A dentist by trade, Eddie White is a music lover and people connector at heart. His passion for original music and his knack for making serendipitous connections that benefit musicians and music lovers alike has enabled him to transform Awendaw Green from a small music showcase to the multifaceted institution it is today.
This summer, White kicks off a new enterprise. He has partnered with the Footlight Players on the Queen Street Harmony Series recently launched at Queen Street Playhouse in downtown Charleston.
One day, White was talking with one of his dental patients, Dave Kowert, president of the Footlight Players board of directors. Kowert indicated that Footlight wanted to branch out to support the local community by opening Footlight’s stage to more non-theater programming. It was a perfect fit for White, who knows many musicians struggling to book shows downtown.
“The board and I decided to increase our offerings and bring in more facets of performing arts," said Footlight’s Executive Director Brian Porter "Dave set a meeting up between Eddie and myself, and I was immediately drawn to his vision for a downtown listening house and his passion to make that happen.”
And make it happen they did. The first collaboration was on June 14 and featured the music of Ferdinand the Bull, Avi Jacob and HoneySmoke.
July 6 will mark the next listening room showcase in the series, featuring Songs From the Road Band, a self-described progressive bluegrass group from Asheville that has received top accolades in bluegrass, Americana and jazz genres.
White said his typical screening process for new bands is mostly intuitive.
“Someone’s grandmother’s cousin’s uncle’s brother will hear about us, and the next thing you know, they will tell us about an artist in San Francisco,” he said.
The music selection for the Queen Street Harmony Series has been curated to include a range of musicians who have played Awendaw Green.
In addition to live music of all kinds, spoken word performances and more, Footlight will “have the theater be a revolving door for the artists,” Porter said. He is working with local comedians to launch a comedy series and is forging alliances with local dance groups and arts festivals.
“This is just the beginning,” he said.
For White, the partnership with Footlight Players might be new, but community partnerships aren't. This is what he's been doing at Awendaw Green for more than a decade, often relying on the enthusiasm and goodwill of other creative spirits to get the job done.
Musicians aren't the only ones interested in Awendaw Green, which sits about 20 miles up Highway 17 from downtown Charleston. Photographers and videographers also like to crank up their machines at the venue, providing musicians with media content they can use to build their brands and book more shows.
“These media partners came on the scene just because they heard about the barn jam and said, 'Wow we want to do this ... we love music and we love photography and videography and we want to be a part it,'" White said. "So it's just a volunteer army that makes this thing happen.”
What motivates White to coordinate 20 additional performance dates for the Queen Street Harmony Series?
“People. I just like people," White said. "I like people that are a lot smarter and a lot more creative then I am. I like to be around them because I always learn something from them. And I just like bringing people together.”