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!



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!



{August 13, 2012}   Goin’ Retro in the DTGVL!

They say everything gets better with age. I think that is doubly true for music! If you find yourself with the urge to take a walk down a musical Memory Lane, then go retro with some of these great events happening this week in Downtown Greenville!

If “big” hair, leg warmers and slouchy, one-shouldered sweaters are your “thing”, then don’t miss this week’s Downtown Alive featuring Retro Vertigo! This high energy, 80’s cover band will have you dancing like a maniac…for sure! Formed by several members of Greenville’s own Seconds Flat, drummer Marlon Slater and bassist Mike Henson, together with  Pat Hindman on guitar, Jim North on keyboards and Anthony Tomlinson on vocals (& cowbell…everything’s better with more cowbell), will take you back to the decade of Ferris Bueller, the Breakfast Club, and MTV. Downtown Alive is absolutely free and takes place 5:30PM Thursday, smack dab in the middle of Main Street – in front of Hyatt Plaza.

If you prefer psychedelic tunes that will take you back to the time of tie-dye, love beads and peace signs, then The Handlebar has TWO groovy concerts that you’ll just dig, man! Starting Friday night (August 17), climb your own “Stairway to Heaven” with ZOSO – The Ultimate Led Zepplin Experience. Drawing Zep fans of all ages, critics agree that this band is “the closest to the original” (Chicago Sun-Times), with their eerily accurate portrayal of Plant, Page, Bonham & Jones. Come see why ZOSO is considered by most to be the “gold standard of Led” when the band takes stage at 9PM. Tickets are $13 ($2 extra for fans under 21) and are on sale at The Handlebar. For more information, visit www.handlebar-online.com.

Saturday evening (August 18) takes you back to a time of Peace, Love & Music with Palmetto Drum Co’s latest offering in their Psychedelic Series of concerts – “Woodstock Revisited”. Great local talent such as Moxie, Deadly Crank Dogs, Kelly Jo, Leslie Smith, Matt Morgan & Friends, The Jaywalkers and True Blues will lead you on a psychedelic journey through the music of The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Joan Baez, Janis Joplin, Sly & the Family Stone, The Grateful Dead and more!  The tunes will start at 8PM and continue until Freddie tells everyone to go home! Tickets are $10 and are on sale now at The Handlebar. Like most in the Psychedelic Series of concerts, proceeds will benefit a local charity, the Greater Greenville Master Gardeners.  For more information, visit www.palmettomusic.com.

Travel back to the time of bobby socks, pony tails and The King with the Greenville Little Theatre’s production of “Shake, Rattle & Roll”. Back by popular demand, Scot Bruce and “the boys” are back with their electrifying tribute to Elvis for one week only! Opening night is Thursday, August 16 at 8PM, with 8PM shows on Friday, August 17 and Saturday, August 18. There is also a Sunday matinee at 3PM on the 19th. Tickets range in price from $20 (for children) to $30 (for adults) and are on sale at the Little Theatre’s box office or online at http://www.greenvillelittletheatre.org.  Catch it now before Elvis has left the building!

So, whether you’re a Valley Girl, a Hippie, or a Cool Cat, there’s something going on Downtown to take you back in time! And you don’t even need a souped-up DeLoren! Stay Groovy, Downtownies!

In Case You Missed It…

  • Retro Vertigo at Downtown Alive: Thursday, August 16 at 5:30PM until 8-ishPM, on Main Street in front of the Hyatt Plaza. Cost: FREE. For more info, visit www.greenvillesc.gov
  • ZOSO – The Ultimate Led Zepplin Experience:  Friday, August 17 – 9PM at The Handlebar (304 E Stone Avenue). Tickets are $13 ($2 extra for under 21). For more info, visit www.handlebar-online.com
  • Woodstock Revisited – A Psychedelic Series Concert:  Saturday, August 18 – 8PM at The Handlebar (304 Stone Avenue). Tickets are $10, with proceeds benefitting the Greater Greenville Master Gardeners. Presented by Palmetto Drum Company. For more info, visit www.palmettomusic.com
  • “Shake, Rattle & Roll” – Thursday, August 16 through Saturday, August 18 at 8PM and Sunday, August 19 at 3PM at The Greenville Little Theatre (Heritage Green – College Street). Tickets are $20 for children, $30 for adults. For more info, visit www.greenvillelittletheatre.org

 



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