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Beach Buzz August

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          Scenic Pilot Mountain in North Carolina

 What's Happening:   August promises to be a full month in the world of Beach music. I was able to make it this past Saturday to one of the best kept secrets in the biz, Hot Nights Hot Cars in historic Pilot Mountain, N.C. Organized by a committee of volunteers in conjunction with the town council, the event is staged the first Saturday afternoon and evening of each month between May and October, always including one of the top bands in Beach music. In their 7th year of combining beautiful cars with outstanding music, this year's band lineup includes The Catalinas, Part Time Party Time Band, Fantastic Shakers, Hip Pocket, Legends Of Beach and Holiday Band.

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This festival (and associated sponsorships) has grown to be gi-normous, with an average of six hundred classic cars and five to six thousand folks in attendance. As Entertainment Coordinator Jerry Venable was quoted as saying “Out first band event seven years ago drew about six hundred people with less than 80 cars, we have come a long, long way since that point in time”.  An added attraction this past Saturday – DJ Bob Graves entertained the overflow crowd by spinning a line dance marathon in between Hip Pocket sets that was a huge success. The faithful followers never seem to tire of this party, coming back month after month. And they surely do love their Beach music in downtown Mount Pilot!! For more information about this event go to http://www.hotnightshotcars.com.

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                                          Jeykll Island, Georgia

 

Big Happenings in Georgia: It is almost time once again for the Jekyll Island, Georgia Beach Music Festival. Hosted this year August 16th - 18th  in conjunction with the Golden Isles Shag Club, Pierside Entertainment, JLW Promotions & Jekyll Island Authority, the 2012 Beach Music Festival celebrates its 30th year of bringing the very best of the beach to the Georgia coast. This years' band lineup has the Craig Woolard Band, Shag Attack, Fantastic Shakers, Second Chance Band and Sons of Sailors. There will also be a host of DJs, including Peter Carpenter, who is President of the Carolina Beach Music Association. The Thursday Welcome Party and all the evening events will be held at the New Jekyll Island Convention Center with the Saturday afternoon Beach Blast taking place at Great Dunes Park. Shag and line dance lessons will also be available each day. For ticket and additional festival information go to http://www.cammy.org/jekyll.htm.

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East Battery Walkway in Charleston, South Carolina

                   

A South Carolina Favorite: The 7th Annual Charleston Beach and Shag Festival will be held at The Embassy Suites and connecting Convention Center on Saturday August 25th and Sunday August 26th. This event is held each year to benefit the Beach Music and Shag Preservation Society of South Carolina. The entertainment lineup  is once again outstanding and includes The Tams, Rickey Godfrey, Fantastic Shakers, Johnny Rawls Blues Band, Castaways and Carolina Soul Band. DJ Gerry Scott from nearby Summerville will serve as MC for the two days and will be spinning the tunes along with DJ Betty Brown. As always, Promoter Harriett Grady is one of the major driving forces that brings success to this festival every year. You can find ticket information at the following website: www.bmspssc.com.

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                                     Sea Cruz Band

 

 What's Hot: The new single Think It Over from Sea Cruz has already made the Beach charts without being officially released. It is scheduled to be on the forthcoming KHP Productions Coast To Coast: The Music Lives On compilation due out very soon......Taylorsville, North Carolina's Night Move Band has a big Beach/Shag hit on their hands with Smooth Stepping Papa. The band has a full album in the works for release in the near future.....I'd Give Up Everything For You from the new Steve Owens and Summertime album is smokin' hot on all fronts.....Ecko Records recording artist Donnie Ray continues to impress the Beach music world with a strong showing on I'm Goin' Back, which is the title track of his latest album........

 

Worth Another Listen: Songs often get overlooked and/or overshadowed when they are released for the first time on full albums. Here are a few that I don't believe would do any harm to any club or radio DJ's rotation:

She's Still In Love from Dance To The Radio by Band of Oz
Forever Man from Down South  by Jim Quick
Wanting You from  Sweet Love by Holiday Band
Holdin' My Own from  I'm Just Sayin' by The Castaways
I Like Your Style from Ocean Drive-By by Hip Pocket
Feeling Happy from The Emperor by Paul Craver
I Wanna Know You from Seven by Rick Strickland
The  Girl I Love from The Inside Story by The Entertainers
Love Sweet Love from Main Street People by Craig Woolard Band

