Beach Bits: Catching
up on the 2014 holidays (and yes, I was snoozing in December and did not write a Beach Buzz column!), the proliferation of
Beach music based Christmas compilations has pretty much come to a halt. Over the years we have had several great collections
released on the RubyJude, KHP, Sisbro and other independent labels. Although this is no longer the case, there continues to
be a few new songs released each holiday season and this year is no exception. The Embers live performances turn heavily to
yuletide music each December - from this years band re-organization also comes a new Christmas CD. With 13 tracks, it features
Craig Woolard, contains mostly classic holiday carols but there is also Shagging In A Winter Wonderland. The Summerdaze Band also released a great new seasonal tune entitled It's Just Not Christmas. A few more that I think are new (at least
they are new to me!) is the Carolina Breakers featuring Pat Carpenter on Mary Did You Know?, which I believe is a reprise from Pat doing it solo several years back, Byron Counts has a really good one with It's Christmas and Gary Lowder gives us the heartfelt narrative The Christmas Shoes...........
Other recent Beach music holiday tunes: Newtrackrecords.com,
headed up by Ken Hartsell, released in 2013 a diverse Christmas compilation with eight tracks, including four outstanding
tunes from Beach music artists. Carolina Christmas,
representing both North and South Carolina, featured Steve Owens & Summertime with a solid performance on This Christmas, Karen Clayton rockin' the house with Merry Christmas Baby, the soulful vocals of Tim Clark on Please Come Home For Christmas and Doug Winstead's smooth version of
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.
The 2012 re-release of the RubyJude label compilation also titled Carolina Christmas added Lesa Hudson's marvelous Santa Can You Teach Me To Shag........
And more good ones from the last few years:
Marsha Morgan Band - Merry Christmas Darling
Angel Rissoff - Christmas Kisses (For My Baby)
Molly Askins - Red Suit
Clifford Curry - Christmas Ain't No Time For The Blues
Phil Wilson - Christmas Time
Fantastic Shakers - Shakin' Santa's Sack
Jimmy Hall - Santa For A Day
Hip Pocket - Babes In Toyland
Terri Gore - It May Be Winter Outside
Mark Roberts - 'Til The Season Comes 'Round Again
Jim Quick & Coastline - Holiday Heart
Johnny Cobb - Christmas All Year Long
Gary Lowder & Smokin' Hot - We'll Have A Merry Christmas
The Entertainers Geting It Done
The Beach Music Year In Review: 2014 saw some interesting developments in Beach music as well as the emergence of several bands. Very significant
was the fact that, even though Beach music radio is almost non-existent on Charlotte, NC based commercial stations, the five
Charlotte area bands really had banner years. The Entertainers caught fire in late 2013 with a new lineup and the blaze continued
to burn throughout 2014. The band culminated its tremendous success with a spectacular Saturday night Ballroom performance
at the OD Beach and Golf Resort during the November CBMA Weekend. The next day they took home the big prize - being named
Group of the Year! Both their hits, Summer
Love and Maybe We Can Still Be Friends,
were top charters during the year. Led by Hall of Famer Earl Dawkins, The Entertainers are currently one of the hottest if
not the hottest ticket in Beach music.
Too Much Sylvia, what a year they had! Two HUGE charting hits, All I Want To Do Is Dance and Stepped Right Out Of My Dream. The latter won both the Song of the Year and the
Smoothie of the Year at the CBMAs. Surprisingly enough, it was not the first time that has happened. The late Billy Scott
captured both song awards in 2001 for My Kind
Of Girl. The Summerdaze Band had a spectacular year as well, with three songs from their Keep Movin' album making the charts (Give Me Something Fried, Somebody Throw'd Back Luck On Me, Shoot That Moon)
and CBMA nominations for Group Album of the Year and the Rising Star Award.
Lakeside Drive Band, also hailing from Charlotte, followed up
a couple of charting hits in 2013 with another solid year. With two female singers, the band dazzled the crowd at the Saturday
afternoon New Artist Showcase at the November CBMAs. Atlantic Groove, is another band from the Charlotte/Piedmont NC area
that has come a long way in the last four plus years. Their hit song, I Really Didn't Mean It, has been a consistent charter this year. The band has been recently been undergoing
some personnel changes that we will cover in more detail in next month's Beach Buzz.......
We saw new albums in 2014 from Summerdaze, Gary Lowder &
Smokin' Hot, Paul Craver, Steve Owens & Summertime, Classic Soul, Hip Pocket, Vance Kennedy & Barksdale Station and
The Tommy Black Band. Several other new albums were anticipated but appear to be still in the works. From an individual song
basis, in addition to the big success by the Entertainers, Summerdaze and Too Much Sylvia, both Lesa Hudson and Rick Strickland
had multiple charting hit tunes. The same is true for the Fantastic Shakers, Gary Lowder, Paul Craver, Rhonda McDaniel, Carolina
Breakers and Band of Oz. King Tyrone's very successful tune The Driver made it to #1 before dropping off the charts by year-end. Kudos go out to the Marsha Morgan Band
for winning the 2014 Rising Star Award.
From the Southern
Soul genre, Ms Jody, Andre' Lee, Lomax and OB Buchana each had monster hits on the charts in 2014. With both Still Strokin' and The Rock remaining strong, Ms. Jody was the star of stars on the November Sunday afternoon CBMA Awards show. Rod Stewart, Robin Thicke, Gina Sicilia, R. Kelly and Kelly Clarkson had some the
biggest hits on the Beach charts in 2014 from a National/International perspective. We certainly cannot forget Grayson Hugh,
whose rockin' tune Goodbye Train went
to number one in conjunction with his August Back To The Beach Carolinas Tour.
