Piccolo’s Early Bird Blues series kicked off yesterday evening at the handsome (and echo-y) Mad River Bar & Grille (32-B N. Market St.). The great “Blues Doctor” himself, Drink Small — a recent recipient of the S.C. Folk Heritage Award, a member of the S.C. Hall of Fame — played several sets during the happy hour slot (4-7 p.m.), but hardly anyone was there to catch them. What’s up, Charleston?

This week’s City Paper featured the series in the Buzz-o-meter section (with photos of Drink, too). Organizer Gary “Shrimp City Slim” Erwin got the word out via e-mail and posters. Mad River is right in the middle of things along the East Bay Street/Market scene. Where was everyone?

The berét-capped Small played and sang on the main room stage, seated under the big windows with his acoustic six-string on his lap. Only a few fans took advantage of the seating arranged in front of the stage. A few tables’ worth of locals and tourists paid scant attention as Small noodled through his catalog of riffs and wailed on a few old favorites and new originals (some of which are off his latest, Tryin’ to Survive at 75). He sounded great, if not particularly animated. Hopefully, a bigger crowd will be on hand for Small’s return gig on Fri. June 5 at 4 p.m. —T. Ballard Lesemann

The Early Bird Blues continues this week and next:
Mon. May 25 — Motherless Chillin’
Tues. May 26 — Skye Paige & The Original Recipe
Wed. May 27 — Cotton Blue
Thurs. May 28 — Jeff Norwood
Fri. May 29 — Juke Joint Johnny & Drew Baldwin
Mon. June 1 — Ed “Porkchop” Meyer
Tues. May 2 — The Matt Walsh Duo
Wed. May 3 — Geoff Achison
Fri. June 5 — Drink Small

(photo by T. Ballard Lesemann)