A perfect pair: WinterSkunk Music Fest at The Spinning Jenny
Glynn Zeigler doesn’t remember who he went to see at The Spinning Jenny in Greer that first time. He assumes it was an alumni from his Albino Skunk Music Festival, a multi-band, multi-genre music festival that Ziegler and a team of volunteers put on twice a year on his Skunk Farm property in Greer. Over 20 years, the festival has gone from strictly bluegrass to all kinds of music on multiple stages, and the Farm has hosted a slew of Grammy winners like Peter Rowan and Tim O’Brien, and destined-to-be-huge acts like The Avett Brothers and the Steep Canyon Rangers. So as a host and lifelong music lover, Zeigler knew a good vibe when he felt one.
And The Spinning Jenny had just that vibe. The venue on Cannon St. in Greer, has been a roller-skating rink and a square-dancing hall, but when co-owner Sharon Murry took over the space three and a half years ago, she turned it into a concert hall without losing the coziness or natural comfort of the space. Standing in the 650-plus-capacity room watching the band, Zeigler had a familiar feeling.
“It wasn’t a big crowd, and I thought to myself, ‘People don’t know what they’re missing,’ he says. “This is like the old Handlebar.”
That venue, which closed in 2014, had a similar friendly feel to it, and in that moment, Zeigler had an idea: An indoor version of the Albino Skunk Festival that could be held in the winter.
“I thought it would be fun to get some friends together and see some great musicians in the winter,” he says. “I thought it would be a good place to do a show and get our crowd out. I spoke with Sharon at the Jenny, and she said they’d be happy to host it.”
“I would like to think that we make people feel as comfortable as those who attend Skunkfest,” Murry says. “I’ve gone a couple of times, and it feels like a big family. Everyone knows everyone, even if they don’t know each other’s names. They connect around the music. That starts with Zig and his helpers, and I’d like to emulate that at The Spinning Jenny, too. In my dreams, I’d like to think that’s how they feel when they come here.”
The first two editions of the WinterSkunk Music Fest in 2017 and ’18, went so well that Zeigler and the Jenny have expanded the festival to a 2-day event. This year’s version, which will take place this Friday and Saturday, features acoustic folk artists (Edward David Anderson), local musicians (Matt Fassas, Brother Oliver), Americana roots-rock bands (Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters) and more, along with local breweries and food trucks providing the refreshments.
“I thought that it might be fun, since we’re calling it a festival, to make it multi-day,” Zeigler says. “And I just had some bands that were able to come though on a Friday night. I’m kind of sticking my neck out a little, but hopefully it’ll be worth it because we’re trying to build this into something bigger.”
Murry says that by “something bigger,” she and Zeigler mean city involvement with the festival. “Both Zig and I would really like this to become something that downtown Greer wants to be a part of as a whole,” she says, “so we can include these other great merchants and make it feel like sort of a winter festival for downtown Greer.”
The first edition of the festival drew hundreds of people the then-new Spinning Jenny, and Murry says that the Skunkers, the loyal fans who swear by Zeigler’s events, have become loyal patrons of hers, just as she’d hoped.
“We’ve taken some huge steps over the last three years, and we couldn’t have done it without the support of the Skunkers,” she says. “A LOT of people came to the first one, even more came the year after that, and this year looks like it’s going to be bigger than last year, so I think it exceeded what I would’ve thought possible. They’ve really rallied around us and supported our shows. It gives me confidence that we’re building our own base of fans.’
What: WinterSkunk Music Festival, featuring Caleb Caudle, Sugarcane Jane, Edward David Anderson, Matt Fassas, The Maggie Valley Band, Brother Oliver, Sawyer, South Hill Banks, Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters, and The Grateful Brothers
Where: The Spinning Jenny, 107 Cannon St., Greer
When: Friday, Feb. 8th and Saturday, Feb. 9th
Info: 864-469-6416, https://www.thespinningjennygreer.com/
Vincent Harris covers the local and regional music scenes for the Greenville Journal. Follow him on facebook & twitter @HarrisVince or write to email@example.com