Blast from SC Music Past (and Present): Uncle Mingo

In the 1990’s you’d have been hard pressed to find a more popular South Carolina band than Charleston’s Uncle Mingo. A funk-rock powerhouse quartet known for their extended live shows, Mingo released a string of albums that decade with classic tunes such as “Bottle of Moonlight” and “Steer.” Edwin McCain was an early friend and fan, recording Uncle Mingo’s “Just One Drink Away” on his very first release, which also included several of the band’s members on musical contributions.

I can’t begin to count how many times I saw Uncle Mingo play during those years, but it was a bunch. From the early shows where they would break into a note-perfect cover of the Allman Brothers Band’s “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” instrumental, through the crazy nights at the Windjammer on the Isle of Palms with keyboard/sax player Jason Moore pretending to be ‘scratching’ out beats on his shaved head, an Uncle Mingo show was always a good time.

The band never officially broke up, they just stopped playing more than a few shows a year; the current lineup of the band includes Blue Dogs drummer Greg Walker in original member Robert Thorn’s place but other than that they sound as funky and fun as ever. Here’s proof–the first video below is a vintage clip from 1993 when the band was at the peak of its live music powers, the second is from this past year’s “Party at the Point” festival in Charleston.


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