Piedmont Blues refers to a regional subcategory of blues, which is characterized by ragtime-based rhythms associated mostly with African-American musicians of the southeastern U.S.
Freddie Vanderford is Piedmont blues. Born in the tiny town of Buffalo, S.C., he grew up listening to his grandad playing harmonica, though more of a mountain style than blues. Freddie started playing guitar at ten years old, appearing on the Farmer Gray show on WSPA radio in Spartanburg, S.C. and the Bob Ledford TV show on Channel 13 in Asheville, N.C.
He credits “Peg Leg Sam” Jackson as an important musical influence in his life.
“I met ‘Peg Leg Sam’ when I was about 15,” Freddie tells me.
Jackson was a percussive harp player with a talent for storytelling. A rough sort of character who played in a traveling medicine show, he lost his leg in a hoboing accident and part of an ear in a shooting.
“I first heard him play harmonica on this little AM radio station. I found out that he lived close by, so I started going to see him. At first he wouldn’t play for me. I played for him.
”He was a crazy old guy, but a good guy,” Freddie says, laughing, “I started carrying wood for him, I’d take him to buy liquor, I’d take him to gamble. Guys would have their straight razors and pistols out on the table. Didn’t see a lot of cheatin’,” he laughs.
“Eventually, he’d play, and then I’d play. We’d go out to where they sold moonshine. Someone would pull out a dollar. And then someone else would pull out a dollar, and this would go on all day.
“Greasy Greens was one of Peg Leg Sam’s tunes, and that’s why it’s the title track on my album.”
Greasy Greens is an album that’s chock full of Piedmont harmonica blues and more, and I love every minute of it. The 16-track recording includes originals by Freddie Vanderford, some traditional blues and some unexpected covers.
The opening track, and one of my favorites is the traditional tune “She Can Cook Good Sallett.” And by the way, that’s Upstate guitar sensation, Brandon Turner on acoustic guitar. “Trouble Come Knocking,” one of Freddie’s own pieces, rocks the room and “Greasy Greens” made popular by Pink Anderson is another fave.
The Josh White adaption, “One Meatball” is just pure pleasure. Freddie offers up a tasty version of Percy Mayfield’s “Lost Mind” and does Townes Van Zandt proud with “White Freightliner Blues.”
Johnny Cash fans, you’ll be happy to hear Vanderford’s versions of “Delia” and “I Still Miss Someone.”
Freddy Vanderford is the 2010 recipient of the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award for his Piedmont blues harp work and is being featured in a special B&C Art Museum exhibition melding S.C. music and visual art.
Players on the CD include: Freddie Vanderford (lead vocals, harp); Brandon Turner (acoustic, electric, resophonic and steel guitar; banjo; acoustic bass; snare drum; bongos; djembe and backing vocals); Matthew Knights Williams (acoustic guitar, backing vocals); Don McGraw (electric bass); Fayssoux McLean (backing vocals); T.J. Jeter (kick drum and hammers; drums and bongos); David Ezell (acoustic guitar, backing vocals); Wes Wyatt
I spent a good many years, most of my twenties, thirties and then some, in L.A. and I often just ache
for California sounds and sensibilities. So when I heard that outlaw singer/songwriter Steve Young was coming to perform at a South By Southeast concert in Myrtle Beach, I was very excited. Besides just being a fan of his talent, I knew the Georgia born musician had also been a transplant to L.A. and figured he’d be telling stories and playing some California music.
I wasn’t disappointed. This Southern boy has a soft spot for L.A. and it shows in his lyrics. “Silverlake” (Switchblades of Love/1993), which he performed simply and beautifully, is an unabashed love letter to a neighborhood just near downtown L.A. When Steve lived there back in the late 60s, it was a sweet little barrio and artists’ refuge … before it became “too gentrified,” as he commented during the show. I love his line, “Silverlake is about more than gold.”
His rendition of Warren Zevon’s “Carmelita,” an edgy tale of a heroin addict on the skids, was somehow starkly warm, fitting because Los Angeles is the ultimate contradiction.
But let me get off the California bent here and talk about this artist, and artist he is.
Growing up throughout the South, Young was an early Elvis fan and by his teenage years was already a skillful guitarist. He moved to New York City in the early 60s, becoming part of the folk music scene in Greenwich Village.
