Both Looking Forward to Showcasing Their Music at Rucker’s Riverfront Revival
Jeff Walker, Entertainment Writer
Charleston native and South Carolina’s favorite son Darius Rucker is hosting the inaugural Riverfront Revival this weekend at Riverfront Park in North Charleston. The multi-talented performer who’s conquered both the pop rock scene and country music is offering up the two-day festival featuring national known artists as well as local and Palmetto state musicians.
With eight acts each day on two stages, featured big names include Jimmie Allen, Maggie Rose and Darius in Saturday’s lineup, while Radney Foster, Trampled by Turtles, and Brothers Osborne are set to take the stage on Sunday. Born and raised right here in Charleston, Rucker understands how hard it is for newer artists to get noticed, which is one of the main reasons he’s unveiling Riverfront Revival in his hometown.
Two such artists, Lauren Jenkins and Charleston’s own Lauren Hall are hoping the weekend festival will prove favorable for them. Although each of the young female artists have made strides in country music, they hope appearing at Riverfront Revival will allow for broader exposure.
While still in her mid-teens Jenkins set out on her own path. “At 15 you could get a worker’s permit, so I did, and I’ve never looked back. I may have been young, but I was ready to go to work. I knew what I wanted to do and there’s never been a backup plan. Entertaining is in my blood.”
A singer-songwriter, actress, model and director Jenkins has dabbled in several entertainment areas. “I think I’ve always considered myself a storyteller no matter what medium I’m in.” However, combining her songs with video are at the forefront. “I love the whole aspect of bringing my music out in short film.”
Having just turned 31, her travels might suggest she’s an entertaining gypsy. “I’ve been all over the place. I was born in Texas, raised early on in South Carolina, lived in Memphis, Nashville, Charlotte, New York City, and James Island. Even made a few trips to L.A. Wherever I needed to be at any particular time to pursue my passion, that’s where people would find me.”
Like many newer artists or those trying to make their way in the entertainment business, Jenkins admits it’s often tangible at best. “Once the internet came around everything changed. Everything is different now for artists coming up in the music industry. Record labels are useful, mainly because they have the staff to help promote an artist. But in the same vein the labels are more like banks. They want to see a quick return on their investment.”
She admits record labels can often be influenced by trends. “That’s the downside. They’ll see someone who’s popular on TikTok and sign them right away. TikTok and other forms of social media are more about current popularity. A 45 second video doesn’t mean a person has what it takes to be an artist.”
While Jenkins has gotten used to self-promotion, it’s not her avenue of choice. “It’s not my favorite lane to be in, but I do what I have to do to stay out there. Writing, touring, and playing live are my three favorites’ things to do when it comes to my music.”
Although she’s had success in small films and had her music showcased over the past ten years it was only a few short years ago Jenkins felt she was gaining ground. “I started to pick up steam at the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019. I had a new record coming out as well as a short film, and I was on an amazing tour in Europe. I was literally flying down the highway before I hit a bump in the road.”
A worldwide pandemic didn’t help Jenkins cause. “I was dropped by the label, and all touring came to a stop.” Never deterred, Jenkins as she’s done her entire career rolled with it. “Sure, I lost some momentum but not my drive. I just looked at it as kind of starting over.”
Jenkins songs of note include ‘Ain’t That Hard’, ‘Like You Found Me’ and ‘Give Up the Ghost’ from her debut release ‘No Saint’ on Big Machine Records. She gained considerable attention covering Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Hungry Heart / Stolen Car’ and Motley Crue’s ‘Looks That Kill’ for Nashville Outlaws: Tribute to Motely Crue.
Without a major label behind her Jenkins admits there are pluses and minuses. “Just having the right people behind me would be nice, but thankfully I do have people close to me that push me along.” Independence does come with a positive. “The upside is that I have more control.
Jenkins is excited to be able to perform at the Riverfront Revival. “I’m just happy to have a show. Getting 45 minutes to play my music in front of country music fans hopefully will bring new fans my way.” She adds, “I think it’s great Darius is doing this. There are so many talented musicians in Charleston, let alone South Carolina.”
