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Little Steven Rocks South Carolina 

Famed guitarist bares his heart and soul at local symposium

Little Steven Van Zandt of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band paid a visit to Muzak's headquarters in Fort Mill, SC last week for a Garage Guitar Symposium, where he met with 20 aspiring teenage guitarists. Van Zandt appeared as special guest of The Muzak Heart & Soul Foundation (a charity which promotes music education) following a weekend concert with The Boss in Chapel Hill. In addition to offering words of encouragement to the teens, Van Zandt spoke frankly about the state of the music industry as well. "This is an exciting time because everything is about to change. The mainstream music business is in trouble. It's become lazy, and a little sloppy. We need to figure out ways to bring back our emotional involvement with music," he told the students. In his efforts to promote the garage rock genre, Van Zandt also launched a nationally syndicated radio show called "Little Steven's Underground Garage" last year.

Charlotte's beloved Filipino Elvis impersonator Renelvis is hosting a benefit concert Saturday, September 27 in the gymnasium of Providence Road Church of Christ (4900 Providence Road). Renelvis' wife -- who is the primary caregiver of their daughter, who has Down syndrome -- was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. The family is currently without health insurance. Doors open at 4pm and Renelvis will have lots of his memorabilia on display (aka his "mini-Graceland museum"). Food will be served from 5-7pm, and the show will start at 7pm. A donation of $10 ($5 for kids 12 and under) will be accepted at the door. For more details on the event or to just send a note of encouragement, email Renelvis at renelvis1@aol.com.

The second annual Homeland RockFest is taking place on Saturday, September 27. The benefit concert will be held on 10 acres of land located at 730 Daves Road in York, SC (near Historic Brattonsville). Gates open at 10am. Semi-Pro, Onion, Withstand, Rory Lewis Band, Oneppo Brothers and the Ed James Band are among those scheduled to perform. Tickets cost $6 (kids 12 and under are admitted free with a paying adult) and proceeds will benefit the South Carolina Fireman's Association Fund for Burned Children. For more info, go to www.homelandrockfest.com or call 803-628-0854.

The Charlotte Chapter of the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) is bringing singer-songwriter Steve Seskin to town for a day-long songwriting retreat and workshop on Saturday, September 27. In addition to writing tunes for the likes of Tim McGraw, Mark Willis and Neal McCoy, Seskin tours and teaches songwriting all around the country at such places as NSAI Songcamps in Nashville and the Swannanoa Gathering in Asheville. The workshop will be held at a private home that's located about 10 minutes from I-77 in Rock Hill, SC. The cost is $45, which includes lunch and an evening cookout (you can also invite a friend to join you after 4pm for the cookout, songwriting and song circles for only $5). Seskin will also be performing at a house concert at a private home in the Cotswold area of Charlotte on Sunday, September 28 at 2pm. Tickets cost $10 ($9 for NSAI or Charlotte Folk Society Members). For more info on either event, contact Bruce Johnson at 704-541-5658 or bjohnson7@carolina.rr.com. For more details on Seskin, check out www.steveseskin.com.

TabascoHottie guitarist Kelly Morse has teamed up with Bruce Joyner (from the 80s punk band Bruce Joyner & The Unknowns), Tom Byars (from local act Out of the Fire) and drummer Tom Puracella to form a new band called The Reconstruction. The band is working on new material which will be tracked by Mitch Easter then mixed and mastered by Don Fleming (Sonic Youth, Hole).

Michael Reno Harrell has a new record titled Closer Home out on Dancing Bear Records (a division of Ramseur Records). For more info, go to www.michaelreno.com.

Former Ultracyde frontman Rayen Belchere recorded material recently at Jay Howard Production Audio. Local musician and sound engineer Chris Garges engineered the session while Ziad Rabie and Rodney Shelton produced the project. Rick Murray was featured on drums. Garges has also worked with several other acts including Raleigh's Something So Far and local folk group Viva Klezmer. He also worked with guitarist Dan Hood of Static, who is working on a solo project. Garges has also been recording in the studio with Ron Brendle and John Alexander. The trio hopes to release a new CD soon. Currently they can be found playing regular gigs at the Meeting House on Wednesday nights and at Blue every Thursday.

Bandtastic.com, Openmic.US, Star 104.7-FM and Open Mic Entertainment have created the Star 104.7 Open Mic Series which hopes to host open mic events at various venues throughout the Charlotte area. If you're interested in being considered as a host, send your contact info to hosts@openmic.us.

Charlotte photographer Dave Long will have artwork featured on upcoming releases by Thad Cockrell (Warmth & Beauty), David Childers (Room #23) and Porter Hall, TN. Recent releases from The Stragglers (Carolina Boogie) and Willy Evans (Cornbread & Other Hot Stuff) also featured photos by Long. His concert/club and studio shots also adorn the walls of the Comet Grill and Puckett's Farm Equipment.

The Durham-based record label Pox World Empire just released a compilation of new recordings from bands from the Durham, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh music community. Compulation: Volume One features 21 tracks by artists that include The Rosebuds, Jett Rink, Piedmont Charisma, Cold Sides, The Ghost of Rock, Gerty, des_ark and Portastatic. For more info, visit www.poxworldempire.com.

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