Longtime local dentist Dr. Eddie White is a band dad gone wild.
The supercharged 51-year-old is the driving force behind Awendaw Green, which seeks to connect local and regional musicians and the Charleston community through free weekly barn jams under a cluster of oaks and pines next to Awendaw's Sewee Outpost general store. Awendaw Green also helps musicians find paying gigs and showcase their talent at charity events.
"What Eddie is doing is crazy good," says Danielle Howle, artist-in-residence at Awendaw Green. "As a musician, it has opened up all the doors for me because I've been able to meet the most amazing people."
The seeds of Awendaw Green started for White when his son, Clay, who is now a sophomore at Furman University, started middle school band. Later, White cajoled Clay and his friends, who later formed The Whisperjets, to play at an oyster roast attended by friends Mark Bryan and Dean Felber of Hootie & the Blowfish.
White began making more friends in the Charleston music scene and later started to help organize concerts and benefits, often tapping The Whisperjets to play.
"Music happened later for me in life," says White. "As a teenager, I always liked music. I went to concerts, (but) I never played any instrument, at all. I tried piano lessons and then, typical, your dad or mom tells you can't do it, so obviously, you can't do it."
White found his musical niche in being an ally of artists.
It took off in 2008 when White purchased land with two friends in Awendaw and founded Awendaw Green. With the help of eight friends, he is energized by holding barn jams on Wednesdays and building a foundation of a local grass-roots music scene in the Greater Charleston area.
"I'm good at it because I love the chaos of an event. I feed on that chaos," says White, a full-time dentist who wasn't beneath flipping burgers to feed some of the crowd at a jam on the eve of Thanksgiving.
Retired chef Glyn Cowden, 67, has been volunteering with Awendaw Green and serving as its photographer (typically free as well) for nearly two years. He describes White as being similar to a symphony conductor.
"Most conductors can't play anything. They just read the mood of the author of whatever they are playing," says Cowden, adding that Awendaw Green is special for more than the music. "It's about the camaraderie and atmosphere out here. There are professors and lawyers and farmers and fishermen -- and a few things I can't mention -- and everybody gets along."
Close friend Dan Henderson, who talks to White two or three times a day, echoes those sentiments, saying, "For Eddie, it's all about people and bringing them together."
L.A./Mt. P. experience
Born the son of a dentist in October 1960, the White family lived on the Isle of Palms before, Eddie said, his father, Dr. Ed White, got burned out on dentistry and decided he wanted to specialize in root canals, which was a fairly new procedure in the 1960s. The Whites moved to Los Angeles in 1966 for the elder White's training.
In the six years they lived there, White and his siblings were exposed to a different world. He played baseball with the son of Los Angeles Laker legend Jerry West, and his sister skipped school to ride horses in Topanga Canyon with Barry Williams, who played Greg Brady on "The Brady Bunch." Summers for White were split between vacations in Baja California and on his relatives' tobacco farm in Aynor.
Just before the Whites moved back, 12-year-old Eddie rode the 1,000-mile route of the Baja 1000 motorcycle race.
"My dad let us do all this stuff that I would never let my kids do," says White.
When they came back to the Lowcountry, the Whites settled in Snee Farm, which in the early 1970s was new and considered relatively far from civilization. With California diversity in his blood, White declined his father's offer to send him to a local private school because he didn't want to be in a predominantly white, affluent environment. Instead, he went public, first to Von Kolnitz Elementary (later called James B. Edwards Elementary), Laing Middle and then to the relatively new, and recently desegregated, Wando High School.
With dentistry in his blood, White then studied biology and graduated from Furman University in 1982 and later graduated from the Medical University of South Carolina College of Dental Medicine in 1986.
Family remains No. 1
Another major life event happened to White in '86: He met his future wife, Laurie, who worked at MUSC taking X-rays, on Valentine's Day.
"He walked by, smiled and asked if I'd gotten any valentines yet," recalls Laurie. "A couple of weeks later, he called the Dental Hygiene Clinic and left a message for me to call Eddie White. I was nervous about calling, but my friend, Barbara Jarrett, gave me a quarter and told me I should call."
She did and he invited her to the dental school oyster roast.
"He picked me up in his old Volvo that he cranked with an oyster knife, and now we've been married for (more than) 20 years," says Laurie.
And the two had three children -- Clay, Ivy and April -- who led Eddie to the world of music and Awendaw Green, which started initially as an idea for a recording studio for The Whisperjets.
"We will do anything in our power to encourage our kids to follow their passions, and (Clay's) passion is music," says Laurie. "It was natural to want to help him have nice instruments and recording equipment."
And while the focus for White eventually became Awendaw Green, Laurie says he has kept it in perspective.
"I never would have guessed what Awendaw Green would turn out to be. It's done a lot of good for many people (and) is obviously a wonderful thing" says Laurie. "It does take up a lot of his time, but family always comes first."