FAVOR - Concert of Hope

My friends at the Grand Strand chapter of Faces and Voices of Recovery – or FAVOR – are working tirelessly to remove the stigma attached to those in recovery, and I have always loved their mantra: “We do recover.”

The advocacy group recently moved into a new space in Myrtle Beach, located at 4953 US 17 Bypass South.

According to executive director Nicole Criss, FAVOR recently took over operations for the Refuge of Hope transitional house in Myrtle Beach.

“It’s a house on Third Avenue North,” she said. “There are 12 or 13 guys living in it, and we were officially given the OK from the landlord to take it over.”

The recovery house had plans in the works to present an event at Chapin Memorial Park, called Concert of Hope. By default, according to Criss, this is now a FAVOR event.

“They already had that in the works, and they needed a 501(c)3. They wanted us to umbrella the event as well,” she said, adding that proceeds would go to FAVOR to be distributed where appropriate.

The Concert of Hope will take place on Saturday, July 21 from 11 am to 10 pm, and will feature Christian artists such as Josh Paul, Charles Scarlette and Doug Corum – with a special appearance by pastor and author JP Miller – and more.

Happy to say that The Yale Brothers will be performing from 4:15-5:00 pm.

FAVOR will be selling raffle tickets for $10. First prize is $500 cash. Other prizes include gift cards for restaurants, zipline, golf, and more.

For more information about the wonderful work being done by FAVOR, click HERE.

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Wade Ward - Folkways

Early last month, I made a pilgrimage to Southwest Virginia with my girlfriend, Brenda.

I lived in Galax for a few years – right off the fabled Blue Ridge Parkway, offering unparalleled vistas of the region, looking out into North Carolina with the iconic Pilot Mountain off in the distance.

Galax is renowned for its annual Old Fiddlers’ Convention – the largest and oldest event if its kind, with the 83rd installment coming up in August and drawing folks from the world over.

As of the 2010 census, Galax boasted just over seven thousand residents.

Brenda was born in Sparta, NC [the home of Dr. Grabow pipes], but grew up in Independence – just down US 58 [aka the “four lane”] from Galax. The same census reported 947 residents for the town. The local newspaper there is called – as if there was any other choice – The Declaration.

We made a decent circuit around the area, including whistle stops in Atkins and Wytheville, visiting Brenda’s family. Seeing them together makes me happy.

After an awesome lunch at a Mennonite shop and bakery/deli called The Dutch Pantry in Rural Retreat, I rode with Brenda’s brother Troy and her niece Brittney to Independence for a visit with a lady Brenda and Troy consider their second mom – Dorothy Ward Heffinger.

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Dorothy was gracious and kind – and treated me like family off the bat. It was great to be a fly on the wall for the reminiscing. Her husband, Charlie, was off fishing – and while that was sort of a bummer for Brenda and Troy – everyone enjoyed themselves.

Somehow the subject of music came up, and Dorothy said something about her grandfather’s clawhammer banjo being in the Smithsonian.

Wait. What?

I was sitting in the very home where the celebrated musicologist Alan Lomax recorded “Uncle” Wade Ward, an old-time music pioneer, as he sang and strummed his Gibson RB-11.

Ward is often cited along with Kyle Creed as an example of the Galax-style clawhammer banjo playing.

I often talk about growing up in Hollywood and my many brushes with celebrities – but Brenda, in true hide-and-watch fashion, had an ace up her sleeve with this.

Well played, Brenda. Well played.

Wade Ward with Alan Lomax

Wade Ward, Alan Lomax

 

 

 

 

 

Waccamaw Getaway FestivalLast year, the Bucksport Marina in Conway, South Carolina hosted the inaugural Waccamaw Getaway Festival – a three-day event boasting more than 25 bands from near and far, including singer/songwriter Randall Bramblett, folk/blues/Americana outfit The Ben Miller Band and local “reggae jam rock” stalwarts, Treehouse!, who have been steadily gaining traction at festivals and venues across the U.S.

