In 2007, guitarist/singer Nathan Calhoun, a Louisville, Ky., native, was settling into the laid back Folly Beach lifestyle when a mole on his neck reshaped his entire world.
“I went to the dermatologist thinking it was nothing and it was melanoma. I immediately went to Hollings Cancer Center and had it surgically removed,” Calhoun said.
The diagnosis didn’t stop Calhoun, then 29 years old, from pursuing music: he joined up with saxophone player Andy Childs, and the duo created the first iteration of local acoustic act, Calhoun’s Calling. Calhoun also worked with the Town of Folly Beach to create the very first FollyPalooza, a music festival that raises money for local cancer patients, which the community rallied behind.
Unfortunately, a PET scan then found stage 4 melanoma in his lungs. “I had to make a living will … I didn’t physically feel sick. It was really strange,” he said of the experience.
Doctors recommended Calhoun enter into a clinical trial at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and one of his few respites from the grueling treatment was creating songs.
Songwriting was a way to slow down, not just because he needed to heal, but because he wanted to enjoy the present moments he often took for granted when he was healthy. The tracks became the foundation of what would become the first full-length album from Calhoun’s Calling, Carolina Breeze.
Calhoun continued to write music after he was declared NED (no evidence of disease) in 2011. “I kept building on it in different studios,” Calhoun said. Thematically, Carolina Breeze is an amalgam of various moods: “vacation songs, a couple love songs, and one song in particular is a little bit darker.”
Calhoun’s Calling as a live act is composed of Calhoun, Childs, bassist Chris Viera and drummer Jonathan Alcon delivering acoustic driven pop-rock. According to Calhoun, Childs “plays the saxophone like the electric guitar,” resulting in an intensity that adds a dynamic twist to the upbeat sound.
“It’s just something I could have never even imagined,” Calhoun said of hearing the songs he wrote come alive through his band members.
The band’s March 5 release party at Loggerheads on Folly Beach didn’t just celebrate the completion of Carolina Breeze, but also commemorated Calhoun’s milestone of reaching 10 years cancer free.
“It’s just an amazing support system. The music scene has been awesome.”
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