Freeway Music — Columbia, SC’s Premier Music School

The temperature’s dropping, the pumpkins are spicing, and folks all around the world are scrambling to make sure their Amazon purchases will be delivered just in time to be wrapped and placed under the tree before Christmas arrives. With that holiday joy making our hearts grow three times bigger, it makes sense to fill up the chilly air with some festive music. If your playlist is lacking this new year, never fear! Here are five new songs—and a musical, thank me later—to add to the queue for Christmas. 

This December (Holiday Version) by Ricky Montgomery

This December is a winter classic, always making its rounds when the month begins, but this year it comes to us with a twist. Ricky Montgomery released a holiday version, complete with sleigh bells, twinkling chimes, and upgraded vocals. It keeps the spirit of the original alive while adding to its new Christmas-themed twin, allowing you to add not one but two great new songs to your playlist. 

West Virginia Snow by Homemade Haircuts

A South Carolina-native, Homemade Haircuts have wowed us once again with this sweet indie single, West Virginia Snow. Its reminiscence of the holidays as a child is a theme that plenty of young adults are feeling these coming years, and brings up those feelings in a more positive note. It looks back with gentle drums and mandatory sleigh bells, a gateway song to nostalgia heaven. 

Last Christmas by Jim and the Povolos

Back again with mandatory sleigh bells, Jim and the Povolos covered the always iconic Last Christmas. It keeps up the eighties style from the original but adds its pop-folk twist with alternating singers, a sweet synth, and angelic harmonies. Despite being done several times in the past, it’s refreshing to watch different musicians from all genres take this song and make it new in their own unique style. 

Winter Waltzes by Kaden MacKay

A lesser known artist with angelic singing that shouldn’t be overlooked, Kaden MacKay is giving this season a somber acapella mashup of holiday classics. His voice is nostalgia personified. Winter Waltzes, a collection of songs wrapped in one harmonic package, will throw you back in time to simpler times, reviving that childhood wonder for a four-and-a-half minute stroll through a winter wonderland. 

A VHS Christmas Carol

Although this isn’t a single, and not exactly from 2023, A VHS Christmas Carol is a timeless piece that can be listened to at any time. Created by Starkid Productions, with a live version free to watch on YouTube, this album is a modern retelling of A Christmas Carols with an eighties twist. Though it has less jingle bells and more synth, it’s sure to bring out the spirit of Christmas with no skips along the way. If you can’t get enough, the digital ticket for 2023’s expanded rendition is also available on their websites to rent until the end of the year.

Over the weekend, on August 19th, Charleston-based band Homemade Haircuts released their debut album Sun Showers. They celebrated its release—and the coinciding birthday of drummer and Freeway teacher Blake Hunter—by performing downtown in Columbia’s New Brookland Tavern, with three opening bands who absolutely knocked it out of the park, keeping the energy high the entire night with performance after epic performance. 

First up was Clay Dixon and The Piccadillies, a folk-indie band from Gainesville, Florida, who came to Columbia while on a mini-tour. They opened with a cover of Hozier’s Like Real People Do, setting the tone before performing the first of their many great original songs that just kept raising the bar. The lead singer was definitely a crowd-pleaser, charismatic and kind, telling the backstory of each eclectic song they played. With the surprising and wicked use of a banjo and cello came songs such as Vice and The Warlock Witch of Armageddon that are guaranteed to worm—no pun intended—their way into your mind for weeks after hearing them for the first time. This band is geeky and colorful, and every member was a joy to interact with. What more could you ask from your next favorite band? Their EP, Live From My Home, is available on Spotify and YouTube. 

Following the Piccadillies is an indie-rock band also based out of Charleston, Whitehall, The Band. From the very first song they played, it was obvious that their eccentric and pulsing music was going to rock the tavern. Every member made the stage their own, moving around in the way only dedicated rockers do, headbanging and swinging long hair around. They filled every inch of the space with life, matching the crowd’s high-energy with their own ten-fold. It’s obvious that every member is in love with their experimental and loud jamming songs that will leave your ears ringing and head spinning in the best way possible. And if that wasn’t cool enough, they’ll be going on tour with the Goo Goo Dolls. Yes, THE Goo Goo Dolls. Be sure to check out their album Ocean Fiction and their latest EP Garden Song, also on Spotify. 

