Published on March 6th, 2013 | by Ballard Lesemann


Ticker: News Bits from Charleston’s Music Scene

Skwirl Grinda Snags Round One

Local radio station 98 Rock and West Ashley music venue the Tin Roof kicked off the first round of “Locals Rock the Roof” on May 4 with performances from three Charleston-area bands: alt-metal quintet Five Silent Miles, quirky power-pop/garage-rock trio Actual Size, and heavy-rockin’ combo Skwirl Grinda (pictured above). A small panel of judges (including Metronome Charleston) scored Swirl Grinda as the top act of the night.

The winners from each round will compete in the finals on April 1. Prizes for the top winners included recording time and CD production at Charleston Sound, a $1,000 gift card at Encore Music, a live recording courtesy of Encore Music, airplay on 98 Rock, and a headlining gig at the Tin Roof. Round Two is coming up on Mon. March 11. Visit for more.

Jailbreak Welcomes Brave Baby, Luke Cunningham, the Royal Tinfoil, and Steven Fiore

Presented by Entropy Arts and Ear For Music, the semi-annual Jail Break series announced the lineup for its next concert and festival at the historic Old City Jail on Magazine Street. A wide array of artists, musicians, and dancers will be on hand on Sat. April 27 from 4-11 p.m.


Brave Baby (photo by Apartment A)

Organizer Andrew Walker created Jail Break in the fall of 2010 after organizing Entropy Arts. “This season, fashion designers will show their work and join the ranks inside the jailhouse, where new and veteran artists and comedians are reclaiming the cell walls with their masterpieces,” he states in a press release.

Charleston Dance Alliance will present performances on the main lawn during the Jail Break festivities. Other events include artisans’ markets, local food trucks, and musical stages.

The official Jailbreak band lineup includes indie-pop band and Hearts & Plugs recording artist Brave Baby, rootsy pop-rock combo the Luke Cunningham Band (with special guests Ryan Bonner and Tyler Mecham), twangy/rockin’ ensemble the Royal Tinfoil, and soulful pop singer/songwriter Steven Fiore.

Tickets are available for $15 in advance and $20 at the gate ($15 with a student ID). Beer and wine will be available for purchase. Visit for more.


Megan Jean and the KFB (photo by KT Nichols/Anchor Star Photography)

Megan Jean and the KFB To Relocate to Atlanta

After five years based in and around Charleston, the ever-roaming wife-and-husband duo Megan Jean and the Klay Family Band announced that they’ll be relocating to Atlanta this winter.

Lead singer/guitarist/percussionist Megan Jean Glemboski and banjo player/bassist Byrne Klay landed in North Charleston from New York in 2008. They toured regularly and independently released several collections of macabre/groovy original songs.

Their latest is a Kickstarter-funded, slinky collection titled The Devil Herself. The duo headlined a CD release show at the Tin Roof on March 1 (see gallery).

“We’ll be leaving the Lowountry after a 200-date 2013 tour,” Megan Jean announced on Facebook this week. “The decision was prompted by several factors. We developed our sound here and found our calling. For that, we will always carry the Lowcountry in our hearts. We will come back as frequently as you’ll have us, but for now, we’re staying mobile. Godspeed Charleston, and may you forever be, the jewel of the South.”

Check out for more.


Madra Rua (provided)

Madra Rua Turns 10

Congrats to the Madra Rua Irish Pub in Park Circle for reaching its 10 year anniversary last week. The cozy venue on E. Montague Avenue celebrated with a big block party on March 3. The pub has regularly booked Celtic folk and acoustic acts throughout the years.

On the occasion, North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey put it like this: “A decade after opening its doors, Madra Rua has become a fixture as Park Circle’s most authentic Irish Pub. Owners Robert Spencer and Stephen O’Connor grasped our vision for the Park Circle area early on and have been a key component in its revitalization, drawing patrons to our community and taking a key role in events and festivals for our neighborhood families.” Checkout for more.

Rachel Kate and Charlton Singleton Reach Kickstarter Goals

Two prominent Charleston artists who were nervously striving to reach their goals with Kickstarter funding campaigns reached their ambitious goals last week. Both results came down to the final hours. Jazz trumpeter and songwriter Charlton Singleton (of the Jazz Artists of Charleston) raised more then $12,000 to fund a new album of originals titled Soul Cavern. Indie songwriter Rachel Kate Gillon raised more than $9,000 to pay for the production of her forthcoming 10-song debut solo album. Visit and for more.


