For those of you who can be bothered with Twitter and such, you may have already heard the news — but for everyone else, this is my last issue as music editor of the Charleston City Paper. After five years of totally immersing myself in this lively music scene, I just feel like it's time to move on, see what else I can do.
It's been a tremendous honor to serve this community since 2014. I remember the first CD I took home from the CP office and popped into my car's CD player — SUSTO's debut album. It stayed there for two weeks. That moment marked the beginning of an era, which was full of music I was proud to champion. I was elated to hear so many good sounds coming out of Charleston's hidden studios, closets, bedrooms, garages, and storage units. I couldn't believe I would get the chance to help nurture even a little of what was happening. I'll always get nostalgic listening back to stuff I fell in love with that first year or so — She Returns From War, Brave Baby, Infinitikiss, that first Michael Flynn solo effort (!). And watching the scene grow later on into something so inclusive and real has been nothing short of beautiful, and exciting.
Another thing I'll never forget is this: my favorite writer in all of Charleston, our former news writer Paul Bowers, introduced me to Matt Monday, yet another artist who knocked me off my feet at first listen. This guy was from Charleston? How? It was through getting to know Matt that I was introduced to other creatives — like IllVibeTheTribe, Benny Starr, Black Dave, Nory, Niecy Blues, Jah Jr, Poppy Native, Contour, the list goes on — I have grown to admire so much, and who have all played an integral role in helping me understand the very real struggle that hip-hop artists — and the Black music community in general — have had in Charleston for too long. I'll always treasure how these relationships were first made possible.
I could go on and on and on about all the milestones of the scene, wax lyrical about the amazing people I've met and the friends I've made and the music I've discovered over the years at the CP music desk — not to mention I will forever have Ringo Starr saying my name during an interview as my ringtone and will never, ever stop boring people with that story — but what I really want to say is this:
1. Please go to shows, as often as you can afford. Show up for artists you know nothing about — let yourself be surprised. Buy merch, stream local artists, share what you love — keep championing local talent. And don't forget to lose the attitude over cover fees — that $5 puts gas in the cars of starving talent — or else you may become fodder for Rex Stickel's Tales from the Door Side. Choice is yours.
2. Support. Local. Record. Stores. Nothing will ever compare to the feeling of walking into a record store blind and walking out with a gem you'd have probably never discovered otherwise. This kind of discovery happens to me regularly. Keep that feeling alive by making an effort to buy your music in-store — you can even pre-order at Monster. Go this weekend. Seriously. Make it a thing in your life if it's not already.
3. Venues and musicians: Book womxn and people of color in your lineups. There is no excuse for a four-band bill with nothing but 15-20 white dudes on a stage. And don't say you don't know of any womxn artists. I've made a handy list for you here, right at the end, so all you have to do is Google them — and this list is just for starters. Bottom line: it is 2019 and you have got to be more thoughtful with the literal platform you've been given. Look to acts like Terraphonics, Benny Starr, 2 Slices, and Wolfgang Zimmerman's Invisible Low End Power for examples of how you can incorporate a female musician or vocalist (or DJ!) into your sets. Lindsay Holler and Hazel Ketchum somehow manage to fill a stage/evening with womxn in their Women & series — check out their shows and lineups for inspiration.
4. Don't look at how far the scene has come in terms of diversity over the past couple of years and pat yourselves on the back — there is more work to be done. Keep doing that work and/or support the labor of others. Follow folks like IllVibeTheTribe, VP on the Scene, Kris Kaylin's Next Up Charleston series, Beware of Dog Productions, who are doing a lot of the work — like curating diverse lineups — to build the arts scene we all dream of, the kind we see in other cities and wish we could bring back here. It's possible — you just have to keep building.
5. Last but not least, y'all please welcome our new music editor, Heath Ellison, and make him feel at home. (You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Like me (only, way longer ago), Heath made his start at the CP as an intern before we snagged him as a freelancer. He impressed us all with his incredible knack for detailed research, ability to write well about anything from hip-hop and metal to punk and cover shows, genuine curiosity, and, well, humor — necessary because journalism is not for the faint of heart, people. I am thrilled that he is the one taking the reins and can't wait to see what he does with the section.
As for me, you'll still see me around curating the Holy City Vintage Market, freelancing here and there, and, of course, frequenting my favorite local music venues — because that's the part of the job I was already doing before I became music editor, so I'll just keep on being me.
Thanks for everything, y'all. I'll be seein' ya.
Love, Kelly Rae
Becca Smith (Admiral Radio)
Camille Rhoden (She Returns From War, Grace Joyner)
Cindy Jane Kearney
DJ Auntie Ayi
DJ Dalia Dalili
DJ Sista Misses
Hazel Ketchum (Hungry Monks)
Hillary Keck Arnold
Hunter Park (She Returns From War)
Jamie Gray (Cry Baby, Beware of Dog Productions)
Jenna Desmond (Babe Club)
Julie Slonecki (SLONE, Sexbruise?)
Jump Castle Riot
Kanika Moore (Doom Flamingo)
Kim Weldin (Tape Waves)
Laura Alward Ball
Lily Slay (Royal Tinfoil)
Mary Alice Connor (High Divers)
McKenzie Eddy Smith
Megg Howe (Well Charged)
Presley Randall (Baby Yaga)
Shaniqua McCants (Terraphonics)
Shelby Means (Sally & George)
Whitney Hanna (Candy Cigarettes)