Cruise the Main Drag on memory lane — a whiff of suntan lotion and hair spray … hot summer days and hotter nights, with cool music that stirs the soul.
Carolina beach music is more than a lifestyle … it is a genre. Its roots go back to the 1940s. The music captures tunes from blues, rhythm and blues and southern soul and has been heard in the pavilions and beach clubs along the beaches of North Carolina and South Carolina for at least six decades. The thin beach strand of these two states is the place where true beach music originated. And for those who must move to the beat and the songs that speak to youth and love, the Shag was born.
So forget ﬁghting the trafﬁc across the bridge at Wilmington, ﬁnding a place to park on Ocean Drive or worrying about the weather. The beach is coming to Fayetteville. It is Spring Break and the fun is rolling into Hay Street.
The Headquarters Library will begin the festivities with a program on the rich cultural legacy of music that is also our Carolina history. John Hook, an author of eight books on beach music and one of the people who lived the times as a radio personality in Myrtle Beach will immerse us in memories of bands like The Embers, The Drifters, the Tams and the Chairmen of the Board
.The evening begins with Warren McDonald and Classic Soul taking us to the audio “fountain of youth” with songs like “Carolina Girls,” “My Girl” and “I Love Beach Music.” Our own Fayetteville shaggers will demonstrate the dance.
The music and shag begins in the Pate Room at 6:45 p.m. for audience enjoyment. Hook will speak to the times and remembrances with a special announcement of Fayetteville’s special link to beach music — The history of beach music: A Fayetteville ﬁrst.
Friday afternoon, March 30, the “beach crawl” begins along Hay Street. Downtown merchants will offer beach “specials.” Find sandals, wine, books, picnic goodies, cute fashions and other goodies to prepare for the coming summer. Sample food and special drinks (i.e. “Sex on the beach” at Huske Hardware) while shopping or taking a break from dancing.
Classic Soul, our own sidewalk beach band, will play beach music starting at 3 p.m. in front of the Parkview Ofﬁces on the 320 block of Hay St. Wear your shag shoes because the Fayetteville Shag Association will be giving shag lessons.
The classic cult movie, Shag, is scheduled to be shown at the Cameo at 3 p.m. and at the Gilbert Theatre at 7 p.m. for donations only. So bring the family for this feel-good ﬁlm that shows the Myrtle Beach culture of the ‘60s along with crinoline slips, tailﬁn convertibles, beach parties and beach music with the some of the original groups.
The evening will culminate with a “fun” raiser for the Cameo Theatre. Classic Soul will open the concert and shag dance (of course) with The Embers.
Curtiss Carpenter, the “voice of beach music” will emcee the evening. Mellow Mushroom will offer a cash bar for wine, beer and soft drinks … and pizza!
Tickets are $25 and are limited. So buy early. Tickets include a chance to win a free weekend at Myrtle Beach. Tickets can be bought at the Cameo Box Ofﬁ ce (910-486-6633) or Up & Coming Weekly (910-484-6200).
This event, like the original efforts to buy the digital cameras for the Cameo, started with a small committee of people committed to saving our art theatre; a “grassroots” movement that grew out of love for our downtown. So come down and enjoy. It is Spring and time to “Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy”—no matter how old you are.
Photo: The Embers