DarielB – Flying Under the Radar

Mama Rue’s Gears Up for Summer

Posted in Music Stories by darielb on June 11, 2012

Mama Rue’s Blues Garden in Pawleys Island, S.C. was under water during the recent torrential downpour, but owners

Refried Blues Band will play Mama Rue’s on Friday, June 22, starting at 8 p.m.

Marrue Bleau and Eric Sutherland know how to roll with the atmospheric punches. They stayed open through the worst of it and are already gearing up for a summer of jerk pork and blues.

The entertainment lineup for June includes local favorites along with some regional big names that, combined with Chef Eric’s magic in the kitchen, are pushing this “best known secret of the Grand Strand” to the forefront of the music scene.

During cool months, there’s an intimate corner stage inside the restaurant. Once it’s warm, though, everyone heads outside to the Blues Garden with its live oaks, bottle tree and friendly, rustic bar.

June offerings include:

Friday June 15, 8 p.m. Pastor Pastor, a blues trip off the beaten path.

Wednesday,  June 20, 7 p.m. Jeff Liberty. From Columbia, S.C. Liberty’s scorching guitar and smokey vocals make him a favorite at Mama Rue’s.

Friday,  June 22, 8 p.m.  Re-Fried Blues. This local group plays some rockin’ blues. Members include Mike Markiewicz (vocals), Rick Oliver (bass), Chicago Bob Hess (guitar), and Ed Roderick (percussion), Sadly, Todd Roth “aka”My Buddy Todd” is off finding his fortune in Austin, Texas, so he won’t be joining them onstage.)

Wednesday, June 27   (not yet scheduled)

Friday June 29, 8 p.m.  Back Road Hounds. Another local group, the Hounds play hard drivin’ contemporary blues. Players are Eric Stair (drums), Johnny Webb (bass), Mike Donellan (lead guitar and vocals), and Steph Wilmson (harp and vocals).

Mama Rue’s Blues Garden is located at 9737 Ocean Hwy. (Hwy. 17) in Pawleys Island. Find them on Facebook or visit their website. For more information, call 843-235-3853.


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David Fair’s Rockin’ Americana Comes to Myrtle Beach

Posted in Interviews by darielb on April 6, 2012

(Photo courtesy David Fair)

Nashville singer/songwriter David Fair is coming to Myrtle Beach this weekend for two shows. Tonight, Friday night, he’s opening for Phil Vassar at Club Boca at Broadway At the Beach (in fact, he’s probably on stage now!); on Saturday, he’ll be at 2001 Nightclub in their intimate Stage room.

David plays a rockin’ guitar, writes some solid lyrics and brings a kick-ass voice to the stage. No surprise, he grew up with music all around him. His dad, Joe Fair, is a respected Nashville singer/songwriter in the Christian music community (Listen to “I Am Certain,” written by Joe Fair, vocals by David Fair). By age 12, David was playing drums in a garage band.  Then he joined Tennessee rock group Pieces of Eight, playing clubs and local events. David formed his own band at age 15. Dubbed Walt-Dizzy by David’s father, the group had a southern hard rock sound that helped them land gigs opening for Steppenwolf and headlining local shows throughout the south.

“After that I joined a hard rock metal band called Medicine Mann,” David said in a telephone interview last week. “I fronted them for eight years. We opened for some major acts.”

David is very low key about these major acts, so let me tell you. During his career, he’s opened for Tesla, Craig Morgan, Warrant, Skid Row, Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora, Jewel, Quiet Riot, Big and Rich, Eric Martin and Eric Church. He’s played The Fillmore in San Francisco, the Cannery and the Starwood Amphitheatre in Nashville, and the Bitter End in New York City.

“It was pretty cool,” David says. “I opened for Tesla at the Warfield in San Francisco … and I played the Fillmore, too, which was great because my dad had played there with the Grateful Dead. I grew up looking at the poster.”

Have you been living in Nashville this whole time, I asked.

“No, I had moved to California in 1999. After I left Medicine Mann, I began to pursue the Americana thing.

“My dad really helped me make connections,” he laughs. “He’s good friends with David Garibaldi, the Tower of Power drummer, who hooked me up with Troy Luckketta, the drummer for Tesla, who wound up producing my first solo CD. Halfway through the album, Tesla went out on the road. That was when I opened for them at the Warfield.”

(Photo courtesy David Fair)

Returning to Tennessee, David toured with the Mulch Brothers, opening for the group and then playing in the band. He also began work – with the help of CJ Boggs – on a second EP, You Never Know.

“CJ played on my first album and played for Mr. Big, and now he has this engineering gig. We set up a studio in the house, brought in these fabulous players … it was great.”

Players included some of the best session players in Nashville and then some: Troy Luckketta, Tesla’s drummer; Kevin Carlson from Aldo Nova on guitar and keys; bluegrass performer Chris Thile;  Bryan House, Sam Bush’s bass player; Bruce Bouton on steel guitar; “Banjo Ben” Clark, who plays with Taylor Swift and the Clark Family; Chris Solberg, Eddie Money guitarist, and N.Y.C.’s Phil Roselle, now part of the Sowing Circle.

