downtowngreenvillegirl











Anyone who knows me knows of the deep, profound love I have for the music genre known as “The Blues”. Some of my earliest (& fondest) memories include sitting with my dad, listening to old, scratchy LP’s of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King…and of course, the great Robert Johnson. But one of my favorite bluesmen was an obscure musician from right here in the Upstate – Pink Anderson. Like many bluesmen, Pink was born in the rural South (Laurens, SC). Often thought of as the “Father of the Piedmont Blues”, he spent most of his career performing with a traveling medicine show and only made a few recordings before being “re-discovered” by young blues enthusiasts in the 1960’s. The art-rock band Pink Floyd was named in his honor (and NC bluesman, Floyd Council).

Downtown Greenville continues to honor its blues heritage with many venues featuring the music genre and many young (and not-so-young) musicians following in Pink’s musical footsteps. One of my favorite events at which to immerse myself in Downtown’s current blues scene is Smiley’s Blues Night at Smiley’s Acoustic Café. Presented by Palmetto Drum Co, this rockin’ bluesfest features some of the best musicians and songwriters our region has to offer. Join other blues fans every Wednesday evening to get schooled in the blues at this free jam session. For more information, visit http://www.smileysacousticcafe.com.

New on the blues scene, but already becoming a Downtown music landmark is Blues Boulevard Jazz. Located in RiverPlace (next to Riverworks Art Gallery), this cozy, intimate club offers some of the best local, regional and national talent anywhere. With live music every Tuesday – Saturday, it’s easy to catch your favorite performing blues and jazz standards, as well as original material, many of whom were regular performers at the now-closed Brown Street Club. For more information and a calendar of events, visit http://bluesboulevardjazzgreenville.com.

If you prefer your blues with a heavy dash of jazz, then High Cotton is the place to be! This “high-steppin’” eatery also features live jazz and blues every weekend, including a Jazz Brunch every Sunday. Featuring smaller trios of musicians, this club will make you feel as though you’ve stepped back into the 1920’s. For more information, visit http://www.mavericksouthernkitchens.com/highcotton/greenville.

Of course, another great way to catch the very best in Greenville’s blues scene is Main Street Fridays. Spotlighting the kings (and queens) of the blues jazz, with a little funk and soul thrown in for good measure, this free, outdoor concert series is one of Downtown’s most beloved spring/summer events. Join other music lovers every Friday (5:30PM) at NOMA Square to enjoy some wicked blues, swingin’ jazz, cool funk and sultry soul that’ll have you dancing in the streets in no time! For more information (and a band schedule) visit http://www.facebook.com/mainstreetfridays.

So there you have it blues lovers…Downtown Greenville’s certainly got the blues…and how! So, if you’re in the mood for something more than just the regular musical menu of hard rock, pop covers and dance tunes, give the blues a go! You’ll be glad you did!

A Little Something Extra: If you happen to notice any these bands performing at your favorite venue, be sure to catch their performance to really get a taste of the blues:

Mac Arnold & Plate Full O’ Blues: This local musician is the epitome of the “blues legend”. Former bassist with The Muddy Waters Band, Mac has shared the stage with such blues icons as Howlin’ Wolf, Elmore James and Jimmy Reed. His new band, Plate Full O’ Blues, infuses new blood into his music, while still retaining its original flavor.

J. Michael King & The Catfish Po’Boys: Regulars at Smiley’s Acoustic Café, these guys truly embrace the Piedmont Blues in a way that is joyful and…well…HAPPY (I know, “happy blues” is definitely an oxymoron). Long time fans of the Greenville music scene may recognize Michael & Joe from their former band, Jellyroll Antennae.

Marcus King (The Marcus King Band): This teen phenom’s guitar licks will blow your socks off! It should come as no surprise that he is the son of another local blues guitar icon, Marvin King. Be sure to catch this guy perform before he becomes a huge star!

