In most parts of the country, when Labor Day ushers in fall, the festival concert season ends. But the Lowcountry, with its beautiful weather that usually continues into October (November if we’re lucky), pushes the festival season to the limits.
Hotel Carolina, the “ultimate singer-songwriter music festival,” takes place Thursday through Saturday at The Windjammer. In its fourth year, the event brings the audience up close and personal with the musicians.
“Our initial intention was to take the singer-songwriter theme and the intimacy of Los Angeles’ Hotel Cafe and bring it east,” said Jason Spiewak, president of Rock Ridge Music.
Emulating Sister Hazel’s annual Hazelnut Hang fan-fest, there will be events during the day in which fans can interact and form bonds with the performers. Performances include a lineup of shows outside during the afternoons and inside at night.
Headlining Friday’s lineup will be Tony Lucca, a name that may sound familiar.
Although he had an existing fan base, the former Mousketeer desired to break through the ceiling he felt his career had hit, so he auditioned for the television singing competition “The Voice.” Coached by Maroon 5’s Adam Levine, Lucca made it to the finals, finishing third.
“The experience showed me how and when to take calculated risks,” Lucca said.
He added that Levine told him if what he was doing did not make him a little uncomfortable then it was not worth doing. To push him out of his safe place on the show, Lucca sang “Baby One More Time” from fellow Mouseketeer Britney Spears and a rousing rendition of Jay Z’s “99 Problems,” sales of which propelled Lucca to the No. 3 spot on iTunes Overall Singles sales chart and No. 1 on iTunes Rock Singles chart.
In addition to Lucca’s success with “99 Problems,” his duet of “Yesterday” by The Beatles with Levine landed in the Top 5 on iTunes Overall and Pop Singles sales charts.
Lucca stated that he is in the process of locking up a record deal and is accumulating songs.
“I wrote seven songs in four days, which is historically very high for me. It was fun,” Lucca laughed.
He said his upcoming album will be edgier but added, “Though it might be challenging for my current fans, I’m cognizant of not turning them off by completely jumping ship.”
Headlining Saturday’s program are Ingram Hill and Brendan James.
Ingram Hill released its latest album last month. The eponymous-titled effort veers more toward the country genre than those prior.
“We self-produced the songs, so I guess our Tennessee roots just came out naturally. It’s as much us as anything we’ve done, and we didn’t want to make the same record as before,” said lead singer Justin Moore.
Still, being quite different than 2010’s critically acclaimed and more rock-focused “Look Your Best,” the band is a little nervous about its acceptance from the existing fan-base.
“It is a good apprehension. Some may not like it, but we want everyone to give it a chance,” Moore added.
Moore said that the first single, a Southern anthem titled “Good Ol’ Dixie,” has received an enthusiastic response on the few dates the band has played this year.
“Those Three Words” highlights the band’s clever melodic hooks accompanied with straight-ahead and never-contrived lyrics, while a steel guitar adds a country texture.
Brendan James’ summer release, “Hope in Transition,” reflects his current professional and personal life status.
Burned out by the major label trial of fighting for attention and funds, and the grind of constant touring, James and his Decca label mutually terminated their contract.
“It’s a little scary not having that security, but it’s also nice to escape the gears of the pop-music machinery,” James said.
James gained worldwide exposure during the Summer Olympics when the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team adopted “The Lucky Ones” as its pre-match anthem.
When told by player Heather O’Reilly, James, who was in the middle of his move from California to Charleston, pulled over in Amarillo, Texas, and filmed a live version of the song with his iPad at a music store.
“I was overwhelmed, super honored, flattered and surprised,” James exclaimed.
He recently moved to Charleston with his wife and has been focusing on family life.
“These changes in my life and just settling down have opened the floodgates in my creativity,” James said.
Even with the recent album release, he said he’s already 90 percent finished writing his next effort.
“I was touring so much, I felt I lost touch. This album will have songs that are accessible and catchy but on my own terms,” James said, adding, “I didn’t like being told to write a single.”
He will perform one or two of the new songs this weekend but prefers they not end up prematurely on YouTube.