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.
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!!!
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.
Recently, the folks at NoDepression.com were lamenting the fact that satellite radio, sites like Pandora and other subscription streaming services were really chipping away at what they refer to nowadays as terrestrial radio.
But I do agree with one point: live radio rocks! Where else do you get turned on to new music or get the backstory on that old, old, old tune? Who else tells you about the virtuoso guitarist that you somehow didn’t notice in the venue’s ad two weeks ago? I love a deejay with personality, someone who can add his or her two cents to the mix … and does.
Anyway, this prompted a visit to the offices of our own newly resurrected local FM station, 94.9, The Surf, right in the heart of Ocean Drive (for out-of-towners, that’s the section of North Myrtle Beach, S.C. famous for its Carolina beach music, shag dancing, and adult partying into the wee hours).
Current owner, or more accurately, co-owner, Bill Norman took time away license renewal chores to talk with me about what happened and what’s ahead for the station.
As most of you reading this already know, WVCO, 94.9 on your FM dial, has been one of the main radio outlets for Carolina Beach Music since the summer of 1998. After being named Station of the Year for nine years running, in 2010, the station became part of a personal bankruptcy filing by then owner Harvey Graham. It seems that the banks became involved because Harvey had pledged some stock in a condo development deal that failed (That’s been rehashed in the papers already. Google it for details).
At this time, BB&T and Horry County State Bank announced that they would sell the stock of Carolina Beach Music, Inc.
And even though the bankruptcy was personal and the radio station had not declared bankruptcy, the stock had became part of it. So, Harold Worley and Bill Norman worked out a partnership agreement and put in a bid. At this point, there were three entities involved: Harvey Graham, the banks and the Worley-Norman partnership.
Then Harvey died, complicating an already complicated situation. The banks went to court, had a receivership appointed, and the receivership became the owner. Carolina Beach Music LLC ( Norman and Worley’s company) signed with the receivership, and filed papers with the FCC to become a licensee.
For reasons that Bill Norman says he doesn’t understand, The Surf went dark on January 16.
The good news is that three months later on April 16, The Surf was back on the air. For a brief period, listeners heard a simulcast with WNMB-AM 900, also owned by Bill Norman.
Today, 94.9 FM The Surf is operating at full power, playing today’s Carolina beach music as well as classic beach music oldies. There are live deejays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The morning slot is filled by Skipper Summers. He’s been with The Surf for about six weeks and already striking a chord with listeners. You may recognize him from his previous On the Waveline With Marty Shirah talk radio show in Wilimington, N.C., or from his five-year stint with Dick Lee on the Big Talker.
“Skipper is a great communicator,” says Bill Norman. “He’s a good fit for the radio station.”
Ted Bell, who we all know and love from the original Surf, hosts the All Request Beach Café at 12:30 p.m. on week days. People leave him messages on Facebook, they call the station and they send emails. And now on Saturday mornings he hosts the Top 20 Countown. (I’m glad, because we’ve missed Ray Scott’s Top 40 show.) According to Ted, the top tunes are based on listener requests; reports from sales outlets such as Judie’s House of Oldies and the Wax Museum; and charts like Craig Fleming’s Beach Music 45.
Afternoon drive time is hosted by Freakin’ Deacon (aka Deacon Dawson), the multi-talented voiceover, artist, actor and off-the-wall deejay. Ask Bill Norman about Deacon and he just laughs. Freakin’ Deacon has that kind of effect on people.
Bill Norman recognizes the importance of building a rapport with his listeners. He said, “Our best indication of success is the response from our listeners and from our clients.
“The Surf is getting about 150 emails a day from listeners. Last Wednesday, we had 1,700 online with an average listening time of two hours.”
According to Norman, today’s Surf radio is owned by him along with Harold Worley and his children H.G.Worley, Jessica Worley and Lindsey Worley.
