This is the latest in ListenUp's series of "On The Scene" reviews, where we get out into the community and give a music fan's perspective on local bars and venues. This week, editor Chris Mowder made a stop at the Boathouse Waterway Bar & Grill for its Live After Five Concert Series featuring Jay Kennedy & headliners Crossin' Dixon.
Over the past few years, The Boathouse has made a pretty impressive impact on the local music scene. Through hosting a nice mix of local and touring acts on its back lawn during its summer concert series, it's gained quite a reputation as the place to be on a sunny Sunday between April and September.
I have been to the Boathouse at least a dozen times for happy hours/meals and seen a few shows there (including Villanova and a great Bob Marley cover show by Mystic Vibrations) but for whaetever reason had yet to make it out to one of their packed-lawn Sunday affairs.
Still, I wanted to go and see what the outdoor portion of this awesomely-located waterfront bar was all about, so I decided to check out the JV version of the summer concert series, the bar's Friday events which they call Live After Five.
Upon passing the now defunct Freestyle Park and pulling up to the Boathouse, the first thing you notice is that the parking lot is always packed. It's not huge to begin with and the fact that there was a huge tour bus taking up about 20 spots didn't help. Luckily the also-defunct Waccamaw Pottery area across the street provides ample parking opportunities and easy access.
Inside, there was a decent amount of folks lined along the bar, having drinks and chatting up the bartenders, but the place was empty enough inside to make me wonder for a second "Where did all those cars in the parking lot come from?" before remembering why I came in the first place: out back.
Walking outside the tables lined along side of the bar were packed with folks enjoying a bite to eat.
The lawn was set up with a nice stage at one end, a sound booth and a few wooden tables at the other and some nice adirondack chairs scattered in between.
In addition to a great view of the Intracostal Waterway, there's also stairs which lead down to a Gazebo and decent-sized boat dock (hence the name).
And if that's not enough, there's also a very cool patio located behind the law that holds probably a dozen tables and another fully-staffed bar. This area is probably the nicest part of the bar (assuming the weatehr's right) as it's draped by a huge mossy oak tree and is flanked by a couple hammocks and a sand volleyball court on one side.
I assume all of these different niches of the bar get packed with boaters and concertgoers for the aforementioned summer shows, but this particular day the lawn was empty except for a few listeners and friends of the band, the tables half full with folks enjoying their evening and a couple kids were running around playing in the hammocks.
On stage was an acoustic artist Jay Kennedy, whom I have seen listed around town performing as the Jay Kennedy Duo, but hadn't had the pleasure of hearing before. Whether it was the sound man, artist or equipment the set got off to a bit of a rocky start with some technical difficulties that resulted in a few 15-second snippets of "Breakfast at Tiffany's" between some awkward silence.
However, once all that was worked out I quite enjoyed what I heard from Kennedy. He did a nice mix of modern and classic covers including tunes by Hootie & The Blowfish, Edwin McCain and Marshall Tucker Band, while also mixing in some originals from his band, a local outfit called Shaywise. These included a country-tinged acoustic ballad called "If I Could Fall" and a heartfelt song written for his 5-year-old daughter called "Daddy's Girl."
I also gained a little more respect for Kennedy as he finished his set and I realized he was on crutches — you gotta love someone who doesn't let broken bones get in the way of their music.
As dusk turned to dark and after a short intermission, country band Crossin' Dixon took the stage, mentioning that they were happy to be there and that this was their first time in S.C. While the lawn didn't quite fill up with folks like I thought it might, it didn't seem to phase the Missippi-based good old boys in the band who still put on a show for the few devoted fans in front of them as well as the patio and bar crowd.
During their high-energy set the band performed some straight country tunes, but most of their original material seemed to have a southern rock edge to it including their single called "Lovin' in the Country." I thought it was a cool, rowdy sorta country anthem that I could see being a hit in the vein of something that Toby Keith might do, but admittedly I'm not the most well-versed country fan anymore.
As past country fan whose true love for the genre stopped about the time Garth Brooks gave up on singing, I was glad to see the band throw in some change-ups including a fun cover of "Calling Baton Rouge" and some slower paced stuff including the obligatory salute to the troops.
Overall, I was impressed by what I saw from both acts and the female guests I took with me seemed to be particularly impressed by some of the Crossin' Dixon members, which they described as having pretty blues eyes, being goregous and having good voices.
While I think I'd much prefer the laid back feeling of Friday evening to a packed house in 105 degree weather, the Boathouse made a good enough impression, that we'll definitely have to make another visit when the summer concert series rolls back around.
Have a bar or venue that you think we ought to check out. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.