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Beach Buzz July 13

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What's Happening:  As one of the absolute best bands in Beach music, the Fantastic Shakers are in the midst of an Anniversary Tour, marking their 35th year as a force in the industry.  They continue to provide the highest level of quality entertainment, no matter what venue they happen to be working. Their presentation seems almost effortless at times, as a Shakers show just flows seamlessly through song after song.

The Fantastic Shakers were founded in 1978 during the height of the Disco era by Bo Schronce and Dino Fair (now with Sea Cruz). Like most groups, they have persevered through hard work and numerous personnel changes over the years to perform at events featuring governors, presidents, beauty queens, national acts, movie set reunions, etc. - from New York to Florida and beyond, you name it and they have most likely done it. Bo continues to lead the charge with a current lineup that includes fellow Carolina Beach Music Hall of Famers Freddy Tripp and Don Tetreault as well as seasoned veterans Chris Jennings, Jeff Swafford, Doug Winstead and sound engineer guru Preston Honeycutt. This group provides a versatility that is hard to match with five singers capable of assuming lead duties and as many as three horn players at any one point in the show.

The Fantastic Shakers have had somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty songs to appear on the year ending Beach music charts over the last four decades. Their tunes have always had a lasting impact on the industry from the first hit, Myrtle Beach Days, through Walk With Me Talk With Me, Shakin' The Shack, Penny Lover, Nobody But You, Shake That Thing, I Need You, Wonderful Waste Of Time, Boogie Woogie Dancin' Shoes, Heavy Love, I Still Do and Jelly Belly, just to name a few. By my count, the Shakers have been the recipients of thirty-six group and/or individual Carolina Beach Music Awards since 1995, including five Group Album of the Year wins.

If you are a devoted Beach music fan, be sure to catch this outstanding band soon at a venue near you. They will be performing  at three upcoming  outdoor events (and they are all free!!), Thursday July 4th at The University Mall Concert Series in Chapel Hill, NC, Friday July 5th at the Mooresville, NC Alive After Five Series and Saturday, July 6th at the Hot Nights & Hot Car Series in Pilot Mountain, NC. South Carolina Beach music lovers can catch the Shakers at the Cheraw Alive After Five Series on July 18th or at the Charleston Beach Music Festival on August 25th. Also, be on the lookout for a new multi-disc CD commemorating the 35th Anniversary that contains at least ten new Shakers songs!

 

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Billy and Jack Jeffords are brothers who hail from Florence, SC that have been doing what they have a strong passion for since the '70's – that would be writing, arranging, recording and sometimes performing music. Unfortunately, family and real jobs soon overrode performing, but the brothers never gave up their love of creating new songs. Now I can't characterize all of what they have produced as strictly Beach music. It does, however, cross several genres (with certainly a focus on Beach), is definitely original music (which may becoming a lost art in itself these days) and is always of extremely high quality. That being said, three of the most recent albums of their work with Dip Ferrell & The Truetones HAVE been nominated in the Group Album of The Year category of the Carolina Beach Music Awards. My impression is that the music on each album just gets better and better!

Dip Ferrell & The Truetones are primarily a group of studio musicians and vocalists – that, unlike days gone by, they do not have an event schedule of performing on the road. They do, however, focus on creating a finished product in the studio that is as pure and strong in quality, vocal harmony and instrumentation as anyone in the industry.  It does not hurt that the legendary Don Dixon has been the lead producer on each of their four albums. This is the same Don Dixon who has produced, arranged and/or performed with the likes of R.E.M., Marshall Crenshaw, Mary Chapin Carpenter, James McMurtry, The Smithereens, Kim Carnes, The Spongetones, and Hootie & The Blowfish.  Add in great studio players such as Tim Gordon on saxophone, Mark Stallings on keyboards, Jamie Hoover on guitar as well as talented vocalists like Shana Blake, Beth Chorneau, Rick Blackwell, Dip and Don and what you end up with is outstanding results. Their albums have been recorded and produced at Reflection Sound Studios in Charlotte and released on their own Arcade label.

