There’s nothing quite like the summer to enjoy a libation and a live band. Some would argue that visitors and Grand Strand locals have more opportunity to enjoy live music for less than anywhere else in the U.S. While standard in other cities, it’s unusual to pay a cover charge here. There are plenty of places to go, from small to large, North to South, many with dedicated stages, while others are menu-venues. Most venues are a hybrid of music hall and restaurant, and fall somewhere in between.
Dozens of these music venues offer live music every day, year-round, and many more offer full schedules in the “season.” Between Georgetown and Little River, on any Friday or Saturday night, from May through the end of September there will be at least 40 bands performing, sometimes even more. Add in soloists and duos and the numbers of live performances skyrocket.
Though local, live music attendance is holding its own in an otherwise beleaguered music industry, the percentage of young adults who seek out live music has dropped steadily since the mighty 1970s. In the age the Internet, live streaming, and shifting tastes, the U.S. has seen a steady decline in clubs that feature live music. But here along The Grand Strand, which is a bit of an anomaly, bands are cranking out dance sets, original material, and offering live music in nearly every imaginable style.
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While this list is far from exhaustive, and there are at least a half-dozen additional local bands equally worth checking out, here are 10 local acts to put on your radar made up from kids still in college, to touring 20-somethings seeking international fame, to all-original hard rock acts, veteran jam bands, funky dance and party bands, variety acts and even a swinging jazz ensemble. Because most of these bands have an on-line presence, it’s not hard to find their schedules, so, like the bumper sticker says, “Support your local Musician.”
First hitting area clubs in 2012, this band of childhood friends, mostly from the South Strand (or recruited from Coastal Carolina University), quickly energized young crowds of the area in ways not seen before. Far more musically approachable than their hard rock similarly aged counterparts, PaperWork always draws a crowd and plays a horn-accompanied mix of danceable pop, funk, and AM-radio classics, including tunes far older than even the oldest member of the act. Through an evolution of players, and an ever-changing set list, it’s not unusual to hear hits of the 1960s, 70s, 80s, a handful of current chart-toppers, and a growing repertories of originals.
Recently replacing founding member Alex Robinson (lead vocals) with Chris Kies, the band says there’s no “bad blood” and that “we wouldn’t be where we are without Alex.”
“I would describe our sound as ‘future funk,’” says multi-instrumentalist Daniel Simons. “We got into a rut of ignoring our original music, plying only a couple each night, and now we’re flipping that, while still playing the classic party tunes.”
Joining Simons and Kies is Connor Mills (keys, sax, vocals), Johnny Richeson (drums), Anderson Owens (bass, vocals), and Zack Douglas (trumpet, keys), plus guests.
The band is midway through a tour of the Southeast, including shows in Tenn., and N.C. They will return home with an “End of the Tour Party,” May 28 at Rockin’ Hard Saloon in Murrells Inlet, and a “Good to be Home” party at Pawleys Island Tavern May 29.
From the North Strand, this reggae/jam rock act first honed its skills and developed its following with countless shows at The Pirate’s Cove in North Myrtle Beach, beginning in 2010. In the six years that followed, the three-piece act has performed at many clubs along the Grand Strand, toured incessantly, recorded two albums of original material (with a third on the way) and gotten on the bill at a few major reggae festivals including: Roots Rock Raleigh, and The California Roots Carolina Sessions in Myrtle Beach on April 9.
Lead singer, guitarist and front man, 28-year-old Jeremy Anderson, is a former philosophy major who suspended his studies at the College of Charleston to pursue music full time. A savvy marketer, TreeHouse! is one of the few local bands with strong web presence, and incessant use of social media, helping draw crowds to its local shows. It helps that the band is tight and performs some 90-percent original material, too. Joining Anderson is bassist Matt Link and drummer Trey Moody.
See TreeHouse! nearly every Wednesday evening at Pirate’s Cove, including June 1 and 8. The band hopes to add a keyboard player this year, and will be playing and recording in Boston, with bookings up and down the East Coast and in Colorado.
