Recent Charleston fixture McKenzie Eddy croons “Run, run, run, run far away, girl” on the trance-jam “Windmills,” and if taken literally, she has done just that. What might she be running from or to? Well, for starters, she’s running in a slightly different direction if compared to the Charleston Music and Arts community, and she doesn’t appear to be stopping anytime soon.
Eddy, a native of Hilton Head, is an edgy attractive blonde, who just so happens to be the new co-owner of King Dusko. Located smack dab on upper King Street, yet mischievously hidden behind humble signage, Dusko wears many hats. The space functions as an art gallery, coffee shop and music venue. In addition, it also serves as a beer and wine bar, which so happens to be tended by Eddy’s brother and business partner, Jesse. Although he is co-owner of Dusko, he says he is cool with being known simply as the “barista”.
A singer-songwriter herself, Eddy grew up having to tip-toe around her brother with regards to her singing. Jesse recalls a few times from their childhood as we sit down for a late night breakfast at The Rarebit, an upscale diner across from Dusko. “She used to go around singing and I would always tell her to shut up,” Jesse recalls. “I didn’t really like music when I was younger” Jesse recalls, ” I thought it was divided, like these people listen to this type of music, and these people listen to that type of music”. Jesse continues,” McKenzie and I both played basketball, and before one game, she sang the National Anthem, and my friend and I looked at each other and I went, well…I guess I can’t tell her to shut up anymore,” he says smiling.
The two siblings went their separate ways for school with Jesse graduating from the College of Charleston in 2009. Mckenzie left the University of South Carolina and moved to New York City for an internship with Damon Dash of Roc-A-Fella Records. One evening, Dash got word that Eddy and her best friend were headed to a sold-out show in Madison Square Garden to see the Black Keys. Dash, who had recently become a fan, urged Eddy to get in touch with them. She was able to make a connection, which then led to her learning more about the business side of the music industry. Dash and the Black Keys went on to collaborate on two projects together, Blakroc 1 and 2. Both are studio collaborations between the Black Keys and hip-hop artists, which include Mos Def and Jim Jones.
As Eddy was learning the ropes within the music industry, she began writing and recording material of her own, yet the idea of opening a haven for artists in general kept appealing to her. Jesse says that he and his sister were constantly in communication over finding a space for their endeavor and when Dusko’s space became available, they knew it was the right time. When asked how the name came about, Jesse laughs, “Well, we own a yellow lab, which took forever to name. We finally settled on naming him after a Serbian spy that is from a James Bond novel. His name is Dusko Popov, but we could not have a dog with that last name. So, we changed it to Poppington”. Fast forward to McKenzie and Jesse opening their own gallery and music space, and they knew the name had to be Dusko…King Dusko, in fact.
Aside from the incredible art that the Eddy’s put on display from local artists such as Will Milner, Sarah Haynes and Johnny Pundt, the space inside is somewhat minimalistic and bare. Toward the back of the narrow space sits a beautiful counter space where patrons can order drinks. From there, you enter a small doorway and up a few steps before making your way out to the somewhat unexpected, but pleasantly surprising beer garden. There is a beautiful stage, built by Dusko employee and carpenter, A.J., wooden picnic benches, artistic lighting, a magnificent full- blown graffiti splattered brick wall, and an interesting bronze sculpture of a Buddha-esque figure created by local artist and rickshaw driver, Casey Cahoon. Throughout the week, several local artists play in the backyard beer garden, including an open-mic night on Mondays where a loop guitarist hosts the open mic night. Charles Carmody’s well- known “Bean Night” goes down on Tuesdays outside and a B.Y.O.V. (bring your own vinyl) night occurs on Thursdays.
Speaking of vinyl, Eddy is ambitiously hoping to begin pressing vinyl on location at some point in the near future. She confessed, “I want to press my own record on vinyl, maybe sell it, and then help other people do it,” she says. But why all of the interest in vinyl? Eddy explains that she’s seen this resurgence in vinyl and that “people are coming back in order to truly understand the sound quality.” She also acknowledges the downside of technology, insisting that “what we really want is something tangible”. “We all want to feel and be part of the artwork. We want something to connect to,” she says softly. We couldn’t agree more.
Whatever you fancy, you’re sure to find it at King Dusko, though don’t be surprised if it takes you a minute to find it. And keep your radar on McKenzie Eddy, she is one to watch for sure.