Once again, I’m a happy girl, with some lip-rippin’ food and cool sounds to boot.
On Sunday afternoon, Oct. 23, from noon until 7 p.m. at the Triangle Lounge in Wilmington, N.C., it’s Jim Quick’s Big Fish Shtick. And our boy knows how to party! There will be four bands this year – JQ & Coastline, the Castaways, 40 East and Band of Oz, plus deejay Joey Warren, who always puts the fun in fundraiser.
Ticket donations are $25 each for this event and all proceeds go to United Cerebral Palsy of Wilmington (www.ucp.org). So be sweet. Open up your hearts and your pocketbooks.
Come hungry kids, cause you be eatin’ all day. Jones Fish Camp will be on hand with fish and fixin’s. Boom Boom’s BBQ will be front and center. Plus you’ll have fried shrimp and Captain Crain’s World Famous Shrimp Stew. Think I’m gonna faint!
The music don’t get no stronger … Jim Quick & Coastline, where swamp funk meets smart. Quick is a lyrical Energizer bunny with soul.
Wilmington-based 40 East is a new band for me, one I can’t wait to hear. From what I’ve listened to on the web, they’re kind of crossover country pop with a little R&B thrown in for good measure.
The Castaways are one of those beach bands who like to mix it up. You can expect to hear their signature beach tunes along with some great soul sounds and some killer rock and roll. If we’re lucky, lead vocalist Karen Clayton will treat us to her version of “I (Who Have Nothing),” originally released by Ben E. King back in 1963. Goose bump time!
Last but not least, Band of Oz, frat band turned pro, and one of the most sought-after beach bands on the scene. These guys have been winning awards and hearts for years.
As with any fundraise worth its salt, the Big Fish Shtick will have auctions, raffles, door prizes and more.For any of you extra generous folks, sponsorship packages are still available at $250, $500 and $1,000 levels. Go to the website for details (www.bigfishshtick.com).
Recently, the folks at NoDepression.com were lamenting the fact that satellite radio, sites like Pandora and other subscription streaming services were really chipping away at what they refer to nowadays as terrestrial radio.
But I do agree with one point: live radio rocks! Where else do you get turned on to new music or get the backstory on that old, old, old tune? Who else tells you about the virtuoso guitarist that you somehow didn’t notice in the venue’s ad two weeks ago? I love a deejay with personality, someone who can add his or her two cents to the mix … and does.
Anyway, this prompted a visit to the offices of our own newly resurrected local FM station, 94.9, The Surf, right in the heart of Ocean Drive (for out-of-towners, that’s the section of North Myrtle Beach, S.C. famous for its Carolina beach music, shag dancing, and adult partying into the wee hours).
Current owner, or more accurately, co-owner, Bill Norman took time away license renewal chores to talk with me about what happened and what’s ahead for the station.
As most of you reading this already know, WVCO, 94.9 on your FM dial, has been one of the main radio outlets for Carolina Beach Music since the summer of 1998. After being named Station of the Year for nine years running, in 2010, the station became part of a personal bankruptcy filing by then owner Harvey Graham. It seems that the banks became involved because Harvey had pledged some stock in a condo development deal that failed (That’s been rehashed in the papers already. Google it for details).
At this time, BB&T and Horry County State Bank announced that they would sell the stock of Carolina Beach Music, Inc.
And even though the bankruptcy was personal and the radio station had not declared bankruptcy, the stock had became part of it. So, Harold Worley and Bill Norman worked out a partnership agreement and put in a bid. At this point, there were three entities involved: Harvey Graham, the banks and the Worley-Norman partnership.
Then Harvey died, complicating an already complicated situation. The banks went to court, had a receivership appointed, and the receivership became the owner. Carolina Beach Music LLC ( Norman and Worley’s company) signed with the receivership, and filed papers with the FCC to become a licensee.
For reasons that Bill Norman says he doesn’t understand, The Surf went dark on January 16.
The good news is that three months later on April 16, The Surf was back on the air. For a brief period, listeners heard a simulcast with WNMB-AM 900, also owned by Bill Norman.
Today, 94.9 FM The Surf is operating at full power, playing today’s Carolina beach music as well as classic beach music oldies. There are live deejays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The morning slot is filled by Skipper Summers. He’s been with The Surf for about six weeks and already striking a chord with listeners. You may recognize him from his previous On the Waveline With Marty Shirah talk radio show in Wilimington, N.C., or from his five-year stint with Dick Lee on the Big Talker.