Steve Young’s music is hard to pigeonhole. It’s blues, it’s folk, it’s country, it’s even Celtic. But above all it’s Southern, and it’s soulful.
The South By Southeast show was a super all-acoustic concert, just a songwriter and his music.
Steve’s son Jumal Lee Young was supposed to join him at the Music Feast, but he’s been sick and couldn’t make it.
So, for two hours, Steve Young shared his tales of the road with us, giving us the backstory for each tune, very much the same format as his live album, Stories Round the Horseshoe Bend (2007). Just a songwriter and his music. And a wicked sense of humor.
“The song’s pretty famous; I’m not, but the song is,” he quips, introducing “Seven Bridges Road”(Rock Salt & Nails/1969), his tune that was recorded live by the Eagles for their Eagles Live album (1980). It was also covered by Alan Jackson, Dolly Parton and Tracy Nelson, among others.
Talking about “Lonesome On’ry & Mean”(Seven Bridges Road/1972), Young’s tune made famous by outlaw country artist Waylon Jenning, the songwriter deadpans, “Yeah, I don’t know why Waylon wanted to make this his image, but he did. I mean the song’s about givin’ up drink and drugs and performing sober. Waylon never realized that.”
Other tunes he performed included his “White Trash Song”(Seven Bridges Road/1972) about his family, mind you; the eloquent “Montgomery In the Rain” (Seven Bridges Road/1972), a hit by Hank Williams, Jr. and traditional songs like “Little Birdie” and “Hoboin’.”
It occurred to me during these old folk tunes, that Young’s talents as a vocalist and his arrangements are equal to his songwriting skills – which are considerable.
If you get a chance to experience Steve Young live, jump at it. This is exactly why I “Trust the Frog.” (www.steveyoung.net)
Wilmington, N.C. is in for a treat as Americana duo Angela Easterling and Brandon Turner present an intimate listening room concert downtown at Press 102 on Wednesday, Oct. 5 at 7:30 p.m.
The folksy Easterling hails from Taylors, S.C. the mill town section of Greenville. Kudos for her songwriting and vocal talents have come from all over, including founder of legendary folk rock group The Byrds, Roger McGuinn. He said, “Angela Easterling is a bright shining star on the country/folk/ alt music horizon. Her gift is so special. I loved listening to her new Black Top Road CD … Brought me back to the time the Byrds recorded ‘Sweetheart of the Rodeo’ – tradition meets youthful exuberance!”
Easterling’s newest CD, Beguiler, is full of sweet Southern charm that packs a wallop, as Southern charm is wont to do.
Guitarist Bandon Turner played on the recording and joins her for the Wilmington concert. Turner is an extremely versatile musician, moving easily between electric and acoustic or blues and bluegrass.
Earlier this month at the Summer’s Last Blast & Blues Festival in Piedmont, S.C., he performed with harp man Freddie Vanderford and literally stunned the audience with his searing guitar licks.
The Press 102 event is sure to be lively evening of passionate music from two top quality, up and coming musicians.
Press 102 is located at 102 S. Second St., Wilmington, N.C. Ticket price is $15, free for ages ten and under. Reserve seats via email: email@example.com.
On Oct. 1, South By Southeast, the nonprofit music organization in Myrtle Beach will bring Steve Young and Jubal Lee Young to the stage at the historic Myrtle Beach Train Depot.
According to the SxSE website, “Steve Young has followed his own musical quest, blending Southern roots with life’s experiences, and creating Americana music traditions. A boy of the South with roots in Texas, Georgia and Alabama, he was barely out of high school, playing guitar and writing songs in the folk, country and blues stylings of such music icons as Hank Williams, Elvis, and Carl Perkins.
“Steve was an integral part of the movement that spawned and defined the California country-rock sound. Appearing on Steve’s 1969 classic album Rock, Salt & Nails were Gene Clark, Chris Hillman, Bernie Leadon and Gram Parsons – all Flying Burrito Brothers and Byrds members. The most covered Steve Young song is ‘Seven Bridges Road.’ ‘Lonesome, Ornery & Mean’ became a Waylon Jennings signature, and Hank Jr.’s cover of ‘Montgomery in the Rain is classic.
“Jubal Lee first appeared on the South by Southeast scene at a Music Feast a few years back performing with fellow singer/songwriter Justin Townes Earle. Jubal’s smoky baritone rasp invokes the familiar sound of John Lee Hooker, Bob Seger and Hank, Jr. whether he’s playing originals or covers. ‘Jubal Lee Young makes genuine top-class Americana country-rock; melodic, story-telling and attention-seeking. It reminds me of a young Steve Earle.’ – Magnus Sundell.”
