Soda Citizen: Mike Busbee

July 27, 2017  •  123 Comments


Columbia SC PhotographerColumbia SC PhotographerPhoto by Columbia SC photographer Sean Rayford

Mike Busbee and I made this photo for an interview as part of a regular series with Columbia artists. We never got around to doing it. Instead, here are some words about Mike from friends and members of the South Carolina music community as shared on social media. Feel free to add your own in the comments.

R.I.P. Michael "Mike" Jay Busbee (October 9, 1989 - July 23, 2017 )


"Nobody I know of has done more to make the local heavy scene so welcoming and so vital. I can't fathom the pain you must have been going through. But I know you'll be missed. Rest in power, friend."

-Jordan Lawrence


“Mike Busbee was an amazing/invaluable/integral part of our music scene. He was a friend and client that I ALWAYS loved being around. He cared so so much for so so many people. He is absolutely irreplaceable in our lives and will be sorely missed. R.I.P. my friend.”

-Kenny McWilliams


“There's a family of folks centered around New Brookland Tavern that's currently part of one of the strongest, most supportive scenes that I've seen in my twenty-four years of covering music here in Columbia, and y'all are proving that today. Hugs all around for those hurting and greiving the loss of a friend and fellow music community member.”

-Kevin Oliver


“I feel like I just got kicked as I was slowly crawling myself upright.
A few months ago, Can't Kids played the only show we were going to play this year in Columbia. Practicing for this, we quickly came up with a new song. We played it at that show.
After we were done, Mike approached me enthusiastically about this new song. It was heavier than usual for us.
He got me so excited about it that I convinced everyone to record it. We finally matched up schedules to do it and that day was today.
It ended up perfect.
I really wish he could hear it.”

-Henry Thomas


“Knowing Mike Busbee is worth every bit of pain I am going through. I am a better person for sharing life with him, and the world is darker in his absence. Being a part of his life is an honor I will carry with me forever along with the memory of his passionate love and affection for us, for New Brookland Tavern, and for the Columbia music scene.”

-Daniel Scott McWilliams


Mike Busbee ...he was always so kind and supportive to us when we played in Columbia. He really cared so much about music without bias or judgement of genre, and he wasn't afraid to show you that. I didn't know him well, but his presence will be sorely missed in all of our future NBT shows.

Thanks for the years of encouragement man. Go rest high on that mountain.

Prayers and peace to all those who were close to him.

-Amber Grayce Joyner


What do you think the percentage would be, of people you have had interactions with in your life that have literally changed who you are or inspired you to get to the point you're at right now? Personally, I think about 1% if rounded up. Sure, probably every person you encounter gives you some kind of new experience to learn from. But how many really become part of your lives to the point where it wouldn't be the same without them? For me, Mike Busbee was one of those people. Since I started playing music and going to NBT, he has been there. Not just that, but has always gone out of his way to make it clear me and my friends were welcome. After the loss of my younger brother two years ago, Mike put it on himself to throw a benefit show for my family. I hope he knows how much that helped us, and me personally. The amount of people in this world that have that kind of supportive, driven, positive but honest, and dedicated spirit are far too few. If you have people like this that have impacted you in your life path, make sure they know it. You never know what even the people you have looked up to since you were a kid are going through. Sometimes they need you as much as you need them. You'll never know until you talk about it. I don't know how life in Columbia or at NBT especially will be from now on, I just know we're all going miss you every day Mike. RIP Busbee, I love you man.

-Grant Tyler


You came up to me at New Brookland Tavern several years ago. You saw that I was having a bad day. I could not begin to remember why. It's so insignificant now. We had only spoken in passing up to this point. You didn't know me, I didn't know you. You told me you were having some people over to your house for food and beer pong, and that I should come over if I wanted to clear my head. You even stopped at the store and bought a six pack of Killian's because you knew it was my favorite beer. You shared your Jameson with me while we sat on the front porch and talked bands, motorcycles, and just shot the shit in general. You didn't have to do any of that. You were just being a genuine friend. I wish I could have done the same for you, Brother. I wish I would have been able to sit and shoot the shit with you when you were having a bad day. I wish I would have known instead of waking up from a nap to find out it was too late. I'm really sorry, Brother. I'm going to miss you. HAIL MIKE BUSBEE!

-Gareth Jarvis


“I first met you when I started working the door at NBT sometime around 2010. You and Topher would walk through the door for some metalcore show and I'd think "Oh great, here comes trouble."

What I quickly came to learn is that trouble only seemed to follow you around because you were always in the middle of any issue, trying to resolve it. You were the one picking people up in the pit. Grabbing waters for kids that had passed out or ice for anyone unlucky enough to get kicked or punched at an especially brutal show. Diffusing potentially violent situations.

You showed so much love and respect for NBT and its staff long before becoming such an indespensible member of that team. That family. OUR FAMILY.

And you always had a way of telling when I was hurting. You'd make a point of pulling me aside to make sure I was okay. And when I wasn't you'd grab a round of whiskeys and actually take the time to talk to me about it. To reassure me everything was gonna work out just fine. You lifted me out of dark places time and time again and I hate that I wasn't there to do the same for you when you needed it most.


I really regret not being with everyone on sunday. I felt so guilty for running away but I was utterly staggered waking up to such tragic news and had no idea how to begin processing any of this myself, let alone help anyone else navigate this gamut of grief.

So I went to talk to the ocean. That magical place where the sky meets the water meets the earth has always been a place of spiritual power for me. It's where I go to commune with the Cosmos. To talk to "god", if you will. It's my "church".

But while the Cosmos is a great listener, its silent indifference offers little solace.

It was then that I understood the impotence of a church without a congregation. Without y'all. So I came home to NBT. To my family. I knew you'd all be there. And I thought I was ready for it. I wanted to be strong for all of you. Within seconds of walking through the door, I saw Jenn. We hugged and I lost it. I wasn't ready. I kept expecting to see him walk through the door at any moment. I cried the entire time I was there.

Mike, I gotta say, I looked around that place and I saw these people that love you so much, hurting so much, and I was immediately fucking furious with you. I wanted to scream in your beautiful fucking face until I realized I'll never know the intense amount of pain you must've been in. I wish I had tried harder to understand what you were feeling. I felt ashamed for being so angry.

But once I pushed that rage from my mind, I looked around again at our friends and noticed that, while there still wasn't a dry eye in the house, everyone had a smile on their face. Almost everyone was locked in loving embrace. It was beautiful. We all love you so much. But now I have to focus on what you left behind:

EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU IS PRECIOUS TO ME. I know I'm usually self-centered and caught up in my own bullshit but know that I LOVE YOU ALL. Please, do not hesitate to ask if you ever need anything. I know we're all hurting, but we will get through this together and be stronger for it.

I'll see ya on the other side, Buzz. Wherever that may be. And I know you'll find all the homies that've gone before us and keep the party going till we all get there. I hope that one day, when I finally find myself trying to sneak into Heaven's back gate, you're there scowling that beautiful scowl telling me "Sorry, brother, but I gotta ask you to go 'round to the front."

Mike Busbee and I worked together at New Brookland Tavern for three or four years but I never even began to comprehend the positive impact have had on

Rest in Power Mike Busbee

-Matt Thompson


Invoking the AbstractInvoking the AbstractInvoking the Abstract at New Brookland in West Columbia, SC. Photography by South Carolina Photographer Sean Rayford









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