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Tireless Beach music promoter Judie Walters has arranged and released what could be the first of a series of music compilations. Judie's Patio Party Volume 1 entitled Friends was engineered and produced by Tim Eaton at Studio East in Charlotte. What we have is a diverse blend of music from the several of the close friends Judie has made over the years in the business. It is a collaboration of new tracks together with old memories, cover tunes as well as originals. The late Dink Perry leads off with the album title track, which makes us realize how much he is missed. More key songs include an uptempo fresh cut, Do You Love Me Like That,  from the hottest new band in Beach music, Steve Owens & Summertime,  the Buffet-esque My Great Escape from Johnny Cobb,  jazz grooves from legendary sax man Tim Gordon on Morning Grace,  slow testimony on Cool Change by The Fantastic Shakers,  a rendition of the Al Green rarity entitled Keep On Pushing Love by Josh and Daniel Stone with Roger Smith, Mercy from Cindy Floyd,  Loving Me Loving You by Gary Lowder and the already charting Been There Done That from the Memories, which consists of Big John (Thompson), Doc (Warren McDonald) and Roger (Smith). There are also some previous fan favorites such as You from Ken Knox & Company, For Your Love from Jackie & Terri Gore, What A Wonderful World by the late Bobby Smith and Hey Little Girl by the quartet of Big John Thompson, John G. Franklin, Craig Woolard and Dink Perry. Sixteen tunes in the total package – for more information and to purchase go to http://www.judiespatioparty.com.

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 There is a band that came together in the mid-'90's way down yonder in Texas that is not real well known in mainstream musicana. Mingo Fishtrap is a bluesy, funky, full bore horn laden group that has been right on the edge of Beach music ever since it was formed. This premise is mainly based on individual DJs discovering their tunes over the years and incorporating them into their playlists. Fishtrap's style might be described as middle America Tower of Power with a touch of Delbert, a hint of the Subdudes and a pinch of Smokehouse. An extremely active road band, their tour dates over the next two months range from Brooklyn to Charlottesville to Nashville to St. Louis to New Orleans to Austin to Monterey, CA.

 

Mingo Fishtrap has released four full albums and two EPs to date. Their inaugural effort in 1997, Succotash, had some killer tracks including Out Of Control, Bitta Honey and Heart Attack.  The 2000 From The Private Bag album was an unique combination of both live recordings and studio cuts. Yesterday, dropped in 2005, may have been the best demonstration of the full range of the band with fourteen high energy tunes such as Dirty Gritty, Let The Games Begin, Catch The Bus, Wrapped Up and Baby Money.  The single Without Question, from the EP3 release, received a fair amount of Beach DJ attention. Fishtrap's most recent effort, In The Meantime, contains a track that I felt should have already made the Beach charts -  Back It On Up has shag all over it! Check their music out if you get the opportunity, I am going to try to catch them live somewhere very soon! 

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What’s Way Old:  Who would you say over the years recorded the best version of the Soul and Beach classic Open The Door To Your Heart? The original, released in 1966 by Buffalo, New York's Darrell Banks, was immediately surrounded by controversy and legal entanglements. The song was primarily written by Donnie Elbert, but when the song was recorded and the 45 issued, Banks was credited as the lone songwriter. Meanwhile, the killer tune was a major hit, peaking at #2 on Billboard's R&B charts.

Definitely not the easiest of songs to cover, particularly in terms of synchronizing vocal and horn arrangements but several artists have taken their shot. The Capitols of Cool Jerk fame nailed a pretty strong version of the song the same year the original was released. British rocker Chris Farlowe also jumped on the cover train in 1966. The late great Jackie Wilson included a fine version of the tune on his 1967 Higher And Higher album. '70's diva Betty Wright took a stab at it, releasing a promo 45 that mistakenly listed the song authors as Homer Banks, Raymond Jackson and Bettye Crutcher. There have been several notable versions recorded by Soul artists, including those from J.J. Barnes, Little Milton, Tyrone Davis, Lew Kirton, Willie Clayton and Clarence Carter.

Closer to home, creditable versions have been released by both Gary Bass with the EBS All Star Band and by Jerry Wilson, who fronts a band called The Jewels. Former '60's Thee Midniters and later Malo lead singer Little Willie G. released a unique rendition of the tune in 2000. British singer/songwriter Oliver Darley covered the song with a flair on his inaugural album in 2002. One of the absolute best versions I have ever heard was on a 1994 album from a session group called The Uptown Horns. Among their members was veteran sax man Crispin Cioe, who several years later surfaced with hit tunes in Beach music leading a New York based band called Cracked Ice.

There have certainly been many strong versions of this timeless classic. No matter who is singing the song when I hear it, Open The Door To Your Heart will forever remind me of the barroom days of long ago when you got three jukebox plays for a quarter and you could buy a draft beer with the loose change in your pocket!

 

Artists, DJ’s, Club owners etc. send me your latest news for potential inclusion in Beach Buzz at nealfur@aol.com.

 

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