A cooler full of chilled beer sits under a darkening summer sky. Two local musicians strum familiar acoustic tunes on stage just a few feet away, while a few fireflies and a mosquitoes flit over an all-ages crowd of college students and families alike.
Quickly and quietly, the Pour House has become one of the premier venues for live music in the Southeast. With the opening of their expansive deck out back, the place is almost perfect.
"We had the deck in mind as soon as we saw the place," says co-owner Alex Harris , who opened the venue with his wife Vanessa after relocating from West Ashley over a year ago. Earlier this spring, they brought carpenter Ron St. Clair (a friend of Alex's father) down from W. Va. to begin construction of a deck suitable for live music.
"He told me what he wanted size-wise, and that he wanted a stage and a roofed bar in the back," says St. Clair. "I can't put it on paper, but I know what it's going to look like, and my picture's coming together pretty good."
St. Clair explains the work with a pride and excitement that shows he cares about the outcome — it's more than a run-of-the-mill construction job.
Although the Pour House will host a grand-opening party in May, kicking off regular live music in the evenings from local acts like Graham Whorley, they'll host Sol Driven Train side project Hit or Miss for a two-month Tuesday evening series (Tues. April 17 was the kick-off gig).
Comprised of Joel Timmons and Ward Buckheister (and frequent guest sax man/SDT bandmate Russell Clarke), Hit or Miss are leaving a regular weekly gig at Art's Bar & Grill in Mt. Pleasant for the chance to play outside.
Sol Driven Train band recently produced a children's album, Tajar Tracks, in 2005. Their latest release is the 14-song live collection Live on the Outer Banks, recorded in front of a loud audience last November at the Outer Banks Brewing Station in N.C.
The guys are excited to play in a venue where families can feel comfortable coming together to hear live music. "There's a whole demographic of people in Charleston who have our CD but don't come out to see us because we're playing late-night in a smoky bar," says Timmons. "This is prime-time, outside, and I'm hoping we can reach some new folks."
The Hit or Miss live show is a blend of acoustic and electric guitars and harmonies, looping melodic hooks with percussion, mandolin, and trombone. Although they stray away from SDT's repertoire in favor of laid-back covers and new songs they're working on for the full band, they'll play any tune that fans request by name.
Harris hopes that Hit or Miss will help kick off a preparty, festival-like atmosphere on the deck before the nighttime shows indoors. He's looking ahead at having bluegrass bands on Fridays, and is already planning a "Burnside Family Barbecue" in the fall, bringing in as many members of the legendary Mississippi musical family as he can for a weekend throw-down.
Although they toyed around with names like Money Toast, Shock & Awe, and Mantree, the duo went with Hit or Miss in honor of the guaranteed line they get from bar owners when showing up for a gig at a new out-of-town venue. "We hear it without fail, and usually that means it's a miss," says Timmons. In this case, the combination of a sweet new venue and their own unpretentious, feel-good tunes should mean Tuesday evenings at the Pour House will be a surefire hit.