May fests bring ‘Blessing of the Inlet,’ Main Street concerts, ‘XCon’

Jason Daye hugs dog companions Teddy and Tucker last year at the Rivertown Music & Craft Beer Festival. The 31st annual festival is 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday on Laurel Street and Third Avenue in downtown Conway, including bands, and Chicora Car Club classic car show with Palmetto Chevrolet, for which registration is 9 a.m.-noon. (www.chicoracarclub.com). Festival admission is free. Details at 843-248-6260 or conwayalive.com.
Jason Daye hugs dog companions Teddy and Tucker last year at the Rivertown Music & Craft Beer Festival. The 31st annual festival is 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday on Laurel Street and Third Avenue in downtown Conway, including bands, and Chicora Car Club classic car show with Palmetto Chevrolet, for which registration is 9 a.m.-noon. (www.chicoracarclub.com). Festival admission is free. Details at 843-248-6260 or conwayalive.com. The Sun News file photo

It’s only the start of May, but it feels like summer already on the Grand Strand, not just in weather, but with the festival calendar heating up. The “Blessing of the Inlet” in Murrells Inlet and Myrtle Beach State Park’s “Totally Turtles!” are two outings this weekend. (See our list of some major events, nearby.)

North Myrtle Beach’s “Mayfest on Main,” in its 12th year, remains a staple for free, big-name concerts. The lineup on May 13, inside the city’s J. Bryan Floyd Community Center, 1030 Possum Trot Road, includes Great White, at 4 p.m., to close the day, and Russell Thompkins Jr. & The New Stylistics at 12:30 p.m.

Known for such hits as “Rock Me,” “Lady Red Light” and “House of Broken Love,” all of which Mark Kendall co-wrote, and a cover of Ian Hunter’s “Once Bitten, Twice Shy,” Great White (www.officialgreatwhite.com) has been rocking since the early 1980s.

Kendall, the band’s guitarist all along, said on a phone call from home in Los Angeles that longevity has brought a “blessing,” especially when hearing people relate memories from high school or getting married to certain songs.

He also spoke of missing the era when album art was a bigger part of the whole experience of buying and enjoying music. Fans might remember Great White’s two covers for “Hooked,” which shows a model sitting on a large-scale hook. For one pose, “We had to dunk her down in the water a little bit,” Kendall said, referring to that alternate take for big-box store sales.

Driving “140 miles to do a photo shoot” was worth it back then, he said, also sharing how vinyl releases came with camaraderie, thanks to picking up and playing an album, through speakers on his family porch, with friends gathered, passing around liner notes to read and “checking out pictures.”

“There’s so much human quality to that,” Kendall said of that “old school” music marketing, “that connection from one person to one band. I miss that.

Much as Chicago pressed on after parting ways in the mid-1980s with a lead singer – Peter Cetera – Great White welcomed Terry Ilous to succeed Jack Russell around the start of this decade. Kendall said the band mates were “blown away” by Ilous’ respect in replicating sounds like original recordings and skill in tapping into blues on such albums as “Elation,” from 2012, which earned Kendall’s kudos for “grit.”

“My guitar and his voice kind of melt together,” Kendall said, also excited for June 2 and release of the group’s “Full Circle” CD. Produced by Michael Wagener in Nashville, Tenn., with whom Great White first worked more than 30 years ago, Kendall said the 10-song CD package also will come with a DVD showing the studio work invested.

Teaming up again with Jack Blades of Night Ranger, who produced Great White’s “Can’t Get There From Here” CD, from 1999 – with creative cover art of a southern California view split between shore and underwater – Kendall said the group just played a private residential event outside with Night Ranger and Lynch Mob.

“It kind of took me back,” he said. “When the band first started, we played in a lot of back yards. That was the scene back then. Van Halen did it; so did a lot of bands from Los Angeles.”

“The funny thing is,” Kendall said of groups from that big-hair band era, “is I think everybody is playing better than ever. ... Everyone seems to be taking better care of themselves, too.”

Kendall also pointed out how concert act clusters differ stateside from Europe. Whereas, tours strung together for heavy metal bands or other artists in the same genre are custom across the United States, he said that across the Atlantic, Great White has shared billing with Black Sabbath, Buddy Guy, Slayer, Iggy Pop, and Bob Dylan, drawing audience praise across the board.

“Everybody goes nuts for Dylan as for anyone else,” Kendall said, glad to see music age so well.

