Beach music blast set for Sept. 30 - Carolina Coast Online: Music

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Beach music blast set for Sept. 30

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Posted: Thursday, September 21, 2017 9:37 am

NEWS-TIMES

Limber up your dancing legs and buy a big bottle of sunscreen: It’s time for fun in the sand and surf at the Emerald Isle Beach Festival.

The Saturday, Sept. 30, event, which last year drew close to 9,000 to the strand at the Western Regional Ocean Access in late August, is expected to draw an even bigger crowd this year, and also has an expanded stage atop the dunes, thanks to construction work over the past year.

Admission is again free, thanks to sponsorships by Transportation Impact, Carteret County, the town and many local businesses.  The 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. festival will feature a veritable who’s who of beach music, from opening act Sammy O’Banion to the closing performance by the legendary Chairmen of the Board, featuring Ken Knox.

A number of food trucks will be on-site, but, beer and wine will not be sold on the site It’s BYO (bring your own beverage.)

Beer and wine is permitted on the beach strand for those 21 and older, but is prohibited in all areas of the Western Ocean Regional Access (restrooms, volleyball courts, parking areas, etc.) Liquor is prohibited.

Only handicapped parking will be available at the Western Ocean Regional Access.

Until last year, it had been 17 years since the festival had been held.

Emerald Isle was still a young town, and some say it made its mark when thousands of folks visited 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 some, to have outlived its welcome, with too much traffic and a bit too much Bacchanalia.

Beach music lived on, though, in Carteret and Onslow counties in performances at festivals and in small clubs, live and on jukeboxes. But it wasn’t until 2015 that anyone seriously proposed bringing back the Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival.

Town manager Frank Rush first proposed the idea that winter, noting that while Emerald Isle is always packed to the gills all summer, and the annual St. Patrick’s Day Festival usually draws 25,000 to 30,000 people to town in mid-March, the business community had often suggested another festival to draw more people to town late in the summer or in the fall.

It was also a popular idea in the town’s 2014 economic development plan. Residents wanted to see more events on the beach. By having the event on a stage overlooking the beach, there’s plenty of room for a big crowd, plus many festivalgoers are able to walk from vacation homes and other rental units. Parking is free, and is along the right-of-way of Highway 58.

Lovers of the coastal Carolina genre – a joyous, sun-soaked and sometimes shuffling cousin of rhythm and blues popularized in countless clubs decades ago in Myrtle Beach and Atlantic Beach, especially – will be able to shag-dance the hours away in the sand and then slip into the soothing surf without missing a beat.

Many well-known beach bands made their marks partly in clubs in Atlantic Beach in the 1950s and 1960s, which by then was booming as folks from Eastern North Carolina towns like Wilson and Rocky Mount and Greenville and Kinston began to buy second homes – cottages – at the beach at prices far lower than they were in other resorts.

Those folks wanted beach music, and they got it, and still do on Bogue Banks, from Atlantic Beach at the eastern tip to Emerald Isle at the western end. But never so much as at this revived festival.

Opener Sammy O’Banion, at 11 a.m., will also serve as the emcee for the day for the second year in a row. He’s best known for his versions of classics like “Don’t Walk on By” and “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.”

Now based near Charlotte, Mr. O’Banion grew up in Georgia in the heart of rhythm and blues country and was influenced by such greats as Jackie Wilson, Otis Redding and The Platters. He’s been performing for more than 32 years and his credits include performing the National Anthem for seven NFL games.

He was also host and producer of his own variety musical television show for two years.

At 11:30 a.m., things kick into high gear with the Fantastic Shakers.

The band formed in 1978, and since then has played more than 6,000 engagements from New York to Florida. Their hit, “Myrtle Beach Days,” is one of the most beloved in the beach genre.

They’ve had featured performances at the Grand National Dance Championships in Atlanta, Ga., on three occasions; the Lincoln Center in New York City (Hot Summer Nights Dance Fest); and the American Bop Association Convention in Cincinnati.

Forty thousand fans have attended the Carolina Beach Blast in Carolina Beach Festival with the Shakers as headliners.

The 1:30 slot is held down by the Band of Oz, which 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 ever 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.

At 2:30 p.m., Too Much Sylvia will hit the stage. The band’s Carolina Music Awards-nominated album “2MS” featured the popular “Stepped Right Outta My Dream,” which won “Song and Smoothie of the Year” a few years back.

They feature four lead vocalists and can also do Motown, funk and rock.

They’ll be followed at 3:30, the legendary Embers.

The Embers, who play more than 200 dates a year, are North Carolina’s Official Ambassadors of Music. They have traveled the country and the world and have performed at every event imaginable, from the highest dignitaries in posh places to back yard frat parties.

The Embers also traveled throughout South Korea to perform their Christmas special “Christmas with the Embers” on American military bases in December 2007 and 2008. They were awarded Military Coins of Excellence for their distinguished service.

The band, originally formed in Raleigh, has been creating lasting memories since their inception in 1958. They’re perhaps known best for the infectious and irresistible anthem of the genre, “I Love Beach Music,” written by co-founder and lead singer Jackie Gore, and released in 1979. Though Gore is on longer with the band, the other co-founder, drummer Bobby Tomlinson, is still pounding the skins.

Ken Knox and the Chairmen of the Board will close the day, beginning at 4:30 p.m.

Known around the world, they’ve please fans since forming in Detroit in the 1960s and being one of the first one of the first acts signed by songwriting legends Holland/Dozier/Holland for their Invictus label following a messy divorce from Motown.

The group hit it big in 1970 with “Give Me Just a Little More Time,” a classic early radio smash highlighted by lead singer General Johnson’s unique vocal style. That first album also included another classic, “(You’ve Got Me) Dangling on a String.”

They’ve also had hits over the years with “Pay to the Piper,” “Finders Keepers” and the “Everything’s Tuesday.”

Group leader Mr. Johnson died on Oct. 13, 2010, at age 67.  At his request, though, 38-year-member Ken Knox has carried the band on, and the seven-member unit is still going strong.

They’re now based in Charlotte, so it’s no surprise that in recent years, the NFL Carolina Panthers have featured the group in a video, a half-time performance and continue to play their music during home games.

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