“Local Blend 2006”
Through Sun. June 11
Various times
Charleston Co. Public Library (Main Branch)
68 Calhoun St.

Already in its third year, the Local Blend series, presented by the Charleston County Public Library (CCPL), continues this week in its ambitious representation of the diverse local music scene with nightly performances from a wide variety of local and regional acts.

The free-of-charge, nonsmoking series provides a terrific opportunity for locals and visitors to catch some alternative sights and sounds during the Spoleto and Piccolo events. Local Blend takes place in the main library’s 200-seat auditorium and is open to the public. All performances will be digitally recorded and made available on the CCPL website at www.ccpl.org.

“We have an exciting lineup of primarily local artists this year,” says series organizer and longtime local musician Kevin Crothers, who also acts as CCPL media specialist and AV department head. “I intended this year to try to book only full-ensemble acts as opposed to solo performers. That probably comes down to reflecting my personal taste. I’d rather hear a hot rhythm section backing a singer/guitarist than a solo acoustic player, for example.

“I hope that we can get folks to come out who normally wouldn’t venture into a bar to experience some of the range of talent we have here in the Lowcountry,” Crothers adds. “We hope that while they are here they will take a look around and see all the cool stuff available through the Charleston County Public Library system.”

Local Blend 2006 launched on Sat. May 27 with a performance by indie-pop trio The Capsules and followed with sets from Cary Ann Hearst on May 28 and Sol Driven Train on May 30.

Events continue through Sun. June 11 with live performances from keyboardy indie-rockers Masa Hiro, wall-of-sound pop/rock trio The April Invention, melodically-charged pop/rock group The Explorers Club, contemporary jazz vocalist and Navy civil servant Charr (a.k.a. Charlene Lowe), bluegrass pickers Jeffries Creek Revival, unpredictable pop/rock band The Specs, longtime Charleston indie-rock band (now mostly located in Nashville) The Aamerican Tenants, singer/songwriter Lindsay Holler, former Jump guitarist Ward Williams, and the New Music Collective’s recently-assembled experimental Critical Band.

“Honestly, I haven’t been around Piccolo Spoleto in years,” says Aamerican Tenants main man Hart Littlejohn. “The thought of rock ‘n’ roll in a sterile library setting seemed kind of weird to me at first. The original Aamerican Tenants were somewhat improvisational, so there may be some of that on Tues. … and maybe some Martha & The Vandellas covers. At any rate, attendance will count for two books on the summer reading list.”

Three visiting acts include Asheville indie-pop band The Green Fields, Knoxville-based guitar-pop group The Westside Daredevils, and female-fronted, Detroit-based pop band Those Transatlantics.

“I wanted to offer a performance for every day of the Spoleto schedule this year,” says Crothers. “I had some difficulty confirming local acts for all of my open dates, so I threw it open to those from ‘off.”‘ Jason Brewer of The Explorers Club tipped me off to The Green Fields. The Westside Daredevils come out of a vigorous Knoxville music scene [and Crothers’ hometown].”

“I think what makes the Library gigs great are the people involved,” says Explorers Club frontman Brewer. “Kevin and [co-organizer] Peter Paolini really care about the performance and put a lot of effort into getting the event together. They’re not only supporters of music at the library, but also supporters of Charleston music in general. They have great taste and care about the quality of performances at the library — audio-wise and visually — not to mention, all musicians need to pay their overdues before they can make it!”

“We think this event stands out because of the type of music offered,” say the boys of Masa Hiro, due on stage on Wed. May 31. “From what I can tell, Piccolo Spoleto almost offers only classical, jazz/blues, and traditional music. Local Blend presents a broader range of music, and we feel like it caters more to our age group as well, whereas Spoleto seems geared more towards the middle-aged and children.”

The superior sound quality and comfortable feel of the auditorium venue at the library sets it apart from most typical Charleston rock venues.

“I think that having a concert from local musicians from the Charleston rock ‘n’ roll scene at the library is a gutsy move,” says guitarist/cellist Ward Williams (ex-Jump), who performs on Thurs. June 8. “For one thing, this may be one of the only times that people can hear local music in a listening room environment, without having to compete with the Bud Light spills and the screams of college coeds.”

Crothers says over the last few years of hosting musical events at the library, he has consistently heard from visitors that it is the best place in town to hear a show.

“When you come to one of our events, you are coming here to pay attention to the performer, not to drink, eat, or pick up potential love interests,” he states. “The acoustics are great, the volume is kept reasonable, the chairs are comfortable, the bathrooms are clean, the artists aren’t struggling to be heard over the crash of dishware and the hum of conversation.”

The blend of musical styles and music fans at the main library this week and next should make for a memorable installment of Local Blend — with or without the buzz of Spoleto and Piccolo activity surrounding it.

Local Blend 2006 Schedule:

• Wed. May 31
Masa Hiro (7 p.m.)

• Thurs. June 1
The April Invention (7 p.m.)

• Fri. June 2
The Explorers Club w/ Those Transatlantics (4 p.m.)

• Sat. June 3
Charr (4 p.m.)

• Sun. June 4
Jeffries Creek Revival (3 p.m.)

• Mon. June 5
The Specs (7 p.m.)

• Tues. June 6
The Aamerican Tenants (7 p.m.)

• Wed. June 7
Lindsay Holler (7 p.m.)

• Thurs. June 8
Ward Williams (7 p.m.)

• Fri. June 9
The Green Fields (4 p.m.)

• Sat. June 10
The Westside Daredevils (4 p.m.)

• Sun. June 11
The Critical Band/New Music Collective ( 3 p.m.)