Sol Driven Train celebrates sun, fun and more at fourth annual Sol Slam at The Windjammer

With a warm personality, sunny positivity and soulful musical vibe, Charleston-based quintet Sol Driven Train truly lives up to its name.

Specializing in a groove-heavy mix of reggae, soul, Americana and funk, they’ve earned a loyal following in town and around the Southeast over the past 12 years or so.

Sister Hazel hangs hard with fans at the Isle of Palms

T. Ballard Lesemann Special to The Post and Courier
May 28 2014 9:00 am


Florida-based rock band Sister Hazel values its fan base. Since bursting onto the Southeastern alternative rock scene in the mid-1990s, the melodic, hook-laden quintet from the college town of Gainesville has developed a healthy and mutually supportive relationship with longtime fans known as the “HazelNuts.”

This weekend at the Isle of Palms venue the Windjammer, all five members of Sister Hazel – singer/guitarist Ken Block, bassist Jett Beres, drummer Mark Trojanowski, and guitarists Drew Copeland and Ryan Newell – will welcome old friends, hardcore supporters and a few newcomers to the ninth annual HazelNut Hang, a three-day residency at the club which will run from May 30 through June 1.

Since its earliest days on the road, Sister Hazel has considered the Isle of Palms a home away from home, and they particularly enjoy the beach setting and vibes at the Windjammer. Keeping with tradition, this weekend’s HazelNut Hang will includes door prizes, competitions, acoustic and plugged-in jam sessions, special guests and VIP packages.
“It’s a laid-back hang where we get to do fun activities, games, contests and barbecues all weekend, and with a limited amount of tickets,” says Sister Hazel bassist Beres, speaking this week from Nashville where he and the band have been writing and working on new demos for their forthcoming album.

“Just hanging out on the back deck with everyone is a blast. The same HazelNuts get in on it every year. It’s been an institution for us and the fans.”

‘Jammer affair
Sister Hazel landed on the national stage shortly after forming in Gainesville in 1996. The smash success of the major label debut, 1996’s “Somewhere More Familiar,” came after the release of the catchy single “All For You.”

South Carolina’s Hootie and the Blowfish had recently made waves with “Cracked Rear View,” their Grammy Award-winning debut containing the hits “Hold My Hand,” “Let Her Cry,” and “I Only Want to Be with You.”

Sister Hazel’s acoustic/electric Southern pop-rock style paired nicely with that of Hootie’s and other modern alt-rock bands of the time.

“We’ve always had a lot of musical influences between the five of us, but we’re each very much on the creative front,” Beres says. “The ’70s California sound is in there, the hometown Skynyrd/Tom Petty influence is there (both acts started out in the Gainesville area), and the college radio stuff from the 1990s that we grew up with is there, too. We’ve learned over the years how to embrace everyone’s differences while protecting a song. We have a strong idea of how a song should take shape and work.”

From the acoustic guitar intro through the richly textured arrangement, “All For You” bounced with a easy-going rhythm and a comfortable four-chord pattern with lead singer/guitarist Ken Block’s twangy, emotive delivery over the top.

The simple melody in the catchy chorus of “All For You” – “It’s hard to say what it is I see in you … words can’t say and I can’t do enough to prove/It’s all for you” – easily sticks in the listener’s head. It’s remains a fan favorite these days.

“We’ve learned to define our own sound without worrying about how we compare to other bands,” Beres says. “The more prolific we become, the better we can do that, keeping in mind that a good song is a good song.”

Sister Hazel’s weekend at the Windjammer will include door prizes, competitions, acoustic and plugged-in jam sessions, special guests and VIP packages. Sister Hazel’s weekend at the Windjammer will include door prizes, competitions, acoustic and plugged-in jam sessions, special guests and VIP packages.
Sister Hazel will perform May 30 through June 1 at the Windjammer on the Isle of Palms. Sister Hazel will perform May 30 through June 1 at the Windjammer on the Isle of Palms.
Sister Hazel will perform May 30 through June 1 at the Windjammer on the Isle of Palms. Sister Hazel will perform May 30 through June 1 at the Windjammer on the Isle of Palms.
“All For You” became the highest chart single of the band’s career. Through the late ’90s and early 2000s, they continued to record and release solid original material, and they toured heavily every year.

