Archive

Myrtle Beach

“Wishing Tree” at Vereen Memorial Gardens

A while back, my girlfriend was feeling a touch of cabin fever. Being a country girl from the mountains of Southwest Virginia, she really needed to get out into nature  – if only for a day. And because she also fully understands cabin fever because of her penchant for horror movies, I thought it wise to get out of Dodge with her.

Call it self-preservation if you must.

I need to remember that getting away from my office could actually be a good thing. Because I am usually involved in various projects involving writing or music, I tend to stay “on the grind,” as they say. This is in addition to my “day job” at Tinder Box Myrtle Beach, where Brenda also works

I’ll admit that it was tough to break away, but once committed…

On the way to a gig with my brother, I remember driving past the entrance to Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve off International Drive near SC Hwy 90. I read somewhere that the preserve sat on more than 9000 acres and was home to a good many Carolina bays…

According to the American Rivers website, Carolina bays are “a type of elliptical or oval freshwater depressional wetland(s) that fill with rainwater and may be periodically dry. They are most commonly found in North and South Carolina, but can also be found from Florida to New Jersey. Carolina bays vary in size from a few hundred feet in length to nearly 5 miles long.”

This preserve is home to the Venus flytrap, black bears, bald eagles and more – but after driving down the pitted dirt road for about a mile with our Kia Soul bouncing around, we opted to bail. Recent controlled burns also took place, so the area didn’t seem like something to explore at the moment.

Wait a minute. What the hell are you supposed to do if confronted by a black bear? I mean, I saw “Faces of Death” in the 80s, under duress…

It surfaced that Brenda was really thinking about Vereen Memorial Gardens anyway, so off we went to Little River.

The South Carolina Trails website describes the location like this:

“Vereen Memorial Gardens has been a bit of a “Hidden Jewel” for 30 years. The park features numerous hiking trails and wooden boardwalks that extend across several beautiful salt marshes and small islands, with a nice gazebo that overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway.”

After eating the grocery store lunch we brought with us, we set about exploring. Vereen Memorial Gardens really is a hidden gem – and I especially loved the “Make a Wish” area where you can hang oyster shells on tree limbs along with your wishes…

That and the fact that Brenda got her wish to be in nature – and we both enjoyed the experience.

Advertisements

For the third year running, Bucksport Marina in Conway, South Carolina, will again be transformed into a wonderland of music, art and all-around good vibes as the Waccamaw Getaway Music Festival returns to this enchanting spot on the Waccamaw River over Memorial Day weekend.

A three-day lineup [May 24-26] features more than 20 musical acts, and the festival also includes vendors, flow artists, an art tent with live painting, food trucks (a new addition this year), disc golf (also new) and onsite camping.  With of this is this going on within an hour of the Grand Strand, it’s easy to see why the slogan, “Don’t go away – Getaway” makes perfect sense for locals.

But believe this – the Waccamaw Getaway Music Festival is indeed the perfect getaway for folks coming in from near and far. In fact, the event was recently written up online in The Jamwich, a magazine devoted to the jam band community. You can read that article HERE.

Scott Mann/Photo: Moon Daze

I spoke with festival cofounder Scott Mann again this year for what I hope will be a traditional, yearly update. Mann is also a radio personality and program director for area classic rock station WAVE 104.1. In addition to his weekday on-air shift, he also hosts two weekly specialty shows, “Scott Mann’s Headshop” and “Blues Hangover.”

Organized by Get Right Promotions, which also brought you Reggae on the Waccamaw, the festival’s sponsors are WAVE 104.1, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Chambers Law Firm, Jimmyz Hibachi, Bucksport Marina and New South Brewing.

Here’s the lowdown…

RY: What’s the headliner situation like this year?

MANN: Friday night’s headliner is The Mantras. Saturday night is a co-headlining deal with Nick & the Nomads – which features three members of Big Something, a member of Urban Soil and a member of The Mantras – and Dangermuffin. Sunday night is Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds.

Q: How about local music?

A: We’ve got Brian Roessler. We have Matt Parker and the Deacons and we have Oracle Blue again. Oracle Blue just signed on last-minute. They’re on tour, and will be rolling back into town just in time to play on Sunday.