South By Southeast is known for bringing these amazing talents to the beach. Another of the organization’s goals is “to provide assistance and support to local music education programs for the young people in our area through instrument drives, scholarships, donations, and other means.”
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.
Is there a recording artist who makes you smile every time you hear him on the radio … or whose song you have to stay in the car and listen to even though it’s on your iPod and in the CD player?
For me, Rick Strickland is that artist. So today is another great day because I get to listen to Rick’s latest CD and then talk to him about what I’ve just heard. I have been a fan since his Something Smooth (2005) days and he never lets me down. The new 12-track solo recording is titled Rhythm + Romance (we’ll talk about the title in a minute). It’s full of Rick’s signature four-octave range vocals, perfect harmonies, simple sophisticated songwriting and luscious instrumentation.
In other words, it’s classic Rick Strickland – a mix of brand new tunes and some that have been on the back burner for 30-plus years.
The opening track, “Over and Over,” is one of the new ones, completed just a few months ago. According to Rick, it’s getting great response during club dates.
Track two is “Something’s Gotta Give,” and it features a smokin’ alto sax solo by Butch Barnes of Murrell’s Inlet-based Sea-Cruz. “I think Rick is an incredible writer, artist and performer,” says Butch. “I love everything he’s done on this CD. To me, he’s just one of the best.”
It’s always interesting to hear how a tune is born, and this one is no exception. “It was 1985, I was in a band called the Citizens and we were playing St. Croix for a week. One morning as sat at the window listening to the street sounds and steel drum bands, I saw these two Rastafarian kids in the yard, and they were going back and forth about something, not getting along. Finally, one just stops and says to the other, ‘Hey, somethin’ got to give, mon,’ and I wrote this song. It turned out funky, not reggae, but that’s where it came from.”
“Shing Yo Ling” is up next, an “out-of-the-box” hit, that uses suggestive nonsense phrases as skillfully as anyone ever has.
Jumping ahead, track five is “Just So You Know,” a ballad that really showcases Rick’s vocals, which have a sweet raw quality for this one. I think it’ll fill the dance floor.
“Two Faces,” which is track six, is my fave, at least for now. I love the lyrics and the fast-paced vocals. The song really takes someone to task (actually, two people, I’ve come to find out), first for being the ungrateful, short-memoried nouveau riche and second for back-stabbing and trouble-making. Talking to Rick on the phone about it, I could hear Lesa Hudson in the background laughing, “Moral of story: never cross a songwriter.”
Lesa’s a hoot.
Lesa and Rick fans will be happy to know there’s another duet on this album, too. “Got to Be With You” is a lively tune that puts their chemistry and showmanship right up front. It’s a lot of fun, and sounds like a tush push to me.
Throughout the recording, Rick’s lyrics tell a story, but they’re pretty simple and straightforward. “I read a quote by John Lennon a long time ago,” he explains. “It goes, ‘Just say what you’ve got to say and put it to a backbeat,’ and that’s pretty much how I feel. I don’t want to belabor a point.”
Rick gave me some backstory on “Whatever You Do” that I didn’t know.
“I owe a big debt of gratitude to Curtis Carpenter for this. It was back in 1991. Curtis wrote an article for Headliners In Review magazine. He compared my work to Brian Wilson and Hall & Oates, and went on to say that he felt it should be Song of the Year. I got lots of session work right after that.
“Another reason this song is so special to me is that it’s the first song of mine that my daughters learned all the words to. We’d sing it together at bedtime.”
Closing track is “You’re Not Alone,” a grandly orchestrated clutch-at-your-heart ballad that slows down the pace of the album, but rachets up the emotion. It’s a beautiful tune, and when I spoke to Rick about the album, he told me that he had written it back in 1986 for Pets, Inc., an animal rescue organization.
Getting back to the CD’s title, Rick tells me, “John Hook has been a long time supporter. In fact, John and Ray Scott, before anyone else, were there for my music. Anyway, John said to me one day [Rick does a super John Hook imitation, by the way],’ Rick, I’ve thought of the absolute perfect way to describe your music – rhythm and romance.’ When we got down to brass tack and started doing the album, we decided it fit.”
