Live music and ocean breezes go hand in hand, and that's why it's important for you to know exactly where to go to catch cool sounds by the sea. Whether you're at Folly Beach, Isle of Palms, or Sullivan's Island, these are a few of our favorite spots for making the most of the summer.
- Jonathan Boncek file photo
- Local singer-songwriters, like Jordan Igoe, can be found at Surf Bar's Sunday Sessions
122 E. Ashley Ave.
One of our favorite relatively new spots is this backyard venue with delicious sake cocktails, beers, and shark tacos. Located right by Bert's Market and nestled amongst palm trees, it's the perfect laid-back beach bar for soaking in the sounds of the waves with one ear and live music with the other. Chico Feo, which means "ugly boy" en Espanol, has live music on the reg with amazing local and traveling acts alike, including Folly indie-folkster Nate Edwim, singer-songwriter Brad Edwardson, and Asheville gypsy-jazz band the Resonant Rogues.
Jack of Cups
34 Center St.
While the Asian-focused fare, sake cocktails, beer selection (they have sours!), and lovely staff are reasons enough to belly up at Jack of Cups, there's also awesome live music to be heard at this sweet Center Street spot. Owners Lesley Carroll and Nick Della Penna have turned the back patio into an oasis for music lovers, complete with a back bar, colorful picnic tables, and an impressively large stage — like probably the biggest one on Folly — on which bands like experimental pop band Mechanical River, folk-rock duo Deadwin, indie-popsters The Specs, local indie Christmas group The Silver Bells, and Cuban surf-rock act Post Cobra have all played. We've even seen rock 'n' rollers Punks&Snakes and retro-swing act The V-Tones occupy a corner in the front bar, making for a cozy experience your ears are bound to enjoy.
Loggerhead's Beach Grill
123 W. Ashley Ave.
Loggerheads' massive deck is a favorite among Folly locals, and for good reason. Not only is it often filled with the smells of Frogmore Stew, it's also where folks can soak in the sun and take in the sounds of local bands and singer-songwriters every day. Saturdays always feature three acts, with bands like bluegrassers The Dunder Chiefs stopping by often, plus jam bands Rawberry Jam, Soulfish, and BYOG, and singer-songwriters, like Tom Crowley.
- Erika Wolf
- Jack of Cups offers one of the largest stages on Folly for acts like Joel Hamilton's Mechanical River
32 Center St.
Planet Follywood's iconic Elvis mural on the side of the building is a pretty big indicator that this wee dive loves its music. Most nights, the small space is filled with tunes from bands like the Shakin' Martinis (country, oldies rock), Porkchop Meyer (jazz, country, lounge, pop), and The Jimmies (rock), while Jess Strickland and the Acoustic Tiger (reggae, jam) plays every single Sunday. Stop in on Tuesdays to hear the blues, and Thursdays you can channel your inner "idol" with karaoke.
103 W. Cooper Ave.
This quaint little bar with indoor and patio seating has long been a local favorite for both good bar grub and reliably great tunes. On any given night you can hear the sounds of bands like folk-country-bluegrass trio Red Cedar Review, rock 'n' rollers Bringers of the Dawn, gutter-country troupe Whiskey Diablo, and reggae-jam band Don't Mess With the Tiger. And the bar's Sunday Sessions showcases local singer-songwriter talent every week, with guys like Dallas Baker, Stratton Moore, Jordan Igoe, Mackie Boles, and more.
- Groups like Southern Culture on the Skids can be found on the Windjammer stage
Isle of Palms
1130 Ocean Blvd.
Frothy bev? Check. Ocean breeze? Check. Live tunes? Checkity check check check. As long as the weather's warm, you can bet this Isle of Palms restaurant and bar will have plenty of seafood specials and acoustic jams. Oftentimes, you can catch live tunes at noon and 6 p.m. from regularly rotating acoustic acts like Jig Wiggler Hunter Hill, Paul Jameson, and Danny May.
1120 Ocean Blvd.
You can't beat the view at the beachfront restaurant and venue. Coconut Joe's serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner — we recommend a piña colada to complement your paradise-like experience. Venture to the rooftop deck for the best spots in the sun, as well as live sounds from acts like Mystic Vibrations (reggae), Skip Sullins (folk, Americana), and Chris Tidestrom (alt-country, folk) around 6 p.m. almost nightly.
- Jonathan Boncek file photo
- Jammers Big John Belly has performed intimate shows at High Thyme.
8 JC Long Blvd.
New to the island, The Dinghy is the latest champion for live music on the Isle of Palms. With Lowcountry boil a staple in the kitchen, this unassuming little house also features goodies for your ears several times a week. Catch Donnie Polk's rock-country every Thursday, while other acts rotate on Fridays and Saturdays, including members of Sol Driven Train (roots rock), Exactus (rock 'n' roll), and Rodeo Clown (string band).
1008 Ocean Blvd.
Isle of Palms
If you haven't had a night to remember at the Windjammer, you're probably pretty new to Charleston. Inside, you can catch an eclectic range of live music, from Athens rockers Southern Culture on the Skids to acts like '80s hairband revivalers Glamnation, folk-country band Drivin' n' Cryin', and local alt-power-pop group A Fragile Tomorrow. And don't miss the action out back either, where a deck overlooks a busy beach volleyball court and the Atlantic Ocean.
2213 Middle St.
If pub life is your style, head over to Dunleavy's for some good old-fashioned folk. Situated inside an unmissable green building, Dunleavy's has satisfied many a Guinness drinker for nearly 20 years. Park it out front on a picnic table or cozy up inside and enjoy artists like local acoustic musician Carroll Brown, who regularly entertains with country and Irish-folk traditionals.
- Blues legend Drink Small can get a little naughty on the Home Team stage.
2213 Middle St.
This Southern seafood restaurant not only serves up a sweet menu of good eats like crab cakes and seared scallops, it's also an intimate venue you can find right on Middle Street. From the bluegrass, Celtic folk of the Hungry Monks to jam bands like Big John Belly and the Reckoning, High Thyme has seen its share of bands loved by locals and tourists alike.
Fiery Ron's Home Team BBQ
2209 Middle St.
If you want some of the best wings in the world along with something to nod your head to, don't hesitate to make Home Team your Sullivan's Island destination. If the restaurant's bangin' barbecue, mac and cheese, and ribs aren't too much of a distraction, you'll get a kick out of the lineup of local and visiting acts that frequent this popular venue. Home Team has also been known to host everything from the rowdy rock 'n' roll of The Royal Tinfoil to the dirty blues of legend Drink Small.