SouthSounds 2016 is not only drawing a legion of regional bands but also a group of Southeastern music industry personalities. Dan McCurry is coming to the Azalea City with a twofold purpose.
As the founder of the Charleston, South Carolina-based Hearts & Plugs label, McCurry will be participating in the industry panel determining the winner of the Lagniappe SouthSounds Mobile Bay Music Showcase. He also has other goals. This year will give McCurry the opportunity to showcase Hearts & Plugs artists Susto, Brave Baby and The High Divers before a new audience.
“Our goal is to let people know that Charleston has some great music,” McCurry said. “We’re in the Southeast, too. The music is not just coming from Alabama and Mississippi and those parts. South Carolina has a few tricks up its sleeve too.”
McCurry’s band Run Dan Run birthed the label while preparing for the release of its sophomore effort, when McCurry began sending out demos to court existing labels. After a weak response, McCurry decided to launch Hearts & Plugs.
Quickly afterward, the label also recruited Mr. Jenkins, The Lovely Few and Ash Hopkins. All of the bands had member ties to Run Dan Run. In 2012, McCurry discovered Elim Bolt. The group made quite an impression on McCurry, who began working with them in the studio. As the album was coming to a close, Elim Bolt’s Johnnie Matthews asked McCurry what the next step of the process should be.
“I had no intention of them wanting to record this to be on Hearts & Plugs, because I didn’t take it seriously,” McCurry said. “[Matthews] was like, ‘Maybe we should put it out on Hearts & Plugs.’ I thought, ‘Oh, wait, cool! We can do that. I hadn’t really thought of that, but it sounds fun.’”
Word of Hearts & Plugs began to travel throughout the region. Brave Baby was watching as the label released Elim Bolt’s album. In the final stages of its own release at the time, Brave Baby had established a healthy regional reputation and their shows were known to pull good-sized crowds. When Brave Baby approached McCurry about distributing their album, he knew then Hearts & Plugs could be “a real thing.”
Hearts & Plugs is a growing label with a promising future that escapes the confines of the Southeast. As the label grows, McCurry says the artists will benefit from steadily added amenities. In fact, they recently began distributing vinyl. As far as goals, McCurry would love Hearts & Plugs to reach the same level as indie labels such as Sub Pop or Merge, with artists growing beyond the regional level and into the national spotlight.