He might be a platinum-selling recording artist, but Edwin McCain has not forgotten his South Carolina roots.
The Greenville native says he has spent a great deal of time in the Lowcountry, and he is looking forward to returning. McCain's band, the Edwin McCain Acoustic Trio, will perform Oct. 4 at University of South Carolina Beaufort Center for the Arts.
Question. Can you tell me about your trio?
Answer. Yeah, we play in this incarnation all the time. We do about half the year as an acoustic trio. My sax player, Craig Shields, and my guitar player, Larry Chaney, and I come out and play the songs. It's kind of a more stripped-down, acoustic version versus the whole big band, rock 'n' roll thing. It's pretty fun. And it's more conversational, you know. I can kind of tell the stories of how the songs were written. It's kind of like just hanging out in the living room.
Q. So, how long have you three been playing together?
A. We've been playing together since the beginning, so 20 years. Larry has been in our band since 1995/96. ... They play with me full time.
Q. I know you've played a lot in the Lowcountry. Have you ever played at USC Beaufort before?
A. I don't think I've ever played at USC Beaufort, but I know that I've done the water festival a few times. I spend a ton of time in Beaufort. I'm restoring an old boat with the help of Pete Gamble over at Marsh Harbor Boatworks in Beaufort. So over the course of the last few years we're just kind of slowly making progress. And my whole family is from Beaufort. ... I used to spend summers down there ... I've been around a lot.
Q. What do you like about the Lowcountry?
A. It's hard to describe. I actually had this conversation the other day. There is a vibration that exists, and the only way to describe it is -- you know on (U.S.) 17 outside of Beaufort, heading over the river, over the marsh, right around sun-up? If I had to put my finger on it, it's kind of that moment for me. I've spent a lot of time with Shannon Tanner in Ridgeland and that whole area. It's hard to describe, man. There's a pace and a gentility. I wish I could tell you in words, but ... I'm not sure anybody has ever accurately put it together, but it just kind of holds you.
Q. And what about the South in general?
A. Well, the South in general, you know as I know, that it's very city to city. Charleston is completely different than Greenville is. And Hilton Head has its own vibe compared to Columbia. And Savannah has its own completely different feel. But I would say in general, I'm all about the east coast. I seem to navigate better on the east coast or connect. I think it's because I've spent more time here. I still feel like a stranger in L.A.
Q. Tell me a little about your latest album. This is your 10th album, right?
A. Yeah, it's called "Mercy Bound." And I co-wrote most of it and used some of (singer/songwriter) Maia Sharp's songs on the record. She and I have become dear friends, and we spend a lot of time together writing. Her demos were so good that I kind of just said, "Maia, why don't you produce this record? Because I love the way you do demos. I love the way you hear this music. And I don't really want to just turn it over to somebody who's just getting started understanding it." So she took on the challenge, and I think she did a brilliant job.
Q. So, are you looking forward to coming to USCB?
A. I am totally. It's kind of that perfect situation because I've got some work to do on the boat, and I can play a show. And then I'm also playing a friend's wedding down at Sea Island, so it's this super-easy travel week. I love playing the performing arts centers, the seated places. It's awesome. ... The one thing I would mention is how grateful I am to everybody that's taken care of us for however many years we've been doing this. I never expected it to last as long as it has. It's really not lost on me how lucky I am to be able to do this.