Editor-in-chief Darcy Shankland catches up with band members Kevin Hamilton, Charlton Singleton, and Quentin Baxter during their cover shoot for our May issue; Ranky Tanky on the steps of John’s Island’s Moving Star Hall, where the Moving Star Singers once recorded the spirituals that helped inspire the band and their music. Photographs by (left) Melinda Monk and (right) Peter Frank Edwards
After wowing audiences the world over, Ranky Tanky brings its soulful, get-up-and-dance spins on Sea Island spirituals and work songs home to Spoleto. Read on for a chance to win tickets to their sold out concert on June 2
Written by Darcy Shankland
Don’t you love it when really good people achieve great things? In this case, I’m speaking of some musicians I’ve known since moving here nearly two decades ago. Back then, my friends and I would squeeze ourselves into The Mezz, the club above the old Sermet’s on King Street, to be transported by the music created by the improvisational jazz quartet Gradual Lean—Quentin Baxter (percussion), Kevin Hamilton (bass), Clay Ross (guitar), and Charlton Singleton (trumpet). Over the years, I got to know a few of them and had great times enjoying a variety of their projects, from intimate gigs at restaurants around town to full-blown productions with the Charleston Jazz Orchestra (CJO) to a very special tribute to the late Jack McCray, not to mention our Giving Back Awards—the year Quiana Parler sang... Wow, what a voice!
It’s not that I wasn’t amazed by them already. Individually, they are extremely talented and successful: their accomplishments include global tours with renowned artists, a Grammy nomination, and helping to form the Jazz Artists of Charleston (now Charleston Jazz). But when they play together, something magical happens—something like Ranky Tanky. Named after the Gullah expression that translates as “Work it” or “Get funky,” their band takes the frameworks of centuries-old Sea Island spirituals, work chants, and children’s rhymes, a cappella music born right here in the Lowcountry, and layers in each member’s musical experience and expertise with great reverence and respect. The results are soulful, joyful, powerfully inspired songs, at once familiar and transcendent, that will have your hands clapping and body moving. Read all about Ranky Tanky in our cover feature, “Gullah Revival,” as the band prepares for a momentous hometown concert on June 2 for Spoleto Festival USA.
While this much-anticipated show is sold out, an @charlestonmag Instagram follower has the chance to score two reserved-seat tickets—plus Ranky Tanky CDs and apparel—thanks to the band and our sponsor, Dockery’s on Daniel Island. Simply click this link and follow the directions, but hurry—the winner will be announced on Friday.
To read the Ranky Tanky feature, watch exclusive videos, and more, click here.