Asked if Great White members are rooting for the Anaheim Ducks this spring to claim the Stanley Cup to add to a title from 2007, Kendall said he has appreciated hockey ever since first visiting a good friend in Switzerland. The difficulty in scoring, through creativity and accuracy, engrosses Kendall, who also remembered Great White following Warrant on stage one particular time.

“We had an unusual opening act in Minnesota,” he said. “A minor league hockey game.”

Still belting out ‘Betcha By Golly Wow’

Russell Thompkins Jr.’s lead voice carried the Stylistics on a slew of hits through the 1970s, including as “You Are Everything,” “Betcha by Golly Wow,” “I'm Stone in Love With You,” and “You Make Me Feel Brand New.”

In that era, producer Thom Bell also worked “Philly soul” magic with such groups as the Spinners, after their castoff from Motown Records, and the O’Jays. Calling from his hometown Philadelphia, Thompkins looked back, sharing the greatest lesson instilled from Bell: “How to do my job.”

“Working with him on the Stylistics’ first three albums,” Thompkins said, “really prepared me for what I’ve done for the last 45 years. It seems like I was destined for that.”

Heading a trio today with the New Stylistics (www.russellthompkinsjr.com) – Jonathan Buckson and Raymond Johnson – Thompkins said happily that he still sings in the same keys, however, “when I was younger, it was easier to do.”

Thompkins also recounted the honor of working with the late Van McCoy, who besides his own blockbuster “The Hustle,” composed and produced music for many other artists, and added arrangements for the Stylistics. Thompkins said “it didn’t take long” after working with McCoy, to gain “my next step in my education” in the recording business. He also wishes that time had permitted McCoy, who died in 1979 at age 39, to write more songs for the Stylistics.

Joining the colossal Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff songwriting and production team’s TSOP label, the Stylistics tallied another hit in the early 1980s, “Hurry Up This Way Again,” from a period when “appreciation for our music started to grow again,” with “an R&B flavor that still had crossover” appeal.

Thompkins said although “a lot of luck involved ... for sure” helped the Stylistics’ sound reach around the world, including Japan, the combination also entails the right timing and production and record company personnel.

Some Stylistics singles from the previous decade, such as “Sing Baby Sing,” “Can’t Give You Anything (But My Love),” “Na-Na Is the Saddest Word,” “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and “Sixteen Bars” rang up ranks in the United Kingdom, too.

Six months ago, Thompkins said, “I was approached by someone from Germany” who remembered the Stylistics’ “big hits.”

Seeing “a lot of young people starting to listen to” and recognize Stylistics and other classic soul music adds only more sunshine to a 50-year career in performance, Thompkins said, “and I’m only 66.”

He brought up his browsing at a jewelry store in Philadelphia and humming to one of the Stylistics’ Christmas songs that came on the radio on site, promoting the kind clerk to remark, “Why do you sound like that?”

“I looked over,” he recalled, “and said, ‘That’s me.’ ”

Annual outdoor celebrations

​​▪ 31st annual Rivertown Music & Craft Beer Festival, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday on Laurel Street and Third Avenue in downtown Conway, including bands, and Chicora Car Club classic car show with Palmetto Chevrolet, for which registration is 9 a.m.-noon. (www.chicoracarclub.com). Free admission. 843-248-6260 or conwayalive.com.

▪ Annual “Pawleys Pavilion Reunion,” benefiting Habitat for Humanity of Georgetown County – Blackwater Rhythm & Blues Band – 6-11 p.m. May 20 at Pawleys Island Nature Park, on North Causeway. $30 advance or $35 at site for ages 13 and older, $10 ages 3-12, free ages 2 and younger. 843-546-5685, ext. 6; or www.habitatgeorgetown.com/events.html.

▪ 12th annual “Mayfest on Main,” noon-6 p.m. May 13 in city’s J. Bryan Floyd Community Center, 1030 Possum Trot Road, with concerts by Russell Thompkins Jr. & The New Stylistics at 12:30 p.m., Blue Monday 2 p.m., and Great White 4 p.m.; and on stage at Hillside Drive, with Bounce Party Band at 10 a.m., and Special Blend 2 p.m. 843-280-5570 or mayfestonmain.com.

North Myrtle Beach’s “Mayfest on Main,” in its 12th year, remains a staple for free, big-name concerts. The lineup on May 13, inside includes Great White, at 4 p.m., to close the day, and Russell Thompkins Jr. & The New Stylistics at 12:30 p.m.

