This weekend kicks off a whirlwind of activity in the Frederick area with the Lettuce Jam, presented by the Gude brothers over in Middletown. There will be music. There will be beer. There will be fun. Oh, and you can also plant your own greens. So, there’s that. Anyway, one of the bands performing at the Lettuce Jam will be Southern Charm. We recently caught up with Ken Oursler, of the band, who talked a little about his relationship with Larry Gude, the event’s organizer, why Champion Billiards is so important, and what we can expect from Saturday’s festival.
So, take us back to the beginning. How did Southern Charm did get started? How long have you been together? When/where/how did you meet?
We are a relatively new band. We have been together in this version for about seven months now. Our paths all crossed through the Frederick Rock School – some are instructors, some were students, some were parents of rock school students – or some combination of those things. But we all met there and continue to use that great facility as our rehearsal spot.
Where are some of your favorite venues/places to play around the country and why?
We have always had a special place in our hearts for Champion Billards and Sports Cafe. Again, The Fredeick Rock School is why. The instructors teach their students and then they perfrom their shows there and have for years. And the crowds there are always great for us when we hit that stage. The sound system and sound board support are top notch now with JR at the helm. So that is probably our favorite spot. We have others that we have really enjoyed as well – like JoJo’s downtown. What a great crowd, too. And Blue Sky, which may not be on your radar, is always a lot of fun for us as well.
We’ve heard a lot about you, but we’ve never seen you play. To what do you attribute that type of word-of-mouth success in the area? Plus, having not seen you, what are we missing?
Well, I think we are a little different in that we play modern country music covers – songs that not many other bands cover. We wanted to be different in that way. So if you like that kind of music, and it is really taking off right now, you will surely like our show and you will hopefully be singing and rocking along. The Highway on Siruis and XM radio, WFRE and WMZQ are where we pull our covers from. The other thing about us is that we are fronted by two awesome female singers. So when we cover Miranda or Carrie, they nail it. And when it comes to harmonies, forget about it. These ladies are the best. I think those are the main reasons we have a bit of a buzz right now.
How do you know Larry and what are you expecting from the Lettuce Jam?
Larry and I have been friends since we both purchased homes in Brookeridge South in Middletown. We lived across the street from each other and quickly found many common interests – from music to golf to family men to small business owners. We just hit it off from the jump. He is a great guy as you well know. We are here to support Larry’s new business model and direction – and maybe to get a tiny bit of exposure for Southern Charm.
What’s your impression of the local music scene, both here in Frederick and in D.C. and Baltimore? Do you think Frederick is thriving and growing consistently, or is it not really on your radar?
The scene is alive but maybe a little stagnant at the moment in my opinion. There is a lot of great stuff out there if you look for it. Plenty to choose from for sure.
Can you tell us a little about some of the band’s best moments? Conversely, can you tell us about some of the band’s lowest moments?
Again, we are in the early stages, but opening for national recording acts LoCash and Rachele Lynae on the WFRE stage at Champions last month was really special for us. House was packed, we played well and hopefully gained some new fans that night. No low moments to mention. We really have fun every time we play. Otherwise why bother? For the money? Pffffft.
Who are some of your major influences and why?
Too many to mention. I love so many genres of music I couldn’t really narrow it down.
Can you name some local artists we should keep an eye on who we might not already know about?
There are too many to mention. There is so much talent in this area – they just ned to catch a break to really make it, you know? Shane Gamble and Paul Pfau are two friends of mine who I really enjoy and support. Both have huge potential. If you don’t know of them, definitely check them out.
And finally, what can we expect from your set at the Lettuce Jam?
We are planning to play 95 percent modern country covers with a couple throwback songs from the ’80s. Our covers will be upbeat and rockin’ mostly – with a possible Fleetwood Mac or Pat Benatar song thrown in. Again, our ladies will do them proud on the vocals. Our set will be very energetic, I promise.