What’s Classic and What’s Coming in Charleston: Music

Where to find the best beats in Charleston

Quentin Baxter is a native Charlestonian, world-class drummer, and musical director of the Charleston Jazz Initiative.

“There are a lot of restaurants where the music is part of the experience—this has been a big part of the live local scene for a long time. Both Charleston Grill and High Cotton have jazz seven nights a week.

Charleston Music Hall is an older venue downtown that seats about 1,000 people. It’s the home of the local twenty-piece big band Charleston Jazz Orchestra, and they also bring in national and international acts, such as Zakir Hussain, one of the world’s best tabla players.

Regional and locals bands come to play at funkier, midsize joints like the Pour House  and the Tin Roof (843-571-0775) in West Ashley. And at Voodoo Tiki Bar, there’s live salsa with a Cuban lounge quartet on Sundays, plus a Tuesday night jazz concert series.

A new listening room in town that’s totally dedicated to the experience of the music is the Mezz, which I helped open in 2012. The stage lights, sound—everything is specifically designed for the music, like what you would get at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York or Blues Alley in Washington, D.C. We’re focusing primarily on jazz, but I’ve done shows with musicians from the symphony orchestra. It seats fewer than seventy and has that supper club kind of feel.”