With the idyllic Waccamaw River as its backdrop, the event featured vendors and artists of every stripe and offered camping, boat docking, food and much more.

And it’s about to happen again over Memorial Day Weekend – May 25 through May 27.

This year’s headliner is Todd Nance and Friends. Nance was the original drummer for Widespread Panic. He left that outfit in 2016.

Scott Mann, radio personality and program director for local classic rock station WAVE 104.1 co-founded the festival with event production entrepreneur Scott Hyman of 3930 Music in Conway.

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Scott Hyman and Scott Mann – Photo: Myrtle Beach Life/The Sun News

I recently spoke with Mann to get the skinny for this year.

RY: How did you guys manage to snag Todd Nance and Friends for the headliner? Did you have to go through hoops?

MANN: A friend of a friend. A friend of mine is a friend of Todd’s and he came to me and said, “I think I can make this happen.” I said, “Please try to make it happen.”  So, thank you, Chris.

Q: What’s new with this year’s lineup? I see a mix of returning acts as well as some new names.

A: There are definitely some returning bands. As long as there is a [Waccamaw] Getaway Festival, there will always be a spot for Groove Fetish. We also have Dubtown Cosmonauts and Electric Soul Pandemic returning. This year, we managed to snag a lot of bands that we couldn’t get last year because we had such a short amount of time to put it together.

Q: You had three months to put something together that typically takes maybe nine months.

A: It’s something that you want to take as much time as you can to have the biggest number of bands that have the dates open. But we put the first one together in less than 90 days, so this year, one of the first things we did was go after the bands that we couldn’t get to last year because they were already booked.

Q: And you seem to still have a good mix of local, regional and national acts. Is this by design, or did the roster just come together that way?

A: Well, the first year, the roster came together the way it did because of time constraints and we got very lucky. The basic idea here is that this is a destination festival, but we would obviously like to get as many locals there as possible.  The idea of this festival is to present original music from around the country and make it a destination for people.

Q: Tell me about the late-night sets. Is this a new addition?

A: Last year we had some late-night DJ sets. That was pretty neat, but this year we also have some special late-night stuff lined up. First, we are going to have a late-night DJ set from Plenny G. And we also have – and this is so exciting for us – Tru Sol in a late-night set. Although the focus of the festival is original music, there are certain things that one does not say no to. When the opportunity to have a dance party with Tru Sol came up, we were real psyched about that.

Daniel Combs of Jahman Brahman (one of the bands we wanted for last year) has gotten together with Wade McMillan from Oracle Blue. They are going to do a late-night electronic jam kind-of-thing with whoever else is going to sit in with them. The great thing about the bands at this festival is that they are from all over the region and around the country. You’ve got bands coming in from Athens, GA and Boston. The Ben Miller Band is coming in from Joplin, MO. We’ve got bands coming in from Tennessee, and North Carolina is very well represented. A lot of these bands have been at different festivals with each other, and they have gotten to know each other. We really don’t know who will sit in with McMillan-Combs and Friends, but there will be friends.

 

 

Q: Tell us about the Artist’s Area and the Flow and Fire Area.

A: The Flow and Fire Area is once again manned this year – or should I say womanned – by our good friend Ann Virginia [Ann Winnard] of Over the Moon Productions.  Annie and all her crew are going to be there – spinning fire – spinning LEDs – and they invite people to bring their own toys and participate. You just need to sign a little waiver-thing.

We are also going to have the vendors area in a new spot this year – they will be right out there in the middle of everything – outside of the music area but also very much within earshot of the music. Everything is very close together this year, and the vendors will not be sequestered away in a separate building.

Right next to that will be the Art Tent, and a friend that we designated the Waccamaw getaway Festival’s artist superhero – Stephen Rullo – is going to make sure that the art tent is doing what it’s supposed to do, which is basically be a zone for artists who will come in and listen to the music and spend part of their day creating art live on the spot – painting and whatever. We have a limited number of art spaces – and just like we did last year, we gave them out to artists for free. Artists are an essential part of what we’re doing, and yet how many artists do you know that have any money.