▪ 36th annual “World Famous Blue Crab Festival,” 9 a.m.-6 p.m. May 20-21 on Little River waterfront. Daily: $4 advance or $5 at gate, for ages 13 and older, and free ages 12 and younger. 843-249-6604 or www.bluecrabfestival.org.

▪ “Conway Summerfest,” 10 a.m.-6 p.m. May 27, downtown on Third Avenue and on Elm and Laurel streets, including concerts by Carolina Midnight at 11 a.m., Gary Lowder & Smokin’ Hot 1:30 p.m., and Part-Time Party-time Band” 4 p.m. Free admission. 843-488-1950 or www.conwayparksandrecreation.com/summerfest.html. Also, Myrtle Beach Car Club show, for which registration is 9 a.m.-noon, for $20 (843-742-9802 or www.myrtlebeachcarclub.com).

Other music-driven celebrations

▪ At La Belle Amie Vineyard, 1120 St. Joseph Road, Little River, just west of North Myrtle Beach Middle School: “Key West Music Fest,” noon-5 p.m. Saturday, for $8; and “Memorial Saturday Music & Cookout,” May 27, for $5. Also, bring two canned/dry good items for food bank, for $3 off admission. 843-399-9463 or labelleamie.com.

▪ North Myrtle Beach Community Band’s third annual “Pops in the Park: A Salute to America,” 5:30 p.m. May 20 – starting with Stardusters big band – at North Myrtle Beach Park & Sports Complex, at S.C. 90 and Robert Edge Parkway – or, if raining, inside North Myrtle Beach’s J. Bryan Floyd Community Center, 1030 Possum Trot Road. Free. 843-488-6742 or www.nmbcommunityband.com.

▪ The Back Porch Rockers, 4-7:30 p.m. May 27 (rain date May 28) outside – and benefiting – Brunswick Little Theatre, 8068 River Road, Southport, N.C. $20 adults, and $10 students with ID. 910-447-2586 or brunswicklittletheatre.com.

▪ “Lost in the ’50s” Sock Hop, 4-9 p.m. May 27 at Surfside Beach Moose Lodge 2351 – Chapter 1950, 9763 Moose Road, Murrells Inlet, west of U.S. 17 Bypass, north of Tournament Boulevard/Inlet Square Drive (843-357-4506 or lodge2351.moosepages.org) – also with free cruise-in, 6-9 p.m. by Hot Rod Promotions (843-503-8245).

Outings with nature/history

▪ Fifth annual “Totally Turtles!” – with variety of programs – 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at Myrtle Beach State Park, on U.S. 17 Business, one mile south of Farrow Parkway/Ocean Boulevard. Free with park admission: $5 for ages 16 and older, $3.25 S.C. seniors, $3 ages 6-15. 843-238-0874 or www.myrtlebeachsp.com.

▪ At Brookgreen Gardens, on U.S. 17, between Murrells Inlet and Litchfield Beach, open 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. daily: Friends group’s “Carnevale di Venezia” spring gala benefit, 5:30 p.m. Saturday, for $175 or $300 (buy tickets for this at 843-235-6018); “Ribbit the Exhibit Day” – with J.A. Cobb’s copper frog scuplture exhibit continuing through July 9 –10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. May 20; “Breakfast with the Butterflies,” 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. May 27, for $25 adult, $20 child (which includes garden admission) – 843-235-6016; and fourth annual Memorial Day Weekend 5K Run and 1-Mile Race, 6 p.m. May 28, for $30 and $15, respectively, advance through May 27 (at www.myrtlebeachfestivalpromotions.com/brookgreen-gardens-5k/). 843-235-6000, 800-849-1931 or www.brookgreen.org.

▪ At Hobcaw Barony: “World War II Living History Day” – commemorating Armed Forces Day – 1-4 p.m. May 20, remembering President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1944 visit, and with World War II Army re-enactors, led by Mike Glazier, guest speaker, for $10; and “Baruch Roundtable: Lafayette on Hobcaw Barony’s Shore” – with dinner, and talk by Eldred “Wink” Prince, a historian, author and Coastal Carolina University professor – 6-9 p.m. May 25, for $75. Reservations required. 843-546-4623 or hobcawbarony.org.

