With last week’s ‘farewell show’ from local indie-pop band CherryCase, the trickle of musicians leaving Columbia, SC for Nashville, TN has become if not a flood, a definite trend. In addition to Jake Etheridge and Taylor Desseyn of CherryCase, the young yet very talented Haley Dreis is also relocating this summer; she’ll be teaching violin and pursuing her music full-time. Last year, another accomplished local songwriter, Hannah Miller, made the move.
They join a cast of Columbia and South Carolina expatriates already established in Music City to varying degrees. Taylor Bray, who played in several area bands during his tenure in Columbia, is working in the studio business there, while Charleston singer and songwriter Amber Caparas has been there a year or so as well. Camden native Patrick Davis is a well-entrenched presence in Nashville with hit song credits by Pat Green and Jason Michael Carroll (“Where I’m From”) and cuts from Darius Rucker and others, while Christian songwriter Laura Story (“Mighty To Save,” “Blessings”) has also been there for a while. Reach way back into SC music history and you’ll find artists such as Rob Crosby, who had several hits as an artist and still works as a writer, and Mark W. Winchester, onetime bassist for Columbia’s Rockabilly 88 who has played with Emmylou Harris and the Brian Setzer Orchestra in addition to a few indie releases on his own.
A few local artists leaving for the greener avenues of Music City doesn’t make an entertainment brain-drain, of course, and the opportunities available in a music town like Nashville will always draw the really serious players no matter what South Carolina audiences do. For the rest, there are plenty of ways to make music and stay right here in Columbia, or Charleston. The list of well-known acts staying put may someday start to outstrip the ones jumping ship, even. Chaz Bundick and Toro Y Moi started the indie-rock buzz going, and Coma Cinema is keeping pace. Down in Charleston, the guys in A Fragile Tomorrow actually moved INTO South Carolina from up north to increase their music-making opportunities. Danielle Howle continues to tour internationally from her Awendaw, SC home base, and last time I checked even Darius Rucker still lived in Charleston, not Nashville.
Here’s hoping that even our now expatriate artists at least come back often to visit and play the occasional gig here in South Carolina, and if they ever want to come back home, they’re welcome to any time.