Two Upstate bluesmen hold blues summit


Two of the South Carolina Upstate’s finest blues-based musicians, Max Hightower and Shane Pruitt, come up the mountain for a special show of roots music at the White Horse Black Mountain on Thursday, May 19. Both performers gained notoriety as members of successful electric bands, Mac Arnold & Plateful O’Blues and the Shane Pruitt Band respectively. In their duo shows they team up for tasty acoustic Southern-style takes on favorites and original tunes.

A founding member of Plateful O’ Blues, Hightower, an Upstate native, discovered the blues at 12 years old through a cassette copy of “Muddy Mississippi Waters Live.” He started out on his grandmother’s Silvertone guitar, but it was in the blues harp that he found his musical voice.

Finding that the position of harmonica player could be ephemeral, he added piano, bass, guitar and keyboards to his musical arsenal, composing and singing original songs along with blues masterpieces. His touring career with Plateful O’ Blues has allowed him to share stages with many of his musical heroes. He continues to forge a playful, witty and original style combining grace and grit.

Spartanburg guitarist Shane Pruitt has been named that city’s Instrumentalist of the Year for eight years running. The Sparkle City (the nickname comes from an old rockabilly song) has a rich heritage of blues, gospel and Southern rock which Pruitt has absorbed into his daring and improvisational personal style. A professional performer since the age of 19, he’s earned accolades from his musical peers and audiences for his technical proficiency and charismatic shows.