Beres says that he and his bandmates fell in love with the Windjammer and the Isle of Palms even before the success of their major label release.

“Club manager Bobby Ross gave us a chance early on,” he remembers. “We’d always wanted to play the Windjammer because it was one of those special places on the Southeast touring circuit that had a great reputation. It was a great stop, and it was right on the beach. A last-minute cancelation by another Gainesville band led to our first gig there, and they seemed to like us. The club became a home for us.”

“After we broke through with ‘All For You,’ we were able to draw more people and play at bigger venues, but always tried to go back to the ‘Jammer to do extra shows or just to visit,” Beres adds. “Bobby and the staff are like family to us. We started doing these extended three-day weekends around the same time we’d started doing the Rock Boat events. That’s when we decided to really design the HazelNut Hang as a cool, intimate, interactive event for the fans.”

In 2001, they designed a unique musical cruise/music festival event called “Rock Boat” as a fun and intensely interactive experience for their fans. Over the past 13 years, Sister Hazel has hosted the cruise ship bash with a variety of songwriters and up-and-coming acts as special guests.

“It’s remarkable to see and hear how some fans have come together, met, and even started families through the music and these annual events,” Beres says of the Rock Boat cruises and HazelNut Hangs. “There’s a great camaraderie and community spirit.”

Evolution of the Hang
This weekend’s VIP “HazelNut Case Package,” which includes admission to all of the concerts, copies of the band’s new concert DVD “20 Stages,” and private “hang-out” shows early in the afternoons, already is sold out. Tickets are still available for the individual shows.

“Last year, we did a Friday afternoon Mad-Lib karaoke on the back deck, which was hilarious, and then we had a special sunset meet-and-greet on that Saturday,” Beres says. “There are different levels of packaging available again this year.”

This weekend’s events include full-on “evening with” concerts at 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights and a stripped-down, all-ages acoustic performance at noon Sunday.

“I think our music tends to stand up and cross those generation gaps, and I can see that at the HazelNut Hang every year,” Beres says. “I’ve recently heard a fan say, ‘Sister Hazel’s music is the one thing my daughter and I can agree on.’ At our shows now, you’ll see couple in their 40s standing next to a group of sorority girls and a group of parents with their kids, so that’s pretty cool.”

Fans can expect a healthy mix of Sister Hazel classics and new songs at every show this weekend from the deep cuts of “Somewhere More Familiar” to the anthems, ballads, and groovers from the band’s latest studio album, 2010’s “Heartland Highway.” They’ll likely share a few new tunes from the forthcoming studio project as well.

“We tour so much that we rarely need to practice,” Beres says with a laugh. “Most of the stuff is well worked out on the road. But for something like the HazelNut Hang or the Rock Boat events, we’ll plan a full-day of rehearsal to tighten up on any new material or really old material. We’ve been playing together so long, we’ve pretty much got it.”


A Conversation With Sugarland’s Kristian Bush

The number “three” holds a special significance for singer-songwriter Kristian Bush. Music fans in Charleston might remember Bush as one half of the folks rock duo Billy Pilgrim, which enjoyed quite a following here in the 90‘s thanks to radio station 96 Wave playing songs such as “Insomniac.” Nowadays, Bush is a founding member of the country supergroup Sugarland, which has sold 14 million albums worldwide and won numerous music awards. Bush, who plays a special solo show this Friday at the Windjammer on the Isle of Palms, says that for the last 20 years, his music has followed a curious cycle. “It happens in March of every year with a three in it,” says Bush, speaking by phone from his home in Atlanta. “March of 1993 is when Billy Pilgrim got its deal with Atlantic Records, March of 2003 is when Sugarland signed with Universal Records, and this past March was when I released “Love and Money,” my solo single.” That solo effort is a perfect example of Bush’s songwriting style, with playful, catchy lyrics set to an equally intoxicating melody.

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Idol’s Lee DeWyze hits the Windjammer

American Idol Season 9 winner, Lee DeWyze, will share a bill with Charleston’s own Tyler Boone on Thurs. Dec. 5 at The Windjammer. Before winning Idol, DeWyze released two indie records with WuLi Records, and he played all the instruments — drums, guitar, banjo, mandolin, and piano — on his first discs.