Bill Norman’s AM station, WNMB, which he has owned with his wife, Susie since 2001, shares space with The Surf at 429 Pine Avenue in North Myrtle Beach. An oldies station, WNMB plays hits from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. The station also runs community programming. It has between 500 and 550 streaming listeners every day.
Located in the same building, WNMB provides production for The Surf, and has its own deejay lineup.
Bill Norman has the morning slot, covering news and community information. Bob Dale, who was a mainstay at WTOB, Winston-Salem’s Top 40 station during the 60s and 70s, handles the afternoon time slot. Susie Norman works on air, too. And Jerry Holt has a regular Friday and Saturday night show with a devoted following.
Strange or Sweet?
No matter what your leanings, there’s something to love on both of these new CDs: Strange Love by Roy Roberts and Sweet Love from the Holiday Band.
Ocean Beach Records (2011)
When it comes to soul-blues, Greensboro, N.C. artist Roy Roberts is one of the smoothest, coolest, classiest around, and I expect this latest offering to bring him even more superlatives. The ten-track recording is classic Roy Roberts, showing off – among other things – his songwriting talents on all ten tracks. Vocals range from funky to sultry and back again. The Mofo Horns section is just killer.
The opener, “My Love Bone,” is a shout out from a man to the woman who owns his heart, and other favored organs. The Cray-esque “We Still Together,” with its nod to “I Slipped, Tripped and Fell In Love,” Roberts’ award-winning R&B tune from 2004, is sure to be a hit in the shag market. The title track, also reminiscent of Robert Cray stylings, showcases Roy’s very apt vocal abilities. “I Can’t Wait” is worth the wait. But, I’d pick up a copy today!
Players on the CD include: Roy Roberts (vocals, guitar, Hammond organ, keys), A.J. Diggs (bass, rhythm guitar), Chuck Cotton (drums), Eric Callands (piano, Hammond organ), Reggie Wall (background vocals on “A Woman Needs Love”), The Mofo Horns: Rusty Smith (trumpet, trombone), Scott Adair (tenor, baritone sax), Eddie Blair (additional sax solos). Strange Love was produced and mixed by Roy Roberts and David Seward. Engineering/ mastering: David Seward. Recorded at Rock House Studio.
The Holiday Band
Green Dot Discs (2011)
Sweet Love, the band’s new ten-track CD features a tasty mix of covers and original tunes penned by band members Mike Taylor and Duane Neese. The opening track, currently on several beach charts and a favorite with fans, is “She Sure Got Away With My Heart,” written by country writing team Walt Aldridge and Tom Brasfield.
“We always get a lot of requests for ‘Don’t Play That Song,’ so we decided to do the Aretha Franklin version It was a chance to show off our horn section,” says band leader Mike Taylor.
“Someone Like You,” (Van Morrison) with lead vocals by Taylor is a hugely successful track on the disc, and definitely one of my favorites.
“I love the arrangement,” says Taylor. “If you listen to the piano line, it’s almost like a Bruce Hornsby lick.”
Taylor and Neese wrote the title track about six years ago. It was originally recorded by the Castaways. “They never pushed it that much,” adds Taylor, “ so we recorded ‘Sweet Love’ ourselves, and it’s become a real signature song for Duane [lead vocals].”
Also included on the disc is “Jukebox,” another Taylor/ Neese tune, which won a 2010 CBMA award for Best Blues Song.
Players on Sweet Love include: The Holiday Band: Mike Taylor (vocals, guitar), Bill Ward (drums), Duane Neese (vocals, trombone), Bob Martin (saxophone), Doug Neese (bass, vocals), Mike Neese (vocals, guitar). Additional musicians: Robyn Springer (background vocals), Mark Stallings (keyboards), Rick Murray (drums), Tim Gordon (saxophone), Brad Wilcox (trumpet), Ben Shaw (trumpet), Keith Johnson, (trombone). Producers: Tim Eaton, Mark Stallings & Mike Taylor. Engineered by Tim Eaton & Mark Stallings at Studio East, Charlotte, N.C. Also recorded, mixed & mastered at Studio East.
