Mosquito Beach Sunset Jamz: Living History Through Music

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    Mosquito Beach Sunset Jamz: Living History Through Music
    Published: March 4, 2024

    Photo by @paulsprosound on IG.

    The popular Sunset Jamz return to Charleston’s historic Mosquito Beach this Tuesday, March 5th, and will continue every Tuesday night through August. Now in its second annual year, the series emerged in 2023 as a place for local artists to perform and connect with the community in a laid-back environment, while learning about and honoring Mosquito Beach.

    This season’s kickoff is paired with the launch of sunsetjamz.com, a website that not only provides schedules and information, but also allows artists to interface directly with the curators, reserve time slots for performances, & more.

    Opening night and several more of these family-friendly Tuesday night installments will feature the iconic Bill Wilson as featured emcee. Bill is a soulful Charleston treasure who has impacted the lives of many locals with his music over the past five decades or more.

    Founder Willis Tant and Chief Halo Quaponda of Mosquito Beach Sunset Jamz, Local Pulse, and the Gullah CVB were kind enough to speak with Extra Chill about their plans and vision behind the Sunset Jamz and what it means for Charleston’s community.

    “The website just launched, and we’re really excited about because it allows people to be a part of something,” Willis explains. “To sign in, say how they want to interact with the tribe and with the space, and offer their talents, their essence, you know? Because there’s so much we express through our arts and through our music. And they’re such universal languages.”

    Soul to Soul Interaction

    While the website is a great way to make the initial connection, the true beauty of Mosquito Beach reveals itself upon arrival. And the best way to learn more about Mosquito Beach is to go there during the Sunset Jamz.

    “It’s definitely kind of soul to soul interaction,” Willis explains. “You know, just being in the space. Once you get out there, you’ll see. Everybody is like, ‘Whoa,’ it just hits you. It hits in a special way. So interacting, being, I think that is a huge education.”

    Charleston has a deep and rich history, as we all know. But, much of what we always hear about Charleston’s history only scratches the surface in search of tourist dollars. Mosquito Beach is an example of how much more there is to know.

    “Kind of like what you said today,” she continues. “You actually just learned about Mosquito Beach, you’re learning about the tribe, you’re learning that there is more history than what is fed in the tourism industry around here.”

    The stage at Mosquito Beach. Photo by @localpulseapp on IG.

    Mosquito Beach & the Quaponda Tribe

    Our conversation was mainly focused on what’s happening now, because as Willis explains, “We’re all about making history together.” It is easy to think of history as static, but time continues to march on, and we are also part of it.

    That said, the story of Mosquito Beach goes back to the late 1800s, when the land was first purchased by black farmers following the Civil War. It evolved over time through many different forms, but it has always been a source of community and spiritual rejuvenation for the people.

    Untouched by Charleston’s mass commercialization during the late 2010s and early 2020s, Mosquito Beach remains a space where we can connect with the natural beauty of Charleston, enjoy good music, and perhaps learn a thing or two.

    “We’re offering an alternative that is Gullah and community based because, you know, there’s tourism, but our communities are here, right? We’re not just tourism, we’re whole communities,” Willis says. “And we want to show people an example of how community and cultural sensitivity and cultural awareness is such a huge part of how we enjoy and want to live in Charleston, and that tourists can only benefit from that as well.”

    Sunset Jamz at Mosquito Beach. Photo by @localpulseapp on IG.

    The Quaponda Tribe

    The heartbeat of Mosquito Beach is the Quaponda Tribe, a modern tribal organization consisting of descendants of Charleston’s native population. They run the Sunset Jamz and serve as a spiritual center for all other arms of the operation.

    The Quaponda Tribe represents a unique philosophy in which all decisions coming from Mosquito Beach, Local Pulse, and the Gullah CVB are driven by this spiritual, community-driven center, rather than traditional business-focused decisions.

    Chief Halo Quaponda, who we will hear from soon, is the head of the tribe.

    Honoring the Spirit of the Community

    The honoring of Bill Wilson at this year’s Sunset Jamz is special, and non-coincidental. Anybody who has experienced Bill’s music knows that it comes from a place of genuine expression and connection, which is the embodiment of everything that Bill talks about, sings about, and lives about.

    Bill Wilson is this year’s featured MC. Photo by @localpulseapp on IG.

    “He is a master chief and the master of ceremony emcee out there,” Willis continues, “and just really giving him that honor. And the blessing that we feel from his great and his presence and everyone being able to interact and celebrate music and togetherness with him.”

    Not only is this a chance for people to see Bill Wilson perform and interact with the Mosquito Beach environment, it also offers other artists a chance to be part of that experience with him, by signing up for the Sunset Jamz via the Artist Portal at sunsetjamz.com.

    “We’re just bringing all of us to a place for those, whether they like it or not, to enjoy some good jams,” Chief Halo says. “It’s beyond the thought process to even be me right now, it’s to be us. I’m just here to be us.”

    Chief Halo closed with some words about his recent interview with Bill Wilson, which illuminates everything we’ve discussed here better than I could. The duo discuss about the genuine expression of love and what it means, the importance of staying true to yourself, as well as Bill’s collaboration with Mosquito Beach.

    “As a as a chief I felt like a kid talking to him, man. Like a little kid.”

    Watch the full interview below, and we’ll see you at the Sunset Jamz!

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