Top Rock Anthems

Charleston enjoys a thriving population of gritty guitar-rock bands who specialize in the heavier, more metallic side of classic rock. Singer Ben Dante and guitarist Jack Hunter of local hard rock cover band Dante’s Camaro gave us five essential metal standards any local bar band should know. And here they are. — T. Ballard Lesemann

Livin’ on a Prayer
— Bon Jovi

Jersey trash. God knows that shit plays down here.

Pour Some Sugar On Me
— Def Leppard

This song immediately gets the ho train to the dance floor.

I Can’t Drive 55
— Sammy Hagar

Sammy’s like 65 now right? Does that mean they’ve revoked his license? Hope so.

Rock ‘n’ Roll All Night
— Kiss

Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons don’t even drink but have been foolin’ everybody that they like to party for decades. Straight Edge with make-up.

Highway to Hell

No stop signs or speed limits. Hell seems pretty cool. When you play this song, North Charleston rednecks and flip-flop wearin’ trust fund kids think its pretty cool too.

How to Keep a Dance Floor Filled

Whether you’re DJing a club in town or a 4 a.m. dance party in your kitchen, you’ve got to give the people what they want. No matter what kind of music you’re getting down with, there’s going to be a point where eyes start looking around: you’ve lost the groove. If you don’t act quick, your dance floor will be emptier than a school house on a Sunday. We suggest you dig a little deeper: go old-school funky.

You know the deal: tight snare and hi-hat work and fat-bottomed basslines. If these tracks don’t get you out of a jam, don’t call us. Clearly, it’s not the kind of party we would attend anyway. — John Edward Royall

You Dropped a Bomb on Me
— The Gap Band

Getup Offa That Thing
— James Brown

Fantastic Voyage
— Lakeside

Boogie on Reggae Woman
— Stevie Wonder

Thank you
(Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again)
— Sly & The Family Stone

Express Yourself
— Charles Wright & The Watts
103rd Street Rhythm Band

Who Says a Funk Band Can’t Play
Rock ‘n’ Roll
— Funkadelic

Give The People What They Want
— The O’Jays

Genius of Love
— Tom Tom Club

Life During Wartime
— Talking Heads

— Cymande

Better Change Your Mind
— William Onyeabor

(Somebody Got ) Soul, Soul, Soul
— The Wild Magnolias

— Prince

Fire on the Bayou
— The Meters

Yes We Can Can
— The Pointer Sisters

Groove Line
— Earth, Wind & Fire

Blues Tunes for the jammin’ cats

Charleston musician and blues enthusiast Gary Erwin, known in town under the stage name Shrimp City Slim, knows his stuff. As a former record store owner, longtime pianist, songwriter, bandleader, and festival organizer, Erwin is one of Charleston’s loudest blues cheerleaders.

For blues players, it’s not so much to know how to play a specific song, but how to play a specific groove, he says. At a jam, if I am the leader, I might for example just call a shuffle in G with stops. And the band should understand.

When asked to arrange the absolute must-know jam session songs for any blues-style musician’s repertoire, here’s what he put together.
— T. Ballard Lesemann

Baby What You Want Me to Do
— Jimmy Reed

Got My Mojo Workin’
— Muddy Waters

Sweet Home Chicago
— Robert Johnson

Let the Good Times Roll
— Louis Jordan

Hoochie Coochie Man
— Muddy Waters

Boom Boom
— John Lee Hooker

That’s Allright
— Jimmy Rogers

Walking by Myself
— Jimmy Rogers

I’m Tore Down
— Freddy King (by way of Eric Clapton)

Before You Accuse Me
— Bo Diddley (by way of Eric Clapton)

Statesboro Blues
— Blind Willie McTell (by way of Allman Brothers)

One Way Out
— Sonny Boy Williamson (by way of Allman Brothers)

… And the fearful and ubiquitous:

Red House
— Jimi Hendrix

Give Me One Reason
— Tracy Chapman

Love Me Like a Man
— Chris Smither (by way of Bonnie Raitt)

Make ’em Shag To Everything

This essential beach music and shag set is a useful dozen for any working band who might encounter belligerent and demanding shaggers during a gig (yes, even madras-clad, loafer-wearing shag enthusiasts can be obnoxious sometimes). Actually, with the right rhythmic touch, khaki-swagger, and tempo treatment, any band adventurous enough to try to rework something from the classic rock, soul, or pop world on-the-fly can turn just about anything into a shag song. However, learning at least a few of these will eventually come in super handy when gigging around the Lowcountry. — T. Ballard Lesemann