The final opener of the night was Paisley and the Birdwalkers based in South Carolina, with the frontwoman being Freeway’s very own awesome teacher Paisley Marie Suttlemyre. This all-girl band absolutely dominated the stage with their killer vocals, lovely harmonies, and fun fairy lights decorating the drum set. They seamlessly mixed multiple genres together—country, folk, pop, indie, rock, probably every other one— into a lively and killer rendition of their creative and dynamic original songs, including my personal favorite Solar Flare, a powerful ballad of female power. They kept the crowd’s energy up even as the night and drinks waned down, readying the stage for Homemade Haircuts. Even though they played last, they cemented a spot into the memory of all the listeners for many months to come. Check out their singles, Solar Flare and Hide from the Rain, on Spotify.

And finally, for the reason we’re here: the homies themselves, Homemade Haircuts. Paisley returned to the stage as the bassist, and this band took the lull of the late Friday night and ramped the energy all the way back to a thousand. Heavy and fast drums, killer guitars, and creative lyrics, the performance was a celebration of Sun Showers and all bands that played before them. At one point the lead singer of the Picaddillies hopped on stage to assist on a song with a tambourine. Voices were hoarse from all the well-deserved cheering and singing. They played every song on their new album before ending the night with their most popular song, Fairy Tale, as a thrilling finisher. 

Overall, the night was one to remember. Every single band that played that night was amazing, the musicians were kind on and off the stage, and they deserve every ounce of praise that can be given. 

Stream Sun Showers on Spotify, and support all these other bands! 

With the release of Lin Manuel Miranda’s first film as director, this eccentric take on Jonathon Larson’s autobiographical musical Tick Tick Boom, there has come a revival of interest in his Larson’s other successful musical, Rent.

The film follows Jonathon Larson, a musical writer in the 80’s struggling to get his science-fiction musical to take off while working at a diner. Top that off with his girlfriend Susan—a fictional take on his previous real-life girlfriend—wishing to move away for a job and wanting him to follow, and his strained relationship with his best friend Michael as he climbs the ranks in an advertising company. Although his workshop of Superbia, the musical he spent 8 years working on, didn’t go anywhere past that, Larson’s agent gave him vital advice to any artist: write about what you know.

His next musical was Tick Tick Boom, followed by Rent, which exploded into popularity, tackling issues such as homophobia, artistic gentrification, the AIDs pandemic, and grief accompanied by the healing power of love. Unfortunately, Larson didn’t get to see his own success, as he passed away from an aortic aneurysm the same day Rent opened on Broadway, at the young age of 35. However, his influence on theater has stretched decades into the future. 

Lin Manuel Miranda, a Puerto Rican native, saw Rent at age seventeen, and was so inspired by the beauty of the rock musical that he dedicated his career to Broadway. He would change the game forever with his hit musical Hamilton. After this he would direct a movie for his debut musical In The Heights.

Miranda’s career expanded past Broadway, as he wrote the music for hit Disney films such as Encanto and Moana, which opened the door for more diverse animated movies in the future. His most recent project was an adaptation of Tick Tick Boom, a love letter and homage to the man who encouraged him to pursue his dream. 

Past Lin Manuel Miranda, Rent was so radical for its time—tackling topics nobody dared to speak about while also being one of the first rock-ballad musicals—that it was revolutionary in both style and message. It showed other writers that they, too, could discuss new or ‘controversial’ topics in a nontraditional form. Broadway was always about pushing boundaries, talking about things nobody wanted to hear in a palatable and stylized way.

Without Jonathon Larson’s few musicals to open the path, Broadway wouldn’t be as profound and popular as it is now, touching the hearts of everyone and making marginalized people feel seen and heard. 

Join our Rockbands as they kick off the town of Blythewood’s Independence Day celebrations in Doko Park! The bands will be performing all afternoon leading up to Blythewood’s celebration later in the evening.

Indah Coffee will be home to hours of music by local bands and musicians as a part of the third annual Cottontown Art Crawl. This outdoor event spanning several city blocks throughout historic Cottontown will be featuring local artists and musicians, including some of our very own Freeway Music Rock bands!

The art crawl will begin at 10 am and music will continue all day at Indah Coffee. Our rock bands will take the stage at Indah Coffee from 2-4 pm.

This event is entirely outdoors and spread over several city blocks, and social distancing and masks will be required. The organizers of the event are committed to creating a safe and welcoming environment for all, and providing an opportunity for artists to showcase and sell their work safely.

Travel back to the 70s with our Freeway Music Irmo/Ballentine students! They will be performing from 2-4:30 PM at 1520 Cherokee Street on July 6th 2019! Grab a tailgate/lawn chair and bring the family for an afternoon of music! This student showcase is going to be GROOVY MAN! Costumes ARE encouraged. 🙂


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