October has begun a star-studded month for the Alabama Theatre at Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach.
Every Saturday, a superstar graces the stage. Loretta Lynn performed Oct. 5, and Charley Pride plays Oct. 12, Bill Cosby Oct. 19 and Merle Haggard Oct. 26.
On various weekends all year long, the cast of “One the Show” takes a night off for such guest concerts, which in 2013 have included its namesake, Alabama, kicking off its 40th anniversary “Back to the Bowery Tour” April 5-6, and other regulars such as Vince Gill, the Oak Ridge Boys, Hannah native Josh Turner, and Eddie Miles, who paid tribute to Elvis Presley.
Bob Wood, president of the Alabama Theatre, said guest artist concerts provide “another form of entertainment” besides the regular production several nights a week of “One the New Show” February through October, and “The South’s Grandest Christmas Show” in November and December.
Bringing in renowned celebrities, from country to Motown and various entertainment genres, Wood said, “we try to shake it up.”
“We’ve had a lot of folks,” he said.
Asked about visiting acts who stand out the most in his memory, the most wowing, from 21 years at the theater, Wood named two cast members from “The Carol Burnett Show”: Harvey Korman and Tim Conway.
“They were really magical together,” Wood said. “Those two were like a glove in a hand. That was really fun to watch them. Even backstage, they were the same way.”
The theater’s namesake also provided a perfect fit in answering the question.
“Of course, Alabama’s hard to beat,” Wood said, remembering the group’s latest visit for two sold-out shows April 5-6. “They have so many No. 1 hits, they can’t even get to all of them in a concert.”
The Temptations and Four Tops also have reprised their “bunch of hits” many times through the years, Wood said.
Booking such special guest shows occurs six to eight months ahead, usually based on routing logistics the artists use on their tours.
“They’ll want to have a date they can route with us,” Wood said, explaining the typical 5- to 6-hour drive to and from the next venue.
“We might get an act who the night before,” he said, “is in Atlanta. Then they’re with us here, then they might go to Richmond, Va., then to Cincinnati, and back to Nashville, Tenn.”
Several artists already are booked for the first quarter of 2014, including Gail Bliss’ annual winter weekend in “A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline,” Jan. 17-18, and the return of Shoji Tabuchi – who on Aug. 16 gave his first Grand Strand concert – March 1, and the Kingston Trio, March 22.
Wood said the theater, like several other house shows in Myrtle Beach, goes all-out Christmas to close the final two months every year. The final bow on “One” will happen Oct. 24, then stage crews will get busy shifting the set and “the technical side of the show squared away” into a yuletide theme, for the new production opening Nov. 1.
The cast has worked in double time this month, too.
“We’ve been doing Christmas rehearsals for about three weeks,” Wood said. “We do our ‘One’ show at night, and Christmas show rehearsals in the day.”
Although the chances for snowflakes across the Grand Strand are slim to none to close the year, Wood said “there might be some in the theater.”
Texas Rangers pride
Calling Tuesday from home in Dallas, Charley Pride was happy to talk about all kinds of topics, from baseball to his global travels.
Invited to RCA Records by the late Chet Atkins, the baritone amassed more than 50 Top 10 country hits into the later 1980s, starting with “Just Between You And Me” in 1967, with 36 chart-toppers such as “All I Have To Offer You (Is Me),” “Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’ ” and “Why Baby Why?”
A member of the Grand Ole Opry and Country Music Hall of Fame, both in Nashville, Pride had found a new career in performing music in his spare time while playing baseball for the Memphis Red Sox in the former Negro American League and later trying out for the New York Mets.
Pride didn’t hide his dejection at the Texas Rangers failing to reach a playoff series the past two seasons after World Series appearances in 2010-11. As a “little portion” of the 20 people who own the team, he said he’s confident that Nolan Ryan, “a good man,” and the front office will put “some pieces together” this winter to help the Rangers – the Myrtle Beach Pelicans’ parent club – contend again in 2014.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, for whom his wife of “six years and a half-century,” also roots, have earned Pride’s interest.
“They’re doing well,” he said. “Other than that, we’ll see who will win it all.”
Looking forward to concerts in November across Australia, Pride said he remembered touring that continent “with a mass about as big” as the United States when its population was about half of its current 22 million.
He’s so grateful for people’s response to his music there and in other places such as Ireland and Northern Ireland, even during their three-decade political and religious conflict known as “The Troubles,” which ended in 1998.
