Nashville, Tenn. blues guitarist Rickey Godfrey is coming to the Grand Strand for five local performances. On Sunday, Oct. 4, Godfrey will participate in the Myrtle Beach House of Blues Art Show & Blues Battle, and is slated to take the stage at 3:30 p.m. Godfrey has four dates scheduled at Key West Crazy in Little River, S.C. He will play Monday, Oct. 5 from 7 to 10 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 9 and Saturday, Oct. 10 from 7 to 10:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Oct. 11 from 6 to 9 p.m.
Godfrey, who has been blind since birth, is considered to be one of Nashville’s premier blues guitarists. He began studying at the age of seven, while attending the South Carolina School for the Blind. He studied classical piano and voice, and later added guitar to his list of musical accomplishments. The versatile guitarist is also known for his gritty soulful vocals.
Godfrey says, “I like many different kinds of music, which has helped me to develop more of an original style. I don’t just listen to blues. I listen to jazz, country, R&B, rock gypsy music, classical, which gives my playing a lot of influences. So, when I play blues I don’t sound like Albert King or Elmore James. I don’t sound like Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughn, either; I sound like Rickey Godfrey. Although I love those guys I just mentioned, the blues I play, I infuse with guitar licks from old jazz guitarists like Charlie Christian, but, especially, Django Rhinehart, who was a big influence on my playing. It makes me sound different from a lot of guitar players who, I think, play too many stock, predictable blues and rock licks.”
Born in Greenville, S.C. he moved to Nashville in 1993. Since then he has worked with artists such as Rufus Thomas, Sam Moore, Billy Preston and Junior Walker. He has been nominated by the Music City Blues Society for both Guitarist and Keyboard Player of the Year.
For more information about the artist, visit his MySpace page at www.myspace.com/therickeygodfreyband .
Let me tell you about South By Southeast, and why I think it’s so critical to the Carolinas, especially to its native Myrtle Beach.
The group was formed in 2003 by a bunch of music lovers who believed there was more to music than the Top 40. According to their mission statement, their goal is “to preserve and promote American music not usually heard in traditional venues.” Their mission is also “to provide assistance and support to local music education programs, with our goal being to offset some costs associated with the musical education of young people in our area. In this time of budget cuts and strangulation of funding for the arts, our goal is to help young people in their pursuit of the joys of music.”
Fastback to 2002. Bob O’Connor, local guitarist with the Mullets, a popular jam band in Myrtle Beach, had put together a house concert featuring acoustic guitar wizard Jack Lawrence, known for his flat pickin’ with Doc Watson. A group of 30 or 40 split the musician’s fee, brought along their own eats and were treated to a intimate concert – the kind of show music aficionados lust for. Among those attending were Jeff Roberts, Seth Funderburk and Sam Hannaford – the core founders of South By Southeast.
Jeff Roberts was the owner of the now defunct record store, Sounds Familiar. He later opened Sounds Better, still one of the only independent record stores left in the area. Funderburk at one time was Roberts’ store manager. Today he co-owns Sea Note Recording and manages local rockers Ten Toes Up. Hannaford was a businessman and an avid music fan. Nowadays he also plays percussion with the Chainsaws.
Within a year, this core group along with Mike Millsaps (Sweet Nell guitarist) put together their own show for about a dozen friends at the Aloha Hotel on N. Ocean Boulevard, which was owned by the Millsaps family. Jeff Roberts’ face lights up when he talks about it. “We had Lauren Ellis and Jill Block in that first concert … and they blew us away.”
Lauren Ellis’ husky voice and guitar playing could give Bonnie Raitt a run for her money. Jill Block is a singer/songwriter. Both are top talents, yet neither are household names, and that’s a running theme for SxSE, one I’ve come to love.
The fledgling group would present additional concerts, complete with pot luck dinners, at the Royal Oak, now Spencer’z Pub, in Murrells Inlet and the New South Brewing Company in Myrtle Beach.
Today the tradition of top quality music in an intimate venue continues with almost all shows, which are called Music Feasts, at the landmark Myrtle Beach Train Depot.
“I love the intimate feel of the Train Depot,” says Roberts. “It feels right. Once the food, the free beer and wine are set up, it’s warm and friendly, and the acoustics are really sweet. Seth has the sound down.”
The historic Train Depot, which was almost demolished several years ago, is now owned by the city of Myrtle Beach and has been home to most South By Southeast shows since 2004.
Performers have included singer/ songwriter Randall Bramblett and his band. They have to turn away folks whenever he comes to town. Another popular show was Carolina Chocolate Drops, the highly acclaimed African-American string band playing the rich tradition of Carolina piedmont music.
