local music scene south carolina
A good song starts with a good voice, something distinctive, something that stands out as an individual instrument all it’s own. If you wrap it around well written lyrics, good story telling, now you have something folks will remember and keep coming back to. I’m a guitarist first and a singer much further down the line but even I have the wisdom to realize with the right training anyone can play guitar, (to what degree is up to the player), but a singing voice is uniquely different, simply put “you either have it or you don’t”, it’s something you can’t buy and thank God for that or music would be a lot less interesting, a lot less colorful.
Deb Varn is one of those unique voices that has come out of South Carolina. A confident song writer, composer, and accompanying guitarist she has created her own sound that is powerful, direct, gentle and tender when the song calls for it, but always dead center and out in front demanding to be heard.
Bio (from a 2003 article from the Times & Democrat):
She started out as Deb Varn, a girl from the town of Smoaks in Colleton County with a natural talent for song writing, singing and guitar playing.
Song writing began as a hobby for Varn during her college years, and a few years later she and her talented sister, Mary Varn of Bamberg, began performing together opening for Medicine Hat, a regionally popular rock band.
Around 1993 Varn moved to Columbia, where she carved out a niche for herself in local venues. While living in Bamberg County, she developed a loyal group of fans that named themselves "Deb Heads." Her mother and sisters who remain in Bamberg and in Smoaks are probably the original “Deb Heads” but that loyal following grew and soon encompassed people in all areas of the state.
Varn graduated from Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School in 1981 and from Baptist College in 1988. Her career has been in education.
With the heart of a poet and the sense of humor to temper sadness in the world, Varn has the ability to touch souls. "One of Us Is Crazy, and It Ain't Me" was written for a girlfriend who poured her heart out to Varn about a marriage that was heading south. The song "3, 5, 7 & 9" describes the length of typical relationships that Varn has witnessed over the years. Another song about getting over a lost love advises the listener to "write with pencil in your address book." Whatever your age or stage in life, when you hear Varn sing one of her songs, chances are pretty good that you will laugh, cry, and remember.
In 1995, Varn and a group of talented musicians from the Bamberg and Orangeburg area, Tim Bramlett, Wes Hanna and Eddie Hutto, formed the Deb Varn Band. In 1998, the band released a collection of originals titled "Miles & Time". They played regularly on a club circuit throughout the southeast for five years. Eventually Tim Bramlett retired and Hal Axson joined the band on Bass and in 2000 the band went back in the studio to record a second release titled “Better Off” which was recorded by Pete Kogler at Pipe Dream Productions. Finally in January 2001 the Deb Varn Band disbanded to go in different professional directions.
"That was the longest relationship I had ever had with anyone. We created some great music together. We parted ways, though, with a mutual appreciation for our respective decisions. I owe a big 'thank you' to those fellows for putting up with me those six years," said Varn.
In recent years, Varn has been working with guitarist/composer/producer Joe Taylor. "He's taught me a lot," she says of her mentor. "Among other things, Joe taught me that there is a difference between recording and making a record. Layer upon layer is added until you get this great big, seamless sound. When it's right, you can hear it and feel it, and you say, 'Wow! This is it!
Deb Varn continues to play and perform with some great musicians. For a while she worked with a group called, The Willful Strangers. At the 2002 Beaufort Water Festival, Varn and The Willful Strangers were featured with the Hallelujah Singers (of Forrest Gump fame) led by Marlena Smalls. That, she says, is one of the highlights of her music career, thus far. "I just love to play music," she said, "and it is cool to perform in good listening rooms. That is something I'd like to do more of in the future."