Charleston and my old high school buddy has apparently become pretty popular in the local music scene. He plays mandolin, but I don't think it's bluegrass. If he can't play the gig with one of his bands (I think he has a few), I bet he could recommend someone for you.

His name is Aaron Firetag and you can find him on facebook. His band Quasiphonics also has a facebook page. I'd recommend sending him a facebook message.

He is playing my wedding and I am so pumped.
posted by Mrs.Spiffy at 2:35 PM on January 20, 2011

I was just coming in to suggest the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Beaten to the punch!
posted by cereselle at 2:37 PM on January 20, 2011

Get a jam band, man! (I can say that because I'm not going...)

Reigning Sound, NOT a jam band, is based out of Asheville now. That's... what, five hours of driving? Their description is sort of guitar punk, but aided by a torrid romance with the Shangri-Las. Literally; they did a great album called Dangerous Game in 2007 with lead singer Mary Wells. The band is basically Greg Cartwright and his chosen few; Greg's a pretty cool guy.

also, yes, their keyboard guy is good but has the most epic combover ever. I can't really mention them without admitting that flat out.
posted by Madamina at 2:47 PM on January 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

What about someone who has written songs about wetlands and is active in wetland protection?
posted by sulaine at 3:03 PM on January 20, 2011

I come to suggest you get some old-time fiddlers. Or banjo players. Definitely not bluegrass, although probably no more palatable to the general population.
posted by kjell at 3:47 PM on January 20, 2011

Nthing the Carolina Chocolate Drops, if you can get them. I saw them in Houston and Austin during their tour last year and they did two very different shows for two very different kinds of crowds. The Houston show was at a fantastic yuppie folk bar and the Austin show was at a Sixth Street club. They knocked it out of the park both times.
posted by immlass at 5:48 PM on January 20, 2011

Robbie Fulks!

and another
posted by ghharr at 5:49 PM on January 20, 2011

Seconding Brave Combo. They are SO much fun. Plus you'll be able to tell your coworkers that you heeded their pleas, didn't book a bluegrass band, and went with POLKA instead. And then watch them try to mask their dismay.

Seriously: they're more than polka. And they're really talented. And they KICK ASS live.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:55 PM on January 20, 2011

Sorry, if my co-workers vetoed Bluegrass, I would either resign or book Death-Metal.

How could they not like Bluegrass?
posted by ovvl at 8:04 PM on January 20, 2011

Best answer: Yes to Railroad Earth - they're not bluegrass....just a great rock/jam band that happens to have some bluegrass instruments in it plus drums, horns, etc.

Also, nthing Carolina Chocolate Drops - very talented and entertaining!

Don't know what your budget is, but they (both) may be quite pricey.

I would recommend Papa String Band (again, not bluegrass - more like a cross between Railroad Earth and the Grateful Dead...) from Columbia, SC less than 2 hrs away. They play to river rats all the time and are very popular with that crowd. They play in Charleston fairly often as well. Very affordable, talented, and good group of guys!

Two other bands I would highly recommend for that crowd are Yarn and The Mosier Brothers. Neither are from Charleston but travel to and play there often. And, just because a band has a banjo or a fiddle or a mandolin in it doesn't necessarily make them a bluegrass band....just sayin'.
posted by ourroute at 8:42 PM on January 20, 2011

explorer's club are from charleston and have a very classic beach boys sound.
posted by noloveforned at 6:56 AM on January 21, 2011

I'm in Charleston, and I would first recommend you contact The new music collective. I've run sound for one of their spinoff bands, 'Havanason' and was shocked at how good they are.

I'm also a huge Railroad Earth fan and would love to see them come down.
posted by toastchee at 9:01 AM on January 21, 2011

Response by poster: What a fabulous response. Thank you everybody. Now I wish I could hire half a dozen bands. Or put together a full-on Charleston music festival. But I guess that's what Spoleto's for?

Spendable money: we have a whopping $1000 or so. I know, I wish it was more, and we're trying to work on that for next year. Some bands are perfectly happy playing for a few hours for $1K; for others that's chump change, barely enough to cover two minutes worth of pyrotechnics.

I'm going to follow up on all of the suggestions and links you've all posted. There are lots of compelling ideas here! A couple of thoughts and comments...

Carolina Chocolate Drops are booked. Some folks at last year's conference recommended them, and although we won't be able to get them to play, I'm so glad I've discovered these guys.

I hadn't thought about Railroad Earth, and haven't listened to those guys in a couple of years. I'll go check them out again. Personally I'd love to get a jam band, but as my own tastes run as far out as Umphrey's / Zappa, I'll have to rein it in a little.

Rather than try to comments on some of this other music I have yet to listen to, I'll repeat my thanks and get to listening. In case anyone's interested on how this saga turns out, I'll post here again once I've made some progress.
posted by vverse23 at 12:59 PM on January 21, 2011

Response by poster: Why no bluegrass? Are the staff member's taste at odds with your own or that of the activists? or are they just looking for a change?

Yeah, folks are looking for something different. We all love bluegrass. We may return to our roots. I'm doing some exploration.
posted by vverse23 at 1:23 PM on January 21, 2011

« Older Hey, ya....I can't shake it like a Polaroid...   |   I want to min / max my khakis Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.