I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions. I never do. But I just heard one that I can support wholeheartedly.
More live music in 2012!
So for this piece, I’ll be focusing on my own local stomping grounds, from the port city of Wilmington in North Carolina and North Myrtle Beach on down to Pawleys Island in South Carolina. There’s a lot coming up, so check the websites for even more shows.
I can’t talk about local live music without mentioning Mid-Winter S.O.S. in the Ocean Drive section of North Myrtle Beach. It’s just begun and runs through Sunday, Jan. 15. The S.O.S. lounges (Fat Harold’s, Duck’s, Spanish Galleon, O.D. Beach Club, O.D. Café and O.D. Arcade) feature deejays for the dancers, but a few will have live music, too. They all require S.O.S. cards for entry. Cost is $35, but you get a lot of band for your buck.
Fat Harold’s will be packed with shaggers day and night. Don’t miss lunch with Lulu. She’s one of the best cooks around and you can tell anyone I said so! Thursday, Jan. 12, it’s Craig Woolard Band. This’ll be crowded, but worth an elbow to the ribs. There’s a reason he’s taken home CBMA Male Vocalist of the Year award nine times. On Friday, Jan. 13, it’s Coastline time with Jim Quick at 1 p.m. Nashville songwriter and producer Gary Nicholson says, “Jim Quick sings read deal country-soul from the heart. He’s combined all the ingredients of his influences to cook up a tasty stew that keeps you coming back for more.” Sea-Cruz takes the stage at 1 p.m. on Jan. 14. Sax, keyboards and top-notch vocals make this trio a powerhouse. Closing out Mid-Winter, the always popular bluesy Castaways will be at the Fat Man’s on Sunday, Jan. 15 starting at 4 p.m.
2001 Nightclub is really three venues in one: Club Touch, Starlight Room and Next Level, which is where the live bands play. Show time is 9:30 p.m. You can see Jim Quick & Coastline, Jan. 12; Craig Woolard Band, Jan. 13 and on Jan. 14, the Magnificents, known for their powerful vocals. Cover charge is $10, $5 with S.O.S. card.
If you haven’t been to Boom Boom’s yet, check it out. The large deck overlooks the Waterway and brand new chef, Ronnie Stevens, is getting rave reviews. Tommy Black Band (beach and blues) is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Jan. 14. On Jan. 21, Fat Jack Band brings their brand of soul funk to the beach. Rick Strickland Band, playing all-original tunes, is set for Jan. 28. With Rick’s impressive four-octave range and female vocalist Lesa Hudson, this group has built a huge following throughout the Carolinas.
Hip Pocket Band is also coming to town. Equal parts fun and talent, they’ll be at Duck’s on Jan. 21. Love these guys!
Over at the Boathouse , we switch gears a little bit. Through Feb. 23, they’re hosting Coyote Country Fridays with cohost Coyote 106.5 FM. They’ll be featuring local and regional country artists. Sure to be a blast.
Kono Lounge in Myrtle Beach is another hip, loungy kind of night club. Nathan Stallings with Bono Productions has been bringing some terrific acts in. This coming Friday, Jan. 13, get set for Michael “Pops” Stallings, one of the area’s top blues guitarists. On Feb. 3, The Sharks featuring blues mama Jaynie Trudell will be front and center. Feb. 17 will be the long-awaited reunion show for the Kerry Michaels Band, the must-see blues band on the Grand Strand during the 1990s. The show will feature original members Kerry Michaels (vocals), Michael “Pops” Stallings (lead guitar); Bryant Bowles (drums); Mike Stevens (bass) and James “Uncle Grub” Thornberg (keyboards).
Mama Rue’s in Pawleys Island , hands-down my favorite place for blues on the Strand, has a full line up for us. Friday, Jan. 13, she’s bringing in Juke Joint Johnny and Bad Drew Baldwin. If you’ve never seen Johnny on harp, you’ve never experienced blues harmonica. On Jan. 20, Pastor, Pastor is bringing their unusual blues act back to Mama Rue’s. Guitarist Jeff Liberty, whose style has been described as “fuel-injected blues that lights a fire under your seat,” performs Jan. 28. On Feb. 3, My Buddy Todd aka Todd Roth will perform his last show at Mama Rue’s before moving his life and career to Austin, Texas. Definitely one to see. Feb. 17 will be a big night, too. N.C. bluesman Matt Walsh is the featured act, another one not to miss. No cover charge and the best Jamaican food this side of Nassau! Tell Chef Eric I said hey! Then get you some jerk pork (and a Howlin’ Wolf from Marrue at the bar). You’ll be hooked on the food, the friends and the music!
Another of my favorite blues joints is the Rusty Nail , home to the Cape Fear Blues Society weekly jams. On Jan. 14, the Nail will host a Pave the Road to Memphis fundraiser for Randy McQuay and Lawyers Guns & Money, winners of the Cape Fear Blues Challenge who will represent the blues society at the IBC in Memphis later this month. Both acts will perform. YEAH!