This has been a great week for music. Strange and sweet, just like me.
Soul Man Clifford Curry
If you google “Clifford Curry,” you won’t come up with a lot of mainstream media and music outlets. There’s no article within the pages of Rolling Stone, no mention in Billboard’s Hot 100, no sweet Clifford on the cover of People or even AARP magazine. But there are still close to 9,000 references to this iconic veteran of soul and R&B music, among them some rabid soul fanatics and bloggers who more than make up for the mainstream’s disinterest.
These posts all mirror my own respect and affection for this resilient performer, often taking special note of his legendary hit, “She Shot a Hole In My Soul” (Gayden-Neese/ 1967). I’ve been having such fun digging through their sites, that I want to share some of them – and what they have to say about Clifford.
aka Jamison Harvey
Flea Market Funk
“Clifford Curry is a true Soul veteran. His voice carries out on this side, and he does prove that he is indeed a Soul Ranger, moving from town to town, group to group, and stage name to stage name, spreading the word of Soul to everyone. He’s mending broken hearts, giving that shoulder to cry on, and this is only in the lyrics.
The killer bass line and horn section reinforce the fact that this side is a definite Soul banger. So if he’s the Soul Ranger, he’s definitely a super hero for Soul. This man has sacrificed lots to get where he is today. He may not have topped the charts, but he made an honest living, preaching the Gospel of Soul throughout the United States, one song at a time.”
The “A” Side
“As the story goes, Mac Gayden’s friend Chuck Neese heard a DeeJay on WVON mention that some song or other ‘put a hole in his soul,’ and told Mac about it, planting the seed for this amazing record we have here today. I can’t help but wonder if what really happened was that Neese heard them play the great “Potato Salad Part One” by Philadelphia Jock Georgie Woods (The Guy With The Goods), in which he admonishes his listeners to never eat chicken on Sunday, as it will ‘put a hole in your soul…’… Be that as it may, [Buzz] Cason’s production of this Gayden composition [“She Shot a Hole In My Soul” ] is simply untouchable, and is one of the hottest R&B records to emanate from Nashville in the 1960s, in my opinion. I’m lovin’ Clifford’s ‘Help Me Somebody!’ there, right before Mac kicks in with an early example of the ‘slide-wah’ style that he would later lend to records like J.J. Cale’s Crazy Mama. Great Stuff, y’all!
“Clifford Curry is a stupidly good southern soul singer from Knoxville, Tenn. He, like so many other astonishingly good southern soul singers, never really got the credit he perhaps deserved. Both sides of this single [She Shot a Hole In My Soul] are stunning and I may post the other side [“We’re Gonna Hate Ourselves IN the Morning”] in a month or so.
This track was his biggest hit and topped out at number 40 in the R&B charts in 1967. I wish America had got it’s act together in the 1960s and then artists outside of Motown and Stax could have got some more recognition.”
Other blogs and websites that happily give Clifford his due credit include Soul Treats, the soul music blog by Soulville UA (soultreats.se); Funky 16 Corners, a terrific music blog focusing on funk and soul vinyl – and now MP3s (funky16corners.com); Marv Goldberg’s R&B Notebooks (uncamarvy.com) and Soul Detective, one of my blog faves (souldetective. blogspot.com).
Clifford Curry has been in the biz for some 50+ years. As a high school senior in Knoxville, Tenn., he joined a doo wop group called the Echos, becoming its sixth member. Shortly afterward, another doo wop group, the Clovers heard them and arranged for an audition with Atlantic Records in N.Y. While en route, Echos manager Fred Logan arranged for a stop in N.J. to talk to someone at Savoy Records.
Savoy signed them on the spot.
About this time (1955), Savoy management decided to rename the group, changing it to the Five Pennies (Did you catch that? The six-member group became the Five Pennies! Go figure.)
The young group cut two singles on the Savoy label – “Mr. Moon” and “My Heart Trembles.” During this time, Although “Mr. Moon” did fairly well, none of the group, all minors, saw much in the way of royalties. Fred Logan, who told Savoy he was the group’s guardian, reportedly had the checks sent to him.
