CAROLINA BEACH — For more than 30 years, Carolina Beach has celebrated the Southern sounds of beach music in an annual summertime concert hosted beachside. This year’s main event will take place June 3.
Festivities for the weekend of music will kick off Friday, June 2, with The Tams and 18K Gold Band performing at SeaWitch Tiki Bar. There is a $5 cover.
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Hosted by the Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce, Saturday’s main event will feature Jim Quick and the Coastline Band, Band of Oz, and Cat5. Tickets are $35.
After Saturday night’s show the music will continue at the Lazy Pirate with the Gary Lowder and Smokin’ Hot Band, before concluding Sunday. On June 4, the Lazy Pirate will host brunch and a shag contest.
Beach music is considered the background rhythms to the Carolinas’ state dance, the shag. Often known as “the swing dance of the South,” the shag evolved from the jitterbug, whose predecessor the Big Apple traces back to Columbia, South Carolina. Founded in juke joints, primarily to rhythm and blues, bebop, and boogie playing on the jukeboxes, the dance evolved and reached the Southern Atlantic coast by the ’40s.
The “Carolina shag” is suspected to be a phrase coined in Carolina Beach during the Seabreeze era — a popular Black-owned coastal hamlet, Freeman Beach, that brought in thousands of vacationers annually during the height of Jim Crow laws. The then nearly two-mile strip of unincorporated beach, across the Intracoastal Waterway at Snow’s Cut Bridge, was home to more than 30 juke joints.
A local man by the name of Malcolm “Chicken” Hicks often snuck in to hear the bopping rhythm and blues music and watch the dancing. It’s believed Hicks was the one who started calling the moves the “Carolina shag” and brought the music into the Carolina Beach area to the jukeboxes in white night clubs.
Hurricanes eventually demolished Seabreeze and Carolina Beach now owns Freeman Park. Though the cultural impact it left behind continued.
Dancers flocked to Ocean Plaza Ballroom from 1946 through 2006 to see acts such as Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chubby Checker, and Bo Diddly. The shag eventually migrated to the dance floors of Myrtle Beach, as bands like the Dominoes, Drifters, Temptations, Four Tops, Tams, and Chairmen of the Board took off in the 1950s and 1960s.
It opened the door for Southern beach bands to start playing a mixture of rhythm and blues and Motown, leading to the genesis of “beach music.”
Among them: The Band of Oz, which has been around since 1967. In its six decades of existence, various members have rotated in and out. However, throughout the decades, it’s released a few hits to radio airplay in the South, including “Shaggin” in the ’70s and “Shama Lama Ding Dong” in the ’90s.
Jim Quick and the Coastline band have been touring for more than two decades and released 20 albums including 2020’s “Revival.” The band has won the Carolina Beach Music Award Entertainer of the Year 18 times for their “swamp-soul sounds” that envelop Americana, soul, blues and R&B. The Coastline perform at least 250 shows a year.
Cat5 started in 2019 and scored the Carolina Beach Music Award for Best New Artist of the Year in 2020. They perform hundreds of shows a year and released three singles in 2022, including “Drive,” “Never Give Up On Love” and “Want You In My Life.”
The Carolina Beach Music Festival takes place at 3 Cape Fear Boulevard at the Carolina Beach Ocean-Front Stage. Tickets to Saturday’s triple bill can be accessed here.
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