I can’t write about live music along the Grand Strand without talking about the nonprofit South By Southeast Music Feasts at the historic Myrtle Beach Train Depot. They bring in nationally known acts that often don’t come to this area otherwise. Tickets are $20 for annual series supporters and $25 for nonmembers. The Barefoot Movement, a group of musicians blending Southern-style bluegrass improv with modern acoustic jazz and rock influences, is scheduled for Feb. 18. Randall Bramblett Band is set for March 10. They meld rock, blues, jazz and soul with razor-sharp songwriting to produce a sound unlike anyone else. It doesn’t get any better than this.
Chuck Leavell (Rolling Stones, Allman Brothers) says, “Randall is in my opinion the most gifted & talented southern singer-songwriter musicians of the past several decades.”
Every one of these shows is worth your time and money. Hope to see you live music junkies out and about!
I came across a press release that I thought was kind of interesting and cool, so I thought I’d share the info with you. There’s a songwriting camp for veterans, sort of a transitional program that’s specially designed for members of the military and their families. It’s taking place Jan. 19-23, 2012 in Colorado Springs, Colo.
It’s being hosted by a nonprofit group called LifeQuest Military Transitions. According to this press release all costs for veterans are covered – travel, accommodations and the music camp. The LifeQuest mission is to empower military service members with life skills that enable personal growth, promote leadership development and facilitate positive change during transition into, through and beyond military life.
Austin, Texas-based musician Darden Smith will direct the songwriting program. A longtime singer/songwriter, Smith recorded
his first album in 1986 (Native Soil/ Redi-Mix Records; re-released on Watermelon Records in 1992), which, had some big-name backup players – Lyle Lovett, Nanci Griffith. Since then, he’s recorded 12 others, including Sunflower (2002/Dualtone Music Group), which included the hit single “After All This Time,” a tune that reached No. 3 on the BBC Radio 2 chart. His most recent is Marathon (2010/Darden Music). Quoting his website, “Combining a sophisticated austerity with philosophical heft, Marathon undoubtedly reflects a veteran songwriter in transition, a truth-seeker willing to lay bare the hardships of scrutinizing his place in the modern world. Smith admits: ‘I couldn’t have written these songs 20 years ago.’”
Part of Darden Smith’s place in the modern world is clearly helping his fellow humans find their own place, and he most definitely has an affinity for those in the service of their country. This songwriting retreat is a follow-up to an earlier camp held in July 2011 in Edwards, Colo. Smith gathered a team of pros who worked with a group of participating service men and women. Their songs were performed at a September 11 concert at the World Arena in Colorado Springs, and are now available on iTunes. After the January 2012 music camp, the songs from both camps will be compiled on a new album. Proceeds from the recordings will benefit the veterans and help fun LifeQuest programs.
If you know anyone who would benefit from this (or maybe someone in a position to volunteer or help our financially), please pass this along.
Music Camp Website (Go to EVENTS tab)
About LifeQuest Military Transitions
LifeQuest Military Transitions (LQMT) is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization based in Colorado Springs, Colo. that provides a unique variety of transition programs for military members and their families. Participants come from all over the United States. LifeQuest’s programs center on physical rehabilitation & training, adventure activities, and life skills development for wounded, ill and injured veterans. The program emphasis is always to empower participants through choice, challenge and change.
South By Southeast, the not-for-profit music organization in Myrtle Beach will open its 2012 season with a show appealing to blues lovers, soul fans and R&B aficianados alike.
Powerhouse guitarist SaRon Crenshaw will be bringing his electrifying band all the way from the Big Apple to the Myrtle Beach Train Depot on Jan. 7, 2012.
SxSE board member Charles Newell, who is also the bass player for the Chainsaws, a local band, says, “I saw SaRon in Greenwich Village in October. We started working right then on getting him for a SxSE Music Feast.”
He’s a sought-after performer at spots like B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in New York and Terra Blues, a blues saloon in the heart of Greenwich Village.
Touring often, Crenshaw delights audiences with his fiery guitar licks and soulful vocals. The show at the intimate historic Train Depot will offer a unique opportunity to get an up-close look at his Gibson “Lucille” model guitar, which was signed by B.B. King himself.
