The seventh annual Charleston Beach Music & Shag Festival will be held on August 25 and 26 in the ballroom of the North Charleston Performing Arts Center, which is connected to the Embassy Suites, organizer Harriett Grady has announced.
The two-day event will feature six powerhouse acts, shag workshop and deejays: on Saturday, brush up on your shagging at a workshop with Jerry and Barbara Wade, 1 p.m.; Rickey Godfrey Band at 3 p.m.; the Castaways at 5:30 p.m.; and Carolina Soul Band at 8 p.m. Deejay Gerry Scott will spin tunes for shaggers in between performances.
On Sunday, deejay Betty Brown begins at 1 p.m. and returns between acts. The Fantastic Shakers start at 2 p.m.; the Johnny Rawls Blues Band – with Rickey Godfrey sitting on guitar – takes the stage at 4 p.m.; and the mighty Tams close out the entertainment at 5:30 p.m. Betty Brown returns to the deejay booth at 7 p.m.
The Festival is being presented by The Beach Music & Shag Preservation Society of South Carolina (BMSPSSC) along with Big Mamma Entertainment of Charleston, S.C.
In a telephone interview, Grady said she formed the BMSPSSC back in 2006 at the urging of Diane Pope, manager of the original Joe Pope Tams and wife of original member Charles Pope. “She [Diane Pope] talked to me for several years asking me to have a beach festival in Charleston,” explains Grady. “She said there was not a beach music festival here and she thought there should be. She said she had been thinking about it over and over and she thought I should be the one to do it. So about that same time an investor came along and said every one in Charleston pointed at me to help get a Beach Festival going.
“Well, with two strong people coming at me I decided to try it. I coined the name Charleston Beach Music and Shag Festival that first year and it stuck. That was in 2006 and I have continued every year on my own having the Charleston Beach Music and Shag Festival. The Joe Pope Tams have been in all but one of them.”
Festival sponsors include Strom Altman Suzuki of Charleston; Coast magazine and Alternatives NewsMagazine (myrtlebeachalternatives.com) of Myrtle Beach; music blog DarielB-Flying Under the Radar (darielb.wordpress.com). According to Grady, she is still seeking and accepting sponsors for the event.
BMSPSSC is a private nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization formed to promote, preserve and perpetuate the S.C. state dance, the shag, and South Carolina’s most popular music, beach music. Festival tickets are $20 per day for BMSPSSC members and $25 for nonmembers. Two-day tickets are $35/members and $45/nonmembers. Tickets may be purchased online at http://www.bmspssc.com or http://www.pivotsbeachclub.com. Special Festival rates are available at the adjoining Embassy Suites. For more information, call 843-814-0101.
Mary4Music.com gets over 32,000 unique visitors a month, and I don’t mean hits. (That number is in the hundreds of thousands.) I’m talking about individuals who come back to the site over and over again. I’m not particularly surprised, because I’m one of them. It’s a great site.
Mary4Music is one of the best resources around for all things blues – blues clubs, blues festivals, blues bands, magazines, websites, CD reviews and more. So I’m beside myself that they’ve asked me to add my interviews with blues artists to the site. Zowee!
The Mary in Mary4Music is Mary Roby. She’s a music fan from way back. About 13 years ago, she met blues guitarist Forrest McDonald online and wound up working with his Atlanta, Ga.-based World Talent Records label. “It began as a hobby. I used to update the web page for the label site. I put up a page of music-related links and that link page evolved into Mary4Music,” she told me on the phone last week. “Then I met Pete online, too. I had been to see Lonnie Brooks and commented on AOL about it. Pete responded, so I started checking out his reviews.”
Pete is Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro, Mary’s business partner, fanatic blues aficionado and CD reviewer. Pete adds, “I was working as a doorman at what was then a major blues clubs (now defunct) called Alligator Alley. I’d come home all wired up, not ready to sleep. There was section in the Jazz & Blues category in AOL called Who’d You See Tonight. So I’d review the shows I’d seen … Mary sent me an email about writing reviews for her website and that’s how we became partners.”
