There have been quite a few nostalgia driven articles over the last few months looking back at the 10’s and the many changes in the music industry we’ve encountered. People like to argue about what is better or worse, but that’s an old man’s game when it comes to music. Change and evolution is always driven by the youth. From The Beatles to Nirvana, and now on to Billie Eilish these are the artists who push the envelope forward.
But behind the scenes, that’s a different case. Artists get washed up into an ever changing spin cycle of “what’s hot now” marketing techniques…which really is some of the most interesting things that have changed in music. It’s the common question of how can artists survive now in the streaming age? But how did they survive before vinyl? Cassettes? Compact Disks? Going on tour from town to town is the age old way to support a career. That doesn’t seem to have changed. Having merchandise for sale at those shows, that hasn’t changed either. How music is promoted has changed a lot, but really just in the avenues that we find music. It’s not on the radio anymore, but it’s still at our fingertips through Youtube, Spotify, and Apple Music. It’s easier than ever to be a well informed music enthusiast. It’s the best time in history to grow up and learn to love anything. We’re in the information age where if you find one song you love by a new or old artists, you can easily track down who influenced them and everything about the scene they came out of.
Embrace the change is the real story here. Embrace technology in music, even if you’re scolded for it at the time. Just look at how much flack Bob Dylan caught for playing an electric guitar at Newport Folk Festival for that lesson. Have fun keeping up with the times. Whether it’s a new format (CDs, Cassettes), the resurgence of an old format (vinyl), digital downloads with iTunes (RIP), illegal streaming of the late 90’s early 2000’s (Napster), legal streaming of the 00’s (Purevolume, Myspace), and now we’ll look back at the 10’s as the era of Soundcloud, Bandcamp, and Spotify.
So what does the next 10 years hold? Only time will tell, but the journey is the most fun part of the adventure. Don’t gripe about how things used to be better (they probably weren’t). Enjoy sharing your music with a worldwide audience with Youtube, Instagram and so forth. And if you’re trying to make a living playing music, it’s just as difficult as it’s ever been. If you’re great and catch some breaks, you’ll make it. If you can sustain that for an entire career, consider yourself one of the lucky ones and be grateful.
If you’ve attended the last few Freeway Music Festivals you’ve had the opportunity to catch Levvy, Real Work, and The Lovely Few. In addition to those performances, the chief songwriter of each project has played at our songwriter night at The White Mule.
Friday night, November 15th these bands will come together at New Brookland Tavern to celebrate the release of each of their new EPs. When Real Work headlined the SceneSC Stage at Freeway Music Fest this summer they performed a handful of songs from the new release. The same goes for Levvy, who filmed their newest music video live at their performance inside Tin Roof. It was two years before that when The Lovely Performed on The Senate main stage as part of the festival, when the songs recorded on the new EP were in their earliest versions.
Earlier this week on SceneSC we released the video for The Lovely Few’s title track “Sad Disco” With the opening and title track from The Lovely Few’s new EP, Mike Mewborne and company take a break from their space themed songs and try their take at pop music. Featuring a new recording lineup made up of Kenny McWilliams (gang vocals, bass, keys, guitars) and Joe Stillwell (Drums) of Real Work, along with Phil Windsor (Guitar) and Ben Walker (Bass), the EP takes on a different feel than The Lovely Few’s past releases, with the style of each musician coming through.
“This EP is our take on pop music: traditional structures and content (i.e. they’re mostly love songs) with our sometimes tongue-and-cheek/sometimes earnest take on the genre.” says Mewborne. “Sometimes it’s commentary. Sometimes it’s just love songs.”
The video for “Sad Disco” gives a good feel for the EP with the band experimenting and having fun with color and dance while still showing the emotion underneath. Shot and edited by The Pierson Collective, the video turns into a colorful glitchy dance party in slow motion, fitting of the song title.
Featuring members of Dear Blanca, ET Anderson, and Niecy Blues, Mids meshes characteristics of each band, affording them the chance to expand past the confines of each of those acts stylistically. The band performed earlier this year at Freeway Music Fest on the Free Times stage as Core Sample.