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro, who reviews live performances and recordings for the comprehensive online music resource, Mary4Music.com had this to say about SaRon Crenshaw in a review of the 2006 Red Bank Jazz & Blues Festival in New Jersey:
“All music festivals have their surprises and this fest ws no different. There’s always that one act that you catch, get awed by, then think to yourself… ‘who in hell is this/” Well that such person was SaRon Crenshaw. At one of the auxilisary stages SaRon drew one of the largest and more enthusiastic crowds of the event (at leas of the acts I saw). Until now, this regular player at New York City’s Terrablues was virtually unknown to me a lot of the crowd. However, there was no way he was allowing his unfamiliarity to become an obstacle. SaRon stood up there and played like he was Buddy Guy (except, unlike Buddy, he finished all of his songs) and the crowd was a bunch of his fans. At one point he even came down into the crowd, strolling between revelers, while playing the guitar with his tongue. This guy was a hell of a showman and more importantly, a hell of a bluesman. That’s SaRon Crenshaw, keep your eyes and ears open for him.”
Members of the SaRon Crenshaw Band include Crenshaw (guitar and vocals); Junior Mack (guitar and vocals); Al Levy (bass and vocals); Barry Harrison (drums and vocals); and Bob Schlesnger (keyboards).
Music Feasts are $25 per person ($20 for SxSE annual concert series members). Reservations are suggested. Send an email to email@example.com, with the number of tickets and your zip code. They’ll put you on their A list.
Along with an incredible night of music, your ticket includes a potluck dinner and dessert, wine and beer from New South Brewery, soft drinks and coffee. Feasting begins at six o’clock and the music starts at seven. Or sevenish.
Since South by Southeast is an IRS-approved 501(c) (3) organizations, memberships and donations are wholly tax deductible.
The Myrtle Beach Train Depot is located at 851 Broadway in Myrtle Beach. For more information about the SxSE event,log onto http://www.southbysoutheast.org.
On Jan. 31, 2010 drummer Yonrico Scott was onstage at the L.A. Convention Center for the pre-telecast award ceremony of the GRAMMYs accepting the award for Best Contemporary Blues Album for the Derek Trucks Band. On Dec. 3, he and his own Yonrico Scott Band will hit the stage right here at the historic Myrtle Beach Train Depot for the final South By Southeast Music Feast of the year.
This is why I “Trust the Frog.” The folks at SxSE spend their time scouring the road not taken by the mainstream bandwagon to bring us some of the country’s most respected singer/songwriters and musicians, most of whom aren’t household names to the public, but are well-known to other musicians.
Yonrico Scott is one of this talented community of musicians. He played with the Derek Trucks Band from about 1993, he guesses, until the band went on hiatus late last year so Derek could form a new band with wife Susan Tedeschi. He has toured with Peabo Bryson and Earl Klugh and played with greats like Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Freddie Hubbard and the Allman Brothers Band.
In a telephone interview earlier this week, we talked about his GRAMMY experience, his career and his passion for art.
As a child, Scott was greatly influenced and encouraged by his mother Ruth Naomi Scott, a gospel singer who grew up in Detroit. She was a member of the Detroit Harmonettes and it sounds like she cherished her son’s budding talent.
“She was truly an angel,” says Scott, “always encouraging me. I started playing drums at about five years old.”
By age 14, he was studying with Motown drummer George Hamilton. At 15, he recorded “Message From the Ghetto” with The Sons of Truth for the Stax gospel subsidiary.
He went to college in Kentucky, studying drums and percussion with Chicago Symphony classical percussionist Patrick Arnold and classical timpanist Dave Davenport. Scott says his classical study is the reason that he is the drummer he is today.
Upon moving to Atlanta, Ga. in the late seventies, he immediately met guitarist George Greer, who turned him on to the neighborhood arts center. Connections made there helped get his foot in the door of the jingle business, and he started doing work for Atlanta mogul Ted Turner.
Sometime in 1992 or 1993, he had a call from Col. Bruce Hampton (Gov’t Mule) with the news that then 14-year-old Derek Truck was looking for a drummer.
“The first time I heard him play, I knew this was big,” Scott tells me. “The first year we played 320 dates. We did all the small cities.
“A lot of people don’t know, but when I started with DTB, we were doing bebop … all sorts of stuff.”
Because DTB took a regular hiatus, Scott was able to play with his own Yonrico Scott Band, which includes Kofi Burbridge, keys/flute; Todd Smallie, bass; Mace Hibbard, sax; Nick Johnson, guitar; Laura Reed, special guest vocalist; and many other players on different occasion. YSB’s debut release, Turning the Corner, a 12-track disc of mainly jazz instrumentals, was released in January, 2004.
His first touring job was with Peabo Bryson and Patti LaBelle. Through Bryson, he connected with Broadway and spent several years working in productions such as The Wiz, Dream Girls, Les Misérables and Five Guys Named Mo, which featured the music of Louis Jordan.
What was it like getting a GRAMMY, I wanted to know.
“I loved it. I walked the red carpet with Ringo Starr on my right and Mick Fleetwood on my left.”
He continues, “Derek had been really cool with it, said he wasn’t going to go, so I said that I was thinking of going and Derek asked me to represent the band, so then it was official. I was going!”
