Gig Seeker Pro


Charleston, South Carolina, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Charleston, South Carolina, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Americana Folk


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Demon in the Holy City"

Black Jesus keeps watch over the Crosstown, standing atop a rainbow with a ladder in hand. Muscular and wearing a cape, he is accompanied by a dove carrying an olive branch along with some block-letter text: "JESUS IS THE ONLY FIRE ESCAPE."

Justin Osborne, chief songwriter and bandleader of alt-country act SUSTO, lives just a few blocks from the iconic Holy City mural, in a crumbling Line Street house that's frequented by several up-and-coming Charleston indie artists: Elim Bolt, Brave Baby, Jordan Igoe, Johnny Delaware, et al. Osborne is not a religious man, but he says Black Jesus ought to be a candidate for preservation.

"It's great folk art. It should be a historical place," Osborne says.

SUSTO released a self-titled debut album April 1 on Bandcamp. The sound is Southern Gothic country through and through, from the haunting piano plinks of "Vampiro 66" to the whiskey-besotten breath of '70s outlaw country on "Friends, Lovers, Ex-Lovers ... Whatever." Osborne's voice shifts frequently: despairing and quiet on one song, rowdy and cigarette-raw on the next.

"There's a demon in me in a Holy City/ I got a demon in me, and now he's running 'round/ I saw a river of blood coming right from the mouth to suck the life right outta me," he sings on "Motorcycle Club," a full-band track that rocks harder than most on the album. SUSTO is largely Osborne's creative project, but he is often accompanied by Delaware (piano, guitar, vocals), Jordan Hicks of Brave Baby (guitar), and Eric Mixon (bass) and Taylor McCleskey (drums) of the Tarlatans.

Black Jesus makes an appearance on the record in a gently irreverent song of the same name. The inspiration, he says, came from his first encounter with Charleston as a Citadel cadet straight out of high school. After surviving the school's famously grueling Hell Week for incoming freshmen, the school packed him and his classmates onto a bus and sent them to the Citadel's Isle of Palms beach house for a brief respite.

"One of the first things I saw after I left the Citadel on that bus was that painting of Black Jesus," Osborne says. "It really represents the area and the way I feel here in some ways, but also it seems like if Jesus was a real thing that you could pray to and everything, he'd be Black Jesus. That'd be my Jesus for sure. There's a way out, you know?"

If, as Flannery O'Connor observed, the South is more Christ-haunted than Christ-centered, Osborne is telling a few of its ghost stories. On the opening track "Black River Gospel," he lifts a few lines from old-time Baptist hymns before launching into childhood recollections:

"Well, my brothers, me, and my cousins/ Had an early theological start/ Learning them Black River gospel hymns/ And singing 'em all by heart/ We were up onstage/ Like a sacrifice to God/ That's the price you pay/ When you grow up in the South."

As a boy in the Clarendon County backwater of Puddin' Swamp, Osborne played gospel bluegrass in church and attended a Christian school. When his family moved to more cosmopolitan Florence, he discovered an outlet for rebellion in a surprisingly active punk scene before he and a few friends formed an indie-folk pop band called Sequoyah Prep School. That band, later known simply as Sequoyah, took Osborne on tour around the country and launched his musical career in earnest. Members of that band have spread like scattershot in the Charleston music scene, forming bands like Brave Baby and Elim Bolt. Former bandmate Wolfgang Zimmerman also lent his production skills to SUSTO.

When Sequoyah called it quits in early 2013, Osborne figured that was the end of the road, musically speaking. By then he was 26 years old and enrolled in the anthropology program at the College of Charleston, with a double minor in American studies and Latin American and Caribbean studies. So he packed things up and headed to Havana, Cuba, for a semester abroad. And why not?

"I figured it would be a good time to clear my head, because I figured I would be getting out of music and maybe shifting into academia," Osborne says.

But in Cuba, the music wouldn't leave him alone. In between political science classes, he connected with local musicians and journalists and ended up recording an album of songs co-written with Cuban musician Camilo Miranda, Vampires in Havana. He and Miranda later encapsulated his wild Havana nights in the song "Vampiro 66," one of the strongest and most haunting tracks on the SUSTO album.

"We were staying up all night writing, recording, partying like they do in Cuba," Osborne recalls. "Partying all night, playing dominoes, smoking, and just getting drunk. And it was like there were a lot of girls and stuff, and it was kind of about that experience."

