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    Listen Closely…

    Everybody’s got a story about the first concert that they ever went to, and around Columbia, you’ll often find that those stories include a local band or artist and a hidden hole-in-the-wall venue that you’d only know about if you were a local. As Columbia grew, so did the music scene around town. You could catch live music almost every single night of the week from shows at New Brookland Tavern to live music at Halls Chophouse, an outdoor music series at the West Columbia Riverwalk and Amphitheatre, up-and-coming artists at local coffee shops on Friday nights, and more. Everywhere you listened—music.

    When the pandemic’s reach made it to our community, the music scene, alongside the rest of the city, shut down. There were no street performances during Soda City Market. There was no jazzy trio livening up the lobby at Hotel Trundle on First Thursday. Instead of having multiple stages rocking with music throughout the day and into the evening, Five Points was silent on St. Patrick’s Day for two years in a row. Weekend nights were much quieter, less lively as we missed out on our favorite musical acts taking stage around town.

    As our city has opened back up over the last few months, live music is dashing back into our lives in new ways. Our favorite bands, solo acts, and combos are digging deep to create ways to bring us live music in safe environments.

    Columbia’s local music scene is rebounding, and coming back stronger than ever with a robust variety of unique artists who all bring their own signature sound to town. The venues around town have opened up their doors, stages, patios, rooftops, and sidewalks to create space for musicians to share their musical gifts with our community. Are you in the mood to catch up with friends as live music plays in the background? Columbia’s got it. Want to spend the night dancing away to upbeat tunes? There’s a venue for that, too. Ready to enjoy the outdoors with your family and hear great live music? You already know—there’s a spot in town just right for that.

    Listen closely… and you’ll hear the sweet sounds of Columbia’s music scene turning it up a notch as we head into the fall. Who are you hoping to catch live this season? Scroll as we introduce you to six local bands who are creating a name for themselves
    around town.

    Admiral Radio

    Genre: Folk/Americana

    Band Members: Coty Hoover and Becca Smith

    Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Banjo, Harmonica, Tenor Ukulele

    Year Formed: Late 2018

    Where to See Them Live this Fall:
    Palmetto Bluff Chapel Concert Series, Indah Americana Fest, Charleston Library Society, Christmas at Red Bank, and a very small, listening-room experience for the release of their EP of songs from the public domain, which will be called From The Vault. 

    “What makes Columbia’s art scene special is our grit. We’re a bit unpolished, unfinished, and scrappy. We create art in the nooks and crannies of our city where there wasn’t any before. Our favorite part of this scene is its people, by far. The embrace of community in our city is unparalleled. Of course, a band can never truly express their gratitude for people showing up to shows, listening online, buying merch, spreading the word to friends, and all of those other traditional forms of support, but a person can also help our scene by engaging in our local arts and culture as much as possible. Whether it’s heading down to the record shop, strolling for a cup of coffee, or listening to live music at dinner before heading to a flick on Main Street, our art scene is undoubtedly intertwined. By supporting our art scene in any capacity you’re able to, you are inevitably lifting all of us up.”

    Website  |  Instagram

    Tyler Watson

    Genre: Alternative

    Band Members:
    Tyler Watson: Singer/songwriter

    Year Formed: Originally as Watson Village in 2016, 2021 as Tyler Watson

    Where to See Him Live this Fall:
    New Brookland Tavern, Main Course, Art Bar

    “All of the shows in Columbia are so much fun! One of my fondest memories is when The Week Sisters played at The WarMouth. They’re this true South Carolina gospel group and the way they sing makes me feel so uplifted. I felt lucky to have had the opportunity to witness that. I go and see live music in Columbia any time I’m able, and I appreciate all of them. Most of these artists do it out of love, so if you want to support local art, show some love, and buy something they made.”

    Spotify  |  Instagram

    Dear Blanca

    Genre: Power-Pop

    Band Members:
    Dylan Dickerson: Vocals, guitar
    Cam Powell: Bass
    Alex McCollum: Guitar, Vocals
    Richie Harper: Drums

    Year Formed: 2012

    Where to See Them Live this Fall:
    Stay tuned!

    “I think the most special part of the Columbia music scene is its total lack of pretentiousness. It’s a scene that isn’t wrapped up in ego, and I love that about it. I just like being a fly on the wall here and doing anything I can to help build the scene a little. The community can support local artists in a ton of different ways. See a show, buy a record, choose your own adventure… but I think the best thing to do is just listen to the ridiculously good music that this town has to offer. That’s the end goal: for music to be heard and for art to be seen.”

    Website  |  Instagram

    Opus & the Frequencies

    Genre: Alternative-Pop/Rock

    Band Members::

    Tony Opus: Keys, guitar, sax, vocals

    Jesse Tortorella: Percussion

    Kirk Barnes: Lead guitar

    Steven Tapia-Macias: Bass

    Joud Satme: Sound Tech

    Year Formed: 2018

    Where to See Them Live this Fall:
    New Brookland Tavern, Jake’s, The Black Rooster, The Grand on Main, & Main Course

    “Columbia’s music scene is special because there is a real comradery amongst fellow musicians that is really encouraging, especially when you’re first starting out. There is also a great deal of cross-pollination between bands and artists from different genres that is really exciting and exposes audiences to distinct flavors of music from diverse local acts. We played a show with H3RO, Rex Darling, Death Ray Robin, and Milo The Great recently, and it was a great example of how bringing different genres and audiences together can foster a diverse, kick-ass music scene.”

    Website  |  Instagram

    E.Z. Shakes

    Genre: Country Rock

    Band Members:
    Zach Seibert: Singer/songwriter
    Todd T. Hicks: Pedal steel player
    John Furr: Guitar
    Stan Gardner: Drums
    Jim Taylor: Bass

    Year Formed: 2017

    Where to See Them Live this Fall:
    Stay tuned!

    “I’ve lived in quite a few places and I’d say that I’ve never been somewhere that was so supportive musician-wise. Most of the bands really want to see each other succeed, and that’s across genres. They spur one another on by coming out to see each other’s shows and by buying one another’s records. There’s usually some weird animosity and jealousy that comes with the music bubble a locale creates but Columbia by in large, as I’ve experienced it, isn’t like that. We celebrate one another’s successes, that way everybody wins. If you’re out hearing live music that speaks to you the listener, then go tell the musician how much you enjoyed it. You’d be surprised how many musicians leave the stage disheartened by their performance—we are artists after all.” 

    Website  |  Instagram


    Genre: Space-Folk / Indie-Rock

    Band Members:
    Alex McCollum: Vocals, guitar
    Emily McCollum: Vocals, guitar
    Roger Caughman: Guitar
    Cam Powell: Bass
    Brendan Bull: Drums 

    Year Formed: 2012, reformed in 2018 after 4-year hiatus

    Where to See Them Live this Fall:
    The Senate

    “Our favorite memory from a show here in Columbia was in 2018. After a 4-year hiatus, Stagbriar returned to the stage to headline New Brookland Tavern’s ‘Skanksgiving.’ Having the crowd enthusiastically sing along to songs you never thought you’d play live again was the kind of reassurance we needed to give the project a full-send effort and record a second record in 2019. It sounds simple… but you can best support local musicians by buying our stuff, coming to shows, and telling your friends. Spotify listens will never pay the bills, but come to the show and buy a couple of t-shirts and a record. Local bands thrive on merch and ticket sales. Those dollars will mean so much more to a local band than any major label or download service.”

    Website  |  Instagram