Scott kept a GRAMMY journal about the experience that’s posted on the Derek Trucks Band site. It’s a great read. I love how much fun he’s having with it. Here’s just a snippet:
“I get the award and I’m trying to stay composed on stage but in my mind, I’m freaking out! A lot of the other winners seemed so relaxed when we won, but for me it was just such a huge deal. I had this Grammy in my hand and I was just blown over! Right now I still think it’s a dream and I just wonder when the dream will be over.”
Throughout all Scott’s stories (and he has many), I was impressed by just how jaded he is not. He is embracing every experience that comes along.
“After I got the Grammy, I decided I wanted to do another album. I started in March of 2010, and I finished about three months ago.”
Scott is very excited about the new recording, Be In My World, which he expects will be released in early 2012. Players include his sister Ronda Scott (they sing a duet); vocalist Laura Reed from South Africa; Derek Trucks; DTB bass player Todd Smallie; DTB vocalist Mike Matteson, jazz guitarist Grant Green Jr.; virtuoso bassist Joseph Patrick Moore; singer/songwriter Diane Durrett and more. Three of the tracks are written by funk keyboardist Reverend Oliver Wells. Scott himself wrote several tracks.
“There are 15 original songs and a cover of Buddy Miles’ “‘dem Changes,’” Scott says, “and this is the first recording with me as a lead vocal. So that’s me on vibes, percussion, singing and drums. The album, titled Be In My World is a tribute to Buddy Miles.”
Art is another passion for Yonrico Scott. “I was always drawing and making stuff, as a kid.”
Once again, his mother was at his side, encouraging him.
“‘You can have the upstairs. Do whatever you want,’ my mother told me,’ Scott laughs.
“Then, when I started with Derek, we were making up set lists and I started drawing on them. We would make color copies for the band, and then for some of the fans. And now they’re collected all over the place.”
Scott is a prolific artist, painting drum heads for his many gigs along with paintings.
“I’m not a trained artist,” he continues. “I’m making a statement . . . One of my biggest idols was Howard Finster [legendary Atlanta folk artist known for his 1980s album designs for groups like R.E.M. and Talking Heads]. He told me to keep doing my own stuff. Don’t take lessons. So that’s what I do.”
This past October, when visionary artists Alex and Allison Gray, known for their psychodelic album covers, came to Atlanta’s inaugural Visionary Arts Fair, Yonrico was part of it.
“I was playing drums, wearing a crazy suit. I loved it.”
So much is happening for Yonrico Scott these days, it’s hard to keep up.
“The biggest thing for me right now is a new band. I’ve been invited to join the Royal Southern Brotherhood with Cyril Neville, Devon Allman and MIke Zito with Charlie Wooton on bass. The band will debut at the New Orleans Jazz Fest, and we have bookings through Dec. 2012.”
Joining Scott at the SxSE gig will be jazz keyboardist Buzz Amatto, guitarist Randy Honea, and Ted Peccio on bass. Something tells me this is going to be a genre-jumping adventure, and I can’t wait.
Music Feasts are $25 per person ($20 for SxSE annual concert series members). Reservations are suggested. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the number of tickets and your zip code. They’ll put you on their A list.
The Myrtle Beach Train Depot is located at 851 Broadway in Myrtle Beach. For more information about the SxSE event,log onto http://www.southbysoutheast.org.
Note: I loved talking with Yonrico Scott, and there’s a lot more to the interview, so I plan to organize my notes and add some of them to this blog post soon.
Randy McQuay Wins Solo/Duo Category, Lawyers Guns & Money Take Band Competition
I was fortunate enough to be one of the judges for the Cape Fear Blues Challenge this year. It was a lot of fun and I got to hear some great music. If you ever get a chance to attend or be a part of one of these, jump at the chance. This particular event (and there were hundreds going on all over the country) was held on Saturday, Nov. 5 at one of my favorite little blues joints, the Rusty Nail in Wilmington, N.C.
We judged two categories: solo artist or duo act and band (three or more players). Each act played a 20-minute set.
There were several different judging criteria. First, and most heavily weighted was blues content, which I found strange because it’s so subjective. Everyone has his or her own interpretation of what is and isn’t blues ( never mind what is and isn’t good), so this can really vary. Vocals were the next criteria. How did the act’s vocals tell the story; did they evoke emotion? And did the background vocals reinforce the message?
Third criteria was talent. In the case of a group or duo, did the instrumental skills of each musician combine well and contribute to the act’s “sound”? Was the band tight? Was the tempo steady. Did the instruments complement the vocals or drown them out? It’s not enough to lay down searing riffs during your solo.
Also important for the competition was originality. Although the Cape Fear Blues Society allows cover tunes in the contest, players are not rewarded for exact renditions. Instead we looked for the act that could take a well-known blues tune and make it their own. To give you an example, during the course of the evening, three of the nine acts we were judging performed Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads Blues,” so you can understand the significance of originality as it extends beyond songwriting to arrangement and performance, as well.
