Freeway Music — Columbia, SC’s Premier Music School

What can I do to help out in the local music scene?

A friend on Facebook posted this status earlier this week and it got me thinking, what’s the best answer for this? So I responded by saying “Encourage people to create. Be present and supportive. Share the local music you really enjoy.” 

That’s a good start at least. Lots of people followed up with comments saying similar things like help hand out fliers, go to shows, buy merch, tell your friends about the music you’re into, and my personal favorite start a band. The funny thing is, it was something this simple that helped me start SceneSC. I was reading the alt weekly at lunch one day and the article asked “how are you giving back to your local music scene?” So I went home, registered a domain name, and started a blog to share my thoughts on local music and some of my favorite bands. I love the fact that it wasn’t a business plan. There was no plan at all actually, and that’s been a lot of the charm of it for me personally. And it can be that way for you. What do you do to support your local music scene? It doesn’t have to be much. If you’re reading this as a Freeway student you’re already on the right path. If you’re into local bands, you’re doing it right. If you’re liking statuses on Facebook and pictures on Instagram you’re doing it right. Every little bit matters.

If I’ve learned anything about bands breaking out to a regional or national level it’s all about the band finding a good following in their hometown first. That means each fan is a huge part of that. So as cheezy as it might sound, you matter a lot. So start a band, tell a friend, share a local playlist, and keep going to shows.


It’s hard to believe it’s already been 9 years. On July 1 started into our 10th year of existence, and to celebrate we teamed up with one of our favorite coffee spots Indah Coffee to throw a birthday bash with Vacation State, Riot Stares, Alarm Drum, and Out of Body. There will be plenty more though, like a tie dye station, along with a photo booth to capture some memories.

Vacation State is a new Columbia hard rock band who harken back to early nineties acts like Alice in Chains and Soundgarden with their debut single “Space Queen” from their upcoming EP “Tree”. Featuring three members of Ivadell, Vacation State takes on some of the qualities of that band with thick melodic guitar riffs and pounding drums. Vacation State is notably different though, featuring two drummers and vocalist Hamp Dodd’s Layne Staley esque slow dragging vocals. Joining the bill is Charleston’s Riot Stares, Columbia’s Alarm Drum, and touring act Out of Body. We caught Riot Stares just 2 weeks ago in Charleston at the annual Summer Shindig where they performed along with an eclectic lineup of local and regional bands. They were the heaviest act and most intense acts of the day, what you’d expect from a band made up of hardcore scene veterans.

2017 SceneSC Sampler by Scene SC

Sampler Day is like Christmas at SceneSC. It’s a big day, the culmination of months of organizing and hard work from the bands involved who recorded a song exclusively for this compilation or finished one up in time for it to be included. I see this sampler release as the start of a season for SceneSC. A season in which we’ll travel to Alabama for SouthSounds Festival to spread the word of the South Carolina music scene joined by artists like She Returns From War, The High Divers, The Marcus King Band, The Artisinals, and Young Mister. We’ll come back, host a show with Ivadell, MyBrother MySister, and Heyrocco, and then gear up for a loaded Freeway Music Festival. With Freeway this year, we got to help book about 10 bands on that lineup and then had Jordan Lawrence at the Free Times book an amazing stage as well. Headlined by such an amazing songwriter as Joe Pug, that event filled with so much local talent will be a really special one. After that we’ll turn our eyes to the #SummerShindig in Charleston and all the great bands playing that festival this year, which we’re stoked to be a sponsor of.

This year’s sampler features several bands we’ve never had on a sampler before including Jenna Desmond, Secret Guest, Say Brother, Orange Doors, 2 Slices, Atlas Road Crew, Dempsey, and Numbtongue. I remember hearing the opening track from Jenna Desmond for the first time and just knowing it had to lead off the compilation. It’s hard to believe this is the 8th sampler, and in total we’ve released 169 songs over the years. Each year I go back and listen to each sampler and compare them to the new one and each year I’ve noticed a couple of things. Each sampler stands the test of time really well and you really get to hear how the bands grow and how songs develop, like when Dear Blanca, Susto, or Brave Baby put an early unfinished version of a song on. It’s too early to tell how many of those we have on this year’s compilation.

As for the cover art, Last year I took a vacation to Los Angeles to visit some friends and while I was there I went to my friend Jeremy Shockley‘s exhibition at Slow Culture, a downtown gallery. The cover art is one of his paintings called “You Can’t Rush a Rainbow.” I came back with a refreshed view of the South Carolina music scene after talking and hanging out with friends there who are from South Carolina. Jeremy is from Travelers Rest and went to Winthrop before moving to LA a decade ago. He was excited about the idea of us using it, and as a big fan of his artwork, and someone who influenced me it felt like a perfect fit.

If you missed our Freeway Music Newsletter Spotlight, here is the column written by David Stringer of SceneSC .

September 16 at The Music Farm – Washed Out

Event info here.

Aaron Graves info here.