Get Ready For The Truetones was released in 2006 with a fresh new sound that included killer tracks such as Ooh Girl Don't Stop (also recorded by The Craig Woolard Band), Don't Blame Me (also recorded by Part Time Party Time Band), One Sure Way, Everlasting Love and the one I felt had the right groove to go high on the Beach charts, the highly shaggable No Doubt, which is still in my Internet radio station rotation. Nine of the eleven tunes on the album were originals written by Billy and Jack, but the two covers they chose to do were also truly outstanding – Never Gonna Be Alone Anymore and People Get Ready!

Never fear, Dip & The Truetones came back with a bang with the 2009 release of Central Avenue, featuring That Old Rockola, which was the #18 song on the 2010 year ending chart here at beachmusic45.com. It was also one of the most heavily played tunes on Beach radio for several months. I also thought highly of the upbeat jams Sooner Or Later, Alligator Shoes and Young Love. The soulful mellowness that Shana brings on IOU is simply stirring! It is interesting that online retailer CD Baby classified this album as 'Surf' Rock'. Say what? From my perspective, it is a fair amount of Southern rock 'n' rhythm with a dose of Funk and a whole lotta Beach and Soul complete with a touch of old school background vocals and several cuts with just the right tempo for dancing (shagging). It is real music, ya'll!

2011 saw the release of Along For The Vibe, eleven cuts from Dip & The Truetones that is just really good 'riding down the road' music.  Take A Chance On Me is a horn laden mid-tempo tracks that is as good as it gets. Ditto for When The Smoke Clears. Backup Man with just a little tempo bump works well as a shag tune in the clubs. Baby Come Back To Me provides a great slow and way down low groove for up close and personal dancing! The album closes on a strong note with the upbeat and insightful  Too Bad Good Times Don't Last. How did CD Baby classify this one? 'Carolina Beach/Shag'. Ok, I'll go along with that!

The freshly minted Dip In The Road consisting of 100% original music was just released in May. The lead track, Where You Tryin' To Go is so good that it sooner than later HAS to make a big impact on the Beach charts. My typical lateness in reviewing the CD and writing this column out of synch with creating my Top 25 for the month excluded it from my chart, but it is guaranteed to be in my top five in August! My understanding is that the tune has already been used in a national Shag Dance competition. The background vocals on Must've Been A Fool just wows me, reminiscent of   a '60's Detroit or Chicago Soul music recording session. What a great song! Love Is Gone – another wow, a new creation with awesome horns that sounds like it came right off a classic jukebox. Lonely Girl, Dip In The Road and Way Of The Dinosaur are all up-tempo grooves with strong lyrics and phrasing. I hear a little Sixteen Tons in the early parts of the rhythm track of the moving Devil In Your Soul. Several tunes here suitable for dancing, I would predict this release to be another excellent candidate for CBMA Group Album of the Year. You can also check this great band out at dipferrell.com. If you are not aware of their outstanding music, it is time to get on board!

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Charlotte, NC based Too Much Sylvia may not be as well known as some of the bands in Beach music and in that regard, they are much more when it comes to genres utilized in their live shows. They perform to tunes of the different decades – both popular previous hits as well as some surprises from the '60's all the way through today.  Standards, Country, Beach, Blues, Pop, Classics and even Unplugged is part of their overall repertoire. They are not a new entity, Too Much Sylvia is in their 22nd year of playing together at weddings, festivals, outdoor concerts, corporate events, and fundraisers. The band consists of veteran musicians Rick Lee, Steve Long, Eddie Howie and Don Leonard. Their July schedule is packed, including the extended 4th of July weekend with dates in Cheraw, SC on the 3rd, Matthews, NC on the 4th and Oakboro on the 6th.

