Live Music: Sol Slam; Vundabar; Don Merckle; Jeff Austin Band

Great live music to check out this week

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SUMMER JAMS | Sol Slam
w/ Sol Driven Train, Josh Roberts & the Hinges, Danielle Howle, Jordan Igoe, Rushad Eggleston, the Broadcast, Marcus King Band, Gaslight Street, Sunflowers & Sin, and WoSe
Fri. July 31- Sat. Aug 1
Fri. 9 p.m., Sat. 12:30 p.m.
$30/weekend pass, $15/Fri. night
Sat. $20/full day, $5/until 8 p.m., $15/from 8 p.m.
The Windjammer

For half a decade, Sol Driven Train has spearheaded the Isle of Palms festival Sol Slam, featuring oceanfront vibes and music from Charleston artists and beyond. For Sol Driven Train lead guitarist and vocalist Joel Timmons, it’s like reliving his childhood dreams. “I used to ride my bike to the Windjammer all the time and hang out and watch the bands load in and peek over the fence at the bikini contest,” he says. This year, the two-day fest kicks off on Friday with Sol Driven Train and continues on Saturday with African drum and dance group WoSe, Tennessee trio Sunflowers & Sin, Southern funkadelics the Marcus King Band, soul rockers Gaslight Street, Charleston rock ‘n’ rollers Josh Roberts & The Hinges, Americana-country favorites Danielle Howle and Jordan Igoe, wacky celloist Rushad Eggleston, and Asheville headliners the Broadcast. The finale will be a Sol Driven Train alumni concert, featuring both past and present band members. “It’s been neat to see how the careers of the various bands that have been a part of this have taken off,” says Timmons. The event will also include demonstrations from Charleston SUP Safaris, and if you purchase an all-weekend pass, you’ll get 10-percent off your bar tab and a downloadable mixtape of tracks by Sol Slam artists. Proceeds will benefit the nonprofit Music & Memory, which seeks to trigger memories through music in elderly people struggling with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other cognitive and physical challenges. The band also asks attendees to bring a digital music player or Amazon or iTunes giftcard as donations. First-time Uber riders can get a free ride (up to $20) to or from the venue with code SOLSLAM. —Kalyn Oyer FRIDAY AND SATURDAY

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JANGLY POP | Vundabar
w/ Scott Dence & Ned Brash Two-Man Band
Wed. August 5
10 p.m.
$5
Tin Roof

Hailing from Massachusetts, Vundabar began as a seemingly picture-perfect childhood friendship between bandmates Drew McDonald and Brandon Hagen. The two grew up next door to each other and bonded over their love of music before forming a rock trio with bassist Zack Abramo. Vundabar is a self-proclaimed “all-over-the-place” band, and they’re not just talking about what genre of music they play. The group spent about half of the last year traveling all over Europe and the U.S. and are now on yet another month-long tour to promote their newest album, Gawk. The group’s sound is indie, jangly pop, similar to the likes of the Pixies and Thee Oh Sees. “Oulala,” their newest single, is four-and-a-half minutes of catchy goodness that demonstrates the musical maturity the band has gained since their first album, Antics. Caitlin McCann, a friend and photographer of the group, recently released a photo magazine detailing the group’s latest tour, which sold out in mere hours. As for their live show, Hagen says, “We boogie, we groove, we swing, we shake, we turn up the heat, and then cool it down. We’ll foam your milk.”—Kye Toscano WEDNESDAY

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AMERICANA | Don Merckle & the Blacksmiths
w/ Trainwrecks and Erin Johns
Sat. Aug. 1
5 p.m.
$10 suggested donation
Palmetto Brewing

The last time we caught up with frontman of Charleston Americana act Don Merckle and the Blacksmiths, Merckle hinted at working on a solo album. Now he’s able to reveal a little more about the project, which he says is his first endeavor into lone territory. “It’s a solo venture — sans the Blacksmiths — with horns and pianos and a bit of a different vibe,” he says. Merckle has also launched an Indiegogo campaign to help get the new LP off the ground, with a goal of $5,000 by mid-September. On the site, Merckle tugs at the heartstrings by explaining that the songs are all about his grandparents. “This collection of songs is probably some of the most personal and the most challenging I have ever written,” he says. “They tell a story. It’s not a ‘beginning-to-end’ story but a snapshot-by-snapshot of two lives as they overcame great challenges and celebrated joyous moments.” Merckle will tour with the Blacksmiths this fall before he keeps truckin’ on his own. This Saturday marks Palmetto Brewing’s first Palmetto Summer Jam, where Merckle will be joined by local master of the mandolin, Aaron Firetag. —Kelly Rae Smith SATURDAY

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GRASSROCK | Jeff Austin Band
w/ Rodeo Clown
Friday, July 31
9:30 p.m.
$17/adv., $20/door
The Pour House

Former Yonder Mountain String Band singer and mandolin player Jeff Austin released his debut solo album earlier this year, The Simple Truth, and it was quite a departure from his previous band’s progressive bluegrass sound. Sure, anyone familiar with Yonder Mountain will enjoy the high-lonesome acoustic foot-tapper “Fiddling Around,” but the straight-ahead acoustic/electric rock of “What the Night Brings” and the brassy-funk groove of the title track certainly must have raised some eyebrows among the bluegrass purists. Don’t ask Austin or his band (Danny Barnes on banjo and guitar, guitarist Ross Martin, and bass player Eric Thorin) how people reacted to the album, though — to them, The Simple Truth is ancient history. “The record’s kind of become its own shadow in the distance,” Austin says. “The thing that I see as making the difference is the people coming to see the shows. It’s not really about the record. Within the live experience, that’s the place where we notice when we finish a set that people are really having a good time and kind of going a little crazy.” That response to his live show has been a welcome one for Austin, who took some time off after leaving Yonder Mountain to be with his growing family. “To see people taking a chance and listening and coming out and responding — it’s been a very encouraging thing,” Austin says. “The music we’re making is being appreciated by people, and I appreciate that. Music is not just how I make a living; it’s bigger than that. This is what I’m supposed to be doing.” —Vincent Harris FRIDAY


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