Somewhere in the midst of all that, Osborne says he also met and proposed to a journalist, returning a month after his study abroad session had ended to marry her.

"We had this Cuban wedding. I kid you not, I'm the only gringo and there's like 50 people at this table, and I'm just thinking to myself, 'How the fuck did I get here? What am I doing here?'" Osborne says. "I think I just had been lonely for a little while and met somebody that liked me." The marriage lasted about three months, and while he says he and his ex-wife are just friends now, she was the inspiration for "La Mia," the only straightforward love song on SUSTO.

Sooner or later, whether in Puddin' Swamp or a Line Street Charleston single, the devil's music would have found Justin Osborne. "Rock 'n' roll is everywhere," Osborne says. "This is America." Just when he thought he'd left it behind, the music is taking him out on the road again, on a solo North American tour beginning in June that will range as far as California and Vancouver.

And although he hasn't seen the inside of a church in years — a point of contention with his parents, he says — religious language still creeps its way into the lyrics. "I went to church every Sunday, so that language just comes naturally to me sometimes," he says.

SUSTO will play an album release show Fri. April 18 at 9 p.m. at the Royal American with Jordan Igoe and Tyler Bertges. Tickets are $5. - Charleston City Paper

"Band of Horses Return To The National in Just as Memorable Fashion"

Band of Horses visited The National in Richmond with opening band Susto this past Thursday, June 19th. Even though they had been at the national less than two years ago following their newest album, Mirage Rock, Band of Horses seemed excited to be back in RVA.

Opening band Susto, from Charleston, SC, started off the show with a “dark country” or “Americana” splash, as they claim to be on their website. With more of a country twang than the folksy Band of Horses, they were similar in that they were a five person group. Since I was so close to the front, it was easy to see the interaction between the audience and the band blooming from the beginning.

Susto sound followed typical country music troupes, complete with steel guitar and lyrics such as “…I saw it in your eyes and now I feel it in my bones. Have you ever felt this way?” from their song “Dream Girl”. However, they also danced a fine line away from traditional country topics - their take on religion with the song “Black Jesus” spoke directly about lead singer Justin Osborne’s atheism. In juxtaposition, the song begins with an archetypal church chorus of “Woaahhhh black jesus” (no, not like black Betty).

In the middle of Susto’s set, Ben Bridwell, Band of Horses’ lead singer, ran out carrying a tambourine to assist the band in one of their songs. Over an excited crowd, Osborne eagerly told everybody that Bridwell is one of the nicest guys he’s ever met. Bridwell sang backup vocals as well, which means he took the time to sit and get to know the band well enough to want to learn the lyrics to play with them. His brief appearance was enough to revamp the audience’s excitement to last through the break between the two bands, with chants of “Horses” by members of the audience.

Band of Horses came out starting with a calm and slower song which went along with the general peaceful ambiance that the crowd conveyed, as most Band of Horses concerts seem to be (this being my third show, it’s all I’ve experienced). This didn’t take away from the love the dire fans showed the band, however. The band, Bridwell in particular, was very willing to participate in the audience’s shenanigans, including one member beating on the fence dividing fans from the stage to keep time during a longer rest in the group’s song “Great Salt Lake”.

Bridwell would wait for the fan to hit it before commencing and even asked once for him to do it again so he could get into the groove better. The other band members had a huge presence as well. Specifically, Tyler Ramsey, one of the band’s guitarists, quietly loomed over the crowd with all his guitar-god-esque glory. As filler between songs, Ramsey even got to show off some of his amazingly talented solo work.

Ryan Monroe showed talent as well as versatility when switching from his main instrument of organ/piano to play rhythm guitar starting with “Weed Party” and playing for a few more songs before switching back. The three of them also displayed some of their acoustic set which they released a live album for on February 11th of this year, Acoustic At The Ryman.

Band of Horses walked off waving, leaving their fans satisfied and relaxed. It seems they love Richmond, as they’ve said at both shows at the National, I hope they will most definitely be back in the future. If you’re a fan of unwinding at a concert to the sounds of simple folk music, the next Band of Horses concert is where you’ll need to be.

