Amp the Alley, in its third year in downtown Aiken, is planning the biggest show yet this Thursday night. With a high of 71 degrees, the nip of fall will be in the air as Ray Fulcher performs from his catalog of songs he’s written for himself and others in Nashville.
In May Fulcher, a native of Harlem Ga, released the EP Somebody Like Me, which accumulated more than 13 million streams over the summer.
According to Rolling Stone, Fulcher is embarking on his own headlining run, the Down on my Window Tour, which brings him to the Alley on the 17th of October.
Surprisingly, Fulcher didn’t start playing guitar until the end of his senior year of college. The Georgia grad initially bought a guitar after attending a concert by country guitar slinger Eric Church. After graduation he moved to Nashville to pursue music full time.
More often than not, country singers like Fulcher get their start in Nashville by finding a publishing company that enjoys their style and wants to pitch their songs to other artists. When an artist goes down this road, they often find work as demo singers.
They sing the versions of the songs that publishers play for artists to convince them to record the song. This puts some money in the aspiring artists’ pocket and it gets their voice exposed to not only artists but the movers and shakers of Music Row.
Fulcher co-wrote eight of the tracks on Luke Combs 2017 Double Platinum debut This One’s for You, including the Number One “When It Rains It Pours.”
“It would be easy to say, ‘Ah, man, be a songwriter, it’s a great career.’ But that’s not the thing that was keeping me up at night before I moved to Nashville,” Fulcher told Rolling Stone.
According to downtown Aiken Mellow Mushroom owner and co-creator of Amp the Alley, Shawn Ledford, the music series runs from the Thursday before the spring SteepleChase to the last Thursday in October.
Ledford says “we had him booked before the Rolling Stone article, so it was kind of cool to see our Amp the Alley listed as one of his tour dates.” Fulcher’s tour takes him from Aiken on the 17th to New York City’s Gramercy Theater a couple of days later.
“We’re hoping for a great night. People go into the restaurants and kind of mill around, they’ve made it open container during Amp the Alley, so people can stroll from restaurant to restaurant with their drinks,” Ledford said.
The Aiken Alley Restaurant Association is responsible for putting on the Thursday night affair and, according to Ledford, is a very informal group. “It’s us [Mellow Mushroom}, Whiskey Alley, then you have the Alley Taproom and Tako Sushi. So, each of us kicks in a few hundred dollars a month to put it on. We also have sponsors who help out as well.”
“We wanted to do it on Saturday nights, but in talking to Tako Sushi owner Kevin Goldsmith, who has a place up in Greenville, we chose Thursdays,” Ledford said.
“I told him the idea and he said they do something similar up in Greenville. He said Saturday nights were fine, so their live music happens on Thursday nights. It lets you build another weekend night and so we said-Thursday nights it is,” explained Ledford.
Mellow Mushroom is offering a buffet and cash bar on their patio for the show. “We’re charging 25 bucks for a kind of VIP area but we don’t want to call it a VIP area.
“It’s maybe ‘a best place to see the show’ area,” Ledford laughed.
“For Amp the Alley, the city not only allows open cup, but also sets up a stage by our patio. For Fulcher, we’re doing a larger stage with towers for the sound. It’s going to be much bigger production than usual,” Ledford said.
If you’re going, the fun begins at 6 PM.
Amp the Alley