Charleston ’s music scene is best described as hit-and-miss. There’s no distinct “Charleston sound” to speak of (especially now that the heyday of Hootie and the Blowfish is long past) and there’s no one place where you’re assured of finding a great band any night of the week.
The scene is currently in even more of a state of flux because the city’s best-regarded live rock club, Cumberland’s on King Street, closed in late 2007 after 15 years in business. The best place to find up-to-date music listings is the local free weekly Charleston City Paper (www.charlestoncitypaper.com ).
These days the hippest music spot in town is out on James Island at The Pour House (1977 Maybank Hwy., 843/571-4343, www.charlestonpourhouse.com , 9 p.m.–2 a.m. on nights with music scheduled, call for info), where sometimes the local characters are just as entertaining as the acts onstage.
The venerable Music Farm (32 Ann St., 843/722-8904, www.musicfarm.com ) on Upper King  isn’t much to look at from the outside, but inside, the cavernous space has played host to all sorts of bands over the past 15 years, including Talking Heads, Ween, Widespread Panic, and De La Soul.
For jazz, check out Mistral (99 S. Market St., 843/722-5708, Sun.–Thurs. 11 a.m.–11 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11 a.m.–midnight). There’s a constant stream of great performers from a variety of traditions, including Dixieland, every night of the week—not to mention some awesome food.
Another great jazz place—and, like Mistral, a very good restaurant to boot—is Mercato (102 N. Market St., 843/722-6393, www.mercatocharleston.com , bar 4 p.m.–2 a.m., late night menu until 1 a.m.). Italian in menu and feel, the live jazz and R&B Wed.–Sat. at this establishment—owned by the same company that owns the five-star Peninsula Grill—is definitely all-American. The late kitchen hours are a great bonus.