Not surprisingly, Rhythm + Romance was written, produced, arranged, engineered and mixed by Rick himself. In addition, he played all guitars, bass and drums; and he sang all leads and most background vocals on the recording.
If this is the first you’ve heard about Rick Strickland, visit my blog, DarielB – Flying Under the Radar. I’ve got three different posts about him, four if you count the last Lesa Hudson story: CD Review: Rick Strickland Island Soul (Sept. 9, 2008); Rick Strickland Melds Musicianship in New 7-piece Band (April 21, 2009); Rick Strickland’s Lucky Number ‘Seven’ (March 29, 2010); Lesa Hudson: Laid Back In a Driven Kind of Way (July 11, 2011).
Track list: 1. Over and Over; 2. Something’s Gotta Give (featuring Butch Barnes); 3. Shing Yo Ling; 4. Moth to a Flame; 5. Just So You Know; 6. Two Faces; 7. Got to Be With You (duet with Lesa Hudson); 8. Whatever You Do; 9. If You Don’t Want Me; 10. Mr. Heartache; 11. Experience; 12. You’re Not Alone.
Players: Rick Strickland (guitar, bass, drums, lead and background vocals); Art Benton (keyboards for all but Something’s Gotta Give and You’re Not Alone); Lesa Hudson (vocals on Got to Be With You; background vocals on Just So You Know and Mr. Heartache; keyboards on Something’s Gotta Give, Just So You Know,Two Faces, Whatever You Do, and Mr. Heartache);Jeff Poteat (keyboards on You’re Not Alone); Butch Barnes (alto sax solo on Something’s Gotta Give); Debbie Anderson (background vocals on Just So You Know).
Note to Fans of the Rick Strickland Band: On Friday, Sept. 23, the band is presenting a free Fan Appreciation Concert, 6 – 10 p.m. at the Avista Resort Ballroom, 300 N. Ocean Blvd., North Myrtle Beach, S.C. I understand there will be some great surprises. Seating is limited, so get there early! Free parking on either side or across the street!
She D’Ambrosio is a talent scout, booking agent and all around lover of blues music. It’s been on her bucket list for quite some time now to put together a blues festival for the Upstate of South Carolina, and this month it’s finally come to pass.
On Saturday, Sept. 17, the inaugural Summer’s Last Blast & Blues Festival will take place at the Pavilion at Acadia in Piedmont, S.C. (a suburb of Greenville). The lineup is extraordinary, especially for the ultra-reasonable ticket price of $15 per person (free for kids under 12).
Headlining is the incredible Beverly “Guitar” Watkins and her band; then there’s Cee Cee James featuring the inimitable Rickey Godfrey on guitar; the Matt Walsh Blues Band; Freddie Vanderford with Brandon Turner and the Shades; singer songwriter J Edwards and his kick-ass band; and the King Bees. YEAH!
Beverly “Guitar” Watkins was born in Atlanta, Ga. in 1939, and she can play the pants off musicians half her age. She says, “My style is real Lightnin’’ Hopkins lowdown blues. I call it hard classic blues, stompin’ blues, railroad smokin’ blues.”
D’Ambrosio can’t wait to bring her to the Upstate. ‘Beverly is a national treasure,” she tells me. “She’s got a style all her own and she’s so charismatic. Wait till people see her with that guitar over her head.”
Watkins was a junior in high school when she joined Piano red and the Meter-tones. Later she played with Eddie Tigner and the Ink Spots and other groups, becoming a fixture at the Underground Atlanta.
She would go on to work with James Brown, B.B. King and Ray Charles, becoming well-known throughout the blues community. But like so many other roots musicians, she had little airplay, and wouldn’t achieve success until the advent of the Internet. Re-discovered by Tim Duffy, founder of the nonprofit Music Maker Relief Foundation, she joined Koko Taylor on the women of Blues “Hot Mamas” tour in 1998. Her debut CD, Back In Business (1999), earned her a W.C. Handy Award nomination in 2000, and she was on her way. A bout with cancer a few years later couldn’t keep her down, and she’s back touring and getting the kudos she deserves.
Originally from Portland, Ore., Cee Cee James was 12 when she put together her first band. She discovered blues early, but went on to explore R&B and her native cherokee roots. “Hiking in the mountains outside San Diego,” she says, “I heard Stevie Ray Vaughan whispering to me from the Heavens… “Go back to your roots girl. go back to what you do best,” which I intuitively knew was blues, low-down roots and soul.”
