Monday, June 16, 2014

The Music Farm--This Historically Significant Charleston Music Venue Hosted The Florida Georgia Line After Party

I stepped through the glass arched double doors off of Ann Street. My eyes were irresistibly drawn to the high vaulted ceiling. The network of steel girders glowed in the aura of the brilliant blue and magenta lights from below. Guitars, highlighted by spotlights, hung on several walls. Stage crews and sound techs were busy setting up equipment on the sprawling stage--one of the largest in Charleston.

The crowd for the moment was on the light side, but that would change. The Florida Georgia Line After Party was soon to begin. Chelsea Summers and her cajun playing sidekick, Robby Robins, were set to open the night's party for Charleston's Music Farm.


The Music Farm has played to packed crowds since 1991, when it first opened on East Bay Street in what was a previous nightclub. Headliners like the Stray Cats, The Samples, Phish, Meat Puppets, FIREHOSE, Chick Corea Elektric Band, The Dave Matthews Band, NRBQ, Warren Zevon, Widespread Panic, L7, and Social Distortion made appearances during its early days.

In 1992 it closed and in 1993 reopened at its present location between King Street and Meeting Street. The building historically was a storage depot for the South Carolina Railroad and is one of the oldest existing railroad structures in the U.S. David Byrne, Helmet, Run DMC, Phish, Meat Puppets, Pavement, Cracker, Counting Crows, Uncle Tupelo Hootie, Edwin, Blue Dogs, Jump, and the Archetypes have graced the present venue since.

It was my first visit. I was invited to shoot video for Chelsea's opening performance. North Carolina born Chris Lane was to follow. Chelsea Summers of Summerville is a very in-demand acoustic performer, often playing 3-4 shows a week all around the Charleston area. Chris, after his college baseball career ended, has played over 500 shows, opening up for Florida Georgia Line, The Band Perry, Eli Young Band, Chris Young and Brantley Gilbert among others.

Chelsea has moved to the top of the Country charts in Charleston. She will be playing at the Awendaw Green on July 2nd at 7:30 pm. Bathed in the colorful, concert style stage lights of the Music Farm, she rocked the house.

The Music Farm is in an area of Charleston with a strong railroad history. Close-by on John Street is the Music Hall. It was built in 1849-50 as a passenger station called the Tower Depot. It was part of a larger complex called the Camden Depot. The nearby Charleston Museum on Meeting Street has become the home for the first locomotive built in the U.S. that ran out of Charleston, "Best Friend." It is in a glass enclosure across from the Music Hall. Around the corner is the ever changing and noisy Upper King Street, where you will find some of the best new restaurants and drinking holes in Charleston--perfect for hanging out at before heading over to the Music Farm.

So, if you are young or just feeling young and looking for a music venue wrapped in Charleston history, check out the Music Farm. With few tables to sit at, its bold acoustics, sprawling stage, center bar, and down front standing-room only dance floor are its main features. It is not a huge venue. It can easily get over crowded, which could present certain undesirable problems. It has its share of good and bad reviews. History buffs will appreciate the cultural significance of the building--something likely overlooked by most of its younger patrons with live music, partying and drinking on tap--its main reason for being.

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