The fifth and final criteria was stage presence. Did the performers connect with the audience? Were they playing music or putting on a show? Musicianship has to come first, but musicians can’t perform in a vacuum. They have to sell themselves – and their music – to the audience.
Six acts competed in the solo/duo category and three sought the title in the full band category, which was defined as having three or more players. Solo acts were Jim Ashley, Lakota John, Jim Nelson, Reverend Sam, Spider Mike Bochey and Randy McQuay. The competing bands were The Treblemakers, Lawyers Guns & Money and Chicken Head Blues Band.
Randy McQuay and Lawyers Guns & Money took the wins so they’re headed to Memphis for the 2012 IBC. Yeah!
Born and raised in Charlotte, N.C., Randy McQuay told me he started playing drums in middle school. He joined the school jazz band and later the marching band. He has been a full time musician since the age of 17. After attending UNCW and studying drums and percussion, he now plays keyboard, guitar, harmonica and handles vocals, too. “I paid my way through college singing, so that’s what I’ve done,” he told me in a telephone interview this week.
McQuay is the talented front man for the Wilmington, N.C. group, RootSoul Project. He’s working on his sixth album now, and has recorded in Nashville, Tenn. as well as locally at Audio Genesis in Wilmington.
His group has a standing gig at the Duck & Dive in downtown Wilmington every Tuesday night and then travels around the region Thursday through Sunday. They’ve been building quite a fan base in Myrtle Beach and Murrells Inlet.
At the Blues Challenge, Randy was hugely engaging on harp and acoustic guitar. Until he played, it seemed the young Lakota John might score the most with his electric guitar, but in the end, he came in second.
Winning the band category, Lawyers Guns & Money is a Greensboro-based four-piece band with Terry VunCannon on guitar and lap steel, Stan Atwell on bass and vocals, Mike Thomas on drums and vocals and Rob Slater on guitar. The band was founded by VunCannon about three years ago. As for the band name, yes they’re fans of Warren Zevon, but there’s more.
“Stan the bass player is a lawyer, I have the guns, and Mike is an engingeer, so he’s the money,” laughs VunCannon
“These are guys I’d played with in pickup bands around Greensboro. We worked up a cover show first,” Terry tells me a few days after the Blues Challenge.
The band likes playing blues, but also performs R&B, classic rock and some Motown tunes. They have a new CD titled Make Up Another Lie (Sept. 2011) and a single, “Hook Line & Sinker” on the Cashbox Roadhouse Blues Top 40 chart. The CD includes a bonus track with blues legend Bob Margolin.
Terry says, “Bob Margolin has been so good to us; we do a cover of his “She and the Devil” on the CD. We switched it up, did it fast … different tempo. Bob says he’d rather see a band do an original version and not just a cover.
“On the CD cut, I played acoustic dobro and Bob played acoustic guitar and sang. It meant a lot to me and the band.”
Lawyers Guns & Money has opened or shared the stage with Margolin three times. They’ve also opened for Candye Kane.
“I had a chance to sit down with Candye’s amazing guitarist Laura Chavez,” Terry tells me. “Our road guitars, Strats, are the same year, and we both use the Fender Tex Mex pickups.”
I can hear him grinning. This is a guy who definitely likes what he does.
Vuncannon pens the band’s original tunes, often with girlfriend Janice Gatton Hamby. He’s been writing songs and doing session work since about 1980.
Lawyers Guns & Money is a big hit with dance crowds, playing venues like Sixth & Vine in Winston-Salem, Churchills in Greensboro, Papa Mojo’s Roadhouse in Durham and the Zion Caribbean Bar & Grille in Greensboro and the Opra House Saloon in Asheboro. Thursday nights, Terry tells me, they run the open blues jam at Zion.
From the first moment this band started performing “Make Up Another Lie,” they captured my undivided attention. Vocals by bassist Stan Atwell are anything but off-the-shelf, and throughout the set, the band was tight and polished.
I have to say, all three of the bands delivered topnotch performances. The Treblemakers put on a super rockin’ blues show, and Rick Tobey’s Chickenhead Blues Band brings puts out a great vibe.
Nathan Stallings, owner of Bono Productions, has announced the new firm will hold its first music showcase on Sunday, Nov. 27 at Kono Lounge in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Doors will open at 5 p.m. Music is set to begin at 6 p.m. and a complimentary filet hibachi will be served from 6 to 8 p.m.
In a telephone interview last week, Stallings said, “My main goal is to give musicians an opportunity to put their stuff out there. This Thanksgiving weekend showcase demonstrates the diversity of talent in this area. The opening set will be by Rick Strickland and Lesa Hudson. Both talented songwriters and vocalists, they perform all original music.”