Benefits, including several outside

▪ Second annual Crusader Classic 5k and 1 Mile Fun Run – for St. Andrew Catholic School in Myrtle Beach – Saturday, with run ($25, through 5 p.m. Thursday, otherwise $30) at 7:30 a.m., and walk 8 a.m. ($12 advance, or $15) from city’s Valor Memorial Garden/Grand Park, respectively, at The Market Common. 843-448-6062 or standrewschoolmb.com/5k-and-fun-run/.

▪ Second annual “Derby on the Creek,” benefiting St. Christopher’s Children, of Pawleys Island – which provides basic clothing for children in critical need and gives medical and orthodontic referrals – 4:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday at DeBordieu Colony, on U.S. 17, between Pawleys Island and Georgetown. $65 per person. 843-237-3197 or stchristopherschildren.org.

▪ “BBQ Cookoff on BBQ Road,” for Grissettown Longwood Fire & Rescue, 6-8 p.m. May 12 (free admission) and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. May 13 ($5, including three taste tickets), at Silver Coast Winery, 6680 Barbeque Road, Ocean Isle Beach, N.C. 910-287-2800 or www.silvercoastwinery.com.

▪ Sixth annual “Family Day and Paddle Fest” – for Tara Hall Home for Boys, based in Rose Hall section of Georgetown County, a long-term, residential home and school that accepts neglected, troubled, and abused boys – May 13 at Union Station, 333 Henry Road (S.C. 41/51) Hemingway, with paddle launch registration 6:30-9:30 a.m., for $40 ages 17 and older, $25 ages 8-16, and free ages 4-7 (with adult on vessel), including gate fee, trip and meal, and kayak rentals available, first come, first served. Festival, for people not paddling, for $10 ages 17 and older, and $5 ages 8-16, and free ages 7 and younger. 843-546-3000, 843-546-3666 or www.tarahall.org.

▪ “Campus Salvage,” Coastal Carolina University’s annual yard sale, for “sustainability scholarship fund,” 8 a.m. May 13 at 370 Allied Drive in Conway, in PODS company parking lot in Atlantic Center across U.S. 501. 7 a.m. early bird entry fee $5. 843-349-6954, or email jmonday1@coastal.edu.

▪ Sixth annual “Flip Flop Ball,” for Novant Health Foundation Brunswick Medical Center, 7 p.m. May 19 at 101 Stone Chimney Place S.E., Supply, N.C. $100. 910-721-1473 or NovantHealth.org/BrunswickEvents.

Choice of church festivals

▪ 21st annual “Blessing of the Inlet,” 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday – including formal ceremony, 11:30 a.m.-noon – at Belin Memorial United Methodist Church, 4183 U.S. 17 Business, Murrells Inlet. Free, also with shuttles available from Inlet Square parking lot, on east side, behind Applebee’s, off U.S. 17 Business. 843-450-4235 or www.blessingoftheinlet.com.

▪ Fourth annual “St. Brendan Festival,” for Cinco de Mayo, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday at St. Brendan the Navigator Roman Catholic Church, 5101 Ocean Highway W. (U.S. 17), Shallotte, N.C. $100. 910-200-9209 or saintbrendan-shallotte.org.

▪ “Praising & Raising Concert,” including Gerald Chavis, Marlisa Small, J.T. Townsend and Don Hamrick, with American Legion Riders of Little River Post 186 for its Legacy Scholarship Fund – for students who have lost a parent in war – 6 p.m. Sunday at Myrtle Beach Christian Retreat Center, 4105 Poinsett Street, North Myrtle Beach. Free admission. 570-506-4838.

Other pastimes, including ‘Swap Meet,’ ‘XCon’

▪ Annual “Swap Meet,” 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday outside Grand Strand Model Railroaders’ club site in Myrtle Beach Mall, three doors from Bass Pro Shops, at U.S. 17 and S.C. 22, near Briarcliffe Acres. 843-293-4386 or www.gsmrrc.org.

▪ Myrtle Beach Car Club’s “Back to Summer Car Show,” 9 a.m.-2 p.m. May 13, at Broadway at the Beach, on 29th Avenue North in Myrtle Beach. Free to see, and $20 car registration, 9 a.m.-noon. 843-742-9802 or www.myrtlebeachcarclub.com.

▪ 10th annual “XCon World” – by Palmetto Studios Arts Alliance, based at 807 Main St., Myrtle Beach – May 19-21 at Myrtle Beach Convention Center, at Oak Street and 21st Avenue North. Advance: three-day badge $20, VIP package $90. 843-839-4840 or www.xconworld.com.