How Sweet It Is

(To Be Loved by You)
— Marvin Gaye

Build Me Up Buttercup
— The Foundations

Give Me Just a Little More Time
— General Johnson

& The Chairman of the Board

Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy
— The Tams

Sixty Minute Man
— Billy Ward & The Dominoes

Under the Boardwalk
— The Drifters

I Love Beach Music
— The Embers

Baby, Let Me Bang Your Box
— Doug Clark & The Hot Nuts

Carolina Girls
— General Johnson
& The Chairman of the Board

Girl Watcher
— The O’Kaysions

Givin’ It Up for Your Love
— Delbert McClinton

— Ernie K-Doe

Classic Hip-Hop for Rock Bands

Musicians, experts, and veteran producers may argue over what officially qualifies as old-school hip-hop. Some place the cut-off date around 1984, others at the dawn of the ’90s. Looking back, we think just about anything from around 20 years ago and beyond (especially in the early years of MTV’s Yo, MTV Raps!) is fair game for absolute, must-know old-school rap hits. Listed here are some of the timeless hip-hop anthems that any live band should consider working into the repertoire — tracks that grab the attention anyone of old enough to remember. — T. Ballard Lesemann

Rapper’s Delight
— The Sugarhill Gang

The hand-clapping 1979 hit with the bassline from Chic’s Good Times that helped kick it all off.

— The Beastie Boys

Practically their version of Otis Day & The Knights’ Shama-Lama Ding Dong.

Just a Friend
— Biz Markie

The hilariously outta tune, piano-driven, funky love song from the goofy old-school beatboxer.

Insane in the Membrane
— Cypress Hill

The L.A.-based combo put it bluntly in the call-and-response chorus on this doobie-tastic marijuana rally rap.

Me, Myself, and I
— De La Soul

As funky and bouncy as any P-Funk standard, this one retains its magic 20 years after its release.

The Humpty Dance
— Digital Underground

A killer beat and bassline smothered in cornball party vibes and a singalong chorus of Do the Humpty-Hump!

Human Beat Box
— The Fat Boys

An early ’80s synth-beat hit for the Boys (they originally released it when they were called the Disco 3). If anyone can pull off the beatbox style of Darren Buffy Robinson, it’s an instant winner.

You Talk Too Much
— Run-D.M.C.

A slow-pounding 1985 rap about the loudmouthed girlfriend.

Goin’ Back to Cali
— LL Cool J

The brassy and moody 1989 hit with a slow-rolling LL Cool J stylin’ and profilin’ in the sun.

Baby Got Back
— Sir Mix-A-Lot

A thumping bassline and an irresistibly ridiculous mix of humor, and sex … prefect for the dance floor.

The Critic’s Critical Indie List

Veteran Charleston radio personality Jim “The Critic” Voigt has rocked the local airwaves for years — not only with some of the coolest cuts from the alternative and punkish side of modern rock, but also with his vast knowledge of the most influential underground acts of the last three decades and the whole rock ‘n’ roll family tree.

The Critic first started working in radio 15 years ago after relocating to Charleston and landing a gig at the late 96 Wave. Since February 2008, he’s hosted two three-hour specialty shows on The Bridge at 105.5 FM WCOO: The Critic’s Hootenanny, which airs on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon, and The Critic’s Choice, on Sundays from 9 a.m. to noon. The shows are probably the closest thing to smart college radio Charleston has ever had.

When asked to assemble the absolute must-know indie-rock songs for any working band’s set-list, he put together 10 crowd-pleasing songs and 10 of the coolest obscure tunes for the aficionado.

Sweet Jane
— Velvet Underground

I Wanna Be Your Dog
— The Stooges

September Gurls
— Big Star

Blitzkrieg Bop
— The Ramones

Radio Free Europe
— R.E.M.

Take the Skinheads Bowling
— Camper Van Beethoven

Bastards of Young
— The Replacements

Touch Me I’m Sick
— Mudhoney

The Long Cut
— Uncle Tupelo

Cut Your Hair
— Pavement

Teenage Kicks
— The Undertones

Chinese Rocks
— Johnny Thunders

Starry Eyes
— The Records

Left in the Dark
— The Vertebrats

Girl Of My Dreams
— Bram Tchaikovsky

Baby What’s Wrong
— The Cynics

Fisherman’s Blues
— The Waterboys

Judas Kiss
— The Del Lords

Sooner Or Later
— The Feelies

Skip Steps 1 & 3
— Superchunk

Reach Critic at, or visit

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