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.