Waccamaw Getaway Festival Band Lineup

Q: You must have learned what worked and what didn’t work from last year.

A: We did learn a number of things, which happens when you do something for the first time and you try to do it again. We are taking those things and putting them into action this year to make it just a better experience for everybody.

Q:  Tell me about the addition of Seth Funderburk [Sea Note Recording/Waterway Run Management] as co-organizer?

A: Seth helped out with a lot of stuff last year, and he was on the sound board quite a bit. He has a lot of experience with production, booking and promotion. He’s done everything you can do in the music business around here, and he is a great asset and a great resource. Seth and I both serve on the board of South by Southeast together, so we’ve known each other a long time.

Q: How are you guys getting the word out?

A: WAVE 104.1 is presenting the festival as the official Summer of Live kickoff. We have been giving away tickets and upgrades to three-day passes that include camping. We will do the same thing with support from 96.1 WKZQ. But WAVE is the presenting radio station, so I will be on scene the whole weekend.

We’ve done some promotion outside of town, of course. Like I said, this is a destination festival. We have done some radio and other promotions in Wilmington. We have some street-teamers in Wilmington, with posters, flyers, and the like. We also have a street-teamer in Florence, making sure the flyers and posters go where they need to go.

Oracle Blue

We have been promoting through social media, of course. We have promoted through all of the regional important jam-band websites and hooked up with the Homegrown Music Network.

Most of all, people are just spreading the word around because they are excited about it and want to share it with their friends. People are supporting it left and right. We have no big conglomerate behind us. This is a family-created festival, with bands being booked because one person knew another person.

Q: But you have sponsors. Tell me about them.

A: We’ve got New South Brewing as sponsor, and you know they are as local as you can get. We’ve got sponsorships from Tito’s Handmade Vodka. While it’s a very well-known and popular vodka brand – it’s certainly not one of the giant big dogs taking over the world. It’s some guys from Austin, TX. We hooked up with  Waccamaw Riverkeeper,  and we will give them a portion of our proceeds so that they can keep the river that makes the festival so beautiful – clean and safe– and this whole thing is just an effort by a bunch of people who just want to see us have a good music festival.

Waccamaw River

For more information, visit www.waccamawgetawayfest.com.

For ticketing, go HERE.

Myrtle Beach-area locals can save money by picking up LOCAL’S ADVANTAGE three-day day passes at New South Brewing – 1109 CAMPBELL STREET, MYRTLE BEACH, SC 29577  (843) 916-2337   Info@NewSouthBrewing.com.  Hours: Tuesday-Friday from 4pm-7pm and Saturday from 1pm-5pm.

 

 

 

Rog - Liberty

I realize that the term blogfade has not yet made it into a proper dictionary – and I am not altogether sure what the term means to me.

For a few years, I have been staying true to my intention here by writing about the random and the relevant. But I am horrified – well, maybe just a bit troubled – that my last blog post was in October of last year. That was more than six months ago.

I appreciate the fact that a few of my friends have taken the time to read some of these posts, and I want to be sure to correct course by posting regularly.

I need to treat this blog like I do my writing assignments – and I can benefit from an editorial calendar and a little discipline.

I’ll be back.

Don’t let my blogfade fuel your schadenfreude.

Here’s a clip from a recent House of Blues show with my brother… a song called “It’s Not Love,” written when I had no real idea about love…

 

 

 

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Sunday, I bid my son farewell before he headed back to base in Virginia.

Wes had been overseas for seven months, and was able to spend the past two weeks on leave here in Myrtle Beach.

As he pulled away, the reality hit me again, as it often does, that my son is a United States Marine. A Devil Dog.

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Surreal.

I was also astonished to think about all he had done in the time he was here – a testament to squeezing as much enjoyment and quality time that you can out of a limited visit to a particular place.

