Charleston, SC may be America's top city (just ask Conde Nast) and it may have the best new restaurant in America (that would be Husk, says Bon Appetit) but the Holy City is also home to a vibrant music scene. While Darius Rucker of Hootie & the Blowfish may be Charleston' s most well-known musical native, other locals are spinning an eclectic array of sounds -- from jazz to blues, jam bands to classics -- and gaining their own acclaim at many local venues.
For the past decade, Charleston' s jazz scene has blossomed thanks to the efforts of the Jazz Artists of Charleston, a nonprofit organization dedicated to giving artists and enthusiasts a community to create jazz. Its big band -- a 30-piece ensemble named the Charleston Jazz Orchestra -- performs 5 shows each season at the Charleston Music Hall, otherwise known locally as the "home of jazz." Led by the charismatic and talented band leader and trumpeter Charlton Singleton, CJO brings together the area's best musicians for a lively experience that covers a range of genres: American standards, Latin and bebop. It all culminates in an annual Holiday Swing performance. Outside of the season schedule, many of CJO's artists, and other local jazz notables, can be found performing nightly at Charleston-area restaurants including Charleston Grill, Halls Chophouse, Fish, and High Cotton.
Named Best Jazz & Blues Club by the Charleston City Paper 5 years in a row, Home Team BBQ has been a popular stop for locals and visitors of all ages looking for blues, bluegrass and Americana. The 2 locations outside of downtown Charleston bring out the stars such as Big Bill Morganfield, son of blues legend Muddy Waters, and Chicago bluesman Nick Moss and the Flip Tops, while also showcasing up-and-coming performers like Nouveaux Honkies out of Port Salerno, FL, and Charlotte, NC, favorite Mark Holland. The locals come out every Wednesday to the flagship location in the suburbs of West Ashley for the Lowcountry Blues Club and for listening room experiences on Fridays and Saturdays from 7-11 p.m. The weekend scene at Home Team 's second location on nearby Sullivan's Island is a rock and roll, honky-tonk affair.
Just over the bridge on nearby James Island, the neighborhood hangout, the Pour House, has been home to an eclectic mix of indie rock, soul, funk, reggae and country for nearly a decade. Years of promoter posters line the walls of the intimate venue that holds just over 400, while the main stage features some of Charleston’s -- and the country 's -- best jam bands on tour, including local favorite Sol Driven Train, Los Angeles-based Orgone and the legendary Ivan Neville 's New Orleans' band Dumpstahunk. Shows on the outdoor deck usually begin at 5 p.m.; the main stage performances start at 10 p.m.
One of Charleston’s most unique entertainment venues is an outdoor music compound on Echaw Creek -- 30 minutes from downtown Charleston -- called Awendaw Green. Founded in 2008 to create "a community building community through music," the weekly "barn jams" on Wednesdays bring together local, regional and national Americana and folk artists to collaborate, create and network. The founder, Eddie White, calls it "a cool backyard BBQ environment with professional music feel." Many locals who attend come back for this laidback atmosphere, the delicious food like smoked chicken wings and sliders, and community spirit surrounded by music.