Don Merckle and the Blacksmiths The Pugilist
Donald Merckle’s debut with his newest backers isn’t so much a fresh start as it is one more transition for a local music lifer. The group’s leader is a stalwart of South Carolina’s rock scene, having spent time with Loch Ness Johnny, American Gun and Bare Knuckle Champions. Lucky for Merckle, the rollicking, Irish-tinged folk he hammers out with his Blacksmiths stacks up well against previous efforts.
What: Don Merckle and the Blacksmiths
Where: Art Bar, 1211 Park St.
When: Saturday, June 7, 8 p.m.
With: Pocket Buddha, The Ruby Brunettes, Dr. Roundhouse
Though he’s currently based in Charleston, Merckle’s new outfit is replete with connections to the Columbia scene. Banjoist Chris Lawther and bassist Kevin Petit have both been with him since his Loch Ness Johnny days, and five of this album’s 11 offerings are reworked versions from the singer’s previous projects.
These older tunes are far from filler, and even those who have heard the original versions will find new revelations. The new acoustic-driven take on American Gun’s “Fight Song” is denser and more yearning, while the Blacksmiths’ revision of that outfit’s classically appointed bar-band standby “Drunk Girls” twists and shimmies with tinkling piano and striding bass.
Of the new material, “Lucille” and the traditional Irish tune “The Leaving Of Liverpool” shine the best light on the Blacksmiths’ sound, which breeds Celtic flavors with banjo-driven folk, approaching the back-porch jubilation of Bruce Springsteen’s 2006 platter We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions. Opening salvo “Murder On My Mind” tamps in some alt-country buckshot and a darker lyrical bent, an additional flavor that the Blacksmiths handle quite well.
If there’s a complaint to be had, it’s the lack of variation in the band’s breakneck tempos. This tactic is likely a necessity in the live environment, but on a full-length album one might reasonably expect a couple breathers. The Pugilist slows only once, but that mid-tempo offering, dubbed “On My Own,” furthers the group’s reliable charms — exactly what you’d expect from a man with Merckle’s credentials.
Surreal Innovation Salon Now Open
Columbia’s newest total care spa is now taking appointments and offering $10 off services $25 or more for first time clients. Location, hours, and more info here.
A Re-Imagined Christmas Carol at Trustus
Watch as five actors perform all the characters of Charles Dickens’ classic story and create a live musical score in a production that had audiences and critics raving last year. Get your tickets here!
Make Your Own Beer and Wine!
Come get started on your “liquid hobby” and help us celebrate our 46th year in the Columbia area. Bet Mar Liquid Hobby Shop: 736 St. Andrews Road.
Going someplace cool this weekend?
Let The Backpacker help you go lightweight, comfortable and in style! Patagonia, Prana, Merrell, The North Face and more! Click for location, hours and more info.
Now Hiring in the Vista!
Hickory Tavern is opening mid-December and looking for bartenders, servers, hosts and kitchen staff. Apply in person: Click for details!
This Week @ Social
Edward Shouse performs Friday the 21st, and on Saturday Absolut Vodka presents A Night in Sweden, with specialty Absolut drinks and live music by Christian Slick. Follow us!
SEARCH FREE TIMES
Holiday Wish ListWhere to shop for gift ideas in Columbia this season: