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.
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 email@example.com. Gallery news is also posted on the website: www.sunsetrivermarketplace.com.
She D’Ambrosio is a talent scout, booking agent and all around lover of blues music. It’s been on her bucket list for quite some time now to put together a blues festival for the Upstate of South Carolina, and this month it’s finally come to pass.
On Saturday, Sept. 17, the inaugural Summer’s Last Blast & Blues Festival will take place at the Pavilion at Acadia in Piedmont, S.C. (a suburb of Greenville). The lineup is extraordinary, especially for the ultra-reasonable ticket price of $15 per person (free for kids under 12).
Headlining is the incredible Beverly “Guitar” Watkins and her band; then there’s Cee Cee James featuring the inimitable Rickey Godfrey on guitar; the Matt Walsh Blues Band; Freddie Vanderford with Brandon Turner and the Shades; singer songwriter J Edwards and his kick-ass band; and the King Bees. YEAH!
Beverly “Guitar” Watkins was born in Atlanta, Ga. in 1939, and she can play the pants off musicians half her age. She says, “My style is real Lightnin’’ Hopkins lowdown blues. I call it hard classic blues, stompin’ blues, railroad smokin’ blues.”
D’Ambrosio can’t wait to bring her to the Upstate. ‘Beverly is a national treasure,” she tells me. “She’s got a style all her own and she’s so charismatic. Wait till people see her with that guitar over her head.”
Watkins was a junior in high school when she joined Piano red and the Meter-tones. Later she played with Eddie Tigner and the Ink Spots and other groups, becoming a fixture at the Underground Atlanta.
She would go on to work with James Brown, B.B. King and Ray Charles, becoming well-known throughout the blues community. But like so many other roots musicians, she had little airplay, and wouldn’t achieve success until the advent of the Internet. Re-discovered by Tim Duffy, founder of the nonprofit Music Maker Relief Foundation, she joined Koko Taylor on the women of Blues “Hot Mamas” tour in 1998. Her debut CD, Back In Business (1999), earned her a W.C. Handy Award nomination in 2000, and she was on her way. A bout with cancer a few years later couldn’t keep her down, and she’s back touring and getting the kudos she deserves.
Originally from Portland, Ore., Cee Cee James was 12 when she put together her first band. She discovered blues early, but went on to explore R&B and her native cherokee roots. “Hiking in the mountains outside San Diego,” she says, “I heard Stevie Ray Vaughan whispering to me from the Heavens… “Go back to your roots girl. go back to what you do best,” which I intuitively knew was blues, low-down roots and soul.”
Her current blues band includes songwriting partner and husband Rob “Slideboy” Andrews and Nashville’s hot rockin’ bluesman Rickey Godfrey wailing on his Telecaster. This act is going to blow the sky open.
“Cee Cee James is a vocal volcano,” says D’Ambrosio. “There’s this gut-wrenching quality … Her originals come from walking through fire … and there’s just not enough to say about Rickey Godfrey. It’s an honor for us to have him here.”
J Edwards Band is going to shock a lot of people at this show. A popular Columbia, S.C. musician, he just isn’t well-known outside the area. But this boy can sing. His raw, rough, heart-wrenching vocals will stop you in your tracks.
In a matter-of-fact style that I’ve come to expect from She D’Ambrosio, she says bluntly, “J’s voice is my crack cocaine. He’s got a voice like no other. Once you’ve heard ‘I’ve Got a Woman,’ you know what I mean.”
Matt Walsh’s sound is rooted in the old-school blues of south-side Chicago in the fifties. He first gained national notoriety in 2006 when former guitarist for Muddy Waters Bob Margolin interviewed him for Blues Revue magazine. Since then Matt shared the stage or opened for Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal, Pinetop Perkins and others. This guy’s on his way up! Catch him while you can!
The King Bees out of N.C were formed by guitarist/organist Hound Dog Baskerville and singer/song-writer/bassist, Queen Bee Penny Zamagni. They have a musical pedigree I can’t even imagine. They have sat in with or backed up so many blues giants:Bo Diddley, Tinsley Ellis, Billy Branch, Mojo Buford, Big Jack Johnson, Sam Carr, Frank Frost, Lazy Lester, Ronnie Earl … the list goes on.
“When you hear that voice come out of Penny, who stands all of five feet … you wonder where it comes from,” says D’Ambrosio as she talks about the King Bees.
Harpman Freddie Vanderford is doing his part to keep the blues alive. In 2010 he received the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award for sharing the tradition of Piedmont blues harp. For the Summer’s Last Blast festival, he’s playing with iconic guitarist Brandon Turner and the Shades.
“Brandon Turner is one of the most underrated guitarists in the U.S. I can’t wait for this show,” She tells me.
“We have people coming fro Atlanta, Charlotte, Virginia, the Carolina beaches,” she goes on. “We’re hoping to have a lot of locals, too. We have a lot of talent in this area, but we wanted to bring in acts from out of the area, too … give people a chance to see someone that maybe they haven’t been able to see before.”
