MusicMusic Features

Charlotte’s Best Beer-Inspired Songs From Local Artists

The best brew tunes to sip and chug to

portrait of a local band, David Taylor & The Tallboys performing at The Evening Muse
David Taylor & The Tallboys (Photo by Jake Rothwell)

Beer, that heady ambrosia that launched a thousand taprooms, courses through human history. Excavations at Uruk in Sumer, humankind’s first city founded around 5000 BCE, uncovered a storage room for beer, and modern day brewers have approximated an ancient Egyptian beer, which reportedly tastes sweet and malty. 

Beer has been depicted in art and literature, and an effervescent stream of the amber-hued libation flows through popular music, most obviously in the “crying in your beer” barstool poetry of county classics like by Johnny Paycheck’s swaggering and staggering “15 Beers.” 

Not to be caught napping at the tap, rap tracks like Eazy-E’s “Sippin on a 40” sing the praises and pitfalls of supersized, high-alcohol-content containers of malt liquor. Rock ‘n’ roll’s celebration of beery hedonism and questionable life choices ranges from The Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues”: “I woke up one morning and I grabbed myself a beer...” to “Tubthumping,” English anarchist collective Chumbawamba’s 1997 paean to the working class sing-along/drink-along: “He drinks a lager drink, he drinks a cider drink/ He sings the songs that remind him of the good times/ He sings the songs that remind him of the better times...” 

We’re proud to note that the Queen City has contributed to the ever-growing body of music that immortalizes beer in song, whether through celebration, cautionary warning or a bit of both. Feel free to pop a brew as we present a short playlist of songs about beer and beer drinking by Charlotte musicians.  


Dollar Signs     

“Bad News”

There’s an ever-present well of anxiety bubbling under the surface of Dollar Signs frontman Erik Button’s vulnerable bluster, and it’s most evident in the band’s beer soaked pop punk ruminations like “Tears/Beers/Fears” and “Bad News.” 

“Tears/Beers/Fears” echoes every artist’s queasy dread that their creative output might be a meaningless treadmill: “I don’t wanna be 40/ Singing songs about getting drunk at prom… 

“Bad News,” however, ups the existential ante. As Luke Gunn’s piano pings a warning beacon and Tommy McPhail’s buzzsaw guitar swoops like a dive bomber, Button sings about feeling alone in the heart of a boisterous beer chugging crowd, 

The people I drink with don’t really know me...”

There’s no bravado in Button’s bewildered bellow as Gunn’s barroom keys, McPhail’s wailing guitar, Arion Chamberlain’s rifle-fire drums and Dylan Wachman’s grinding bass dovetail into a raucous shout-along chorus: “I got problems, we got blue ribbons/ I got issues, we got some Grey Goose/ I got fears (hell yeah), Well we’ve all cried tears/ But bad news goes down better with a beer…

Here, Dollar Signs remind us that no matter how hard we wish, we can’t always make the good times roll. Instead, it’s the room that’s spins, and the beers we imbibe to escape self doubt and stress are not numbing our insecurities after all.


Jason Moss & the Hosses     

“Thirsty Beaver Saloon”

Pealing pedal steel guitar, thumping upright bass and rolling splashy drums kick off this sashaying honky-tonk two-step that pays tribute to a Charlotte landmark that has withstood both the predations of a greedy real estate developer named John Hatcher and the perambulations of a slumming rock star named Mick Jagger. Over a swinging juke joint groove that harkens to Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, frontman Jason Moss unleashes a keening Hank Williams drawl:

In Charlotte, North Carolina there’s a place that I hold dear/ I sometimes stop in there, and have myself a beer/ It’s a hole in the wall with a funky honky tonk vibe/ A little orange building with a beaver painted on the side… 

Unlike the Rolling Stones vocalist who popped in once during his legendary band’s 2021 tour, it’s clear that Moss has spent a lot of quality time at the Beaver. “Thirsty Beaver Saloon” nails the joint’s details, right down to reruns of corny country music show Hee Haw playing on the TV, a picture of Bocephus on the wall and Beaver owners and brothers Brian and Mark Wilson getting ready to play with their crack country band the Loose Lugnuts.


Drew Nathan     

“Remember the Beers”

Tradition and modernity sit side by side in Drew Nathan’s alternative country juggernaut “Remember the Beers.” After the sound of a beer can tab popping open, the tune kicks off with spiral of pedal steel that dissolves into chugging rock guitars, punchy galloping drums and Nathan’s fine-grained, smoky vocals.

Pack a couple coolers/ and we’ll start in the evening/ Find a good spot, light a fire … Laugh about nothing cause you’re buzzin/ And you’re feeling like a million bucks…

 Balancing wistful yet conflicted lyrics with a catchy pop-rock melody, Nathan takes the tropes of bro country — beers, good times and a pickup truck with the windows down — and turns them upside down. 

Nathan’s wistful yet unreliable nostalgia is clouded with hints of pain and subsequent healing. Here, fond emotions return, but the voices and personalities of old friends prove as insubstantial as wisps of campfire smoke.

a portrait of an alternative-country artists, Drew Nathan with beer in the background
Drew Nathan (Photo by Kristie Crowde)

 Sometimes it’s good to think about all those years … I don’t remember much/ But what I have is clear/ I don’t remember the jokes/ I don’t remember the cheers/ But I remember the beers…

“Remember the Beers” is a photo album of golden memories with the faces blurred.