David’s favorite writing partner, other than his dad, is music veteran Billy Falcon, who shares songwriter credits on half a dozen Bon Jovi albums and whose tunes have been covered by Stevie Nicks, Cher, Manfred Mann, Sherrie Austin, Meatloaf, Trace Adkins and others.

Based on what I’ve heard, the new CD will be a keeper.

Band members include: David Fair, acoustic lead vocals/guitar/harmonica; Moises  Padilla/drums; David Phoenix/bass; Josh Gramling, lead guitar/backing vocals.

The Backstory

David Fair and I share the same hometown. Floral Park, N.Y. I went to school with his Uncle Dave. My older brother was great pals with David’s dad, Joe. Joe played ball on one of my dad’s ball teams, either Little League or Babe Ruth, and my sister is friends with David’s aunt.

Until last week, though, when I got a message on Facebook from David, I didn’t know him and wasn’t familiar with his music. Now I’m a fan.

Charlie Snuggs On Guitar

Posted in Interviews by darielb on March 22, 2012

Charlie Snuggs (Photo Jim Allen)

If you’ve been in the Carolinas for any length of time, most likely you know Charlie Snuggs. You may not remember which band you know him from, but you definitely know him.

“I’ve played in so many bands, even I can’t remember them all,” laughs the versatile  guitarist during lunch in Little River, S.C. this week.  “I’ve been with country bands, dance bands, blues bands … all of them.”
Born in Highland Park, Ill. to native N.C. parents, Charlie moved to Pittsburgh, Pa., Lakewood, Fla. and Thomasville, Ga. all before he was five years old.

“My dad was a municipal manager,” Charlie explains. “He’d be fired and rehired with every election. We lived all over the place.

“Blues was in the air in southern Georgia, when I was there in the 50s. The old men playing on the street fascinated me, and I’d put a penny in the cup, and sit to watch them.”

Family life revolved around music, too. Charlie’s old sister played classical piano. His father sang in the choir at church and community events.

Sunday, Feb. 9, 1964 was a pivotal date for a young Charlie Snuggs. He, along with a reported 73 million others, watched The Beatles for the first time on the Ed Sullivan Show.

“Watching John Lennon, it hit me. That’s what made me get a guitar.

“It took me two years to learn my first song. I did it by ear. It was ‘Love Me Do’ by the Beatles.”

His next big musical moment would come in 1967 with the release of Cream’s critically acclaimed psychedelic rock album Disraeli Gears. It catapulted the young guitarist into a whole new area of music – blues.
“I started really listening to British music … the Yardbirds … the Stones … I didn’t know it was blues, but I knew I liked it.”

During this time, Charlie was busy playing. At 14, he had his first gig, playing for a teenage center  (By now the family was living in Mooresville, N.C.). A few years later he landed a spot with a more experienced band, Nova’s IX. They had recorded a record and appeared on American Bandstand. The band included Bobby Nance (trumpet player for the Catalinas), vocalist Gary Brown and guitarist Sammy Ingram (now a professor at Clemson).

“They hired me to take Sammy’s place … a 17-year-old in a happenin’ band … I think Gary Brown got me drunk for the first time!”

Later on, in Charlotte, N.C., Charlie met drummer Earl Truette, and then the Barkley brothers – Rusty and Johnny.

“We toured the hotel and fraternity circuit, playing Top 40. Then one day the Barkleys walked in wearing cowboy hats and boots. ‘We’re shutting this band down. We’re going to play country.’

“So now we’re a country band,” said Charlie.

Rusty Barkley’s comment to me about this, when I reminded him of the incident during a phone conversation this afternoon? “That was the only way we could get out of playing disco …  And doing country really opened up another kind of playing for us. Charlie’s dad had told him, ‘You’re never going to be a real guitar player until you can play Chet Atkins.’ So Charlie started doing “Yakety Axe” [the Chet Atkins 1965  single, which was an adaptation of “Yakety Sax” by his  friend saxophonist Boots Randolph.] Then doing James Burton‘s chicken pickin’ stuff and playing with Jim Brown, a guitarist for Charlie Daniels Band, who had a big influence on both of us … well the country thing opened us up to a new kind of playing.”

So the newly designated country group  hooked up with Larry Presley, who built the Beach Wagon on Business 17 in Myrtle Beach and Kaleidoscope Productions.

Continuing his saga, Charlie says, “We opened the place and played there for a couple years, opening for folks like George Jones, Vince Gill, Patty Loveless and others, until the band broke up. Rusty and John went back to Charlotte. Earl and I stayed here.

“My next adventure was at  Sock’s [Myrtle Beach club on Hwy. 501]. It’s around 1979, and I’m working the 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. gig.

Charlie with Jaynie Trudell. (Photo Jim Allen)

“I played with Kerry Michaels and Mike Stevens for about a year. It was a crazy place … gambling, hookers. John Jenrette [from the FBI ABSCAM debacle] used to hang out there.”

“I moved to Nashville; that didn’t work out. Went back to Charlotte, got a great gig with the Country Underground [now Morehead Street Tavern]. Upstairs was the blues band and downstairs, it was country.”

Back at the beach in the late 80s, Charlie was again playing country music with Silver at the Beach Wagon. After Hurricane Hugo, he joined Party Sharks playing the hottest gig in town at the Holiday Inn in downtown Myrtle Beach.

