Last week, The Yale Brothers played a series of shows along the Grand Strand – a 60-mile stretch of coastline in my neck of the woods sometimes lovingly (I hope) referred to as “The Redneck Riviera.” We started at House of Blues Myrtle Beach, which is technically in North Myrtle Beach within a retail, dining and entertainment complex known as Barefoot Landing. The next night found us at our twice-a-month booking at LuLu’s North Myrtle Beach – also at Barefoot Landing and one of three sprawling eateries owned by Jimmy Buffett’s “crazy sista” Lucy Buffett.
The next day, we headed out to The Wicked Tuna in Murrells Inlet – more than 30 miles south. We played the inaugural Wicked Wishes event to benefit Make-A-Wish South Carolina – and later moved across the parking lot to the Tuna Shak, where we closed out the evening.
What made these three gigs special for us – besides doing our part for a great cause on Saturday – was that we got the chance to see old friends, meet new ones and hang out with other members of the music community. Gigs don’t usually happen that way.
Thursday’s stint at House of Blues was the first of our fall restaurant shows there. We’ll be doing every Thursday through December fifth in the early evening. We enjoy the positive vibe and the camaraderie from House of Blues staff, and we’re happy to call many of them our friends. And it’s always a bonus to see our brother for life, sound man Bill Allen. Fortunately, he was mixing on the deck for the Rich Johnson Band. Met Rich for the first time – and said hello to Mark Billings – another House of Blues sound man and friend, who was on the other side of things, playing drums for Rich.
It’s always great to return to LuLu’s for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that the venue has its own PA in place – so it’s frontline-only at this colorful and happy spot on the Intracoastal Waterway. Over our engagement, we met some really wonderful and positive people – and reconnected with our friend Travis Ladd, who runs the retail side there. LuLu’s is in the process of building out an expanded retail space, which will benefit the business in a couple of ways; more room for merch and additional dining space.
Just across the way is the Crooked Hammock Brewery Stage – an open-air spot boasting a rotating lineup of local bands. Competitive spirit aside (we have a running gag that LuLu’s should turn their sound up to 11 to overpower what’s coming from across the street), it was a real treat to discover that Sunburst Radio was that night’s offering.
Sunburst Radio is made up of guitarist Ed Dennis (a longtime friend and Chris’ former bandmate), Ken Thomas (another longtime friend and drummer), Kim DeCosta (keyboards) and Terry Cohen (bass). The band plays a mindful selection of FM radio hits with some surprises along the way – including a great rendition of Split Enz’s “I Got You,” which the band reprised in their last set because he knew Chris loved the tune.
We scurried back and forth from our spot to their spot to try to catch a song, and vice-versa. In the midst of this frenetic activity, we also caught up with more friends.
The Myrtle Beach area is funny that way. Despite the millions of tourists coming to visit during “the season,” you’re bound to run into people you know – especially out and about in the fall and winter.
Wicked Wishes was the first full-blown event on the Grand Strand for Make-A-Wish South Carolina, and although we were slated to play for an hour at one o’clock, we stayed for the duration. The event was a organized by the folks at The Wicked Tuna, Banton Media, Sandpiper Entertainment, iHeart Media Myrtle Beach, Sweetwater Brewing Company, Tito’s Handmake Vodka and more.
In all, the benefit raised more than $18,000 to help grant life-changing wishes to critically ill children.
We had fun sharing the bill with the Kevin Nichols Band and the Jebb Mac Band, and I was happy to know that our old friend Seth Funderburk was on board, running sound for the event. Seth is a renaissance man and is an organizer for both the Waccmaw Getaway Festival and the IrieSun Reggae Festival. He’s also part of the South by Southeast Music Feast – a charitable organization dedicated to providing music education for young people.
Finally a grateful shout-out to BJ Craven of Sandpiper Entertainment for securing our spot as well as for the after-party gig at the Tuna Shak.
What a memorable three days in the life!