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!



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



You usually wouldn’t think of cool jazz, hot food and a rare cancer in the same thought, but you will after attending Brown Street Alive! On Saturday, June 23rd, historic Brown Street will become one big jazzy, jammin’ block party with food, fun and more as traffic is blocked off and music lovers are encouraged to dance in the streets. Sponsored by the Sarcoma Warriors of the Upstate, this family-friendly event is guaranteed to raise funds, awareness, as well as spirits, to fight this debilitating disease.

Not many people have heard of this rare, aggressive form of cancer that attacks the muscle, fat, cartilage, arteries and nerves – all the things that “hold” our bodies together. Because it is so incredibly rare (only .01% of the population will ever be diagnosed with it), there are few support systems for patients and their families and very little research done on its cause. Because it is so rare, most cases are diagnosed in later stages, making treatment difficult and very costly. Because this cancer is so rare, there are no pink ribbons (and a huge cause marketing campaign), there’s no race for its cure and yogurt companies do not make donations based on the number of lids sent in by customers. There are only these fearless Sarcoma Warriors, at “the ready” to do all they can to help those dealing with this dreadful disease.  Thinking of themselves as “Hired Henchmen”, this amazing organization works tirelessly to support patients and their families in fighting the “good fight” – by offering not only financial assistance, but emotional support, medical information and a voice in issues that affect those stricken.

Fast forward to this weekend and Brown Street Alive.  Featuring food, drink, games, prizes, silent auction and a vintage car and motorcycle show, this event is a crowd pleaser for all ages. But it’s the caliber of music that will make you glad you ventured off Main Street to follow the sweet sounds of jazz. Most of the bands taking part in this special event are familiar to regulars to the Brown Street Club. From some grumpy old jazz men to a teen-aged phenom whose guitar licks are incendiary – you will hear jazz that ranges from old school to rockin’ blues. Beginning at 4PM, three bands, Grumpy Old Jazz Men, The Marcus King Band (with Brendan Williamson) and Java, will be performing outdoors in a concert that is very family-friendly. Later on, starting at 6:30, The Adam Knight Trio and Shane Pruitt will be performing inside the more adult-oriented Brown Street Club.

So be sure to mark your calendars for Saturday, June 23rd and make your way to Brown Street for some cool tunes and hot times. The music is free, the food and games are very affordable and the cause is priceless. Fighting cancer never sounded so good!

More Info on the Bands Performing at Brown Street Alive…

Grumpy Old Jazz Men: Seen regularly tearing up the stage with their old school style, this group of jazz masters will make you feel anything but grumpy. They will be performing on the outdoor stage from 4PM to 6PM

The Marcus King Band (with Brendan Williamson): A favorite at several Downtown venues, including The Handlebar, Smiley’s Acoustic Cafe and Chicora Alley, this rockin’ blues band, fronted by teen guitar prodigy, Marcus King, is a must-see (they will also be performing at Main Street Friday on August 24th). Performing with guest musician (and another familiar face on the Downtown music scene), Brendan Williamson, this band will be taking the stage (outdoors) at 6PM, and burning it up until 8PM. For more info on this amazing band, visit http://www.reverbnation.com/marcuskingband

Java: Another regular of the Brown Street Club, this entertaining band is as heart-thumping as the caffeinated beverage from which they grabbed their name.  Be sure to check out their next Brown Street performance on July 21st. Going onstage at 8PM the guys will be closing out the event with their crowd pleasing, eclectic playlist until 10PM.

Adam Knight Trio: Often seen at High Cotton as well as the Brown Street Club, this talented trio will soothe your soul with their signature cool contemporary jazz. Kicking things off inside the Brown Street Club at 6:30PM, this threesome will provide delectable dinner music until 9:30PM. If you get the chance, try to catch them at their next Brown Street Club gig on July 24th. For more info regarding this band and their music, visit www.adamknightmusic.com

Shane Pruitt Band: Another group you’ve seen around Downtown at places like The Handlebar and Smiley’s Acoustic Cafe is the Shane Pruitt Band. With rockin’ tunes that will set your booty to shakin’, the guys will be closing things out in the Brown Street Club starting at 9:30PM. Catch them now, because they won’t be back at Brown Street until September 8th. For more info on this bodacious band of fellows, visit http://shanepruittband.com

To learn more about this event, Sarcoma Warriors or the Brown Street Club, visit http://sarcomawarriors.org or http://brownstreetclub.com

 



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