DarielB – Flying Under the Radar

CBMA Honors Trailblazers

Posted in Music Stories by darielb on January 29, 2009

Here’s what I love about the Cammys. It’s a wonderful thing when an industry takes the time and makes the effort to thank and honor those whose contributions over the years have helped shaped that industry. And that’s exactly what will take place this coming weekend at the 2008 Carolina Beach Music Awards.

During a rockin’ show of contemporary beach music artists at the Alabama Theatre on Sunday, Nov. 9, the CBMA board will also be celebrating two long time performers with Pioneer Awards – national R&B artists, Little Anthony & the Imperials and South Carolina’s own Blues Doctor, Drink Small.

Brooklyn born Anthony Gourdine was the lead singer for the Chesters in 1958 when the group was discovered by End Records. The label quickly signed the group and changed their name to the Imperials. Their first 45 out of the gate was “Tears On My Pillow”(flip side “Two People In the World”). It’s said that WINS DJ Alan Freed dubbed the singer Little Anthony, and the name stuck. The group disbanded briefly, and later signed with DCP Records. An amazing string of hits resulted from this mid-sixties alliance: “I’m On the Outside Looking In,” “Goin’ Out of My Head,” “Hurt So Bad,” “Shimmy Shimmy Ko Ko Bop” and “Take Me Back.”

In 1975, Little Anthony left to pursue acting and a solo career. The group, with founder Clarence Collins, continued performing as the Imperials. In 1991, the group reunited for a special concert. Ernest Wright returned from Europe. Sammy Strain, at that time, was a member of the O’Jays., but happily signed on. They’ve been performing again as Little Anthony and the Imperials ever since. If you’re at the Alabama Theatre in North Myrtle Beach this coming Sunday, you can shimmy shimmy right along with them!

Drink Small (yep, that’s his real name), by contrast, is a classic bluesman. He has been singing and playing the blues since 1950-something. Born in Bishopville, South Carolina, he plays virtuoso blues guitar, two-fisted piano and sings the blues in a unique basso profundo voice. He’s a member of the South Carolina Hall of Fame and has received the South Carolina Folk Heritage Award.

In May of this year, Drink released Trying To Survive At 75, a 10-track CD recorded at the Jam Room in Columbia , South Carolina. He also performed at this year’s Piccolo Spoleto festival in Charleston, South Carolina. According to Gary Erwin, musician and organizer of the annual Lowcountry Blues Bash in Charleston, “Drink Small has been many Carolinians’ blues point-of-reference for several generations. With a recording career reaching back to the mid 1950s, countless performances, and ongoing mentoring of younger musicians, Drink is truly South Carolina’s modern blues legend…long live The Blues Doctor!”

David Hicks with Band of Oz and Keith Houston, also with Band of Oz and KHP Music founder, are both being honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards. David Hicks was born to be a drummer. Literally. His is a family of drummers. Older brothers, Ervine Hicks (Tassels, Pieces of Eight, Swinging Medallions) and the late Tommy Hicks (Buddy Skipper & the Jetty Jumpers) were stickmen as well as two uncles. David joined beach music staple, Band of Oz in 1976 and has been with them ever since. He also handles bookings for the group through Different Drummer, a company which was formed by Ervine during the 1960s and now owned by Hicks and Keith Houston.

Honoree Keith Houston plays bass guitar with the Band of Oz when he’s not engineering or producing music for other artists through KHP Music (and the KHP/Ripete Records association). Last year, he took home three CBMA awards and this year, he’s nominated for nine or ten more. Keith is quick to say, “It means more to me to see the artists nominated. Those are the fruits for me.”

According to Rickey Godfrey, who earned one of his multiple CBMA awards for his duet for Andrea Kessee , produced by Keith Houston, “Keith has years of experience at recording many different kinds of music, from boogie to blues, shag dance music and smoothies. He is used to recording and getting great sounds out of every instrument used in beach music. I especially like his horn sounds.

“He goes for what feels good, he doesn’t ruin a good production by getting too technical with a recorded song. He’s also a great mastering person in beach and shag music, never adding too many effects, or too much compression … never adding too many lows or highs to a finished product.”
CBMA Hall of Fame inductees for 2008 also include:
•South Carolina DJ, Dan E Lockemy, who has been an institution in Florence for over 25 years. He had a beach music show on WJMX in the late eighties, and today is the host of At the Beach on 105.5 Sunny, WDAR-FM. You may also know him as the voice over in the familiar Blacks Tires commercials that run in the Carolinas and as the on-track commentator at Darlington.
John McElrath, founder of the Swinging Medallions. After touring the Carolinas and the southeast, John took his fledgling band to Arthur Smith‘s famed studio in Charlotte, North Carolina where they recorded “Double Shot of My Baby’s Love.” Enough said? That song became a million seller by 1966 and is still a hit with college students (and their parents) all around the country. John remains with the band to this day, and now shares the spotlight with his sons Shawn and Shane.
Charles Pope, founding member of the mighty Tams, who stepped in to fill the mighty large shoes of brother Joe Pope after he passed away. Charles continues to perform with the group and has become a favorite with audiences throughout the southeast. The Tams, you may recall, were inducted into the CBMA Hall of Fame in 1995.
Ron Moody & the Centaurs, known for their version of “If I Didn’t Have a Dime,” which was released nationally on the Columbia label during the late 60s. Today, it’s a hot ticket item for collectors all around the world. Good luck finding one!
The group released Gon’ Dance in 2007, with the title cut doing well on the beach charts. Unknown to many, Ron Moody is also the writer for Archie Bell‘s current hit, “Do That Thang Again.”
•Amazing 1940s doo woppers Jimmy Ricks & the Ravens. Jimmy Ricks has been called the “founding father of R&B bass vocals.” Beach music lovers know well “Green Eyes,” but many don’t realize that the version of “White Christmas” by Bill Pinkney and the Drifters was actually done first by Jimmy Ricks and the Ravens in 1949, and that the Jimmy Ricks and Lavern Baker duet of “You’re the Boss” in 1961 was the mama of all versions of this tune and the inspiration for Big John Thompson’s later rendition.

This blog was written Nov. 1, 2008 and published in Coast Magazine and Alternatives NewsMagazine.

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