James Justin & Co.
The Pour House
Oct. 14

A high level of energy was tangible at the Pour House as a packed house welcomed James Justin & Co. back to his main hometown from a lengthy national tour.

Local band the Royal Tinfoil, led by Mackie Boles and Lily Slay, opened the night with soulful bluegrass and blues-rock that had the audience swing dancing and stomping their feet. After a long opening set, the atmosphere turned to anticipation awaiting the headlining act’s powerhouse Americana.

Comprised of guitarist/vocalist James Justin Burke, banjoist Bailey Horsely, bassist Tom Propst, mandolinist Dave Vaughan, and drummer Jim Donnelly (of the Hawkes), the headliners kicked off their performance with a tune called “Give You My Heart” in tribute to their fans. Burke and Horsely let loose and danced on stage to show the group’s enthusiasm to be back in the Lowcountry. The early set of songs was badass.

James Justin & Co. is a growing force in the Charleston music scene and represents a new chapter in American folk music. Burke’s voice is both enchanting and uplifting, as he sang songs from both the band’s debut album, Southern Son, So Far, as well as their latest, Dark Country.

“We’ve traveled 9,000 miles across the country giving our other fans some of our love,” Burke told his audience, amidst a smattering of hollers. “But damn, it feels good to be back home. We missed you Charleston.”

“Turn This Thing Around” had the crowd raising their drinks in the air ready for another round, while “Mother Earth” voiced a serious message and a plea to care for the environment. Catchy tunes “The Garden,” “The Rescue,” and “Dark Country” were also on the set list, as Burke hypnotized the audience with his powerful voice. Sticking to their folksy roots, they also performed a cover of “Airline to Heaven,” a track from Wilco’s Mermaid Avenue collaboration with Billy Bragg based on lyrics by the late Woody Guthrie.

Burke and his gang performed the last four numbers with Mike Sivilli, Dan Lotti, and Steven Sandifer of local favorites Dangermuffin, ending the night on a high note with an encore of the song “Helpless.” And we were all helplessly captivated. 

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