Broccoli Island seeks to shake up the Lowcountry's music scene

jpaprocki@islandpacket.comJuly 15, 2012 

Images from the music video, "Cecilia," by Broccoli Island. Clockwise from top left are Camilo Guzman, Derrick Weatherford, C.J. Johnson and Colin Czerwinski.


The scenery is familiar, but the sound is not.

The video for the song "Cecilia" is shot in the scenic surroundings of Bluffton and Pinckney Island. But the song itself is hip hop, two rappers trading verses over an echoing guitar riff and funky drumbeat.

Quite the contrast for an area more accustomed to sing-along cover songs.

"We want to give the music scene a facelift," said Camilo Guzman, one half of the rapping duo in the video.

The song is the product of Broccoli Island, a collective of about 20 local artists and musicians. They're not a group or a band, per say. They're more of a brand.

At the heart is Guzman and his friend Colin Czerwinski, both graduates of Bluffton High School. They see Broccoli Island as a gathering place, metaphorically of course, but one that can attract people of like mind, those seeking refuge from what they see as a staid artistic community locally. They plan for more songs, videos, concerts and even a clothing line in the near future.

They hope it will get to the point where the name will be synonymous with a new sound and style in the Lowcountry. Musically, they feel they are an island -- one surrounded by the cover tunes of a tourist town.

"Really, it can be frustrating because there's not much going on here except for Jimmy Buffett songs," Czerwinski said.

"Cecilia" serves as their introduction to the Lowcountry, a way to say "We're here, and we're not what you're expecting."

The song came about from a beat and a guitar riff Guzman and Czerwinski had worked out. Several months later, Guzman happened across C.J. Johnson, who now lives in Savannah but also graduated from Bluffton High. The two rapped over the track but found it still needed a singer. As it so happened, Johnson heard that his friend's cousin, Derrick Weatherford, a talented singer in his own right, was in town. Weatherford came over the next day and sang the chorus. Czerwinski and another friend shot the video.

And that's how the group will work, Guzman and Czerwinski said. They'll always be on the lookout in the area for similar artists with similar tastes. Members will come and go as they please. Czerwinski, for example, is spending the month touring with his punk band Big Awesome. But Broccoli Island will be the home base they can identify with locally and online via social media.

The definition of the group might be vague, but that's part of the point. They need to cast a wide net to gather as many artists as possible to build a following.

It's an ambitious plan. But they feel if they get established now, they can serve as a cultural oasis. The area is growing fast, they note. There might be a point where the terms "Hilton Head" and "hip-hop" might not seem so disjointed.

"There's going to be a time where there's so many people there's going to be a culture explosion," Guzman said. "We want to be there for that."

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