All Summer Long
Summerdaze Makes Carolina\'s Music Dance Hometown band brings homegrown music to larger spotlight with new CD Charlotte (April 3) - As Summerdaze puts the finishing touches on their first CD, All Summer Long, the local 6-piece is energized to bring their take on good-time dance music to a wider audience. The new disc comes on the heels of a series of well-received singles and performances that have earned the band a stellar reputation as Carolina's Premier Variety Dance Band. They've been particularly well received on the beach music scene, driven by their contemporary take on that Carolina-born-and-bred style of rhythm and blues that's the soundtrack to so many of our childhoods. "We make the music that we all grew up with, but with a fresh, contemporary spin on things," said Mitch Simpson, vocalist and keyboardist for the band. "That's a large part of why so many people have responded to us. We play music that makes people get up and move - the most popular dance songs from the 60's up to today's top 40 hits, along with a healthy dose of Carolina beach." The band first came to the public's attention in 2004 with their southern-fried cover of Ray Steven's Dixie Hummingbird. The track received considerable airplay on regional radio, charting for three weeks on Dr. John Hook's weekly top 40 countdown, widely regarded as a leading showcase for up-and-coming local talent. Fort Mill's Freddy Tripp, accomplished singer, songwriter and engineer, produced and engineered the song, which marked the band's first real entry into the beach music arena. Following that initial success, the band released another cover, their version of the Medallions' Buick '59, which is still receiving airplay. Those cuts helped the band establish an eager fan base ready for a full-length album. With it's official release scheduled for May 24, All Summer Long maintains the band's beach-influenced sensibility, but with many original compositions. The first single, Carolina Beach Motion, has already made a splash in a number of Mid-South and Southern radio markets, and the band expects to receive wider airplay as they support the release with a full calendar of live appearances this year. The band has become a festival favorite across the Southeast and is in great demand for private parties, weddings, corporate functions and similar events. "We love playing live music - it's where our personality as a band really has the chance to shine - and we're looking forward to doubling the number of venues we play this year," said Simpson. "Audiences respond to the fact that we have an amazingly versatile repertoire - since we're equal parts variety dance band and beach band, we're happy to go from Springsteen to Stevie Wonder to Sinatra. At the same time, we've been getting a lot of folks asking us to play originals like Carolina Beach Motion, and we're more than happy to oblige." The single was penned by band members Adam Rouse, saxophonist and one of the band's four male vocalists, and Cassie Kessler, a stellar singer who also happens to be the group's only female performer. Rouse wrote two other tracks for the CD: the ballad I Just Want Us Back, which he sings, and the mid-tempo Watch Your Words, a killer blues-shag number sung by the band's guitarist Dave Daniel. Cassie Kessler does an outstanding job on "Ooh, Baby, Baby" with a calypso rhythm that's bound to get your feet moving. "Back in Love again" rounds out the covers with a funk style sang by Rouse. Five of the songs on the album were all written by noted Raleigh-based songwriter Jim MacDonald, who has also penned releases for artists such as Clay Aiken, noted gospel singer Julia Scott and Top 10 country music performer Jason Michael Carroll. One and Only One, Mr. Moon You Look Lonely Tonight and Catch Ain't Worth the Chase are all sung by Simpson, I'm a Keeper is sung by Kessler and Beautiful Day's vocals are by Shaun Quan, the band's bassist. For a west-coast-meets-east flavor, Summerdaze updated the Beach Boy's classic "All Summer Long," with the help of John Hunter Phillips on harmonies. Along with being an accomplished writer in his own right, Phillips has performed with the original Beach Boys on many occasions, so his contribution helped give the song a true Beach Boy flavor, layered on top of Summerdaze's classic beach music sound. That sort of vocal variety is one of the band's defining features. Five of the six members sing lead live and on All Summer Long, something that's virtually unheard of on the regional or national level. "It's something that helps us give events a real party atmosphere," said Simpson. "With that much vocal talent, it's almost like there are five bands on stage at any time, so we can give people what they really want to hear." With Summerdaze, vocals are just part of the way the band gets the dance floor moving. Band members come down off the stage to dance with the crowd, they've been known to call up audience members to limbo or hula hoop, and they're always eager to get their fans singing along with some of the best music of the past forty years. Strong production values have helped the band capture this live spirit on the CD. Much of the credit goes to producer and engineer Fred Shaw at Bradley House Studios in Lynchburg, South Carolina. Shaw has earned a reputation as a magician at the mixing board, and he has worked with artists including Chuck Berry, Bill Pinkney's Drifters, American Idol winner Fantasia and many others. Simpson and Rouse are co-producing the CD project. Credit also goes to Cliff and Trent Rankin, the brothers at Rankin Sound. The Rankins are responsible for the band's live sound at every performance, so no one is better suited to help the group make the greatest sonic impression in person. Anyone not familiar with the Beach Music category probably didn't grow up in the Carolinas in the 50's, 60's and 70's. That's when the format - also sometimes also called 'Shag' or 'Carolina Shag,' - was at it's most influential, serving not just as the sound of the region, but also an incubator for national talent and as the driving force behind the widespread acceptance of - and appreciation for - R&B music by white audiences across the country. Leading artists that cut beach music tracks included Marvin Gaye, the O'Jays, Otis Redding, the Spinners, the Drifters, Ben E. King, Sam Cooke and more - a literal who's who of rhythm and blues legends. Summerdaze has been riding a new wave of popular interest in dance and beach music that shows - continued - Summerdaze Makes Carolina\'s Music Dance with no signs of abating. The rhythm section of bassist Quan and drummer Steve Thrift form the musical foundation of the band, driving a solid beat through rockers and keeping a steady pulse through ballads. Guitarist Daniel is clearly as inspired by the jazz sounds of players like Wes Montgomery and George Benson, and his musicianship is matched by keyboardist Simpson and saxophonist Rouse. Kessler often steals the show with the sort of mature voice and broad range that you'd expect from a master torchlight singer - but when the vocals call for a male, Rouse, Daniel, Quan or Simpson handle the task admirably. "We're entertainers - our job is to make people happy with our music, and we're fortunate as a band to have real, remarkable talent at every position," said Simpson. "Of course, we're just as fortunate as a band to have a great group of fans, friends and family who support us, who encourage us and who share our passion for fun, feel-good music." Summerdaze will be performing at a number of outdoor festivals across the Southeast this summer. They are also available for corporate functions, private events and wedding receptions.