When I met local rock star Eddie Bush at Coleman Public House for lunch, I was famished and ready to order an appetizer, stat. But pretty soon, our conversation was so interesting, I forgot all about my screaming stomach. There was simply too much to discuss – from Bush’s popular album, “Holiday Harmonies,” which was released in 2011 and found a home in the festive hearts of Lowcountry residents, to his newest full-length album for this year, aptly titled “Eat, Drink, Sing.” Not to mention everything he’s done in between. This dude stays busy – but it’s all a labor of love.
Bush, who’s a native of the area and hangs out in Mount Pleasant regularly – his guitar studio and school, Music Unlimited, is off Coleman Boulevard – has been playing music since he was just a kid. In fact, he released his first album in 1988, “Dreaming For the Swan.” Later, in 1992, his full-length compact disk, “Piece of Confusion,” was one of the first released in the Charleston area.
But it was an incident shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, that put Eddie Bush on the national map. He wrote a song that he “never had the intention of anyone else hearing,” he said, called “Spirit of America.” But like all things that are too good to be kept a secret, Bush’s song eventually hit the airwaves both in Charleston and across the country.
“I knew a friend who worked at Clear Channel and I played it for her while we were on the phone one day,” Bush remembered. “She freaked out over it and asked me to bring a copy to the station.”
At the time, Bush was actually working on a completely different album. Still, he immediately put the project aside to record an air-friendly version of “Spirit of America.” The next thing he knew, it was being played on the Howard Stern Show and garnishing national attention. The money the song made went to disaster relief.
“Because of the success of that song, I was asked by the Charleston County police to write another one, a fundraising theme song called “Thin Blue Line,” Bush said. “I performed that song in Washington, D.C.”
In 2007, Bush and two other talented musicians, Chris Roberts and Royal Reed, formed the country music trio One Flew South in Nashville. They released their first album as a band in 2008, “Last of the Cool Guys.” Between Bush’s well-received 2005 self-titled album, (featuring hit song “Hard to Stop a Train”) and the success of One Flew South, his career had gathered momentum.
“It’s a tough world out there, being a musician,” Bush mused. “You have to truly love playing music. For me, it’s as important as the air I breathe. It’s my language. My struggles and darker moments have depended on the existence of music.”
A darker moment in Bush’s personal life was the death of his younger brother, Alex Bush, who was hit by a drunk driver in 2010. At the time of the tragedy, Eddie Bush was working on another solo effort, in addition to his projects with One Flew South. “Calloused Hands,” inspired by the relationship between the Bush brothers, was released later, in 2012.
“Part of that record was written during the One Flew South period and part was written after the group broke up,” said Bush. “Some of the songs on “Calloused Hands” are for Alex and his girlfriend, who was also killed in the accident.”
Bush’s popular holiday album, “Holiday Harmonies,” came out at the end of 2011 and is also dedicated to Alex Bush.] “Eat Drink Sing,” Bush’s newest album, is of a slightly different nature than some of his previous work – “more acoustic in theme and production.”
“’Eat Drink Sing’ grew out of my partnership with Jim Dyke, a guy who lives in Charleston, and his vineyard in California, Mira Wines,” said Bush.
Ironically, the two gentlemen met because Bush was teaching Dyke’s two children guitar lessons and the family overheard a hit song from the Christmas album, “I C Christmas,” on the radio. They were astounded that Bush, their friendly guitar instructor, was the author of the tune.
“Jim loved my work and asked if we could work together,” explained Bush. “The idea was to make an album that could help Mira wines – which are now available in Mount Pleasant. It’s a disk for wine lovers.”
I asked Bush if he could pick an album from his list or an experience from his career that best represents him as a person, but, in the end, he couldn’t select just one. Each recording is a symbol of what he was experiencing in his life at that time, he said.
“At the end of the day, it’s what dwells within that matters most – not the material things. My entire career has been filled with crazy, awesome experiences. One Flew South, for example, had the opportunity to write a song for the Disney movie ‘The Fox and the Hound 2.’ I love Disney.”
Besides making chart-topping music, Bush keeps busy – and friendly with the locals of East Cooper – teaching guitar at Music Unlimited. He considers it a chance to channel his own musical passion to others.
“A lot of times, people come into the shop and aren’t sure why they are there,” he said with a chuckle. “The guitar serves as a vehicle, and I teach them to communicate with it. I feel like I can help people find fulfillment – and I feel fortunate. I do what I love and I call it my living.”
By Denise K. James