Rocker turned gospel artist Mike Farris gave a breathtaking show at the Depot. I know, I was there for it. Cat Mary is an experimental acoustic group, one most music fans wouldn’t get to hear, were it not for an organization like South By Southwest.
Add to this, just to name a few, stellar performances by Diesel, Nashville’s David Olney and the rockin’ jammin’ Jumper Cables aka Johnny Mac, Paul Tucker and Steve Kent
I wanted to know if any particular concerts stood out in Jeff’s mind, but I don’t recommend asking him that if you don’t have an hour or two.
“Well, Mike Farris … that was a magic night,” Jeff tells me, “… and Verlon Thompson had to be the most reactionary show I can think of … Chris Knight … Scott MIller … Hayes Carll, oh that was a great night.” [Hayes Carll’s recent video is “When I Find Jesus I’m Going To Kick His Ass,” due to the fact this his girlfriend did indeed find Jesus.]
I wanted to know how South By Southeast became so aligned with Americana music.
“I’ve always liked different kinds of music. The Americana thing happened in 1998 or 1999 because that’s when people started identifying themselves like that,” came the answer.
Jeff Roberts, who serves as the director for South By Southeast, has been involved in music his whole life. “I was born in Asheboro, N.C.” he says, “And moved to Myrtle Beach when I was three. In fact, we lived in a big white house in Hidden Village where the store is today.
“I was running to the dime store to buy 45s by the time I was nine. Music was my only window to any kind of culture outside a small town. I would stand looking at the promo pictures and record labels in the front window of the store.
“My dad was selling non-prescription drugs on a route around eastern South Carolina, and I would work with him after school. I’d take my little paycheck/allowance to Mac’s Dime Store and the Record Shak on Ninth Avenue.
“Eventually the Record Shak, owned by Junior Blanton, hired me because the guy who worked there was getting married and they needed someone to fill in.
“I worked at the Music Box on Broadway, too, until 1975. Then the Record Bar chain came along while I was at Coastal Carolina. I took a management position with them out of college.
“For me, putting South By South together … it’s the realization of a dream. I can remember standing in Sounds Familiar with Seth …. when Robbie Fulks was the Mack Daddy King of Americana and I remember saying, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we could get Robbie Fulks to play for us? Well, he did … Christmas two years ago.”
The other prong of the SxSE mission is music education and outreach programs in the schools. The group holds instrument drives to help out local schools. They find the money to send young musicians to music events or band camp.And they donate their time.
Some of these generous musicians include Bob O’Conner, Steve Marino, Paul Grimshaw, Butch Barnes and Phyllis Tanner-Frye.
“Most of these musicians have kids,” says Roberts. “They know how important it is to bring music into the schools and to teach them about the hard work that comes along with it.
“It seems like the sweat equity of the bands is what’s so rewarding. I can tell you a story that really says it. Marty Richardson from Crocodile Rocks went down to Tara Hall near Georgetown. [a home for troubled boys]. He spent a lot of time talking to these kids. When he came back up to town, I wanted to give him some money for his gasoline expenses. ‘No,’ says Marty, ‘I’ve already been paid,’ and he takes out a picture one of the boys had made for him. It was a picture of Marty and across the top it read, ‘I want to be like you.’”
Does it get any better than that?
If you’d like more information about this organization, visit http://www.sxsemusic.com or contact organization director Jeff Roberts at 843-497-3643. You might also want to attend the House of Blues Art Show & Blues Battle on Oct. 3 – 4, which willl be donating 100% of sales from a special signed and numbered limited edition Kim Dawn Clayton guitar print to South By Southeast. The Rock 102 Radio Reunion concert featuring Nantucket on Sept. 25 will also benefit South By Southeast.
Memberships for this recognized S.C. charitable organization (501c(3) status is underway) are $25 a year. It’s money well spent.
House of Blues boasts one of the finest collection of antique and contemporary folk art in the world.Every year the local Myrtle Beach club celebrates its own local outsider artists with a special two-day show in the courtyard.
This year they’re going one better: the House of Blues Art Show and Battle of the Blues. And thanks to the efforts of organizers Kim Dawn Clayton and Jeff Hulse, local nonprofit South By Southeast stands to benefit, too.
Over 40 folk artists and fine art folk plus 30-something blues performers and bands will be filling the courtyard, Sugar Shack, restaurant and three stages for a two-day rockin’ extravaganza of art and music.
Mark your calendars for Oct. 3 and 4, starting at 10 a.m. each day and going strong until 10 p.m.
Folk artist Kim Dawn Clayton said, “For me the art and music have always gone hand in hand, so the idea of having them in the same show feels so right.”
Kim Dawn has been a stalwart in the HOB art gallery and annual show for years. “Wait until you see the artists we have this year,” she says.