The first time Michael Crawford (drums), Cam Powell (bass), Dylan Dickerson (vox, keys), and Jon Warf (guitar) got together to jam it was to rehearse for a cover show. At New Brookland Tavern on New Year’s Eve 2018 they would perform as Sack Blabbath, a Black Sabbath cover band that went over so well they’ve been asked to perform several times since. While they’ve declined most of those opportunities, they did agree to bring it back one more time for the New Brookland Tavern ELECTRIC FUNERAL: A Sack Blabbath Halloween Party at NBT. After Halloween they’ll turn the page on Sack Blabbath and focus on the original music that organically formed from that project, one that they’re calling Mids.
Wellness Check, the first song the band wrote together serves as the title track of the new EP.
“We had a great time playing together (for Sack Blabbath) and wrote one original song called “Wellness Check” shortly after the show.” said Dickerson. “For a while after that Jon and I traded little musical nuggets back and forth to workshop some ideas. Eventually we decided to book a show and use that as an excuse to actually finish writing the full band set (thanks to Jordan Lawrence for taking a gamble on us and booking that gig at Freeway Music Fest). Right after that show (played under a fake/temporary band name) we hit the studio and recorded this EP in a day. Eventually we landed on the name Mids and here we are.
Dickerson says of Mids that it’s a chance to let his “freak flag fly” along with sighting Outback Steakhouse’s slogan “No Rules, Just Right” when talking about the inspiration behind the band.
In many ways the band pays homage to their musical heroes with a lot of classic punk and obscure 70’s pysch-rock vibes. We mentioned a few of the members primary bands at the beginning of this post, but to name them all is a laundry list that Skanksgiving’s organizer Brett Kent attempted in promotion of their upcoming show at the annual Skanksgiving show at New Brookland Tavern.
In addition to those, Several members are always open to the challenge of a cover set. They serve as somewhat of an inspiration.
“If anything those cover sets serve as a sort of low budget take on musical theater for me” says Dickerson. “I really enjoy trying to take on the persona of whoever we’re covering at those gigs. I’m definitely not an actor but I like to pretend that I’m one from time to time. Musically, it’s a nice challenge and tool for growth to take a crack at someone else’s tunes. I wouldn’t say it influences our music or performance much other than just being a good exercise for keeping your chops up.”
Mids have several shows coming up. Catch them Thursday November 7th at First Thursday in Boyd Plaza with Babe Club and Glass.
November 29 at Skanksgiving 5
ANNOUNCING MIDS – Super group? More like super mega ultra group of Columbia musicians featuring members of Dear Blanca and ET Anderson and Cayla Fralick Band and Kemp Ridley and Sea Wolf Mutiny and Ivadell and Old Canoe and Stagbriar and Vacation State and Calculator and Actor Dad and Dark Entries and Sack Blabbath and The Patient and Niecy Blues
Since relocating to Columbia, SC from her hometown of Charleston earlier this year, Jordan Igoe’s more than picked up where she left off. With her last full length album coming out in 2014, Igoe’s spent the last six years writing plenty of songs, but not releasing them until now.
October 25 marked the release of her new album Sober and Sorry, featuring both newer and older songs she’s written over since the release of her full length album. The EP featuring 5 songs is quintessential Igoe from the opening piano and her uniquely southern voice quickly cutting through landing somewhere between pop, Americana and country.
Igoe further establishes herself with tracks that paint vivid pictures lyrically, matched on each track musically. “Widow” has that spooky feel, while “Walking Contradiction” shows a starker place, focused more on Igoe and her piano throughout the song building and breaking down.
With plenty of more songs in the tank, Igoe is already at work on new music in her new town of Columbia, at Archer Avenue Studio.
In May Daniel Machado, frontman of The Restoration, performed out our Freeway Music/SceneSC songwriters in the round at The White Mule performing four new songs from their upcoming album. On Friday, October 25 their new album West, comes out.
