This is going to be a lot of fun, so I thought I’d share it with you. Sunset River Marketplace,
the very cool gallery in Calabash, N.C. where I hang out so much, is bringing in Bo Schronce to speak at their next Creative Exchange event on Monday, April 23 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Bo formed the Fantastic Shakers back in 1978, so you know he’s got decades of stories to share.
Growing up in Lincolnton, N.C. Bo Schronce first started singing at church, but he admits candidly that he liked the attention that came with being the lead singer in a band. His very first group was the Little Logan Hot Dog Band (He was Little Logan). A few other small bands followed including Bo & the Fugitives and Nobody’s Perfect. In the mid 70s, he joined the Catalinas, one of the Carolinas’ definitive beach bands. In fact, it was Bo’s vocals recorded on what has become the band’s signature tune “Summertime’s Calling Me.”
However, Bo Schronce is best known for his Fantastic Shakers, which, by the way, he co-founded with keyboard player Dino Fair, now with the popular S.C. powerhouse trio, Sea-Cruz. The Shakers are known throughout the region for beach hits such as, “Myrtle Beach Days,” “Shakin’ the Shack,” and the classic ballad, “Where Do I Go.”
With the Shakers, Bo has built one of the most versatile bands around. Five lead vocalists, three horns and what seems to be a limitless song list of original and cover tunes mean this group is always in demand.
They have performed at Lincoln Center in New York City, where blues fans and radio station deejays welcomed them warmly. “After they heard ‘Shakin’ the Shack,’ we got in big with the N.Y. blues stations,” said Bo. “I didn’t know how to handle it. I’m just a redneck farm boy from N.C. who knows how to sing.”
Bo Schronce’s vocals are well known and respected throughout the industry. Nashville guitarist and vocalist Rickey Godfrey says, “I think Bo Schronce is easily the most talented, versatile singer in beach music. He can do everything … and he does!”
Jim Quick, front man for the Coastline band and King Tyrone & the Graveyard Ramblers agrees. “ Bo has a voice that is the representation of the greatest songs in beach music. He’s a performer who can’t be compared to any other I’ve known, a southern gentleman … A father figure, a tutor, a singer’s singer, a show man a nd a dear friend. He’s a red-neck badass, a family man, and the hardest worker in and out of the music scene … a man of truths and a man of the most audacious lies an ear can absorb.”
How’s that for a ringing endorsement, Bo?
The Fantastic Shakers have been guests of honor at both North and South Carolina gubernatorial events. Myrtle Beach has presented them with the key to the city. They have also played the American Bop Association Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio. The band’s gigs take them from the Carolinas and Virginia, beyond to Maryland, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma. Bo Schronce has taken home three Carolina Beach Music Academy (CBMA) awards for Male Vocalist of the Year. The band has five Group Album awards to their credit, plus other honors for singles and blues albums, including a 2011 Song of the Year award and 2011 Blues Song award for their hit single, “I Still Do.”
Despite all this, they cut back their play dates a little bit each year. “I want time for my family,” says Bo. “I love to garden, I love to fish and I’ve got my dogs – a competition pack of beagles that I take out whenever I can.”
Since opening in 2002, Sunset River Marketplace has become an active supporter of performing, literary and visual arts in the area. The gallery hosted Brunswick Arts Council’s Evening of Miniature Masterpieces fundraiser multiple times and is a regular sponsor for the Friday evening Summer Concert Series at Ocean Isle Beach.
Creative Exchange is an interactive community event held at Sunset River Marketplace. The gallery is located at 10283 Beach Drive SW (Hwy. 179) in Calabash, N.C. The Bo Schronce presentation takes place from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. There is a $7 fee and, due to limited seating, reservations are required. This event is expected to fill up quickly, so get your spot early.
For more information, call 910-575-5999. If you’d like to be notified about upcoming Creative Exchange, Coffee With the Authors or other gallery events, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Gallery news is also posted on the website: www.sunsetrivermarketplace.com.
