Feature KaraHesse3*

Published on July 10th, 2013 | by Ballard Lesemann


Kara Hesse’s Lowcountry Tour is More Than a Casual Homecoming

Separated by various rivers, inlets, marshes, and one big harbor, the boroughs and communities in the Charleston area are pretty well spread out. Each has its own personality and dynamic, and residents of each can operate fairly independently of their neighbors in the towns located just a few bridges away.

From Summerville to downtown, and from Awendaw to Folly Beach, there are a dozen little scenes with in the big scene, which makes it easy for musicians and bands to play multiple shows in a row and essentially “tour” the Lowcountry without overlapping too much. That’s the idea behind singer/songwriter, guitarist, and pianist Kara Hesse’s current Running Late Tour, which kicked off on July 3 at Awendaw Green’s weekly Barn Jam and runs through June 18 at the Rock ‘n’ Roots Concert Series at Treehouse Studios on James Island.


Kara Hesse at the keys (provided)

A native of Kansas, Hesse made a splash in the Charleston songwriter scene a few years ago during a stint in town. She stunned audiences and fellow musicians with her skillful piano technique, her acoustic guitar shops, and her beautifully expressive singing (she attended Berklee School of Music in Boston on a vocal scholarship). Hesse spent several years living and performing her elegant blend of pop, blues, and rock in Colorado’s Boulder/Denver area before landing in the Lowcountry. Many were were sad to see her leave for the West again in 2011.

Last week, Hesse and her local bandmates — Dan Wilson (drums) and Shawn Beckner (bass) — performed at Awendaw Green, the Grill and Island Bar on Folly Beach, the Brick House Kitchen on James Island, and Charleston Beer Works on King Street. There’s plenty more to come.

“The shows have been going great so far,” Hesse reports. “The Brick House Kitchen is my favorite by far, and we even got an invite to open for Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk in September.”

“I’m already strongly considering moving back,” she adds. “I flew down on a one-way ticket, taught the boys 20 new tunes in less than a week, and we’re just eager to work out the cobwebs and start writing some freshies. I almost hate to call this a ‘project,’ as I hope to see this last beyond the Running Late Tour. The main goal is to sort of cultivate what will become our sound. We chose to stick around the area to be close to the studio as a sort of breeding ground for what’s to come of our collaboration.”


Kara Hesse, 2013 (provided)

Hesse says she and her combo already have plans to record a new EP of her originals with Wilson at the mixing board at his Treehouse Studio facility.

“I met Dan three years ago when we played together on stage at the Windjammer,” Hesse says. “He’s really the catalyst, I should say, of this budding new chapter for my music and all parties involved, and I expect many doors to open from it.”

Hesse and her bandmates plan to release the EP in August or so, and they’ll likely tour again, across the Lowcountry and beyond, in support of the disc.

Meanwhile, Hesse has six more shows to go on her July trek, including a newly added gig opening for the bluesy Jefferson Coker Band at the Windjammer on Mon. July 15 (it’s a free show).

“Some of the highlights to look forward to is July 11th gig at the Royal American,” she says. “And we’re very excited to share the bill with the Dead 27s on July 18 when they’ll join us again for a Rock ‘n’ Roots live recording experience at the Treehouse. It’s a private event and the first in a series of many. It’s a Lowcountry Local First affiliation, and the guests will receive a recording online after the show.”

Kare Hesse and Friends are solid for these dates:

July 11 — The Royal American, downtown
July 12 — Molly Darcy’s, downtown
July 13 — Irvin-House Vineyards, Wadmalaw Island (12-4 p.m.)
July 13 — Cha Cha’s, James Island (9 p.m.)
July 15 — Windjammer, Isle of Palms
July 18 — Rock ‘n’ Roots at Treehouse Studios, James Island

Visit karahesse.com for more info.







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About the Author

Ballard Lesemann

is a musician and writer. Born and raised in Charleston, S.C., he spent years playing in bands and working for Flagpole Magazine in the bustling music town of Athens, Ga. He returned to his hometown and served more than seven years as the Charleston City Paper's music editor. He's better at drumming than he is at playing guitar.

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