Hey y’all! (Yes, I actually use that phrase on occasion; no I don’t have a Southern accent). Soundwaves is back this summer on a sporadic basis, covering your favorite shows and happenings in the beautiful land of Charleston, SC that I get to call home. Thursday night was a throwback to one of the first pieces from last summer’s column. Once dubbed Kevsco Alley and located on the heart of King Street, the renown “underground” music gathering hosted in part by master of musician seduction (he books some greats) Peter Spearman, has taken its roots in houses around town. The project, which took its new title Pop-up Charleston at the end of last summer, is currently thriving, and the acts are bigger than ever.
In a townhouse off Line Street lives a crowd full of whippersnappers playing tunes into all hours of the evening. As one of these attending whippersnappers, I got to climb a stairway to heaven (which actually turned out to be more like a stairway to Hades, because the air conditioning was clearly not doing its proper duties). However, in the sticky sweat of the top floor, there was a merch table. And beyond that merch table, there was a black cat. And beyond that black cat, there was a kitchen. And beyond that kitchen…yeah, yeah I’ll get to it. Music. The living room corner served as stage, a little nook that had enough room for some acoustic instruments and mics but little else.
However, the acts of the evening were anything but little. They were stunners: big names around town and a new face from Australia. Justin Osborne, the lead man of the panic attack known as SUSTO, made the debut appearance of which I unfortunately missed en route from a Piccolo Spoleto event. However, I met his ex-roommate who said that Osborne slayed, so I’m entirely trusting his biased opinion on this one. But, on a real note, Osborne is one cool cat from his previous project as a romantic crooner in Sequoyah Prep School to his current bohemian gig with a little help from his Chucktown friends.
One of his SUSTO partners and a revered Americana name rooted right here in the Lowcountry was the final act of the evening. But before we get to this mystery being, let’s talk Australian act Caitlin Harnett, who strummed some strings and sang about a dead hamster named Honey (that’s really what her song “Honey Are You Alright?” is about). Harnett harnesses a soulful blues sound mixed with soft acoustics. She was the surprise treat of the evening.
However, our mystery man (have you guessed yet?) was none other than Johnny Delaware who delivered the most nuanced and raw show of the night (not that you can consider a house show anything other than raw, that is). But he let out a stoic burp at the end of one track and laughed “Sorry, I didn’t rehearse” into the mic in the middle of another. “Truth” was a crowd sing-along, with favorite line that references the “dream weaver in my mind.” Delaware gave us some background: “I wrote this one on an acid trip.”
Stay tuned for more Pop-Up Charleston appearances in the Holy City this summer as well as whatever other cool things I write about.
Photos by Jess Spence