When Chicago Bob Hess quit his gig with Blues Express, the house band at House of Blues in Myrtle Beach, Charlie took his place.

“It was great,” he says. “They sent us to Orlando for two  months. We opened for Johnny Winter … we opened for

Robin Trower – one of the highlights of my life.”

In the mid nineties, Charlie played at Sandpipers. “Bo Diddley came in, hired a local band, so we hung out, another great time. What a storyteller he was. And I ran Smokehouse Brown’s band for a while.”

After that, Charlie played with local musician Jaynie Trudell, for some 15 years. In fact they still work together sometimes and pull in the crowds when they do.

The Sharks. L-R, Terry Harper (bass), Earl Truette (drums), and Charlie Snuggs (guitar). (Photo Rosa Bean)

“I decided at some point I wanted to have a blues jam band. And that’s the Sharks [formed in Fall 2011],  with Earl Truette on drums, Terry Harper on bass, and me on guitar. It’s sort of Widespread Panic meets Albert King,” he says. “You can’t just mimic old Elmore James sound. The rhythms are different now. So our jam band sound is appealing to a pretty broad crowd.”

Charlie Snuggs is all about the music. When he’s not playing, he’s practicing or listening to music.

“I study music all the time,” he tells me.” I’m fascinated. I like it. I like hip hop rhythms. I listen to Rihanna and Mary J. Blige. I listen to Derek Trucks and Jimmy Herring.”

Chicago Bob, Ambassador of the Blues for the State of South Carolina elected by the National Blues Society Hall of Fame,  told me, “Charlie Snuggs is probably the most accomplished musician I’ve ever had the pleasure to share a stage with … He probably knows more styles of music then anyone I’ve ever met   … Charlie is the absolute best

I’ve ever worked with and I’ve been at this business for over 40 years.”

Kerry Michaels and bandmate Terry Harper concur. She said, “Charlie and I go way back [He is a] great, great guitar player as everyone knows, but with Charlie this is no other guitar player as sincere and honest. He has always been my friend.”

Terry adds, “Charlie has such great stage presence. He brings a personality to the stage before he even opens his mouth … and his playing …. it’s just topnotch.”

Rusty Barkley was happy to elaborate.  “Charlie’s ability to set a groove helps other players sound better,” said Rusty Barkley. “He’s never selfish, always does his best to help. It was Charlie, back in the day, who pulled me along. He knew theory and taught me … I always loved playing with Charlie … He was playing like Jeff Beck; I was playing Clapton. We put it together and got rock & roll … oh, and Charlie on slide…

Charlie told me that a great guitar player doesn’t want to play a bunch of notes. “We want to make the guitar sing like a voice … like B.B. King says about Lucille.”

“I hear so much emotion in Charlie’s playing,” adds local blues legend Michael “Pops” Stallings. “It’s not just technique. It’s more.” And when you go see Charlie Snuggs play guitar. That’s what you get. More.

You can catch Charlie jamming with the Sharks at 2001 Night Club on Sunday nights, beginning at 9:30 (often along with pals such as Chicago Bob, Kid Drew, Anson Funderburgh, Jaynie Trudell, Scott Cable, Digger Tozzi, and Calabash Flash. On Wednesday nights, he’s usually there, too, playing with the Coco Loco Party Band. And if it’s country licks you’re lusting for, look for the Most Wanted band, with Charlie Snuggs on guitar.

Kerry Michaels Band: Baby, It’s White Hot Soul

Posted in Live Performance Previews/Reviews by darielb on February 17, 2012

Pops and Kerry (photo courtesy Kerry Michaels)


Kerry Michaels Band reunion show at Kono Lounge, 8 p.m. Feb. 17.

If you don’t have plans tonight (or even if you do), there’s a super show about to take place. The Kerry Michaels Band is getting back together for one night of gut-wrenching blues, searing guitar and an on-stage camaraderie that’s going to knock our socks off.

Kerry belts out the blues (photo courtesy Kerry Michaels)

I’m especially excited because I’ve never seen the Kerry Michaels Band live. I recently watched a video, circa 1990 maybe, of  them opening for Buddy Guy in Winston-Salem, N.C.  and this band kicked butt! Michael Stallings, better known as “Pops” was putting out one sweet guitar lick after another. Kerry (still going by Kerry Martin then) was belting out the blues, her voice powerful and rich and heart-wrenching. I read somewhere, that when asked to describe their music, she said, “Baby, it’s white hot soul.” Now I get it. Yowza, that girl is making Etta proud!

The band hasn’t played together for years, but they’re coming back for a one-night, one-time reunion show (at least that’s what I’m told), and I’m excited! I talked to both Kerry and Michael about the reunion, and they’re even more excited, so we are in for a night of fantastic music!

Pops and Kerry first met in a little country bar in Greensboro, N.C. sometime in late 1987. She had moved there from Galveston, Tex. to be closer to Duke University Hospital where she was being treated for cancer (Yikes! And just 30-something). She was tending bar. He was gigging at the in a country band called Stampede.

“I got up and sang a few songs with the band, and the first words I spoke to Pops were ‘Someday you and I are going to be in a band together.’”  She had that right. They started working together. In fact, it became a romantic thing, too, but that’s a story for another day.

