It’s the classic coming-of-age story: Boy seeks adventure. Boy enters world. Boy gains experience. Boy becomes man.

In this case, the world is Charleston and it’s not one boy, but six rockers of local indie groove-based-rock-reggae-jam band Long Miles, who are about to show everybody they’re ready to be taken seriously.

But first they have to graduate.

Long Miles has traveled, er, long miles to get to this pivotal moment in their five-year high-school-to-college career together. Recruiting a new drummer (Adam Williams) and adding a keyboardist (Ross Bogan) en route, the CofC students knew that if they wanted to get it right, they had to get the degree. And they’re not just saying that because their parents will read this.

“We wanted to learn first,” says John Shields, Long Miles’ lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist. “We had to see what we could do in Charleston, and get it right.”

They had that unique, multi-elemental sound and a stage chemistry that can’t be faked. But the music biz is tough. Enter the mentor character of this story: the late Jonathan “Johnny” Diamond.

Jacqui Haenn, older sister to lead guitarist, Brett, and Long Miles’ manager, was taking Intro to Music Management taught by Mark Bryan, founder of Chucktown Music Group and Hootie & the Blowfish, when Johnny came to talk. Jacqui met Johnny, Johnny liked Jacqui, and Charleston met and liked Long Miles.

“We met every week,” says Jacqui. “He would say, ‘You need to stop playing bars. You need to get on the radio. You need this, you need that.’ And everything worked.”

Before, they’d been mislabeled as a college band in a post-Sublime era. They’d refused to sell out to a label and had digitally recorded their first album themselves in one of their dorms “totally against the rules” by improvising a sound booth through closets. But with Charleston being what it is and Johnny being who he is, Long Miles started meeting producers; their hit “Girl, Don’t Come Around” was all over The Bridge; they played to thousands behind Grace Potter at Charleston’s 2011 First Flush Festival. And this week, with their first headlining gig at the Farm and a Kickstarter-funded, full-length, professionally recorded album to show for it, they’re about to leap from college band to real band.

 

“Johnny had done it with Crowfield, and he saw something in us,” says bassist Sam Morgan. “We grew up from what we previously were.”

Thursday’s show marks more than a jam-session into adultbandhood. The album, the show, and their profits are all dedicated to Johnny and the Johnny Diamond Memorial Award, which will give a selected Arts Management student a serendipitous opportunity in return for life-changing experience.

Sounds familiar.

Long Miles and ten classmates in their Fundraising & Creation class crafted the big event together. They better get an A.

Most songs on the versatile Shades end with John, Sam, Brett, Ross, James, and Adam rocking out, making their summer East Coast tour not to be missed. Again, after graduation.

“We’d love to put every single hour of every single day into Thursday’s show, but I have a project due Wednesday,” jokes Morgan.

Sam and John laugh as Jacqui explains, “Brett was going to be here, but forgot he had a quiz.”

Just until May.

Facebook.com/longmiles
Thursday, March 29th, 8pm, at Music Farm
32 Ann Street, Charleston, SC 29403
Buy Tickets – $10, $13 day of – Copy of CD “Shades” with ticket

Story by: Jessica Kenny
Photos by: Andrew Stephen Cebulka

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