Before Hootie and the Blowfish, Jump Little Children, and Shovels & Rope created a buzz on the local music scene and made things happen far beyond it, the path was paved by a long list of Charleston musical forefathers. The history of the scene is truly diverse and rich, and Ye Olde Music Shop’s Michael Davis traces the influence of today’s young musicians all the way back to the 1940s. That’s why he’s launching the first Lowcountry Music Hall of Fame, which will take place at the Hanahan Amphitheater, a hidden gem of a venue Davis is also responsible for starting up.
The aim of Ye Olde Music Shop’s Lowcountry Music Hall of Fame is to properly recognize the individuals who have profoundly impacted Charleston’s music scene — that’s been Davis’ goal ever since the amphitheater was built. “We’re trying to look at the history of the Charleston music scene, not the here and now of it,” Davis says. “We’re looking at the people who built this to be what it is.”
The first round of inductees are listed and described by Davis. “There’s still a lot more out there, believe me,” Davis says. “The second batch of inductees we’re going to do in March are just as important as these first few people are. What we’re trying to go after and what is important to me is the people who deserve a pat on the back who, in my opinion, don’t have a big enough pat on the back.”
The inductees are:
Davis says that Sabback was one of the most prolific guitar instructors in Charleston, from the ’40s through the mid ’80s. “He taught some of the people who play today for a living in Charleston how to play,” he says. “And he was very close friends with Leo Fender, and Leo Fender is probably the most famous name in guitar history.”
Lonnie Hamilton toured with the Jenkins Orphanage Band back in the 1940s. Once a band director and city councilman, Hamilton remains an important member of the music community and Charleston’s jazz legacy. “He’s just a true cornerstone to the local music scene,” Davis says. “He’s been around for 50 years.”
Leonard School of Music
“This has been an education program in Charleston for decades,” Davis says. Since 1945, thousands of Charleston-area students have taken music lessons — from alto sax to symphonic band to wood clinics — with North Charleston’s Leonard School of Music.
North Charleston’s Fox Music has been a trusted member of the music community since 1928. “There wouldn’t be a Charleston music scene without Fox Music — it’s kind of the Microsoft of local musicians,” Davis says. “I think everybody who’s anybody has worked at Fox at one time or another. And they’re philanthropic, and what they’ve done in donation and what they’ve given the community is unsurpassed.”
Former member of the Charleston Jazz Orchestra, Charleston lost an essential part of its music community when Gill passed away over a year ago. “Tommy was probably the greatest jazz pianist of the last 30 years in Charleston,” Davis says.
Eddie Hogan, who passed away on Dec. 30, 2014, was the publisher of Charleston’s Free Time. “He gave a voice to a lot of musicians who would have never had a voice in the Charleston music scene,” Davis says. “He brought a voice to a lot of people who were overlooked.”
Oscar Rivers, who plays weekly at How Art Thou Cafe on James Island, recently celebrated his 75th birthday. “Oscar’s a very important jazz musician in Charleston,” Davis says. “He plays piano and sax and played with James Brown and just tons of different people.”
Al Goss and Larry Walker
Al Goss and Larry Walker are the former owners of Charleston’s pioneering venue, Myskyns, which once lived on the Market. “That was probably the most important music club in the history of Charleston music,” Davis explains. “Those guys are the first guys to bring people like Eric Johnson to town. Truly, the music scene would not be the same without Myskyns, and anybody who’s been here a long time will tell you that.”
The event will have concessions, but you’re welcome to bring your own picnic, too. No alcohol.