Adrianne and I really enjoy Carolina Beach Music. And what we enjoy almost as much as that is introducing it to our “out of state” friends. It’s so regionally specific, most Carolina-challenged folks have never heard of it. Adrianne once asked her brother (who lives and grew up in Maryland) if he knew Beach Music, and he said, “Well, of course! Who doesn’t know ‘Surfin’ USA’ and Jan and Dean?” She was talking to him on the phone, so I don’t think she actually hit him.
Beach Music began (as did all of Rock ‘n’ Roll) when white kids in the 50’s and 60’s discovered Black R&B on the AM radio stations. What made Beach Music different was that it comprised the songs which let Carolina kids dance their favorite dance, the Shag. (That’s the subject of a whole other post some day.)
And while Shaggin’ on the beach, they inadvertently knocked down musical segregation barriers, as they delightedly danced to great Black groups like the Drifters, the Clovers, the Tams, the Tymes, the Temptations, the Four Tops, the Showmen, and the Chairmen of the Board — interspersed with wonderful white (and integrated) bands like Bill Deal and the Rhondels, the Catalinas, the Monzas, and of course, Raleigh’s own The Embers.
Those of our family and friends in the Carolinas will be happy to know, I’m sure, that a two-hour documentary about that quintessential Beach Music band, The Embers (going back to their founding in Raleigh in 1958), has just been released and is available on DVD. From just viewing the trailer, I can already tell we’re going to enjoy it immensely.
So let me introduce all of you to this new film — and through the music of The Embers, to Carolina Beach Music! Click below to play the trailer.
And here is one of my favorites of the songs of The Embers. The track is a skillfully harmonized and nicely arranged medley of Beach Music classics. Enjoy.
Do people (of all ages) still love Carolina Beach Music? You be the judge. Every summer, North Hills Mall in Raleigh holds outdoor Beach Music concerts each Thursday night (see photo above), complete with large dance floor, and the place is packed every time. The bands are always great, and the Embers play there twice each year, the first and last concerts. Come on out and enjoy the music! You’ll often find Adrianne and me right there.
And if you want to see the 1963 Shag/Beach Music culture, delightfully recreated in a cozy little film, this is it. Starring Phoebe Cates, Bridget Fonda, Annabeth Gish (she’ll steal your heart away), and Tyrone Power Jr., Shag the movie is sweet, authentic, musically rich, and joyously fun — and takes place in the capital city of Beach Music, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It’s one of Adrianne’s and my all-time favorite films. You should Netflix it!