Carson Keeter sits on a bench outside TCBY, hard to miss with a shaved head and black-rimmed glasses, his framed eyes glued to a page of “Game of Thrones.” I remember him from years ago as Pineapple boy, a nickname forged by his obsession with the pointed fruit of which his great grandfather used to farm. However now, he is known for his original folk music and rare but prized Mt. Pleasant bass playing.
“I prostitute out my bass playing skills,” explains the rising college freshman who may not be far along on his musical journey, but is already infiltrating the Charleston scene with his storytelling strums and sparkling personality. Quirky but approachable Keeter works at Encore Music and makes a habit of chatting up strangers whenever he can, which often leads to bass gigs, like one with local crew Alice and I. “I like talking to people I don’t know. It’s just a thing that I do. Then I write about them on my blog,” says the 18-year-old as he munches pink frosted animal crackers. Maybe I’ll make his blog.
Keeter began playing music with Cole Collins, a friend and multi-talented musician who he teams up with for a weekly gig at Bakehouse on Saturdays from 12-2. They each get an hour set with a mix of covers and originals. The crew played at the Music Farm back when they were in a band together, but these days they are manning solo acts. “I play a lot of Bob Dylan, Woodie Guthrie…some acoustic Metallica,” says Keeter. Quite a jump there for the last one, but not judging. The creative writer also pens a lot of originals, usually stemming from short stories he’s composed- like a recent piece on a suicidal homeless man, which may sound dark but has positive thematic elements. “Usually my songs have a theme in the first verse and then go on a random tangent for the rest,” says Keeter while inspecting his melting strawberry fro-yo with a spoon.
Between Asheville-born vocals, a parlor size guitar that Keeter calls his gitfiddle, a trusty 5-string bass, and a Morgan Monroe banjo, this local strummer knows how to keep things folksy. Maybe it was all the lumberjacking he did this summer clearing land for a friend or his hometown mountain roots that inspired him. He claims however that it was those strangers he chats up- their back stories, an intuition, an imagination.
“So are you going to school for music?” I ask Keeter as he finishes his last dairy-free vanilla morsel. “No, I’m studying biology,” he replies.