“They don’t only love my singing,” Pride said. “They loved my coming there when all that was happening.”
He remembered being asked by a man backstage before a concert in the U.S. Midwest, “When are you coming to Ireland?” A string of sold-out shows cemented that “introduction” to the island, said Pride, saluting the late promoter who made that first pitch and later would attend his 50th anniversary music celebration.
Stateside, having traveled and recorded with various artists, the native of an 11-child family in Mississippi praised Neal McCoy, whose latest CD, “Pride – A Tribute to Charley Pride,” on Slate Creek Records, includes Trace Adkins and Darius Rucker among the guest artists.
Pride said McCoy toured with him for six years, “opening my show more than I anyone ever had” and that after his opening set, he would see him “back in the wings” watching the rest of each concert.
“He’s always been quite the entertainer,” said Pride, whose “You’re My Jamaica” was covered by McCoy to close the 11-song tribute album.
A regular listener of Willie’s Roadhouse on Sirius XM satellite radio, Pride voiced his love of being part of a time with artists such as Loretta Lynn and the late Marty Robbins and George Jones.
Looking forward to sharing a concert Dec. 5 with Lynn in Oklahoma, Pride said “we’re called traditionalists.”
“I’m very proud to be a traditionalist,” he said.
Readying for a round of golf to round out his morning, Pride always shoots for keeping everything positive in life.
He said without three words– “can’t, hate and jealousy” – “we could have a much better way of getting around.”
Pride offered his own play on words to make his point: Take out a few letters from “Can’t be done,” and you get “Can do.”
Cosby on parenting
Interview Bill Cosby and plan on answering questions more about yourself and other things as the Navy veteran, comedian, TV and movie star, and author relates elements from his own life.
Speaking Wednesday morning on the phone from his residence in New England, the day after the Boston Red Sox punched their ticket to the American League Championship Series, Cosby asked what the Myrtle Beach professional baseball team is called.
Upon his hearing the answer, a poem attributed to Dixon Lanier Merritt from a century ago brought up a childhood memory of enjoying this limerick: “A wonderful bird is the Pelican. His beak can hold more than his belly can. He can hold in his beak. Enough food for a week! But I’ll be darned if I know how the hellican.”
Having fathered five children, and now a three-time grandfather, Cosby explained how parenting remains a elongated process, unlike that of “a bear, or a turtle or a mosquito,” circumstances in which the parents don’t stay around that long,” if at all, depending on the animal.
Cosby said often when dealing with something with a child people will say, “I don’t know what to do.” Part of parenting involves knowing where “certain things that can tempt your children” come from.
“People begin to give their children a whole bunch of freedom before they can really handle the choices,” he said, stressing the importance of responsibility.
For Cosby, one four-letter word matters heavily – love – as does another he brought up, “teaching – always.”
“When you are a parent,” he said, “you are a teacher.” You have “to get through to the student so that the student understands and can teach you that which you have taught.”
Cosby added two other ingredients by which he stands: patience and humor.
“You have to keep a sense of humor,” he said, noting that a parent has a few more years on the child and that “the kid’s trying to trick you with some trick” developed since age 3.
“You’ve seen these tricks,” he said. “They’re nothing new, but they can get you on these things.”
Cosby talked about the value of a youth treasuring a friend, who’s “always there,” and how children today worry about whether they’re liked by their peers. Parents, he said, also can’t forget that with the Internet today, that form of communication “stretches” into real concerns “about the world knowing” about a youngster’s life and “what people are saying” about him or her.
That’s why Cosby adds honesty among the must-have connection between parents and children.
He said parents are interested in “the dream” of the child and his or her life, but if rougher roads ensue as the youth grows, the adults might ask, “When did the dream go bad?”
Cosby was quick to state to not conclude the dream went bad.
“It’s that you didn’t continue the dream,” he said, then stressed, “You have to get the trust in the kid first.”
Citing his own age of 76, he thought happily about what he looked forward to at age 9 or 10 growing up in Philadelphia and graduating from wearing “big knickers.”
“It was the choice of the parent when you could come out of those and get a pair of long pants,” Cosby said. “Those elongated pants meant something. It meant you were passing; you were leaving something of your childhood.”
He said he cannot reinforce enough the sharing of honesty between a parent and child, “teaching and feeling so that that when you teach honesty,” it helps immensely in listening to “whenever your child speaks about anything.”
That led to the final word and pause from Cosby in the interview: “truth.”
Contact STEVE PALISIN at 444-1764.