Even if you’re not Carolina-grown, you may remember the rockin’ sounds of Nantucket. If you plan to be on the Grand Strand on May 19, you can hear them again. Nantucket is heading to Duck’s Beach Club on Main Street in North Myrtle Beach for a high-energy night of signature Nantucket tunes and a brand new CD of beach music that includes the group’s recent tribute to soul-beach icon, “General” Norman Johnson, who passed away on Oct. 13, 2010.
Formed in Jacksonvile, N.C. back in the late sixties, Nantucket was first known as Stax of Gold and later Nantucket Sleighride (after the song by Mountain).
Playing mostly covers, the group became a huge draw throughout North Carolina and later, the entire southeast.
After signing with Epic Records in 1977, they released their self-titled album which included the hit tune “Heartbreaker,” By that time they were touring nationally and opening for top acts such as KISS, Journey, Styx and the Doobie Brothers.
Touring now throughout the Carolinas, the group has just played the Red Rose Festival in Lancaster, S.C. and Thunder In the Smokies in Maggie Valley, N.C. After Ducks in Ocean Drive, they’ll head to Carolina Harley Davidson in New Bern, N.C. on May 21 and the Clayton concert series in Clayton, N.C. on June 2.
Today’s Nantucket features original members Mike Uzzell on keyboard bass and organ; Larry Uzzell singing lead vocals and playing trumpet, harmonica and percussion and Tommy Redd on rhythm guitar and vocals. Edddie Blair plays saxophone, keyboards and provides vocal suppport; and Jason Patterson is on drums.
The new seven-track CD is titled You Need a Ride to Raleigh. The show at Duck’s Beach Club at 229 Main Street begins at 9 p.m.
Folks around here have been driving themselves pure crazy waiting for Jim Quick’s latest funked-up collection of melodic metaphors telling tales of heartache, woe, one-night stands and other intimate snapshots of his tumultuous life.
Well I’m happy to tell all ya’ll that there’s no need to get your panties in a wad, it’s finally here. Hot off the Music City presses, the CD titled Down South is here, but this time around, our hero is singing a whole different tune.
He’s left his Coastline band behind – for the moment – and teamed up with Nashville songwriter/producer Gary Nicholson. All 14 tracks on the CD are either written or co-written by Nicholson, who has brought together a colorful group of mostly southern songwriters to help him tell us how it is Down South.
I don’t mind telling you I was a little skeptical since Jim Quick, a fine songwriter himself, is pretty strong in the colorful department … sort of Cole Porter meets the Soggy Bottom Boys. But it appears to be a smart partnership.
“I’ve been wanting to work with Gary Nicholson since Nothing Personal [Delbert McClinton’s 2003 Grammy-winning album, which was produced by Nicholson]” Jim tells me. ‘A Little Bit of Money,’ ‘Buying This Beer,’ ‘Mississippi Mud’ … all were totally written with Gary Nicholson in mind. What would he do if he were writing this song?”
Quick’s vocals throughout Down South are some of his strongest to date – raw and emotional, with a little swamp funk around the edges.
Opening track is “Living On Love,” co-written with Craig Fuller of Little Feat and Pure Prairie League fame. It’s a fast-paced, high-energy piece that hints of what’s to come.
Track two, “Rewind,” is a sweet little tune, almost pop in nature, but soulful and fluid. Nicholson wrote it with N.C. native Seth Walker whose own music melds blues, jazz and soul with his recently adopted Nashville’s country sound. Carolina folks will love its shag beat.
Up next is “Stronger Than You Need To Be,” penned by Nicholson and Twin City players Bruce McCabe and David Z (You may know David Z for the distinctive snare drum on the 1989 hit single, “She Drives Me Crazy” by the Fine Young Cannibals). This is a tune about tenderness and surrender, accentuated by a spot-on vocal delivery from Quick.
Title track, “Down South,” follows and it’s a righteous romp through swamp living, downhome cooking and all things southern. Listen for some fine slide guitar here from Canadian Colin Linden. Southern Canadian.
