It's been four years since musician and promoter Johnny Puke hosted one of his rowdy, punk-fueled birthday parties. This weekend marks a return to the tradition as Puke welcomes San Francisco-based singer/songwriter Joey Cape to town for a festive night.
Over the years, Puke earned a strong reputation as a champion of classic punk and an ardent supporter of the Charleston music scene. He's known as a refreshingly decent-minded booking agent, too. After spending the mid and late '90s fronting the melodic and fast-paced punk band Cletus, Puke booked a variety of shows for the much-missed King Street club Cumberland's. Every August, he organized showcases of visiting and local acts based on his own birthday. The last official bash took place in 2008.
"I took a couple of years off because I got engaged and I was planning on being married, although that didn't really work out," says Puke. "Erin [Tyler] at the Tin Roof started asking me about my birthday bash this year. I started thinking about it and contacted Joey. It's the first one with all-acoustic acts on the bill, but it's the same theme with all my close friends."
When it comes to a sturdy punk-rock work ethic and love for loud, fast, heavy music, Cape and Puke are on the same page. Cape is perhaps best known as the singer/guitarist of skate/surf punk band Lagwagon, experimental indie-rock act Bad Astronaut, and the hilarious pop-punk supergroup Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. Puke met Cape during the Warped Tour of 2002. Puke was working with the Alkaline Trio and Cape was singing with Lagwagon. Puke started working as a tour manager with Cape on road trips a few years ago. They've been tight ever since.
"We got a lot closer over the last few years," says Puke. "I work with him just about every time he comes East. I now call him my little buddy. Joey's very flexible, musically and professionally. He plays all of the instruments. He can front a band and be a leader, but it's really easy for him lay back, too. His feet stand in a lot of different places, from working with John Popper in Bad Astronaut to his work with Me First and the Gimme Gimmes."
Cape has been releasing solo records since 2009, including his latest slab, an unplugged set titled Joey Cape's Bad Loud. "Both punk and acoustic music share a certain intensity and integrity," Cape stated on the album's release. "Dynamically, they are very different, but they are similar in that they are both very honest approaches."
At his own expense, Puke is flying Cape from San Francisco to the Carolinas this week for acoustic shows in Asheville, N.C., on Fri. Aug. 19 and at the Tin Roof on Sat. Aug. 20.
"When we toured last year, Joey was doing the solo thing, but last October, he decided to do the whole band thing again," says Puke. "The band started a summer tour, but the drummer got really sick and they had to bail on the trip. Joey's only doing a handful of solo shows all year, so it should be a blast."