Her current blues band includes songwriting partner and husband Rob “Slideboy” Andrews and Nashville’s hot rockin’ bluesman Rickey Godfrey wailing on his Telecaster. This act is going to blow the sky open.
“Cee Cee James is a vocal volcano,” says D’Ambrosio. “There’s this gut-wrenching quality … Her originals come from walking through fire … and there’s just not enough to say about Rickey Godfrey. It’s an honor for us to have him here.”
J Edwards Band is going to shock a lot of people at this show. A popular Columbia, S.C. musician, he just isn’t well-known outside the area. But this boy can sing. His raw, rough, heart-wrenching vocals will stop you in your tracks.
In a matter-of-fact style that I’ve come to expect from She D’Ambrosio, she says bluntly, “J’s voice is my crack cocaine. He’s got a voice like no other. Once you’ve heard ‘I’ve Got a Woman,’ you know what I mean.”
Matt Walsh’s sound is rooted in the old-school blues of south-side Chicago in the fifties. He first gained national notoriety in 2006 when former guitarist for Muddy Waters Bob Margolin interviewed him for Blues Revue magazine. Since then Matt shared the stage or opened for Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal, Pinetop Perkins and others. This guy’s on his way up! Catch him while you can!
The King Bees out of N.C were formed by guitarist/organist Hound Dog Baskerville and singer/song-writer/bassist, Queen Bee Penny Zamagni. They have a musical pedigree I can’t even imagine. They have sat in with or backed up so many blues giants:Bo Diddley, Tinsley Ellis, Billy Branch, Mojo Buford, Big Jack Johnson, Sam Carr, Frank Frost, Lazy Lester, Ronnie Earl … the list goes on.
“When you hear that voice come out of Penny, who stands all of five feet … you wonder where it comes from,” says D’Ambrosio as she talks about the King Bees.
Harpman Freddie Vanderford is doing his part to keep the blues alive. In 2010 he received the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award for sharing the tradition of Piedmont blues harp. For the Summer’s Last Blast festival, he’s playing with iconic guitarist Brandon Turner and the Shades.
“Brandon Turner is one of the most underrated guitarists in the U.S. I can’t wait for this show,” She tells me.
“We have people coming fro Atlanta, Charlotte, Virginia, the Carolina beaches,” she goes on. “We’re hoping to have a lot of locals, too. We have a lot of talent in this area, but we wanted to bring in acts from out of the area, too … give people a chance to see someone that maybe they haven’t been able to see before.”
This is a family-friendly festival. Food vendors will be selling homemade ice cream, funnel cakes, hot dogs, barbecue, beer, wine, soda, tea, lemonade and more.
Vendor spots are still available for $25. As a further incentive, this year’s vendors will be able to return next year for the same price.
The Pavilion at Acadia is located at 102 Fathers Way in Piedmont, S.C. For more information, log onto the website at http://www.summerslastbluesfest.com, email email@example.com or visit them on Facebook.
When the subject of conversation is a ten-day adult party that takes over a town in the south, you know you’re talking about S.O.S. in the Ocean Drive section of North Myrtle Beach, S.C. The 2011 S.O.S. Fall Migration starts Thursday, Sept. 16 and runs full board through Sunday, Sept. 25.
Most of the fun will be taking place at the famous S.O.S. lounges – Fat Harold’s, Duck’s, O.D. Arcade, and the clubs at the O.D. Beach Resort and Golf Resort (Spanish Galleon, O.D. Beach Club and the upstairs O.D. Café). But make sure you also check out Deckerz, right off Main St.; Boom Boom’s Raw Bar on 13th Ave. North; HOTO’s on the beach in Cherry Grove, 2001 Nightclub on Lake Arrowhead Rd.; and Captain Poo’s at Anchor Marina. Party hearty, folks.
There’ll be shag exhibitions and workshops, live entertainment, deejays spinning your favorite tunes, dancing, dancing and more dancing! In fact, over at Fat Harold’s, they’ll be holding their first Last Shagger Standing contest from 12 noon to 12 midnight on Tuesday, Sept. 20, and the payoff is a thousand bucks, so start practicing those maneuvers.