Today Mary4Music has evolved into a comprehensive resource used – and inspired by– both musicians and fans. Mary says, “I had one email that said, ‘I’m coming up north. Can you map me a route?’ That’s where the directory came from. Another guy told me that he had planned his whole trip from Canada through the U.S. based on my website.”“For us,” Pete (who gets to at least 40 blues events and festivals a year) explains, “blues isn’t just something to do on a Saturday night. It’s a lifestyle. “My wife, Rose and I, we take our vacations to blues festivals.” Asked about his favorite event, the Blewzzman answers emphatically, the Blues Awards, which are held each May in Memphis, Tenn. “Rose and I went to our first Blues Awards show in 2000, and we got hooked. I said to her, ‘We have to do this again,’ and we have, every year since. This year was my thirteenth consecutive year. “I know everybody. I know it sounds like I’m bragging, but I’m not. Blues musicians are so approachable.”
Pete and Mary have not gone unnoticed in the industry. This past October, Pete was invited to be a presenter at the Blues Blast Awards. “So here I am at Buddy Guy’s Legends in Chicago and Buddy Guy won my category. It was one of the most memorable moments of my life.” Mary4Music was also honored last year with a 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award in the Internet category from the Blues Foundation. These international awards are presented to individuals and organizations (non-performers) who have made “significant contributions” in both promoting blues and preserving the music.
Pete “Blewzzman” Lauro, who used to write for BluesWax online and Big City Blues magazine in Detroit, publishes CD review/s each month. By the first read, you can tell this is a man who loves his blues. I’ve been following his reviews for some years now, and my take is, if the Blewzzman tells you to check something out, check it out. You won’t be sorry.
On the subject of CDs, Mary4Music is currently hard at work on putting together a ten-track compilation CD. Sadly, it won’t be for sale. The recording, which is titled Mary4Music Presents Keeping the Blues Alive Vol.1 (with the blessing of the Blues Foundation), is a promo disc for radio deejays, to help get airplay for the groups involved. According to Mary, they hope this is the beginning of a series of recordings. To me it seems this is just one more way that Mary4Music is working to get the music out there.
You may notice when you visit the site, there are two portals, one titled Blues and the other, Indie. “Back when I first started working with Forrest, it was more about indie music,” Mary says. “But as I got into it, I started leaning more toward the blues, so I separated them.” There is clearly more blues-related information, but there’s plenty of indie resources, too.
What I’ll be doing with Mary4Music though is strictly blues. My plan is to continue my blog, DarielB-Flying Under the Radar, which covers mainly roots, R&B, soul and blues. But my interviews with blues artists will be posted at Mary4Music as well. I am so excited to be a part of this. Stay tuned. I’ll be posting my first Mary4Music interview soon!
If you haven’t been to Mary4Music.com already, I hope you’ll visit soon and “like” them on Facebook, too. (And in case you’re wondering why there isn’t a photo of Mary, you’ll have to take that up with Mary herself!)
Mama Rue’s Blues Garden in Pawleys Island, S.C. was under water during the recent torrential downpour, but owners
Marrue Bleau and Eric Sutherland know how to roll with the atmospheric punches. They stayed open through the worst of it and are already gearing up for a summer of jerk pork and blues.
The entertainment lineup for June includes local favorites along with some regional big names that, combined with Chef Eric’s magic in the kitchen, are pushing this “best known secret of the Grand Strand” to the forefront of the music scene.
During cool months, there’s an intimate corner stage inside the restaurant. Once it’s warm, though, everyone heads outside to the Blues Garden with its live oaks, bottle tree and friendly, rustic bar.
June offerings include:
Friday June 15, 8 p.m. Pastor Pastor, a blues trip off the beaten path.
Wednesday, June 20, 7 p.m. Jeff Liberty. From Columbia, S.C. Liberty’s scorching guitar and smokey vocals make him a favorite at Mama Rue’s.
Friday, June 22, 8 p.m. Re-Fried Blues. This local group plays some rockin’ blues. Members include Mike Markiewicz (vocals), Rick Oliver (bass), Chicago Bob Hess (guitar), and Ed Roderick (percussion), Sadly, Todd Roth “aka”My Buddy Todd” is off finding his fortune in Austin, Texas, so he won’t be joining them onstage.)
Wednesday, June 27 (not yet scheduled)
Friday June 29, 8 p.m. Back Road Hounds. Another local group, the Hounds play hard drivin’ contemporary blues. Players are Eric Stair (drums), Johnny Webb (bass), Mike Donellan (lead guitar and vocals), and Steph Wilmson (harp and vocals).
