{mosimage}A sure sign that summer is on its way in Fayetteville is the arrival of Fayetteville After Five. This third Thursday event brings the community together in a celebration of art, music and fun. What could be more fun?
Sponsored by the Fayetteville Museum of Art and some of its community friends (Cumulus Broadcasting, Distributors of Bud Light, The City of Fayetteville, The Fayetteville Observer, Up and Coming Weekly and Time Warner Cable), the event is fun for the whole family.
    As in years past, the event will feature food vendors and adult beverages. The Young at Art Tent, which allows children of all ages to engage in hands-on activities and art projects FREE of charge. The Visual Artist Tent will feature artists creating on-site as well as displaying and offering for sale unique, hand-crafted items. So it’s more than just music and dancing — it’s educational, it’s cultural — heck, let’s cut to the chase, it’s just fun.
    The kick-off event, slated for Thursday, May 15 from 5:30-9:30 p.m. at Festival Park will feature the beach sounds of the Craig Woolard Band. Those new to the area might be asking themselves what is this “beach music” and even a bigger question — what’s the shag? We’ve got some answers for you.
    Certain regions in the country are linked with certain kinds of music. You think New Orleans and jazz pops into your mind. You think Seattle — grunge. You think Memphis — Elvis-style rock ‘n’ roll. Nashville — country. You get where I’m going with this? You think North and South Carolina and beach music should (after you spend some time in the two states) and will pop into your head.
    Beach music is a regional genre which developed from various musical styles of the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s.The styles ranged from big band swing instrumentals to the more raucous sounds of blues/jump blues, jazz, doo-wop, boogie, rhythm and blues, reggae, rockabilly and old-time rock ‘n’ roll. It’s music that reaches deep down inside you and gets you on your feet, which, by the way can’t stand still. Your feet literally start itching to move — and that’s where shagging comes into play. The shag is the state dance of North and South Carolina. It’s a close cousin to swing dancing — but there isn’t as much throwing in the air and the steps are a little more low key. The shag is more of a shuffle than a bop. It’s something best done in the sand — but Festival Park will do just fine.
    So, now that you know what beach music is, and you know how to dance to it, you need to know that when it comes to beach music, the Craig Woolard Band is beach music royalty. For 27 years, Woolard was the front man for the Embers, perhaps the premier beach band in the land. When the band broke up in 2006, Woolard found himself in an odd place. He still had a love and passion for music — but no one to play it with. Thanks to a group of great friends and fans, Woolard found his way and formed a new band. The band has been entertaining countless thousands for the past couple of years and has quickly earned its place in the Beach Music Hall of Fame.
    The band’s latest release, Come and Get This, is heating up the airwaves. The CD has produced several hits and has people hitting the floor any time it’s played. Woolard and company are favorites on and off the beach. They can frequently be found playing events like Fayetteville After Five, or more recently, fraternity and sorority parties across the state. Woolard plays the kind of music that makes you long to dig your toes into the sand and grab your favorite guy or gal and hit the dance floor.
    Woolard is a Fayetteville favorite. He has been performing since he was 14 years old, and has become quite the showman. He explained that he isn’t content until the audience is having as much fun as he is. And, well, since he loves what he does, Fayetteville After Five is looking to be one jumping place.
Woolard and his band are committed to giving his audience more than their money’s worth. When you attend a function with the band they don’t just want you to watch, they want you to be caught up in the fun!
    And while beach music may have been born in the Carolinas years ago, its appeal, and so the band’s appeal, really doesn’t have any boundaries. Children and adults love the band and its music — so introduce your kids or your grandkids to some classic beach sounds at Fayetteville After Five.
    Don’t forget — it’s free, it’s at Festival Park and it’s going to be fun!

So You Want to Shag                                                                                                                                        by STAFF REPORTS

    So, you’re new to the area and you keep hearing about this thing called the “shag.” No it’s not a hairstyle and it’s not British slang. The shag is a form of swing dancing that evolved from the jitterbug and jump blues of the big band jazz era and originated along the strands between Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Wilmington, during the 1940s. It is most often associated with beach music, a genre of rhythm and blues-based songs that lends itself to this dance form. According to Bo Bryan, a noted shag historian and resident of Beaufort County, the term was coined at Carolina Beach. Today, the shag is a recognized dance in national and international dance competitions held across the United States.
    In the dance, the upper body and hips hardly move as the legs do convoluted kicks and fancy footwork. The man is the center of attention and the woman’s steps either mirror steps of the man’s or a sort of marking time while he does spins and other gyrations.
    The shag is the state dance of North Carolina and South Carolina, and is still popular among residents of both states. Thousands of people are members of shag clubs throughout the region. Fayetteville has its own Shag Club. The clubs meet on a regular basis and throw some of the best parties around. Dancing reigns at the parties — where people are only too happy to show off their fancy footwork.
    Most shaggers make a the spring and fall pilgrimage to Ocean Drive at North Myrtle Beach to participate in the annual SOS, a veritable shaggers paradise. For one weekend, OD is filled to overflow of dancers going from club to club — places like Duck’s and Fat Harold’s (no, we’re not making these names up) and the holy of holies — the OD Pavilion — for a weekend of dancing that is the staff history is made of.
    So, grab your weejuns, get a partner and head down to Festival Park. If you don’t know how to shag, someone will be glad to teach you — and if that fails, simply grab a partner, swing them around and shuffle your feet — you’ll get the hang of it.

 Contact Janice Burton at: editor@upandcomingweekly.com

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