Ninth annual ‘Military Appreciation Days’

More details at 843-918-1014 or www.militaryappreciationdays.com:

▪ Horry County Junior Reserves Officers’ Training Corps Drill Meet, 9 a.m. Saturday at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark, 1251 21st Ave. N., Myrtle Beach, with military family members event (with Blue Star Mothers), noon in picnic area.

▪ Registration deadline May 11 for Military Officers Association of America, Grand Strand Chapter, Golf Tournament, benefiting college scholarships for JROTC high school seniors, wounded warrior vacations in Myrtle Beach, and veterans outreach programs, May 26 – with registration and lunch at noon, and start 2 p.m. – at Legends Golf & Resort’s Heritage Club course in Pawleys Island. $80 individual or $300 four-person team, and $5 discount for veterans. 843-314-0079 or 843-251-4051, or email gyoungman@sc.rr.com or jshort1020@aol.com, respectively. More details: grandstrandmoaa.com.

▪ Myrtle Beach Pelicans’ fourth annual “Military Appreciation Night” and Military Card Set Giveaway (with first 1,000 fans through gates to receive a card set of 37 local veterans to be honored during game), and with fireworks afterward, at 7:05 p.m. May 13 at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark, 1251 21st Ave. N., Myrtle Beach (Enter parking lot from Robert Grissom Parkway). $9, $11 or $13 advance – and $2 more on game day. All active and retired military service personnel will receive a free ticket for this night when they show their ID at box office. Also, with ID at box office, discounts of $3 for military for all games, and $3 “Locals Appreciation Saturday” for residents of Horry and Georgetown counties. 843-918-6000, 877-918-8499 (TIXX) or www.myrtlebeachpelicans.com.

▪ Military Appreciation Days Dinner/Dance,” with Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 925 – and music by Carolina Midnight, 7:30-10:30 p.m. – 6 p.m. May 25 at Myrtle Beach Convention Center, at Oak Street and 21st Avenue North. $30 – also free Myrtle Beach Pelicans’ May 13 game tickets for first 200 dinner dance tickets sold, and free parking (savings of $5). This also is the welcome party for wounded service personnel being brought to Myrtle Beach by Scents for Soldiers. 843-492-0005, 843-457-7232 or www.vva925.org.

▪ Memorial Day weekend parade, 10:30 a.m. May 27 on Farrow Parkway, at The Market Common in Myrtle Beach, with Army National Guard Spc. Alek Skarlatos of Oregon – recipient of United States Army Soldier’s Medal and France’s Legion of Honour for his role in helping disarm a gunman on a Paris-bound train, and third-place finisher with Lindsay Arnold on 21st season of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” –as grand marshal.

▪ Family Picnic – with activities, military exhibits, and music – noon-2 p.m. May 27 in Myrtle Beach’s Valor Memorial Garden, at The Market Common.

▪ Memorial Day Veterans March with Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, 9 a.m. May 29, south on Myrtle Beach’s Ocean Boulevard between 16th and Ninth avenues North, with brief ceremony at former Pavilion site.

▪ Memorial Day ceremony, with Grand Strand Patriotic Alliance, 11 a.m. May 29 at Myrtle Beach Convention Center Plaza, on Oak Street at 21st Avenue North.

▪ Memorial Day tribute film, 2 p.m. May 29 at Grand 14 Cinema, at The Market Common.

Separate from aforementioned festivities:

▪ Committee to Honor America’s Veterans third annual Golf Tournament, 9 a.m. May 10 on Byrd Course at Sea Trail Golf Resort & Convention Center, 75 Clubhouse Road, Sunset Beach, N.C. $100 per golfer. 910-575-4162 or www.sbvets.org.

▪ Visit by Carolyn Howard, director of the Florence National Cemetery, covering U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs survivor and burial benefits, 7 p.m. May 10 at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10804, 111 S.C. 57, Little River. All veterans, and spouse or mate, welcome. 504-442-5923.

▪ “Letters Home” 90-minute play, about real-life connections to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, 2 and 7 p.m. May 29 – each with question-and-answer session with cast afterward – aboard USS Yorktown, at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum 40 Patriots Point Road, Mount Pleasant. Free with reservations at www.patriotspoint.org/news-and-events/event/letters-home-play-memorial-day/. Parking $5. 843-884-2727.

Contact Steve Palisin at 843-444-1764.