If you’ve been in the Carolinas for any length of time, most likely you know Charlie Snuggs. You may not remember which band you know him from, but you definitely know him.
“I’ve played in so many bands, even I can’t remember them all,” laughs the versatile guitarist during lunch in Little River, S.C. this week. “I’ve been with country bands, dance bands, blues bands … all of them.”
Born in Highland Park, Ill. to native N.C. parents, Charlie moved to Pittsburgh, Pa., Lakewood, Fla. and Thomasville, Ga. all before he was five years old.
“My dad was a municipal manager,” Charlie explains. “He’d be fired and rehired with every election. We lived all over the place.
“Blues was in the air in southern Georgia, when I was there in the 50s. The old men playing on the street fascinated me, and I’d put a penny in the cup, and sit to watch them.”
Family life revolved around music, too. Charlie’s old sister played classical piano. His father sang in the choir at church and community events.
Sunday, Feb. 9, 1964 was a pivotal date for a young Charlie Snuggs. He, along with a reported 73 million others, watched The Beatles for the first time on the Ed Sullivan Show.
“Watching John Lennon, it hit me. That’s what made me get a guitar.
“It took me two years to learn my first song. I did it by ear. It was ‘Love Me Do’ by the Beatles.”
His next big musical moment would come in 1967 with the release of Cream’s critically acclaimed psychedelic rock album Disraeli Gears. It catapulted the young guitarist into a whole new area of music – blues.
“I started really listening to British music … the Yardbirds … the Stones … I didn’t know it was blues, but I knew I liked it.”
During this time, Charlie was busy playing. At 14, he had his first gig, playing for a teenage center (By now the family was living in Mooresville, N.C.). A few years later he landed a spot with a more experienced band, Nova’s IX. They had recorded a record and appeared on American Bandstand. The band included Bobby Nance (trumpet player for the Catalinas), vocalist Gary Brown and guitarist Sammy Ingram (now a professor at Clemson).
“They hired me to take Sammy’s place … a 17-year-old in a happenin’ band … I think Gary Brown got me drunk for the first time!”
Later on, in Charlotte, N.C., Charlie met drummer Earl Truette, and then the Barkley brothers – Rusty and Johnny.
“We toured the hotel and fraternity circuit, playing Top 40. Then one day the Barkleys walked in wearing cowboy hats and boots. ‘We’re shutting this band down. We’re going to play country.’
“So now we’re a country band,” said Charlie.
Rusty Barkley’s comment to me about this, when I reminded him of the incident during a phone conversation this afternoon? “That was the only way we could get out of playing disco … And doing country really opened up another kind of playing for us. Charlie’s dad had told him, ‘You’re never going to be a real guitar player until you can play Chet Atkins.’ So Charlie started doing “Yakety Axe” [the Chet Atkins 1965 single, which was an adaptation of "Yakety Sax" by his friend saxophonist Boots Randolph.] Then doing James Burton‘s chicken pickin’ stuff and playing with Jim Brown, a guitarist for Charlie Daniels Band, who had a big influence on both of us … well the country thing opened us up to a new kind of playing.”
So the newly designated country group hooked up with Larry Presley, who built the Beach Wagon on Business 17 in Myrtle Beach and Kaleidoscope Productions.
Continuing his saga, Charlie says, “We opened the place and played there for a couple years, opening for folks like George Jones, Vince Gill, Patty Loveless and others, until the band broke up. Rusty and John went back to Charlotte. Earl and I stayed here.
“My next adventure was at Sock’s [Myrtle Beach club on Hwy. 501]. It’s around 1979, and I’m working the 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. gig.
“I played with Kerry Michaels and Mike Stevens for about a year. It was a crazy place … gambling, hookers. John Jenrette [from the FBI ABSCAM debacle] used to hang out there.”
“I moved to Nashville; that didn’t work out. Went back to Charlotte, got a great gig with the Country Underground [now Morehead Street Tavern]. Upstairs was the blues band and downstairs, it was country.”
Back at the beach in the late 80s, Charlie was again playing country music with Silver at the Beach Wagon. After Hurricane Hugo, he joined Party Sharks playing the hottest gig in town at the Holiday Inn in downtown Myrtle Beach.
When Chicago Bob Hess quit his gig with Blues Express, the house band at House of Blues in Myrtle Beach, Charlie took his place.
