Downtown. 32 Ann St. 853-3276
A longtime readers’ favorite for this category, the Music Farm stands as one of the most prominent live music venues in the Charleston area. Featuring a diverse schedule of local and national musical acts of various genres, the Farm is still running strong after 15 years in business.
The venue first opened in April 1991 in a small brick building at 525 East Bay St. (Papa John’s Pizza stands there nowadays). Local musician Kevin Wadley and radio/promotion guy Carter McMillan equipped the stage with a strong PA and immediately started booking a progressive mix of local rock acts (original and cover bands) and various touring “alternative bands” who were on the college radio charts.
Only a year and a half into it, the Farm made plans to move to a new location between Meeting and King streets, just across from the Charleston Visitor Center. Choosing an old, 6,000-square-foot building that used to house the South Carolina Railroad storage depot at 32 Ann St. (one of the oldest existing railroad structures in the U.S.), they completely renovated the facility, built a full bar, and installed a state-of-the-art PA into one of the largest music venues in town.
In 1998, former investment bankers Craig Comer and Riddick Lynch learned the Music Farm was for sale and jumped at the opportunity to buy it. They teamed up with songwriter/ex-internet service guy Yates Dew (of the ’90s band United Hotcake), and the trio shared management responsibilities with longtime manager Jimbo Webb.
Kurt Papenhausen — who spent time as a professional musician (with the Karl Shuman Band) and record store manager before diving into the grind as a booking guy and club manager — bought the venue in the fall of 2001. Pappenhausen and Webb have maintained the mix of metal and grunge, alt-rock and alt-country, indie and major label, cover and tribute, national and local. According to City Paper readers, the formula still works well.