“We were in Greensboro when we formed the band, “ says Stallings. “And we were playing a little bit of everything. On Friday night, we’d be at Rhino Club or Night Shades playing blues and the next night we’d be the country band at the Carousel Lounge.”

A popular band throughout the Piedmont from the start, KMB’s first big break came when they were sponsored by the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society after winning the area’s Piedmont Amateur Contest (now the regional IBC Challenge) in Greensboro, N.C. They went on to the National Blues Amateur Contest finals at the new Daisy Theatre in Memphis, Tenn.

“This was a great experience,” said Stallings. “I think we were the only Piedmont band to place at the national level. The night before our competition, we were across the river in Arkansas and met up with the great Albert King. We told him we were playing and he came to see us!  What a night!”

The group didn’t win. They came in third, but the wheels were set it motion. They impressed Albert King and they were on their way.

At this time, band members of were Kerry Martin (lead vocals and keys); Michael Stallings (lead guitar and vocals); David Hutson (bass guitar and vocals); Ronnie Skidmore (keys and vocals) and Brandon Cardwell (drums).

“After Memphis, we started gigging all the time; we were playing so often, we had to bring in band members who wanted to play full time,” Michael told me.

Says Kerry, “That’s when we added Bryant Bowles on drums; Mike Stevens on bass; and then Jimmy “Grub” Thornberg on keyboards. This is the Kerry Michaels Band you’ll see with me and Pops at Kono Lounge.

“These were guys I’ve played with forever,” she continues, “I met Mike Stephens in 1979, playing an after-hours gig at Sockeye’s, a place out on 501 called Sock’s Lounge.

Bryant Bowles. Kerry says, "Musically, Bryant is my soul mate." (photo courtesy Kerry Michaels)

“Bryant Bowles is the kind of drummer you don’t even have to turn around and look at. He already knows what I’m thinking. Musically, Bryant is my soulmate.”

Kerry adds, “We had met Albert King, who came to see us play in Memphis. We started opening for Koko Taylor, Buddy Guy, Dr. John, even Charlie Daniels.  We did shows with Valerie Wellington and Denise LaSalle. We were going strong.”

They became regulars at Dick’s Last Resort, playing not just the Barefoot Landing location in North Myrtle Beach, but nationally at clubs in Chicago and Dallas. Gigs also included regular Saturday night stint at Fat Harolds. “I remember seeing the plane flying up and down the beach with the banner ‘Kerry Michaels Band at Fat Harold’s tonight,’” Stallings recalls. “The shaggers loved Kerry,” Michael says. “They couldn’t get enough of her. And with good reason. No one can sing it like Kerry.”

There was talk of record deals, Hollywood opportunities. But instant fame isn’t always easy to manage. The band members had their share of drug and alcohol problems. Kerry cut a solo record that she admits was not successful. The band eventually folded, playing their last gig in the late 1990s. In Kerry’s own words,  she “spiraled downward.”

“Because of some bad decisions I made, I lost my boys. We haven’t played together for 15 years or more. It was all my fault, but they’ve forgiven me. I still can’t forgive myself. But they’ve forgiven me. I’m tickled pink to be playing with them. I want to make this music one mo’ time.”

Tickets are $15 and include Kono Lounge is located at 1901 N. Kings Hwy. in Myrtle Beach, S.C. For more information, contact Nathan Stallings at 843-224-7748 or via email at BonoProductions@yahoo.com.

Barefoot Movement – Old Time With a Twist

Posted in Live Performance Previews/Reviews by darielb on February 10, 2012

 

 

SxSE presents Barefoot Movement at the Myrtle Beach Train Depot,  8 p.m. Feb. 18.

The folks over at South By Southeast have planned another wonderful night of music for us. The Barefoot Movement  is a group I haven’t seen live yet, but I’ve been listening to

The Barefoot Movement: L-R, Tommy Norris, Hasee Ciaccio (local Myrtle Beach-ite and SxSE sweetheart), Noah Wall, Quentin Acres .

their music and I’m looking forward to the show. They’re a quartet of accomplished acoustic musicians who seamlessly meld old-time Southern music with Americana, jazz and even modern rock.

Players are Noah Wall (lead vocals, songwriter, fiddle); Tommy Norris (mandolin and harmony); Quentin Acres (guitar, vocals, songwriter); and Hasee Ciaccdo (upright bass and harmony).

The group’s sweet energetic vocal harmonies are supported by topnotch instrumentation. I was tempted to label them as bluegrass or maybe “new grass,” but after talking to Noah on the phone earlier,I’ve changed my mind.

“In the world of bluegrass,” she explained, “people are very particular about what’s included. We like to experiement. We call ourselves an eight-legged bench with our feet going in different directions. We don’t want to close the door to any kind of sound we might make.”

Whatever you want to call them, this group is on the rise, one to watch. So, once again, Trust the Frog.

The opening act, which starts at 7 p.m., is folk duo Debbie Daniel and Jack McGregor  from the Columbia, S.C. band, Slap Wore Out.

Music Feasts are $25 per person ($20 for SxSE annual concert series members). Admission fees include a range of potluck meals and often homemade dessert (to which you are invited to contribute), wine, beer, soda and coffee. Reserve your spot by sending an email to southxsoutheast @aol.com, with the number of tickets you need and your zip code. They’ll put you on their A list.

