Myrtle Beach musician Eric Ness wasn’t finding a lot of happiness among some Grand Strand musicians who made their feelings known about the local music scene on craigslist.com.
“[Musicians] were complaining there was no music scene in Myrtle Beach,” said Ness, lead singer of Power Born Rebellion, “they weren’t getting paid what they were worth, and there was no place to play original work.”
Ness decided he couldn’t — and wouldn’t — sit back without making an effort to do something. He created Myrtle Beach Storytellers night, a showcase for local musicians, which launched early this year at Klocker’s Tavern and ran until Oct. 9.
The success of Storytellers night 2014 has led Ness and Jason Klocker, owner of Klocker’s Tavern, to revisit the idea for a second year, and the concept will resume Jan. 15 and continue on the third Thursday of each month.
“I believe that, yes, [Storytellers] was a success,” Ness said, “but I believe there’s more talent out there to discover. People just need a fair shot, and this is the best avenue I have found.”
Ness teamed with Jason Klocker, also a musican, who eight months prior had created a bar just for music. Klocker took over the lease on the building next to Remedies Sports Bar. A former strip club, Klocker gutted the inside, installed a powerful sound system and created what he calls an acoustically perfect room: a square that is 80 percent carpeted with four-tier seating.
Klocker’s opened July 15, 2013, and it wasn’t long after that before Ness and Klocker proceeded with their plans to unite the Myrtle Beach music community by offering one night per month to musicians who wanted to showcase their original or cover music — get paid for it.
“We both said there isn’t anything in Myrtle Beach like it,” said Klocker, adding that Storytellers was something they hoped would remind 30- to 40-year-olds of the VH1 concept of the ’90s — where artists performed in front of small, intimate audiences — and Storytellers could grow based on musicians telling their stories through their music.
“The goal was to provide a four-hour window in which the artists rotate [performing],” Ness said. “The only way to be seen is if they’re getting out there [at venues] playing.”
Klocker and Ness make no profit from the night, and Klocker splits 20 percent of the night’s proceeds between the three performing artists, solo or group. In return, they ask each person to bring 10 guests.
And as the two plan next year’s artist lineup, they are looking at what they can improve to always stay involved with the community.
Myrtle Beach Storytellers debuted in early 2014, featuring Kerrine Gifford, who plays cello, and Jeremy Dunham as Sweet Sweet. Dunham also performs with the band Bullfrog and have become regular performers at the tavern and around town.
Both agree Storytellers night has brought many musicians together.
“If not for [Storytellers], I might not have met Cameron Nesbitt,” said Gifford of the singer-songwriter-guitarist for Medicinal Whiskey, who performed at the last Storytellers night Oct. 9. “Now, he’s a great friend.”
“It’s an awesome group of people who are all doing the same thing, and we all support each other,” she said.
Dunham said he and Gifford are honored and excited to be a part of the Storytellers series.
“It’s such a unique event for this area,” he said. “Kerrine and I are lovers of the songwriting process and the art of crafting lyrics with melodies. We pull inspiration from great songwriters from the past and present. It’s all about presenting your view and connecting with others that can relate. There are some truly talented local songwriters, and hopefully, this event will continue to bring them to light.”