Despite the blustery, rainy weather in the evening, a nice-sized crowd showed up at the Windjammer on Fri. Feb. 5 for the second annual Awareness Rocks event at the Windjammer on the Isle of Palms. I got to pay drums with one band.

The Head and Neck Cancer Alliance Support Community connects patients, families, friends and caregivers for support and inspiration. The Head and Neck Cancer Alliance Support Community is sponsored by the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance in partnership with Inspire.

Songwriter Ryan Bailey switched between his Fender Tele and an acoustic while backed by his band, Cumberland Belle. The band included guitarist Carl Wine, bassist Shawn Leiberknight, and sit-in drummer Kyle Polk (of Redfish). Bailey’s melodic Americana-rock stylings and strong singing style provided a warm vibe as things kicked off around 6:15 p.m. He and the band nailed several new tunes (some of which they’re currently working on at Charleston Sound), and they soared with a velvety rendition of Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You.”

Wombat hit the stage for two brief sets. The newly-established acoustic rock quartet — singer/guitarist Jared Mills, guitarist Ben Fontenot, electric bassist Steve Andreoli, and drummer Eric Angermeier — feature three fellas in residency at MUSC. Mills and Fontenot strummed through straightforward arrangements of pop-rock originals and a few crowd-pleasing alt-rock covers. Angermeier played with Stew Copeland cymbal set-up. Their style resembled the classic, Carolina-approved Hootie/Edwin twang and groove of the 1990s.

I was honored to participate on stage with three friends for a quick set of obscure and/or excruciatingly riffy classic rock tunes under the band name The Bad Signs. Bassist John Crain, guitarist J.R. Getches, and sax player/keyboardist Alan Brisendine (a research administrator at MUSC) play regularly in various local bands. We covered Madness, Elvis Costello, Van Morrison, Sam & Dave, and the Edgar Winter Group. Luckily, we managed to close with the instrumental “Frankenstein” with only a few minor clams.

Local quartet Steel Petals closed the event with a lengthy set of originals, propelled by a variety of grinding blues-rock grooves. Bespectacled frontman Blake Ohlson switched between electric guitar and lap steel, backed by no-messin’-around drummer Duck Reynolds (formerly of The Defilers), organist Whitt Algar, and new bass player Martin Whipkey. The Petals were at their most muscular wen the fuzz-wah of the distorted lap steel, the Hammond B3 setting on the keys, and the rhythm section linked up in unison.

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