Darius Rucker — the best musician in Charleston? (provided)

A Few ‘Best Of’ Winners

The Charleston City Paper published its annual “Best of Charleston” issue on March 6. Tallied from online polling over the winter, the top “readers’ picks” included categories covering city life, politics, arts, media, cuisine, bars, recreation, and shops. In the “Culture, Arts & Entertainment” section, a handful of Charleston based musicians and venues won in several categories:

Rock Music Club — The Pour House
Music Concert of 2012 — Southern Ground Music Festival
Jazz & Blues Club — Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ
Local Band — The Royal Tinfoil
Jazz Band — Gradual Lean
Musician — Darius Rucker
Female Vocalist — Cary Ann Hearst
Male Vocalist — Darius Rucker
Karaoke Night — Upper Deck Tavern
Club DJ — NattyHeavy
Hip-Hop Club — NV
Local Hip-Hop Artist — Righchus

Govt Mule2

Gov’t Mule (provided)

Extra Music, Comedy and More at the PAC and Coliseum

The North Charleston Performing Arts Center and North Charleston Coliseum recently added some impressive concerts to their calendar.

Georgia-based powerhouse Gov’t Mule — led by singer/guitarist Warren Haynes — swing through the Lowcountry on April 21 behind a new six-disc collection called Georgia Bootleg Box (Evil Teen), the first installment of a “bootleg series” of live albums.

Alt-rock band Needtobreathe (a Lowcountry-based band that rarely plays in town) celebrated the released of a new EP titled Keep Your Eyes Open (Atlantic) last fall. Singer/guitarist Bear Rinehart, brother/guitarist Bryant Rinehart, bassist Seth Bolt, and company initially scheduled a show at the Family Circle Stadium on Daniel Island on May 11, but they’ve relocated it to the PAC for that evening.

Top-selling country superstar Jason Aldean recently kicked off the first leg of his 2013 Night Train Tour. He and two opening acts — Jake Owen and Thomas Rhett — are due for a big show at the Coliseum on May 17.

Veteran comedian and actor Kevin James (of TV’s The King of Queens) is solid for a performance at the PAC on June 7 as part of his national stand-up comedy tour, Kevin James Live.

The fifth annual Lowcountry Jazz Festival — a three-night series of smooth jazz, blues, and modern R&B shows — returns to the PAC Aug. 3-Sept. 1. Among the headliners are electric/acoustic bassist Stanley Clarke, keyboardist George Duke, pianist Joe Sample (of the Crusaders), vocalist Randy Crawford (also of the Crusaders), and saxophonists Dave Koz, Richard Elliot, Gerald Albright, and Mindi Abair.

Reserved seat tickets for the concerts are on sale at the PAC’s ticket office, all Ticketmaster outlets, by phone at (800) 745-3000.

Check out the full 2013 lineup and ticket info at


Bill Burr (provided)

Charleston Music Hall Books Big Shows

The Charleston Music Hall has also added a handful of notable shows to its calendar, too.

The South Carolina Irish Historical Society will present celtic acoustic group Derek Warfield and the Young Wolfe Tones on Tues. March 12.

Carolina singer/songwriter Edwin McCain and Kentucky-based mandolin player Sam Bush are on for “Live at the Charleston Music Hall” on Sat. March 30 at 8 p.m. The Chucktown Music Group, Charliewood Pictures, and the College of Charleston are collaborating to film the show as part of a forthcoming television series.

Guy’s guy comedian Bill Burr will stroll on stage on Thurs. April 11 at 7 p.m. Based in New York, Burr regularly performs stand-up. He’s also hosts his won weekly podcasts. His latest special is titled “You People Are All The Same.”

The inaugural DIG SOUTH Festival — a local multimedia conference scheduled for April 12-14— will host two “sideshow” concerts on April 12 with sets from local trio Dangermuffin, Mississippi band Rosco Bandana, and N.C.-born soul singer Lee Fields and his band the Expressions (visit for the full lineup and details.

The Philadelphia-based Irish-American folk-rock troupe Solas (the name is Gaelic for “light”) is solid for a concert at the Hall on Thurs. May 10.

Visit for more.


John Brannen, 2012 (photo by Adam Chandler)

John Brannen Arrested and Charged

Charleston-based Americana/roots/country music John Brannen — a veteran songwriter and singer/guitarist — was arrested by Mt. Pleasant police on March 4 and charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of committing a lewd act on a child under 14. According to local news reports, a nine-year-old girl has accused the 60-year-old musician of sexual abuse. An affidavit states that Brannen engaged in sexual battery with the girl when she was between the ages of six and eight.



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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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