Soundchecks: Spoleto and Piccolo Spoleto finales, Decolores, The Lemonheads, Piccolo Spoleto cruise

Live music to catch this week

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VARIETY | Spoleto Finale
w/ Benny Starr, the Artisanals, Curtis Harding
Sun. Jun. 9
5 p.m.
$15/children, $35/adult
Riverfront Park

If the neo-soul and throwback stylings of singer Curtis Harding isn't enough to get people out to the 2019 Spoleto Finale, maybe two local favorites will. Indie-folk-rock outfit the Artisanals are set to return to the Holy City with a few surprises for the Spoleto audience. "We're going to be playing probably about three new songs that'll be on the new record, and a lot of the songs off of our debut," says singer Johnny Delaware. The vocalist added that the new songs are a little different, comparing them to psychedelic desert rock, but emphasized that they still feel Artisanal-crafted. "If you've got some hits of acid or some psychedelic 'shrooms, pop 'em," he laughs. The Artisanals will be joined by Benny Starr, just 10 days ahead of his live LP A Water Album release. Starr will be the first rap artist to perform at the Spoleto finale, showing yet another big stride for the Lowcountry hip-hop community. The rapper has been among the most vocal advocates for representation of African-American artists and hip-hop music in the area. Often seen as one of the brightest lights in the music scene, Starr nearly sold out the Charleston Music Hall for the live recording of A Water Album. —Heath Ellison SUNDAY

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TRIBUTE | Piccolo Spoleto Finale
Queen of Soul: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin
w/ Niecy Blues and Admiral Radio
Sat. June 8
8 p.m.
Free
Hampton Park

There are several familiar names involved in the Piccolo Spoleto finale at Hampton Park, including CPMA winner Becca Smith, who will be performing with fellow singer/guitarist Coty Hoover as part of the acoustic duo Admiral Radio, and Niecy Blues, who will do a set of her sinuous, jazz-inflected soul pop. The main event here, though, is singer Black Diamond's stunning tribute to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. Produced by another dazzling performer, Zandrina Dunning, the tribute brought the house down at the Charleston Music Hall in May. Diamond is a compelling live performer, and with the help of a smokin' nine-piece band and one of the greatest catalogs in the history of soul music — hell, any music — she rose to the occasion and paid fitting tribute to Aretha. There may never be another like Miss Franklin, but at least we have people like Black Diamond to do justice to her classic songs. —Vincent Harris SATURDAY

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MELTING POT JAZZ-FOLK-SOUL | DECOLORES: An Evening with Leah Suarez & Friends
w/ Gerald Gregory, Ben Wells, and Gino Castillo
Thurs. June 6
6:30 p.m.
$25
Suzanne Allen Studio

Nominally speaking, Leah Suarez is a jazz singer and pianist. At least that's what she studied at the College of Charleston. But her range as a vocalist goes far beyond that, as her performance at Suzanne Allen Studio will demonstrate. Her repertoire for the evening will move from jazz to world music to blues to the bolero, a stylistic range that she says is reflective of the American experience. "To me the music I play is a mixture," she says. "Just like the Americas are a melting pot, so am I. I really have a strong tradition in jazz, but it's all folk music really." One of Suarez's main collaborators for this show is Gerald Gregory, a pianist she's been working with on and off for nearly 20 years. "We share this language that makes it easier to communicate," she says. "To create this music together will be especially poignant. To make music where you're past that first layer of getting to know each other is more liberating and freeing. We don't have to speak about half of the things we're doing, because that's where the magic lies: in trusting the people you're working with." —Vincent Harris THURSDAY

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ALTERNATIVE ROCK | The Lemonheads
Sat. June 8
8 p.m.
$22
Music Farm

Probably known most famously for their cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson," the Lemonheads now dig from a well that goes much deeper than '90s pop radio. With a career spanning over 30 years, the band has changed their sound on more than one occasion. Now, they've ditched their punk/college rock roots and fully embraced a laid-back rock approach, seemingly inspired by the sand and surf of California. Still, the band will cover a song or two. "Take it Easy" by the Eagles, now delivered by the Lemonheads, drops June 14 and is already finding its way into folks' ears on all streaming platforms. The band's new record also flirts with outlaw country vibes, and even some reggae. This new sound for the Lemonheads is curious to say the least, and a brave step for an already accomplished group. —Henry Clark SATURDAY

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HIP-HOP | Piccolo Spoleto Cruise
w/ Abstract that Rapper, Jah Jr., Semkari, DJ Scrib
Thurs. Jun. 6
7:30 p.m.
$25
Spiritline Cruise, Fountain Walk Aquarium Wharf

One of the liberties afforded to Piccolo Spoleto is thinking outside of the box. So what does a laid-back local arts festival need more than anything? A high-energy rap show on the Charleston Harbor, complete with three unique flavors of Lowcountry hip-hop. Jazz-rap provocateur Abstract That Rapper organized the event to bring two of his favorite artists out for a boat show. "This is going to be a Spoleto hip-hop show," says Abstract. "I would like to say [it's] the vibes of when I go to the Royal American or when I go to the Purple Buffalo. I want to keep those vibes similar, but I would like to provide it with a very hard hitting local aspect." According to the rapper, everything has a taste of the local world in it. Dublin, Ga. trap artist Jah Jr. feels "extremely happy and honored" to be in the mix. "Having the ability to integrate our art into any event or anything curated is a blessing," Jah says. "I'm just thankful for the opportunity." As always, DJ Scrib will join Jah to liven up his already great production. And R&B-rap hybrid Semkari spins his signature mixture of nerd-culture references with impeccable flow. —Heath Ellison THURSDAY

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