Carolina Beach Music Festival
Fri.-Sun., June 3-5
Along with a cooler, sunscreen and good attitudes, my parents often toted my brother and me to beach music festivals when we were kids. My mother twirled us around to charming tunes by the Drifters and The Tams, and taught us to dance to the buoyant tempos. I didn’t know a lyric of early ‘90s mainstream music, but I could sing “Carolina Girls” to my dad, assuring him that we are “the best in the world.”
Folks who share in my nostalgia will able to relish those memories at this weekend’s 26th annual Carolina Beach Music Festival. The party begins on Friday, June 3 at SeaWitch Café. DJ Mike Worley will spin the dancing tunes, and there’s no cover charge to get in on the action. Joining the DJ will be the dance band Carolina Breakers. Complete with a horn-section and four-part harmony, they delight audiences with high-energy motown, funk and R&B. The band takes requests from a lengthy list of covers while offering up originals, too.
Saturday is the true party, as guys and gals shag to the sounds of three big-name beach music bands: Jim Quick and Coastline, Band of Oz, and The Fantastic Shakers. The stage on Carolina Beach’s boardwalk overlooks the ocean, so folks can party right on the sand. The day begins with a cornhole tournament at 8 a.m., and gates open for the concert at 10:30 a.m. The first group, Jim Quick and Coastline, plays at 11 a.m.
Jim Quick has released more than 11 albums and received Entertainer of the Year nine times from the Carolina Music Awards. He attempts to bridge the gap between many genres as he plays country, blues and jazz. Coastline consists of Sam Bryant (percussion), Casey Meyer (guitar), Alex Rogers (bass) and Glen Tippett (keyboard and saxophone). Meyer, Rogers and Tippett all add their vocal assistance.
Not only does the band perform soulful classics, but Quick often entertains with off-the-cuff jokes as well. People will want to arrive early to get a good spot near the dance floor for Jim Quick and Coastline, as they’ll only play until 12:30 p.m.
At 1 p.m. Band of Oz commandeers the stage. Even though they’re from Raleigh, North Carolina, these eight guys still master the swing and sway of true beach music. Formed in 1976, the band has a full horn section, including trombone, trumpet and saxophone, and four lead singers. A harmonica, guitar, drums, bass and keyboard rounds out the group. Band of Oz still has five of its original members, but about five years ago they added three more men, all in their 20s. “They bring a lot of new energy to the band,” drummer David Hicks says.
Their recent additions also bring fresh tunes to the table. “People associate us with beach music,” Hicks explains, “and that makes sense because we made beach records for 35 years. But we mix it up and do stuff from Cee Lo Green and Taio Cruz, still hitting the old beach music and doing our stuff, too.”
All of the men in the band are going strong, regardless of age. “I’m 58—one of the old ones,” Hicks jokes. “But I would not be here if I weren’t still enjoying it. I look forward to playing. Those young, energetic guys are always moving and keeping it going, and our four lead singers could probably carry any other band on their own. People tell me they can see we’re enjoying what we’re doing, and that feeds the audience.”
The Fantastic Shakers are the final band of the day, taking the stage at 3 p.m. Like Band of Oz, they were also founded in the ‘70s and have since performed over 6,000 times. They’ve got a whopping five singers, including Bo Schronce who was inducted into the Carolina Beach Music Awards’ Hall of Fame and named Male Vocalist of the Year four times.
Saturday’s audience can expect to hear covers of artists like Al Green and Tina Turner, with a little Chubby Checker sprinkled in the mix. Their original hit “Myrtle Beach Days” catapulted them into Grand Strand stardom, and makes them a natural choice for this year’s Carolina Beach Music Festival.
Tickets to the festival are available for $15 in advance at the Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce, Courtyard by Marriott, Olde Salty’s, The Silver Dollar and Touche, or online at etix.com. On June 4, however, it will cost $20 at the door. Coolers and food are allowed, but glass bottles are not. If guests bring Anheuser-Busch products, they’ll be entered to win one of two beach cruisers. Pets are not allowed.
The festival continues Saturday at the SeaWitch Café for a shag contest. Doors open at 5 p.m., and the contest begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance and are expected to sell out. Over $4,000 will be awarded to winners of the varying divisions: pro, non-pro, club/social and open. The contest DJ will be Jerry Burrage. To purchase tickets or to register for the contest, call Johnie Davis at 231-8212.
On Sunday, local act Soulbeam wraps up the festival at SeaWitch Café from 5 to 9 p.m. Formed in December 2009, the band consists of lead singer Meredith Jones, guitarist and vocalist Chad Hartz, bassist and vocalist Daniel Pesavento and Tim Meyer on drums. Jones and the crew rock it out, performing covers of Amy Winehouse, Tom Petty and the Rolling Stones.
Visit www.pleasureislandnc.org for more information on the musical magic going on in Carolina Beach this weekend.