After nearly doubling its funding goal set for a Kickstarter project last month, local acoustic duo (sometimes larger) Finnegan Bell, continues to garner fan support along the Grand Strand, and beyond. The pair, Warren Bazemore and Shane Williams, hit the streets between Pawleys Island and North Myrtle Beach two years ago as absolute newcomers, capturing highly sought-after gigs while others scratched their heads and wondered, “Who are these guys?”
Now with its name and reputation firmly in place, Finnegan Bell is leaving us for greener pastures – sort of. Williams and family have already moved to Mt. Pleasant and Bazemore hopes to move with his family to the Charleston area as soon as possible.
Why this move?
“There is a culture here [on the Grand Strand] that loves live music,” said Williams, “and there’s a lot of opportunity to play. But the original [music] scene is tough.”
“Our strength has always been our original material,” added Bazemore. “It’s what we’ve hung our hat on. We know what we’re good at.”
The pair mixes some covers into its shows but never really wanted to go down the slippery slope to “Margaritaville” or “Brown Eyed Girl”-land.
“The requests and the covers have never been our strong suit,” said Bazemore, “and that’s what really seems to fly in the Myrtle Beach area. We never wanted to take the time to learn that much back catalog. And the covers we do end up being obscure Americana that a lot of people don’t know anyway, but that stuff plays really well in Charleston. The locals here love that stuff, but the bulk of the Myrtle Beach [tourist] audience doesn’t care that much about that type of material.”
“We have artistic goals in mind that we hope will be easier to achieve in the Charleston area,” added Williams in a diplomatically worded phrase saying, in essence, “Myrtle Beach sucks as a place to promote original music.” They’re not the first to have noticed this gaping hole in an otherwise booming local music industry. “Charleston’s Spoleto Festival is recognized around the world – that’s the kind of city it is.”
So off to Charleston, the nearest hip spot to the Grand Strand, and home to Danielle Howle, Band of Horses, Darius Rucker, the Blue Dogs, Graham Whorley, and now, Finnegan Bell.
Does this move spell the end of local Finnegan Bell shows?
“Absolutely not,” agree both Williams and Bazemore in unison. “In our [two years] playing here, there have been so many places that have been really good to us,” said Bazemore. “The P.I.T. (Pawleys Island Tavern), the Dead Dog [Saloon], NOSH, Bourbon Street…and [booking agent] Scott Byrd has put us in some places that made sense and worked really well. We have too many strong relationships here to not come back and play on a regular basis. “
Performing new songs from the yet-to-be-released project “I Was Gone” will give the act opportunity to showcase its new originals and continue forward with its singer/songwriter mission.
“The last three years or so have been an education on how to play and write together again,” said Bazemore. The pair had been on a three-year musical hiatus since disbanding Silers Bald, a pop/rock act that sold some 50,000 copies of independent releases and “Real Life” its only major label recording on SONY/BMG’s Essential Records. “I Was Gone” is our first Kickstarter project,” continued Bazemore. “Our goal was to raise $5,000 and we ended up with around $9,000. We’re using the money to pay for CD production, artwork, T-shirts, promotion. The album is in the hands of some Nashville people. There’s some talk to labels about releasing the project and our publishing – we’ve got to let that flesh out first.” The pair plans to self-release the project in early 2014, barring serious label interest.
“The goal is for Finnegan Bell to be able to write, perform and earn a living doing so,” said Williams. “We want the art we create to sustain us and our families as a livelihood.”
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