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Published on November 20th, 2012 | by Jon Santiago


Stephane Wrembel’s ‘Arsenal’ Wows Awendaw Green

Stephane Wrembel at Awendaw Green (Jon Santiago)

Stephane Wrembel at Awendaw Green (Jon Santiago)

Stephane Wrembel
Awendaw Green, Nov. 17

On Saturday night (Nov. 17), following a great set by Awendaw Green artist in residence Danielle Howle, Stephane Wrembel and his band made their Lowcountry debut. The guitarist promised his audience that he’d take them on a journey. For the next two hours, he delivered on that promise, starting with a dreamy ode to the New Mexico desert and setting the final flourish with a tune called “Carbon 14.”

While he’s well known as a gypsy jazz guitar virtuoso in the lineage of Django Reinhardt, Wrembel often says his approach to music is inspired by French impressionism and he demonstrated an impressionist’s talent for pulling images together from a full and surprising palette of colors. Rock, flamenco, blues, manouche jazz, Indian ragas — he calls this palette his “arsenal of styles.”

This autumn, the French-born, New York-based musician began touring the Southeast for the first time, breaking new ground and garnering new audiences in support of his latest release, Origins. Saturday’s set list featured most of the tunes from that album, presented in order. But Wrembel and his team of accomplished musicians — guitarist Roy Williams, bassist David Speranza, drummer Nick Anderson, and percussionist David Langlois (washboard and assorted pieces) — have the chops to use the album as a launch pad for impressive improvisation. The crowd ate it up.

Wrembel's rhythm section at Awendaw Green (Jon Santiago)

Wrembel’s rhythm section at Awendaw Green (Jon Santiago)

Wrembel is a thinking person’s composer. He introduced each tune, briefly describing its inspiration: everything from Richard Dawkin’s book The Selfish Gene to Carl Sagan’s work with the Voyager NASA mission. Wrembel may be an impressionist at heart but he’s one who clearly loves exploring the largest themes he can find. And from the start, the artist invited his audience to think in cosmically large terms, to revel in the fragile present.

“This moment will never repeat itself,” Wrembel told the crowd. “When this concert is done, it will pass into memory.”

That memory will have to satisfy his new Lowcountry fans until next spring, when Wrembel and his band hope to return to the area. For now, we’ll make a list of all the people we want to bring to that show and remember how this year Christmas came a little early to Awendaw Green.

Visit for more.

Photos by Jon Santiago. 

Click here for a terrific video clip from photographer J.R. Getches of Wrembel and his band playing “The Edge” — a tune about Jesus and Lucifer in their Cadillac and Lotus cars.

Roy Williams with Stephane Wrembel at Awendaw Green (Jon Santiago)

Roy Williams with Stephane Wrembel at Awendaw Green (Jon Santiago)

Stephane Wrembel at Awendaw Green (Jon Santiago)

Stephane Wrembel at Awendaw Green (Jon Santiago)




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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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