July 9 , 2006 | Vol. 3 Issue 2
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Archive of past issues, hurricane news, funky links, odds and ends — not quite a site map, but enough to navigate your way around.
July 20, 1969
Our playgrounds were beaches, rivers, and orange groves. Going to the Big City meant a run over to Orlando’s Steak ’n Shake or Ronnie’s, on Colonial. Remember Florida before air conditioning? Or how it felt waiting for the bus when the mosquito control spray planes fogged the whole county? Say, wasn’t that...DDT?
For us, the rockets red glare and bombs bursting in air most likely meant another launch that went haywire, ending up with someone hitting the destruct button and another million bucks of rocket up in smoke. The eyes of the world were on us — and life was great.
(ST. PETERSBURG) We wound up the weekend leading into the Fourth of July hanging out over dinner with Bob and Wendy Busk, mixing cocktails and conversation as they checked out the view from the Vinoy on a holiday destination scouting mission.
Touched on a lot of topics, disagreed on a few — he favors NASCAR’s newer breed, I lost interest when they no longer needed Chris Economacki reporting from pit row — but we both settled on the best rock and roll song of all time: The Showmen’s “It Will Stand”.
The subject came up as a result of my mention of Beach Music due to the proximity of the Fourth and Wendy’s query as to what constituted that particular genre. (Want to hear a sample? Go to the archives and clik Favorite Links, then Simply Shaggin’, which will take you to Live365.)
I’ll say this about the Carolinas — they gave us Susan (Harward) Barwell and defined Beach Music as a geographically distinct R&B subcategory that for me breaks out fresh each year with summer’s start.
If you recollect “Street Corner Serenade” (Wet Willie, I think but could be a degree or two off course here) and recognize the Philly doo-wop harmony, that’s a major ingredient. R&B is part and parcel, but I’d say not all R&B qualifies as Beach Music. Neither does cha cha, but there it is, popping up right and left. Cha.
I love the sound because it’s danceable, not that I do much of that anymore and notwithstanding big plans for the future, and singable, as in the shower but not anywhere in public.
Anyway, between Tiger Den and Teen Town, we had our own version of Beach Music, and who’s to argue whether or not ours was analogous or original.
Same clothes (Weejuns, chinos, madras shirts), same preoccupation with beer and sex — how to get both/either, come on now, the same hormone laden English Leather infused sweat when the tunes ended and, gulp, we waited for parents or older siblings to pick us up (early years, granted).
Proof of simultaneous parallel evolution on the pop music family tree or Intelligent Design? We, of course, also included Dylon, Beach Boys, Beatles, and Elvis, which for me was the genesis of Southern Rock*, at least in the beginning, and which kind of eventually dead ended with Phil Collins and Rod Stewart. I never made the transition to grunge, punk or heavy metal, outside of AC/DC and early Aerosmith.
They got stuck in a time warp, however, and built a pyramid of worship around dancing The Shag (alt. Carolina Shag), which today supports an entire boomer generation of instructors scattered up and down the middle Atlantic coast, hosting get-togethers and dance-a-thons that more often than not feature live performances by regional recording stars.
Which puts me on course to recommend the DVD of the same name (shown above, and starring an unlikely Brigette Fonda as Southern ingenue) which despite a couple of glaring over-the-top performances manages to capture pretty much perfectly our lifestyle of the time. If anyone recalls any involvement with the graduation (I can’t remember if it was ’64 or ’65) party at Steve Roundtree’s and the late night interruption caused by his folks warp speed return home from Tallahassee, you’ll have no problem recognizing yourself in the movie.
So there’s my random-access recollection of Beach Music, and it’s most famous progeny, “It Will Stand”. As the song says, “go ahead, claim it”.