Around where I live, people say 'SC' and they mean Southern California. But today, I'm talking about South Carolina. That's got to be tough when your state's letters get mistaken for another state's region, but hey, the University of South Carolina Gamecocks football team are currently ranked ahead of the University of Southern California squad. SC seems to get less attention than its neighbors - North Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Maybe because the others have larger cities, and SC has just Columbia and Charleston, the latter of which I'd heard great things about. I've only been to SC once, and that was passing through the northern portion of the state on I-85.
But the state has caught my attention because of its recent contributions to country music. It's always played a key role in the genre - Alabama built its fan base in Myrtle Beach and legendary songwriter Bill Anderson was born in the state. But Alabama is associated obviously, with the state of Alabama. And Anderson grew up in Georgia, not the Palmetto State.
SC is seeing a country revival now. You've got the Carolina Opry in Myrtle Beach for local country music. Then, a number of artists making noise on the national scene - Aaron Tippin, Opry-member-to-be Josh Turner, Julie Roberts and Lee Brice, an up and comer who co-wrote more than a memory for Garth Brooks.
Tippin, a hitmaker since the early 1990's, actually has a tattoo on his bicep of the tree and moon that's the state's official symbol.
Turner has sung "South Carolina Low Country" in concert, a double entendre of a song. It's a region in the state and also the low register which Turner associates some of his music. I hope he releases the song on his new album, set for an Oct. 30 release date. If you know whether the song will be on the upcoming album, Let me know.
Roberts is a beautiful songstress with an amazingly soulful and unique country voice. Unfortunately, her second album didn't fare as well commercially as her debut, but the music is just as strong. She performs songs of heartache that you don't just listen to, but can actually get a feeling of how the person feels. "Wake Up Older" and "Break Down Here" are especially evident of that.
Brice's album was originally set for a release date in July, then October. A representative at Brice's record label said it's now set for a 2008 release. Unfortunate for fans of the rockin' country singer, who played football at Clemson University. Playing for the Tigers would make Brice a hero to half of SC's residents and a villain to the other half.
He represents the state with songs on the upcoming album "Sumter County Friday Night" and "Carolina Boys". My favorite Brice song is about something that has some truth to it. We're often judged by how we dress and act, for better or worse. On this video, Brice sings the tongue-in-cheek "Upper Middle Class White Trash", based loosely on a friend's experience. My favorite line is when the storekeeper went from "We don't take checks to right away yes sir." The song is hilarious, and the acoustic version, which's performed on the video, is better than the album version. A warning to those with little patience: the video was filmed at an Akron, Ohio radio station and features a long introduction by a radio station representative and Brice himself. So fast forward, if you see fit.
Brice, Roberts, Tippin and Turner are all doing their part to represent the Palmetto State in Nashville.