Start practicing your dance moves. The Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival is back after a one-year hiatus.
Last year’s beach blast was canceled because Hurricane Florence had severely damaged the Western Ocean Regional Access, the site of the event. But the town got the access repaired, and Hurricane Dorian Sept. 6 caused no significant damage to the facility, so the countdown is on for Saturday, Sept. 28 from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The festival is sponsored by Transportation Impact, an Emerald Isle firm.
A host of familiar and beloved bands, including Too Much Sylvia, Chairmen of the Board, Band of Oz, The Embers and The Tams, will perform at the free event, and town officials expect a crowd of close to 10,000 lovers of one of the South’s favorite musical genres.
Patrons will be able to shag-dance the hours away in the sand and slip into the soothing surf without missing a beat.
Parking, as usual, will be along the right-of-way of Highway 58, with limited parking available for handicapped beachgoers in the access parking lot, which is off Islander Drive. Those who drive to the festival are urged not to block side streets or entrances to homes or businesses.
There will be food trucks on site, and beer and wine will be permitted on the beach, but not within the access. It’s bring-your-own drinks, and alcohol consumption is prohibited by anyone under 21. No liquor will be allowed on the beach or within the access.
Tents and umbrellas are allowed, but not within 100 feet of the stage. Beach music festival T-shirts will be on sale.
The Band of Oz will open the festival, taking the stage at 10:30 a.m., followed by Too Much Sylvia at 11:45 a.m., Chairmen of the Board at 1 p.m., the Embers at 2:30 p.m. and The Tams at 4 p.m.
This will be the third beach musical festival since it’s revival in 2016.
Before that, it had been 17 years since the last one. It began in the early 1980s, when Ronnie Watson, owner of the Holiday TravL Park, and Steve Matthews, began bringing in beach bands to the business for what came to be the biggest party in Carteret County.
It lasted until 1999, when it appeared to have outgrown its site and to have outlived its welcome, with too much traffic and a bit too much Bacchanalia.
Beach music lived on in Carteret and Onslow counties in performances at festivals and in small clubs, live and on jukeboxes. In 2015, Frank Rush, then town manager, proposed bringing back the festival, as a shoulder-season counterpart of the town’s annual St. Patrick’s Festival, which usually draws 25,000 to 30,000 people to town in mid-March.
The business community suggested a fall event, and Mr. Rush and other town officials, notably Alecia Sanderson, head of the parks and recreation department, made it happen, signing a veritable who’s who of beach music to entertain the crowds.
The coastal Carolina genre is a joyous, sun-soaked and sometimes shuffling cousin of rhythm and blues popularized in countless clubs decades ago in Myrtle Beach and Atlantic Beach.
The Band of Oz, for example, was started in the mid-1960s by a bunch of Greenville Rose High School Stage Band members. The unit turned professional in the early 1970s. They’ve been around since, touring constantly and scoring one of the most enduring beach music hits with “Shama Lama Ding Dong” in 1995. In 1997, the band was inducted into the Beach Music Hall of Fame.
Too Much Sylvia, likewise, was formed about 30 years ago by a group of friends from the Piedmont area of North Carolina, and the band played its first show at Pfeiffer University in Misenheimer in April 1991.
The band is known for such beach music hits as “Love Takes Time” and “One More Night.”
The Chairmen of the Board formed in Detroit, Mich., in the 1960s as a soul band and had a hit in 1969 with “Give Me Just a Little More Time.” The outfit has persevered through numerous personnel changes and is best known for the aforementioned hit, as well as “Everything’s Tuesday,” “Pay to the Piper,” “Finders Keepers” and “Patches.”
The band was inducted into the N.C. Music Hall of Fame in 1999 and are now based in Charlotte.
The Embers was formed in Raleigh by a couple of high school boys in 1958. The band plays hundreds of show a year and is best known for the classics “I Love Beach Music” and “Far Away Places.”
The group has appeared in concert with the Rolling Stones, The Dave Clark Five, The Four Tops, The Temptations, The Beach Boys, Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight and The Pips, Jackie Wilson, Jerry Butler, Lou Rawls, Alabama and numerous others.
The Tams formed in Atlanta, Ga., in 1959 and are still based there, but have always been fan favorites along the coast. They’re best known for hits in the 1960s, like “Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy,” “What Kind of Fool” and “I’ve Been Hurt.”
The band took its name from the tam o’shanter hats members wore on stage and is known about as much for its high-energy choreographed dance moves and audience participation as it is for music.