On the first Sunday and only Monday of Fall Migration, thousands fill the streets for two of the biggest block parties you’ll ever experience. For Fun Sunday, as it’s come to be called, head to the parking lot across from the O.D. Arcade (100 S. Ocean Blvd.). Mark Roberts Band and Legends of Beach, two of the hottest bands around will play from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The Mark Roberts group defines the term “dance band.” They play everything from beach and boogie to blues rock to party music. Musically and stylistically, they’re a cut above.
Legends of Beach, featuring the inimitable Jackie Gore on lead vocals, is pure beach music. If you haven’t seen them lately, Pat Carpenter has joined the mix on guitar and vocals. Add to that Nantucket saxman Eddie Blair, Ben Shaw on trumpet and Original Carolina Girl Terri Gore on vocals. And let’s not forget band stalwarts Johnny Barker (keys), Tony Davis (drums) and Gerald Davis (bass). Hot ticket … and it’s free!
Fun Monday brings us another amazing day. Main Street will be blocked off and the band stage will be at the “horseshoe” at the ocean. The bands start at noon and play until about 5:30 p.m.
Wallstreet will be here, all the way from Joisey. This five-man R&B group doesn’t get to this neck of the beach all that often, don’t miss this opportunity to hear a topnotch group. Founder Odell Mickens splits his time between playing the B3 with Wallstreet and bass guitar for the Trammps, known best in the Carolinas for their “Hold Back the Night.”
Wallstreet singles include “The Little Things,” “Closing Time,” “Finally Friday” and their latest “Old School Music” on Shantys Records. Odell tells me they’ve got a brand new drummer, Jerome “J.T.” Tyus from the late Keisha Brown’s band. Don’t miss this show.
Sharing the Fun Monday bill with Wallstreet will be CWB – the Craig Woolard Band with special guest Danny Woods, formerly with Chairmen of the Board.That’s going to be some kind of vocal energy on that stage, a whole lotta soul goin’ on. For anyone living under a rock, Craig Woolard is a superb vocalist. Before starting his own band, he spent many years with beloved beach music group, the Embers. Beach, boogie and blues … he does it all. But my favorite is Craig’s rendition of “Georgia.” Goose bumps, every time.
Last but not least for Fun Monday is soul singer William Bell. This guy is considered one of the architects of the 1960s Stax-Volt sound. His debut single was “You Don’t Miss Your Water” (1961), and he’s still associated with the tune. Another William Bell classic is “Private Number,” (1968) a duet with Judy Clay. “Trying to Love Two” hit the Top 40 and No.1 on the R&B charts. Otis Redding fans will recall “A Tribute To a King.”
Many folks don’t realize that William is noted for his songwriting as well. He shares songwriting credits on Chuck Jackson’s hit, “Any Other Way,” which Bell recorded first, by the way. He also penned his hit “I Forgot To Be Your Lover” (1968), which would become a Top 10 pop hit for Billy Idol in 1986, and co-wrote (with Booker T. Jones) the 1967 Albert King blues classic “Born Under a Bad Sign.” I promise you, the William Bell show will be super.
To say Fun Monday is fun is an understatement. It’s a blast. If you’re in the neighborhood, head over the Main Street and enjoy yo self!
Events at the S.O.S. lounges mentioned above require an S.O.S. card for admission. For $35 per person, you’ll find yourself part of a unique lifestyle, one that simply doesn’t exist anywhere else. Entry to the other clubs will either be free or close to it. For more information and schedules, visit the S.O.S. website or the clubs’ individual websites.
If you’ve got other events, club dates or S.O.S. news, feel free to add your comment here!!!
The nonprofit Charleston Beach Music and Shag Preservation Society aka Harriett Grady will hold its sixth annual Charleston Beach Music And Shag Festival over Labor Day Weekend on Sunday, Sept. 4 and Monday, Sept. 5.
This year the fun will be taking place indoors at Plan B restaurant and nightclub in Charleston.
The Festival will feature live entertainment, multiple deejays, shag dancing and shag workshops.
The shag, which is a six-step swing dance, has been hugely popular in South Carolina for more than 60 years. The roots of the shag being danced today is generally believed to have started with black R&B bands playing the beaches but not getting radio airplay. White teenagers discovered the music and danced to the jukebox, sometimes right on the beach. In 1984, then S.C. Representative Bubber Snow introduced Act. No. 329, which named the shag as the official dance of South Carolina.
