Interviews DonMerckleBand(GlynCowden)1

Published on April 25th, 2014 | by Ballard Lesemann


The Punch List with Don Merckle

Metronome Charleston‘s Punch List series puts local musicians on the spot with a questionnaire that touches on music, venues, gear, records, vices, and more. This week, singer/songwriter and bandleader Don Merckle (of Don Merckle and the Blacksmiths) takes a turn.

1. What is your favorite local hang and why? 

“The Sparrow [in Park Circle, North Charleston]. It’s just an incredibly cool place to hang out, all around. Great stage, friendly people, fantastic murals, good beer, and Cami [Kind] and the rest of the staff have always treated us well. Go to the Sparrow!”

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

“When you can’t stop smiling. I’m not much of a ‘smiler.’ It’s against my very nature, but after a great show you can’t slap a smile off my face.”

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

“Lucero [a Memphis-based rock quintet]. I’ve seen them many times, but most recently at the Fillmore in Charlotte, opening for Dropkick Murphys. Those guys leave it all on the stage. They’re the type of band that makes you want to go out and start a band. Good music, great songs, and lots of energy. Can’t say enough.”


Don Merckle and the Blacksmiths (provided)

4. Define your musical style in exactly 10 words.

“Honest, lyric-driven songs with an Appalachian foot-stomp swing.”

5. What’s your theme song?

“The theme song to The A-Team [the ’80s TV show] because it’s awesome as fuck! I don’t even know why. I’m just obsessed with it. I was literally humming it like five minutes ago. I think I may have been ‘B.A. Baracus’ in a former life, which is ironic. I have very little pity for fools.”

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

“I’m not much of a gearhead, but I do love my Takamine EG523. I love the big-bodied acoustic guitars. I’m 6’4″, so regular dreadnought style guitars feel too small to me, and Takamine’s can take a beating and still sound good. They’re great road guitars.”

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

“That’s a tough one. I like to listen to a lot of new music but when I plug my iPod in with nothing in particular to listen to, I’ll generally find my way over to the Pogues’ Rum, Sodomy and the Lash. — the quintessential Irish/folk/punk album of all time, in my opinion. Such great songs. [Singer] Shane MacGowan was never better. That album makes you want to fight, drink, cry, scream, sing, and dance — all at the same time. It’s wonderfully confusing.”

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

“I saw Louis CK in New York a few years ago. We were walking in Times Square when I noticed him in the middle of the street. He was filming his show Louie, I think. There looked to be a break in filming, but I was still reticent to approach. Luckily, my friend dragged me over there and introduced me as if she knew him. She didn’t. I’m glad she did, but I’m pretty sure I sounded like an idiot. He was very nice despite my intrusion.”


Jason Brachman and Don Merckle (photo by Glyn Coweden).

9. What’s your poison?

“I’m a Guinness man at heart, but I wont say no to a shot of Bulleit Rye.”

10. In 10 years, I will be…

“Oh, writing songs, playing music, recording albums, traveling the world … I can’t help myself. It’s in the blood.”

Blending twangy and melodic bits of folk, country, rock, and Celtic styles, Charleston-based singer/songwriter Donald “Don” Merckle has been cranking out catchy, hook-filled, lyrically clever tunes for years.

After performing with friends in Loch Ness Johnny and American Gun, he formed Don Merckle and the Blacksmiths with guitarist Jason Brachman, bassist Kevin Pettit, banjo player Chris Lawther, and drummer Stan Gardner. The quintet developed an acoustic guitar-driven Americana style that could easily veer into Irish tavern shenanigans or roadhouse rock roughness.

This weekend, Merckle will perform several shows in the Lowcountry. On Fri. April 25, he and his full band are set to play at Palmetto Brewing Co.’s weekly Loading Dock concert series at the mircobrewery’s building on Huger Street (5-9 p.m.), sharing the stage with Melon and the Mayhem. On Sat. April 26, Merckle, Brachman, and Lawther will share the stage with T.C. Costello at the Sparrow in Park Circle at 9 p.m.

Keep an eye out for the forthcoming Don Merckle and the Blacksmiths studio album The Pugilist this spring.

Visit and for more.

Top photo by Glyn Cowden.



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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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