Charleston’s unconventional music scene has recently enjoyed a slew of activity. There are dozens of venues, and no shortage of talented players, engineers, and enthusiasts.

This year’s Music Issue shines the spotlight on a few of the talented individuals whose roles are essential to the music scene. Without the diligence and efforts of these people — and colleagues in similar roles — things would not be so vibrant.

City Paper spoke with an esteemed group of musicians, songwriters, solo performers, DJs, and others who’ve been around long enough to know how to make things happen. We pressed these people to analyze and celebrate the vitality of their roles.

The display of talent, skill, diligence, and experience across these pages demonstrates a strong, healthy situation for Charleston — a rich scene with numerous perspectives from a multiplicity of individuals. These roles are cogs in the complex machinery. Many people who play similar roles deserve similar acknowledgment and appreciation for their contributions as well.

Currently, there are a few hundred acts playing a wild variety of musical styles. That’s reflected in our online Local Band Directory. We could go ’round and ’round, from page to page, heaping praise and pointing out who’s who and why they kick ass as players or managers or whatever. It overlaps, complements, and ties together into a remarkable tangle. That’s what this year’s Music Issue is all about.

Lindsay Windham colorfully connects to the scene with posters, album artwork, and a variety of projects

The Visual Artist

If you’re into local music at all, you’ve seen Lindsay Windham around town. Or, at least, you’ve seen the work of her self-taught graphic designer alter-ego Olive*Argyle. Whether on gig posters up in King Street storefronts or in your friends’ CD collections, Windham’s art is a constant presence in the local music scene.

On the Ball: Vance McNabb makes it happen

The Manager

Those who’ve participated in one way or another with the planning and execution of an actual gig — whether at a big outdoor festival, the local watering hole, or the keg party down the block — know quite well that there’s far more to it than the strumming, drumming, and singing going on for 50 minutes on stage. There is gear to haul, cables to run, lights to clip, amps to repair, strings to tune, beer to chill, vans to park … the list goes on.

Street Chanteys: Hank the Pirate busks as a modern-day bard

The Roaming Busker

Soon after Bob Marley passed away, he and Hank Williams were playing dominoes in heaven. And since Bob’s father was an English sailor, and with heaven’s genealogical records being fairly thorough, they soon discovered a common ancestor — Hank Marley.

Kristen Thompson keeps the wheels turning at the Music Farm

The Venue Manager

When Kristen Thompson was a student at Wake Forest, she drove an hour and a half to Charlotte for her internship, at a “dirty little rock club” called Tremont Music Hall. There she’d punch tickets, run errands, or do whatever grunt work was needed at the show.

Dan Henderson loves to love music

The Promoter

Rumor is Dan Henderson has a Lowcountry tractor beam. And maybe that’s how he’s managed to pull in lot of live shows by musicians who never before made it into Charleston. We’re talking about artists like Robert Earl Keen, Todd Snider, Chip Taylor, Carrie Rodriguez, and most recently, Hayes Carll.

Ax Slinger: Instruments find refuge at Mt. Pleasant Music

The Music Store Guy

“My first album was Abbey Road, and my second was Rocks by Aerosmith,” says Mike Poirier, taking a rare break to sit and chat on the couch upstairs at Mt. Pleasant Music. In the 10 minutes he pauses to explain the background of the guitar-lined store he opened in 1998, the phone rings no less than eight times.

Everette Bigbee’s Open Mic nights are more than just an amateur showcase

Open Mic Man

Everette Bigbee’s experiences on and off the local stages have enhanced not only his technical know-how and electric guitar chops, but his people skills as well. As the host of the long-running “Open Mic with Ev” series in Mt. Pleasant, he nurtures the band scene with enthusiastic guidance from the sidelines.

Eddie Hogan and Charleston’s Free Time: Labor of Love

The Publisher

Eddie Hogan, longtime publisher and editor of the free monthly paper Charleston’s Free Time, stands as one of the experts in the scene. He observed the shifts and trends from popular Lowcountry bands in the ’80s through the Hootie phenomenon of the 1990s and the mini explosion of venues and bands of recent years. Like their front page tagline says, it’s “The Lowcountry’s Original Entertainment Newspaper.”

52.5 Records is a hotspot within the music scene

The Record Store Guy

“Any decent local record shop plays a role in supporting their scene,” says Clay Scales, longtime proprietor of local independent record store 52.5 Records, a haven of recordings, books, DVDs, and know-how on Upper King Street.

Audiophiles: Taper Chris Davis makes concerts live forever

The Taper

Who’s the bigger live music fan? Is it the girl who hugs the rail, smooches the band after the show, and shrieks every time the guitarist rips a solo? Or is it the guy who waits at the door hours before the concert to assure he’s the first one in, doesn’t say a word throughout the performance, and is often the last one out the door?

Breakin’ Kurfu: Travis Ward keeps spinning the freshness

The Turntablist

From the time he was a boy, Travis Ward was a seeker, on a quest to find his place in the world of music. He tried the piano, trumpet, bass, tuba, and drums. He sang in the choir, played in the jazz band, and trudged along in the marching band. But it wasn’t until he was a sophomore at N.C. State that he stumbled upon the instrument which fit him perfectly.

Danielle Howle sings it her way

The Veteran Songwriter

Danielle Howle is a career artist, a songsmith determined to create something expressive and effective. She’s more interested in creating a melody than making a pile of money or grabbing media attention. That artistic determination is at the heart of her story.

Dig that sound, man: Andrew Higdon plugs it in

The Audio Engineer

“The thing about being a sound guy is you have to be physical, you have to be pretty smart, and you really have to be with it,” says veteran sound man Andrew Higdon, of Mt. Pleasant based company Hope Sound.

The Melodious Grind: Graham Whorley may be the hardest working musician in Charleston

The Working Musician

Fifteen years ago, Graham Whorley found himself standing in two feet of snow in his hometown of Lynchburg, Va., calling his sister on Folly Beach. When he showed up in Charleston to crash on her couch, he had nothing but a guitar, a trash bag of clothes, two dogs, and his boots. He was barely 18 and had lost his license, his job, his apartment, and his girlfriend.