“I’d say we’re reggae influenced by both the beach vibes of South Carolina and the mountain jams of North Carolina,” said Anderson. “I hope one day we can host our own reggae jam cruise, tour Europe, South America, and Japan. We’re excited for the future.”
Kid Drew Band
Playing on the beach since he was literally a child, the exceptional guitar skills of Drew Voivedich are known to nearly every local who’s ever followed the local music scene. He wowed us as a teenager in garage bands and at local jams, and now, just 30, he’s taken respectable jobs in Nashville with a variety of country acts, and here in Myrtle Beach as a part of Legends in Concert and now performing nightly with the Carolina Opry.
While the theaters and steady work pay the bills, he really cuts loose at least one or two nights per week at Wednesday night jams at Pine Lakes Tavern, and there again the last Saturday of each month. He leads special tributes from time to time playing heavy sets of Pink Floyd, the Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd and other classics from the heyday of classic rock. Only the best players perform in the Kid Drew Band, which often include fellow theater band mates and a few hand-picked regulars. When he adds the Brassholes, a collection of three horn players, the music is simply outstanding.
The Kid Drew Band includes Voivedich on guitar and lead vocals, Lynn Brown (drums), Kevin White (keyboards), and Kevin Hughes (bass/vocals). The Brassholes features the four-piece Kid Drew Band with the addition of the three piece horn section featuring: trombonist Chris Connolly, David Herron (trumpet), Kenny Anderson (saxophone), and occasionally John Anderson who fills in on trumpet.
Voivedich says he now plays “for the fun of it,” for the shear joy of musical expression, and it shows. “As I look back on my career, it’s pretty refreshing to be able to play the gigs I want to play, because I want to play them,” he said.
The Grand Strand’s love affair with The Mullets dates back three decades to a gig thrown together for a local fundraising telethon. One thing led to another, the guys enjoyed each other’s company, found a mutual taste for cheap beer, and have been performing as The Mullets ever since.
The “new guy,” in the band, bassist Tom Smith, joined the act 22 years ago, the others are all original: Terry Amaker (lead guitar), Russ Flack (drums), and Bob “Noodle” O’Connor (guitar/vocals). Additionally, longtime friend and Mullet soundman Jack Willits performs a few songs at most shows.
Always more of side-gig for its members, The Mullets once played steadily three nights per week. Currently their goal is to perform three times per month. The next show is May 20 at the Pawleys Island Tavern. “We play rock ‘n’ roll, the blues, mostly covers and a few originals,” said O’Connor.
Sometimes pigeon-holed as a Dead band, or a jam band, The Mullets do play Grateful Dead, and do jam, but variety is the key to their universally appealing set list. “We went through a period where we played a lot more Dead songs, three or four in each set,” said Amaker in a Weekly Surge interview two years ago on the occasion of the band’s 30th anniversary. “I remember we played at a bar and this guy says, ‘Oh, you’re the Mullets. You’re that Grateful Dead cover band.’ And I thought ‘Oh no!’ We practice once every three years. We’ll add three or four tunes once a year. We play one for the first time and Russ will say. “That will sound good in six months.”
Humility, musicianship and family are the hallmarks of a band that never gets old.
Funk, rock and R&B blend together in a dance-friendly set list whenever Painted Man takes the stage. Another venerable act of the Grand Strand, Painted Man first came together under the leadership of guitarist/vocalist Vince Peeples in 1993. Like most bands, Painted Man has undergone personnel changes in the past 23 years. The current line-up includes: Dontrell Burgess (lead vocals), Shawn Gordon (lead vocals), Alphonso Montgomery (keyboards), Brett Sisson (bass), and Curtis McFadden (drums).
Peeples says the band has one, simple goal in mind; “To continue to provide quality entertainment to the people of the Grand Strand. The band’s music can be sampled on an LP available on Amazon, cdBaby and Google play, entitled “We Fly So High,” which was released one year ago. With originals, top-40 dance hits and danceable classic rock, this party band stays busy year-round.
