Updated: Oct 9, 2020
Barnwell, SC native Sean Bing was first introduced to the drums in church, at just three years old. “I started right beside my uncle — I would do whatever he did,” says Bing. “I had a little baby drum set.” When his uncle went to college his family moved to a different church, where he continued to play on Sundays. It was also there that he met piano player and rock drummer Clyde Frazier, who took him under his wing.
Bing played brass in his school band throughout middle and high school, starting with trombone, baritone, and eventually settling on tuba. However, he was still playing drums all along at church on the weekends. He was an avid football player, though come junior year he stopped playing football to focus more fully on music.
After high school, Bing moved to Charleston. “It was the music and job opportunity that brought me here,” he says. “And just looking for something new.” Through Clyde Frazier he made connections that ultimately led to the formation of the band Villanova, with whom he toured up and down the east coast as well as throughout the Carolinas and Georgia for about five years. Villanova opened for many well-known acts including Panic at the Disco, Steel Pulse, Tantric, Drowning Pool, and Chase Rice.
Of the music scene in Charleston, Bing says, “I love it. It’s definitely made me grow. You’ve got some jazzy cats here that’ll play some licks.” He also notes that among the more established, “highly ranked” musicians, there is room for young talent to break into the scene. “You’ve got some nineteen-year-olds,” he says, “that’ll play like they’ve been playing for thirty years.”
Sean Bing is playing at Forte Jazz Lounge on Friday, October 9th. To contact the artist, find him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/sean.bing.9.
Updated: Oct 24, 2020
If it hadn’t been for a knee injury, bassist Fisher Wilson might not have followed a path toward a career in music. While he healed he began to share his older brother’s affinity for old-time Appalachian music, and so he picked up the mandolin, banjo, guitar and ultimately the bass. “I had the music bug,” he says. “I wanted to learn everything I could.”
He describes being taken to a jazz club by his siblings when he was a little older. “It had a really profound effect on me,” he says of the experience. Wilson couldn’t march with the others in the high school band, but the director nurtured his interests by teaching him piano and encouraging him to keep playing bass.
Wilson’s love of music is apparent in the way he recounts his experience studying music at College of Charleston. He recalls the ethnomusicologist who headed the Latin American Music ensemble he played in at college, and how he took that perspective to heart, now approaching his work with an understanding that there is much more to music than its practice and performance. “Now I’m thinking more about, ‘What does it mean to the people who played it?’” Wilson has a keen interest in the African diaspora and how crucial it has been to American music, both in the early Appalachian music that birthed bluegrass and in the emergence of jazz around the turn of the 20th century.
“Charleston has a lot of roots in the creation of jazz,” he says. “People like Joe and Forte are really trying to make jazz the center stage in their venue.” Over the course of his career he has enjoyed touring with bands Canopy Hands and Cicala, but he describes playing in the Holy City with especial fondness. Says Wilson, “The gig life in Charleston is where it’s at.”
Fisher Wilson will be playing at Forte Jazz Lounge on Friday October 30th; Saturday November 7th; Friday & Saturday November 13th &14th; and Friday & Saturday November 20th and 21st.
Pianist Geoffrey Dean grew up in the Washington, DC area playing classical piano, and did not originally set out to make a career in music. Having studied communications, he worked at NBC Sports for a little while, but he was also teaching music lessons on the side; and eventually he realized the latter was the path he wanted to follow. He remembers playing “Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gershwin as an experience that piqued his interest in jazz in particular.
Dean went on to earn several music degrees, starting with a bachelor’s in performance at Berklee College of Music. Following this he pursued his master’s in jazz studies at University of Tennessee, where he was mentored by Donald Brown, a former member of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers (a group whose lineup has featured such legends as Wynton Marsalis and Chick Corea). “He [Brown] basically gave me all the tools I needed to be a jazz musician,” says Dean.
After earning his doctorate in piano performance from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Dean relocated to Charleston in late 2019. “I just wanted to play where people are nice, and the weather is nice, and the food is good, and people embrace the arts,” says Dean. “I love the South in general. I’m impressed with the amount of talent here. Every time I think I’ve figured out who everyone is, I find some other person I haven’t discovered yet.”
Though Dean himself is in an electronic music duo, he does have something to say about music in a digital world. While he notes that social media has allowed small-time musicians to achieve exposure more easily than in the past, he believes the organic nature of live shows is unparalleled. “There’s a certain human aspect of music that a place like [Forte] has to offer,” he says. “I think people need a little humanity, and they’re looking for it somewhere.”
Geoffrey Dean will be playing at Forte Jazz Lounge on Saturday Sept. 5.
Find more about Geoffrey Dean and his music on Instagram at @imdopegetaddicted or on his website www.barakamakesmusic.com.