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It’s SPRING! That time of year when Downtown erupts into a riot of color as trees & flowers bloom and people venture out after a long winter, eager to don their shorts & flip-flops and enjoy all that Downtown has to offer. Spring also signals the return of two of Downtown’s most beloved music events – Downtown Alive and Main Street Fridays.

Music lovers of all ages are encouraged to gather at NOMA Square (in front of The Hyatt) every Thursday at 5:30PM to experience some of the best musical talent the Southeast has to offer! The 2013 season of Downtown Alive kicks off the first official day of Spring (March 21st), with the 8 piece guitar driven southern funk rock of TJ Lazer & the New Detriots. The March lineup also features Orangeburg country crooner, Brad Jennings on the 28th. April not only spotlights some sweet bluegrass from local favorites, The Piedmont Boys, but also features a trio of acts from the Charleston area like Downtown regulars, Stereo Reform and The Tarletons, as well as a newcomer to DTA, Brave Baby. May does not disappoint with a plethora of rock, soul & Americana to choose from in the homegrown music of Mark Webb, Old You, Lyric and The Soul feathers…not to mention a kilt-flaring Scottish ceildh with The City of Greenville Pipes & Drums and the Celtic rock of Cleghorn to kick-off the Greenville Scottish Games on the 23rd! As the temps heat up, so does the music with June performances by cover band, The Sound Committee, local YouTube darlings, Outshyne, Downtown funk diva, Kelly Jo Connect and local fave, singer/songwriter Doug McCormick. Don’t let the steamy July & August weather keep you indoors…or you will miss some AMAZING music, like alternative tunes of The Wheresville Project, Charleston-based songwriter, Luke Cunningham, and Downtown music scene regular, Benton Blount in July and Midlands newcomers, The Reggie Sullivan Band, the adventure of Bushfire Stankgrass, the big ’80’s hair, flashback fun of Retro Vertigo and the incendiary guitar finesse of teen phenom, Marcus King & his band! Downtown Alive winds up with a performance by the winner of the Last Band Standing Battle of the Bands on the 29th.

If your taste in music leans more towards hot jazz and cool blues, then Main Street Fridays is the event for you! Join all the other music aficionados on Fridays at 5:30PM in NOMA Square to start your weekend in style! This year’s Friday musicfest begins with the powerhouse beach sounds of Jumpstreet on March 22nd. Also in March, enjoy the smooth sounds of Charlotte natives, 5th and York. April plays host to some familiar favorites such as True Blues and Wanda Johnson, as well as some new sounds on the Downtown music scene such as Soul Stew and Hot As A Pepper. Fridays get funky in May with a wealth of righteous local talent – Southern Crescent, Green Vegas, The Jamie Wright Experience, Wine Down and The Groove Planet with Whitney Walters. Hot temps equal hot tunes and there is plenty of both this summer with The Flashbacks, Shades of Brown, The Nightcrawlers and The Swingin’ Richards appearing in June, and The Derrick Dorsey Band, NuSound, 20 Point Turn and Cosmic getting July all hot & bothered. August starts to really rockin’ with The Robbie Ducey Band, Tobacco Road and The Rock & Roll Reunion and The Craig Sorrells Project and The Wiredogs bring on the heat to finish out the month. This much good music can’t just be contained in two seasons, so MSF continues the music experience into September with the wicked swamp rock of the Palmetto Swamp Congregation, the energetic showmanship of Encore, the scaulding hot funky rhythms of Earsight and the wild ride that is The China Bulls finishing up the MSF season with a bang!

These much loved music series’ are completely free and are enjoyed weekly by thousands of music lovers. Beer and other beverages are available for sale, but an ID bracelet as proof of age(for a cost of $1) is required to purchase alcohol. And like most city-sponsored events, families are welcome, but please leave your pets at home. For more information on these events, visit the official city page at http://www.greenvillesc.gov. See you Downtown!

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If you are one of many who saw this year’s blockbuster movie, The Hunger Games, you would know that the rich traditional music of the Appalachians featured throughout the soundtrack was almost as central to the plot as the characters themselves. One song in particular, Daughter’s Lament, truly embodied the haunting depths of the main character, Katniss Everdeen. This weekend, the trio who wrote and performed that poignant melody, The Carolina Chocolate Drops, will grace the stage of The Handlebar in Downtown Greenville.

Bursting on the music scene with their Grammy-Award winning Genuine Negro Jig in 2010, the Carolina Chocolate Drops have brought back the old-style fiddle and banjo based music that has long been a part of the Piedmont region.  Striving to freshly interpret this work, not merely recreate it, this trio also strives to highlight the central role African-Americans played in shaping our nation’s popular music from its beginnings more than a century ago. After researching styles of Southern black music from the 1920s and ’30s—including string-band music, jug-band music, fife and drum, early jazz – they shape it into a melody that can best be described as a “living, breathing, ever-evolving” work of musical art.

 

Mastering an eclectic assortment of instruments, including 5-string, minstrel & plectrum banjo, quills (a small African-American panpipe), snare drum, bones and the unlikely addition of the cello and the kazoo and coming from different worlds, the group has somehow managed to draw on their differences to create a sound that melds together perfectly. North Carolina native, Rhiannon Giddens, the daughter of a classically-trained singer, was also herself a classically trained opera singer. Long fascinated by folk and bluegrass, this talented songbird taught herself how to play the fiddle before joining a Celtic band.  Upon reading about legendary fiddler, Joe Thompson, Rhiannon joined him after a performance for an impromptu jam session and her interest was sparked. Partnering with Dom Flemons, a banjo player and poet from Arizona and guitarist Hubby Jenkins from NYC, the Carolina Chocolate Drops were born.

This Friday, July 13th The Handlebar will play host to this talented trio of artists. Tickets are $16 ($2 more for those under 21) and are available at the venue for their 9PM performance. Come see why critics are raving over this iconic band and experience the sublime sounds that got them invited to Carnegie Hall to perform with the likes of Taj Mahal, Art Garfunkel and Jackson Browne…you’ll be glad you did!

For more information on “The Drops”, visit the official webpage at http://www.carolinachocolatedrops.com

For more information on this show and others at The Handlebar, visitwww.handlebar-online.com



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