CITIZEN JOURNALISM:

 

4h ANNUAL WESTIE AWARDS

 WEATHER:

THE BLUES ARE BACK IN TOWN

By Lorne Chambers
Editor

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For more than two decades, the Lowcountry Blues Bash has been held over the course of two weeks in February and has brought countless national and international blues artists to town as well as fostering the local blues scene. Last year’s Blues Bash alone, the 22nd in the festival’s history, featured 59 different artists performing more than 100 shows at 25 venues throughout Charleston, .

Over the years Blues Bash founder and local musician Gary Erwin, aka Shrimp City Slim, has worked tirelessly on the event. Blues fans from across the Southeast and beyond often made the pilgrimage to the Holy City to hear some good music. But this year, for the first time since 1990, there will not be a Lowcountry Blues Bash. However, at least one local music venue is not going to let it go gently in that good night. Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ, which is the perennial winner for the “Best Blues Bar” in Charleston and a major venue for the Blues Bash for years, is putting together its own blues series this month, when the Lowcountry Blues Bash normally is held.

“There are no notable ‘Blues Festivals’ that occupy this February time-frame,” says Tony McKie, Home Team BBQ’s co-owner and talent buyer. “And rather than starting from scratch, it makes the most sense for us to try to take this to the next level,”

Doing the bookings for both Home Team BBQ’s Sullivan’s Island location and the original in West Ashley, McKie can sympathize the challenges Erwin faced in putting together a festival the caliber of that of the Lowcountry Blues Bash. And whether or not the Blues Bash returns, McKie’s plans to carry on the tradition at Home Team BBQ each year.

“At Home Team BBQs, we have built our brand on blues, bluegrass, and Americana/rock/country,” says McKie. “We have always honored the blues with a heavy rotation during the Lowcountry Blues Bash and was certainly disappointed that the long-running Charleston staple went on hiatus this year.

“We certainly hope Gary [Erwin] can revive his event for the future, nevertheless, at Home Team BBQ those first two weekends in February will always be ‘Blues Bash’ at Home Team BBQ,” says McKie.

Between his two Home Team BBQ locations, McKie has put together an impressive lineup of musicians over the next two weeks, including an appearance by Big Bill Morganfield, the son of legendary bluesman Muddy Waters. In West Ashley, the performing artists include Momma & The Redemptions, Ben Prestage, Skinny Velvet, Davis Coen, and Eric Culberson. There will also be an Allstar Blues Jam and Oyster Roast on Sunday, Feb. 10.

Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ’s Lowcountry Blues Series will be held Feb. 8-16. Home Team BBQ is located in West Ashley at 1205 Ashley River Road. For more information, call 225-7427 or visit www.hometeambbq.com