Greg Payne & The Piedmont Boys
OneMain Main Stage
Saturday, Oct. 15
When Greg Payne and the Piedmont Boys first got together in Greenville in 2007, they probably anticipated a long, slow crawl towards their modest goal of packing out the local bars and clubs. What they got was something entirely different.
“We started out playing Smoke on the Water in downtown Greenville every Thursday,” Payne says, “and it seemed like, starting two or three weeks in, we had a really big crowd. And it was basically from word of mouth. When you get the taste of having a solid fan base, you feed off it and it makes you want to grow it and make it bigger.”
And indeed, they became one of the most reliable concert draws in the Upstate, playing a no-nonsense brand of rejuvenated outlaw country drawn from bedrock artists like Waylon, Willie, David Allen Coe and the Man in Black. And when it caught on, no one was more surprised than them.
“I don’t think we ever had a plan,” Payne says. “We probably should’ve. We’ve never had guidelines on things like the way we wanted to look onstage; we never even have a set list. We just kind of went onstage and said, ‘Hey, we’re Greg Payne and the Piedmont Boys, we’re going to play some songs.’ We hardly ever rehearsed; we just winged it from the beginning.”
OneMain Main Stage
Sunday, Oct. 16
A few years back, singer/songwriter Angela Easterling was fully committed to being a full-time touring musician, with little time for anything else. Then she found out she was going to be a mother, and the resulting excitement, fear and ambivalence helped her create an incredibly catchy folk-rock album called “Common Law Wife.” Now, with a toddler and a new baby, Easterling is still committed to playing shows, maybe just not as far away as before.
“I’m just like any other working parent,” she says. “I’m lucky to get to do what I love for a living, but the babies always come first, and I’m not able to get out on the road as much as I used to. So we’re kind of dialing back the touring a little this year, but I always say we’re really lucky to live in an area where live music is so prevalent and there are so many opportunities for work closer to home.”
Easterling has created a series of intimately personal but melodic songs for “Common Law Wife,” and she’s anxious to start writing again, when time and familial obligations permit. “I’ve got so many song ideas and so much stuff I want to work on,” she says. “I‘m just trying to find time to set the baby down and pick up a guitar. When I have a minute to sit down and work on something, it’s something I treasure doing.”
Aloft Acoustic Stage
Saturday, Oct. 15
When you think of someone standing onstage with an acoustic guitar, you might think of a performer serenely strumming some chords. That’s not what Jacob Johnson does. He plays a whirlwind of dazzling runs, fleet-fingered solos and seemingly impossible riffs all while tapping out percussion on the body of the guitar and thumbing a bass line as well. It’s a crowd-pleasing display of skill, to be sure, and Johnson, originally a blues-influenced electric guitarist, learned from some of the masters.
“Phil Keaggy was one of the guys who got me focused on the acoustic guitar,” he says. “I saw him in the late ’90s and he was the first guy I saw do a lot with open tunings, playing what’s now called ‘modern fingerstyle’ and using a looper [a device that can sample and play back whatever the guitarist chooses]. I was off in in Stratocaster-Stevie-Ray-Vaughan-land up until that point. And from him I got into Michael Hedges and Tommy Emmanuel and Chet Atkins and those guys.”