The Restoration is known for concept albums and their new record is no exception. With West Machado comes to terms with his father’s upbringing. The album offers several different character perspectives. The first song released “I’ve Got So Much to Give” comes from Machado’s Grandmother Ruby’s perspective featuring guest vocals from Alexa Woodward. Machado writes from a perspective yearning to understand his relatives, and these characters working to place himself in their mindset of the times and situations they lived.
In the title track he looks the lens of his grandfather Joe.
“The gist of it is Joe had found a military school all the way out in New Mexico, and he took the kids on this road trip,” says Machado, whose new stories focus on his grandfather Joe and grandmother Ruby. “My father figured out when they got there that ‘holy shit, I don’t think the two of us are coming back with this guy.’ They pitched a fit and ended up being brought back home.”
The profiles blossom through the album through challenging situations that Machado takes on head-on. As remarkable as the album is lyrically, West is equally impressive musically. For this album, The Restoration worked with an array of talented musicians, featuring a cast of cameos from The Mobros, Time Eriksen, and Alexa Woodward.
While their last albums were uniquely Southern in their roots, West flows with veins of American themes and tells a story that’s both one of a kind, and somewhat a common theme in 1900’s America.
On the 2018 SceneSC Sampler Brave Baby drummer Wolfgang Zimmerman released his first solo track along with primary singer and guitarist Keon Masters. It marked a sort of hiatus for the band, and the start of new for both of the bands key songwriters.
Entering 2019 neither had released a full length album, though Wolfgang Zimmerman performed somewhat regularly. Now midway through the year the new album from Keon Masters is here.
Described via press release as “Quirky and vibrant, Keon Masters is back with the release of his new single “Feel Nuthin’,” a track that will definitely make your Friday and the perfect soundtrack for the weekend with its upbeat distorting melodies reminiscent of Tame Impala and Beck.“
Masters new album “Many Thanks” comes in at a quick 28 minutes, lyrically exploring Masters life through his 20’s and looking forward to what comes next. It’s easy to hear his influence on Brave Baby in these tracks, and equally easy to hear his new solo direction. It matches his personality, both equally fun and sarcastic, with serious undertones throughout. This album and single greets you with a smile and is equally comforting and conversational as it is fun.
Cayla Fralick celebrated the release of her new album last weekend with shows with Stagbriar and Grace Joyner in both Charleston and Columbia.
Anyway, Here is her true solo debut, featuring ten songs produced by Eric McCoy of Archer Avenue Studio here in Columbia.
SceneSC’s covered Fralick since she was in high school here in Columbia, and watched her grow as an artists anticipating this album for nearly a decade. That might sound strange to say, but her talent has always been clear. But it took a lot more than talent to create this album.
In her interview with Free Times, Fralick revisits her roots playing music in her college band Kemp Ridley, and what’s changed in her songwriting process. It’s the life experiences, and her ability as a fiction writer, that started to mesh more with her songwriting that changed everything.
After moving to Louisiana and then moving back here and becoming more involved in the music scene, this album came into form. It’s her finest work to date. Taking chances stylistically beyond just a singer songwriter, and also presenting her most emotionally honest lyrics to date. As a listener, it makes you feel just as great music should.
This is our 10th South Carolina music compilation in the nearly 11 years we’ve been a website. People often ask how these “samplers” come together, and I often say it’s a miracle that they do.
The first few compilations featured a few unreleased songs, and mostly songs that were already out. We gathered songs for a couple of reasons. First of course was to showcase South Carolina talent, and the other main reason was to create a sort of time capsule of SC music.
Over time, and mostly with the help of Charleston musician and producer Wolfgang Zimmerman, the samplers started to become almost all exclusive tracks. This is something that we both love and find difficult to ask of bands yearly. We’re always amazed when artists step up and offer a b-side, a demo, and singles from their upcoming album. Fresh material that makes the sampler a highly anticipated release. It’s an honor for us to be a signal boost for these artists and the music they create.
