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Living Charleston (LivingCHS) is a personal blog about life in Charleston, South Carolina. Recognized as the No. 1 travel destination in the U.S., Charleston is a great place to visit and a great place to live! Follow on Twitter @LivingCHS.

The Gift of Music

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The Gift of Music

Drake Manning

Charleston's music scene gets better every year. 2016 was a highlight with an eclectic blend of some truly amazing talent rolling through our historic city. I'm a metal head at heart (and a drummer) so I gravitate toward the heavier acts, but my appreciation for musicianship and talent transcends any one genre.

The metal scene in Charleston has dropped off a bit over the past few years. However, there was a marked uptick in some great rock/metal/progressive music in Charleston this past year. I'm hopeful one of the last metal performances of 2016 (Five Finger Death Punch/Shinedown) is an indication of a thriving, heavier metal scene on the horizon.

What I love about the music scene in Charleston is the spectrum of venues we have to choose from; everything from the North Charleston Coliseum & Performing Arts Center for large shows  down to intimate bars like The Pour House for up-and-coming or local acts. My favorite though is the Charleston Music Hall where I'm part of the "best friends" program. It was here that I saw five outstanding - I mean truly stellar acts - put on a SHOW. 

January 21, 2016  St. Paul & The Broken Bones

Sorry, no pictures available for this show...it was that good! I didn't even think to pull out my phone for some shots. These guys had the crowd vertical the entire show...there wasn't one chance to even think about sitting for this one. The good news is, they return to the Charleston Music Hall on March 16, 2017!! Definitely don't pass up an opportunity to see this show. It is a soulful, bluesy blessing to the ears.

September 18, 2016  Jake Shimabukuro

This guy is a virtuoso talent on the ukulele. I had the chance to see him at Spoleto a few years back and have jumped to see him every time he comes through Charleston. His performances are breathtaking, heartfelt and moving. 

And yes, another show I didn't even think to pull out the phone for a few pics...

October 12, 2016 – Henry Rollins

Witty and wise, and funny as hell, Henry Rollins' spoken word show at the Music Hall was another outstanding evening that pushed one to think. Mr. Rollins is an inspiring talent and great storyteller. He poked fun at himself, at society in general, and left me wanting more. It was just the type of show I needed after the Hurricane Matthew evacuation.

November 11, 2016  Eric Johnson

I've loved Eric Johnson since the late 80s. This was the first time I've seen him solo acoustic. In all of the previous outings, he was co-headlining the G3 concerts with Satriani, Petrucci and Vai. 

What a treat to have this level of talent in Charleston. The audience added a bit of comedy to this one. I can say for certain that I've never been to a show where the audience was unexpectedly interactive. From the front row - "Hey! What kind of guitar is that? Is that expensive?" It became conversational for a bit. Perhaps only on the south?

As a solo acoustic set, Johnson wore his heart and soul on the neck of his guitar. 

Eric Johnson Solo Acoustic at Charleston Music Hall

November 22, 2016  Steve Vai

WOW! Vai is a remarkable human. I was lucky enough to grab front row tickets and the EVO package for meet and greet, stage tour, sound check and and hour-long Q&A session. What a treat. Vai is an inspirational talent and his coaching for musicians during the Q&A was relevant even for drummers. 

The show featured the entire Passion & Warfare set, along with some great tunes spanning Vai's career. Major kudos to Charles Carmody and Charleston Music Hall for bringing us this amazing night of music!

Steve Vai during EVO Q&A

Jeremy Colson's view

Making her sing

Rounding out a great year of music in Charleston were other shows at various venues. From Styx, Weezer and Panic at the Disco on Daniel Island at the Volvo Stadium to the Jimi Hendrix tribute at the Gaillard Center with none other than Zakk Wylde and Buddy Guy. What a year for music in our home town of Charleston! #MyCHSlife rocks!