The iffy thing for parents, spouses and loved ones of active duty servicemembers is to nail down exactly when they will be arriving, despite what they tell you. We have all heard horror stories of military delays, last-minute changeups and other logistical snafus. This can suck when it comes to airline reservations – particularly because there is really no way to get the best deals – not only for the servicemember, but also for family that might also want to fly in.

In this case, that family is my daughter and his twin sister, Taylor, who flew in from New York City the following weekend.

We also wanted to make sure that Wes had the proper welcome home that he deserved, and once we knew for sure that he was set to arrive, I got in touch with several of his friends to make sure that he had a greeting party ready for him at the Myrtle Beach Airport.

An outstanding group of friends from Tinder Box Myrtle Beach rallied as well – and we had an impromptu reception at our humble apartment here in Myrtle Beach afterwards.

I am beyond grateful to Stephen Shuessler of CrossFit Myrtle Beach for putting the word out at his box [CrossFit lingo for gym] – and helping to gather a group of Wes’ CrossFit family. It warms my heart to feel the love.

His Uncle Chris [my twin brother and musical accomplice] and Aunt Betsy [my sister-in-law] were there also – as well as Wes’ best friend and de facto brother, Xavier Pringle – and we wore the amazing tee shirts my dear friends Tonya and Kenny [A Plus Screen Printing] made for Wes’ graduation at Parris Island 16 months ago.

Here’s a laundry list of what he was up to:

CrossFit. A half-marathon in his 30-pound flak vest, or Modular Tactical Vest [I guess he did want his MTV]. Multiple trips to Chipotle. A dinner out, looking awesome in his Dress Blue Deltas. A walk on the beach with yours truly and his twin sister. A jaw-dropping new tattoo from the master, Shay Haf-Ded, at Red Raven Art Company.

The young man took the time to catch Yale Brothers gig at Liberty Brewery and Grill in Myrtle Beach. That meant a lot. We dedicated the night to him and he was received enthusiastically.

I had a bet with my girlfriend Brenda as to how long it would take before he and Taylor bickered about something. Answer: Not long – and it was music to my ears. Being a twin myself – I understand the dynamic. The old cliché’ stands: They might bandy about all day – but don’t get it twisted. They have each other’s backs.

My regret is that Taylor’s job required her to be back in The City – and she was only here for a weekend. But she was here, and that was awesome.

My adult children. Who knew?

My main man. My son. My Marine.

Semper fi, son!

 

 

 

 

Yinz listen to this – we finally made it to Pittsburgh last month.

I first started getting a hankering to visit Pittsburgh because of my friend, Bob Coyne, who grew up in Irwin, Pa., which is roughly 20 minutes away from Pittsburgh. During the years we worked together here in Myrtle Beach, Bob taught me a lot about the city, the slang and his shenanigans in and around Pittsburgh when he was growing up.

Several other local friends and Myrtle Beach transplants have been sharing Pittsburgh lore with us for years.

About ten years ago, my girlfriend and I became friends with two of the coolest couples anywhere: The DiGiacomos and the Scangas. We met them originally when I was playing in a Myrtle Beach classic rock cover band called Sick Stooges, and over the years became closer on their semiannual visits to the Grand Strand – my bandmates and their wives and girlfriends included.

Every time Steve and Kathy [DiGiacomo] or John and Barb [Scanga] came to Myrtle Beach, we’d hang out – and we’d learn more and more from them about Pittsburgh – and Brenda and I would comment on how cool it would be to visit sometime.

We finally put our money where our mouths were after we were invited to John and Barb’s daughter’s wedding on August 5.

Because we are usually on a shoestring budget, Brenda and I decided to fly Spirit Airlines – and opted to ship our clothes, saving us a few bucks. We also booked a hotel not far from where the wedding party was to be staying in the Pittsburgh suburb of Harmarville [Harmar Township]. It was only after we arrived that we realized that we could practically throw a rock to the TownePlace Suites by Marriott from our decidedly more economical Days Inn.