Palmetto Swamp Congregation: With a frontman named Wolfman, you just know this band can play the blues. Mixed with a serious dash of Tabasco hot “swamp blues” this band’s music will have you “hootin’ & hollerin’” all night!

Craig Sorrell’s Project: Featuring some seriously funky, New Orleans style jazz, soul & blues, this band has one of the biggest (and most loyal) followings around! Inviting a host of local blues & jazz musicians to sit in, you never know who might be playing at one of their performances.

True Blues: A longtime Greenville favorite, this band offers blues/rock that harkens back to the 1960’s. Referred to a “Greenville’s House Band”, the guys can be regularly seen performing at such local venues and events as The Handlebar and Main Street Friday.

This list is just a taste…there are many more amazingly talented blues and jazz musicians to be found in this area!

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Well, we’ve made it through 2012…despite the Mayans’ (& others) predictions to the contrary. Now you are looking for ways to ring in 2013 in style. No worries…Downtown Greenville offers several events to help you make this New Year’s Eve an evening to remember!

Mac Arnold & Plate Full O’ Blues “Blue Year’s Eve” Parties at The Handlebar have taken on an almost mythical status. Nothing welcomes a whole new year quite like the incendiary blues of Mac Arnold and his “juke-joint rockin’” band. This celebrated bassist, who played with the legendary Muddy Waters, can definitely be considered a beloved musical institution here in the Upstate. Joined by his fellow bluesman from Chicago, Mr. Joe Moss, Mac aims to rock in 2013 in style!  Don’t miss this opportunity to experience the genius of this blues icon! Tickets are $16 ($18 for those under 21) and are sale now at The Handlebar. For more information, visit www.handlebar-online.com.

For a chance to see a blues star in the making, swing on by Mac’s Speed Shop and rock out to the blazing guitar licks of teenaged phenom, Marcus King. This very talented young musician and his band will be ringing in the New Year with some wicked tunes that’ll be impossible to sit still through. This special NYE performance is free to Mac’s customers, and starts at 10PM. For more information, see www.macsspeedshop.com.

Flashback to the 80’s at Wild Wing Café with Greenville’s favorite retro band, Retro Vertigo!  Featuring big hair and sunglasses at night, these sharp dressed men perform everything from The Talking Heads and Devo to REO Speedwagon and Cheap Trick.  For only a $5 cover charge at the door, you too can rock out to…well…U2! There will be drink specials and party favors galore, as well as a free champagne toast at midnight! For details, call 242-9453.

RockHouse Greenville says “Why limit the festivities to just ONE location, when you can have the NYE Bash to end all NYE Bashes at TWO locations?” This year, their New Year’s Eve Party will take place at both Ford’s Oyster House & Cajun Kitchen, as well as The Lofts at Falls Park. The $20 cover charge will get you a Hollywood-style Red Carpet Arrival, free Champagne toast, pulsating dance music from 2 DJs and drink specials unlike any other club in Greenville. To purchase tickets and for more info, visit www.rockhousegreenville.com.

If you prefer to welcome 2013 in a more relaxed, laid-back manner, then head over to Smiley’s Acoustic Café for their Smilin’ New Year’s Eve.  Chill out to the indie tunes of Kelly Jo Connect, followed by those Downtown faves, The Swingin’ Richards. As always, there is no cover charge…just a good time with good people. For more information, see www.smileysacousticcafe.com

For those looking for a hot NYE party with some cool jazz, you are in luck! Two of Downtown’s premier jazz clubs are ringing in the New Year in their own stylish manner. High Cotton will be serving a special New Year’s dinner, with music provided by the Jamie Wright Experience. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 335-4200. Not to be outdone, the Brown Street Club will be ushering in 2013 with a little help from the smooth sounds of  Dan Z followed by The Shane Pruitt Band.  For more information or to make reservations, see www.brownstreetclub.com.

