Carolina Beach Music, (k r -l n bech myoo'zik)
Summer 1956, thousands of white kids from all over the Southeast (my father included) descend on the shores of North & South Carolina like they do every year, they flood the usual deserted or sparsely populated towns like Morehead City, Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, Ocean Isle, and Myrtle Beach (this was all before the northern invasion and the NASCAR Cafés turned this region into the "Redneck Riviera").
Once there these kids wanted just a few things; to party, to drink, to race their Chevy's on the hard packed sand beaches and to dance with their girl all night long. And that's where Carolina Beach Music comes in, and really that's all they need. Indeed they don't need much, they sleep (when they sleep) in hammocks on the porches, (screened-in porches if they're lucky), of the beach houses that rise above the sand on stilts, and they subsist on hotdogs and beer, but the music, oh the music!!
Night comes; they'd go down to the boardwalk where a few lamps illuminate a small smooth cement dance floor with only a roof and no walls which they affectionately called the "Pad." Ya can still go there today and see where the kids carved their sweethearts' name in the wooden frame. Over the airwaves they find a few small Carolina stations that featured DJ's like Hoss Allen, Mac's "A-Train Show" out of Wadesboro on WADE, and Genial Gene in Charlotte on WGIV. These local DJs would spin the most, high energy, soulful, up-tempo R&B with that raunchy quick stepped Southern sound and these kids would dance, dance, dance, you didn't even have to now your partners' name, ya just danced, and that's when things really start to happen, that's when things went bump in the night. But not too much bumping because for those of you who don't know or have never been to the Carolina coast in the summer time it's still steamin' by midnight, I mean HOT as blazes! So they came up with the Shag (or the "Carolina Shag" for you Brits), the simple yet smooth, foot-workin,' fingerpoppin' Shag. Made ever popular for its smooth groves and ease in which the dancers can both hold their girl, and their beer. They had their priorities right didn't they?
But this is just part of the story kids, my father's story. Carolina Beach Music will be 61 years old in 2006. That's right, in 1945 Billboard Mag declared "Swing is dead, bands are out, vocals are in!!" Acclaimed R&B and CBM pioneering DJ's like Hoss Allen and Gene Nobles out of Nashville on
WLAC didn't miss a beat either, in fact, they started it!
That same year Beach Music started pumpin' out of jukes of the jump joints and saloons and boardwalks that dotted the coast, places like the Pad, on Ocean Drive (or the O.D. for you Tarheels) and later Duck's in SC and they all had the kids Shaggin' all up and down the Southeast coast to the likes of North Carolina's own Clyde McPhatter and The Showmen, Willie "Sticks" McGhee, The O'Kaysions, The Tams, Willie Tee, Garnet Mimms and The Enchanters, Clarence Carter, Bruce Channel and later General Johnson,
Archie Bell and the Drells, The Swingin' Medallions, J.J. Jackson, Brenton
Wood, Leon Haywood, and Major Lance.
Like Country & Western, like Blues, R&B and Rock-a-Billy, like Boogie Woogie, Jazz and the Rock-n-Roll, it came up from the South, Soul, and for this story ya can't get high if ya can't get low, you heard it here first, or if ya already knew, ya know what I mean so keep on keepin' on.