Southern Comfort: Our Interview with Edwin McCain, Musician and Event Organizer

Edwin McCain can not only arrange hit songs; he can arrange hit events, too.

Recently, I had the chance to chat with Edwin McCain, musician and one of the founders of Euphoria, a four-day food, wine, and music festival in Greenville, S.C. McCain will be performing at the festival, one of 100 shows he performs each year. McCain is currently on tour to support his album, “Mercy Bound”, which hit stores on Aug. 30.

Tighe Flatley: Let’s start at the beginning. What was the inspiration behind starting Euphoria?

Edwin McCain: A friend of mine in Greenville is a restaurateur, and, obviously, I’m a musician. We were both trying to find a way to benefit local charities and showcase Greenville as an up-and-coming Southern city. We got our heads together and thought, instead of doing festivals separately, let’s do one festival dedicated to food and music.

Since then, we’ve had chefs from all over the world come join us, as well as musicians such as Shawn Colvin and the Zac Brown Band. We always include local talent in the festival, as well. That’s part of our drive – to take locally-grown talent, and coach and build them up.

TF: What is the biggest challenge in hosting Euphoria?

EM: We’re fortunate to have a strong team behind us. They have the insight to see challenges coming down the road and prepare for them, before they happen.

One of the biggest hurdles we’ve run into is weather. It seems as if the more we prepare for bad weather, the less likely it is to rain. From this, we’ve learned to always take a step back and remember to prepare for any challenges ahead of time.

Musicians, including McCain, take the stage at Greenville's Euphoria event for local charities.

TF: What is the charity aspect of Euphoria?

EM: Each year, we want to provide outreach to programs around Greenville. It’s all about highlighting the best of the city and building it up!

This year, we’re raising money and awareness for the Meyer Center. It’s a school very near and dear to my heart, that helps kids with developmental challenges and gives them a place to learn and grow and beat the expectations. Dr. Meyer, who founded the school, passed away last year, and we’re proud to honor such a kind and generous man.  We’re also happy to be raising money this year for Camp Opportunity, The Governor’s School for the Arts, Project Hope, Slow Food Upstate, and United Ministries.

TF: Why is hosting the event for charity so important for you?

EM: In any event, I would say it’s important to be an example of our success and include a philanthropic arm. I’m committed to it personally. I’ve been blessed beyond what I deserve and it should be a regular component that we are working on and working toward. And not just at Euphoria, but implementing service in all we do. I feel it’s really our true purpose.

Euphoria pairs wines with music, and makes parallels between the cooking process with the song-writing process.

TF: How do you market Euphoria and your concerts?

EM: Personally, I’m not too formal about marketing my concerts. It’s all about word of mouth and talking to people, but we also have a strong team of board members and volunteers who work hard to get the word out about Euphoria. I’m from Greenville and everybody here I went to high school with and I’m basically just like everybody else. We just want people to come and see us play.

Most of the other places I play, we rely on the venues loyal following to market our concerts. I’ve been blessed to have the song “I’ll Be” never burn out on radio. A lot of fans will come out to hear that one song, and then I have an hour to convince them [of our talent] with all this other music.

TF: What are you most looking forward to at Euphoria?

EM: We’ve added a Sunday night dinner and we brought back for a second year a songwriters-in-the-round (Songwriter’s Recipe) on Thursday night. Also, on Saturday, we team up musicians and chefs together on demos in order to provide an intimate view into the creation process, both music and food.

Other than that, I’m just excited to perform. I’m so grateful to the people coming out to our shows. I’m so lucky that I get to do what I love, and in my hometown.

Did you know that McCain’s “I’ll Be” is one of the most popular wedding songs of the decade? We’re full of facts like this. Impress your friends and join our communities on Facebook and Twitter.

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