“I’m a Dog,” a co-write with Delbert McClinton, is going to be a favorite at live shows. Listen closely, you’ll hear Delbert barking, too. Fun tune that I expect will become signature Coastline.
Bekka Bramlett, talented offspring of the California country-rock duo Delaney and Bonnie, is the husky, sultry female vocal on the fast moving country-edged “Deal With It.” Written by Nicholson and Billy Burnette, this tune was on Bekka and Billy, the duo’s 1997 pop rocka- billy recording, and now she adds her significant voice to Quick’s for another lively version of the tune.
She’s also one of the writers on “Strongest Weakness,” which has a rockin’ gospel sound that’ll get you out of your seat. Is that the McCrary Sisters I’m hearing?
Other tracks include “No Good Place To Cry,” a take-your-breath-away ballad written by Nicholson and Randy Houser, “Forever Man,” a Tyrone Davis-type tune, which was co-written with Billy Currington; and “It’s Too Late” from Alabama southern roots voice, Adam Hood.
“Hurt That Bad” (Gary Nicholson/Billy Currington/Paul Overstreet) will grab your heart, guaranteed. Vocals and horns are especially noteworthy here. The jumpin’ “It’s Always Something” was written by Gary Nicholson, guitar great Al Anderson, Tom Hambridge and Delbert McClinton. “Don’t Shoot the Snake” (Gary Nicholson/John Hadley/Kevin Welch) is a great blues-driven closer that brings us full circle back to the swamp.
Players on the CD include: Lynn Williams, drums, percussion; Steve Mackey, bass; Rob McNeely, electric and acoustic guitar; Gary Nicholson, electric and Kevin McKendree, piano, Wurlitzer electric piano, Hammond B3 organ; Colin Linden, slide guitar; Al Anderson, guitar (“It’s Always Something”); Jim Hoke, saxophone, harmonica, Jew’s harp; Steve Herman, trumpet; Chris Charmichael, strings; Delbert McClinton, har- monica and barking (“I’m a Dog”); Jim Quick, lead vocals; background vocals, Bekka Bramlett, Perry Coleman, Regina McCrary, Ann McCrary and Frieda McCrary; producer, Gary Nicholson.
Apologies to Dan Tyminski, Harley Allen and Pat Enright. Soggy Bottom Boys is just way more poetic.
Cagle & Nash
If you’re not located in the Carolinas, you may not yet know about this Charlotte, N.C. duo, but Cagle & Nash are one of the best R&B acts around. Greg Cagle plays saxophone, guitar and sings lead vocals. Rick Nash plays a mean trumpet. Both are talented composers.
This soulful recording consists of 11 tracks and for my money, any one of them could be released as a single. Presentation throughout is solidly polished. This is pop meets old school and the result is spectacular. All songs on Soul Complete were written by Greg Cagle and Rick Nash.
The first song into it, I knew I was in for a treat. “Pick Up the Phone” is a jazzy piece that shows off the vocal talents of Greg Cagle, and Rick Nash – what a horn player!
The second track, “December,” boasts some equally rich horns. Also of note are the disc’s harmonies by Cagle and backup singers Robyn Springer and Jarrett Gillis.
Musicians on Soul Complete include: Greg Cagle (drum programming, saxophone, lead vocals, background vocals, guitar, bass, vibraphone), Rick Nash (trumpet), David Rhyne (percussion), Joe Miers (bass), Bobby Aycock (piano), Larry Gianneschi, Zach Wheeler, Greg Mitchell (alto sax), David Floyd (string arrangement, strings), Robyn Springer (lead and background vocals), Jarrett Gillis (background vocals), Tovaris Matthews (drums), Kenneth Leonard Jr. (piano), Steve McGuirt (drums), Bill Baucom (piano), Di Yonna Mitchell (lead vocal).
If you’re a fan of R&B, soul or pop, you’ll want to give this album a listen.
C&N is releasing another CD titled Loungevity later this month. I haven’t hear any of it yet, but I’m expecting big things.