“It was great,” he says. “They sent us to Orlando for two months. We opened for Johnny Winter … we opened for
Robin Trower – one of the highlights of my life.”
In the mid nineties, Charlie played at Sandpipers. “Bo Diddley came in, hired a local band, so we hung out, another great time. What a storyteller he was. And I ran Smokehouse Brown’s band for a while.”
After that, Charlie played with local musician Jaynie Trudell, for some 15 years. In fact they still work together sometimes and pull in the crowds when they do.
“I decided at some point I wanted to have a blues jam band. And that’s the Sharks [formed in Fall 2011], with Earl Truette on drums, Terry Harper on bass, and me on guitar. It’s sort of Widespread Panic meets Albert King,” he says. “You can’t just mimic old Elmore James sound. The rhythms are different now. So our jam band sound is appealing to a pretty broad crowd.”
Charlie Snuggs is all about the music. When he’s not playing, he’s practicing or listening to music.
“I study music all the time,” he tells me.” I’m fascinated. I like it. I like hip hop rhythms. I listen to Rihanna and Mary J. Blige. I listen to Derek Trucks and Jimmy Herring.”
Chicago Bob, Ambassador of the Blues for the State of South Carolina elected by the National Blues Society Hall of Fame, told me, “Charlie Snuggs is probably the most accomplished musician I’ve ever had the pleasure to share a stage with … He probably knows more styles of music then anyone I’ve ever met … Charlie is the absolute best
I’ve ever worked with and I’ve been at this business for over 40 years.”
Kerry Michaels and bandmate Terry Harper concur. She said, “Charlie and I go way back [He is a] great, great guitar player as everyone knows, but with Charlie this is no other guitar player as sincere and honest. He has always been my friend.”
Terry adds, “Charlie has such great stage presence. He brings a personality to the stage before he even opens his mouth … and his playing …. it’s just topnotch.”
Rusty Barkley was happy to elaborate. “Charlie’s ability to set a groove helps other players sound better,” said Rusty Barkley. “He’s never selfish, always does his best to help. It was Charlie, back in the day, who pulled me along. He knew theory and taught me … I always loved playing with Charlie … He was playing like Jeff Beck; I was playing Clapton. We put it together and got rock & roll … oh, and Charlie on slide…
Charlie told me that a great guitar player doesn’t want to play a bunch of notes. “We want to make the guitar sing like a voice … like B.B. King says about Lucille.”
“I hear so much emotion in Charlie’s playing,” adds local blues legend Michael “Pops” Stallings. “It’s not just technique. It’s more.” And when you go see Charlie Snuggs play guitar. That’s what you get. More.
You can catch Charlie jamming with the Sharks at 2001 Night Club on Sunday nights, beginning at 9:30 (often along with pals such as Chicago Bob, Kid Drew, Anson Funderburgh, Jaynie Trudell, Scott Cable, Digger Tozzi, and Calabash Flash. On Wednesday nights, he’s usually there, too, playing with the Coco Loco Party Band. And if it’s country licks you’re lusting for, look for the Most Wanted band, with Charlie Snuggs on guitar.
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 email@example.com, 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.
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!
Even with gas prices reaching $3.95 a gallon in some parts of the southeast (according to gasbuddy.com), summer is for road trips. And road trips mean music. So with that in mind, here are three recordings, as different as different can be, but each wholly satisfying and exciting in its own way.
Eric Brace & Peter Cooper
Red Beet Records (2010)
I mentioned this album in my last post because I was about to go see these guys at their South By Southeast show at the Myrtle Beach Train Depot. I was so taken with their performance that night, I picked up a copy of the CD and have been transported to another place ever since. Mind you, this is more acoustic guitar than I’ve listened to for the whole last year, but it reminds me how much I value melody and harmony and intelligent song-writing.
Master Sessions features two of East Nashville’s up and comers: Peter Cooper and Eric Brace. If you’re at all into Americana music, you need to know about these two. For this 11-track disc, they’ve enlisted the talents of two of their own musical heroes: Mike Auldridge, legendary dobro player for the Seldom Scene, the progressive bluegrass group out of Alexandria, Va. and master of the pedal steel guitar, Lloyd Green. Throughout the recording, the synergy is awe-inspiring.