The Official Pre & Post Party of The Southern Ground Music & Food Festival

Pre Party:   John Driskell Hopkins & Balsam Range  With  The Jeb Stuart Band

Tickets are $20 Advance or $15 at the door if you show a copy of the CD “DAYLIGHT” By John Driskell Hopkins & Balsam Range. $20 at the door without a CD

(Doors 8PM)

Discount not available with Advance Ticket Sales


Post Party:  Coy Bowles and The Fellowship With Matt MacKelcan

Tickets are only $10

(Doors 9PM)

“Coy and his band will be here right after Zac Brown Band finishes their show at Southern Ground Music & Food Festival!

Last year this was a Private event!

The Paul Tucker Memorial Jam!!

Back in the 80’s I was very fortunate to be part of an incredible musical experience called the Jumper Cables. The Cables were a scary good band and a major part of that scary goodness was the world class rhythm section. This rhythm section consisted of my present BootyRanch cohort Stevie Kent on the drums and our dear friend and recently departed Brother Mr. Paul Tucker. For those of you who are not aware, Paul passed away last year and we never really got the chance to give him a suitable sendoff to the other side. I am pleased to announce that on August 17th we will be doing just that. We will be having a musical celebration of Paul’s life and times and we want to invite all you lovers of good music to come out and join us for the day and well into the night. We are having a day long celebration with lots of good food, lots of good music and a whole lot of good people. There will be award winning BBQ and sides courtesy of our good friend and Brother Sean Shrum. If any of you want to bring food as well, please feel free to do so. Trying to keep it down home and countryfried. We’ll also be having some awesome silent auction action all day long. Some cool stuff is up for grabs including some nice autographed musical memoriblia. The music will be pretty much non-stop and will be provided by people who were all friends and fans of Paul’s musical and personal style. All kickass. All of the time. The only thing missing is YOU. If you dig killer guitar stylings and killer music in general then this is a show that you do NOT want to miss. Part of the proceeds will be going to help with Paul’s daughters’ college expenses so we are hoping to make this a sold out show. Come on out and celebrate the life and times of our good friend Paul Tucker with us. Tickets are $12 online and $15 at the door on the day of the show. Doors open at 3PM, music starts at 4PM and goes til it don’t go no more. Hope to see you there!Johnny Mac
Here’s the band schedule.

4:00 to 4:30 Hott w/ Harry Leggs.

Some good friends from Macon Ga. If it wasn’t for their guitarist, Bobby Carr, I would never have even met Paul Tucker.

4:45 to 5:15 Berkeley

Supremely Bluesy stuff from right here in Chucktown.

5:30 to 6:00 The Port City Prophets.

These guys were Charleston’s representatives to this year’s IBC Blues Challenge.

6:15 to 7:00 Those High Mountain Rockin’ Remedy Guys

These are some of my favorite musicians and they will kick da major ass. And I hear these guys are gonna play some Sea Level stuff in honor of Mr. Tucker. Nice.

7:15 to 9:00 The BootyRanch w/ Special guests

Sitting in with the ranch will be Michael Davis, Brad Henty, Marty Parker, Johnny Cathcart and the lovely and awesomely talented “Bubbles”. We will also be doing a special Cables set in honor of Paul.

9:30 until they is done The Swimming Pool Q’s

Cool band out of the ATL. These guys were tearin’ it up back at the Jammer in the 80’s and were the first signed band ever to play the Jammer. This appearance coincides with the re-release of the Swimming Pool Q’s: The A&M Years 1984 -1986.

Toad the Wet Sprocket here Monday July 22nd

When Monty Python’s Eric Idle created the fictional band “Toad the Wet Sprocket” for the program “Rutland Weekend Television” in 1975, he never dreamed that anyone would actually use such a silly name. Fast forward to 1986, when four California teens adopted the monicker as a joke for their first gig at a Goleta, CA watering hole called The Shack.

Against all odds, the joke became permanent. “Toad the Wet Sprocket” has been touring ever since with all four original members: lead singer Glen Phillips, guitarist Todd Nichols, bassist Dean Dinning, and drummer Randy Guss. From 1989-1998, they made 5 studio albums which combined sold over four million copies, had five major radio hits, and won over audiences across North America and Europe.