Awendaw Green Records
I love the simplicity and authenticity of this CD. There’s virtually no digital manipulation. It’s just one lone acoustic bluesman singing, picking and stomping his own version of backwoods Delta blues.
Jeff Norwood is a superb storyteller. He doesn’t judge. He just tells it like it is – whether he’s singing about sex, race, religion, love, money or catfish, he just has a story to tell.
“Bad Ass Boogie” is “the way music was made, back in the woods, back in the day, everybody got high, everybody got laid, that was the tune that always got played, the bad ass boogie.”
“Walking Catfish Blues” really is about a big ole catfish walking around looking for love and something to eat.
“Horny Road” is the back country counterpart to suburbia’s Lover’s Lane, only the couples don’t stop.
In the same vein, “Shake” will transplant you to a street corner or a front porch on a sticky summer evening when temperatures and hormones are on the move.
Our faithful bard wrote all but one of Awendaw’s ten tracks. “Kokomo Blues” was written by North Mississippi blues guitarist/singer Fred McDowell (1904 – 1972).
Norwood, who grew up working on a S.C. farm, has paid his dues working some rough roadhouses and juke joints. Maybe that’s why he’s so matter of fact about his subject matter.
Awendaw, which is named for the small S.C. town where Norwood records, should be part of any serious blues collection.
I first heard this phenomenal performer at a club in Columbia, S.C. He was playing to a packed room – folks who knew the lyrics to every tune and the story behind it. It didn’t take me long to appreciate Edwards’ considerable vocal talent and songwriting skill. His voice is whiskey-edged velvet, tender and tough at the same time.
His latest CD, Everything Changes delivers the same kind of live energy and raw vocals that keep his fans coming back for more. As a songwriter, J Edwards ( and yes, his first name is J) wears his heart on his sleeve, and while his tunes aren’t necessarily autobiographical, he makes us believe they are.
The 11-track disc opens with a rockin’ Delbertesque number called “Junkyard of Love,” a song about a guy talking about a girl who’s maybe worked her way through most of the guys at the bar, and by the end of the tune, he’s going to get himself a “mechanic to start working out the kinks in his heart.” He’s ready to move on.
“Carole Ann” is a hauntingly sweet tune of life on the road. Edwards then picks up the pace for “Can’t Get Over You.”
“Lover’s Moon Over South Carolina,” is a road trip anthem with a special yen for heading home to South Carolina. It was voted in the top three at the Songwriter’s and Musician’s Guild of South Carolina songwriting competition.
Let yourself give in to “Skye.” Crank it up and go. It’s just plain fun.
Track seven, “Baby,” is going to take your breath away and fill you full of longing and sweetness until you just ache all over. This is that whiskey velvet I was talking about. Add to that, guitar work by Charles Funk … well, just wait for the goose bumps. They comin’.
Without even giving you time to recover, “If I Had To” is up next and it’s another tune that strips away the layers as you listen to it. Good stuff. Also called “Conner’s Song,” J was inspired by Columbia’s Chris Conner, lead singer for Sourwood Honey and later The South, who passed away in late 2007 of lung cancer.
“Use Me” takes the emotion from the previous two ballads and channels it into a rockin’ romp for the whole band.
Edwards’ songwriting ability is evident on “Catch Me,” a song of love and leaving and lamenting the contradiction of it all. The road warrior longs to stay but feels the constant pull toward the highway. As with most all J Edwards’ songs, powerful vocals combine with solid band performances.
All songs were written and performed by J Edwards (acoustic guitar). Other players include Charles Funk (acoustic, rhythm, lead guitars); Hesham Mostafa (bass guitar); Greg Bickley (keys on “Catch Me” and “Lover’s Moon;” Buddy Parker (keys on “Junkyard of Love;” Evan Simons (drums); Mike Marchbanks (drums on “If I Had To” and “Can’t Get Over You;” Erin Bates (background vocals on “Junkyard of Love”).
At this writing, the J Edwards Band has begun work on a new blues CD. They expect to be back in the studio by early March and hope for a summer release.