Piccolo’s Blues & Jazz series keeps bouncing

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Over the last two weeks, Piccolo Spoleto’s Blues & Jazz series covered a lot of ground and a variety of musical styles. Charleston Jazz Initiative’s Legends festival touched on some of the great players, composers, and historical events of the Holy City’s early jazz days. Gary Erwin’s Early Bird Blues Series at Mad River hosted 13 local and regional acts during a hoppin’ happy hour in the Market. The Charleston Jewish Jazz Ensemble delivered a mix of Klezmer and swing at the Brith Sholom Beth Israel Synagogue last week. Ann Caldwell and her combo returned to the Chuma gallery with jazzy blues and gospel sets. Two harbor cruise boats — The Carolina Belle and the Spirit of Charleston — held jazz and blues concerts on the water.

Drummer Ron Free is a featured performer at the JACs Upstairs at McCradys series
  • provided
  • Drummer Ron Free is a featured performer at the JAC's Upstairs at McCrady's series
There’s more to come this week as things wind down.

Presented by the Jazz Artists of Charleston (JAC) as part of Piccolo’s Blues & Jazz series, the Upstairs at McCrady’s series ( at 2 Unity Alley, off of East Bay Street) has been a great success, drawing full-house and crowds in the Gallery Room for a variety of jazz performances. Many of sets sold out. They’ve presented 11 acts so far, and they have two more to go. The Cobblestone Quartet — veteran Charleston sax man George Kenny — performs tonight (Thurs. June 10) at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Admission is $20 (advance) and $25 at the door. On Fri. June 11, the Charleston All-Stars perform a finale set at 8 p.m. Special guest drummer Ron Free — a Charleston native and underground legend who first made his mark in the N.Y.C. jazz scene in the late ’50s and early ’60s —will be on hand alongside pianist Tommy Gill, bassist Kevin Hamilton, and other local players. This event is already sold out.

Skmy Weiner and company on the dock at Bowens
  • T. Ballard Lesemann
  • Skmy Weiner and company on the dock at Bowens
The annual Blues on the Dock series on Bowens Island (at 1870 Bowens Island Road, off of Folly Road) already hosted Texas guitarist Steve James, local boogie-blues band Momma’s Blues Palace, and N.C.-based veteran guitarist “Steady Rollin’” Bob Margolin. Series organizer Andy “Smoky” Weiner — a longtime singer and bandleader himself — says the turnout has been strong and enthusiastic so far. This Saturday. June 12, a local lineup closes the series at the Saturday Night Fish Fry from 8 p.m. to midnight. The acts include sax player Louie Dixson and his band, singer/pianist Ed “Porkchop” Meyer and guests, and Weiner’s own rockin’ combo The Hot Links. Admission is $21 (including food) and $16 (for the concert only).

Check the Blues & Jazz page at piccolospoleto.com for more.

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