Josh McGee is the special-events coordinator for the city of Greenville. It’s kind of a fancy way of saying he creates the concert schedules for things like Piedmont Natural Gas Downtown Alive, Greenville Heritage Main Street Fridays, and Fall For Greenville, sponsored this year by Bank of America and presented by Pepsi.
Josh is also a giant music geek.
I can say this both because I’m one, too, and because I’ve spoken with Josh regularly over the five years he’s had this job, and you learn a little something about a person when you talk to him that much.
He can rattle off information regarding just about every band on the 60-plus-act Fall for Greenville music schedule, from Moon Taxi to Lilly Hiatt to The Bad Popes to Reckless Kelly to Phat Lip. I feel like his office is full of spreadsheets with band names, their tour dates, when they’re going to be close to the Upstate, and other little factoids.
He takes some crap for his booking sometimes, because you’re never going to please everyone, but while I was talking to him about this year’s Fall for Greenville music schedule, the thing that we kept coming back to was his interest in local and regional bands.
“I’m glad you noticed that,” he said with a laugh when I pointed that out. And he loves pairing up those bands with the bigger national names on one of Fall for Greenville’s five music stages.
“We’ve got so many good local and regional acts,” he says, “and they’re good enough to stand on their own, but I try to complement the national acts. So for instance, on Saturday night, I have Darby Wilcox and The Peep Show opening for Lilly Hiatt, because those two go so well together. On the Main Stage, I’ve got Apricot Blush and Human Resources opening for San Fermin. It’s like you’re curating these little concerts within the larger music festival, where you could camp out at one stage and see these complementing acts throughout the day.”
In other words, if you dig the country-rock sound of Lilly Hiatt, then you’ll probably enjoy Darby & The Peep Show. If you enjoy the indie-folk sound of Apricot Blush, you’ll probably want to stick around for San Fermin.
“I always have an idea going into it what I want to have on the stages for headlining acts, then I go to my list and see what local acts will go with those. I feel like this year, it flows really well.”
This year’s lineup features bands from Columbia; Charleston; Asheville, North Carolina; Athens, Georgia; New Orleans; and New York City, among many other places, but there’s definitely an emphasis on musicians from around South Carolina.
“I have a running local-act list with names like The Work and The Bad Popes, Darby and Marvin King,” McGee says. “People who have been around for a while. But that running list is getting longer and longer. There are newer acts popping up all the time in town, and I keep them on my radar. When I feel like they’re in a good spot to be featured on a Fall for Greenville stage, I try to fit them in when I can.”
In fact, McGee says he’d like to give even more time to local music than he does now, but his available space is finite.
“The biggest challenge I’ve had over five years has been to spotlight as much local and regional talent as I can,” he says. “But it’s rewarding when I’m able to do that. I love it when you’re onstage and you announce the band and the fans are there, and as you’re walking offstage you hear them play that first chord. It’s the big payoff.”
Spoken like a true music geek.