Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

Midweek PopCulting In Review

I have a lot to catch up with, as PopCult has been distracted over the last few days with preparations for future episodes of Radio Free Charleston. With so much going on, I’m going to write one big long post with all the details about Saturday’s great local music, so you, my loyal readers, can wallow in the midweek glory that really should have been written a few days ago.

First, up, I want to remind everyone who has a MySpace page that Radio Free Charleston has a presence there as well. Feel free to add us as a friend. You’ll have access to news about upcoming shows before anyone else does, and you’ll get to read exclusive production notes that are too “hot” and have too many mis-spellings and grammatical errors to be published here.

Also, get used to seeing this:

I’ll be posting it frequently, as the date approaches.

There have been some changes here at the Gazzthat I’d like to note, as well. Bill Lynch’s Local Music Blog has mutated into Strange Places, thus freeing Bill from the shackles of the local music scene and allowing him to run wild in the mountain state, covering all sorts of the bizarre things that keep our state from ever being taken seriously by the rest of the country. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Bill’s well-suited to the job. This is going to be a fun read.

Picking up the slack on the local music sceneis the prodigal son, Nick Harrah, who rejoins his Foxy Commander over at the Gatecrasher blog, returning to the Gazz Kool-aid Water Cooler after his foray at that other entertainment paper. Nick’s been invaluable in helping Radio Free Charleston find new stars in the local music scene, and we’ll be reading regularly to see who we can snag for future episodes of RFC.

Speaking of the local music scene, we (yours truly and the lovely Melanie Larch) had a blast last Saturday catching some RFC guests performing in the flesh. First we hit Summerfest in South Charleston to hear The Concept and Seven Minutes Till Midnight. The bands were great, but Summerfest needs a lot of work. As fledging summer festivals go, Summerfest has major problems in terms of booking, preparation, and organization. It was still a lot of fun, but I’d like to offer the folks behind the festival a few pieces of advice for next year:

You really have to make sure that you have PA systems for all the bands. You should never assume that every band will bring their own, or that bands will freely share them with one another. It’s the booker’s responsibility to make sure that the band has a proper sound system. I’d recommend MegaZounds, who did the sound for Davis Park during FestivAll. I’m sure they’re expensive, but they’re worth it. I’m pretty sure they even provide monitors so the bands can hear if they’re playing right, which was not the case Saturday.

You could probably put a little more thought into scheduling the acts. And you should be fair about not letting people run over their allotted time. Fans who came out to hear The Concept and Seven Minutes Till Midnight were cheated because the Hillbilly Karaoke company ran over 40 minutes. The little guy with the wireless mic who looked like Ted Knight in “Caddyshack” should not have kept asking to “hear one more song from Bonnie” while The Concept was waiting to start playing. Maybe he could have taken the hint from the crowd booing every time he did that.

Oh, and Karaoke is NOTentertainment. I think the Karaoke that was committed Saturday was close enough to torture that even our soon-to-be-ex Attorney General Gonzales would flinch at it’s use. Seriously, I heard people in the crowd wishing there were snipers on the rooftops to take out some of the singers.

Aside from the sloppiness concerning the scheduling of the real bands, Summerfest was a lot of fun. Under adverse circumstances, The Concept and Seven Minutes Till Midnight delivered killer sets that were better than they had any right to be. Their professionalism was remarkable.

The Concept’s high energy captivated the crowd, much to my surprise since the crowd didn’t seem like they’d be punk fans to me. Lead singer Mike Withrow’s stage banter is getting more hysterical every time I see the guys, and they really did make the best of a bad situation, performing nearly flawlessly despite not being able to hear themselves. When the little Ted Knight guy got on his mic, without so much as a hand signal to the band, and announced that the next group would start “in five minutes” Mike quickly stepped up and said, “Okay, we only have three songs left!” The band proceeded to rip into “Country Roads,” “Learning To Fly” and “Guitar Pick In My Kool Aid” in five minutes flat, leaving the crowd stunned and wanting more. With the heat and the rapid-fire pace, I was afraid that the band’s rhythm section, Dave and Ross, might need defibrillator’s.

Catch The Concept on Radio Free Charleston here, and here.

Seven Minutes Till Midnight took the stage and held the audience with their virtuosity and songcraft. EJ Shade, though disgusted by the shabby treatment both bands had received by the organizers, put on one hell of a show. Justin James was showing off his new wireless guitar rig and kept running through the archway that was set up for the wedding that followed the band. Roy Graley and Thomas Martin managed to shine despite the band being rushed so that the wedding could start.

Catch Seven Minutes Till Midnight on RFC here.

I was completely impressed by the way both bands, though they were hot, miserable, feeling screwed and under pressure, managed to treat the crowd to some incredible rock and roll.

After braving the heat and the unintentional karaoke exposure, Mel and I headed up to Capitol Roasters where we took in an incredible show by Sean Richardson and Friends. Sean’s friends last Saturday included Mark Davis on drums, Soundcheck’s own T.J. King on percussion, RFC 23’s Jerry Fugate on Mandolin, Whistlepunk’s Karen Allen on vocals, guitar and keyboards, the ubiquitous Deron Sodaro on vocals, guitar, bass, and keyboards, Karen Moore on vocals and Stand-up bass, and Paul Epstein on fiddle. Roasters was packed, and not just with the performers!

It was a great evening, with local luminaries like Larry Groce, LiveMix Studio’s Kai Haynes, John Nelson (from Budget Tapes and Records) and even Gazz Foodblogger Brooke Brown in attendance. Come up and introduce yourself next time, Brooke. Sean promises that I won’t have to run camera again for a while.

Sean’s first set was quieter, featuring covers of tunes by The Shins, Sufjan Stevens and Leonard Cohen. The real treat was the second set, where Sean was joined by an ever-increasing number of “friends” performing some of the amazing original tunes that Sean has penned over the last few months. Sean and a stripped-down collection of friends will be at Taylor Books this Friday, and more gigs are on the horizon. Check back here for more info.

You can see Sean’s old group, The Sleeping Dons, on RFC here and here, and his short film “Unicorns Do Exist” here.

That was the cool music day that Saturday was. Surf back over to PopCult tomorrow for our “Cool Thing” of the week, and a post that updates some of our previous entries here at the old bloggity-blog.

1 Comment

  1. Brooke

    Hey Rudy – you were so focused with your camera duties that I didn’t wanna interrupt! I’ll definitely track you down next time around.

    As for Sean… his performance was completely solid. Hope to make it to Taylor’s on Friday.

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