“Skipper is a great communicator,” says Bill Norman. “He’s a good fit for the radio station.”
Ted Bell, who we all know and love from the original Surf, hosts the All Request Beach Café at 12:30 p.m. on week days. People leave him messages on Facebook, they call the station and they send emails. And now on Saturday mornings he hosts the Top 20 Countown. (I’m glad, because we’ve missed Ray Scott’s Top 40 show.) According to Ted, the top tunes are based on listener requests; reports from sales outlets such as Judie’s House of Oldies and the Wax Museum; and charts like Craig Fleming’s Beach Music 45.
Afternoon drive time is hosted by Freakin’ Deacon (aka Deacon Dawson), the multi-talented voiceover, artist, actor and off-the-wall deejay. Ask Bill Norman about Deacon and he just laughs. Freakin’ Deacon has that kind of effect on people.
Bill Norman recognizes the importance of building a rapport with his listeners. He said, “Our best indication of success is the response from our listeners and from our clients.
“The Surf is getting about 150 emails a day from listeners. Last Wednesday, we had 1,700 online with an average listening time of two hours.”
According to Norman, today’s Surf radio is owned by him along with Harold Worley and his children H.G.Worley, Jessica Worley and Lindsey Worley.
Bill Norman’s AM station, WNMB, which he has owned with his wife, Susie since 2001, shares space with The Surf at 429 Pine Avenue in North Myrtle Beach. An oldies station, WNMB plays hits from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. The station also runs community programming. It has between 500 and 550 streaming listeners every day.
Located in the same building, WNMB provides production for The Surf, and has its own deejay lineup.
Bill Norman has the morning slot, covering news and community information. Bob Dale, who was a mainstay at WTOB, Winston-Salem’s Top 40 station during the 60s and 70s, handles the afternoon time slot. Susie Norman works on air, too. And Jerry Holt has a regular Friday and Saturday night show with a devoted following.
Fans of Carolina R&B love this event. The 19th Annual DJ Throwdown in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. is bringing 60-plus deejays to Ocean Drive along with three of the hottest beach bands around: Band of Oz, Legends of Beach and the Fantastic Shakers.
The fun takes place March 4 – 6 at Duck’s Beach Club on Main Street and the O.D. Beach Club where Main Street meets the beach.
Doors open at Ducks on Thursday night at 7:30 for a night of classic beach music. Tickets are $10 (Thursday night only). Band of Oz starts at 8 p.m., followed by Legends of Beach and ending with the Fantastic Shakers.
Although Band of Oz has been around in one form or another since the sixties, the current lineup showcases Scott Fine on vocals and trombone, Tim Morris on vocals and trumpet, and Daniel Morris on saxophone and vocals. They tour throughout the Carolinas, Va. and Ala. to sell-out crowds, and Ocean Drive will be no exception.
Typically, organizers bring in a national blues act for the middle slot. One year it was guitar whiz Debbie Davies. Last year harp man Mitch Kashmir came to town. For DJ Throwdown 2010, though, things have changed and I contacted deejay/organizer Butch Metcalf to find out why, but I haven’t heard back yet, and a deadline is a deadline is a deadline …
So, next up will be Legends of Beach, a topnotch beach band consisting mainly of former members of the Embers band. These guys are some of the best vocalists and musicians in beach music today. Jackie Gore is the personification of beach music. He wrote and sang the original classic “I Love Beach Music” with the Embers in 1979. R. Mark Black, another former Ember, brings soulful vocals and sax to the stage. Gerald Davis (bass), Jeff Grimes (guitar, sax) and Johnny Barker (keyboards) all include the Embers band on their resumes. You can expect an exciting set of classic R&B from this group.
Closing out Thursday night at Ducks are the Fantastic Shakers, who will keep the crowd movin’ and shakin’ into the wee hours. These guys are party animals and talented musicians to boot. Tunes like “Myrtle Beach Days” and “I Just Don’t Look Good Naked Anymore” keep audiences singing along. I have yet to experience a Fantastic Shakers show when they weren’t “on.”
Of course, that’s just Thursday. For Friday and Saturday, deejays rule. They’ll be playing the old stuff, the new stuff, the sleepers, the breakout tunes, what’s hot, what’s obscure and everything in between. O.D. Beach Club will have deejays starting at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The club has announced it will be non-smoking for the weekend.
