I wasn't 'round these parts during local rock act Sqwearl's heyday.
Scratch that, I was for a time, if you count Georgetown. But I was pretty oblivious to what was going on in the Myrtle Beach nightlife and entertainment scene when I was cocooned down there in the small port city covering general assignments and municipal councils.
Anyhow, despite not living along the Grand Strand when Sqwearl was packing in crowds at places such as The Purple Gator and The Afterdeck in the '90s, I have seen later incarnations of the band perform in the 2000s, and I've gotten my paws on a copy of the much-sought after independent recording "eight ball of confusion."
Sadly, my main introduction to the band came when I helped contribute to news reports surrounding the death of guitarist Wes Long, 30, who was found dead in his truck in the parking lot of Ben Franklin Crafts in Socastee, three days after playing a New Year's Eve reunion gig with his band mates.
By my own published accounts, Sqwearl officially called it a day in 2001 after flirting with a major label record deal and finally succumbing to internal struggles.
But that wasn't the end of Sqwearl's story.
Through the years, I got to know Sqwearl bassist Chris Frye, who always kept me abreast of the band's various reunions and ongoings.
Here's how I described a 2006 Sqwearl reunion show at the Brickhouse Lounge in Surfside Beach: "The sound has a bit of a grunge edge, especially singer Dave Koon's low registered rumble, but it didn't sound dated Friday night. What came through, rather, was the energy the band harnesses - a dynamism its fans feed off."
What's harder to describe is that it-factor, and Sqwearl had it.
Despite the reunions and re-starts that the band seemed to launch every few years after periods of inactivity, I surely thought the final straw came last year when Frye died of the rare disease, Acromegaly, most commonly associated with pro wrestler Andre the Giant.
But I received a message from Frye's younger brother Robbie Frye recently informing me that he had joined Sqwearl, in essence taking his older sibling's place on bass guitar, and that the remaining members had decided to resurrect the legend of Sqwearl again, kicking off the new chapter Friday at Butter's Pub in Socastee.
He asked for a sit-down with Surge to tell the band's chequered story - a past riddled with tragedy, triumphs, heartache, wild times and musical milestones.
"We are growing, and I think MB would be interested in the story and the direction of the band," said Robbie Frye in a Facebook message.
So we dispatched Music Notes columnist/ Surge contributor Paul Grimshaw to track down this Myrtle Beach band of brothers (mostly) from different mothers to tell a "Behind the Music"-worthy tale in their own words, and the results you can read in this week's cover story beginning on page 12.
While the Internet is commonly blamed for the downfall of the music biz, I'm going to say that conversely, the Web has kept many bands alive, and Sqwearl is a great example of this.
Whereas MySpace is generally regarded as passe, it has value for music-lovers as you can go to Sqwearl's MySpace page and listen to the music that caused all the fuss in the first place - and you can also find some of the band's tunes on YouTube - not to mention message boards and Facebook, where fans reminisce about their Sqwearl memories, many intertwined with their Myrtle Beach memories.
Without the Net, Sqwearl might be another lost Myrtle Beach memory...
But here at Surge, one of our missions is to help keep our musical heritage alive, so if you weren't old enough to be a part of Sqwearl's legions of rabid fans, or if you're a transplant and have never heard of this local phenomenon, turn to page 12 and get started with our rock 'n' roll history lesson.
Pub crawl 'n' such
You may notice that inside this week's edition of Surge is our 24-page Pub Crawl Guide, a compilation of the year-long Pub Crawl Series that we published once-a-month from April 2010 to March of this year.
In order to insert this guide, this week's Surge was physically printed a day early.
What that means to you, dear readers, is a few of our regular features were held out of the paper this week to expedite the process. They are: Hot Tickets, News Quiz, Quit Yer Bitchin' and Working 4 a Living.
These features will resume next week.