We definitely felt some southern hospitality at the King City Sessions performances on April 20th at Ocean Industries Studios on James Island. The King City Records collective, which on this night included Loners Society, Wrenwood and Tyler Boone, each performed around 30 minutes and also had a combined jam at the end. It was fascinating to hear each band show off their own musical identity and yet still mix and match members from separate bands all night long. I felt that I was witnessing a great new Charleston scene taking shape, one that looked to the future of Americana and folk rock, but also called into shape the widely channeled, but rarely resurrected ghost of classic rock.
First up was Loners Society, led by Matt Magrue and containing members of Wrenwood, amongst others. Magrue travels in a stream of consciousness style of lyrical imagery with an obvious bent towards social meaning. I felt like he was giving nods to musical antecedents like Springsteen and Dylan, but also carving out a chunk of the current Americana musical pie for himself. I think Loners Society could easily fit on a bill with the modern folk rock of Frank Turner or
the gritty southern rock of the Drive-By Truckers. All of the bands had the great Charlie Thompson on steel guitar during at least some songs and his contributions can’t be underestimated. How much he filled out the sound! The fluid lead guitar work of Dan Rainey could also be heard in every band incarnation tonight and between the two of them, the music never lacked enough dimension. Matt gave the audience his impressions and background on each of his tunes, which included a Blind Melon cover.
Next up was Wrenwood, featuring the great singing of Dallas Corbett. Her strong countryish voice reminded me of a sweeter, younger Shonna Tucker (of the Drive-By Truckers). Dan Rainey and Charlie Thompson also threw all their tricks into the Wrenwood bag, driving the folksy songs to a higher level. Dallas dealt in some nice lyrical imagery, with the song title “Cheap Shots” giving me a chuckle. My favorite moment of their set would have to be “The Wayside”, which had an amazingly catchy chorus and some great fills by Rainey. Songs like this deserve to be huge on the radio!
After Wrenwood, it was time for Tyler Boone. He started out with “That’s When You Call Me”, and ran down a list of his impressively constructed tunes. Tyler mines a vein of Americana and folksy southern rock/pop. He might draw comparisons to artists like Jack Johnson or John Mayer, except for a more pronounced southern style. His song “Home” is the hit-in-the-making, with a great modern poppy acoustic rock sound. Between Tyler and Dan, there was a lot of solid guitar playing evident. After one of his last signature songs, “Don’t Forget My Name”, the whole collective jammed together and it’s appealing to see such a large group of musicians come together in common cause in such a positive way. The whole camaraderie of the King City collective will leave most listeners wondering how they manage to stay so focused, with the relative youth of the whole group, but they apply both professionalism and an evident respect for each other towards a common goal with amazing results. So impressed with all of them and hope to do it again as soon as they are able to set another great evening like this up!
Sean Knight is a native South Carolinian who has spent his life bouncing back and forth between SC and Texas, playing in bands you probably never heard of in both states and stinking up open-mic nights in the Low Country for many years. He plays, collects, listens to and probably spends too much of his life obsessing over music.