For Downtown thespians looking to start 2013 in a dramatic fashion, the Greenville Light Opera Works invites you to join them for their 2013 New Year’s Gala and Fundraiser at Centre Stage. This benefit event for Greenville’s Light Opera Works will feature an open bar, a dessert buffet, dance music provided by Innfusion and both silent and live auctions. Opera and musical theatre lovers will also be treated to a special cabaret performance by Ms. Andrea Leap as well as a sneak peek performance of GLOW’s 2013 season. Tickets for this swanky soiree are $100 per person/ $180 per couple and can be obtained through www.greenvilleopera.org.

So there you have it Downtownies…eight ways to ring in the New Year…to suit every party style and budget. And, as always, if you’ve enjoyed too much revelry of the alcohol-related manner, please take a cab home. We want you around to enjoy all the fun Downtown Greenville has to offer in 2013. Happy New Year!

Just in case you’ve had too much fun, here are numbers to some of the area’s Cab Companies. Please remember that this is their busiest night, so be patient and expect delays …

Yellow Cab – 864-233-6666

Greenville Metro Cab – 864-235-8807

Budget Cab – 864-233-4200



“Music legend” is a label that sometimes gets handed out too often. But in the case of Upstate native, Mac Arnold, the title is certainly more than well deserved. From his early days of playing a homemade guitar to his work with his current band, Plate Full O’ Blues, Mac has been a virtual shaman in this most southern of music genre. Fans and followers will have the chance this weekend to pay homage and see him in action at The Handlebar.

Those who knew Mac as a youngster must have had some inkling that this man’s music resume would read like a “Who’s Who” of blues, rock and R&B legends. Learning to play guitar on an instrument his brother made from a gas can, Mac went on in high school to form his own band, which included none other than the Godfather of Soul himself, James Brown. After a stint with The Charles Miller Band, Mac left the southland in 1965 forChicagoto work with celebrated sax man, A.C. Reed. A year later, at the age of 24, Mac was playing bass for the legendary Muddy Waters and sharing the stage with the likes of Howlin’ Wolf, Junior Wells, Elmore James and Jimmy Reed. Backstage, Mac was often found jamming with the rock stars of the day – including Eric Clapton, Paul Butterfield and Elvin Bishop (It was rumored that guitar god, Jimi Hendrix was inspired by Muddy’s band).

After more than a year with Muddy, Mac ventured out on his own to form The Soul Invaders, playing back-up for such acts as The Temptations and B.B. King. Following a trip to South California (and falling in love with the mild weather), Mac moved to L.A. where he worked with TV innovators such as Don Cornelius of “Soul Train” and comedian Redd Foxx (that familiar bass line on the “Sanford & Son” theme was performed by Mac), as well as R&B artists such as Bill Withers.  But the call of his home town was too strong and Mac returned toSouth Carolinato retire on his farm in the 1980’s.

It was a chance encounter with a singing mechanic that brought Mac back to the blues. Max Hightower has had a longtime love for anything relating to the blues. After wearing out a second hand copy of “Muddy’s Mississippi Live”, he decided to pursue a career in music. Following a few years of bouncing from band to band and stage to stage, Max was working at a trucking company when in walked one of his blues heroes. After many a deep conversations with the fellow musician, Mac decided it was time he came out of retirement. With the addition of Austin Brashier on guitar, Dan Keylon on bass, Mike Whitt on drums and, of course, Max on keyboard and harmonica, Plate Full O’ Blues was born.

Mac came back to blues like a man starving for a good meal. With several albums and music DVD’s to date, tours that have spanned the USand Europeand praise from music critics from all walks, Mac and Plate Full O’ Blues have certainly proven that they’re here to stay! This Saturday, the 28th they’re back at one of their favorite venues, The Handlebar, for their 6th Annual Cornbread and Collard Greens Festival. The band takes the stage starting at 8PM until Mac decides it’s time for y’all to head on home! Tickets are on sale now at The Handlebar for $14 ($2 extra for those under 21). If you buy a $20 ticket, you get some down-homeCarolina cookin’ to enjoy before the show! So, head on out to The Handlebar this weekend for some smokin’ hot blues from a man who will certainly be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame one day! See you there!



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