Reviews HolyCityPopExplorersClub(lead)

Published on February 6th, 2013 | by Jon Santiago


Right on Track: Holy City Pop Proves the Music Hall is Back

The Charleston Music Hall brought home the trifecta on Saturday night, Feb. 2, with the Holy City Pop Show it’s three local artists: Luke Cunningham Band, Slow Runner and the Explorers Club.

Kicking things off and setting the bar for both high energy and perspiration, singer/songwriter Luke Cunningham’s talented team came out of the gate blazing, leaving dust in their wake. The artist’s particular blend of Americana with country music sensibilities had the Music Hall rocking. As an added bonus, Cunningham and his core bandmates — guitarist Micah Nichols, bassist Ethan Ricks, and drummer Ben Scott — welcomed special guests to the stage: cellist Lonnie Root (Entropy Ensemble/Transiberian Orchestra), vocalist Sarah Cole (of the Hawkes), and singer/guitarist Tyler Mechem (of Crowfield). With both up-tempo numbers and ballads, Cunningham demonstrated just how far he’s come into his own as a solo artist.

Hugging the inside rail, nose to nose with Cunningham’s lead-in, another Charleston favorite, Slow Runner, proved to be anything but. Singer/pianist Michael Flynn, guitarist Josh Kaler, and their bandmates — percussionist Ron Wiltrout, drummer Jack Burg, and bassist Jonathan Gray — clearly articulated each song’s particular goals through creative and clever arrangements and instrumentation. When the music called for it, they rocked with the best of them. Their dreamier numbers only seemed to add grace to their long strides, and the level of musicianship among them paid off big in the stretch. Even a glitchy mic connection didn’t take them off pace. As usual, Slow Runner turned in a thoroughbred performance.

In his intro for the Explorers Club, the evening’s emcee Charles Carmody (the Charleston Music Hall director) assured us that in a moment we’d see “half of Charleston” on stage. He wasn’t exaggerating by much. The Explorers Club, now touring with their latest release Grand Hotel (Rock Ridge Music), seemed to have brought the entire hotel with them: a four-piece horn section, a quartet of back-up singers, additional guests musicians, and the main band itself. They made an impressive tableau that dominated the stage and made the evening’s entertainment a photo-finish as once again the newly re-invigorated Music Hall demonstrates what a great boon it is to the Holy CIty music community.

It’s great to see this very special venue come out of its doldrums so decisively and so well with a great mix of shows like these. Kudos.



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About the Author

Jon Santiago

is a freelance writer, photographer, and graphic designer based in Charleston, S.C. Every now and then, he hauls his guitar out to an open mic night and plays some original songs in public. He has been warned about this.

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