“It’s all about the music.”
Ken Knox, the remaining member of the Chairmen of the Board, stressed that quote repeatedly last weekend in a phone call between back-to-back N.C. concerts in Winterville, north of Kinston, and Greensboro.
The group returns to the Grand Strand on Friday to help open the seventh annual Beach, Boogie & BBQ Festival, an Omar Shriners benefit going daily through Sunday in Myrtle Beach’s Grand Park.
Knox said the band has pressed on since the death of founder General Norman Johnson in October 2010. Thomas Hunter and Richie Figueroa join Knox to round out the vocal trio, backed by The Executives on the instruments.
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The affection by, and appreciation for, the fans has kept the Chairmen of the Board’s pace steady.
“We give our fan base all the accolades for keeping behind the Chairmen of the Board with different venues and festivals,” Knox said.
Calling himself “a big Facebook user,” Knox said he gets the word out to fans, especially with close to 12,000 friends on the social networking page, and through information at www.chairmenoftheboard.com.
“They’re constantly writing me to please come to Charleston, please come to Columbia,” he said, “so I try to abide by that by booking dates in those markets.
“It gives out an accelerant to our fan base. It’s all about the music, and it’s all about the blueprint that General provided for us throughout the years, and I’m continuing to follow the blueprint.”
Knox said often when a group loses someone with the talent Johnson exuded, the band suffers, but with the musical foundation built with Johnson and Danny Woods more than 40 years ago, Knox said he “thanks God” for the new group that’s “carrying the legacy that we laid down.”
The memories not only enthuse the Chairmen, but fans from long ago and today. Knox said he saw the same group of college guys at several N.C. concerts this month.
“Our focus has been ages 8 to 80,” he said. “That hasn’t changed. It’s great to see little kids and older people having a fun time, because it’s all about the music, and it’s how we present the music. It’s about having a good time, and the music puts you in the mood of having a good time.”
The group, who scored its biggest hit in 1970 with “Give Me Just A Little More Time,” also has gained extra exposure from the ditty’s inclusion in Swiffer sweeping, mopping and dusting product TV advertisements.
“That’s done a lot for us,” Knox said. “We’ve gotten calls from around the country. One lady said she woke up and saw the song play with the ad for the broom. It brings back memories of the band.”
Knox said some other 1970s hits – Player’s “Baby Come Back,” Heart’s “What About Love?” and the Isley Brothers’ “That Lady” – also play in Swiffer spots. He said with the enthusiasm these artists’ music has stirred through the ads, he wants to contact Player, Heart and Ronnie Isley about a road trip.
“That’s a heck of a tour,” Knox said.
The Chairmen also have been invited to perform “for a couple of dates” at the other party convention, after Labor Day in Charlotte, where Knox lives, he said.
Knox spoke often of the fortune of still having the market for the Chairmen’s shows, where the General continues “to live through the music.”
All the credit goes to the fans, he said, eager for the Chairmen and Executives’ third concert on the Grand Strand since December 2010, a memorial celebration at House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach.
“We’re going to have fun,” Knox said. “You’re going to get some Carolina beach music – Chairmen of the Board style.”