When we pulled into the parking lot of TownePlace in our rental car – the rehearsal dinner festivities were well underway on a patio out front – and we were all reunited.

The next day, it was wedding time. Although everyone was busy, Steve surprised me with a loaf of Italian bread from Sanchioli Bros. Bakery – and some home-made Sopressata. I knew brother Steve was looking out for me when he handed me a serrated knife so we wouldn’t be left in the lurch. I will always remember that moment.

After a beautiful wedding downtown – or dahntahn – Steve, Kathy and their daughter Kristin took us through their neighborhood in Bloomfield – home of Little Italy Days (Steve had to retrieve some Limoncello at his house), it was on to Veltre’s Wedding & Event Centre – a sumptuous venue at the top of a hill with a beautiful view of the Plum and New Kensington areas through floor-to-ceiling windows on the overlook.

The bride and groom, Jessica and Jon, are amazing young people, and it was an honor to be there as friends of the bride’s parents. Italian food like you wouldn’t believe – and a breathtaking cookie table with something like 900 dozen of them. Excellent DJ, an open bar with top-shelf libations that almost made me wish I wasn’t an alcoholic – but not quite – and awesome people.

Excellent job indeed, John and Barb.  What a day!

The next day – Brenda and I decided to get lost. Hell – we had a rental car, a full tank of gas and GPS.

First on our on-the-fly itinerary was the Duquesne Incline, which came highly recommended by almost everyone we talked to. The Incline scaled the iconic Mount Washington – and once at the top, we poked around a museum containing awesome memorabilia, photos and bric-a-brac from various eras in Pittsburgh history – and took in stunning eagles-nest views of the city from the observation deck.

From there it was on to Station Square, a sprawling retail and entertainment complex on the Monongahela River – or “The Mon” – directly across from downtown Pittsburgh.

After a stroll in Station Square, we decided to leave the car and head across the Smithfield Street Bridge and wander around dahntahn.

It’s always good to freestyle, and we did just that – taking in the architecture and the lay of the land – until we arrived at Point State Park, where a massive festival was underway to commemorate the 2017 Three Rivers Regatta, which Steve, Kathy and Kristin told us about.

We stuck around for some live music, and idiotically, I didn’t take note of the band we enjoyed – but it featured a bearded guy playing an upright piano, which made me think about Coldplay. I also ate a very good gyro from one of the local vendors.

We enjoyed the experience of traipsing around – and I loved seeing a historical plaque commemorating the first commercial radio station – KDKA – which is still in operation as an AM news radio outfit. KDKA went on the air in 1920. Interesting that the call letters feature a “K” – usually the domain of stations west of the Mississippi River – but this was long before a 1923 boundary shift.

Back across the bridge, we retrieved our car and went into downtown Pittsburgh – and after a while found ourselves in the fabled Strip District. It struck me then that this city’s inhabitants arguably wear more sports-team apparel than anywhere else. The Strip District was so full of logoed merchandise featuring the Steelers, Penguins (Pens) and Pirates that it was almost overwhelming. Pittsburgh is nothing if not supportive to its sports teams.

Pittsburgh - Yinzers

I regretted eating that gyro when we came across the original Primanti Bros restaurant.

Eating a Primanti Bros. sandwich was part of the plan, but unfortunately, now wasn’t the time. I still wanted to set foot inside the location that put them on the map. You should have seen a server’s reaction when I said I was full but wanted to look around. One of my friends here in Myrtle Beach couldn’t believe I didn’t muscle through a sandwich in spite of the gyro that was still halfway through my digestive tract.

Our last bit of freestyling was to make a point of heading out the Fort Pitt Tunnel so that we could turn around, head back in and see the city open up in all its glory – just like Kathy told us.

We weren’t disappointed.

Cutting our drive short in Squirrel Hill – right before that tunnel entrance, we stopped at a Starbucks to recharge before heading back to Harmarville and the Days Inn.

Now it was time for Primanti Bros., and as luck would have it, there was a location in Harmarville. Brother Steve met up with us there.

