DarielB – Flying Under the Radar

R.I.P. Jeff Roberts: Myrtle Beach’s Beloved Minister of Music

Posted in Music Stories, Personal Essays by darielb on January 13, 2010

One of my faves, Jeff Roberts (on right) with one of his own faves, rocker turned gospel singer Mike Farris. May, 2008 (Photo by Dariel Bendin)

I won’t say that music in Myrtle Beach died along with Jeff Roberts. But it took a hit and the whole community is feeling the pain.

Co-founder and director for Myrtle Beach’s nonprofit South By Southeast, Jeff has been working his butt off for years – keeping music in our schools, supporting our local musicians and bringing topnotch national and regional talents to perform  at the monthly SxSE Music Feasts at the city’s historic Train Depot.

On a personal note, Jeff was simply one of my favorite people. The perfect day for me would include a stop at his wonderfully independent Sounds Better record store, where I could just hang with Jeff for a while. Our Minister of Music was always up to the challenge: “Find me something I’ll love that I’ve never heard before.” And he’d rustle through a stack of CDs or flip through a bin of LPs until he came up with just the right recording.

That’s how I learned about the incredible blues mandolin player Yank Rachell. It was Jeff Roberts who introduced me to Mike Farris – both the music and the man – whose gospel vocals are nothing short of life-changing. Without Jeff Roberts I wouldn’t know the green-eyed soul of Lari White. Or the rockin’ good humor of Will Kimbrough and Tommy Womack. Or the quirky blues of Harry Manx.

Jeff Roberts was my mentor, my teacher, my friend. So Jeff, if you’re reading this – and I know you are – thank you for everything. I am so much the better for knowing you.

But where is that Verlon Thompson CD you’ve been promising me?


3 Responses

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  1. Mary said, on January 14, 2010 at 11:01 am

    Jeff is/was one of my faves, too. Glad to get to know him, and share music with each other, in the short time he was on Earth.

  2. Mary Anne McLaurin said, on January 14, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    The soul would have no rainbow had the eyes no tears.
    ~John Vance Cheney

    Jeff has given us all with rainbows in our souls.

  3. alunatunes said, on January 21, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    Dariel, I’m so sorry to hear about Jeff. Your synopsis of him makes me know I missed meeting a truly remarkable human. Loved your reference to him reading your post. He is moving rapidly on another plane of being!

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