The Myrtle Beach Train Depot is located at 851 Broadway in Myrtle Beach. For more information,log onto http://www.southbysoutheast.org.

More Live Music in 2012!

Posted in Live Performance Previews/Reviews by darielb on January 10, 2012

I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions. I never do. But I just heard one that I can support wholeheartedly.

More live music in 2012!

So for this piece, I’ll be focusing on my own local stomping grounds, from the port city of Wilmington in North Carolina and North Myrtle Beach on down to Pawleys Island in South Carolina. There’s a lot coming up, so check the websites for even more shows.

Mike Taylor and the Holiday Band will kick off Mid-Winter S.O.S. at Duck's on Wed., Jan 11.

I can’t talk about local live music without mentioning Mid-Winter S.O.S. in the Ocean Drive section of North Myrtle Beach. It’s just begun and runs through Sunday, Jan. 15. The S.O.S. lounges (Fat Harold’s, Duck’s, Spanish Galleon, O.D. Beach Club, O.D. Café and O.D. Arcade) feature deejays for the dancers, but a few will have live music, too. They all require S.O.S. cards for entry. Cost is $35, but you get a lot of band for your buck.

Fat Harold’s  will be packed with shaggers day and night. Don’t miss lunch with Lulu. She’s one of the best cooks around and you can tell anyone I said so! Thursday, Jan. 12, it’s Craig Woolard Band. This’ll be crowded, but worth an elbow to the ribs. There’s a reason he’s taken home CBMA Male Vocalist of the Year award nine times. On Friday, Jan. 13, it’s Coastline time with Jim Quick at 1 p.m. Nashville songwriter and producer Gary Nicholson says, “Jim Quick sings read deal country-soul from the heart. He’s combined all the ingredients of his influences to cook up a tasty stew that keeps you coming back for more.” Sea-Cruz takes the stage at 1 p.m. on Jan. 14. Sax, keyboards and top-notch vocals make this trio a powerhouse. Closing out Mid-Winter, the always popular bluesy Castaways will be at the Fat Man’s on Sunday, Jan. 15 starting at 4 p.m.

Also part of Mid-Winter, but minus the required S.O.S. card are 2001 Nightclub  in Myrtle Beach and on the Waterway in North Myrtle, Boom Boom’s Raw Bar.

2001 Nightclub is really three venues in one: Club Touch, Starlight Room and Next Level, which is where the live bands play. Show time is 9:30 p.m. You can see Jim Quick & Coastline, Jan. 12; Craig Woolard Band, Jan. 13 and on Jan. 14, the Magnificents, known for their powerful vocals. Cover charge is $10, $5 with S.O.S. card.

If you haven’t been to Boom Boom’s yet, check it out. The large deck overlooks the Waterway and brand new chef, Ronnie Stevens, is getting rave reviews. Tommy Black Band (beach and blues) is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Jan. 14. On Jan. 21,  Fat Jack Band brings their brand of soul funk to the beach. Rick Strickland Band, playing all-original tunes, is set for Jan. 28. With Rick’s impressive four-octave range and female vocalist Lesa Hudson, this group has built a huge following throughout the Carolinas.
Hip Pocket Band is also coming to town. Equal parts fun and talent, they’ll be at Duck’s on Jan. 21. Love these guys!

Over at the Boathouse , we switch gears a little bit. Through Feb. 23, they’re hosting Coyote Country Fridays with cohost Coyote 106.5 FM. They’ll be featuring local and regional country artists. Sure to be a blast.

Kono Lounge in Myrtle Beach  is another hip, loungy kind of night club. Nathan Stallings with Bono Productions has been bringing some terrific acts in. This coming Friday, Jan. 13, get set for Michael “Pops” Stallings, one of the area’s top blues guitarists. On Feb. 3, The Sharks featuring blues mama Jaynie Trudell will be front and center. Feb. 17  will be the long-awaited reunion show for the Kerry Michaels Band, the must-see blues band on the Grand Strand during the 1990s. The show will feature original members Kerry Michaels (vocals), Michael “Pops” Stallings (lead guitar); Bryant Bowles (drums);  Mike Stevens (bass) and James “Uncle Grub” Thornberg (keyboards).

Juke Joint Johnny, shown here in September at the 2011 Summer's Last Blast Blues Festival in Piedmont, S.C. (Photo Mary Anne McLaurin)

Mama Rue’s in Pawleys Island , hands-down my favorite place for blues on the Strand, has a full line up for us. Friday, Jan. 13, she’s bringing in Juke Joint Johnny and Bad Drew Baldwin. If you’ve never seen Johnny on harp, you’ve never experienced blues harmonica. On Jan. 20, Pastor, Pastor is bringing their unusual blues act back to Mama Rue’s. Guitarist Jeff Liberty, whose style has been described as “fuel-injected blues that lights a fire under your seat,” performs Jan. 28. On Feb. 3, My Buddy Todd aka Todd Roth will perform his last show at Mama Rue’s before moving his life and career to Austin, Texas. Definitely one to see. Feb. 17 will be a big night, too. N.C. bluesman Matt Walsh is the featured act, another one not to miss. No cover charge and the best Jamaican food this side of Nassau! Tell Chef Eric I said hey! Then get you some jerk pork (and a Howlin’ Wolf  from Marrue at the bar). You’ll be hooked on the food, the friends and the music!

