I recently had the opportunity to join a near-capacity crowd at the Abbeville Opera House to experience the second annual Homegrown Songwriter’s Showcase. The event featured more than 30 local and regional artists performing original songs in a variety of genres and musical stylings.

Despite a night marked by heavy rain and threatening storms, the mood was warm inside the opera house as organizers and hosts Rachel Davis and Robert Delgado introduced each respective act to the stage.

Russ Fitzgerald kicked the evening off playing a beautiful Gibson guitar while crooning two original numbers. Next we heard from “The Old Earthquake,” a duo made up of husband and wife Steven and Mary Lyle Cathcart. Their recent release, “Loud Ones,” is a nominee in the best album category for the Upstate Music Awards. If you haven’t heard it, check it out on iTunes or Spotify. It’s a solid effort.

Other artists included Diane George, Steven Holmes and Justin Hall, Fred Engler (who sang a beautiful tune about his muse), Josh Vickery, and Granger Smith accompanied by Duane Terry. Can I pause for a minute and just say that Duane Terry is a brilliant guitarist and you may not find a nicer guy? He just might be the best guitarist in Greenwood. I know, those are fightin’ words. But I will put my money on Duane any day.

Another artist who caught my ear was Arianna Cherice from North Augusta. She overcame early technical difficulty to slay the audience with two fantastic original numbers. Watch for her on the big stage in years to come.

Brad Dixon and the Concept, Brother Broom, Steve Raines, Madison Medlin, Tim Moon, The Black River Rebels, Jacob Mitchell, Nicole Quinn, Tommy Mitchum, Kimberly and Charles, Eleven Day Trip and Tim Matthews also filled the bill for the more than 250 patrons in attendance.

This is a great event that should carry on as it pushes local artists to continue to develop their songwriting craft. It’s also a reminder that the upstate of South Carolina, specifically Greenwood, has a rich history of local music. This is not something that should be taken for granted. And let’s give a shout out to the local venues who host these artists on a weekly basis.

A vibrant local music scene is a natural outflow of a healthy local economy.

It’s also quite contagious.

Seeing Bad Weather States, The Jake Bartley Band, The Mezz, Steven Galloway or any of our other local artists connect with an audience is truly inspirational. It makes a person want to pick up an instrument and try to replicate.

It’s in this spirit that I humbly throw my hat into the ring of the local music scene with a small trio called Kashmir. Our group includes two talented senior students from Lander University. Hannah Gallant handles lead vocals for the band and Jacob Mitchell plays a great lead guitar and just about every other instrument. I will be playing bass and keyboards.

We have been rehearsing for several months — mostly doing cover versions from artists such as Stevie Wonder, Fleetwood Mac, Prince, Kacey Musgraves, Frank Ocean, Esperanza Spalding, The Bee Gees and Bill Withers.

Our first public performance will be Friday from 8-11 p.m. at Howard’s on Main. We are honored to be able to stand on the same stage that so many talented musicians have stood on and we look forward to many more opportunities to come.

Paul Crutcher is the broadcast specialist and XLR Radio general manager at Lander University. He can be reached at paulcrutcher68@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter at @PaulCrutcher.