Beach music, sometimes known as Carolina Beach Music, has a long history, going back to the period just after World War II into the mid-1950s when bands played early Rhythm and Blues and Rock’n’Roll while young listeners danced the “shag,” the official state dance of North Carolina. During the mid-1960s and early 1970s Beach Music became prominent as bands influenced by R&B labels such as Motown, Atlantic and Stax played to crowds in the beach towns along the North and South Carolina coasts.
One of most prominent, successful and long-running bands playing Beach Music is The Embers. Led by drummer Bobby Tomlinson, with members Craig Woolard, Jeff Grimes, Andy Swindell, Stephen Pachuta, Hugh Blanton and Bobby Nantz, The Embers have recorded 17 albums, numerous singles, and continue to perform around 300 dates a year. The music they play, R&B and blue-eyed soul, is music with a memory and for those who remember the 1960s and 1970s when acts such as The Four Tops, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, James Brown, Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Wilson Pickett, the Righteous Brothers, The Drifters, Arthur Alexander, Solomon Burke, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, Ben E. King, Etta James and other great R&B performers were at the height of their popularity during the mid-1960s and into the 1970s, it is a sweet, soulful memory.
The Beach Music played by The Embers extends far beyond the East Coast beaches; they group tours throughout the South, into Canada and out to California, singing songs their audiences love and remembers the lyrics.
The Embers have been named North Carolina’s Official Musical Ambassadors, inducted into the South Carolina Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame, have opened for the Rolling Stones, done commercial for Budweiser, played at the Olympics and President Clinton’s Inauguration and been featured on a Pepsi commercial.
The Embers bring the beach to wherever they play, performing classic R&B with high octane waves of sound. It’s a sound deeply embedded in the past, present and future of North Carolina music.