The 1970s. While many a sequin and disco track came from this era, the gloriously gilded decade also gifted us with the birth of punk subculture.
Flare jeans and hot pants are replaced with fishnets and brightly dyed hair. The popular synthesized beats of disco contradicted by the subversive grit of punk. With the passing of time both subculture and the mainstream pass as well, but the roots of a movement always linger as we move forward.
Believe it or not, the subculture in present day Charleston isn’t a far cry from the punk movement of the 70s. There’s definitely a pushback against popular culture that lies between the bricks of the worn streets.
From left to right: Billard, Peralta, and Byrnes
Enter: WoodChuck. Caitlin Billard, Gee Peralta, and Caralie Byrnes began the online art mag after being inspired by a history of Rock & Roll course Billard took at the College of Charleston. They wanted to create an online space that reflected the pulse of the city, similarly to their music enthusiast predecessors.
As a collective, the trio goes by Chucktown Underground and they use WoodChuck as a vehicle to spotlight local artists making waves beneath the surface of the Charleston music scene.
Billard and Peralta both major in Arts Management with a focus on the music industry and Byrnes majors in English. This combination of their different strengths and interests is reflected in WoodChuck’s structure.
One of the key features of the site is the Press Passes, which are lengthy, detailed articles that explore the artists themselves.“It’s a broader scope of who they are as a person, not just the projects they’re working on,” says Byrnes. Billard and Byrnes write all of these Press Passes and smaller articles together, and Peralta photographs the featured artists.
WoodChuck undeniably has subtle influences from niche zines of the 70s, but the online format allows them to reach a broader audience. Though their focus is shifted towards more underground artists, they’re not exclusive about who they choose to highlight. “We want to support all local art regardless of personal preference. We’re just fortunate to live in a city with a lot of talent,” Billard notes. It’s true that Charleston isn’t short on gifted young artists and this growing community not only wants to be heard but wants to support itself. This provides WoodChuck with a sort of grassroots fan base, keeping the spirit alive and keeping interest circulating. Peralta notes, “a lot of the artists really go out of their way to support us.” Even more importantly, WoodChuck aims to inspire local music lovers to invest in local artists. They even have a Spotify playlist filled with Charleston-based artists so discovering local musicians is made that much easier. Without mohawks or ripped tee shirts, the Chucktown Underground trio is using their unfiltered platform to promote and preserve the spirit of Charleston, much like their punk predecessors.