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Carpenter's Cellar
Greenville, South Carolina
 
Not many small music venues or coffeeshops are featured in bestselling novels, but Carpenter’s Cellar found its way to fame in novelist Ray Blackston’s book, A Delirious Summer It served as the meeting place for fictitious characters Neil and Alexis. In real life, the Cellar is a quaint venue whose décor is simple, dimly lit and features candlelit tables. The music is usually a blend of folk/rock or blues musicians performing live on Friday and Saturday nights.
 
Carpenter’s Cellar situated in the downtown core of Greenville, South Carolina has operated since 1988 and is staffed by volunteers from local churches. The Cellar has featured artists such as Arch Music Group’s Silers Bald and Lee McDerment, who recently recorded a live project at the venue. Portions of that concert can be heard at http://www.leemcderment.com/.  Many artists will travel from New York, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia to perform at the Cellar for nothing more than a love offering (donation).
 
You would be well advised to phone ahead if you are planning to take in a show as the Cellar has limited seating and although typically admission is free, for more well known artists tickets are sometimes sold prior to the gigs.
 
The typical Cellar crowd is comprised of college students, couples and families with an average age of twenty to thirty-five years old.
 
Shari Horner, a member of the Cellar’s management team, says, “We try to have a band or performer booked every Friday and Saturday night. In the event of a cancellation, we have CDs playing. There is always music playing.  You can hear the music floating out the door onto the main street. We try and keep it from blasting because it’s not a very big place but (we play it) loud enough for people to hear the good music We like to keep the door popped open to give it a very warm welcome feel.”  
 
“It’s a very cozy, culturally relevant atmosphere. The lights are dimly lit, there are candles on every table, and we have colored lights on the stage to give it a concert feel.  We have coffee, cold drinks, smoothies and shakes.”
 
“We have always insisted on Christian musicians because if we don’t do that, we are just like everybody else out there. Our purpose is to give God glory, to get his presence in there. It’s all about what he is doing in downtown Greenville. Does every Christian musician that comes have to play 100 % Christian music? No.”
 
Horner says the philosophy of Carpenter’s Cellar provides a warmer more inviting appeal to those who do not go to church. “We would rather say we are a coffeehouse run by Christians than a Christian coffeehouse.” Another plus for the Cellar is it isn’t aligned with any particular church or denomination and the volunteers want the city to think of the venue as Greenville’s coffeehouse. 
 
As summer draws to a close, Carpenter’s Cellar now seems to be a destination spot for many young adults. In previous years, things died down a bit during summer months however, this year there was no noticeable drop off.
 
The vision for Carpenter’s Cellar came from the desire of a former pastor of Grace Church (nondenominational) to have a ministry downtown. He felt good music; tea and coffee would be the hooks to attract people’s attention. One family in the church paid the first year’s rent. As they say the rest is history.
 
As you read through this story, many of you probably concluded the name Carpenter’s Cellar came from the fact Jesus was a carpenter but that is wrong. Carpenter’s Cellar is located beneath street level in a building that originally housed Carpenter’s Drug Store. Borrowing from Paul Harvey, now you know the rest of the story.
 
By Joe Montague, exclusive rights reserved

Joe Montague is an internationally published journalist / photographer. His ministry is dedicated to the memory of his late son Kent David Montague who went to heaven at the age of 18. All copyright and distribution rights remain the property of Joe Montague. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
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