What is happening: In what has become a pattern for these features,
we took the month of December off to some degree for a pause for the cause, so to speak! Neither Beach Buzz nor Southern Soul
Corner were published. Our live365.com radio station (Way Down South) consumes quite a bit of time each year switching to
a 24/7 Holiday music format for the majority of the month. We are back at it now hopefully bringing you useful information
in both of the genres as we enter a brand new year.
Beach Music in Review: Let's start off by talking about the granddaddy of them all in Beach music - The Embers! Their 2014 reorganization that brought perrenial Male Vocalist of the Year winner Craig Woolard back into
the fold continued to build momentum as they fulfilled one of the busiest schedules on the Beach circuit this past year. This culminated at the November Carolina Beach Music Awards with the band winning
Group of the Year, which was amazingly the first time in the twenty one year history of the Awards that the Embers have come
out on top. They topped off 2015 by releasing another new album of Holiday standards. Their position as the Royal Ambassadors
of Beach Music has never been stronger as they continue to promote the genre everywhere they appear!!
2014's Group of the Year, the Matthews NC based Entertainers, did not repeat (as
I had predicted) in that category, BUT, their mid-summer release of Summer Love struck gold with a win for Group Album of the Year. Satisfy My Woman has been the stand out key single from the release so far, already
hitting #1 on many of the charts. Perhaps the hottest group in Beach music as we close out 2015 is the Blackwater Rhythm &
Blues Band. Their November CBMA winnings included Rising Star, Song of the Year for their monster hit Dance Tonight as well as Songwriter of the Year. Band leader Dale Edwards
continues to tweek the lineup such that every booked performance appears to get better and better!
Jim Quick & Coastline Band just keep on keepin' on, performing at 250 plus
venues a year. Glenn Tippett was the recipient of the Instrumentalist of the Year in 2015, an award that band members Casey
Meyer, Albert Rogers and Cameron Dudley have all won in previous years. Jim won Entertainer of the Year for the unprecedented
fourteenth time. A talent that Jim possesses that often goes unrecognized is his enormous penchant for crafting lyrics. As
a songwriter, he is one of the best. Period. Beach music or anywhere else, for that matter.
An interesting sidenote, I was working with Coastline at an annual December Christmas party when the band struck up
a killer version of Cleaning Windows.
Someone remarked to me ''I guess Jim has written another new song". I replied that
no, that is one he actually did not write but that Van Morrison would certainly be proud of the rendition!
What else can be said about the Band of Oz? With five individuals who can assume
lead singing duties at any point in time, a killer horn section and sets that range from A to Z in music selections, they
continue to be right at the top of the heap when it comes to bands. Their 2014 single Extra Careful hit #1 late that year and continued to chart for much of 2015. As
long as I get to work with them once or twice in any given year, I am a happy camper!
The Castaways continued to build momentum in 2015 based on the many charting hits
still coming from their Movin' On album.
Too Much Sylvia, who nailed it this past year at Fun Monday, have established
quite a following and are in big demand. Relatively new bands (as in the last 5 years or so) in Beach music that continue
to gain popularity and deliver outstanding performances include Steve Owens & Summertime, Marsha Morgan Band, Gary Lowder
& Smokin' Hot and Carolina Breakers. A host of veteran groups are still out
there getting it done year after year including Tams, Swingin' Medallions, Holiday Band, Men of Distinction, North Tower,
Part Time Party Time Band, Attractions, Sand Band, Hip Pocket, Rick Strickland Band, Sea Cruz, Tommy Black Band, Mark Roberts
Band, Big Time Band, Tim Clark Band, Summerdaze Band, Dip Ferrell & The Truetones, Lakeside Drive Band, Magnificents,
Mighty Saints Of Soul, Legacy, Delta Riders, Central Park Band, and the list goes on. Got an anniversary, retirement or graduation
celebration, who you gonna call?? Ghostbusters?? Nooo, call The Fantastic Shakers!! Thirty seven plus years and still rollin'
Band reorganizations are common in Beach music just like any other genre and there
were several this past year. The Holiday Band went through a year-long metamorphosis in 2015, with band leader Mike Taylor
now the only remaining member from their ascendance to prominence in the late '90's and 2000's. The group's career accomplishments
did not go unnoticed, however - they were elected to the Carolina Beach Music Hall of Fame in November.
Stacy Danner and Tara Kelly left
Lakeside Drive and are now members of the Summerdaze Band. It was the second major overhaul of the year for Summerdaze, which
among other changes included the coming and going of veterans Cindy and Randy Floyd and the retirement of Shaun Quan. Hip
Pocket went through some major changes with the departures of Van Stuckey and Steve Edmunds. New member Dustin York received
a nomination in the CBMA Rising Star category. A new group in late 2014, Midnight Allie did some personnel tweeking this past
year and is currently going strong heading into 2016.
There were several new albums released
in 2015 from groups or individual artists. In addition to the formentioned Entertainers release, we saw a seven track CD from
Gary Lowder & Smokin' Hot entitled Playin'
With Fire 2 that immediately began to yield charting tunes. Tim Cashion, who continues to be involved in Beach music
while playing keys and travelling with Grand Funk Railroad, gave us Feeturing, which had several collaborations with artists including Earl Dawkins, Terri Gore and Gary Brown.
