Thursday, October 6, 2022

Beehive Blondes bring the fun and funk to the Cape Fear colony

Hannah Stewart (left) and Jess James form the DJ duo the Beehive Blondes that specialize in 60s Motown tunes. (Port City Daily photo / COURTESY BEEHIVE BLONDES)

WILMINGTON—It’s the pioneering formula: observe a void? Fill it.

No void? Fashion it anyway. When two old souls felt the area needed some Motown and local businesses wouldn’t play it for them, they figured they’d bring the soul back themselves.

With hairspray, old vinyl and vintage clothing in tow, the Beehive Blondes have been swarming the Port City with their spunk and spins since March.

(PREVIEW: A Beehive Blondes playlist, made for Port City Daily)

When two old souls collide

Style maverick Jess James and London’s retro DJ Hannah Stewart formed the duo after only a year of friendship.

The Beehive Blondes are bringing 60s music and vintage clothing back to the Cape Fear Region. (Port City Daily photo / COURTESY OF BEEHIVE BLONDES)
The Beehive Blondes are bringing 60s music and vintage clothing back to the Cape Fear Region. (Port City Daily photo / COURTESY OF BEEHIVE BLONDES)

“I walked into Jess James + Co. and we immediately bonded straight away over our love of vintage,” Steward said. “We both had these careers in vintage which is kind of unique to find someone who’s also been doing that for a living.”

Apparently, it’s not as fun to DJ alone.

“We had only just met and she was like, ‘I’ll DJ with you!’” Stewart said.

Now, the bees arrive to every gig entirely decked out in retro threads, beehives and all.

“Oh yeah, every time,” they said in unison.

As for the tunes, the blondes find a way to slip in some Otis Redding each appearance. “We always play Otis Redding,” James said.

“‘Love Man’, every time,” they said, again in unison.

Harry Belafonte, Penny and the Quarters, rounded out with some Whitney Houston take listeners on a soulful odyssey through the good old days.

“We always end with 70s disco,” James said. “We kind of try to take them through the experience through time.”

Dancing bees

Much like the dancing language of bees, when these bees dance, they’re sending a message.

The Beehive Blondes are bringing 60s music and vintage clothing back to the Cape Fear Region. (Port City Daily photo / COURTESY OF BEEHIVE BLONDES)
The Beehive Blondes are bringing 60s music and vintage clothing back to the Cape Fear Region. (Port City Daily photo / COURTESY OF BEEHIVE BLONDES)

“Our last gig we had a full conga line,” Stewart said.

The ladies’ performance presence has been affectionately likened to “two penguins dancing in the snow” by their close friend. Motown sound just has that feeling.

“What I really like about our crowd is it’s such an eclectic group of ages, so we had like really young people in the crowd and I mean, my grandmother came to one of our last shows,” Stewart said.

The ultimate goal is to get people off the wall and on their feet.

“We have people that come to our shows in their 70s and we still have 21-year-olds come to our shows. It’s nice to see them all out there on the dance floor together in a community vibe,” she said.

Where to catch the hive

Owner of Jess James + Co. at 511 Castle Street, James is sure to to bring at least one rack of her curated collection of vintage clothes to each gig.

They’d be hard to miss, but keep an eye and ear out for the hula hoops and maracas and you’re sure to find a beehive, or two.

One Thursday a month, the bees bring their zest to Satellite Bar and Lounge, where they have secured their first residency.

“They don’t want to go to a club and dance to what’s in the charts right now,” James said. “They want to hear good old soul music.”

Sunday, Dec. 3 and 17, they’ll be at CRUZ for a midday, beehive brunch from 12 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

“We’d also love to get a radio show, ‘An evening with the Beehive Blondes,’” James said. “Play our tunes and talk about why we love them.”

Sans radio show, the duo are buzzing off the shows they’ve booked after less than a year as an official group.

Upcoming Beehive Blondes events:

Jess James (left) and Hannah Stewart form the DJ duo the Beehive Blondes, a group that specializes in 60s Motown tunes and a love for vintage clothes. (Port City Daily photo / COURTESY BEEHIVE BLONDES)
Jess James (left) and Hannah Stewart form the DJ duo the Beehive Blondes, a group that specializes in 60s Motown tunes and a love for vintage clothes. (Port City Daily photo / COURTESY BEEHIVE BLONDES)

Johanna Ferebee can be reached at johanna@localvoicemedia.com or @j__ferebee on Twitter

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