Featured Listens is a weekly column which highlights three songs by artists from around the Grand Strand in an effort to help promote local music.
With Bike Week in full swing and the number of visitors beginning to pick up we thought we'd put our "all-local" policy on hold for a week and to highlight a couple of worthy out-of-town bands who will be coming to play at the beach this weekend.
The Freeloaders "I'm Running"
While not technically a local act, this Charleston-based band visits the Grand Strand frequently enough to garner consideration. Made up of Elise Testone (vocals), Oliver Goldstein (bass), Wallace Mullinax (guitar) and a rotating stable of drummers which includes Jack Burg, Stuart White and Cre Moore, this rock band deals in territory that is both familiar and unique.
Blending elements of classic rock with the funk and soul of Motown, the band utilizes its talented female vocalist to bring a new twist to a wide-ranging slate of cover tunes old and new and brings a catalog full of originals as well.
The song "I'm Running" is a recently-recorded live redux of one of the band's original tracks, originally laid down in NYC in 2009. The 8-minute highlights the soulful singine of Testone and wailing, Hendrix-esque guitar playing by Mullinax.
The Freeloaders will be performing locally all weekend playing at Wahoo's Friday (8:30 p.m.), a stop through Oceanfront Bar & Grill Saturday (8 p.m.) and a date with the Boathouse Backyard — opening for the Dave Matthews Tribute Band — Sunday (5 p.m).
Freak Tent "Kung Fu Dance"
This Applachia-by-way-of-L.A. band has been through a lot over the years, but decided to come back together in Charleston, West Virginia in 2008 and has been tearing up towns with their musical circus ever since.
Formed as a power trio, the band which conists of Scott Bailey (drums) and Chris Allen (vocals/bass), recently added local player Sam Favata to its mix — further proof that the guitarist is on a mission to play with everyone on this side of the Mississippi.
While Freak Tent's sound is hard to pin down, it's definitely a high-impact mix that combines elements of funk, rock, punk, jazz and blues. "Kung Fu Dance" is a funky foray into thick basslines with a quirky, danceable chorus off the band's most recent album.
Though we've yet to see them in person, the word on the street is that the live show is outstanding, a reputation the band built up over numerous performances at Drink! during its run downtown.
The band will perform at Rosa Linda's Friday night at 8 p.m., topping off a day full of bike week entertainment including Bill Davis (blues) at noon and Whitt & Billy D during Happy Hour.
American Aquarium "Nothing to Lose"
Hailing from Raleigh, N.C., American Aquarium has made its mark in the region with an honest, rootsy sound with plenty of Southern Charm. Helmed by vocalist BJ Barham and including Ryan Johnson (Guitar), Whit Wright (Pedal Steel), Bill Corbin (Bass) and Kevin McClain (Drums), the band crosses boundaries between the Country and Americana genres, putting on a solid live show wherever it goes.
With songs about girls, drinkin' and broken hearts, the band covers well worn territory with a fresh feel and a strong work ethic that has led them to release five albums in five years. The most recent "Small Town Hymns" was released last May and the group has toured relentlessly in support.
Coming off that album is "Nothing To Lose" a rebellous and fun anthem about getting out of town that shows signs of influence by evenryone from Bob Dylan and Tom Waits to Tom Petty and John Mellancamp.
The group will perform at Oceanfront Bar & Grill Friday night before returning June 30 for a date on the Plyler Park stage downtown for the Hot Summer Nights concert series.
Check them out at http://www.americanaquarium.net/ and download a 4-track free sampler.