Clifford said, “I received writing royalties from Savoy and checks from BMI, but nothing else.” Amidst the turmoil over royalties and payment, the group eventually went their separate ways. An obscene turn of events, if you ask me.
What followed was a series of groups: the Bingos, with Ernie Young’s Excello label; the Hollyhocks on Young’s Nasco label;and – for several years – the Bubba Suggs Band in Clarksville, Tenn.
Finally Clifford returned to Knoxville and went off on his own as Sweet Clifford, recording for both Nasco and Excello.
Under this moniker, he recorded four tunes in 1963: “Just a Lonely Boy:/”Baby! Just What Is Wrong” and “Things Gotta Get Better”/”Baby Kiss Me Again.” As luck would have it, there was some confusion at the label, and “Things Gotta Get Better” was credited to a very unhappy Clifford Sweet.
Several groups and record labels later, Clifford began writing songs with Knoxville deejay Rob Galbraith. They didn’t have much success, but the association would have one significant outcome.
It was through Galbraith, that Clifford connected with Buzz Cason, who had the rights to “She Shot a Hole In My Soul,” and the rest is history. Clifford released the tune in 1967 on Elf Records. It reached #95 on the pop charts and #45 on the R&B side. The flip side was “We’re Gonna Hate Ourselves In the Morning.”
Over the next three years, Clifford recorded seven more records for Elf; ”Soul Ranger”/”I Don’t Need You” on SSS International (1970); and several others. None were as successful as “She Shot a Hole In My Soul,” but now Clifford had a loyal following in the Carolina beach music market, which continues today.
Clifford Curry may not be mainstream, but he’s a star in my book, and I couldn’t wait to talk to him.
“I’m doing great,” the 70-something singer tells me in a telephone interview. “And, guess what, I’m going to make it to the Cammys this year!”
Last Nov., Clifford was all set to perform at the 2009 Carolina Beach Music Awards in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. when he was stricken with what turned out to be life-threatening blood clots in both legs. He spent two months in the hospital before going to rehab and finally returning home under daily nurse’s care. Almost a year later now, he’s much improved, but the experience, complicated by diabetes, has left his veins damaged, so he’s walking with a cane.
That said, he doesn’t seem to be slowing down all that much.
The charismatic entertainer released The Soul of Clifford Curry in March 2010 to very positive reviews. Clifford is the writer or co-writer for eight of the CD’s ten tracks, which showcase more southern soul and less white bread beach music.
Memorable tracks include the suggestive “Stacked In the Back” and “Love Injection.” “Black Sister, Soul Sister” is sweet but strong, a kiss blown to the sisterhood.
“I’ve been writing and recording demo tracks,” he tells me, “ and I’ve been performing. I just had a gig … a sold out show … with Buzz Cason, Jimmy Gilmer and Dickie Lee in Knoxville.”
He also penned “Don’t Say No (To Love),” the very successful title track to the latest Carolina Breakers CD.
On Wednesday, Nov. 3 – which will be yesterday by the time this posts – Clifford is scheduled to play at Third & Lindsley for his own birthday party, which somehow makes perfect sense to me.
Clifford, have the best birthday ever. You deserve it.
Thanks to Jamison Harvey, Red Kelly and Charlie Gower for giving me permission to include excerpts from their blogs. Love, love, love these sites and hope you’ll all visit them! ©2010 Dariel Bendin. All rights reserved.
Veteran beach music performer Billy Scott has had a tough couple of years. First off, in 2008, he comes down with hepatitis B. Then he’s diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. To complicate matters further he already had a problem with ulcerated colitis. That’s like a triple whammy.
“All three together kind of jumped on me with both feet,” he told me earlier this week in a telephone interview. “I was in the hospital for over a week. The doctors had to make sure the came up with the right combinations of meds. It wasn’t easy.