Words and photos by Rachel Laux - RVA Magazine

"Charleston, SC Cosmic Country Band SUSTO Defies Gravity with Acclaimed Self-titled Album Release"

Independent music is constantly reinventing itself, fusing together elements of earlier styles, while incorporating futuristic components and evolving into an autonomous phenomenon often eclipsing mainstream influences. Emerging from the charm and historical nuances of Charleston, South Carolina is a band summoning music fans into a dark and gritty experience that won't soon be forgotten. The band known as SUSTO who describes their music as “Cosmic Country” is revitalizing the American spirit with the debut release of their self-titled album 'SUSTO'. Through striking characterization, graphic imagery, and spellbinding sounds, the album drives listeners through a labyrinth filled with authentic moments of darkness and subtle glimpses of radiance. “SUSTO” is destined to be a defining moment in music history as it experiments with a myriad of sounds while tending to the roots of American culture.

SUSTO lays the groundwork for an extraordinary listening experience with their opening track “Black River Gospel”. Giving some insight into influential origins of the band's sound, they illustrate a spirited story through the lens of an authentic character using poetic lyrics and a blues stylistics. Nostalgic guitars riffs will take listeners back to the earthy sounds of early American rock.

The band does an excellent job of capturing the rebellious spirit of the American South along with the passionate musings and exploits of hot-blooded adolescents in a picturesque display of righteous rhythms and intoxicating lyrics. The tracks “Acid Boys” and “Motorcycle Club” are brutally honest symphonies to the grimey streets while “County Line” exudes the untamed spirit and unchained energy of forbidden love and reckless souls. Chances are you'll find dangerously, lusty tracks such as “Smoke Outside” and “Vampiro 66” to be both alluring and chilling at the same time. The hybrid of lazy blues rhythms fused with dirty guitars, and melodic chords creates an irresistible sound comparable to that of a new age Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

SUSTO delivers a mesmerizing listening adventure by merging the sounds of gothic style country, roots rock, and alternative blues into a fluid expression of life, love, and rebel hearts. A combination of slow melodic tracks and upbeat soul-churning songs accentuate the album with effervescent style and flair. Indeed an album of the contemporary generation, catering to eclectic music lovers, SUSTO is likely to be a staple for cross-country road trips and late night bar rendezvous. A strong debut for the South Carolina band, the album is certain to garner a tremendous fan following. Check out the video release of SUSTO's popular single “Friends Lovers, Ex Lovers, Whatever”, now playing on Vimeo...

With all eyes focused on the South, the band SUSTO, comprised of former lead singer-songwriter of Sequoyah Prep School Justin Osborne and rock musician Johnny Delaware is claiming their place in music history. Joined together by producer Wolfgang Zimmerman, the duo brings to the stage a lengthy relationship with music. Osborne, who got his start with his late grandfather's 3-string guitar at the age of 12 later spent 10 years touring and performing with Sequoyah Prep School while Johnny Delaware launched his career in South Dakota and later expanded into the Nashville music scene. The two bandmates recruited additional members Jordan Igoe on keys, Corey Campbell on lead guitar, Gordon Keiter on drums, and Matt Lohan on bass to polish off their undertaking. The self-titled album “SUSTO” is the band's debut and it has already received critical acclaim across the indie circuit. Shop for the latest album release from SUSTO now available on Bandcamp. Listen to the entire album, spinning now on Spotify. - Glitter & Stilettos


Still working on that hot first release.


Feeling a bit camera shy


SUSTO (Charleston, SC) is the latest project from former Sequoyah Prep School (SPS) frontman Justin Osborne. After a decade of touring and recording together, SPS went their separate ways in Feburary of 2013. With no outlet for his writing, Osborne left for Havana, Cuba in search of inspiration. After several months of playing and recording with Cuban musicians, Osborne returned to Charleston, SC where he teamed up with friend and songwriter Johnny Delaware to refine the songs written in Cuba. With help from friend and producer Wolfgang Zimmerman (Brave Baby), Osborne and Delaware were able to record what songs Osborne had from Cuba as well as several new songs written in Charleston.

As the project began to gain speed in the studio, Osborne and Delaware recruited Taylor McCleskey (drums) and Eric Mixon (bass) to complete SUSTO's lineup. In early 2014, after months of work, SUSTO's time in the studio had resulted in a dark yet light hearted blend of Americana songs that tell the story of Osborne's life over the last few years.SUSTO's debut self titled album was released digitally April 1, 2014. The band will be touring in June and July of 2014 with an extensive North American schedule.

Band Members