Armed with a love of music and an idea, College of Charleston student Coleman Ott set out in the spring of his freshman year to create a platform to celebrate the stories of local musicians. But what started out as an occasional YouTube series with Cistern Yard Video has grown into a music festival aimed at bringing the Charleston community together.
The inaugural Charlestown Sounds Music Festival will launch at the Music Farm on Saturday, April 8, 2017. It comes almost a year after Ott, now a sophomore, posted the first installment of his Charlestown Sounds YouTube series featuring indie-rock band Whitehall (which is made up of five CofC students).
“I wanted to become more involved in the local music scene but was not releasing any of my own music,” says the communication and arts management double major who grew up playing trumpet, singing church hymns and listening to everything from big band tunes to Lil Wayne. “So I decided to come up with some type of creative project that consists of me working with local musicians and doing something for them.”
Taking the concept of an interview series to Cistern Yard Video, Ott partnered with the student-run media outlet (for which he now works) to produce the videos last April. Since then, Ott, who also doubles as a cameraman and editor for the series, has filmed six episodes featuring an eclectic array of musicians ranging from folk-rock singer Lindsay Holler ’13 to music and political science double major Noah Jones, who has made a name for himself with his funk band Man-Child and as a jazz pianist.
In November, Ott decided to grow the Charlestown Sounds brand with a music festival.
“After Thanksgiving break I was riding back into town thinking about the rest of the semester and the future of Charlestown Sounds and how it should develop and what direction it should take,” he says. “…And right then I just had the idea to throw an event that represents all that Charlestown Sounds stands for and all that I hope to accomplish, which is to bring people together through music.”
Ott booked Charleston’s iconic Music Farm as the festival’s venue with help from arts management professor Karen Chandler, Cistern Yard Media and a group of talented CofC students. He has also launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise $1,500 for production costs and promotional efforts, which included the Charlestown Sounds festival website, posters and stickers.
The festival line-up reflects the diverse musical tastes featured in the Charlestown Sounds series. The acts include only local musicians and make for an eclectic lineup, from the College of Charleston Gospel Choir to R&B artist Anfernee and electroacoustic band Diaspoura.
The goal of the event is simple, says Ott.
“For me the characteristic of music to unite people, I believe there’s a spirituality to that,” he says. “That’s what this is all about – that unification.”
The Charlestown Sounds Music Festival will begin at 6 p.m. Saturday, April 8. Student tickets are $10. General admission tickets are $15. For additional event information or to purchase tickets, visit the Music Farm website.