Boone Takes Pride

Photo: Caitlin Anthony

Photo: Caitlin Anthony

Written by Raymond E. Lee

There is a consensus amongst the more practical populace that to be a musician you must first pay your dues before the rent. The romanticized view lends one to the image of artists toiling away in the obscurity of the local scene for years, creating a b(r)and before the wandering eye of the national audience ever takes notice. But this is 2018, and thanks to the digital age one can build a better mousetrap in their garage or bedroom, upload that single to any of the numerous social media platforms and have the world quite digitally beating down their door overnight. But this, too, is a rarity. The reality of the situation for most working musicians lies somewhere between those poles. Still, as tax times draws near its important every young musician realize that to be successful they must treat their passion along the same lines as a small business.

Enter Charleston native, Tyler Boone. At 28 years old this young guitarist and singer-song writer might have already outstripped the local scene despite just recently graduating College of Charleston. You’re doubtlessly familiar with his most recent single, ‘Short Skirt, Bare Knees,’ a rotation favorite on both the Bridge 105.5 as well as the true home for local lowcountry music, WYLA 97.5. Grammy nomination considerations never hurt a musicians chances for success, but as with most stories the beauty here lies not with the victory so much as the struggle. Tyler Boone is no stranger to that struggle, but this tale of incremental success after being written off like an earned income tax credit creates perhaps the perfect blueprint for any number of the young acts gracing the pages between the hard covers of 9 to 5 Magazine.

After receiving his first Stratocaster as a gift from his father at 18, Boone immediately began the long process of sharpening his teeth. Of course, garage rock and riffing filled his early days, but a quick study Boone quickly drifted away from Good Charlotte to Gary Clark Jr. After a failed foray studying Jazz guitar at USC, Boone returned to Charleston and switched majors to Arts Management. Professor Mark Bryan, founding member of another popular Charleston group, Hootie and Blowfish, quickly took Boone under his wing. 

Despite the working relationship with the veteran industrioso cum academic, Boone let out for the bright city lights of Nashville. This is the exact point where most young musicians lose their way, start drinking at noon and form myths out of what-might-have-been. Not for Tyler Boone. The year and a half he spent picking food out of the gutters and sleeping in bars honed both Boone’s guitar licks and business sense. And perhaps that poverty, the isolation of a foreign city where millionaire moguls and git-picking hipster drifters populate the same bar stools created both the businessman along with the musician. 

In person Boone is affable, freshfaced with an absolute lack of cynicism that is as candid as it is ambitious. Unlike most musicians sat down for a stock interview for a shoestring publication Boone pulls no punches. He isn’t interested in pushing his own agenda to sell a few more records, rather the interview devolves into the same type of conversation one might have with other prodigal sons come home from the war with wild stories and fresh perspectives. There’s Boone’s Bourbon, of course, Tyler just so happens at 28 years old to be in the process of releasing an eponymous brand of brown liquor. There might have been a name or two dropped about his recent trip to the Grammy Awards for ‘Short Skirt, Bare Knees,’  his management position with Drivin’ N’ Cryin’, or Artist’s Formula, the arts services company he so recently launched right here in Charleston. These things are obligatory, but where the light really shines in Boone’s eye is when speaking about his friends and former bandmates still working the Charleston scene. He speaks less about himself than his buddies in See Water, the boys in Human Resources. And sure he’s been to the Ryman in Nashville, he’s thrown a few back with Ketch Secor from Old Crow Medicine Show, but he also devoted several minutes to Matadero bassist George Baerreis’ devastating queen-pawn chess opening.

Tyler Boone may be lining up his sites, staring down the same barrel so many others have taken aim at Nashville with over the years, but Charleston is undoubtedly his pride. To speak of festivals, Boone mentions Firefly where he shared a stage with names like Mum&Sons or Kings of Leon. He relates the fact in as many words before diving headlong into his lust to be included in the High Water Music Festival curated by local legends Michael Trent and Cary Anne Hearst. To discuss clubs, the veritable heart and soul of the boozy, bluesy type of rock Boone performs, he doesn’t get excited by Cain’s, the Fillmore, or the Palladium so much as his upcoming show at Music Farm this Friday. The show begins with a touch of class. The seductive and sultry Zoe Child opens with their brand of heart sparked lullaby’s complemented by silken fiddle leads and adult contemporary narratives. Finnegan Bell splits the difference between Zoe Child’s maturity and Boone’s hedonistic rock with a sound much closer to country than western. Closeout Tyler Boone is equal parts showman, artist, and businessman. Every local scenester, hipper-than-thou affecianado, and budding musician worth their salt can’t afford to miss this performance.