Beach Music and the Carolina Shag
by Jason Gubbels | August 1, 2013
The Disney Channel's recently aired Teen Beach Movie was a high-profile attempt to revive interest in a film genre whose time has passed, those silly beach-blanket-and-stuffed-bikini '60s capers involving sun, sand and tans. But while Teen Beach Movie showcases the surfing/hot rod vibe of West Coast beach movies, East Coast beach lovers might note their own glorious surfside tradition: the beach music scene of the Carolinas.
Festive beach parties have long ranged up and down the Atlantic coast, but South Carolina's North Myrtle Beach in particular was the epicenter of a music-oriented subculture of sun worshippers that eventually coalesced, in the 1960s, around a regional shuffle/swing dance known as the Carolina shag. (It had nothing to do with Austin Powers, sorry.) Beach clubs, bars and pavilions hosted performers who favored a style of R&B and soul catering to these dance moves, while Virginia/Carolina acts like General Johnson or Bill Deal and the Rhondels were hometown favorites. DJs also highlighted B-sides and album cuts from big national acts (not unlike the concurrent northern soul phenomenon taking place in 1960s Great Britain).
Our tribute to the Carolina shag focuses on the R&B hits and rarities you might have heard spun on summer weekends during the glory years of the Myrtle Beach Pavilion or The Beach Club, from Ben E. King and The Rascals to Barbara Lewis and The Dells. Plus, look for a few more recent tracks near the playlist's end from Bradford & Bell and Clifford Curry. Don't forget the sunscreen.