A sessions player for more than 20 years, Strickland has recorded with and opened for some of the country’s top acts, including Carl Perkins, Todd Rundgren and B.B. King. He has also produced over 50 albums in a wide range of musical styles. His work has made it to the silver screen (Modern Love/1990) He has composed two productions for the Columbia City Ballet. He has performed at the Georgia Music Awards, backing Tommy Roe, Joe South and Ray Stevens. He was Billy Joe Royale’s musical director for three national tours. Rick is well-known for his four-octave vocal range as well as his considerable skills on the guitar.
Hudson is a lead vocalist and keyboard player in the Rick Strickland Band. She grew up in Darlington, S.C. as part of a musical family, with church as its centerpiece. She went on to front her own Lesa Hudson Band, a contemporary Christian group. Hudson produces and performs several Christian-based showcases, and has also performed with the classic rock band, 3 Day Funk with Keith Hamrick (formerly with Billy Joe Royal and the Atlanta Rhythm Section)
The second act will be award-winning songwriter and entertainer Jaynie Trudell. Based in Myrtle Beach, this traveling troubadour is a national recording artist and plays multiple instruments, including piano, guitar, harmonica and dulcimer. Known for her original material, she was honored with the 2010 Blues Entertainer of the Year by the Grand Strand Blues Society.
Electrifying guitarist “Kid” Drew Voivedich has the third time slot. If you frequent the Sunday night blues jams at Jay’s in Little River, S.C., you already know how he and Pops tear it up. Kid Drew’s rockin’ blues is edged with funk, country, jazz, pop and even reggae. Never a dull moment with the Kid.
Closing act will be Pops, himself, possibly the most respected blues guitarist on the Grand Strand – not to mention jazz, pop, R&B and then some.
He’s played with the Clovers, Percy Sledge, B.J. Thomas and many more. If you’re a local, you may have seen him with singer Kerry Michaels.
Playing guitar is practically in his blood. Michael Stallings got his first guitar at eight years old and his first electric guitar at ten. “I remember my mom playing ‘Ballad of Jesse James’ with a butter knife. She never did like the slide,” he laughs.
Nathan Stallings is Michael’s son, and proud papa can’t wait for the event at Kono. “We’re going to put on a great show,” says Michael. “I hope everyone stays around to jam with me.
On Facebook, look for Kono Lounge (Myrtle Beach) or Michael Stallings (Little River)
General admission tickets cost $15 each, and include the free food. VIP tickets, at $20 each, also include a free drink and access to the club’s upstairs VIP section, which features special seating and a private bar.
Kono Lounge is located at 1901 N. Kings Hwy. in Myrtle Beach, S.C. For more information, contact Nathan Stallings at 843-224-7748 or via email at BonoProductions@yahoo.com.
Sweet Goodbyes to Molly & a Warm Welcome for Allie
Until Oct. 27, Allie Privette was a dental assistant in Raleigh, N.C. Now she’s the girl in the band.
Twenty-seven-year-old Allie has the challenging job of filling the shoes and monumental vocal vacancy left when singer and
five-time CBMA Female Vocalist of the Year, Molly Askins decided it was time to leave Sea-Cruz, the powerhouse trio known for their impeccable vocals, high energy and musicianship that doesn’t quit.
Sea-Cruz will be 11 years old in March 2012. Originally a duo (vocalist Molly Askins and Dino Fair on keyboards and vocals), they hit the ground running with “You Bring Out the Boogie In Me,” “Baby I’m Yours/Make Me Your Baby” and “Shake Your Hips” – all in 2002.
Thomas “Butch” Barnes added his saxophone and vocal muscle to the group in April 2005. Together they have stormed the Carolina Beach Music Academy (CBMA) awards, earning in a single year (2007), Instrumentalist of the Year (Dino), Male Vocalist of the Year (Butch) and Female Vocalist of the Year (Molly).
When Molly announced she would leave Sea-Cruz so she and husband Lyle could focus on their family life, there was a collective groan throughout Ocean Drive and beyond as legions of fans were forced to imagine life without Molly.
Enter Allie, stage right.
I had a chance to talk to Allie and the rest of the band after the Endless Summer Festival in North Myrtle Beach on Oct. 29. The show was a great send-off for Molly and also gave the fans a chance to meet Allie.
Dino pretty much summed it up when he said, “We’re all sad Molly is leaving. We’re a family and we’re going to miss her. But this is an opportunity to refresh.”
As a family, Sea-Cruz has had more than their share of storms to weather. In the past 24 months, Molly fractured her foot. Dino
discovered he had diabetes. Butch’s high blood pressure resulted in a torn retina and then he had to undergo a hip replacement.
But, certainly the most devastating event was the unexpected death on Feb. 9 of Jimmy Lathan, the band’s live engineer and best friend a band could have.
“I hate that Allie won’t know Jimmy,” Molly tells me, and it’s a conversation stopper. So, yes, I can appreciate the need to refresh.