Charleston residents Jerry and Barbara Wade will be conducting shag workshops at the Festival. They’ve been shagging together since the fifties, when they learned the dance at the old Folly Beach pier. They were shagging to artists like Jimmy Reed, Hank Ballard & the Midnighters and Lloyd Price. They still love shagging today and share their love and techniques with others at their Charleston Shag Company.
Live entertainment will be provided by four of my faves. On Sunday, from the Upstate of South Carolina, Rhonda McDaniel & Friends take the stage at 4 p.m. For the past three years, our girl has been voted Female Vocalist of the Year at the Carolina Beach Music Academy (CBMA) awards. In 2008, she also earned Solo Album and Blues Song of the Year. Playing with her at the Charleston Beach Music and Shag Festival will be guitarist Ashby Stokes (Swinging Medallions); drummer Eddie Wayne (Swinging Medallions, Fabulous Expressions); Frank Wilkie (Rickey Godfrey Band, Marshall Tucker Band) on bass; saxman Tony Kennedy (Rickey Godfrey Band, and keyboard player Joey Werner (Out-of-Towners).
At 7 p.m. Charleston’s Rick Strickland Band will open their show. Singer/songwriter Rick Strickland, also a multiple CBMA award winner, is well-known for some of beach music’s most popular recent hits including “Something Smooth,” “One Step Closer,” and “So Do I.” His duo with band mate Lesa Hudson, “When You Look at Me” has been No. 1 on 94.9The Surf for the past four weeks, and shows no sign of slowing down. Delivering soulful R&B with a rock & roll kicker, Rick Strickland Band is a crowd favorite every time.
Carolina Soulband has the 2 p.m. slot on Monday, Sept. 5. This group performed for years with Bill Pinkney’s Original Drifters. Today, the nine-piece band plays their range of soul, R&B, and beach music to packed festivals and clubs throughout the southeast. Drummer Chris “Silk” Terry formed the group about two years ago. Jervey “Supreme Keys” Geddies , longtime bandleader for Bill Pinkney’s Original Drifters also serves as CSB’s bandleader and keyboard player. These two lead a high-energy ensemble of extremely talented performers to present one crowd-pleasing performance after another.
At 7 p.m. it’s Coastline time – when Jim Quick & Coastline hit the stage. I love these bad boys for both their onstage shenanigans and their monster talent. Quick is one of the best songwriters around. When I pop his 2007 album Sneakin’ Out Back into the player, it’s every bit as good as the first time I heard it. Folks outside the area are starting to take notice of Quick and Coastline, too. The band has opened for Delbert McClinton, Montgomery Gentry and Darius Rucker. Quick’s latest CD, Down South, was produced by big ole Nashville producer Gary Nicholson. There’s a new music video and a live DVD coming soon. These boys are hot!
In addition to live music, popular area deejays Gerry Scott, Mike McDaniel,Jim Bowers and Betty Brown will be spinning tunes for dancers and listeners both. The deejays, who each have their own specialty niches, pride themselves on finding and playing that most obscure old tune alongside the current hits.
According to Harriett, “Plan B is going to be a terrific venue for us. The dance floor is brand new … the bars, the deejay booth, stage, sound and lighting … it’s all new. This is going to be a great event.”
Sponsors for the 2011 Charleston Beach Music and Shag Festival include: major sponsor, 1340 The Boardwalk; Big Mamma Entertainment; Coast magazine and Alternatives NewsMagazine; and DarielB – Flying Under the Radar music blog.
Tickets for the two-day event are $45/members of the Beach Music and Shag Preservation Society of S.C. and $55/nonmembers. One day tickets cost $25/members and $30/nonmembers. For tickets or more information, visit them online.
Plan B is located at 3025 Ashley Town Center Drive, #201 in Charleston. Take I526 West to Hwy. 17. Turn right on Hwy. 17, travel two blocks, and look for the Plan B sign on the right. Telephone: 843-571-2001.
On Friday evenings throughout the warm summer months, hundreds of locals in and around Ocean Isle Beach, N.C. head to the Museum of Coastal Carolina where the parking lot transforms into an outdoor concert area. Folks set up their lawn chairs, blankets and coolers and get ready to enjoy some good music.