Originals was the title of a new album
of self-penned music from the Boulevard Boys, who are veteran performers Big John Thompson and Roger Smith. Rhonda McDaniel, who continued her run as Female Artist of the Year, released the six track Lookin' For Sugar in July.
The legendary Clifford Curry, who is a sixty year veteran of producing Soul and
Beach music, gave us Cold Beer Hot Women,
which won the Solo Album of the Year Award. Clifford, although not in the best of health, was on hand to receive this award
in person and with amost overwhelming emotion. Coming out in late summer of 2015 was a new album with a classic title, Dancin' Romancin', from a classic Beach music band, that would be The Catalinas. Cool Breeze from the release immediately began a climb on the charts. We also had a new album from Forevermore Records by the Godfather of Beach, Mr. Jackie Gore, with My Love Is Your Love (Forever). Jackie is fast approaching sixty years
of being involved in Beach music! Grayson Hugh has been a force in Beach music over the last two years with several hits,
including the latest one from his 2015 Back
To The Soul album.
New releases came from two artists not always mentioned in the same breath as Beach
music but have had charters in recent years - the legendary Russell Thompkins, Jr. and the Soul diva Ms. DieDra. One of the
last releases of the year was the self-titled album Big Time, formerly known as The Big Time Party Band, who are a crowd favorite throughout Piedmont North Carolina.
We will have much more on this new release in the February edition of Beach Buzz.
Compilations still provide the most bang for the buck in Beach music - it is not
uncommon for a various artist compilation to have as many as 50% or more of the songs end up on the Beach charts. In 2015,
KHP Productions released Movin' N Groovin'
and Take A Walk In The Sunshine, Sisbro
Records gave us Carolina Shag VI and
Carolina Shag VII and Patman &
Robin Records came out with We're Building
An Island, all of which currently have singles on the charts.
Speaking of original lyrics, Rick Strickland and Lesa Hudson continue to turn
out spectacular home grown hit songs and this past year was no exception. Rick's latest album, New Beginning, was also a 2015 release. All the way from Alabama but
originally from Whiteville, NC, the right Reverend Bubba D. Liverance gave us two originals that both were on the charts late
in the year. Ken Knox carried on the Chairmen tradition with the hit track Reach Out For Me. Fellow former Chairmen member Danny Woods saw his recent album receive a nomination in the
CBMA Solo Album of the Year category. Bill Bradford's Spirit Records out of Charlotte produced original hits for Debby Dobbins,
Sonja Grier and Maria Howell. Bill and Sandy Bell received a well deserved induction into the Beach Music Hall of Fame in
Songs from outside the Beach genre, from a regional, national (and global) perspective
that had an impact in 2015 included: Swing It - Lomax, , Love Never Had It So Good - Michael Jackson, Patience - Noel Gourdin , #1 Love - Winzell Kelly, Uptown Funk - Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars, Dancing With My Baby - Miss Rebekah , Call My Wife - Linsey Alexander, Bad Mama Jamma - Nathaniel Kimble, Let's Marvin Gaye - Charlie Puth and Meghan Trainor, Move - Keb Mo, Full Of Fire - Boz Scaggs, Dance
With Me Tonight - Olly Murs, Death
Letter Blues - Bill Lyerly, Hold Still
- Pat Cooley, Gonna Love You Tonight - Michael Lington, Breakin' News - Benny Turner.
What is coming in 2016: There was not an overabundance
of new artists joining the Beach music ranks in 2015. The Swashtones had a charting hit song as did another newcomer, Nicol
Andrews. Both received nominations in the Rising Star category and more is expected of both in 2016. Bounce is another new
band out of Burlington, NC that has some high expectations as well. We will have more on this new group in next month's edition
of Beach Buzz.
There are many new songs that surfaced in the latter part of the year that have strong potential for the first half of 2016.The Carolina Soul Band has an up and coming
hit with True Love. He's back but he
never really ever left - our good friend Sammy O'Banion's new one, Don't Walk On By, is climbing the charts and has a chance to hit #1.
The aforementioned Nicol Andrews recorded a duet with Jim Quick, On The Way Out, that is seeing chart action. Rick Strickland's album title track, New Beginning, certainly has hit possibilities.
Legendary former Platters lead singer Sonny Turner has a new tune, Let's Go Way Back, that is expected to do well. I'm liking Wallstreet's Shot
Of Love, which has already surfaced on some of the charts. Jimmy & Darlene Harrison have a climber with Nothing Can Help You Now. Paul Craver's rendition of In Her Own Way fits the bill as well. A personal favorite that I have
felt still should chart is the 2015 Good Times
by the Truetones featuring Shana Blake.
November Hall of Fame inductee Gary Bass, who has had several successful albums
as well as singles in past years, mentioned that he is planning a new forthcoming album release. The long awaited new album which already has a name, Under The Radar, should come to light this year from the Summerdaze Band. An advance single is expected from
the band within the next month. The Entertainers will kick off a year long
celebration of their 35th year in the business. An anniversary CD is expected to be ready for distribution in the Spring.
There will be much more info here on the new album projects as they unfold in the coming months.
We apologize for anyone we may have missed mentioning in this summation.
Send any comments regarding your particular artist or group to the email address
listed below and we will be sure to include a feature on them in a future issue. Have a great 2016!!
DJs, Club owners etc. send me your latest news for potential inclusion in Beach Buzz at firstname.lastname@example.org.