Having lived on James Island and spent a good bit of time in the Holy City, Jenkins has performed in Charleston several times. “I’ve played the Music Hall, the Pour House, The Windjammer, and even the Tin Roof.”
While clubs allow her exposure, she prefers different venues. “I really love playing theatres. The club and bar scene is great and has its place, but my music plays better in theatres, where I can make a connection with the audience, without as many distractions.”
What attracts Jenkins to country music. “I think in all the genres country and Americana music are the most rooted in storytelling. I appreciate other forms of music. I love me some Beyonce, but when it comes to expressing myself it’s through country.”
She explains further. “A lot of music today especially pop music is over produced. Too much technology. I enjoy real instrumentation.” Jenkins was hesitant when labels and producers wanted her to lean towards pop country. “I tried to be compliant, but I struggled.”
Independence has its ups and downs. “Just having the right people behind me would be nice, but thankfully I do have people close to me that have my best interest in mind.” Independence does come with a positive. “The upside is that I have more control over my music. I can call the shots. Honestly every artist wants that.”
Although she’s kept busy nearly half of her young life and tasted success on different levels Jenkins still has short- and long-term goals. “Short term I want to finish the record I’m working on and my vision for a short film. The long term is simple, I want to do this for the rest of my life. Maybe sell out the Ryman (Nashville).”
As for Charleston’s own country princess Lauren Hall, she’s quite familiar with the low country music scene and continues to play several clubs around town, often opening for bigger name artists and took part in this year’s Carolina Country Music Festival. Like Jenkins she’s happy to take part in Riverfront Revival.
“I’m super pumped to be taking part in the weekend show. God continues to open doors for me. I’ve played several bigger shows this year and I feel blessed to be able to perform my music in front of bigger audiences.”
She explains further, “When you’re doing a club maybe there’s a smaller crowd. Maybe there’s a lot going on around you. Shows like this coming weekend allow for me to make a connection with people who haven’t seen me before.”
On par with Jenkins, Hall says there are downsides to not having a major label behind her but embraces flying solo. “Being independent is not a bad way to go. With self-promotion you have more creative control. Of course, there are roadblocks. But I have a great band who collaborate with me and often help with management and the business side of what I do.”
Having been at it now for nearly a decade, Hall has made strong headway opening for national acts such as Travis Tritt, Tracy Lawrence, Gary Allan, David Nail, Thompson Square, Scotty McCreery, Lauren Alaina, Maddie & Tae, Carly Pearce, Parmalee and others. The Charleston City Paper named her Best Female Vocalist three years running. Several of Hall’s songs have gained considerable attention on streaming services including ‘Gone’, ‘Thank You Very Much’, and ‘Excuse’. She will upload her next single ‘My Last’ on November 4th.
She’s equally appreciative that Rucker has introduced a weekend festival in his hometown. “It’s great. Obviously, Charleston has a strong country music base. I think he’s bringing Nashville and Charleston together in the middle. The line-up he managed to get for the inaugural show is incredible and offers a good bit of diversity.”
Much like Hall, several of the bands on the weekend bill include South Carolina and low country products including the Blue Dogs and Susto. “I applaud Darius for allowing local and regional acts to have this kind of platform to showcase their music. Even though we have social media today, I believe he understands how hard it is for independent artists to reach a larger audience.”
Charleston country music fans will have an opportunity to witness for themselves as Lauren Jenkins performs on Sunday at 2pm on the Magnolia stage at Riverfront Revival. “I’m looking forward to it. This is a great thing Darius is doing, and hopefully it will continue for years to come.”
Our own Lauren Hall will take part on day one, also playing the Magnolia stage at 2pm on Saturday. “I’m excited to take part in Darius’ first Riverfront Revival. I just love playing live and maybe I’ll gain some new fans along the way.” An independent artist’s win-win.
For more on Lauren Jenkins visit her website https://www.laurenjenkins.com/ and to keep up with Lauren Hall visit her website at https://laurenhallmusic.com/
For complete details on this weekend’s Riverfront Revival check out https://www.riverfrontrevival.com/
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