Last week was a good one for music here in town. On Thursday, I caught The Coal Men (above) at the Empty Glass. I’d reviewed their CD in The Gazz last week, and was really looking forward to seeing them in person. They did not disappoint. Then on Saturday, Mel and I observed the 18th anniversary of the day we met by indulging in a gourmet French meal at Cafe De Paris, and we got to hear a little bit of the world-class jazz from The Paris Project before we headed next door to check out Sean Richardson, Karen Allen and friends at Capitol Roasters. It was a great few days for live music in Charleston, with the events we attended, plus Chris Botti at the Clay Center on Friday, and my adopted nephews The Concept at the Blue Parrot Saturday night (we would’ve been there, too, but that would have made the night way too long).
The Coal Men were a real treat Thursday night. Despite the crowd not being huge, the band put on a tremendous show, and it’s a sure bet that they’ll be back for a weekend gig in the future. The guys were one of the tightest musical units I’ve seen, recreating songs live as a three-piece that were more than faithful to their CD counterparts, which featured extra musicians. In addition to most of their latest CD, “Beauty Is A Moment,” The Coal Men played tunes from their earlier releases and also treated the crowd to a couple of Merle Haggard covers. It’s always a blast to see a band giving their all, and I can’t wait until these guys come back to town.
Saturday night I got dressed up in my Junior Mafia get-up (left) and took Mel to Cafe De Paris for dinner and jazz. It was a great night, the only drawback being that we had to sit in the smoking section to hear the music. It was the first time I’d eaten around tobacco smoke in twenty years, and that’s why Radio Free Charleston’s next episode will be delayed a week. July 1 can not get here soon enough for me. We didn’t realize we were in a smoking section until the owner of the place lit up a Marlboro right as our food arrived.
Before the smoke robbed me of the ability to taste, the food was marvelous. I had Salmon wrapped in Sole, on a bed of rice. The real reason we went there was to hear The Paris Project(seen at right), featuring Tenor Sax masters Marshall Petty and Dugan Carter and friends, and we will definitely be going back to hear them again. We’ll get there early enough to eat in the no-smoking section, but we will go back. It’s amazing to get that quality of Jazz in Charleston, and it’s a scene that is woefully overlooked. Musically, it’s one of the most hoppin’ things going on in town.
However, we took our leave early–tobacco smoke will do that to me–and headed next door to Capitol Roasters, where we chilled out (overdressed as we were) to listen to a couple of our favorite area musicians, (seen left) Sean Richardson, Karen Allen and friends. The friends, on this night included Mandolin player Jerry Fugate (Camera Two on the Feast Of Stephen Episode of RFC) as well as Captain Crash and The Beauty Queen From Mars and a rap duo, whose name I didn’t get. It was a great way to end our anniversary evening, since we first met at a Stark Raven CD release party at the Charleston Playhouse all those years ago. You can’t deny the power of the local music scene.
Sean and Karen will be at Ric Cochran’s Lighthouse Cafe at the Baptist Temple this Friday, and I’ll be telling you more about that later in the week. The next episode of Radio Free Charleston, our “show without words” will go online next week.