Grayson and wife Polly were also a huge hit on the CBMA Sunday Awards show and have released a new song with Jim Quick, No More Pain, that has already charted.
The biggest news in Beach music for 2014 had to be the re-organization
of the granddaddy of them all, The Embers, which brought Craig Woolard back into the band. Another hot topic was the departure
of both Butch Barnes and Allie Privette from Sea Cruz. A new group called Punch kicked off in 2014, featuring several former
members of North Tower as well as the very talented Taylor Manning Craig. Fast approaching 25 years in Beach music, The Holiday
Band lost veterans Doug Neese and Bill Ward this past year, but have re-emerged with a new lineup. Hip Pocket has had several
personnel changes as well - Preston Honeycutt has replaced veteran Alan Brantley as the Sound Engineer. Additional new Hip
Pocket members are Tim Sidden on keyboard, Dustin York on guitar and Frankie Hoggard on drums.
In 2014, we saw the emergence of bands such as Classic
Soul featuring Terri Gore, Larry Moore & The Shag Doctorz and Vance Kennedy & Barksdale Station. A couple of newer
bands that were stars at the 2013 CBMAs, Gary Lowder & Smokin' Hot and KB & The Shifters, continued to have banner
years. Two new groups that initiated play in the second half of the year: Midnight
Allie, formed and led by the aforementioned Allie Privette; and Don Jordan & The High Rollers, based out of the Winston-Salem
area. Don was the former lead guitarist in the Craig Woolard Band.
Ahead For 2015: We are anticipating album releases from Rhonda McDaniel, The Entertainers, Steve Edmunds and The Coastline
Band. Albert Rogers, the winner of 2014's Solo Album of the Year Award, is said to be starting up the production of a follow-up
album. The Band of Oz has been gathering material for a new album that was reportedly due out last year, hopefully we will
see it soon as well.
sure we will see several compilation CDs released by KHP and others as well. Bill Bradford's Spirit Records label has given
us several good tunes in recent months with more anticipated to come. The first few months of the year sometimes crawl by
slowly for the Beach artists, but January's Mid-Winter, early March's DJ Throwdown and April's SOS Spring Safari are always
potential opportunities. Over two dozen Festivals up and down the Southeastern seaboard are in the planning stages along with
many locales that host Beach bands outside on a weekly basis. These get cranked up in the April/May timeframe and really showcase
the abundance of Beach music talent that is out there. Here's hoping some new club and entertainment venues crop up during
the first half of the year to give the Beach bands additional opportunities to play.
Wasn't it Brooks and Dunn that
sang Play Something Country? LOL!
The picture above represents a late '80's/early '90's County/Rock/Top 40
band that had formed when another Country band based in Durham, NC, The Coulters, had disbanded. The New Breed members were
Tony Wrenn, John Wrenn, Kim Buchanan, Jay Shirley, and the two guys in the far right of the picture that Beach music fans
would now recognize, Phil Wilson and Guy Brooks. It is not unusual for current members of Beach bands to have played Rock
and/or Country in their past lives. Another of the most famous such bands would have to be Sugarcreek, who did infuse a little
Beach music along the way. Now well known former members of Sugarcreek include: Rick Lee (Too Much Sylvia), Jerry West (Band
of Oz), Earl Dawkins (Entertainers), Mike Brown (Entertainers), Tim Clark (Tim Clark Band), Robbie Hegler (former Fantastic
Shakers and Coastline) and Bruce Burns (former Catalinas).
He was known as The Fat Cat back in the day. Beach music's own Charlie Brown
went to work at AM powerhouse WKIX 850 after completing his college education at UNC in the early '60's. He was there several
years, eventually becoming the Program Director as 'Channel 85' ruled Raleigh area
radio. Charlie was an active participant in the Atlantic Records production of the first two Beach Beat compilation albums. WKIX at the time was instrumental in
helping establish the genre we know today as Beach music.
Charlie Brown just recently left his Monday through Friday spot on WPCM
920 AM in Burlington, NC, where he has been a fixture for the last 13 years. He is still on the radio, however, in many locations
with his syndicated "On The Beach with Charlie Brown" show. Check out www.onthebeachwithcharliebrown.com to find
out when and where you can catch his weekly show of great Beach music.
Not really that well known in Beach music
circles, Chicago native and veteran Blues musician Vance Kelly actually had two spectacular hits in the genre several years
back. Wall To Wall, often covered and still played in the clubs, finished as the #5 song for the year 1997 on the Beach Music
Top 40. Mom's Apple Pie did even better for Vance in 2001, coming in at #3 for the year. The latter tune, written by Jessie
Clay, was originally released by the late Tyrone Davis in 1991. Following in her father's footsteps, daughter Vivian Vance
Kelly has been a Blues performer for several years. She had a really strong album release entitled Rock My Soul in 2011, with
several worthy club tracks on the disc, including You Win Again, He's Crazy and Love Of Mine. Vance Kelly's latest album release,
Live At Kingston Mines, was recorded in 2014 at the famed Chicago nightclub and features his daughter as well. Both Vance
and Vivian have quite a following - they continue to record and perform in Chicago and the surrounding area.