- Alex and Vanessa Harris (At left) with staffers Mark Davis, Charlie Drayton, and musician Duwayne Burnside
Exactly one year ago, Alex Harris and his then-fiancee Vanessa were standing on a building across from the Terrace Theatre on James Island, covered in paint, splinters, and sheetrock dust, hustling to put some of the final touches on their brand new version of the Pour House. After three years in operation at the far end of Savannah Highway in West Ashley, the two young proprietors celebrated a "Grand Reopening" at 1977 Maybank Highway with a two-night gig featuring Ga. jam-rock vets Moonshine Still. That was the dawn of a new era for the club.
One year later, the place now stands as one of Charleston's major live music venues. It's a prime destination — not just for up-and-coming local bands, but for serious touring bands within the Jambase/Home Grown Network circuit and beyond.
Since re-opening in its new location, the Pour House assertively booked a wide variety of big-name touring acts and regional bands — and not all of them were groove-oriented "hippie groups." They hosted bands of numerous genres — authentic country blues, bebop and modern jazz, reggae, bluegrass, hard-rock, '70s funk and soul, etc.
The club allowed several Charleston bands — such as Fatty Arbuckle, Graham Whorley Band, The Key of Q, and others — to continue to strengthen their local draw and carve spots for themselves in the scene by arranging weekly showcase gigs and special album release events. Several bigger touring acts — like Moonshine Still, Cosmic Charlie, and Tishamingo, among others — signed on for two- or three-night stints, allowing them a bit of appreciated leeway and free time to check out the city and the band scene.
Their website — www.charlestonpourhouse.com — developed into something vital through the year as well. Unlike some venue sites that merely list a schedule and a drink menu or basic whatever, the Pour House site features a comprehensive list of upcoming events (often months ahead), links to local and national bands' websites, cool live audio clips and songs from Pour House acts, an ever-growing catalog of live photographs from shows, and helpful information about the El Bohio menu and setting.
Atlanta jam-rock band Outformation — an act Harris regularly booked through the years — are set to headline the club's two-night "first anniversary weekend" on Fri. Sept. 1 and Sat. Sept. 2. They're a major part of the Georgia jam band scene. Their latest is a full-length titled Tennessee Before Daylight.
It's tough enough for clear-headed F&B entrepreneurs to run a business, much less a specialty venue that takes risks on booking live music six nights a week, so a big congrats to the Harrises and the Pour House for a job well done. It should be one helluva bash this weekend.