“We haven’t had the time to record and freshen our song list,” Dino continued. “And that’s what we’re going to do with Allie.
“We want to keep our working model. We’re a happy, fun-loving, kick-butt little three-piece band.”
Molly jumps in here and interjects, “And Allie has what it takes! You can’t help but love her!”
“Thank God she’s got a work ethic. We’ve only had a day of rehearsal, and she jumped right in … 20 songs at TJ’s Nightlife in Raleigh last night …” Dino adds.
Allie is quick to credit Molly with helping her with lyrics.
Molly comes back with,”Gotta help my sistah! “It really helps that we’re friends.”
Butch agreed, “This is a family situation, and the most important thing is to keep it positive.
“I think it shows how strong Sea-Cruz is,” says Molly, in response to Butch. “And people love Sea-Cruz. They’ve been coming out in droves to see us.”
It’s true. During the Endless Summer show, folks were waiting in line to give Molly a hug and welcome Allie to the group.
On stage, Allie was a dynamo. She lit into Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” leaving no doubt that she’s got the vocal chops to carry on.
In a phone interview last week, she told me knew many of the musicians through her significant other, Stephen Pachuta, trumpet player for the Embers. She’s been singing informally with Band of Oz, Jim Quick & Coastline, the Embers, Craig Woolard Band, Atlantic Groove, Tim Clark Band and the Fantastic Shakers.
Speaking about Allie, Butch said, “There’s an explosion waiting to happen, and some people are going to be amazed!”
According to Dino, and who would know better, the band will be recording Allie as soon as possible. Until then, their most recent CD is Rockin’ the Boat, a dual-disc project featuring 32 tunes (plus two bonus tracks) recorded live during assorted shows and cruises.
You can bet that Allie Privette will be rockin’ the boat – Sea-Cruz style – and I can’t wait to see the splash!
Getting back to Molly, I know I speak for a lot of folks when I say, we’re going to miss your smiling face. Don’t be a stranger. We’ll be looking for you to sit in once in a while.
And what does Molly say?
“I’m sad about leaving, but I’m a lot less sad because of Allie. I’m happy to leave it to a friend. (And yes, I’ll be back for the Sea-Cruz reunion!)
Exit Molly. Stage right.
Read more about Sea-Cruz on their website, which will be undergoing a sea change of its own, as soon as the band can slow down long enough to do it. This is just one of the many behind-the-scenes changes (and challenges) that Sea-Cruz faces as they change out vocalists. My guess is that they will handle it with grace and smiles, and the band will continue to kick butt.
Mama Rue’s Blues Garden, the juke joint/Jamaican restaurant in Pawleys Island, S.C. has announced its November lineup of
entertainment. Anticipating a chilly month, Marrue Bleau – who owns the club along with chef Eric Sutherland – says the acts will be playing their original music indoors on the dining room stage.
On Wednesday, Nov. 2, Jeff Liberty, blues guitarist and vocalist from Columbia, S.C. will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Liberty’s scorching guitar and vocals have earned him numerous awards and fans from New Orleans to Columbia.
Thursday night, Nov. 3 is open mic blues jam at Mama Rue’s. Singer/songwriter Jennifer Price will be bringing her outlaw blues to town for the event.
Husband and wife duo Pastor Pastor are on the roster for Friday, Nov. 4. They start at 8 p.m. Their religion is the blues.
Popular local guitarist and vocalist George Davis is booked for Wed. Nov. 9. Start time is 7:30 p.m.
On Friday night, Nov. 11 at 8 p.m., it’s piano man Shrimp City Slim. AKA Gary Erwin, he’s known throughout the Carolinas for his lowcountry blues and original tunes. His latest recording (August 2011) is Highway 77: Lowcountry Blues Live (Vol. 2).
Jazz jam band Spontaneous Combustion will be firing up Mama Rue’s on Saturday, Nov. 12. They start at 8 p.m.
Back by popular demand on Wednesday, Nov. 16 will be singer/songwriter Drew Baldwinwith his 100-year-old Larson made Dyer
harp guitar and Juke Joint Johnny on blues harp. They start at 7:30 p.m.
Guitarist Jeff Liberty is set to be back at Mama Rue’s again on Friday, Nov. 18 starting at 8 p.m. If you missed him earlier in the month, you have another chance to hear this Columbia boy.
If rockin’ blues is your thing, mark your calendar for Saturday, Nov. 19 when The Strays hit the stage at 8 p.m.
On Wednesday, Nov. 23, at 7:30 p.m. Jerry “Cool” Edwards is back at Mama Rue’s for a night of sweet and jazzy blues.
For the day after Thanksgiving, on Friday, Nov. 25, entertainment will be provided by Pawleys own My Buddy Todd. Blues, blues and more blues. Start time is 8 p.m.
