Earlier this summer in search of an acoustic act, local musician, Charlie Thompson
mentioned his two sons were playing an acoustic duo. At the time, the duo was
in transition. It turned out to be a transition that would lead into a family
band now known as Overstood. Teaming up with their Dad, a veteran guitarist
and vocalist, brothers Matt and Cortie Thompson have given their band, Overstood
the latitude to bridge the gap merging Classic Rock and Blues with Alternative.
Both in their early 20’s Matt and Cortie laid out the map of their respective paths to becoming musicians. Although they grew up with a rock and roll father, the brothers took their time before picking up an instrument. Matt recalls he tried the guitar when he was 8 “for about a month”. By his mid-teens, Matt was ready to try again, but this time with the bass. “I had a brief stint with the guitar”, says Matt, “before I switched to bass and I just fell in love with it.”
After an early appearance at age 3 as a chick magnet for Dad’s band the Parrots where he played toy drums on stage at the ‘Jammer, Cortie, the oldest, made his decision to play at 13. He was talking to Charlie by the pool and stated he wanted to play guitar. He spent the rest of the day in his room learning the 3 chords Dad taught him. Laughing with a flash in his blue eyes, Cortie says he played that guitar until his fingers bled.
Cortie’s first band was formed his senior year at Wando. The big finale was a concert for the Guitar Club then Cortie hit the local circuit playing a duo with his dad called aptly, Like Father. At Clemson, he formed Orange OK and the band developed a following around Clemson. The demise of Orange OK as happens, many times, says Cortie, “It’s always a girl that breaks up the band.” Two summers ago in Charleston with Matt, who had resurfaced from the waves of Costa Rica, the brothers put together the group, Highly Refined. Though the band never got off the ground, the brothers bonded musically. They took it to another level, this past winter when they were “shipped off to Montana.” Shipped off it sounds like to become Ski Bums. Cortie quips, “There wasn’t anything to do out there but play music, drink beer and work so we wrote a bunch of music.” They lived in a dorm room Matt describes as, “Just a big stinky room of ski equipment.” He recalls coming in every day and throwing their ski stuff down in a pile. “It was so cold we couldn’t open a window so there was no ventilation” laughs Matt. Both credit the Montana experience with their increased song writing. Each has 30-40 songs individually and they have written 3 or 4 songs together. The percolator of sweaty clothes, smelly ski boots and the beauty of a Montana winter worked as the brothers developed their style. Both acknowledge the band, “Dispatch” out of Boston as their heaviest influence, but Cortie draws also on Jack Johnson. Matt, with his dreamy dark eyes, spent his post high school years surfing in Costa Rica where he found reggae influence from artists like Bob Marley. The combination works well.
Returning home the brothers formed Overstood. The name came about with the help of that magic elixir, Tequila. To Cortie and Matt, it references the need people have to be “understood”, but as a result often make themselves “overstood”. The decision to involve Charlie in the band came after rotating band members. Cortie explains they shuffled through some decent musicians but maybe not as dedicated as the Thompson brothers. “If it were up to us, we’d practice every single night.”
Charlie Thompson, Manager of Local Programming at Comcast, has a long history in the music world. In 1972 his first “name” band Free Mountain Standstill opened for acts like The Allman brothers and Marshall Tucker. In 1974, Charlie formed Twinn River band with former Killer Whales bass player, Jimmy Blakeslee. Charlie played pedal steel and they developed a draw at old haunts like The Piccadilly on Wentworth St. In ’79, back on electric guitar, Thompson started the Parrots with Leon Meyer, Cambridge Trott and drummer, Howie Ferguson. In ’81 the Parrots were named the best band in Charleston and toured the Southeast opening for the Spongetones and Ozark Mountain Daredevils among others. Sticking with Ferguson, Charlie formed Flyin’ Blind in 1995. After ten years, Flyin’ Blind played their farewell performance September 3rd at Bert’s. Now with another rockabilly band on his hands, The Guilty Bystanders, Charlie has also committed to his sons to play in Overstood.
Talking with Charlie about that turn of events, he admits “I’d do anything to help my boys.” The sons claim Dad’s a rock and roller at heart, and he’s excited at the challenge of learning new material. Says Charlie: “The guys are writing some great songs and their playing is outstanding. As Dad it used to be that I would have to show them everything... now it's all I can do just to keep up. I think their arsenal of great original songs is going to take them a long way.” Matt and Cortie realize not only do they get a talented player; they can draw on Charlie’s knowledge of thirty years in the music business.
In their first live gig at Jake’s Place in West Ashley, the trio was accompanied by Howie Ferguson on drums. The easy transition was apparent as they followed each other effortlessly through an extensive set list of covers and originals. Whether you define your music to a generation or not, listeners will find Overstood brings a hefty serving of fun. From Van Morrison to Dispatch to Phish covers, Overstood drives the beat. Original songs by Matt and Cortie such as “Chief Inspector”, “All Right”, and their personal favorite, “Earthquake in the Sky” are solid hook songs blending Alternative, Classic rock, Blues and Reggae. They return to Jake’s Place in October and will be at Sunfire Grill & Bistro for an acoustic act also.
The brothers’ goal is to open up next year for a regional act in a large venue like the Music Farm. It’s not going to take a year before Overstood finds a following. They are Surfers, Ski Bums, Lifeguards, Rock & Rollers and fine looking to boot… Overstood will quickly be a presence on the Lowcountry music scene and will be bridging the gap throughout the Southeast.
NOTE: Charlie Thompson is responsible for the bringing the show “Live from TJ and Tommy's” to the air. It is a 1 hour show featuring local musicians that airs @ 10pm Thurs, Fri, Sat & Sun. on Comcast Channel 2.
Skye Suarez is a booking agent and free-lance writer.