Four years ago, we had a kooky idea that we should invite some of the great musicians touring the South to come play a few songs at G&G’s headquarters in Charleston, South Carolina. At the time our office had a wonderful if cramped back porch with a palmetto-tree backdrop that seemed to be begging for a party. So we reached out to Chris Thile and the rest of the wildly talented Punch Brothers, and they agreed to pay us a visit. What followed was a perfect set of three songs plus an encore of “The Weight,” a tribute to Levon Helm, who had recently died. The bar had been set.
To our delight, more musicians agreed to show up, and before long we had perfected the accompanying party. Martha Hall Foose’s bacon crackers are a staple (and always a hit, as they are at any Southern shindig), and so is pimento cheese. Depending on the season, we might be drinking Light Dragoon’s Punch or a hot toddy. But the real stars, of course, are the musicians. More than I can highlight have joined us for our Back Porch Sessions, from Jason Isbell to the Tedeschi Trucks Band to Holly Williams to Drive-By Truckers. Warren Haynes shared a moment with a fellow redhead, my then one-year-old son, and Bill Murray (a Charleston local) stopped by to see the Steep Canyon Rangers. One of the headliners of this issue’s outlaw country story, Sturgill Simpson, let loose with a performance that resonated for a city block. We occasionally stepped off the porch, too, recording a tune from the Avett Brothers on their tour bus, and catching up with everyone from Robert Earl Keen to Matthew E. White at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.
When we moved into a new office last year, we left the porch behind, but not the Back Porch Sessions. In our new home, a former cigar factory built in 1881, our Back Porch Sessions happen in an old high-ceilinged, wood-floored brick space that was once a boiler room. We’ve broken it in with the Wood Brothers, Brandi Carlile, and others. And I’m happy to report the sound is tremendous.
To hear—and watch—for yourself, log on to gardenandgun.com/backporch. There you’ll find the entire catalogue of shows. The only thing missing will be the bacon crackers.