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Charleston Music Confab expands to four-day industry conference and showcase

Little By Little



Last year, there was controversy on social media regarding the lack of diversity at New Music Confab, the music conference held in Charleston and helmed by founder Dave Stewart, who has 25 years of experience in radio programming. Modeled after Austin's SXSW, New Music Confab was in its second year, and Stewart said he'd love to expand to other genres as the event grew. Now in its third year, the event has certainly done just that and picked up a new name to boot: Charleston Music Confab.

Once a three-day event, Charleston Music Confab is now a four-day deal featuring, you guessed it, hip-hop. Stewart says it's a huge format that he's glad to welcome to the Confab fold. "For the first two years it was a process," says Stewart. "It's not like I could just pick up the phone and talk to the head of a label, say 'Will you come,' and that's it. There are only so many hours in the day, and I'm a one-man-band, so I had the aspect of continuing the relationships that I already had on the rock and pop side of things but that gave me more time to work on developing contacts in other genres, like the hip-hop and R&B worlds."

Charleston Music Confab also added a singer-songwriter element this year, which delves into various genres in and of itself. As for venues, Upstairs at JohnKing and Kingdom Bar & Grill are new to the event, while Charleston Music Hall, the Music Farm, and the Royal American return this year as participating venues, all featuring varied showcases all weekend.

Another new feature is the Charleston Music Confab Vinyl Fair at the Charleston Music Hall this Saturday from 10 a.m. 'til 4 p.m. — it's free for the public to attend. The fair will go hand-in-hand with an added panel discussion called Vinyl Isn't Dead, But Are Albums?, during which industry leaders discuss the different avenues for artists to make music these days. "Say an artist has two great songs — should they put them out now or should they wait and get 10 together and do an album?" Stewart explains. "There's really no right or wrong answer, but it'll be good for discussion."

New forums debuting this weekend include Streaming: Don't be Scared!, highlighting the complexities of getting music to the world, and Publish or Perish. "Nashville has that whole community where you can make a living as a songwriter and such a big part of that is being able to get a publishing deal, " Stewart says. "It's very confusing and it's difficult to maneuver so we have a panel that's just dedicated to discussing how to navigate that."

There will be additional discussions on artist branding, recording, touring, team building, social media, and more — all of which happen during mornings and afternoons Thursday through Sunday, while the nights are filled with showcases. Wednesday night kicks off the conference with a cocktail party at Kingdom Bar & Grill followed by the first showcase at the Music Farm, featuring artists from multiple genres, including hip-hop and rock.

Over 3,100 artists from around the world submitted to perform — via Confab sponsor Reverbnation. Of those, 62 different acts were chosen, many of whom are from the Lowcountry and South Carolina. The full showcase schedule is below, and you can purchase a pass and learn more about each artist, panelist, and panel at


Wed. Aug. 30

8 p.m. Music Farm
SeaWater, Abstract, Carolina Wray, Tyler Boone, and Tigerdog

Thurs. Aug. 31

8:30 p.m. Charleston Music Hall
Anfernee, Johnny Jr., Walter Brown, Angie Rose

9 p.m. Upstairs at JohnKing
Matt Parker & the Deacons, Brad Wells, Kylie Odetta, Caleb Brown

9 p.m. Kingdom Bar & Grill
Sabin Sharpe, Brandon Bailey, Caroline Dare, Cooper Alan

9 p.m. The Royal American
Black Power Mixtape, Gravesend, Glass Mansions, Lovesick Radio

Fri. Sept. 1

7:45 p.m. Music Farm
Atlas Road Crew, People's Blues of Richmond, Steppin' Stones, Katie Rose, Bellavida

8:30 p.m. Charleston Music Hall
Matt Monday, PG13, Kween Katt, Mike Sarge

9 p.m. Kingdom Bar & Grill
Page MacKenzie, Leah Burkey, Lauren Hall, Emma Kate McLain

9 p.m. Upstairs at JohnKing
Dylan Swinson, Spencer Rush, Regina Ferguson, Brendon Pugh

9:30 p.m. The Royal American
Swamp Gypsies, Sweet Sweet, Saluda Shoals, John Owens Journal

Sat. Sept. 2

8 p.m. Music Farm
Little Stranger, The Georgia Flood, Whitehall, Danger Scene

8:30 p.m. Charleston Music Hall
Benjamin Starr, FatRat Da Czar, Scooda Sease, H3RO

9 p.m. Kingdom Bar & Grill
Rick Monroe, Haley Mae Campbell, Kaylin Roberson, Brothers Footman, Southbound 17

9 p.m. Upstairs at JohnKing
City On Down, Emily Curtis, Ryan McKenzie, Megan Nicholson

9:30 p.m. The Royal American
Kelly Cheats, The Orange Constant, Ashes of Old Ways, Big Thunder & The Rumblefish

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