Feature BraveBaby*(Jamie Clayton)

Published on November 20th, 2013 | by Ballard Lesemann


Requests for Brave Baby’s Boat Show: Keon Masters Responds

When we first heard that Charleston-based pop/rock quintet Brave Baby had booked a harbor cruise concert on the Carolina Queen (an authentic, three-deck paddle wheel vessel), we assumed they might be up to something strange. Initially, it seemed like the band had devised elaborate scheme to finally perform their song “Cooper River Night” (the handsomely syncopated seventh track on their latest album Forty Bells) near the mouth actual of the Cooper River. Over and over.


Keon Masters of Brave Baby, 2013 (photo by Jessica Mickey)

With the show just days away, it seems like they’ve prepared a pretty standard set of their own original material, possibly with a surprise rendition of a pop or rock classic or two.

Recorded and mixed by Zimmerman and released on the Hearts & Plugs label last January, Brave Baby’s Forty Bells is a lush, eerily beautiful, emotive collection of rock anthems, pop ballads, and reverb-heavy soundscapes. They could lay it from front-to-back and it’d be a killer set.

Maybe they’ll get crazy and tackle Christopher Cross’ “Sailing,” Grand Funk Railroad’s “I’m Your Captain,” the Lonely Island’s “I’m on a Boat,” or some other appropriately nautically themed tune.

Metronome Charleston had a few suggestions and contacted lead singer, guitarist, and main songwriter Keon Masters to get his honest initial reaction to each one of our 10 requests. We also wanted to gauge the chance that Masters and his bandmates — guitarist/bassist Christian Chidester, drummer/singer Wolfgang (Ryan) Zimmerman, guitarist/bassist Jordan Hicks, and keyboardist Steven Walker — would be willing to learn any of them for the harbor show.

We put three questions to Masters this week with each song request:

1. What does this song remind you of?
2. Do you think your bandmates would be willing to learn it for the boat show?
3. Why or why not would you be willing to embrace this tune and render it in some way?


The Hoodoo Gurus

Song 1: “Death Ship” by the Hoodoo Gurus (from the 1984 album Stoneage Romeos)

1. “This song sounds like what I wish the Misfits would have sounded like, with a dash of Down Under.”

2. “The boys might like this one. I tend to be the one that leans more towards the dirty punk realm, but maybe I could get the ‘aboard.'”

3. “To do a cover or a rendition of another artist’s song with the intention to make it great is a special thing, I think, and sometimes those songs you cover have to find you, rather than you finding it.  I think this track is badass. But I’m not sure if I’m ready to cover ‘Death Ship.'”

      1. “Death Ship” by the Hoodoo Gurus


Song 2:  “Ocean of Wine” by Helium (from the 1997 album Magic City)

1. “I feel like this is every character in Empire Records’ favorite band.”

2. “This gem would take some convincing. It’s awesome, and it’s all of the best parts of the underground ’90s that does not surface as much as it should.”

3. “Like I said before, it has to strike that chord.”

      2. “Ocean of Wine” by Helium


Song 3: “Sea of Love” by Phil Phillips (a chart-topping singe from 1959)

1. “I’ve been on a huge Righteous Brothers kick for the past six months, and this definitely has the classic epic love ballad feel that makes you melt.”

2. “I think the boys would be down for this one. Its a little cheeky, but that’s what’s great about it.”

3. “I think these old classics from the late ’50s/early ’60s romanticized about love in a way that has stuck with us for the later half of the century. The songs have a bit of turmoil in them, but they always keep their eye on the prize. This would be an easy one for me to get into.”

      3. “Sea of Love” by Phil Phillips


Song #4:  “You’ve Got Me Floatin” by Jimi Hendrix (from the 1967 album Axis: Bold as Love)

1. “Classic Hendrix, bro.”

2. “From what I know of the guys in Brave Baby, this track wouldn’t jump out at them.”

3. “I don’t know if we’re cool enough, or cocky enough to do/pull off a Jimi Hendrix tune. Don’t get me wrong, I love the guy, but it takes Prince-like qualities to pull off.”

      4. “You’ve Got Me Floatin” by Jimi Hendrix


Song #5: “Sea Cruise” by Frankie Ford (a 1959 hit penned by Huey “Piano” Smith)

1. “Reminds me of ‘Johnny B. Good,’ just ’cause that was the song of that realm that really penetrated through time. Might be because of a guy named Marty McFly.”

2. “I know Christian and Jordan would definitely be into it.”

3. “I’d like to do this tune. Its fun and rock ‘n’ roll. Gimmicky. Cool.”

      5. %22Sea Cruise%22 by Frankie Ford


The Jam, circa 1981 (provided)

Song #6: “Tales From the Riverbank” by the Jam (the B-side to their 1981 single “Absolute Beginners”)

1. “It reminds me of the Police with a lot more phaser.”

2. “It’s cool, but it may have too much of a ‘killer tofu’ vibe.”

3. “I’m just not sure I could convince people that these are my tales from the riverbank.”

      6. %22Tales From the Riverbank%22 by the Jam


Song #7: “Two Rivers” by the Meat Puppets (from the 1985 album Up on the Sun)

1. “I couldn’t tell you, but I think I need to start listening to the Meat Puppets on the regular.”

2. “Maybe. This could be one of those songs that has to permeate in people’s brains for a while before it really resonates.”

3. “I think there are songs that lend themselves to be covered very well, and then I think there are songs that can only be done by the people who created them, and I think this might be one of those songs.”

      7. %22Two Rivers%22 by the Meat Puppets


R.E.M., circa 1984 (provided)

Song #8: “Harborcoat” by R.E.M. (from the 1984 album Reckoning)

1. “It slightly reminds me ‘Take Me On’ by A-Ha.”

2. “I think so. I feel like everyone needs to cover a R.E.M. concert at some point in their career.”

3. “Well, maybe we’d do another tune by them. Believe it or not, we used to do a gnarly cover of ‘Take On Me.'”

      8. %22Harborcoat%22 by R.E.M


Song #9: “Take Me to the River” by the Rev. Al Green (the original 1974 single)

1. “Reminds me of the Talking Heads. But when I listen to the Talking Heads version, it reminds me of Al Green. It’s a vicious cycle.”

2. “Definitely. We all went through a serious Talking Heads phase together, and we know the history of this song. And we’re into Motown.”

3. “I’d love to do this song.”

      9. %22Take Me to the River%22 by Al Green


Sebadoh in 1996 (provided)

Song #10: “The Ocean” by Sebadoh (from the 1996 album Harmacy)

1. “Reminds me of 1990s Gold.”

2. “Probably. We’re always looking for ways to bring things back.”

3. “I think I would be. Dinosaur Jr. has been on my list of bands to check out for way too long, so this gave me a little insight. And I love the opening line, ‘So you think you’re in the middle of the ocean.’ We’ve all been there.”

      10. %22The Ocean%22 by Sebadoh

Local indie label Hearts & Plugs and College of Charleston-based, student-run 1770 Records will present a special show on the waters of Charleston’s harbor on Sat. Nov. 23 from 7:30-10 p.m. when Brave Baby and Susto share the stage on the Carolina Queen (loading at 17 Lockwood Dr.). Admission is $20.

Visit heartsandplugs.com/artists/brave-baby and bravebabymusic.com for more.

Top photo by Jamie Clayton.




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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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