Too Much Syvia has just released 2MS, a new album containing twelve tracks with several originals plus a bonus selection of their rendition of Daydream Believer. Leading off is All I Wanna Do Is Dance, which is tailor made for the beach. I really like the rollicking bluesy Bring It On Back. Complicated is a good combination of strong keyboards and horns that makes for a good shagging tune. The sweeping Love Takes Time almost has an '80's concert big stage sound to it. Included are nice tribute medleys to The Bee Gees as well as Spiral Staircase! Then there is Throw Away The Key, transforming the band into a killer rock band groove.  Excellently produced by Rick Lee, with guest appearances from Tim Clark, John G. Franklin, Tim Gordon and Jeff Swafford, I believe this album demonstrates the wide vocal and instrumental range that this band possesses. For more information on Too Much Sylvia, check out their website at toomuchsylvia.com.

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Shriners Hospital for Children, Greenville, SC

Beach Bits: If you are in the Greenville/Spartanburg vicinity and beyond, be sure to put August 20th on your calendars. It is the 7th Annual Patti's Kids Event at the Greenville Shrine Club. This is a benefit for the children at the Greenville Shriners Hospital and also honors the memory of the late Patti Craig. There will be a Silent Auction, live Beach music entertainment and a special CD produced by Steve Craig, Buddy Strong and Bob Spencer will be sold with all the proceeds going to the hospital...........

If you have not yet had a chance to read it, be sure to check out my article on Klass Band Brotherhood in Southern Soul Corner here at beachmusic45.com. They will be one of the headline attractions at this years Fall SOS Fun Sunday on September 15th.........

Rumor is some semblance of the former very popular Plum Branch Festival may be coming later this summer in the upstate South Carolina area.......

New music in the works: A KHP compilation featuring new songs from Paul Craver, Rhonda McDaniel, Entertainers, Castaways, Carolina Breakers, Gary Lowder & the Smokin' Hot Band and the Martin Davis Band plus many more...........A Tommy Black Band CD, featuring several new tracks is coming soon.........the first CD release from The Marsha Morgan Band, featuring recent hits plus new tunes is on the way as well.

The hottest songs right now include: Still Strokin' from Ms. Jody is the biggest hit of her seven year career at Ecko Records, hitting #1 in both Beach music and Southern Soul.........Another hot tune originating the Southern Soul arena is  Back In The Day Cafe from Andre' Lee. This one follows up his previous big hit One Night Stand........Rick Strickland and Lesa Hudson are scoring in a big way with I'm Hungover......Four O'Clock In The Morning from Big Time Party Band featuring Clifford Curry is hot! I predict the creative mind of John L. Wilson will deliver another original tune very soon that will soar as well........Don't Rush by Kelly Clarkson featuring Vince Gill is likely hotter in Beach music than it has been so far in the Country arena, stopping at #23 on the Hot Country charts.....The 2012 In Between Disasters from Uncle Kracker has become a Beach club favorite. It has yet to chart in either the Country or Adult Contemporary markets......

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It is interesting how over the years many songs outside the genre have made an impact in Beach music from artists never to be heard from again.

As an example, a song entitled Fool by Al Matthews in 1975 was an upbeat tune, very representative of the era in which it was released. It was good enough to still be played occasionally today by Beach jocks, particularly on the radio. Matthews, from Brooklyn, NY, was a decorated Marine during the Vietnam War, earning two Purple Hearts for his service in combat. Although his singing career was brief, Fool did make it to #16 on the UK Singles chart in 1975. He was also credited for backup vocals on Maxine Nightengale's smash hit Right Back Where We Started From in 1976.  Matthews became better known as an actor, with movie roles in Superman III (1983), Aliens (1986) and Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), among others. He also has worked extensively in British television, theater and radio.

Another prime example was the 1988 single It's Summer Time by a group known as Choice Reunion. The song is a Beach party time classic, rolling along with fun and frolic for five minutes and change. Choice Reunion, who hailed from Washington, DC, was made up of five guys that came together to record on the Les-Wes label in 1986.  Although they were popular in the Washington/Baltimore area, their songs never made any noise nationally. Earlier singles included Free And Easy and  You Need A Good Man. The group became frustrated with their lack of overall commercial success and disbanded shortly after It's Summer Time was released. The twelve inch vinyl single featured an instrumental only version of the tune as well on the B side.

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