Years ago, the music scene and nightlife in the North Charleston neighborhood of Park Circle was pretty limited, to say the least, with only a few little taverns and diners along the main rag along East Montague Avenue. In recent times, the cozy business district has sprung back to life — and with surprisingly cool verve.
Centered in the middle of the current Park Circle hustle-bustle, the Mill recently emerged as one of the coolest watering holes and live music venues in the neighborhood. Decades ago, a blue-collar tavern called The Mill & Social Club served Westvaco employees and locals in this spot. The blue-collar vibes remain, although with a dash of young hipster swagger.
"We say keep the music coming," says co-owner Shawn Molter. "We want to make sure we continue to provide a nice local venue where you can go catch good live music. There's not a lot of places like that. Being a neighborhood joint, we've charged a cover only twice since we've been open. We try to shy away from it."
A nonchalant bar and grill with a dedicated clientele, the Mill celebrates its second anniversary this week with a three-night "Birthday Bash Weekender" of twangy live rockabilly, alt-country, and garage-rock. The roster reflects the venue's reputation for booking a mix of independent and underground music from local and visiting acts.
Local trio Dangermuffin headlines the weekender kick-off on Thurs. July 23. Trenton, N.J.-based band The Cryptkeeper Five share the stage with Honah Lee on Fri. July 24. Since the Five's formation in 1997, they've toured extensively up and down the East Coast and Midwest with their garage-style blend of rock, soul, R&B, and punk. They're currently touring to build a buzz for their seventh album. Charlotte's rambunctious honky-tonkin' Hick'ry Hawkins Band — a group with a "hip-shaking rockabilly sound that combines a deeply-rooted country tradition with a hard-edged punk mentality" — headlines on Sat. July 25 with sultry support from catty troupe Bizarro Burlesque.
"It's actually fairly sought after by bands and musicians," says Molter. "It seems like everyone's interested in playing here, which tickles me wild." —T. Ballard Lesemann