Another of my favorite blues joints is the Rusty Nail , home to the Cape Fear Blues Society weekly jams. On Jan. 14, the Nail will host a Pave the Road to Memphis fundraiser for Randy McQuay and Lawyers Guns & Money, winners of the Cape Fear Blues Challenge who will represent the blues society at the IBC in Memphis later this month. Both acts will perform. YEAH!

I can’t write about live music along the Grand Strand without talking about the nonprofit South By Southeast Music Feasts at the historic Myrtle Beach Train Depot. They bring in nationally known acts that often don’t come to this area otherwise. Tickets are $20 for annual series supporters and $25 for nonmembers. The Barefoot Movement, a group of musicians blending  Southern-style bluegrass improv with modern acoustic jazz and rock influences, is scheduled for Feb. 18. Randall Bramblett Band is set for March 10. They meld rock, blues, jazz and soul with razor-sharp songwriting to produce a sound unlike anyone else. It doesn’t get any better than this.

Chuck Leavell (Rolling Stones, Allman Brothers) says, “Randall is in my opinion the most gifted & talented southern singer-songwriter musicians of the past several decades.”

Every one of these shows is worth your time and money. Hope to see you live music junkies out and about!

SaRon Crenshaw: SxSE Brings Blues With a Soul Twist to the Beach

Posted in Live Performance Previews/Reviews by darielb on December 16, 2011

SaRon Crenshaw with the red Gibson. (Photo courtesy SaRonCrenshaw.com)

South By Southeast, the not-for-profit music organization in Myrtle Beach will open its 2012 season with a show appealing to blues lovers, soul fans and R&B aficianados alike.

Powerhouse guitarist SaRon Crenshaw will be bringing his electrifying band all the way from the Big Apple to the Myrtle Beach Train Depot on Jan. 7, 2012.

SxSE board member Charles Newell, who is also the bass player for the Chainsaws, a local band, says, “I saw SaRon in Greenwich Village in October. We started working right then on getting him for a SxSE Music Feast.”

He’s a sought-after performer at spots like B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in New York and Terra Blues, a blues saloon in the heart of Greenwich Village.

Touring often, Crenshaw delights audiences with his fiery guitar licks and soulful vocals. The show at the intimate historic Train Depot will offer a unique opportunity to get an up-close look at his Gibson “Lucille” model guitar, which was signed by B.B. King himself.

Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro, who reviews live performances and recordings for the comprehensive online music resource, Mary4Music.com had this to say about SaRon Crenshaw in a review of the 2006 Red Bank Jazz & Blues Festival in New Jersey:
“All music festivals have their surprises and this fest ws no different. There’s always that one act that you catch, get awed by, then think to yourself… ‘who in hell is this/” Well that such person was SaRon Crenshaw. At one of the auxilisary stages SaRon drew one of the largest and more enthusiastic crowds of the event (at leas of the acts I saw). Until now, this regular player at New York City’s Terrablues was virtually unknown to me a lot of the crowd. However, there was no way he was allowing his unfamiliarity to become an obstacle. SaRon stood up there and played like he was Buddy Guy (except, unlike Buddy, he finished all of his songs) and the crowd was a bunch of his fans. At one point he even came down into the crowd, strolling between revelers, while playing the guitar with his tongue. This guy was a hell of a showman and more importantly, a hell of a bluesman. That’s SaRon Crenshaw, keep your eyes and ears open for him.”

Members of the SaRon Crenshaw Band include Crenshaw (guitar and vocals); Junior Mack (guitar and vocals); Al Levy (bass and vocals); Barry Harrison (drums and vocals); and Bob Schlesnger (keyboards).

Music Feasts are $25 per person ($20 for SxSE annual concert series members). Reservations are suggested. Send an email to southxsoutheast@aol.com, with the number of tickets and your zip code. They’ll put you on their A list.

Along with an incredible night of music, your ticket includes a potluck dinner and dessert, wine and beer from New South Brewery, soft drinks and coffee. Feasting begins at six o’clock and the music starts at seven. Or sevenish.

Since South by Southeast is an IRS-approved 501(c) (3) organizations, memberships and donations are wholly tax deductible.
The Myrtle Beach Train Depot is located at 851 Broadway in Myrtle Beach. For more information about the SxSE event,log onto http://www.southbysoutheast.org.

Bono Productions to Hold Music Showcase at Kono Lounge Nov. 27

Posted in Live Performance Previews/Reviews by darielb on November 14, 2011

Nathan Stallings, owner of Bono Productions, has announced the new firm will hold its first music showcase on Sunday, Nov. 27 at Kono Lounge in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Doors will open at 5 p.m. Music is set to begin at 6 p.m. and a complimentary filet hibachi will be served from 6 to 8 p.m.

Lesa Hudson and Rick Strickand will perform their original material at the Showcase.

In a telephone interview last week, Stallings said, “My main goal is to give musicians an opportunity to put their stuff out there. This Thanksgiving weekend showcase demonstrates the diversity of talent in this area. The opening set will be by Rick Strickland and Lesa Hudson. Both talented songwriters and vocalists, they perform all original music.”