This year’s compilation features 30 songs! That’s nearly double the 2011 sampler, and five more songs than we swore we would ever include. But, here we are, with 30 songs, nearly all of them exclusive at the time of release and featuring 18 artists who have never been on a sampler before. Only six artists from last year’s sampler made it on this year.
If you start out with the 20TEN sampler and move forward, you’ll not only hear 193 songs from South Carolina artists, but you’ll hear these musicians develop. From Sequoyah Prep School to Sequoyah to Susto. From Wylie to Brave Baby to Wolfgang Zimmerman and Keon Masters. That’s something that will continue this year with a lot of young musicians and projects who will surely grow into other projects in coming years.
So how do these come together again? A couple of emails, a good bit of word of mouth, and a lot of people in the music scene committed to helping this happen every year.
This year’s cover art is by the amazing Sludge Pony. You might recognize her style from some local show posters, or one of her many other projects you can find on her website.
Again this year, the sampler was mastered by Kenny McWilliams at Archer Avenue Studio. He truly is a treasure of our music scene.
March 26 at The White Mule 7
Mike Mewborne/Jeremy Joseph/Jeff Gregory/Dave Britt
Something special’s started to happen at these songwriter rounds. During February’s the songwriters started to connect with each other on stage, sharing compliments and thoughts on each others songs listening intently as each person played. It offered a glimpse into the process of each songwriter, and offered them the opportunity to share the guts of what went into their writing process.
This is what Don Russo at Freeway Music had in mind when he started the songwriter round. A Bluebird Cafe in Nashville kind of idea that’s blossoming here in Columbia.
Next week’s songwriter round features Mike Mewborne of The Lovely Few, Jeremy Joseph of Daddy Lion, Jeff Gregory of The Runout, and Dave Britt from Ashes of Old Ways. Each songwriter comes from a different headspace when it comes to writing songs.
Stylistically different, Mewborne’s focused on cosmic songwriting for nearly the past decade, keeping his eyes towards the sky when it comes to his songwriting. Jeremy Joseph with his band Daddy Lion released a full length album last year titled Learn to Have Nothing and You Will Have Everything. It was the culmination of years of writing for Joseph and with the band, and these types of songwriter sessions give him the opportunity to offer more of a glimpse into that process and maybe try out a new song.
Last month Ben Walker, who will perform April 30th at this showcase, shared a video of Jeff Gregory covering Tom Petty. Petty is oft covered, but this one stood out both on Gregory’s part and Branhan Lowther. Gregory’s recently been in the studio at Archer Avenue working on the new album for The Runout, so this date lines up perfectly for some background into that.
With his band Ashes of Old Ways Dave Britt collaborates with songwriter Bobby Sutton. The band’s had a busy year so far playing shows across the state. For those who frequent The White Mule, Britt wears more hats than just a performer and songwriter, he also books for the venue.
February’s Songwriter’s in the Round presented by Freeway Music will mark the first one where we’ve teamed up with SceneSC.com. It’s something we at SceneSC are very excited about, and look forward to each month.
For our first one together, we have four great songwriters featured in this round. Cayla Fralick recently stormed back onto the music scene after a few years away with several new songs released along with plenty of high profile shows. It’s nothing to her to bring a crowd to their knees with her beautifully earnest voice and lyrics. Bobby Hatfield, frontman of Numbtongue, has the same ability, but does it in a much more theatrical way with his full band. Seeing them in this format offers another side to the songwriters that you don’t always see.
Speaking of theatrical, Pedro LDV is just that. He’s a man of many projects, fronting hardcore bands, performing acoustic, or full band, he does it all. He’s a chameleon and can adapt to any setting. He’s also working on a novel, so a storyteller he is, and in this setting you might hear a few. Danny Humbarger is also a talented young songwriter, who we’ve yet to see other than a his Freeway Music Session to promote this show. Long story short, take advantage of being able to see and hear songwriters in this setting. Getting to know an artist on another level in an intimate setting like this often opens up a new world to their music.