On Aug. 12, the music will be especially fine as one of the area’s top beach music groups take the stage. Legends of Beach was originally formed in 2007 by a group of musicians most of whom happened to be former members of the legendary Embers band. They included vocalist Jackie Gore, known for his “I Love Beach Music” anthem for the genre; keyboard player Johnny Barker, a prolific songwriter responsible for such classics as “Summertime’s Calling Me;” guitarist Jeff Grimes; the extraordinary saxophonist and vocalist, C. Mark Black; and longtime bass player (and now band manager for Legends of Beach), Gerald Davis. Drummer Tony Davis, Rusty Smith (horns) and sound technician Steve Davis were also in the original lineup.
The band has undergone some changes in the past year. Jeff Grimes has returned to the Embers. Mark Black has also left the group, devoting more time to his East Coast Party Band. Both are huge talents, whose departures must have been felt to the core of the band.
But as they say, when one door closes another opens, and these exits were balanced by the addition of other topnotch players to the band.
For a time Gary Lowder of the Carolina Breakers was with the band to help fill in when Mark Black was not available. Since then, Terri Gore, the original “Carolina Girl” and daughter of Jackie Gore has joined; Nantucket saxman Eddie Blair has signed on; guitarist/ vocalist Pat Carpenter is now a full-time member; and so is trumpet player Ben Shaw. Not too shabby.
Gerald and I had a good long telephone conversation this past week, after a brief time out for a tornado warning in Wilson, N.C. where Gerald lives with his wife, Jane. We talked about his pre- and post-Embers life, the new players and what’s ahead for Legends of Beach.
Gerald’s got some great stories that I’d never heard before.
He was living in Riverside, Calif., playing in the house band for a joint called the Gas Company, right on the main drag. One night a young guitarist wanted in, and Gerald brought him up on stage. Forty years later, Gerald saw him again, this time at House of Blues. It was Sammy Hagar and the band was Van Halen.
“Your husband gave me a chance, got me up on stage,” Hagar told Gerald’s wife after the HOB show.
“I was shocked that he remembered me,” says Gerald. “I still have the bottle of Cabo Wabo Tequila he gave me.”
That house gig, by the way, helped land our young hero a singing contract with Liberty Records in
Hollywood. “I recorded two singles there with with the Jazz Crusaders; it was a big deal,” says Gerald.
A few years later, still in Riverside, he had a chance to meet one of the giants of Motown.
“There was a project, and I brought my old buddy from N.C. State, Donnie Weaver, lead singer for the Okaysions, out to California. We met Marvin Gaye, wound up at his house in Topanga Canyon and then went into A&M Studios to record.”
The album was never released, but they did get to work with Marvin Gaye. How cool is that?
In 1976, he moved back to Raleigh, N.C. and joined the Embers. Gerald figures he produced or co-produced a dozen albums for the Embers between 1979 and 2002.
After 31 years with the Embers, he left in 2007 to form Legends of Beach, and that brings us to the upcoming concert at Ocean Isle Beach.
I wanted to know what to expect.
“We haven’t changed our direction,” he tells me. “We still play the beach music our audiences love. And we love getting them involved. They’re there to have a good time.
“Of course, we have a female vocalist now, so that’s new for us.”
Terri Gore joined Legends of Beach on March 25 as a replacement for Gary Lowder. For anyone out of the Carolinas, she is a five-time Carolina Beach Music Academy (CBMA) Female Vocalist of the Year, and has also earned two Album of the Year awards, along with a Collaboration award with the Soft-Tones. She was inducted into the Beach Music Hall of Fame in 2010. Just last year, she had four No. 1 hits on the beach charts, including “Put a Little Love In Your Heart” recorded with Legends of Beach before she even joined the band.
Her latest album is YBF on Forevermore Records. Terri is married to Daryl Lemonds, leader of the Sand Band.
“I’m like an old Motown singer. I like power vocals with an R&B groove,” Terri says.
How about singing with your dad, I wanted to know.
“We’re so fortunate to be able to do it together,” she says, genuinely excited. “My dad is just the best singer in this industry … in my opinion, of course. And audience response has been incredible.
“Legends of Beach is the most incredible thing I’ve ever been part of.”
Let me introduce you briefly to the other new members of the legendary Legends of Beach band.
Eddie Blair is a strong, strong presence in the horn section and as a soloist. I can’t wait to hear his Junior Walker thing. Pat Carpenter has that bluesy, soulful voice that just gets under your skin. Ben Shaw has played trumpet with The Fantastic Shakers, the Kays and the Castaways.
It’s going to be a perfect night at Ocean Isle Beach.