This is a family-friendly festival. Food vendors will be selling homemade ice cream, funnel cakes, hot dogs, barbecue, beer, wine, soda, tea, lemonade and more.
Vendor spots are still available for $25. As a further incentive, this year’s vendors will be able to return next year for the same price.
The Pavilion at Acadia is located at 102 Fathers Way in Piedmont, S.C. For more information, log onto the website at http://www.summerslastbluesfest.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit them on Facebook.
The talented multi-instrumentalist played guitar, sang and spoke about songwriting, his introduction to music and his experiences at the School For the Deaf and Blind in Spartanburg, S.C. Blind since birth, Godfrey suffers from Leber Congenital Amaurosis. His older brother, also a musician, has the same inherited retinal degenerative disorder.
Despite the challenges of being blind, Godfrey is considered one of Nashville’s premier blues guitarists and has been nominated for both Music City Blues Society Guitarist and Keyboard Player of the Year.
During the presentation, Godfrey demonstrated different genres of music, including blues, soul, R&B and performed music from his latest blues CD titled Nasty Man (Serenity Hill/2010). Godfrey’s previous recordings include Once In a Lifetime Love (Mossland/ 2006), Soul Sensations (Mossland/ 2003), and Let the Big Dog Eat (Aartvark Records/1983).
Since opening its doors in 2002, Sunset River Marketplace has actively supported visual, literary and performing arts through its charity events and community presentations such as the Creative Exchange lecture series. For more information or to join the gallery’s contact list for future events, call 910-575-5999 or send an email to lassiter@sunsetrivermarketplace. com. Both Sunset River Marketplace and Rickey Godfrey maintain Facebook pages.
What happened? Did the South head south for the winter? The new year’s blustery entrance and record deep freeze are taking their toll on me. I need some heat.
I’m hungry for somethin’ soulful to warm my innards and Deep Fried Southern Style, the 2010 compilation CD from Shanty’s Records more than satisfies my appetite for smokey old tunes, hot guitar licks and lip-smackin’ vocals. The 21-track disc is a tasty combination of soul-blues, R&B and shag tunes. So whether you’re fixin’ to sit back and enjoy it by yourself or invite a mess of folks over to dance and carry on, get yourself some Southern Style.
Track one is the soulful “A Love To Call Mine” by Johnnie Taylor. Penned by Paul Taylor, it’s from Taylor’s This Is Your Night album (Malaco Records 1984), and a sweet way to open the album. Track two is another tasty morsel, this time by Oscar Toney Jr., “No More Heartaches,” from his album, Sundazed (Bob Grady Records 2001).
Track three is “Katrina Katrina,” (think “Corina Corina”) by blues piano legend Henry Gray, from his Times Are Gettin’ Hard CD (Lucky Cat Records 2009). After 50 or 60 years, you think it might start to get stale, but Henry’s as real as ever.
Next on the menu is “Memphis Women & Chicken,” the classic from T. Graham Brown’s T. Brown Graham Live (Aspirion Records 2004). This soul-country tune was written by Gary Nicholson, Dan Penn and Donnie Fritts.
I have to confess here, that I don’t often enjoy compilation albums. I find them disjointed and without a concept.
Not this one.
Producer David Wade, who is also the owner of Shanty’s Records, has done a fine job of selecting tunes. The fledgling label, which he founded in 2010, is based
on the premise of “bringing back the songs and artists that have slipped through the cracks, or have been forgotten along the way.”
One of my favorite tunes on the disc is the soulful “Can’t Tear Myself Away” by Jamaican born singer/songwriter Ruby Turner from her 2005 R&B release So Amazing.
Burlington, N.C.’s Holiday Band is represented with another Dan Penn tune, “I’m Your Puppet,” originally performed by James and Bobby Purify in 1966 and later Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrill.
Two tracks from the Roadrunners are also included. Track 11 is “Let the Boogie Woogie Roll” written by Nugetre, Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler; and track 18, “Devil With a Blue Dress On,” made famous by Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels. Vocals on these two are by the late great Earl Gaines. On piano is Jay Spell, who sadly just passed away over New Year’s.
T. Graham Brown is back with his “Brilliant Conversationalist.” This is the original title track from his second album for Capitol Records (1987).
Mark Roberts & Breeze gives us “The Way You Love Me” and a rockin’ version of the 1997 Wayne Toups tune “Love Me As Hard As You Hurt Me.” The latter is also on his Cover To Cover album (Shanty’s Records 2010).
From Rickey Godfrey comes “G-Man,” written back in the 80s by Rickey’s brother and sister-in-law, Ronnie Godfrey and Kim Morrison (they’re also singing backup). A little trivia for you, this tune was featured for a bit on G. Gordon Liddy’s Radio America show in the late 90s.
Holly Singletary-Artis, well known throughout the Carolinas as one of the high-energy vocalists in the now defunct Sammy O’Banion & Mardi Gras, does a beautiful job on Carlene Carter’s “Come Here You.”
Deep Fried Southern Style is a deliciously rich music gumbo blending all my favorite ingredients – blues, R&B and soul. I wanted to know how David Wade developed his taste in music.
