I’m going to do some name dropping. James Brown, Ray Charles, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Stevie Wonder, Dave Matthews Band, Bill Haley & The Comets, R.E.M., The Allman Brothers Band, Phish, and Pink Floyd. What do these artists have in common? They all enjoyed horseback riding. I’m kidding, I’m kidding. At some point in their careers, all of these artists graced the stage at one of the most important tour stops between New York and Miami. In fact Pink Floyd cut a record there in 1972 which is included in a box set to be released sometime this year. The place is Township Auditorium , and for over a half a century it has been a fixture in the music industry and a gem for music lovers throughout the Carolinas. Recently I had the chance to speak with Andrew Horne, the “Assistant General Manager But Pretty Much Do A Little Of Everything” guy over at the Township about all the changes that we’ve seen lately and those still to come.
Township Auditorium has recently raised its profile with such acts as Gov’t Mule, Queens of the Stone Age, Buddy Guy and Jonny Lang, Amos Lee, Old Crow Medicine Show, Widespread Panic, Stone Temple Pilots, and John Legend, among others. Is this the result of the extensive renovation of the Township or are there other factors at work here?
“The renovations are a big part of it because we have the loading dock/BOH space that we never had along with better in house production capabilities and more suitable dressing rooms. Also Aundrai Holloman (GM) and I are aggressively trying to reach out to agents/promoters that have never been to our facility or ones that haven’t been here in a while.
Some of these shows seem to be aimed at a younger, more musically educated audience. Would you agree with that statement and if so is that a purposeful attempt on your part in terms of booking?
“We are always trying to bring diverse programming to Columbia bc it is a diverse city. If certain types of shows have historically skipped Columbia we are working with the people involved to try to get them to give the Township & Columbia a chance. If we are successful when the show is playing the building we can usually bring them back and it is more likely that same genre artists that have never played Columbia might play us.”
What are some of your short-term goals for the venue? What can we expect to see from The Township in the coming year?
“Short term goals are just to continue to build on what we have started. There will be a lot of great shows coming though in the summer and the latter part of the year, and we are working a couple of things to make the patron experience better also.”
What are some of your long-term goals?
“There are a certain number of annual shows we would like to get to, and we are going to do that by offering great shows to Columbia so we can offer great crowds for artists. That way we can make the Township and Columbia a must stop for any artist touring the southeast.”
What are a few of your favorite shows from the past year?
“Some of my favorites lately have been Grace Potter, Old Crow Medicine Show, Tedeschi Trucks band, Amos Lee, Band of Horses, and QOTSA although there is probably a bunch I am forgetting right now.”
What are some of the challenges the Township faces when it comes to booking national and regional acts?
“Regional acts are tough just because we have over 3000 seats to fill at the Township, so if an artist doesn’t draw at least 1500 it is hard to make the numbers work. As far as national it is just letting them know that the Township/Columbia is a great place to play, and since national touring acts are expensive to bring in, making sure we are offering the right shows to the market so people will want to come.”
South Carolina musicians have on occasion been placed as supporting acts for some of your headliners. Is that something that you would like to see continue and if so what can bands do to see that they are considered as an opening act?
“We have had some great SC bands play the Township lately Josh Roberts, The Mobros, Finnegan Bell, Weaving the Fate and a many more, and it is definitely something we are trying to continue. We think it is a great opportunity to promote the talent in the state and a great experience for the artists. That is also why we have started other events at the Township like Loading Dock Live and Summer Sets to shine the light on some of the great talent in the state. If a band would like to be considered they can just send a press kit to me at the Township.”
Can you make mention of any new shows that we can expect to see in the coming year at the Township?
“ I usually don’t mention shows until we have locked down an on sale date because you never know what could happen, but we have recently announced Steely Dan in July, Crosby Stills and Nash in August , and a Joe Bonamassa show for later in the year. We are also in the planning stages for a big Halloween show. Hopefully we’ll have an announcement on that real soon.”
What role do you see the Township playing both in the local music scene as well as the state?
“The Township has always been a large part of the music scene locally and statewide, the building opened in 1930 and for many years it was the best venue in SC for to see great artists like Elvis, Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, just to name a few. And although the building became a little out dated and the number of shows began to wane, the renovation has helped put us back on track to being a top spot to play and see a show. Also all types of artists from local bands to bull riders to ballerinas have gotten their first taste of performing at the Township and went on to do great things in their field.”