Music Farm has sat unused since before the pandemic | Credit: Ruta Smith

Charleston Music Hall and its booking partners are set to take over Music Farm, signing on to run the beloved 30-year-old venue that has sat vacant since the pandemic started. Owners Jerry Scheer and Mark Cumins said they were dedicated to keeping the building a music venue no matter how long the wait — and they found the local team to make it happen.

Frank Productions, with NS2 and Live Nation, will book shows at the Farm, expanding the ongoing local partnership with the team at Charleston Music Hall.

“I fell in love with live music in that room,” said longtime Music Hall director Charles Carmody, who grew up packing into the Farm for big-name shows.

“I started going there when I was 13. I saw some of the best shows ever — Against Me!, St. Vincent, Broken Social Scene, Run the Jewels. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at programming it and running it. It was always, ‘One day if someone doesn’t want to do it, we are going to do it.’”

The Music Farm’s name won’t change, but some of the internal workings will. Three main issues being addressed in the interim are the temperature, the sound and the capacity. Along with a brand new HVAC system, the space will be outfitted with new lighting and sound, and the capacity will be reduced to 650 so concertgoers can have a more comfortable experience. Also among the upgrades will be an updated green room.

The Music Hall has worked with partners at Wisconsin-based Frank Productions — which operates the space and books talent with NS2 and Live Nation — since early 2020. The new-look Farm will expand that relationship.

“The Music Farm has been part of the fabric of city for decades and we look forward to continuing that legacy as Live Nation helps more artists connect with their fans in Charleston,” said Live Nation Southeast president Grant Lyman, in a press release.

And it won’t just be booze being served up at the Farm. As part of the deal, the folks at The Royal American will man the kitchen, serving up items similar to what’s on the menu at the Morrison Drive bar that boasts a big rock-hall following of its own.

Carmody

As far as booking, Carmody’s vision is to have Music Farm be a place for developing up-and-coming acts and filling in the blanks for artists in the local music scene. 

“There’s really not enough metal or hip-hop or EDM dance music, we are missing out on a lot of those shows in Charleston. So I’m excited for this space to fill that void. The goal is to operate five nights a week. Dance nights, local showcases, all kinds of stuff. That’s another great thing about the Farm: Our expenses will be lower, so we will be able to take a little more risk on artists that might not have played the market, which is huge.” 

Besides giving lesser-known Charleston musicians the chance to perform and to support regional and national acts that pass through town, Carmody is looking forward to extending to Music Farm the special programming the Hall has offered, like the “Women &” series that has tributed Neil Young, The Beatles and others over the years. Expect collaborations with Dance Lab, monthly drag shows and themed events.

Carmody said his team is determined to make the new-look venue a platform for underserved musicians and industry professionals. Last year a diversity committee was formed not only to focus on booking a wider array of genres, but to give space for female and LGBTQ+ acts, as well as musicians of color.

“We have got to get more Black artists on stage, and for that we are going to partner with Matt Monday on doing some series,” Carmody said. “And Latinx music — you, like, can’t find it in Charleston. We have three main goals: create diversity in booking, create diversity in staffing and create spaces that feel safe for everyone.”