Artists Picking Artists (Sort Of) With Brett Barest

  • By cvbizz
  • August 6, 2020
  • 0
brett barest
Share This Post!

Brett Barest

After spending the last couple of weeks promoting a variety of efforts aimed to support the livelihood of independent music venues during the COVID pandemic, I had all intentions of returning to the “Artists Picking Artists” series this week. The trouble is, due to a couple of different factors, I did not actually talk to any local musicians ahead of this week’s feature.


That said, I have given plenty of thought to what my list would look like if I sat down and made one and finally decided to do just that. First, I had to determine what the criteria would be. Is it simply the bands I am listening to the most right now? Is it strictly local? Is it friends I want to promote? Eventually, I decided to look back on my now five-plus years of writing about music in some capacity and take a look at the highlight reel for this week’s column.

What bands did I only learn about from scouring concert listings, listening to countless Soundcloud, Bandcamp, and Spotify pages, and watching more YouTube videos than my teenage son week in and week out, that would go on to be permanent fixtures in my CD player and Spotify accounts? Sure I might have found out some of them as a casual listener but, in my mind, these are the gifts that were given to me from “having” to sit down and listen to new music every week and, honestly, I could not be more grateful.

The Menders

The Menders were a couple of “firsts” for me early in my time covering live music. They were the first interview where instead of speaking to one member of the band in a scheduled interview, they put me on speaker phone with the whole band at once, leaving it up to me to figure out who to attribute what quote to when I wrote the story. They were also the first (and, to be honest, only) case where an artist jumped into my arms in appreciation of my story when I met them in person (Thanks for that, Wes). More importantly, the Gastonia based Menders are dark, twisted, garage folk just the way I want it and every one of their albums and EPs holds a permanent place in my center console.

The Great Dying

Will Griffith, better known as The Great Dying, came to my attention via a press release from his record label and his music hit me like a ton of bricks. His debut album, Bloody Noses & Roses, ebbs and flows between deeply reflective and solemn songwriting and manic, in-your-face rock, punk, and metal influenced melees. It all comes together for one of the most interesting albums I have ever listened to and the live show tops even that. If I am looking forward to new music and return performances from anyone, it is this guy.

Little Stranger

Back when I would have to decide what show or shows to feature from week, I would start with a big list of bands in town and whittle it down based on who I liked best from there. That said, there was no whittling the week I found out about Charleston’s wildly talented and inventive folk/hip-hop duo, Little Stranger. I made it through roughly half of their video for “Sing it High” before the rest of the list was tossed aside while I listened to every release I could find before writing about all of the reasons why everyone on earth should go see them live. It should also be noted that almost nobody listened to me that week as they played to a room of less than ten people but word definitely got out as they have played to completely packed rooms every visit back.

April B & the Cool

A former publisher insisted that I do a story about April B & the Cool and, admittedly, I dragged my feet for weeks because A) I had never heard of April B & the Cool and B) resistance is my natural reaction to being told what to do. Today, I think about these personality flaws every single time I listen to April B & the Cool’s EP The Sidechick Chronicles. A captivating mix of rock, jazz, R&B and, really, more genres than you would ever think to add to the blender, all come together brilliantly and are backed by one huge voice courtesy of April B herself. She was based in Greenville when I was introduced to her but has since relocated to Asheville. Once live music is a thing again, I assure you she is worth that trip up the mountain if that is what it takes to see her in person because her live act is simply amazing.

Paul Cauthen

I knew I was going to love Paul Cauthen when I found out he had a single titled “Cocaine Country Dancing” and I was not wrong.  He tops the extremely short list of country artists that I am completely enamored with and I was looking forward to his visit to the Upstate this spring with bated breath… right up until he got the flu and the show was postponed until August. I was certain I would be at that show since surely COVID would be over by then but, sadly, here we are in August and that show has been postponed as well. Still, he has become one of my favorite artists thanks to a show that never was and, for that, I had to round out the list with him.

This is but a sample of a few of the talented people I have written about and become a huge fan of along the way. Maybe I will make a follow up list down the road but, for now, let us get back to business of leaving that to the musicians themselves. Hit me up at if you are an artist with a list you would like me share. Until then, happy listening. 

Upstate Live Music Calendar

PHP Code Snippets Powered By :