In order to keep this space fresh and new each week in the absence of live shows, we have decided to do something a little different. Chris Bizzell and I discussed featuring a few different bands each week with links to their videos, websites, or Bandcamp pages where you can show them some love and even send them a few bucks if you are feeling charitable. It sounded like a great idea and I started working on how to decide what bands to pick in the weeks ahead… and that is exactly when Darby Wilcox called me.
As soon as I heard from Darby I knew who would be picking the artists each week – the artists and people in the industry themselves. Darby was the first musician on the local scene I met when I moved back to Greenville nine or ten years ago as she lived two doors down from us and was the perfect neighbor. The Wife and I got to know Darby well as the familiar, late evening knock on our door would often be Darby with a guitar, Darby with a growler or, ideally, Darby with both. Naturally, it seems fitting that I kick off this (hopefully) limited series by starting with her.
Wanting to keep things simple, I asked Darby to name three to five local artists that she is personally listening to and/or thinks really highly of right now. Darby being Darby, when I said “three to five” she heard “nine” and when I said “local” she heard “local, regional, and national”. I am hardly complaining as it is a darn fine list that I am excited to share it with you, so away we go…
Kelly Jo/Phat Lip (Greenville)
I swear, Darby could not say Kelly Jo’s name fast enough when I asked her this question. If you are not keeping up with what Phat Lip is doing right now, you are seriously missing out. For an added bonus, follow Phat Lip on Facebook or Instagram for Kelly Jo’s new video series “Cooking with Kelly” which is absolute gold.
Link to video for “Coyote”
Jordan Igoe (Charleston)
Jordan Igoe is a lovely singer/songwriter that Darby brings up from Charleston any chance she gets and, when you listen to her, it is obvious that they are the perfect match for any billing. Here’s hoping we all get to see them share an Upstate stage again sooner rather than later.
Visit Jordan Igoe on BandCamp
Aubrey Key (Clemson)
I had not heard of Aubrey Key but when Darby said “Moldy Peaches… ‘90’s college vibe” I knew I was going to like this. I was not wrong.
Learn more about Aubrey Key on BandCamp
Marshall Brown (Columbia)
Marshall Brown’s neo-psychedelic pop/rock is everything I ever needed in my life, though I had no idea until Darby mentioned his name. I will be camped out on his Bandcamp page for the foreseeable future if anyone needs me.
Mourning Dove (Greenville)
Greenville’s duo of Lisa Stubbs and Neil Brooks should need no introduction, especially as recent winners of the inaugural Upstate Music Awards’s Write-In Vote category. This one seems especially prestigious as it applies to bands who might not have fit other categories but were worthy of recognition regardless, just because they are awesome. Learn more at mourningdovemusic.com
The Old Earthquake (Greenwood)
Speaking of the Upstate Music Awards, I was not familiar with Greenwood’s husband and wife duo of Stephen and Mary Lyle Cathcart until I saw their album Loud Ones nominated for the Best Album UMA earlier this year. A blend of indie rock and Americana, I was very happy to see this band on Darby’s list as their album has my full attention as well.
Salti Ray (Spartanburg)
One last UMA callback and complete honesty here… I first listened to Salti Ray in preparation for the UMAs and I liked what I heard enough to look forward to seeing them perform live. Then they took the stage to close out the show and I was completely unprepared for what was about to happen. They blew the roof of the joint and instantly became one band that I want to see live again and again, either as a full band or lead singer Mary Norris solo. Hopefully that day is not too far off. Learn more at saltiray.com
TJ Hunnicutt (Greenville)
The day after Darby gave me the initial six bands on this list, I woke up to a text message where she added three more. Local singer/songwriter TJ Hunnicutt was the first one she added and, listening to his stuff, I am awfully glad she did. Visit TJ on BandCamp
Nathaniel Riley (Colorado)
Telling you about an artist from Colorado was not what I originally imagined when we thought of this series but A) it is Darby’s list, not mine and B) Nathaniel Riley is well worth your attention, no matter where he lives. Everyone is a local artist somewhere after all and as long as we cannot see a show anyways, anything piped into our homes is as local as we can ask for. Nathaniel Riley on BandCamp
Austin Lee (Columbia)
Austin Lee is another Columbia artist to watch out for and, even if I cannot find a Bandcamp page or other links to share his work, the strength of the rest of this list is proof enough that Darby’s stamp of approval is all I need. She tells me that he is in the studio now so we can look forward to some fresh digital content to share down the road.
Follow Austin on Facebook
Darby Wilcox Herself*
No, Darby did not put herself on her list but it is my column and she cannot stop me from adding her Tiny Desk submission for her new track “Mantra”. Mourning Dove’s Lisa Stubbs is on the scene holding down the harmonies and Brando Jones Films made it look so damn good. Enjoy!