A sessions player for more than 20 years, Strickland has recorded with and opened for some of the country’s top acts, including Carl Perkins, Todd Rundgren and B.B. King. He has also produced over 50 albums in a wide range of musical styles. His work has made it to the silver screen (Modern Love/1990) He has composed two productions for the Columbia City Ballet. He has performed at the Georgia Music Awards, backing Tommy Roe, Joe South and Ray Stevens. He was Billy Joe Royale’s musical director for three national tours. Rick is well-known for his four-octave vocal range as well as his considerable skills on the guitar.

Hudson is a lead vocalist and keyboard player in the Rick Strickland Band. She grew up in Darlington, S.C. as part of a musical family, with church as its centerpiece. She went on to front her own Lesa Hudson Band, a contemporary Christian group. Hudson produces and performs several Christian-based showcases, and has also performed with the classic rock band, 3 Day Funk with Keith Hamrick (formerly with Billy Joe Royal and the Atlanta Rhythm Section)

The second act will be award-winning songwriter and entertainer Jaynie Trudell. Based in Myrtle Beach, this traveling troubadour is a national recording artist and plays multiple instruments, including piano, guitar, harmonica and dulcimer. Known for her original material, she was honored with the 2010 Blues Entertainer of the Year by the Grand Strand Blues Society.

Electrifying guitarist “Kid” Drew Voivedich has the third time slot. If you frequent the Sunday night blues jams at Jay’s in Little River, S.C., you already know how he and Pops tear it up. Kid Drew’s rockin’ blues is edged with funk, country, jazz, pop and even reggae. Never a dull moment with the Kid.

Closing act will be Pops, himself, possibly the most respected blues guitarist on the Grand Strand – not to mention jazz, pop, R&B and then some.

Michael "Pops" Stallings

He’s played with the Clovers, Percy Sledge, B.J. Thomas and many more. If you’re a local, you may have seen him with singer Kerry Michaels.

Playing guitar is practically in his blood. Michael Stallings got his first guitar at eight years old and his first electric guitar at ten. “I remember my mom playing ‘Ballad of Jesse James’ with a butter knife. She never did like the slide,” he laughs.

Nathan Stallings is Michael’s son, and proud papa can’t wait for the event at Kono. “We’re going to put on a great show,” says Michael.  “I hope everyone stays around to jam with me.

On Facebook, look for Kono Lounge (Myrtle Beach) or Michael Stallings (Little River)

General admission tickets cost $15 each, and include the free food. VIP tickets, at $20 each, also include a free drink and access to the club’s upstairs VIP section, which features special seating and a private bar.

Kono Lounge is located at 1901 N. Kings Hwy. in Myrtle Beach, S.C. For more information, contact Nathan Stallings at 843-224-7748 or via email at BonoProductions@yahoo.com.

R.I.P. Curtis Richardson

Posted in Live Performance Previews/Reviews by darielb on May 18, 2011


Curtis Richardson was old school Myrtle Beach. He played drums with the Chainsaws, who love to tell you that they’re tuned and lubed for your listening pleasure, so right there you can get a sense of the guy.

According to his pal, Charlie Newell – bass player for the Chainsaws – he and Curtis were friends for decades.

“Curtis was a mouthy little kid who used to follow us around a lot,” Charlie laughs, although a bit sadly.

“He’d follow us into bars and clubs when he was maybe 14 … He wound up being just a phenomenal drummer … I used to call him The Human Metronome … He was just unreal … loved the odd timing, which made it especially challenging for a bass player!

“A lot of local musicians came through his little jam room. It was a great gathering place.”

Last December, Curtis sat in for a set with Nashville’s Mike Farris at the Myrtle Beach Train Depot during a South By Southeast Music Feast. It was a lot of fun.

Unknown to everyone, even himself, Curtis was having heart problems. And shortly after that, in January, he died unexpectedly, leaving his family in a precarious financial situation. Some of Curtis’ buddies have come together to honor him and help the family at the same time.

Old friend and extreme bassist Steve Bailey will be there.  Soulful songwriter Chuck Cannon will be there, too, all the way from Nashville. Also on the roster are  Keith & Ann Thompson, the Mullets, Phyllis Tanner & Steve Russell, Tom Yoder, Kid Drew & Lynwood Salvo and Regime (Anthony Zincone).

The May 22 benefit takes place at Inlet Affairs, 4012 Business 17 in Murrells Inlets, S.C. It starts at 5 p.m. Donations are $25. There’s a cash bar and food. (Remember, it’s a benefit for Curtis’ family). This is going to be a great night of music. We gonna lay down a groove for Curtis.

Top Talents Head To the Beach

Posted in Live Performance Previews/Reviews by darielb on February 23, 2011

New York City, eat your heart out!

Not only is it sunny and warm here in the Carolinas, but Steve Bailey, Victor Wooten and Randall Freakin’ Bramblett are headed our way!

March 3 – Steve Bailey & Victor Wooten at CCU

Bass Player magazine said, “Steve Bailey is to the six-string fretless bass guitar what Columbus is to America.”

Internationally acclaimed bass wizards Steve Bailey and Victor Wooten will be at CCU’s Edwards Recital Hall on Thursday, March 3 at 8 p.m.

Do you know who these guys are?

Myrtle Beach’s own Steve Bailey practically invented the fretless bass. Well no, but he started playing it after he ran over a fretted bass with his car. Bass Player magazine said, “Steve Bailey is to the six-string fretless bass guitar what Columbus is to America.”