Spending most of its time entertaining local crowds, the band does venture out of town occasionally. Locally see the band at The Dead Dog Saloon May 20, Hot Fish Club May 21, Ian’s Waterway (Little River), May 27.
Hands-down the most in-demand wedding band on the Grand Strand, Tru Sol takes its show on the road, too, for private events, and plays local club dates where its loyal following shows up, dance shoes ready to go.
The five-piece act plays the entire catalog of dance hits from R&B soul classics, through the disco-era, into the 80s, right up to and including current chart-toppers and even hip-hop line dances. Though the band has originals, it’s all about the party, and the set list reflects what the crowd demands. “We do hope to release our original music so our listeners can identify with us as artists, and not just a cover band,” said Dorian Samuels. “Long term we want to save and invest in the future with the hopes of establishing new businesses based around the entertainment and hospitality industry, locally and world-wide.”
A family affair, the band includes: Dorian and Merrell Samuels, Sheryta Spears-Samuels, and Natasha and Mark McKinnon. See Tru Sol locally May 19 at Spokes ‘n’ Bones (Garden City Beach), May 21 The Marlin, May 22 The Boathouse (with Tone Loc), May 27 Wicked Tuna, and May 29 Captain Seaweeds (Bucksport).
The New High
After New Country act Austin-Mowery suspended its performance schedule, lead vocalist/guitarist Jimmy Mowery wasted no time in creating The New High, a modern pop band with “rock ‘n’ roll traditions.”
A lean, and creative four-piece act, the band knows that local and tourist crowds prefer to hear covers, and since cover tunes pay the bills, The New High is happy to oblige. “Although we don’t currently play any originals, original music is our passion and will eventually outnumber the covers,” said Mowery. “We’re finding stability on the SC cover music circuit, but our long term goal is to find success in international chart-performing music and touring.”
Joining Mowery is Joey Howard who plays keyboards, acoustic and electric guitars, and adds harmony vocals, bassist Jeff Wendle, who also adds harmonies, and drummer Greg Ford.
Catch The New High live and local. May 22 The Boathouse (Tone Loc after party), May 24 Klocker’s Tavern, May 26 Creek Ratz, May 27 Apple Annie’s (Florence), May 28 Hot Fish Club, May 29 The Boathouse, May 31 Klocker’s Tavern.
From Myrtle Beach proper, this youthful (teens to mid 20s) band made up of four lads plays the psychedelic surf rock and British invasion music of their grandparent’s generation, along with plenty of current pop and indie rock.
With the pending departure of their youngest player, 18-year-old guitarist Gray Singleton, who will be off to College in Charleston this fall, The Harvest is focusing on enjoying the summer, and performing as often as possible.
The band recently celebrated its one-year anniversary and most often performs at Bourbon Street Bar & Grill, Pine Lakes Tavern and Hurricane Maggie’s, all in a cluster on Kings Highway between 57th Ave. N. and 79th Avenue North.
Self-described as “surf rock with elements of shoegaze and dream pop,” The Harvest has its own jangly vibes in a sea of sound-a-like cover bands. “We do play covers,” said Grant Nesmith, lead vocalist and guitarist, “but we also play four to ten originals each night depending on the venue and the crowd.”
Joining Nesmith and Gray are Bruce James (bass/vocals/trumpet), and Cole Rateliff (drums/vocals). Hoping to keep the band intact even after the departure of Gray, the band’s long term goals are to continue to record more original music, and perform out of town.
Near term, catch The Harvest May 20 at Wicked Tuna, Hurricane Maggie’s May 21 (in a split bill with The Envelopes), with more dates to be added to the schedule.
It’s good to get a little culture from time to time, and the jazz act U.N.I. has developed a strong following of appreciative fans, most likely congregating each Friday night (7 p.m. – 10 p.m.) at Travinia Italian Kitchen in The Market Common.