On Saturday, Nov. 26, Spontaneous Combustion once again lights up the night, starting at 8 p.m. and on Wednesday, Nov. 30, at 7:30 p.m. diners will be treated to the sounds of blues guitarist and vocalist George Davis.
The month of Dec. will bring some new excitement to Pawleys Island with Columbia, S.C.-based J Edwards at Mama Rue’s on Friday, Dec.2, along with Brian “Husky” Burnette on Saturday, Dec.3. Matt Walsh is scheduled for Feb. 17.
Mama Rue’s is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays, 4 to 12:30 Friday nights, and 4 to midnight on Saturdays. Times are approximate. They serve authentic Jamaican dishes along with a full selection of cocktails. Make sure you try the Howlin’ Wolf! Mama Rue’s Blues Garden is located at 9737 Ocean Hwy. in Pawleys Island. For information, call 843-235-3853. Website: www.mamarues.com. For daily updates, “like” Mama Rue’s on Facebook.
On Friday, Oct. 14, Mama Rue’s Blues Garden had their blow-out first anniversary shindig. Alongside Chef Eric’s fabulous jerk
chicken, collards, and Island rice with festival bread, they had the Keith Patterson Band’s official CD release party for Stone Cold Blue (which, despite the title, is over the top hot!).
Mama Rue’s is a smokin’ little juke joint just below the Hammock Shops in Pawleys Island. I don’t think they have more than ten or 11 tables inside, but the vibe is sweet , and outside there’s a big old bar with picnic tables and the main stage. I could live there.
Owners are Marrue Bleau and Chef Eric Sutherland. The duo met some 25 years ago in St. Pete’s, Fla. and have been looking for just the right spot to open a Jamaican restaurant slash blues club (Thank goodness they’re on Island time and didn’t rush into anything!) Marrue books the music and runs the bar, which includes creating some pretty magical cocktails. Eric works his magic in the kitchen.
Chef Eric is a native of Galina, Jamaica. He’s been in the States since 1979. Eric is a self-taught kind of chef. He cooks from the heart, with no recipes. He blends his own seasonings, makes his own signature hot sauce, his own jerk sauce. He buys whole seafood and he buys local.
I had a chance to talk to Eric when he came out to the bar during a brief kitchen break.
“When I was younger, I was adventurous! My first job was at the Playboy Club in Ocho Rios in Jamaica. I was determined to travel a
lot, so I then I worked for different cruise lines. Before I came to Pawleys, I was cooking in Atlanta. Now I like Pawleys; the people are friendly, always nice.”
I think Eric’s cooking must put them in a good mood … or it could just be hanging at the bar with Marrue.
She grew up in Florida and says she’s worked in and out of restaurants since she was 17.
“I was a bartender at a hotel in Palm Beach, working with a little jazz trio there, and that planted the seed of owning my own place.
Marrue has spent time in the Keys, on Grand Turk in the Turks & Caicos; she’s lived on the Suwannee River. Marrue and husband Steve lived on a 27-foot sloop for a time. They took off on a motorcycle and wound up in Mobile, Ala. for a while, too.
“I met Eric when my husband and I used to hang out at his place in St. Pete’s,” says Marrue. “It was called the EZ Jamaican Cafe, and people just went to it in droves. I needed a job and he took me in.”
Marrue and Eric are in the process of expanding the menu to offer more vegetarian fare. For me, I like the stuff that moves! Curried goat, jerk pork, Wednesday night ribs, the daily catch in Jamaican butter sauce or escovitch style (with spicy vegetables). Even the lowly burger is to die for.
I love the character of the place. There are no TVs to distract from the music or the conversation. Marrue laughs when she says, “We don’t serve shooters, we serve cocktails.” And if it’s wine you want, it comes in sweet little jelly jar glasses, New Orleans style.
All that, and top drawer music, too. Marrue tells me that she’s always been drawn to early blues. At Mama Rues, though, she’s
running the gamut. Of blues, that is. Earlier this month, Mississippi John Doude was in the
house! Local bluesman Todd Roth of My Buddy Todd is a regular player. You can catch George Davis playing a set or two, as well. Rootsy, bluesy gospel duo Blue Mother Tupelo played to a packed house this summer. Rickey Godfrey brought his hot rockin’ blues to Mama Rue’s and folks are still talking about it.
That brings me back to the Keith Patterson Band, another rockin’ blues band, somewhat reminiscent of the seventies, when it was hard to tell the difference between blues rock and hard rock.
Keith’s 11-track debut CD, Stone Cold Blue is solid blues rock, dominated by guitar and B3. I can’t do a full-on review here, but the disc is in my car player and I’ve got it loud!
The five-piece band includes Keith Patterson on guitar; Daniel Korzelius singing lead vocals; John Taylor on drums; Brian Mckenzie, guitar and lap steel; and Drew Jacobs on bass.
They put on a great show. My guess is they’ll be back at Mama Rue’s before too long. YEAH!