Soundchecks: Cowboy Mouth, Mo’ Better Brunch, Fashion & Music Conference Extravaganza, Everybody’s Got Nipples, Fire & Flood
Soundchecks: Cowboy Mouth, Mo’ Better Brunch, Fashion & Music Conference Extravaganza, Everybody’s Got Nipples, Fire & Flood

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ALT-ROOTS-ROCK | Cowboy Mouth
Fri. Aug. 16, Sat. Aug. 17
9 p.m. (both nights)
$10 (Friday), $25 (Saturday)
The Windjammer

It’s hard to believe, but Fred LeBlanc has been on the road with his pride and joy, Cowboy Mouth, for 30 years, anchoring the New Orleans alt-roots-rockers on drums and vocals and piloting them through various record labels and lineups. And after all that time, tunes like the irresistible “Jenny Says” and “Light It On Fire” still get the crowds going when Cowboy Mouth plays live. The band is a pretty lethal outfit onstage, and that’s something LeBlanc says he’s always taken pride in. “That’s where we communicate with fans,” he says. “That’s what it’s all about. There are a lot of bands out there who miss that. You’re not in a band to be part of an organization; you’re in a band to play shows and interact with the audience, to find out what they like and don’t like, to find out how they’re doing and how you’re doing. You’re trying to build a community as much as you’re trying to build a fanbase.” It’s typically a mistake to ask any musician, “How does it feel to be coming back to (blank)?” because the answer can be pretty generic. But when LeBlanc speaks about Charleston and The Windjammer, it’s clear he has a lot of affection for both. “Honestly, for my money, The Windjammer is probably my favorite rock ‘n’ roll room in the world,” he says, quickly adding “that doesn’t include New Orleans during Mardi Gras. It sounds good, and people have always been enthusiastic when we play there. Charleston has always had an appreciation for what we do.” —Vincent Harris FRIDAY-SATURDAY

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Keely Laughlin file photo

HIP-HOP | Benny Starr’s Mo’ Better Brunch
w/ Vonta Green, JT Rollerson, Jermaine Holmes
Sat. Aug. 17
1 p.m.
$10 adv., $15/dos
Blue Note Bistro

Benny Starr’s Mo’ Better Brunch at the Blue Note Bistro isn’t just about an early afternoon of soul-jazz music, cocktails, and delicious grub, although that all sounds pretty good. It’s about Starr’s own creative impulses, and about him reaching beyond himself as a musician. The basic inspiration for Mo’ Better Brunch came from the 1990 Spike Lee film Mo’ Better Blues (starring Denzel Washington and Wesley Snipes) and from Starr’s latest release, A Water Album, which blends jazz, soul, and hip-hop. “Mo’ Better Blues was rooted in jazz and blues culture, and I wanted to use that because I dabbled in that with A Water Album,” Starr says. “It was gospel-infused, and it was jazz-infused, because I care deeply about the artists who came before me that inspired my work. I wanted to be able to explore and present that music in a black-owned space, which is getting harder and harder to find.” But it wasn’t just about Starr hopping up on stage with musical friends like bassist Vonta Green, drummer JT Rollerson, and singer/songwriter Jermaine Holmes. Starr had a hand in planning everything about Mo’ Better Brunch, from the menu to the drinks to the between-band playlists. “It’s sometimes hard for artists to be seen as more than artists,” he says. “And it’s hard for us to redefine ourselves. When you go to people who believe in you, you’re allowed to build equity in something rather than just take the stage and play. I had my hand in every aspect of this, along with the owners of Blue Note Bistro. It’s a compliment to them that when I sat down with them, they asked, ‘What is your vision? What do you see? How can we support and help you?'” —Vincent Harris SATURDAY

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DISCUSSION | Fashion Show & Music Conference Extravaganza Weekend
Sat. Aug. 17
12 p.m.
Crowne Plaza Hotel

“The music conference on Saturday is definitely one of the most anticipated parts of the whole Extravaganza Weekend,” says event organizer and local media mogul Kimberly Bowman. This year, according to Bowman, the panel discussion will address topics like how to get radio play, the best ways to brand and market yourself, and the fundamentals of performing in front of an audience. “Our panelists,” Bowman explains, “were chosen based on their experience within the music industry, their specific area of knowledge, and their desire to help young, aspiring artists in this region.” Bowman has long been impressed by the latent talent here. “When I started my own music-focused company in 2013, I found that there was so much going on in the area that I didn’t know about, even as a Charleston native.” Bowman concludes that, “networking is an essential part of going anywhere in this business, and our event is designed to connect talented people to the guidance and tools they’ll need to get to wherever they want to go in the end.” For anyone hungry for more than just success, there is also a complimentary breakfast slated for the following morning (Sunday), where attendees can mingle and break bread with music conference panelists like Michael Matthews, Tah Haley, DJ G Money, DJ D Da God, and Bowman herself. A true extravaganza, indeed. —Kevin Wilson SATURDAY

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Mia Al-Taher; Ben Rouse; provided

MUSIC FESTIVAL | Everybody’s Got Nipples
Sat. Aug 16-18
11 p.m.
Beware of Dog Productions

The powerhouse all-women team at Beware of Dog have returned with their hit festival Everybody’s Got Nipples. Telling by name, this DIY festival is set in action to promote gender equality and highlight local art. “Everybody’s Got Nipples primarily is inspired by the idea that under everything, everyone is the same at the end of the day,” says Beware of Dog Co-Founder Meg O’Connell. Evolving slightly from last summer’s festival, this year’s will be hosted in a warehouse rather than a house downtown. The set of shows will take place between three days of visual art and live music, provided by a wide variety of popular artists from the state’s local scenes. The lineup ranges from rapper and hip-hop artist Abstract, to pop funkers like Cry Baby, and solo artists such as Jamie Gray, who is also a member of Beware of Dog. This event appears to be a must for college students and is a great opportunity to discover what’s really going down in the Charleston scene. —Henry Clark FRIDAY

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HARDCORE | Fire & Flood
w/ Circle Back, Lucille
Tues. Aug. 20
10 p.m.
Big Gun

Fire & Flood’s debut EP, South Carolina Hardcore, is a testament to everything they’re about— and it’s right in the title. The band creates an exhausting listen, one that’s as dire as it is heavy. “Fight Back” buries its slow intro with dirty guitar tones and speed in the second half of the song. Fire & Flood finds plenty of time for melody in songs like this and the EP’s closer “Alive in Letters,” which discovers sheer brutality in moody arpeggios. Vocals split between high screams and earnest yelps, creating a place that even non-metalheads can approach without fear. The group cites artists such as The Warriors, Guns Up, and the Mongoloids; basically any band specializing in raw energy. Self-accountability and life experiences are big themes with the band, as seen on “Intro/Black Sheep.” The track slows and speeds to the lyrics, as they contemplate time and loneliness, highlighting the emotional aspects for the listener. While not as harmonically guttural as some of their hardcore kinfolk, Fire & Flood know the game and they play it with the punk vigor you’d expect from a band named after devastation. —Heath Ellison TUESDAY