Local musical mentor Dan O’Reilly (sax, guitar, vocals) leads the band with his wife Lisa O’Reilly (vocals), Mike Knight (drums), Denny Hess (upright bass), Bill Hamilton (piano), and Andy Fowler (piano/vocals). Regular guests include: Chris Connolly (trombone), Nancy LaPorta (vocals), Angelo Abruscato (trumpet), Don Zimbardo (vocals), and Randy Porshia (drums).
Playing standards from The Great American Songbook, a few originals, and some beach music and oldies, this collection of fine musical talent pays its respects to the classics and the art & craft of music.
“We hope to record more original music,” said Dan O’Reilly, “and to continue to grow our fan base.”
Sons of Atom
With the release of a brand new, self-titled, seven-track album of original material, Sons of Atom is gearing up for more local gigs and beyond. The four-piece melodic hard-edged, but pop-influenced, rock act features Eddie Shanks (guitar/vocals), Jamie Dlux (guitar/keys), Rob Gilley (bass) and Jon Cornell (drums).
Cornell, the store manager who can usually be found behind the counter of Star Music in Myrtle Beach calls the band a combination of “pop-rock, punk, and new wave.” Unlike other area bands Sons of Atom is 95-percent original. “We do throw a couple of covers in there,” said Cornell. Gilley and Shanks write the bulk of the band’s material, with a collaborative effort finishing the songs in rehearsal. “Rob will bring lyrics and a bass line to rehearsal,” said Cornell, “and we fill in around it until we have a song.”
“Eddie is a big Brit Pop fan,” continued Cornell. “He loves Oasis and Queen. I think we’re kind of like The Cars.” Perhaps The Cars with a 450 turbo-charged V-8.
It’s not easy to see this band live, as it performs sporadically, but summer is best. The next scheduled gig is July 15 at the Rockin’ Hard Saloon in Murrells Inlet.
So while we’ve missed more great bands then we had room to feature, this handy guide should help the uninitiated get started on finding some live music to their liking. Check out the Music Notes column in Surge that runs every other week for continuous updates on more of the Grand Strand’s remarkable, talented and diverse musical family.
Summer Party checklist
Love live music? See 9 of our 10 must-see bands in the next two weeks. Here’s how:
The Mullets - Their next show is May 20 at the Pawleys Island Tavern.
The Harvest - Catch The Harvest May 20 at Wicked Tuna, Hurricane Maggie’s May 21 (in a split bill with The Envelopes).
Tru Sol - See Tru Sol locally May 19 at Spokes ‘n’ Bones (Garden City Beach), May 21 The Marlin, May 22 The Boathouse (with Tone Loc), May 27 Wicked Tuna, and May 29 Captain Seaweeds (Bucksport).
Give your ears and liver a rest.
The New High - Catch The New High live and local. May 22 The Boathouse (Tone Loc after party), May 24 Klocker’s Tavern, May 26 Creek Ratz, May 27 Apple Annie’s (Florence), May 28 Hot Fish Club, May 29 The Boathouse, May 31 Klocker’s Tavern.
Kid Drew - Drew really cuts loose at least one or two nights per week at Wednesday night jams at Pine Lakes Tavern, and there again the last Saturday of each month.
Download the music you’ve liked so far.
Painted Man - Locally see the band at The Dead Dog Saloon May 20, Hot Fish Club May 21, Ian’s Waterway (Little River), May 27
Spend some time recognizing the true meaning of Memorial Day
Paperwork - They will return home with an “End of the Tour Party,” May 28 at Rockin’ Hard Saloon in Murrells Inlet, and a “Good to be Home” party at Pawleys Island Tavern May 29.
TreeHouse! - See them nearly every Wednesday evening at Pirate’s Cove, including June 1 and 8.
The U.N.I. - Watch them each Friday night (7 p.m. – 10 p.m.) at Travinia Italian Kitchen in The Market Common.
Sons of Atom - The next scheduled gig is July 15 at the Rockin’ Hard Saloon in Murrells Inlet.