“But I survived. I didn’t realize how sick I’d been, how bad I looked until friends told me later they didn’t think they’d see me again. All the prayers and wel wishes came from ten thousands of fans. It was something. I remember standing on a stage in Greensboro, N.C. and I heard God saying, ‘Here is your strength back and I was singin’ and dancin’ . I had my strength back!
“But then last summer, mid-summer, my stamina wasn’t there. I started getting hoarse. I blamed it on pollen, allergies. In Oct. we had a show to do and I just couldn’t do it. I ended up going to an ear, nose & throat doctor.
“‘Yep. You got a growth down there on your vocal chord. Looks like cancer to me.’
“So I went to the specialist.
“‘ Yep. You got a growth down there. Looks like cancer. Come back on the 19th; we’ll do a biopsy.
“‘ Yep. It’s cancer.’
“ ‘ Okay, I said, ‘What we gonna do?’”
The doc gave him two options: cut out the cancer and spend the rest of his life whispering or go through radiation.
Radiation it was.
On Dec. 9, 2009, Billy Scott began five days a week of radiation for six weeks. He endured a burn on his neck that took another two or three weeks to heal. Mind you, he hasn’t worked for months at this point.
The good news is he’s getting his strength back, he’s feeling good and the doctors are optimistic about his future. But he still hasn’t worked.
So his good friends have figured a way to help out: the first annual Easter Charity Beach Blast at Ducks Beach Club, starting at 1 p.m. on Easter Sunday, April 4. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. It includes some great live music, some terrific BBQ and best of all, everything goes to Billy Scott. In fact, make your checks directly to Billy Scott.
At press time, confirmed performers included the Embers, the Clovers, Bo Schronce, Calabash Flash, Donny and Susan Trexler, Paul Craver, Dave Freeman, Ceasar, Tommy Black, Tim Clark, Gary Brown, J.D. Cash, Clay Brown, Mark Roberts, Terri Gore, Coco Loco, CraigWoolard, Sea-Cruz, and the Prophets Band.
Other artists who may be able to add their talents to the show are Maurice Williams, Big John Thompson and daughter Julie, Too Much Sylvia, Showmen and Danny Woods and Ken Knox from General Johnson and Chairmen of the Board.
Billy Scott has been giving his time and talent to the beach music industry for the past four decades. As chair of Beach Music Association International (BMAI) he has worked tirelessly to promote the R&B music that has become such an integral part of the Carolinas. He was named Entertainer of the Year at the 1982 Carolina Beach Music Awards and has been inducted into the Beach Music Hall of Fame (1985), the Carolina Beach music Hall of Fame (1997), the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame (1999), The R &B/Beach Music Hall of Fame (2000), the North Carolina Entertainment and Music Hall of Fame (2003), the Original Beach Boy Hall of Fame (2006) . . . the list goes on.
My point is, Billy’s been working for beach music for over 40 years. Maybe beach music fans could return the favor now.
For more information about the event, call Ducks at 843-663-3858. If you want to make a donation, send a check!
This Charleston band has been partying for years. Their main job is to have fun … and when they have fun everyone has fun. The popular dance band includes six sing-from-the-gut vocalists and the horn section is nothing to sneeze about either.
Bass player Jack Tankersley and Mike Shuler (guitar/vocals) founded the group in 1991. Both had been with the Rivieras. Jack was co-leader with Jimmy Hendricks, but left after a difference over which direction the band should take. Shuler followed shortly afterward and the two formed East Coast Party Band (ECPB). Jack serves as the day-to-day operations guy, handling bookings, costumes, song selection, etc. and Mike is his business partner, making decisions about the band.
Joel Reese (vocals/trumpet) and Mark Black (musical director/vocals/saxophone) make up the horn section. Jerry Polk (vocals/drums) was invited to join the band by his dad, the late Gerald Polk, who passed away in 2004.Prior to working with ECPB, The senior Polk had also been a member of the Swingin’ Medallions and the Melody Makers. Jason Moore (saxophone/keyboards) eventually replaced him. Rounding out the group are David Fuller (vocals/keyboards), James Moore (guitar/vocals), and Jack’s wife of 25 years, vocalist Beverly Tankersley.
