11 local bands to see on the Grand Strand in spring 2017

Story by Paul Grimshaw, For GoToMyrtleBeach

With some 50-plus-area bars and restaurants regularly hiring musicians, along with countless resorts and wedding planners doing the same, the Grand Strand attracts and supports a relatively large number of people who make a living from musical performance.  There are dozens of hardworking, talented, fulltime soloists and duos, as well as trios and larger bands that, with varying degrees of success, stay quite busy year round. Some of these acts are made up of seasoned veterans, stalwarts of the local music industry, having performed here in various incarnations for decades. Others are made up of fresh-faced youths attempting to make their musical mark on the world with original music, reflecting modern tastes and styles. Most fall somewhere in between.

In no particular order, here’s a look at a handful of “must see” bands in the region that can usually be found performing somewhere locally every weekend, or at least monthly. This is not an exhaustive list, and there were at least a dozen additional bands worthy of mention that are absent only because we couldn’t include them all.  We plan to revisit the “must see “ list again later this spring, with some new names.

This sampling represents area acts covering of a diverse mix of styles including: classic rock, country, alternative rock, Americana, beach music, and more.  So, like the bumper sticker says: “Support Live Music,” and help keep bass players off the street.

THE MULLETS

Finally slowing down after some 33 years on the Grand Strand, The Mullets still hold the honor of being the longest running, still active cover band in the area. Playing several times each month, on average, The Mullets blend old rock ‘n’ roll standards, with blues, and plenty of dance/jam-friendly covers. The four-pc band draws a multi-generational crowd from Millennials to Boomers, who are never disappointed.

Where to see them: Follow them on Facebook.

JIMMY MOWERY/THE NEW HIGH

When Jimmy Mowery moved to Myrtle Beach several years ago, many in the music community wondered where the “new kid” came from, and “how was he getting so many gigs?” Simple answer. Talent. It matters, and Mowery hit the ground running. Within Mowery’s solos and band gigs he covers a lot of ground, including modern rock/pop, new country, and some pretty complex new-pop originals, accompanied by a stellar band.

Where to see them: Follow them on Facebook.

BACKFIRE

Any musician will tell you, the trio may be the hardest kind of bar band to pull off, as three players must do the work of four or five. Backfire is one such band, performing a diverse mix of cover tunes played in the band’s own, easy, fun style, arranged in dance-friendly sets. Comfortable, friendly and talented, Backfire has been performing up and down the Grand Strand for many years, and justifiably so.

Where to see them: Follow them on Facebook.

PAPERWORK

PaperWork was first on the scene in 2012 when a few Coastal Carolina University students met up with a group of like-minded Pawleys Island boys still in their teens. They put together what has become an ever-evolving band of solid young players covering every decade of pop music from the 1960s through to current pop/dance hits. Sometimes multiple keyboardists and horn players are added to a traditional rock band line-up, which helps keep PaperWork one of the busiest acts on the Grand Strand.

Where to see them: Visit their website.

ORACLE BLUE

Coastal Carolina University’s Music Department gets high marks for successfully nurturing the talents of budding performers in every musical discipline. In Oracle Blue, borrowing CCU players from various local bands, and melding current and former students, CCU has given birth to an ensemble with a female lead vocalist, and four additional players. The group performs original jazz/pop/rock fusion with maturity well beyond their years. After a successful European tour in 2016, the ensemble is focused on recording and (lucky for us) honing their show at local venues.

Where to see them: Follow them on Facebook.

BULLFROG/SWEET SWEET

As is the norm with bands filled with talented players with a variety of musical tastes and goals, some of the members of Bullfrog “sleep around,” so to speak, creating spin-offs each with their own flavor and following. The four-piece Bullfrog (sometimes larger) performs rock, Americana and indie covers along with originals of a similar genre. Co-lead vocalist and guitarist Jeremy Dunham also performs with Sweet Sweet, a duo (sometimes larger) that includes cellist Kerrine Gifford. Both acts feature earthy, organic sounds and are unique in a sea of same ol’ cover band fare.

Where to see them: Follow Bullfrog and Sweet Sweet on Facebook.

GRAY SKY REVIVAL

GraySkyRevivalFronted by former Echo 7 co-founder, guitarist/vocalist Ronnie O’Briant, Gray Sky Revival’s three-piece form works well in performance of its alternative and 90s rock covers and originals. For the past four years audiences have enjoyed the Gray Sky Revival’s shows from North Myrtle Beach to Murrells Inlet. O’Briant can be seen in solo performances as well.

Where to see them: Follow them on Facebook.

OCEAN FOREST

Formerly “The Harvest,” this three-piece band blends the pop sensibilities of The Beatles with modern alternative/Americana/indie acts, such as Modest Mouse, Band of Horses, Joy Division, and others, all dosed with a heavy slathering of surf rock. Grant Nesmith, lead vocals and guitar, leads what is now a trio, after losing guitarist Gray Singleton to the college life. See the band opening for Mark Bryan (Hootie and the Blowfish) at Pine Lakes Tavern April 7.

Where to see them: Follow them on Facebook.

KID DREW BAND (SKYDOG, THE BRASSHOLES

Though Kid Drew (Drew Voivedich) holds down a “real” musician’s job as one of the guitarists at the Carolina Opry, he’s been playing professionally since he was 13. After first bouncing around in bar bands, then to Charleston, then Nashville, Drew is back in Myrtle Beach and has been at the Opry full time since 2014. Wishing to exercise all his rock ‘n’ roll talents, he takes a few fellow Opry band mates out to late-night gigs and open jams, drawing fans from the area to come see and hear them play. His Allman Brothers Band tribute, SkyDog, featuring keyboardist Damon Bradley, may be the best tribute to the southern blues you’ll ever hear. Rarer still are shows from his group The Brassholes. This seven-piece ensemble performs funk, rock and jazz/pop tunes from the 70s – 2000s with a live horn section. The Kid in any form, with any group, is always amazing.

JOSH BRANNON BAND

The smiling face and country drawl of Spartanburg native-turned-Grand Strander, Josh Brannon, continues to make new fans thrilled with his mix of classic country, modern country and good ol’ shit-kickin’ southern rock, along with three albums worth or original tunes. The five-piece band tours the southeast regularly, but makes time for hometown shows at least a few times each month. If you like your music with a fiddle and twang, you’ll find both in the JBB.

Where to see them: Find them on their website.

N’TRANZE

With somewhere around two decades performing party-friendly, dance-oriented shows along the Grand Strand, NTranze never fails to fill the dance floor with its recognizable covers of pop, r&b, and funk classics, from the 60s through current chart-toppers. The five-piece act features shared lead vocals from Emily Ryan, keyboardist Mark Ackles, and bandleader and bassist, Grady “The Entertainer” Avery. Always fun, always working, NTranze is the party band of the Grand Strand.

Where to see them: Find them at their website.

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