A deejay since the early seventies, he tells me his first gig was with the Air Force. From there, he went to CBS radio, where he hosted the syndicated Salty Dawg Blues & Review Show.
“I have been fortunate to have been able to deejay all over the world – on military bases, at American Embassy functions, state functions and more. I spent 21 years in the Air Force, retiring in 1989. Throughout my military career, I was able to keep playing music.
“I also owned Shanty’s Beach & Blues Club in Carolina Beach, N.C., which was nominated for a Cammy is first year of being opened. Shaggin’ Time was also nominated for Internet Radio Show of the Year the same year – 2009.”
Additional tracks on Deep Fried Southern Style are “Swanee River Rock” written by Ray Charles and performed by Manny Lloyd of Soul Posse; “Airtight Alibi,” another Johnnie Taylor original; “Broken Hearted Melody,” by Eliza (a hit for Sarah Vaughn back in 1959); “Stop Me From Starting This Feeling” by Clinton Horton of the Magnificents; “More Love,” a Smokey Robinson tune sung superbly by Holly Singletary-Artis; “Bubba White’s” by Charleston, S.C.’s Rick Strickland from his 2008 release Island Soul; and “Actions Speak Louder Than Words” by Men of Distinction.
Closing out the CD is the bluesy “You Do Me Wrong” by DieDra from Living the Bluz (RuffPro Records 2010) . That’s her husband Keithan Ruff wailing on the guitar and playing just about everything else on the track, too. I expect you’ll savor Deep Fried Southern Style down to this last tasty bite. I sure did.
Additional album credits: sequencing Midi, Richard Robertson and Terry Nash; engineering, J.K. Loftin/Cape Fear Studios.
I’ve been following Rickey Godfrey’s music for quite some time now – since I first heard his soulful rendition of Dan Penn’s “Smoke Filled Room,” which is on his Once In a Lifetime Love CD (2006). With this new recording, Rickey brings the same raw vocals to the table, but with a focus on the blues. Nasty Man (Serenity Hill 2010)is a self-produced CD and Rickey took the opportunity to showcase his considerable talents: songwriting, vocals, guitar and keyboard.
This CD is just plain fun, more fun, in fact, than it is “nasty.” I’m hard pressed to choose a favorite tune, but there are a few that stand out for me. The opener, “I Want Me a Nasty Woman,” co-written with Richard Fleming, is classic Godfrey: sharp, edgy lyrics and gutsy vocals punctuated by masterful guitar stylings. Guitar buffs will love the ending. And, by the way, that’s Shaun Murphy from Little Feat AND Bob Seger’s Silver Bullet Band singing backup with Rickey.
“Don’t Argue In the Kitchen” is kind of jazzy, a fast-paced cautionary tale, funny as all getout. Flo and Joe go out to a club, drink a little too much, some chick starts flirting with Joe, and by the time the couple get home again, Flo is still all riled up and pops him over the head with an assortment of cooking paraphernalia. Dangerous place, that kitchen!
“Johnny Jones” is a little bit of a departure. It’s full of sadness at the Oct. 2009 passing of Godfrey’s friend – and Nashville’s guitar legend – Johnny Jones. After moving from Chicago to Nashville in the early 60s, Jones was working as a studio musician, when R&B icon Ted Jarrett took him under his wing and actually taught him how to read music. He began working at a club called the New Era Club. During this time, a young Jimi Hendrix used to sit in with him, anxious to absorb Jones’ lowdown blues sound. There was said to be a guitar face-off between the two at some point, and if you can find an old copy of The Tennessean (one of the 2003 issues), you can read about it for yourself. Not surprisingly, Rickey’s guitar solos pay homage to the guitar giant, including some of Jones’ own blues guitar licks.
“Let’s Get Busy,” track ten on Nasty Man (co-written with Doug Jones), is a sexy dance tune and it features N.Y. soul singer Angel Rissoff along with Rickey on lead vocals. Their voices are exciting and energetic. They combine with Godfrey’s keyboard and guitar solos plus an unexpected saxophone riff by former Delbert McClinton player Don Wise to deliver a tune that blows me away every time I hear it.
I’m a live music junkie, and I love that one of the resounding themes of this recording is its unrelenting energy. But, even with everything going on – gusty vocals, searing guitar, solid rhythm, flashy keyboards –the players never drown each other out. Nasty Man is a strong Gotta Have.
Godfrey plays all guitar and keyboard parts. Other players include: drums – George Perelli (Michael McDonald, Larry Gatlin), Michael Grando and Tez Sherrard (Edwin McCain); bass Franklin Wilkie (Marshall Tucker Band), Doug Seibert; saxophone – Don Wise (Delbert McClinton); synthetic horns – Rickey Godfrey; background vocals – Shaun Murphy (Little Feat, Silver Bullet Band), Ronnie Godfrey (Marshall Tucker Band, Virgil), Kim Morrison, Angel Rissoff (Little Isidore & the Inquisitors, Kenny Vance & the Planotones).