Six years ago, Washed Out frontman Ernest Greene was finishing up his graduate degree at the University of South Carolina, constructing breezy pop songs on his laptop in his bedroom at the same time. Little did he know then that he was on the leading edge of “chillwave,” a trendy pop-up music genre that would eventually sweep across America along with the music of fellow chillwave pioneer and Columbia, SC native Chaz Bundick of Toro y Moi. That chillwave genre has since died out, but Washed Out as a band kept moving forward, building off their original fan-base to become one of the more popular indie bands in America. Their latest album peaked at #5 on the Billboard rock charts. Early live shows featured just Ernest Greene and his laptop on stage, but as the band has grown in popularity, so has the number of members on stage. These days the band features three Columbia, SC musicians including Cameron Gardner (Heist and the Accomplice) on drums, Dylan Lee (Heist and the Accomplice) on guitar, and Chris Gardner, brother of Cameron Gardner on bass. In the last two years they’ve toured all over the world with Washed Out, living a musician’s dream of playing for thousands nearly every night.

On September 16, Washed Out return to Columbia, SC and the new Music Farm for the first time in years for a very special show. Never has our music community united like it has for Those Lavender Whales frontman Aaron Graves in his battle against an inoperable brain tumor. This show looks to be the biggest fundraiser for his battle yet, with all proceeds from the show going to the Graves family. Fittingly, Graves’ band Those Lavender Whales open the show that night. Those Lavender Whales features Graves singing, his wife Jessica Bornick on drums, and Chris Gardner, who also plays with Washed Out on bass. In addition to playing in Those Lavender Whales, Graves and Gardner also run local record collective Fork and Spoon Records with Toro y Moi guitarist Jordan Blackmon. This is another event, much like the recent Freeway Music Festival, that proves Columbia, SC is much more of a music community than just a strong music scene.

-David Stringer

Washed Out:

David Stringer from SceneSC has been contributing to a column in our newsletter each month. Here is his recent spotlight column about the headliner of the upcoming Freeway Music Festival:

2014 marked a huge anniversary for Ed Roland and his band Collective Soul. It was 20 years ago in June when Atlantic Records band’s booming first single “Shine” that blasted across airwaves all over America, eventually winning the Billboard award for Top Rock Track of 1994. Earlier this year Collective Soul celebrated that anniversary by releasing their 9th studio album, a serious accomplishment and a testament to the bands talent and longevity.

Don’t call it a side project. Stepping away from the heavy guitars of Collective Soul, Roland considers Ed Roland and the Sweet Tea Project a new band. The similarities of Roland’s style still overlap, with undeniably catchy melodies, The Sweet Project gives Roland the freedom to explore new musical territory surrounded by other talented musicians from the Atlanta area.

Supporting Ed Roland and the Sweet Tea Project at this year’s Freeway Music Festival are a host of bands that have also seen much success throughout their musical career including Columbia’s own Weaving the Fate and Charleston’s Danielle Howle. The Mobros are returning from a three-month tour that took them all over America playing some of the freshest blues you’ll hear anywhere. Other bands such as Octopus Jones (Raleigh, NC) and Hannah Miller (Nashville, TN) with SC roots have moved on to bigger music markets, but return home for this show. One thing’s for sure, the lineup is bursting at the seams with talented musicians at a festival that celebrates musicianship and positive vibes.

David Stringer – SceneSC

It was six years ago today when I started At the time I was completely disconnected from any music scene there might have been other than being a fan of some of our local artists. I knew I wanted to be more involved, and support these artists, but I wasn’t sure how, so I started a website, started going to shows and began shooting videos and snapping pictures. At the time I realized there were no other outlets online to read about South Carolina music, and no magazines dedicated to covering the music scene here other than the alt-weeklies like Free Times and Charleston City Paper. So I thought, why not start an online outlet to write about some of the great bands from South Carolina?

In the six years since we’ve started SceneSC many other outlets have popped up, and those are ones I’d like to bring light to today. So much has changed and it’s been incredible to watch new relationships form and new talented musicians grow and for some go on to fame. The key to any music scene is embracing these relationships and to be involved as much as you can. For so many years it was hard to find ways to get involved, but now other bands and all of these media outlets are just an email away. And always remember, media outlets are out there looking for new artists and bands are all looking to connect with one another.

Knowledge is power, so here are some local media outlets to become familiar with and check out to see what’s going on in the South Carolina music scene:
SceneSC Hey! That’s us. We cover music and happenings all over the state, and we love to cover great bands coming through.

SC Music Guide Another great website covering SC music. They focus on showcasing the talent within our state and a great job of it.

Metronome Charleston If you’re looking for the next big band from Charleston, SC, Metronome is the place to read about them first. They’ve got their finger on the pulse of the Holy City’s music scene.

Stereofly A wonderful monthly zine covering music from the Southeast. They also host lots of shows in Columbia.
Charleston City Paper and Free Times Both of these outlets work hard to stay on top of what’s happening in our music scene, and are must reads if you want to stay connected.

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