Wavos throw a three-man new wave dance party in Myrtle Beach

For Weekly SurgeJuly 24, 2013 

If you were to tell local guitarist, bassist and vocalist Joe Bace that his band was stuck in the ‘80s he’d probably say, ‘Yeah, sort of, but we’re more than just the ‘80s.” Though the Wavos (formed in 1986) ventures into the ‘90s, and new millennium, too, you can’t have a New Wave dance party without Billy Idol, The Cars, Devo, Depeche Mode and Van Halen, just a few of the iconic ‘80s artists that this trio covers with delight.

While the band is from New York City, Bace travels from his home in Myrtle Beach to join his two New York-based band mates mostly in Virginia, where a following of college kids has brought steady work. The band has been performing in Myrtle Beach once or twice every few months for the past three years, and is scheduled for a Pine Lakes Tavern show on Aug. 2, and at Hell’s Kitchen in Wilmington, N.C. on Aug. 3.

An architect by trade, Bace is in the process of relocating his family to Ashville, N.C., though he will continue to work in Myrtle Beach. “We’re weekend warriors,” he said in regards to the band’s schedule. “But I couldn’t be happier. We’ve made in-roads up North, and in Virginia, and in Myrtle Beach, and are starting to in Ashville. Because we’re very specialized in what we do, we tend to stand out.”

Just what the Wavos do is what Bace likes to call the “New Wave Dance Party,” and “rocktonic dance-pop with a chewy ‘80s alternawave center.” In keeping with the spirit of the inventive ‘80s, The Wavos rehearse in real-time over the Internet. “We use a program called eJam,” said Bace. “It allows me to sit in a room in Myrtle Beach with headphones and a microphone and jam with those guys up in New York. We work up new material, and rehearse a couple days a week that way.”

The band has recently released its second CD of all original music, a four-song EP called “Second Wave.” The band is finishing work on a third record, which it hopes to release soon. All of The Wavos’ projects are available on iTunes.

With an eye toward production values, a slew of audio-visual gear accompanies the band at each show, no matter the size of the room. With projectors and synchronized lighting the band itself is part of the light show. “We hang a white screen behind us, and we wear white kilts [and white shirts and boots] and become a part of the projection screen.” Bace is joined by keyboard whiz and co-vocalist Gordon Smith, with Tone Maul on drums. “When I’m playing guitar, Gordon is playing bass with his left hand,” said Bace. “And when I’m playing bass it frees him up to do all kinds of things on the synthesizer. We don’t use (backing) tracks. We find the essence of the song and pick out the parts that make it what it is.”

“We’re playing between four and six shows each month. The three of us are the happiest we’ve been in our entire lives.”

Groovin’ with Fankhauser

With an unforgettable name and deft musicianship, it’s hard to understand Doug Fankhauser’s relatively low profile. He’s been making music on the Grand Strand for two decades, and has just released a 14-track CD of the material he does best, called, appropriately, “What I Do Best.” Fankhauser performs every Friday and Saturday night at Salt Water Creek Café in Murrells Inlet.

When I received Fankhauser’s CD in the mail I was planning an out-of-town trip, and thought my car would be the best place for a listen. From the first track, a standard, “Straighten up and Fly Right,” to the last, a haunting instrumental, “Shenandoah,’ the project struck me as the perfect Sunday morning (or afternoon) listen. Recorded at Ed Dennis’ Atlantic Coast Studio, the clarity and crispness of Fankhauser’s acoustic guitar and Chapman stick (a type of guitar), the subtle percussion by Dorothea Taylor, and Fankhauser’s aw-shucks and understated vocal style, all blend to showcase the artist’s laid back approach to performance and song selection.

The mix of covers and originals, including Fankhauser’s arrangements of songs you already know (or should know), may catch you by surprise, but if you’re looking for a rollicking in-your-face rock ‘n’ roll record, you won’t find it here. But you are in the mood for a wide variety of easy-to-digest tunes, many of which are instrumental, some jazz, some roots-folk, some Buffett-esque, some almost classical in their approach, than “What I Do Best,” should find a place in your collection.

Have a thought, comment or newsworthy item for Weekly Surge Music Notes? Send an email to pgrimshaw@sc.rr.com.

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