The music desk received a thoughtful letter from local musician David R. Vaughan, guitarist of the Blue Plantation Band, expressing disappointment and concerns about coverage of his group, the recent "Music Issue," and bluegrass-oriented events in town.
"I am writing in regards to my band, the Blue Plantation Band, which is a bluegrass/jazz/Irish band here in Charleston," he wrote. "You may have heard of us, maybe not, but we are a well-known band here in the city, and have been for quite some time. We have played for Spoleto, tons of fund-raisers, huge Charleston events, and have maintained steady gigs at Salty Mike's, West Ashley Bait & Tackle, Vickery's, and many more venues for the past five years.
"We have been plastered all over your City Paper throughout our whole career as a band on ads," he continued. "In fact, there are probably more issues of your paper with us mentioned than without. However, for some reason, we have never been recognized in any of the past 'Music Issues.' This kind of hurts our feelings knowing how hard we have worked to be where we are now. We realize bluegrass music really isn't the biggest thing going on in Chucktown, but we feel it is a significant part of the culture and history of this great city, and we are proud to keep that part of the history alive."
Thanks for the note, David. Believe me, we don't consider Blue Plantation or other similar acts to be "ghost bands" at all. I disagree that either bluegrass, folk, or roots music "isn't the biggest thing going on in Chucktown." Between the traditionalist gigs and the semi-"newgrass" stuff happening in the bars, beach clubs, and concert halls, it's a pretty significant part of the local scene. What we could use is a better connection — more information about who's doing what, where and when, and with whom.
With Music Board listings, we try to include all of the shows fairly as they come up — no matter the genre of music or venue.
West Ashley Bait & Tackle regularly features such acts as Blue Plantation, Flatt City, Blues Dogs frontman Bobby Houck, The Biscuit Burners, and others in the scene. Bluegrass/folk act Common Ground play at Cisco's Cafe on Thursdays and "Bluegrass Fridays" at Southend Brewery each week. Folkgrass, a local guitar and mandolin duo, perform weekly at Madra Rua, Fiddler's Green, and Plantation Grille. Acoustic duo David Owens & Will St. John play "acoustic rhythm 'n' bluegrass" at the newly-opened Barefoot Bistro on the IOP on Sundays. Morgan Creek Grill inherited local singer and acoustic guitarist Carroll Brown's weekly "Country & Bluegrass Night" series, in which he conducts a jam session with Roger Bellow, Bob Sachs, Gary Hewitt, and other local and visiting pickers on Tuesdays. The St. Johns Island Cafe has enjoyed success with their weekly "Bluegrass Thursdays," featuring bluegrass from Jeffries Creek Revival, Marshgrass Mamas, Yeehaw Junction, and others. D.D. Pecker's Wing Shack books acoustic folk-rock and bluegrass acts in addition to rock and blues bands.
And the list goes on. The Pour House regularly features local and national "trad" and modern 'grass acts such as the Hit & Run Bluegrass Band, Steel String Theory, Steep Canyon Rangers, The Hackensaw Boys, The Biscuit Burners, and others. Just last week, we listed a Cumberland's gig with five-piece bluegrass/roots combo Cadillac Sky, who just released new stuff on Ricky Skaggs' record label. Etc., etc...
Is there something of a "bluegrass scene" in Charleston? Yes. Does the City Paper want to cover it all? Of course. Can local bluegrass acts send us their vital band info, schedules, and promo material for the online Music Directory and Music Board? Most certainly.
Blue Plantation perform at Salty Mike's (17 Lockwood Dr. 937-0208) on Wed. Oct. 11 at 8 p.m. and at West Ashley Bait & Tackle (1117 Magnolia Rd. in West Ashley, 556-1828) at 9 p.m. on Fri. Oct. 20. See www.blueplantation.com for more on the band.