Behind every great song, is someone who turns knobs and press buttons to make that great sound. Chris Wenner has been that guy for Columbia for years. A professional appreciator of music and the man at the helm of his studio Seaboard Recording Studio, Wenner has been responsible for creating great music in Columbia and beyond.
Q. Tell us about your studio and how long have you been recording.
A. Seaboard Recording Studio named after the famed Seaboard airline railroad that connected the South for passenger transportation up into the mid 1970s. Countless artists were inspired by trains from Hank Williams to Little Richard because it was the only sound around the rural south. The trains they heard were pulled by Seaboard Airline.
Q. Being a huge music buff, tell us about a personal encounter with a star.
A. A few weeks ago I had the unique pleasure of meeting Nancy Hamilton and her family. She commanded the Soul Shouting Weeks Sisters of Mullins. We met at her home in for an early Thanksgiving celebration. They were waiting for us to arrive and sang a blessing of the food as soon as we walked in. I could barely contain my emotions. This meeting would never have taken place unless a number of random coincidences had not happened.
I found their record 10 years ago at a local thrift store by itself sitting on a couch as if it was placed there for me. Walking out of the store I felt I really found something special. I did not understand how incredible the find was until I played it that night. What I heard on “Help Me Lift Jesus” was the most intensely powerful vocal performance and harmonies I’d ever heard recorded and the fidelity of the studio recording was impeccable. Even though the record was recorded in the early ’70s it had a sound of a much earlier time and there may not be a more true testament of South Carolina gospel.
Q. How do you feel about the future of Columbia’s music scene?
A. I was talking recently with Patrick Jeffords about how amazing the Toro Y Moi show was at the Senate in November. I recorded an earlier project he played in back before Toro. To see how far they’ve come in 10 years is incredible. Jeffords’ project, Kid Trails, is really promising and the fact that he will be around Columbia more will be a great asset to the scene.
There are so many great heavy bands from Columbia and the live shows are increasingly therapeutic. Garrow, Bathe and Axattack are some of my favorites right now. Underground hip hop in Columbia is crazy and probably the most underexposed. There is just so much talent right now from multiple crews. The Voydd has been performing at the Horseshoe in Five Points and the energy is undeniable. It’s a collective of talent that has so much potential. Go see them next time they have a show.