Saturday with Steven Fiore, Easter Island, and My Jerusalem

There were tons of festivals, benefit shows, and special events going on downtown and around the city on Saturday evening (Oct. 13). We managed to catch four acts at two different shows, and we enjoyed the broad, dynamic range of rock elegance between them.

Local pop songwriter Steven Fiore invited a few special guests to join him on the roomy Charleston Music Hall stage early in the night. North Carolina-based acoustic act Prayer and Tears, led by songwriter Arthur Digby Sellers, opened the show with a quiet-toned, delicately arranged set of slow-rollicking tunes. Several hundred fans, friends, and family members filled most of the bottom floor as Fiore and his rhythm section — drummer Michael McCrea and bassist Mannie Schumpert — kicked off their set with backing vocalist Haley Shaw alongside. Pianist Andrew Walker and cellist Lonnie Root (both of the local Entropy Ensemble) enhanced Fiore’s warm and melodic tunes with tasteful embellishments. Heyrocco’s Nate Merli even joined in on guitar at one point. Fiore sang beautifully throughout his set of originals, many of which will be featured on his forthcoming album Youth and Magic.

Across the Ashley river from downtown, the Tin Roof hosted a triple-bill of out-of-towners: Austin, Texas-based acoustic singer/guitarist Dana Falconberry, Athens, Ga.-based pop-rock band Easter Island, and Austin rockers My Jerusalem.

We barely missed Falconberry’s set, but we heard she sang with a strong and a motive voice and delivered an handsome nylon-string guitar tone.

Drummer Patrick Ferguson (of Five-Eight), an old friend of mine from my days in Athens, Ga., sat at his vintage Gretsch kit behind his four Easter Island bandmates. His heavy-handed delivery seemed to be even more brutal and precise than I remembered. It turns out that Ferguson also produced the band’s latest 11-song album Frightened at his home studio in Athens. Siblings Asher and Ethan Payne shared lead vocal and guitar/keyboard duties up front. With touches of reverb, delay, and other effects on their guitars and vocals, the band’s dense style and grandeur resembled Radiohead, the Killers, and late-era U2.

My Jerusalem’s set was just as moody and percussive, but they stayed away from the modernistic post-rock effects and focused on rockin’. Drummer Grant Van Amburgh’s creative patterns and unusually complex style enhanced and propelled much of the set. Lead singer/guitarist Jeff Klein’s dense rhythm guitar work locked in well with Geena Spigarelli’s solid baselines. They hammered through much of the massive, fist-raising material on their latest album Preachers. There was a surly sermon somewhere within the din, and I think I remember raising a pint of Holy City ale at the band at one point as a hearty “Amen!”

Photos and video by Ballard Lesemann.




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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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