The cheers continue making spheres for House of Blues’ corporate 20th anniversary celebration.
Since 1997, when the company opened its site at Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach, scores of concerts and special events have graced its stage and deck. Just this weekend, Brett Eldredge, a rising country star with the hit “Don’t Ya?” will perform Friday, Slippery When Wet will pay tribute Saturday to Bon Jovi, and Ted Nugent and Aussie native Laura Wilde return to rock out Sunday night.
Many other entertainment choices also fill the menu at House of Blues, such as “Kirk Franklin’s Gospel Brunch” on Sunday mornings, the Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre three times weekly this summer, and The Deck, which hosts various performers and themes, including “Yappy Hour” on Sundays for patrons to share an afternoon with their dogs.
Dawn Temples, brand marketing manager for House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach, said several formal 20th anniversary events have taken place locally since the companywide yearlong party began in November. Besides several charity events “to help feed 20,000 homeless in the area last fall,” one celebration tied in with Flogging Molly’s concert Feb. 8, another flashed back to the 1980s to Hysteria’s Def Leppard tribute show April 19, and on June 13, Little Big Town came in for a bash. The next spree happens Sept. 20 for the Yellowcard concert.
“Each party is a little different,” Temples said, “but we always try to offer free giveaway prizes for the guests to celebrate, and next month, any guest in the music hall for Yellowcard who tells us ‘Happy Anniversary’ at the food stand gets free popcorn.”
House of Blues remains dynamic in serving up entertainment of all sorts, for all ages, every day of the week.
“We have a motto, ‘Unity in Diversity,’ ” Temples said, “so we strive to bring in all sorts of entertainment that you can’t find anywhere else in this area. We host all types of bands, hold a gospel brunch each Sunday, have Murder Mystery Dinner Theater shows, plus other fun shows and events. ...
“Our Kirk Franklin Gospel Brunch on Sundays is something we offer at every House of Blues nationwide, but Murder Mystery Dinner Theater is unique to our North Myrtle Beach location.”
Sleuths always on call
Jerry Winsett of Wilmington, N.C., plays Detective Jericho West in the dinner theater, with Donna Paul, the “Hostess with the Mostess,” with a rotating cast of several other professional actors from his company, Murder Mystery Productions.
He said “just about every show” this summer in this 11-year-old series has sold out, and in general, vacationers turn out from the Northeast and Southeast, but that local residents show up in the offseason.
With about 25 years in murder mystery shows, starting in Los Angeles, Winsett said with every night, “when you walk through that door, you’re not quite concentrating on whether you might be considered a suspect” and that everyone in attendance “is a sleuth,” figuring out who they think “did the dirty deeds and why.”
Winsett said the company loves its host venue, and performing in its “Indigo Room,” which has “sort of become our room ... because we’re there more than anyone else.”
Seeing repeat customers makes Winsett’s night any day. He said shuffling scripts every few weeks, someone who visits the area every June will not see the same show every year.
“We are a repertory company,” he said. “You might be the killer one week, and next week, you might be the hit man.”
Still, with scripts that are “about 75 percent improv,” Winsett said, “you never know what somebody in the audience is going to say, but even when we do the same script all month long, night after night, it’s going to be different.”
Winsett complimented the food served at House of Blues, and Temples said Aaron Sanchez from the Food Network has redesigned the menu in its on-site restaurant, Crossroads, “incorporating some Southwest flair into our classic yet contemporary selections.”
With such variety in its lineup, House of Blues has welcomed such acts this year as Scotty McCreery, B.B. King, and this fall, Trace Adkins. Corey Smith, from Jefferson, Ga., near Athens, keeps coming back, for the past several New Year’s Eves.
“We pride ourselves on bringing artists to the Myrtle Beach area who would not be here if it wasn’t for House of Blues,” Temples said. “We do love to have repeat performers, but we also try to always bring in new, up-and-coming artists, too. We have a good team of touring folks through our parent company Live Nation, and many artists, especially the ‘20th Anniversary Presents’ artists are performing at all or many of the other House of Blues locations, too.”
Smith keeps coming back
Smith, a guitarist who sings country, rock and blues, said bringing his band to House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach, as he did most recently July 6, “is always something that we look forward to.”
He remembered arriving for his first concert there a few years ago, “still in a van – I wasn’t even pulling a trailer,” 30 minutes late for sound check. He said when he walked in with a bruised foot, he wondered if this site was “way out of my league.”
Smith said whenever he comes back to this House of Blues, “I still see the same faces,” and “I feel right at home there.”
“I probably wouldn’t be where I am” without the support of fans who catch – and staff who coordinate – the concerts at House of Blues.
Smith counts many other House of Blues sites as honors he has played, including Cleveland, Dallas, Houston, New Orleans and Orlando, Fla. The memory of giving an afternoon acoustic show in the San Diego venue also keeps him smiling.
Smith said he appreciates what House of Blues stands for, “a place where folks from all different walks of life play and get together and have a good time.”
Smith was on his way this week to Nashville to work out his “first round of mixes” for songs that will make up his ninth album. He said this marks his “first time he’s stepped out” with a major producer: Keith Stegall. He’s a longtime songwriter whose works have been recorded by such artists as Moe Bandy, Dr. Hook, Helen Reddy, Charley Pride, George Strait, Steve Wariner, and the late Eddy Arnold and Conway Twitty, and who has produced albums for stars including Alan Jackson, Randy Travis and the late George Jones.
With hopes of another New Year’s Eve in North Myrtle Beach and continuing his frequency of playing there twice a year, Smith said he hasn’t played any other House of Blues more than this site, going on six years now.
Barefoot Landing, which has spent all summer marking its own 25th anniversary, is happy to join in House of Blues’ company milestone.
Kim Kelley, marketing director for Barefoot Landing, called House of Blues, known nationally, “an asset,” doing “a lot of good things for Barefoot Landing and the community,” especially through charitable events and promotion of local arts.
A fan of “alternative and classic kind of stuff” in music, Kelley said she has seen Bush perform twice at House of Blues, and she cited metal bands Cinderella and Tesla, and a blues guitarist, Keb’ Mo’, as other memorable concerts.
Kelley said the House of Blues staff get involved with so many events across the complex.
“They are a true asset to Barefoot Landing,” she said.
Contact STEVE PALISIN at 444-1764.