We have The A+B’S, which is a relatively new band that hasn’t played out but maybe once – but they have been practicing for a year – former members of McDowell Shortcut, Pluto and The Envelopes.

We’ve also got an acoustic set from Brock Butler, who is the guitar player for Perpetual Groove – and a bunch of really good North Carolina and regional bands.

Q: I saw you raving about the art tent on Facebook recently.

A: A lot of our artists were there last year, and there are a couple of new ones this year. Smitty [Jared “Smitty” Smith] from Cornbread is going to be in there too. His artist name is J. Paul Smith. He’s done some decorating work for us, and he’s actually becoming very involved with the festival from a whole bunch of different aspects. There are going to be a lot of cool artifacts around the property, and two of them are things that he helped make.  Pretty cool.

Q: What else is going on?

A: We’ve got [flow artists and specialty entetainment] Over the Moon Productions back this year, of course – and we’ve got food trucks this year, which we had at the reggae festival last year.

We also have Innova Disc Golf this year. Their national marketing guy lives in Pawleys Island, and it turns out his kids and a friend of mine’s kids went to school together and they know each other well – and he’s a monster Dangermuffin fan. When he was approached about doing the disc golf facilities, he was like, “Oh! I already bought tickets,” so that was pretty cool.

Doug Kelly is bringing out a Jumbotron.

We’ve arranged for a boat shuttle service from the Waccatee Zoo throughout the weekend between Friday and Monday morning. Waccamaw River Tours is doing this for us several times with late-night return trips – and that’s going to be six bucks a trip. You can do it with camping gear if you want, and they’ve got a boat big enough for like 40 people. This is good for locals if they don’t want to drive for something like 45 minutes from Myrtle Beach or Socastee. They can go over to Waccamaw River Tours, slip onto a boat ride and leave their car there.

NOTE: Buy your TICKETS now. Advance (discount) ticket sales will end on Thursday, May 23rd at 11:59 p.m. Weekend passes will be available at the gate on Friday morning – and day passes will be available at the door on Saturday and Sunday.

Alexakis HGTC1

With Casey King and Art Alexakis Photo: Gene Ho

On February 21, I went to see Everclear’s Art Alexakis tell his recovery story at the 12th annual Addiction and Recovery Lecture Series at Horry-Georgetown Technical College.

When he was growing up, Alexakis went through more than a kid should ever have to go through – raped by neighborhood teenagers when he was a pre-teen, a father who abandoned him and his older brother’s fatal overdose when Alexakis was 12. Not long after this, his girlfriend committed suicide.

He started shooting up at 13 and suffered a near-fatal cocaine overdose when he was 22.

Alexakis got his shit together well before he enjoyed success with Everclear, which was a staple on alternative rock radio in the 1990s with such hits as “Santa Monica (Watch the World Die)” and “Everything to Everyone.”

Event organizer and HGTC physics professor Casey King did a terrific job yet again this year. The event was well-attended, and Alexakis fielded thoughtful questions from audience members after his talk. It was also good to see photographer Gene Ho there again this year – memorializing the moments of the event and snapping attendees with Alexakis afterwards.

Gene was also Donald Trump’s campaign photographer. He is currently on a tour to support his book, TRUMPography, which chronicles the campaign with behind-the-scenes stories and, of course, photos.

Alexakis shared much of his story in a piece I wrote for The Sun News, the McClatchy affiliate here in Myrtle Beach. You can find that story HERE.

The Addiction and Recovery Lecture series is a four-part weekly event every year. It usually includes speakers, student panels and other presentations focused on recovery – with one night handled by a group called FAVOR, or Faces and Voices of Recovery, which is headed up by Dr. Victor Archambeau.  See my previous blog post for a FAVOR event last year.

Last night marked the third such event I have covered about Casey King, et. al., for The Sun News. Last year, it was Mackenzie Phillips and the year before, Danny Trejo.

I’m well into in my fourth year of recovery. Alexakis has been clean and sober since 1989. When a man with so much recovery time speaks, it’s a good idea to listen.