He’s played with a huge number of high dollar artists; including jazz greats, Dizzy Gillespie, Paquito D’Rivera, Claudio Roditi, David Benoit and more. He’s shared the stage and the recording studio with folks like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jethro Tull, Chris Duarte, Willie Nelson, Ray Price, Kitaro, Carol Kaye, Billy Sheehan, and, of course, the other half of his double bill, Victor Wooten.

Five-time Grammy award winner Victor Wooten, no slouch himself, has earned the title of Bass Player of the Year award from Bass Player magazine three consecutive years and, according to his website, is the only player to have won the award more than once.

Victor is a founding member of Béla Fleck and the Flecktones (banjo master Béla Fleck, Victor Wooten on bass, Jeff Coffin playing saxophone and Roy “Futureman” Wooten on his drumitar (drum/guitar developed by the innovative Grammy winner).

Together they conduct Bass At the Beach, a clinic/competition held in Myrtle Beach and attended by bass players from all over the world and the even more intensive Bass/Nature Camp held at Wooten Woods, just outside Nashville.

“It’s rare to be able to hear someone with creds like Victor here in Myrtle Beach,” says Bailey, who is an associate professor in music and artist in residence at CCU. “We found out early on that bass players getting together is an accident waiting to happen – it’s like trying to get two elephants to ballet dance together. But when we met each other in San Francisco in 1991, we had a chemistry that’s unheard of, and we’ve collaborated on CDs, clinics, DVDs and conferences since then.”

Five-time Grammy winner Victor Wooten takes the approach that music is language.

The show at Coastal Carolina  will feature music from the duo’s signature Bass Extremes project as well as their recent solo efforts. This much anticipated performance will be the second stop on the bassists’ Pushing the Limits Volume 3 Southeast tour. About the event, Bailey says, “Surprise guest performers are always a possibility, and ticket holders should bring a question or two, as we are prone to interact directly with the audience in intimate venues like Edwards.”

For more info, check out their websites: Victor Wooten and Steve Bailey. Tickets are $20 general admission or $15 for CCU/HGTC students, staff, alumni, seniors and kids 17 and under. Pick up your tix ahead of time from the school’s Wheelwright Box Office (843-349-2502) or at the Recital Hall that evening.

March 5 – Randall Bramblett Band at South By Southeast Music Feast

Right on the heels of Bailey and Wooten comes the rockin’ Randall Bramblett Band.

Randall Bramblett first came to the attention of music industry insiders (and some astute FM listeners) back in 1973 for his amazing saxophone work on Laid Back, Greg Allman’s first solo album. Allman tapped him again for his follow-up The Gregg Allman Tour, recorded in part at Carnegie Hall, for which Bramblett was again recognized by musicians and serious music lovers. One-time Allman Brothers keyboard player and more recently a backline fixture for the Rolling Stones, Chuck Leavell says, “Randall is, in my opinion, one of the most gifted and talented southern singer-songwriter musicians of the past several decades.”

Bramblett is a true musician’s musician, proficient on saxophone, keyboard and guitar. He is a skilled and highly regarded songwriter. His tunes have been covered by Bonnie Raitt, Delbert McClinton, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Sea Level,Rick Nelson, B.J.Thomas,  Hot Tuna and so many others. He’s toured or recorded with Steve Winwood, Gov’t Mule, Widespread Panic, Levon Helm and Cowboy.

His vocals are emotionally-charged and honest, stripped down to bare the soul. Born and raised in Jessup, Ga., Bramblett crosses genres seamlessly, melding rock, blues, soul and even pop to deliver a collection of heartfelt southern songs.

Honestly, it’s hard to imagine this much talent all crammed into one guy, and don’t get me started on his band. Longtime collaborator Davis Causey on guitar is a standout; drummer is Gerry Hanson, who often functions as the band’s producer; there’s Mike Hines, also on guitar; and bass player Michael C. Steele. These guys are all talented, successful musicians in their own right. Together, the Randall Bramblett Band is a powerhouse.

Randall recently released Live At the Rialto Room, a DVD recorded on Feb. 13, 2010 at the Rialto Room in Athens, Ga. This was the CD release concert for The Meantime (Blue Ceiling Records 2010), a sparse, sophisticated recording by Randall Bramblett with Gerry Hanson on drums and Chris Enghauser on upright bass.

Randall Bramblett Band (L-R) Gerry Hansen, Mike Hines, Davis Causey, Randall Bramblett, Michael C. Steele. (Photo Jason Thrasher)

About the concert, Randall says, “It was a great night of music, and one of the most beautiful performances of my career.”

I haven’t gotten my copy yet, but I know it will be stellar. And, happily, Randall says he’ll have some at the South By Southeast show, so bring your wallet. You’re going to want at least one.

The South By Southeast Music Feast takes place, as usual, at the historic Train Depot in downtown Myrtle Beach (851 Broadway). Tickets are $25/$20 and include potluck, pizza, homemade desserts, wine, beer, soft drinks and coffee. Feasting starts at 6 p.m. and music begins at 7. Email your reservation to southxsoutheast@aol.com by 3 p.m. Friday and pay at the door. Come early, this show will be SRO. See you there!