Polk, who started playing drums professionally at age five, has performed with Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose. David Fuller began playing the downtown nightclubs of his hometown, Mount Pleasant, when he was still a teenager. In Columbia, S.C. he joined Lion a band managed by deejay Woody Windham. The group was signed by Mainstream Records and enjoyed some regional success.
Originally from Clover, S.C.Mark Black grew up with music. The Black Brothers, his father’s family (including his aunt) performed locally and practiced in the basement. By age ten, Mark had decided that he would play the saxophone. After graduating from Appalachian State University, Mark joined the Fabulous Kays. He was a member of the Embers from 1996 to 2004, and signed on with ECPB as their musical director. For the past two years, he has also played with The Legends of Beach, made up of former Embers bandmates. A very successful studio musician, Mark is also known for producing two full-length documentaries that have aired on the Discovery Channel and the History Channel.
Joel Reese has played trumpet with some of the best – Marvin Stamm, Rich Mattison, Bill Watrous and Roger Pemberton. And despite undergoing surgery for throat cancer in 1998, he’s still playing … and partying.
East Coast Party Band has recently been named as official ambassadors of Mount Pleasant, where they play on a regular basis. These ambassadors of fun will be at the Charleston Beach & Shag Music Festival at 3 p.m. on Sunday, August 30. You won’t want to miss the party.
This piece is also being published in the Beach Newz music column of Coast Magazine and Alternatives NewsMagazine, issue June 18 – July 2, 2009, p. 24.
Rev. Bubba D Liverance
Let My Peoples Dance (2008)
Label: Ain’t Bad Records
You know you’re in for some fun when the guy’s name is Rev. Bubba D Liverance, his band is called the Cornhole Prophets and the CD is titled Let My Peoples Dance. What you may not know until you pop it into the player however is the topnotch songwriting, musicianship and production quality of this disc.
Take your cues from the title, and get ready to boogie. Opener and title track, “Let My Peoples Dance” is a cleverly written shout out to the masses to take a minute to feel the beat and shake your bootie. “That’s What You Do” is a very danceable soul tune penned by Bubba and Sam Hankins. According to the good reverend, it was written in the same mold as “Double Shot of My Baby’s Love” by the Swingin’ Medallions where the writer’s so affected by a girl, her lovin’ made him turn flips, shout out loud and finally made him pass out. In this tune, her lovin’ has him “speaking in tongues.”
The swingin’ “My Baby’s a Seafood Platter”(Rusty McHugh/Wild Okra Music ASCAP) is one of just two not written or co-written by Rev. Bubba. “Ain’t No American Idol” is the rev’s initiation of a backlash against American Idol. He thinks they should have better finalists. In “Mo Better,” Bubba’s affection for 60s soul and R&B is apparent. “If You Can’t Shag” is one of the most popular – and controversial – tracks on the CD. The full lyric is “If you can’t shag, get your ass out of Carolina.” It was reportedly inspired by an eighth grade South Carolina requirement to learn the State dance – the shag. Can that be true? If you can’t shag, you can’t graduate from eighth grade?
By the way, the horns are none other than the Memphis Horns: Wayne Jackson (trumpet); Donnie Sanders (sax); and Carl Hale (trombone). Yep, the very same Memphis Horns from Sam & Dave’s “Soul Man” and Elvis’s “Suspicious Minds.” Musicians include Bubba D Liverance (guitar/vocals); Sam Hankins (guitar/vocals) Jane Rhodes (keyboard/vocals); Jonas Schultz (keyboard/saxophone/vocals); Austin Solomon (bass) Russell Garner (drums/percussion). DB. April 7, 2009.
A version of this post will be published in the entertainment section of Coast Magazine and Alternatives NewsMagazine, issue April 9 – 23, 2009, p. 26.