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!!!
When Odell Mickens calls me, he’s on the turnpike returning from Philadelphia, where he’s just played organ at the funeral of his friend’s sister. His friend is Earl Young, legendary drummer and owner of the Trammps, known around the world for their 80s hit “Disco Inferno.”
Mickens has played bass guitar for the renowned disco and soul group for the past 23 years. Once working 300 nights out of the year, the Trammps now play – by choice – fewer than 40 gigs per year, mostly benefit concerts and disco events like the Disco Explosion Tour featuring the likes of KC & the Sunshine Band, the Village People, Gloria Gaynor, Evelyn Champagne King and Sister Sledge. They pack the house wherever they go.
Mickens wants to work more often, however, so five years ago he formed R&B group Wallstreet. The five-man band plays the New York City area, New Jersey, Delaware and the Carolinas whenever the Trammps aren’t on tour. Derrick Dupree (“Body Work” from the dance flick, Breakin’) handles lead vocals; Rich Nichols is on guitar; Pat Smith is the drummer; Rob McCoy plays bass; and Mickens is the group’s keyboard player.
“I’ve made my living playing bass,” says Odell, “But the organ is my first love. Put a Hammond B Three in front of me and I’m happy.”
Mickens first became interested in music as a teenager, “When I was about 15, I had a buddy whose dad was a jazz bass player. I learned how to play Wilson Pickett and I got into some James Brown grooves.
Still in high school, Odell and his buddy formed a band that played school events. “We didn’t go to any of our proms,” says Mickens, “because we were playing at them.
“I came up through the sixties during Motown and soul, but I gravitated toward the Beatles, Cream and the Stones because they were playing instruments. I remember seeing George Clinton & the Parliament Funkadelic. They had crazy outfits and guitars. They weren’t just standing there!
“I thought, “I want to do that! That was a big moment for me. That’s when I started taking it seriously.”
Odell’s high school band evolved into Exit Nine, an eight-piece horn band with a substantial following in Jersey.
“This was the eighties. We were the regular house band at this club in New Brunswick called The Cave. We’d pack about 2,000 people in there. The band would travel upstate New York or Scranton, Pa. for three weeks and then we’d play The Cave for the fourth week.
Performing at The Cave, Exit Nine opened for many big name bands including Cool & the Gang, Patti Labelle, the Commodores, BP Express and the Trammps.
“When we opened for the Trammps in the very early eighties, I became friendly with Earl Young, the band’s drummer and owner. He invited me to play bass with his band. In 1983, I went to Boston and I’ve been with the Trammps ever since. We’ve toured Europe, Canada, the Caribbean. Through the Trammps I also got to know Bunny Sigler, who wrote many of the big soul songs, some of them back as a staff writer at Gamble & Huff [which became Philadelphia International Records ca. 1970].He went on to say, “Working with Earl Young and Bunny Sigler has been invaluable.”
Young, considered by many to have invented disco drumming (using the Hi-Hat cymbal throughout the recording, which deejays liked because it helped them cue up the music), got into music publishing early in his career. Both Young and Grammy-nominated Walter “Bunny” Sigler are savvy musicians, writing and producing for themselves and other artists. Bunny Sigler was a co-writer for “Somebody Loves You Baby,” Patti Labelle’s million seller and he also wrote Instant Funk’s “I Got My Mind Made Up.”A true R&B pioneer, Sigler’s work has been sampled by Mary Kay Blige and other pop and R&B stars of today.
As Odell talks about playing with the Trammps, he laughs, “It’s funny to me that the Trammps recorded tunes like ‘Zing Went the Strings’ and ‘Sixty Minute Man,’ both big R&B hits, but it’s ‘Hold Back the Night’ that’s had the biggest impact in the Carolina beach music market.”
Mickens first played Myrtle Beach during the Trammps 2002 tour at nightclub 2001. He had already cut his single, “Finally Friday,” so he gave a copy to the deejay, who played it, liked it and sent it over to 94.9 The Surf in North Myrtle Beach.The song was then included on 120inc’s Soul Street compilation CD (2002). This was the beginning of a whole new fan base for Wallstreet.
Subsequent Wallstreet singles, all written by Odell Mickens, have also made it on various beach compilations. “The Little Things” was released on More Soul 4 (2004); “Closing Time”is on KHP’s Locals Too (2005).
Performing for the first time at the Charleston Beach Music & Shag Festival in 2007, the group was a runaway hit with beach music fans who loved the band’s “classic” beach sound and old R&B stylings.
Wallstreet’s next singles, “I’ve Got a Feeling and “Such a Beautiful Girl” were both included on KHP label’s Thinking About You (2008).
What’s next for Odell Mickens?
“Wallstreet is really looking forward to this year’s Festival in Charleston,” says Odell, “Harriett [Grady-Thomas] has been a blessing . . . a real treasure to us.” The band takes the stage in Charleston at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 29 right after New York soul singer Angel Rissoff.
Mickens is also talking to Rissoff about working together in the New York-New Jersey area. “I hope we can make that happen,” Odell says, “We’re going to see what we can work out. There may be another Trammp tour coming up, too.
Wallstreet is currently in the studio working on their upcoming singles, “He and She” and “Something You Got,” with some production help from Bunny Sigler. Wallstreet Live In Concert is also in the works. Recordings for it will include some from the Myrtle Beach area.
If you’re into sizzling soul, order up some Odell Mickens and Wallstreet. They deliver.
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.