A Primanti Bros. sandwich features “grilled meat, melted provolone cheese, sweet-and-sour coleslaw, fresh-cut fries, ripe tomatoes and our house recipe Italian bread.” Everybody had suggestions for the type of sandwich I should order. I heard “cap ‘n egg,” “Italian Sausage,” and what not, but I opted for the New Yorker – a strange name for a Pittsburgh sandwich – but it was loaded with corned beef and pastrami. I couldn’t lose.

The sandwich was massive and delicious. It’s kind of like smoking a Cuban cigar. You have to have been there and done that. I was glad to finally partake, wannabe yinzer that I am.

Roger Primanti

After heading to the local Sheetz for water and various sweets, Brenda and I called it a night.

The capping moment for our trip came the next morning before we headed off to the airport – a wonderful breakfast with Kathy and Steve at a family-owned spot in Lawrenceville called Barb’s Corner Kitchen – close to their house. It was wonderful to report our adventures from the day before with these two – and to watch Steve in action when he saw a longtime friend from the neighborhood. Everybody knows Steve DiGiacomo.

This trip cemented my fascination with Pittsburgh – and my love for these dear friends.

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Roger Yale (L) with twin brother Chris Yale (L)

Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, implied in 2016 that smokers who quit by using e-cigarettes don’t exist – calling these people “hypothetical individuals.”

It should also be noted that Zeller was also a previous political consultant for the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, the makers of Nicorette Gum.

Make no mistake about it, Zeller – we exist.

An article on Vapes.com explained the nefarious nature of Zeller’s endgame, as well as the

“Zeller spearheaded the campaign to write new FDA e-cig regulations that would eliminate the competitive advantage that electronic cigarettes held over ‘The Patch,’ Nicorette Gum, and other similar smoking cessation products.  But the new regulations would also need to be marketed to the American Public in such a way that the typical voter would somehow view e-cigs as at least as deadly as traditional tobacco cigarettes, if not more. Who better to do this than anti-smoking advocacy groups like the American Cancer Society?”

Anybody smell conspiracy? Add Big Tobacco and its interest in holding on to market share, despite the fact that most cigarette companies have their own vape divisions, and the stench grows.

But the truth always comes to light, regardless of the deep pockets of the dishonest.

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With Orit Deverell of Zuluvape in Myrtle Beach

Good thing there’s a new sheriff in town – or at least at the FDA – in the person of Scott Gottlieb, the organization’s new chief. Hopefully he will continue to muzzle Zeller, who still, unfortunately, has his job.

In a surprising turn of events for the beleaguered vape industry and for the millions of e-cigarette users who have successfully made the switch from cigarettes, the FDA on Friday announced sweeping changes to its policy regarding electronic cigarettes.

In a July press release, the FDA had this to say:

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today announced a new comprehensive plan for tobacco and nicotine regulation that will serve as a multi-year roadmap to better protect kids and significantly reduce tobacco-related disease and death. The approach places nicotine, and the issue of addiction, at the center of the agency’s tobacco regulation efforts. The goal is to ensure that the FDA has the proper scientific and regulatory foundation to efficiently and effectively implement the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. To make certain that the FDA is striking an appropriate balance between regulation and encouraging development of innovative tobacco products that may be less dangerous than cigarettes, the agency is also providing targeted relief on some timelines described in the May 2016 final rule that extended the FDA’s authority to additional tobacco products. The agency will also seek input on critical public health issues such as the role of flavors in tobacco products.”

Obviously, one of these “innovative tobacco products” is the electronic cigarette. Unfortunately, we will have to live with the word tobacco for now.

The deadline for product review applications has now been pushed to August 8, 2022 – a win by any definition for the vape industry as well as for consumers who have embraced the electronic cigarette as a step toward harm reduction.

Despite Big Tobacco’s best efforts to obfuscate the benefit of the electronic cigarette, the FDA under Gottlieb has begun to turn the tables.