My takeaways from his talk included the importance of being present and aware, no matter how hard that may be. That rung a bell for me, because I catch myself overthinking “what-if” scenarios or “time traveling” – thinking about the future, say, a deadline or an upcoming gig – or beating myself up over some event in the past.

Alexakis also talked about channeling addictive tendencies into creative pursuits. I am on board with that, but sometimes that channeling impacts my ability to be present.

 

 

 

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.

FAVOR - Logo

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Scott-Hyman-Scott-Mann-1200x1200

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.

 

 

 

20170927_201843_1506620141028

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.

Teufel_Hunden_US_Marines_recruiting_poster

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!

 

 

 

 

ICI Exterior

International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach

Over the years, I have frequently read about the value of saying yes to opportunities that expand our horizons and take us out of our comfort zones.

Even though I have been performing music professionally for years, work in a public-facing job at a high-end cigar shop and have interviewed hundreds of people for my newspaper features, I still consider myself a bit shy.

Many of my friends might scoff at this because I enjoy friendship and camaraderie, but at the same time I still experience a bit of social awkwardness in new settings.

Which is exactly why I said yes last month to take on two wildly different roles – as a judge in a culinary competition and as a wedding officiant.

The following is part one of my week of saying yes.

My friend, Joe Bonaparte, is executive chef at the International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach. I have profiled him a couple of times – once for The Sun News and once for the now-defunct Weekly Surge, an alt weekly that was under the umbrella of The Sun News and its parent company, McClatchy Newspapers.

When Joe asked me to participate as a judge, this was on the heels of a story I had just finished about a pitmaster named Phil Wingo of an outfit called #porkmafia, who visited the Institute for a barbecue intensive.

Naturally, I thought I was judging a barbecue competition.

Nope.

I was nervous enough about saying yes to this because I felt like I didn’t know enough about barbecue to be of any real value – but Joe assured me I would be fine.

But what I didn’t know was that this competition was a bit more, shall we say, complicated – than barbecue.

Judges' Table

The event for which I was to participate as one of three judges was the National Pork Board’s “Be Inspired” cooking competition for foodservice educators, part of the 13th annual leadership conference for CAFÉ – The Center for the Advancement of Foodservice Education – a 3-day program chock-full of culinary events, breakout classes and presentations.

CAFÉ is headed up by executive director Mary Petersen, who founded the organization in 2002, but brings more than 20 years of experience to the table, promoting the professional development of foodservice educators.

Marilou Tate

Chef Marylou Tate

The International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach, with Bonaparte at the helm, played host to this ambitious conference.

The cooking competition was put together by Chef Paul Sorgule of Harvest America Ventures, LLC, which according to its website is “a network of seasoned food service professionals who collectively have the ability to provide any service that an up and coming restaurateur may need.  This network covers all typical issues faced by a chef/owner as they set the stage for a successful restaurant venture.”

I was overtaken by the sheer awesomeness of the institute’s brand-spanking new, $15 million facility – gleaming in all of its glory. And folks – foodies, teachers, visiting chefs, culinary students – were swarming the place.

I felt outclassed and definitely out of my element.

But after I met a few people and said hello to Joe – I and relaxed a bit, realizing that the event, while earning the chef-contestants continuing education points, was meant to be fun.

Thankfully, I was able to get a few pointers from a fellow judge, Chef David Bottagaro of the National Pork Board as well as from Sorgule – the upshot being to enjoy the process while tasting some wonderful food from three outstanding chef-instructors – judging on categories like effective use of protein, taste and flavor, plate composition, plate presentation, and texture and temperature.

Sorgule, Bottagaro

Chef Paul Sorgule, Chef David Bottagaro

The other judge was Don Odiorne of the Idaho Potato Commission.

My only regret is that I didn’t have anything meaningful to say afterward when the chefs were called in for individual critiques.

Sorgule was gracious when he told me that all I really had to do was think about whether or not I enjoyed the individual dishes and whether or not I would have ordered these in a restaurant. Thanks, Chef Sorgule.

Stay tuned – I will have more about Chef Bonaparte and the International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach in future blog posts.

Culinary Contestants

Chef-Contestants

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.