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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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The Holidays seem to bring out the best in most folks. Whether you are dropping a few dollars into a Red Kettle, providing gifts for children who are less fortunate or gathering canned goods for our local food pantries, this time of year makes many of us dig a little deeper to help our fellow humans. Combine that sense of charitable giving with some of our great local music, and the combination would make even the “Grinchiest” heart grow three sizes!

The Handlebar has long donated its Listening Room for some of the best fundraising concerts in town, and December is no exception! This Friday, December 14th, join the guys from Outshyne as they throw a Dixie-Fried Country Christmas Bash to benefit the Marine Corp’s Toys for Tots. Joined by friends and fellow do-gooders, The Smith Outfit, Josh Owens & Anna Leigh, this rockin’ Holiday happening is sure to get your toes to tappin’ & your rump to shakin’! Tickets are $11 in advance and $13 the day of the show (a $2 surcharge is added for those under 21) and the music is set to start at 9PM. Collection bins for toy donations will also be positioned throughout the venue.

For more than a decade, Greenville’s favorite jam band (and all-around nice guys), The Work, has been hosting their annual concert to benefit local charities. This year’s event, The Work’s 11th Annual Christmas Jam, will take place on Friday, December 21st at The Handlebar. Joined by such local talent as Acoustic Syndicate, Yo’ Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band, Millifungus, The Bad Popes, Doug Jones & more, many consider this event to be THE Holiday Party of the year! The guys will be onstage at 7PM and play in a big ‘ol jam session until they decide it’s time to stop. This year, the American Red Cross will benefit from proceeds of this concert, to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy and other disasters. Tickets are on sale now for $15 and will be $18 the day of the show. For more information on this and other concerts at The Handlebar, visit www.handlebar-online.com.

On Wednesday, December 19th, local acoustic artist, Kylie Hinze will be performing her annual concert to benefit The Ellen Hines Smith Girls Home. Taking place at The Channel, this evening of Holiday music will also feature a silent auction & a visit from Santa.  With special musical guests, 4th Shade Avenue (from Simpsonville), Kylie will take the stage at 7PM until 9PM. A donation of $5 is requested as admission at the door. For more information, visit www.thechannelonline.org.

Downtown Greenville comes alive with music and good will every Holiday season! Take time to enjoy these and other wonderful events that take place in our fair city. I’d be willing to bet you will come away from these celebrations with the “strength of 10 Grinches…plus two!” Happy Holidays, Y’all!

More Downtown Businesses That Are Giving Back in Unique Ways…

  • Traveling Chic Boutique – Collects in-store donations for such local charities as Safe Harbor, Cancer Society of Greenville County, Greenville Humane Society, Ronald McDonald House, Meals on Wheels & Loaves & Fishes.
  • 864toGo.com – Donating a portion of their December food sales to The Special Olympics.
  • Subway – Participating restaurants are hosting Salvation Army Angel Trees to collect toys & clothing for children who would not otherwise receive gifts.
  • Red Ribbon ReSale Shop – With an eclectic assortment of items, this resale store benefits the many programs of AID Upstate, which offers support and information for those battling HIV/AIDS.
  • Safe Harbor ReSale Store – Featuring mostly gently used, upscale clothing, proceeds from this resale shop supports programs that aid victims of domestic violence.
  • Soby’s – Their Thursday Guest Bartender Happy Hour, from 5-7PM weekly, donates 20% of proceeds to area charities.
  • The Barkery Bistro – Supports local animal shelters and rescue groups with their monthly Yappy Hour events.
  • Coffee Underground – This cornerstone of Downtown’s caffeinated community supports several local charities through donations and fundraisers.


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