Faye     

“Chow Chow”

 “Chow Chow” from Faye’s 2016 self-titled debut EP is an unpolished jagged gem, the perfect soundtrack for an awkward evening. Emerging from a thicket of grimy bass notes, quizzical squalls of noise guitar and relentless martial drums, Susan Plante’s and Sarah Blumenthal’s vocals capture that queasy feeling that making the social scene can become a chore.

I can’t see why there is nothing at all to do/ There’s nothing at all that’s new…

The conjoined vocals flow as one, maintaining a cool detachment even as the song’s scenario fractures into a series of relatable and embarrassing fragments — pretending you’re having a good time in a nearly empty bar, noticing that the featured band is drawing just a cluster of significant others and indulging in nervous nothing-else-to-do drinking.   

 Let’s take a cigarette break/ Pretend we really know what we are doing here/ We spent our ‘be seen’ money on well whiskey and beer…

Beer and booze provide no getaway here. With a thundering, lumbering and rocking crescendo, our heroines realize that the only sane plan is to cut and run.

It’s not worth the wait, let’s plan our escape/ This shit’s dumb/ I want to go home/ In my room alone…

alternative rock band Faye performing at a local venue in Charlotte, NC
Faye (Photo by Shane Sanders)

The Wilt     

“Bristol Sign”

Singer-songwriter Sage Greer hits a high water mark with “Bristol Sign” off alt-country band The Wilt’s 2019 LP Old Fire. Tracked live, the instrumentation on the song is stripped down to Greer’s gentle yearning vocals and his cantering acoustic guitar.

I’ve got buddies and they’ve got my back/ From both of the sides of these railroad tracks/ Never say nothing we can’t take back…

Greer’s longing remembrance of friends and simpler times touches the heart because his song is shorn of the forced and generalized sentimentality that mars much commercial country. Instead, Greer’s lyrics draw from sharply observed details, and his impressionist specificity brings emotional gravitas to the tune.

We go out on Friday nights/ Jack and Coke, Marlboro Lights, screamin’ our names at the Bristol Sign again/ We don’t mind if you wanna crash here, bring a decent record and a case of beer…

Guys bonding over brews is an oversaturated beer commercial cliché, but here it rings unforced and true. It’s clear that Greer loves the people he’s singing about, so much so that “Bristol Sign” evokes a sweet and yearning sadness. The emotions and friendships he honors are unabashedly human, and therefore fragile.  

a portrait of singer-songwriter Sage Greer from Charlotte, NC
The Wilt (Photo by Paul Rivera)

Honorable Mentions:

David Taylor & The Tallboys     

“Get Me Drunk”

Like chasing grain alcohol with an energy drink, “Get Me Drunk” takes country music ingredients like whiplash pedal steel and cantering guitar and amps them to 11. Likewise, David Taylor’s lamenting vocal carries a real rock ‘n’ roll edge. 

My eyeballs keep on swimming/ This room keeps spinning/ I’m going down…

The song’s forlorn protagonist really seems desperate to get hammered. My money says he’s passed on beer and has gone straight to lighter fluid and diesel fuel. 


Sinners & Saints     

“Up Like The Sun, Down Like The Rain”

Acoustic duo Sinners & Saints, comprised of upright bassist Mark Baran and vocalist/guitarist Perry Fowler, deal in delicate melancholia here, bolstered by subliminal shuddering harmonica that wails like a far off locomotive. Unlike many roots music drinking songs, the lamenting tune doesn’t wallow in misplaced self pity. Fowler’s dry eyed vocal acknowledges that the fault is all his: “Here I sit again and my only friend is the bottle/And places I’ve gone, and faces I’ve wronged are all I can see…

Given the tune’s level headed approach and quietly effective vocal, we say he’s sipping beer and not knocking back the harder stuff. 

acoustic band with a mix of folk from Charlotte, NC
Sinners & Saints (Photo by Daniel Coston)

The Loose Lugnuts     

“Fingerprints on the Bottle”

The Wilson Brothers’ drinking songs may not mention beer, per se, but their saloon proudly serves proletarian canned beer. “Canned beer was like [when a] guy was mowing the lawn; he had a can of beer,” Brian tells Queen City Nerve. “It wasn’t a glass or draft. That was a little fancier.” 

We love the use of an oblique yet telling detail in “Fingerprints” providing a backstory about a marriage failing due to drink with a few words: “Fingerprints on the bottle/ Dust on my wedding band… 


Bottle of Smoke     

“Last Call”

a portrait of a local Charlotte band
Bottle of Smoke (Photo by Jenna Thompson)

A hell-raising Charlotte Celtic band that takes its name from a song by legendary Irish folk-punk rockers the Pogues, Bottle of Smoke boasts Simon Strivelli’s evocative and woozy lyrics on “Last Call.”

I then got the feeling/ Where the floor was the ceiling/ My words beginning to slur/ So I ordered more wine/ Which made sense at the time/ And my vision was starting to blur…

Yes, Strivelli mentions wine instead of beer, but you’re gonna tell me an Irish band doesn’t drink beer?


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