Opening track is “Wait a Minute,” the bittersweet Herb Pedersen tune about love shattered by life on the road. This song, by the way, was a staple for the Seldom Scene. And both Cooper and Brace say they used to be mesmerized by the group’s performance of it – long before they ever met. “Circus” is a sweet little tune penned by Brace and Cooper, one that I find completely enticing. Maybe it’s the simplicity. In the album notes, they credit contributions by Lloyd and Auldridge for taking the song “far beyond what Eric and Peter could have imagined.”
Track 8 is “I Flew Over Our House Last Night,” written by country legend Tom T. Hall. It’s another quietly longing tune that’s performed simply and beautifully. Of course, I could say the same thing about the whole album. And I do.
Track List: Wait a Minute, Suffer a Fool, It Won’t Be Me, Missoula Tonight, Big Steve, Circus, Behind Your Back, I Flew Over Our House Last Night, Nice Old Man, Silent Night, I Wish We Had Our Time Again.
Youth Is In Our Blood
The Dirty Guv’Nahs
In a nutshell, this CD is a rockin’ good time, and I can’t wait to take it on the highway with me. The sound is sophisticated and fresh. The band is tight. The vocals blow me away. There’s a great mix of rockers and power ballads. But why had I not heard of these guys before? Have I been living under a rock?
The Guv’Nahs have played Bonnaroo. They’ve opened for names like Zac Brown, Drive By Truckers, Blues Traveler, and Levon Helm, naming just a few here. The Dirty Guv’Nuhs has been voted – three years in a row – Best Band in Knoxvillie, Tenn. by the Metro Pulse Readers Poll.
Recorded at Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, N.Y. Youth Is In Our Blood brings some strong country, blues and soul influences to bear. Opening rocker “Baby We Were Young” sets the CD’s theme.
Love was the shape we made
Love was the breath we drew
Love was in our blood
And baby we were young
“Wide Awake” is a vocally rich ballad, somehow simultaneously fresh and reminiscent.
I’ve never seen this band live, but I’m betting that “Ain’t It Strange” is a great sing-along.
This band is one to watch.
The Dirty Guv’Nahs are Michael Jenkins (guitar), Justin Hoskins (bass), Aaron Hoskins (drums), Cozmo Holloway (guitar), Chris Doody (keyboards/ organ/vocals) and James Trimble (vocals). All 13 tracks are original with music and lyrics by Jenkins and Trimble on all except track 12 by Chris Doody and track 13 by Aaron Hoskins.
Track list: Baby We Were Young, Wide Awake, Walk Wtih Me, We’ll Be the Light, Song For My Beloved, New Salvation, It’s Dangerous, Courage, The Country, Blue Rose Stroll, Ain’t It Strange, Seeds On the Rise, Recovery.
Trouble With Lovin’
Serenity Hill (2010)
You remember the female vocalist in Little Feat belting out the Bob Dylan tune, “It Takes a Lot To Laugh, It Takes a Train To Cry,” on Chinese Work Songs (2000)? Well, that was Shaun Murphy. And this mama rocks the room. After leaving her gig with Little Feat in 2009, Murphy – also a veteran of Bob Seger’s Silver Bullet Band and Eric Clapton’s tour band – formed the Shaun Murphy Band and released her first solo CD, Livin’ the Blues (Serenity Hill 2009), followed by last year’s Trouble With Lovin’ .
The ten-track CD is chock full of Murphy’s signature soulful blues, velvety smooth one minute, gritty the next. It’s hard to choose a favorite tune. The title track, “Trouble With Livin’,” is classic Shaun Murphy, really showing off her vocal range. “Blue Tears” is a sexy piece that can get your hips to swivelin’ in a heartbeat. On Burton Gaar’s “Mississipi Water,” Shaun gets that gravelly thing going that we love so much.
Also featured on the CD are some of Shaun’s high-powered buddies including Grammy Award nominee Johnny Neel (keyboard, harp), keyboard player Mike Finnigan, saxophonist Danny Pelfry.
In my unasked-for opinion, Shaun Murphy should be a lot more famous than she is. Buy her CD. Help make her famous.
Track list: Bed of Roses, Deservin’ of Love, Mississippi Water, The Trouble With Lovin’, Hopelessly In Love With You, Blue Tears, Did you Call, Rio Esperanza, The Blues Don’t Tell It all, That’s What Love Will Make You Do.
This is also published in Alternatives NewsMagazine and Coast Magazine (issue June 2 – 16, 2011) and in the online version .