Is it possible that those of you who live outside the Carolinas and Virginia may not know what I mean by Beach Music? If not, you probably haven’t seen the dance called “the shag,” either. While this is outside my area of expertise, the wise writers of Wikipedia say this: “Recordings with a 4/4 ‘blues shuffle’ rhythmic structure and moderate-to-fast tempo are the most popular music for the shag, and the vast majority of the music in this genre fits that description.”
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (Great American Things, September 5, 2009) is the hub of beach music today. The music developed in the late 1950s and 60s, and hasn’t changed much since then. Closely associated with what’s usually called “soul music,” beach music’s primary bands are more regionally popular, though certainly some of these songs made their presence known on the national charts as well.
Among the songs that represent the best of beach music are “Carolina Girls” by General Johnson and the Chairmen of the Board, “I Love Beach Music,” by the Embers, “Myrtle Beach Days” by the Fantastic Shakers, “May I” by Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs (covered nicely by Bill Deal and the Rhondels) and “39-21-40 Shape” by the Showmen.
But it’s almost impossible to describe music, so here are several examples of the music that’s still beloved throughout the Southeast…