By nature, the task of running a successful night club and bar is one of the toughest challenges any entrepreneur can attempt. It's an unhealthy routine distracted by weird laws and restrictions, late hours, and a revolving door of strange characters. It's a daily grind of setting up shop, loading in gear, plugging in mic cables, accommodating picky tour managers, stocking the coolers, yacking on the phone with booking agents, and tapping through a mountain of e-mail. Things go wrong, things go right. It's a tricky and often frustrating way to earn a living.
Fortunately for this town's music scene, the team at the Pour House seem to have navigated pretty damn well, maintaining a relatively sane routine and keeping themselves open to new ideas and musical opportunities.
It's been two quick years since Alex Harris and his wife Vanessa opened their restaurant and music venue on James Island. The Pour House and sister Cuban bistro El Bohio on Maybank Highway, celebrated their opening with a two-night gig featuring Georgia's Moonshine Still.
This weekend, they raise the pint glasses and shot cups in celebration of their second full year in business with a two-nighter from another hot Peach State rock band, Outformation. Atlanta/Athens band, Bloodkin, share the bill on Saturday while N.C. jamgrass act Larry Keel & Natural Bridge jam with special guest Steve McMurray on Sunday at 9 p.m. to conclude the anniversary weekend.
The Harrises spent years in operation in West Ashley before relocating from a cozy space on Savannah Highway. Within their first year at the spacious digs on James Island, they emerged as one of Charleston's major live music venues and an acclaimed tour stop for jam bands of all colors and beyond. They've hosted bands of all genres — authentic blues, jazz, reggae, hip-hop, indie-rock, bluegrass, hard-rock, funk, soul, and electronica.
Outformation have been busier than usual this year. This is their first tour since lead guitarist, Sam Holt, officially left his longtime post as guitar tech for Widespread Panic. They've "rededicated and relocated themselves," touring the country.
Their guitar-driven, organ-heavy style is a mix of Southern and classic rock and electric blues. Holt, childhood friend and bassist Grady Upchurch, drummer Lee Schwartz, keyboardist C.R. Gruver, and percussionist Jeff Lane draw influences from the likes of the Marshall Tucker Band, Little Feat, and the Allman Brothers.
They released a debut album titled Tennessee Before Daylight (produced by JoJo Hermann) in 2005. Their brand-new, 10-song collection Traveler's Rest, just hit the street. Recorded and mixed at Home Team studio with engineer Eli Adkins, it grooves and riffs with a cleaner, fuller sound and a more straight-ahead classic rock sound.
Athens-based quartet Bloodkin — formed by guitarists Daniel Hutchens and Eric Carter — have been at it for over 20 years with a gutsy blues-rock sound.
Asheville-based acoustic guitarist Larry Keel and wife Jenny (on upright bass) began touring in 2005 with a new band called Natural Bridge.