Charleston has a constantly shifting musical landscape with plenty of artists who are unafraid to stretch their creative horizons
A Lowcountry native and graduate of Charleston’s own School of the Arts who has been playing the violin since the age of 12, Daniel Davis, aka Daniel D, has taken an instrument traditionally pigeonholed into classical and country music and introduced it into the realm of hip-hop and R&B. This unique sound has led to Davis performing alongside the likes of Kanye West and Jamie Foxx and in front of Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Michael Jackson.
Sounds like: a fiddle with street smarts
CD: Serenade (2010)
New Music Collective
Put simply, the New Music Collective is on a mission to expand your mind, at least where music is concerned. The nonprofit arts organization, founded by Nathan Koci, Ron Wiltrout, and Philip White, seeks to put people in contact with as many new, experimental styles of music as possible, with a focus on local and regional acts. Through performances, workshops, and collaborations with artists in other mediums, the New Music Collective is already enlightening ears all over the Lowcountry.
Sounds like: a mind expanding
Live: November 12 for “New Music New Charleston 4” at Circular Congregational Church & December 18 for Phil Kline’s “Unsilent Night” at City Gallery at Waterfront Park
Although Firework Show isn’t necessarily a jazz band, it’s one of the most jazz-influenced bands in the Lowcountry. Combining elements of the genre with rock, funk, and electronica, the group delivers music that evolves even as it is being performed live, and that’s meant, in most cases, to get the listener up and actively involved through dance. We bet after hearing a few Firework Show tunes, you’ll be bouncing around with the best of ’em.
Sounds like: The Jimi Hendrix Experience meets The Flaming Lips
CD: Glee Noise EP (2010)
The V Tones
Self-described as “Charleston’s only ukulele hot club jug band vaudeville ragtime neo-retro-postpostmodern (sic) beachfront quasi-primitime (sic) anachronistic revolutionary anti-inflammatory mass catharsis jazz freak out and philharmonic group therapy session,” The V Tones have been bringing their unique form of upbeat musical entertainment to the Lowcountry, spreading the ukulele gospel to anyone willing to listen. Core members Noodle McDoodle and Eden Fonvielle perform their hot jazz and swing music with a rotating cast of characters, while at the same time reveling in their obsession with all that is kitschy from the early 20th century. Hotcha!
Sounds like: a genuine vaudeville act spun into this century
Live: November 6 at Hazel Parker Playground & December 12 at the Charleston Public Library Main Branch
The Specs’ bio reads simply, “We’re not birds; we’re a jug-band.” If you needed no help identifying that quote from the holiday program “Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas,” then you’re as hip as The Specs’ music. The members aren’t afraid to experiment, and each song on the band’s self-titled CD is strikingly different from the last. One tune might sound like a runaway roller coaster that is threatening to jump the tracks, and the next like a lullaby written for a faraway child.
Sounds like: Radiohead meets Neutral Milk Hotel
CD: The Specs (2008)
Michael Flynn and Josh Kaler don’t simply write music. Instead, they work like painters who painstakingly create a beautiful portrait that eventually causes all who see it to stop and contemplate its beauty. The duo’s band, Slow Runner, has released three CDs and one EP of gorgeously unique songs, many of which have been featured on TV shows such as The Gates, Sons of Tuscon, Grey’s Anatomy, and One Tree Hill. The band has also toured with the likes of Built To Spill, Gomez, and Evan Dando.
Sounds like: Ben Folds meets Cory Chisel
CD: Ghost Rendition (2010)
Local musician Bill Carson must either have a twin, or else he’s managed to clone himself. How else can the guitarist, who also plays a mean saw, participate in so many musical endeavors? He’s an advisor to the New Music Collective, on the roster for Shrimp Records, and at various times can be found playing with about a dozen other local bands. Carson also still finds time to write and record his own material. Although there’s a decidedly vintage feel to his music, Carson isn’t afraid to take chances, which adds a very modern element.
Sounds like: Jimbo Matthus meets Wayne Coyne
CD: The Great Whale, or Say It; Don’t Spray It (2009)
Online: www.myspace.com/billcarson, www.billcarson.biz/home.html
The Whisperjets started in 2007 when the father of one of its players wanted some musical entertainment at an oyster roast and a group of Wando High School band members threw something together. In a short amount of time, the group had collaborated with local musicians Mark Bryan, Danielle Howle, and Sadler Vaden and had recorded an EP featuring a mix of ska, rock, and folk. With some of the band members leaving for college this fall, it appears that The Whisperjets are on hiatus, but we can all hope for a reunion come Christmas break.
Sounds like: King Missile meets The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
CD: Midnight Shift EP (2009)
The Shaniqua Brown
Trying to categorize Rachel Gillon, the lead singer of The Shaniqua Brown, is an exercise in futility. With a voice snotty enough for punk, yet also perfectly suited for blues or pop, Gillon draws you in with her siren song only to smack you in the chops if you get too close. This is music tailor-made for dancing up a sweat in some no-name bar while The Shaniqua Brown blows the roof off the joint.
Sounds like: Maria McKee meets Courtney Love
CD: a limited-edition USB drive bracelet available only at shows
Online: www.theshaniquabrown.com, www.myspace.com/theshaniquabrown
Live: October 23 at The Mill in North Charleston
Photographs: (Daniel D) by Rae Fenice, (V Tones) by Micheline Callicott, (Firework Show) by Chris Griffith, (New Music Collective) by Ben Williams, (Carson) by Leslie Mckellar, (Whisperjets) by Chrys Rhynearson, (The Shaniqua Brown) by Elizabeth Fay Photography, & (Slow Runner) by Lindsay Windham