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.
3LAU on Sunday, October 26th and the Unofficial Skrillex Mothership Tour After-Party on the 27th. More information and tickets for both can be found here. VIP tables available.
Four Miles, Twelve Doughnuts
Winston’s Wish aims to increase knowledge and understanding of children with autism, and you can help by participating in the 4.donut Race on October 25th. Start at Edventure Children’s Museum, run 2 miles to Krispy Kreme, eat 12 doughnuts, and run back! Registration is required and can be done here before October 23rd at 5 p.m.
King Lear in Finlay Park
October 16th-18th and 22nd-25th, the South Carolina Shakespeare Company presents William Shakespeare’s King Lear. All performances held at the Finlay Park Ampitheatre at 7:30 PM. For tickets and more information, click here or call 803-665-2000.
Bluegrass, Bidding, and BBQ
Join The Palladium Society Thursday, October 23rd from 7-10 p.m. for its 11th annual silent auction, featuring music by The Mustache Brothers and catering by Bourbon and The Oak Table. Tickets are $30 at the door and include admission, drinks, and food. Get yours online now!
The Other Place at Trustus Theatre
Juliana Smithton is a successful neurologist whose life seems to be coming unhinged. A mystery unfolds as fact blurs with fiction, past collides with present and the elusive truth of Juliana’s mental health boils to the surface in The Other Place, running at Trustus Theatre October 17th through November 1st. There will be a talk-back following the matinee on October 19th. Tickets can be purchased here or by calling the box office at 803-254-9732.
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