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Published on May 27th, 2013 | by Ballard Lesemann


The Punch List with David Ezell

Metronome Charleston‘s weekly Punch List puts local musicians on the spot with a questionnaire that touches on music, venues, gear, records, vices, and more. This week, singer/songwriter David Ezell — a veteran musician based in Spartanburg who frequently performs around the Lowcountry — gives it a shot.

1. What is your favorite local hang?

“I currently live in Spartanburg. It’s my hometown as well. If you were to ask most anyone who doesn’t drink, likes their ice tea sweeter than molasses and their onion rings with an extra side of grease the same question, they’d most likely reply ‘The Beacon Drive-In.’

On the flip-side, others would claim the Little River Coffee Bar and Hub City Bookstore, downtown’s newest gathering spot to be the coolest hang, as it’s been a great addition to our city, as well as an oasis for many. However, without question, I gotta go with the NuWay Restaurant and Lounge — better known as the NuWay or simply the Way.

There’s an old saying in Clubland: ‘You can’t buy the vibe.’ That certainly applies here. There’s also an old soul song called ‘If Walls Could Talk,’ which could easily pass for its official song. I mean, they just celebrated their 75th anniversary! Soul, tradition, memories out the ying-yang, excellent food and drinks, cool bartenders, great live music — mostly local, both acoustic and electric — and, of course, a spirited and diverse clientele. The NuWay is to Spartanburg what Bert’s Bar was to Sullivan/s Island: ‘a cast of characters,’ the sign once read.”

2. You know you’ve played an excellent show when…

“I’m not sure it’s something you can ever really know as much as something you sense. I realize this sounds like a bad play on words, but think about it: how many times have you given what you thought was a truly great performance, only to listen to a recording of it afterwards and heard things that were semi cringe-worthy? I have a dear friend, Fayssoux McLean, who has a saying that seems to apply here:  ‘Memory is better than Memorex.’ My original answer was, ‘You get asked to return for another engagement.'”

3. What was the last show you attended that really got you fired up in a good or bad way?

“A hometown band named Brandy Lindsey and the Punch in April at the NuWay. I’m still a bit mystified by that experience and my reaction to it, but hearing some really good pop-rock songs, Brandy’s own, performed so well in a bar, really sent me reeling — and in a good way. It had been so long. It was then that I realized just how much I missed that kind of stuff … kinda like hearing the Pretenders or some amalgamation of the best of that whole era after all these years. And to hear her new songs delivered so well … I’ll just say this: I left after the first of two sets, went to my place, pulled out my guitar and played and sang for the rest of the night. I don’t know if that qualifies as being ‘fired up’ or simply crazy, but it felt that way to me.”

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David Ezell (photo by Bruce Cannon)

4. Define your musical style in exactly 10 words.

“Have you an ulterior motive here, Ballard?”

5. What’s your theme song?

“A cross between ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ and ‘(I’m a) Road Runner’ by Junior Walker and the All-Stars. I never could decide.”

6. Gear-wise, what’s is your irreplaceable baby?

“My ’82 Takamine EF360 as it’s the only guitar I own. The first runner-up: my PA.”

7. What’s the most overplayed album in your collection? 

“There are none. I possess no way to listen to music, either at home or in vehicle. It’s OK, though. I’ve come to believe that perhaps it’s best this way. Occasionally, I will admit, I do miss NPR.”

8. When was the last time you were genuinely star-struck?

“Being introduced to Mary Martin at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville in 1989. She’s the former assistant to manager Albert Grossman [of Bob Dylan, the Band, Leonard Cohen, Van Morrison and others].”

9. What’s your poison?

“Being asked to define my musical style in exactly 10 words.”

10. In 10 years, I will be…

“Dancing with the angels’ if they truly are a forgiving lot.”

Tina Withrow Graves, a local music enthusiast and longtime fan of Ezell says that Charleston fans should be in for a treat when he comes to town for a Tuesday night at the Tattooed Moose. “Old fans and fans-in-the-making will hear a mix of upbeat, intelligent, vintage, and modern pop and swing,” she says. “Ezell is an inimitable singer, player, songwriter, poet, and storyteller who delivers the goods with a voice polished smooth by years of interpreting only the best of the musical canon, including familiars like Dylan and Richard Thompson — for whom he has opened — the best of Motown, vintage Western swing, all the way up to and including his own pop gems. If we’re lucky, he might even pull out some a capella gospel.”

As a longtime fixture in the Hub City (Spartanburg) music scene, Ezell is on level with such acts as the Marshall Tucker Band, Uncle Walt’s Band, bluesman Pink Anderson, songwriter Fayssoux Starling McLean, Grammy-nominated Peter Cooper, rocker Matthew Knights, award-winning blues-harpist Freddy Vanderford, and guitarist Brandon Turner.

Ezell frequently hooks up with local punk/country vocalist Johnny Puke in a twangy project called Sin City, too. More often, he performs solo and with special guests around the Carolinas and Southeast. “Charleston has the pleasure of hosting this humble master only once in a while anymore,” Graves says. “This week’s show offers a chance to soak up some truly memorable music.”

David Ezell will perform at the Tattooed Moose on Morrision Drive (downtown) at 9 p.m. on Tues. May 28. Admission is free. Visit for more.

Top photo by Stephen Stinson.



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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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