For more information, visit http://www.abscdj.com and click on the Ducks logo to download a flyer.
Ted Bell is one of the deejays for 94.9The Surf in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. He’s on the air from 10 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday, and then hosts the All Request Beach Music Café from noon until 2 p.m.
Ted, who knew he wanted to be a radio deejay when he was 11 years old, has been working in radio since about 1962, and when I stopped by to see him at the station a couple of weeks ago, he told me some great stories.
Born in Lynchburg, Va., Ted’s family moved to S.C. when his dad was transferred there for his job at Sunbeam.While still in high school, he began working for WORG in Orangeburg. One Saturday, while he was running the Redskins ball game, in walks Ben E. King. That’s right Ben E. King, who had just released “Stand By Me” the year before.
How cool is that!?
“The station was down off the square, just near the college,” Ted tells me, “We had a lot of drop bys. Gladys Knight & the Pips stopped in to see me, too, during that time. It was a great opportunity for me to talk with some artists I really respected.”
After high school, Ted served two years in Viet Nam, where he was wounded in the Tet Offensive and received the Purple Heart for his injuries. Soon afterward, Ted found himself in Charleston, S.C. “You know I worked with Billy Smith before I came to the Surf,” Ted goes on to say. “We worked the midday show at WTMA. I was promoted to operations manager at WTMA-FM, and Billy then took over my slot.”
Where else did he work, I wanted to know. “Well, I spent some time in L.A.,” Ted said. “This was the late 70s. I worked at KNOB, an easy listening station actually located out in Anaheim. I met a lot of great people there … Jermaine Jackson and all the brothers … Casey Casem … I got to know the announcers. I met Danny Davis, head of Motown. Heading east again, Ted moved to Albermarle, N.C. in 1980. “At WABZ, which is now owned by Bill Norman [owner of WNMB-AM radio in North Myrtle Beach].I did a lot of interviews for the Saturday Night Music Machine show that ran from 6 p.m. to midnight – Neil Sedaka, who talked a lot about Carole King; Johnny Mathis, who told Ted all about gourmet cooking; Debbie Reynolds; Freddie Cannon; George Burns, around the time of the Wish I Was 18 Again recording. I had his home phone number and called him up. Just like that.
“Jim Wilkie, who had a show called Night Train on WWOD, 1390-AM back in Lynchburg, had been my mentor. He was a nice man, always taking time with me. Nowadays, he’s in Norfolk, Va. Anyway, after I left Albermarle and moved to Blowing Rock (WVIO) I had the chance to do a Night Train Remembered sort of syndicated show. I got to interview him.In fact, the show went to Lynchburg. It was a great time.”
Ted, who also handles production for the Surf, is still interviewing some of the great R&B and soul singers. When Ted and I spoke, he was in the process of scheduling Lloyd Price for an interview/guest deejay spot. “Yeah, Lloyd is going to be on the phone with me, acting as a co-deejay. I’m in contact with quite a few people I’ve interviewed over the years.”
Soul singer Barbara Lewis, known for “My Heart Went Do Dat Da,” “Puppy Love” and “My Mama Told Me” recently called in during Ted’s show. It was her 66th birthday. Ted was able to put her in touch with some Surf listeners located in Hawaii who were also great Barbara Lewis fans. Mel Carter (“Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me”), who was honored in 2007 at the Carolina Beach Music Awards, also stays in close touch with Ted, as does Archie Bell.
When the Coasters and the Platters come to town to perform at the Alabama Theatre, Ted Bell does the opening. He’ll be talking to Little Richard about his upcoming show at the Alabama next fall, too.
Ted Bell has been married to wife, Lynn, for 20 years. One of her favorite musicians is Greg Allman, so when the rocker came to the local House of Blues, Ted interviewed him, too.
“I love what I’m doing. I love mainstream beach music. I play a lot of popular hits from the 50s and 60s, with beach music mixed in – Willie T, the Four Tops, Ben E. King, the Drifters … On the request show from noon to 1 pm., I go with older requests. People can call in their requests to email@example.com or call the request line at 843-445-9494.
“The Grahams [Surf owners Harvey and Celine Graham] have given me a wonderful chance here. I love it,” Ted beams.
It’s contagious. I beam back. How lucky am I to spend so much time talking to folks like Ted Bell?
This piece was published in Beach Newz, a music column in Coast Magazine and Alternatives NewsMagazine, issue March 12 – March 26, 2009, page 24.