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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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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