PICKENS — From the theatre and QVC to chefs, artists and musicians, Pickens County has more to offer than most know when it comes to the arts and entertainment. It’s possible to never leave a 30-mile circumference surrounding Easley to find something that is to your taste.
A good example of this was three different musical interludes between Aug. 1 and late evening Aug. 2 well within driving distance and free to those who appreciate live musical performances: Gray Lee at Moe Joe’s in Clemson, Jean Calvert and what she pleasantly refers to as the trio with no name in Easley, and Nothin’ but Time band in Pendleton.
Lee, a resident of Pickens County, is a unique entertainer, presenting a folksy style of acoustic music perfect for a coffee house setting and is more than appropriate for family entertainment.
Presenting a wide collection of self-composed material along with some old familiar — for those with an expanded knowledge of the genre — thrown in for good measure, Lee presents a show devoid of deviation from a natural sound.
Lee, by his own admission, loves to sing shanties and “pirate songs” whose message resonates with adults but even hit home with the kids as well.
Lee performs all over the upstate and can be seen anywhere from Clemson to Greenville with his own unique style and presentation.
The no name trio consisting of Calvert, keyboardist Nate Smith and bassist John Brookshire appeared in the early evening hours at Starving Artist Café in Easley, catering to a dinner crowd over wine, coffee and more than one serving of shrimp and grits.
The trio’s main focus has been jazz of the Frank Sinatra era but has expanded to include hits by artists such as Patsy Cline as well. With a jazz ensemble such as this, it’s not unusual to hear the smooth, meaning lyrics of a time gone by but composed and played with style and grace in a relaxed atmosphere perfect for listening enjoyment.
Brookshire leads the way, his bass not overpowering but driving the tune, Smith’s keyboards in perfect sync, and Calvert’s silky voice carrying just over the pleasant dinner conversation.
Calvert and her cohorts travel the state and can be seen in any number of venues and performing with other groups as well.
If folk or jazz isn’t your scene, there are always rock and roll alternatives on a weekend night.
Nothin’ But Time appeared Aug. 2 at Hogtail’s in Pendleton and rounded out a diverse weekend of musical options.
Playing a range of country standards going back to Johnny Cash and classic rock from The Eagles and blues from the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughn, the band threw around plenty to sing and dance to.
The band was formed a little over two years ago by Anderson native Smitty Smith along with his then 16-year-old son Wesley. A couple of years later it isn’t unusual to still find the two playing live shows, rehearsing and writing original material together.
Nothin’ But Time also features Nathan Tillotson on drums, Lamar Mundy on bass and Jamie Chandler on guitar and sharing time on vocals. Wesley Smith, an accomplished saxophonist even at an early age, also provides inspired, horn-driven tunes as well.