“Keith Borshack is a musician and an artist. I discovered him during my hunt for supporters for the HOB show. I was waiting to talk to the manager of Star Music. I looked up and saw Keith’s Crossroads Guitar and was determined to have him in the show. He paints these incredible guitars and sells them at Star Music.
“Chris Beck is this amazing metal artist from Dalton, Ga. He creates sculptures of clothing. He’s been working on this piece of ladies underwear hanging … well, you’ll have to ask his wife about coming home with her bosses and clients to find her underwear hanging on clotheslines all over the yard … By the way, Chris was my gallery partner for Folk Festa, which is one of the largest folk art shows in the southeast. He’s been creating a huge following … after only showing for the last few years.
“Jeff Norris is an acrylic artist who paints on recycled mediums. Jeff find humanity in the faces he paints and beauty in the imperfections. He is so talented!
“You know, he also works as a graphics designer for the Sellers Group right here in Myrtle Beach. Jeff will be creating a graphic for the winner of the blues battle. They’ll be able to use it for a CD cover or whatever they want.”
“Blair Browning is another Myrtle Beach artist. She’s amazing. You’ve seen her mosaics, I know … and she gives so much back to the arts here in our area. Blair is also a very important member of the local Round Table art group.
“Fleetwood Covington is the featured artist. He paints wonderful portraits of blues legends and musicians on tin. You can just feel the soul of the artist. That’s why he was chosen.
“He used to work on the docks. Finally, at 50, he started doing his artwork full time. He was the biggest seller at Folk Fest.
“If you’ve seen any of the posters or graphics for the HOB Art Show & Battle of the Blues, then you’ve seen Michael Tidwell’s work. And he’s a musician as well. See how it’s all together?”
At press time, musician slots are still being filled, but muscian – and music lover – Jeff Hulse took time to talk to me about some definite players.
“Burn 1 Down … This is Lynwood Salvo, Kid Drew and Russ Whitman. They’re a very aggressive, sort of shredding blues band. Drew just won the most recent stage of the Charleston Guitar Center Blues Guitar Contest. He will be attending the regional finals in Florida sometime in the near future for a chance to compete for a national title.
“Guitarist and vocalist Rickey Godfrey from Nashville will be there doing a solo act. He’ll be amped, so you know he’ll bring the house down Rickey will be on the main stage.”
Blind since birth, Rickey Godfrey is known for his exuberant performances and smoking guitar licks. He has been nominated by Music City Blues Society as both guitarist and keyboard player of the year. He’s played Europe with Sam Moore of Sam & Dave and worked with such artists as Rufus Thomas, Billy Preston and Junior Walker.
In a telephone interview, Rickey said, “I’m thrilled to be playing. It’s personally important to me for people to be aware of South By Southeast and the work they’re doing. Their goal is to present good music to folks on the coast, music than an audience might never hear. I know, as a musician, I’ve always wanted to be able to play places where the people are seriously interested in the songs I’m performing and my musicianship as a vocalist or guitarist. That’s what South By Southeast offers.”
Jeff expects Rickey to go on about 4 p.m. on Sunday. He’ll be one to watch.
Also on the roster, according to Hulse, is My Buddy Todd, aka Todd Roth. This New York native relocated to the beach in 1996. He likes his blues hot and smoky. Todd is known for playing both acoustic and electric.
“Probably one of the most passionate individuals in the community as far as giving back to the arts,” Hulse goes on, “is Dr. Joe Mayer. I have watched him for years, donating his talents and time to some many festivals and charities. I feel personally that celebrating this humble talented man will be an honor at this event. He will be doing a solo act in the courtyard playing his ukulele.”
The winning musician or band will earn a booking at the House of Blues as well as the graphic created by Jeff Norris. On Sunday night, somewhere around 7 p.m., the top two or three, as determined by the judges will have a final “battle” and a winner will be chosen.
Plans for a DVD of the weekend’s events (the sales of which were to benefit South By Southeast) were thwarted by some legal obstacles and had not been resolved by press time. In fact, Kim Dawn Clayton was already moving to replace the funds.
“It’s important to me to involve South By Southeast in this,” she explained. “They do so much in this area to keep music in the schools and to bring great music to the whole area.
“So, I’m making 500 11- by 14-inch prints of my guitar painting and donating 100% of this special signed and number limited edition to South By Southeast. Jones Printing Company in Chattanooga, Tenn., my home town, has also donated the printing.
It’s fitting that bluesman B.B. King is playing the House of Blues on Saturday night. He’s provided inspiration for many of the artists who will be there.
If You Want To Go
What: House of Blues Art Show & Battle of the Blues
When: 9 a.m. – 10 p.m. Oct. 3 -4 (Reception Oct. 3, 7 p.m.)
Where: House of Blues in Barefoot Landing, 4640 Hwy 17 S., North Myrtle Beach, S.C.