Sun. July 5
Art's Bar & Grill
Charleston singer/guitarist Everette Bigbee has gigged at Art's Bar & Grill (413 Coleman Blvd. in Mt. Pleasant) on Sunday and Monday evenings several years running, mostly hosting back-to-back open mic nights each week. It became an Old Mt. Pleasant tradition.
The bar's small marquee along Coleman Boulevard still features the simple posting "Open Mic with Ev" every week.
A few months ago, Bigbee shifted his Sunday gigs away from the jam session/open mic thing and toward a proper solo show, in which he'd play several sets by himself with occasional guests.
In recent weeks, his solo sets have reached solid ground, although many of his loyal open mic participants (and a few newcomers) continue to amble into the tavern on Sundays with their guitars in hand, hoping (and expecting) to play their quick sets. Last Sunday evening, for example, two young strummers from local band Campfield — guitarist Chris Baur and Roger Kodrzycki — each got permission from Ev to play quick solo sets in the middle of the headliner's gig. They were okay, but they weren't what some in the crowd has come in to hear and see.
On off nights, Art's Bar is usually pretty laid-back and unfancy. Sunday's crowd was light, but appreciative. Bigbee didn't mind having some extras on stage. "If there was a large audience here specifically to see and hear me play tonight, I wouldn't go along with the open mic thing," Bigbee said from side stage. "But on a laid-back night like tonight, it's not a big deal."
Bigbee's a pretty amiable guy with serious talent and genuine enthusiasm. On stage, he shares with his guests the sense of weirdness and spontaneity that makes for a usually amusing and unpredictably impressive open mic event. It requires extra skills, as he has to shift between roles as performer, backing musician, babysitter, policeman, and emcee.
However, one hopes these solo gigs of his will continue to tighten up as actual solo gigs; when he's on without distraction, he's really on, starting and ending his performances wonderfully alone with a cool, smoky vibe.
Alternating between blues maestro, psychedelic explorer, and soulful balladeer, Bigbee's final set on Sunday included his usual mix of original tunes (some of which he shares with his current rock band Stained Glass Wall) and deep-down classic rockers (Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" is his standard). The highlight demonstrated his expert technique with the loop pedal (a live sampling device) and his most soulful singing during a lengthy rendition of Robert Johnson's "Preachin' Blues (Up Jumped The Devil)" Bigbee laid down a dirty-swngin' rhythm track, and wailed over the top (mostly with slide), sneaking bits of CCR's "Run Through the Jungle" and Hendrix's "Third Stone from the Sun" into the boogie. Hopefully, the Art's regulars and visitors can hear more of that kind of jive every Sunday. —T. Ballard Lesemann
At Art's Bar & Grill (413 Coleman Blvd.), Everette Bigbee performs solo on Sundays at 10 p.m. and conducts weekly open mic events on Mondays at 9 p.m. He also hosts an open mic at Buffalo South (1409 Folly Road) on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. Visit myspace.com/everettebigbee for more.