Catching up with two Myrtle Beach independent music acts

For Weekly Surge For Weekly SurgeOctober 16, 2013 

Moving from the punk-pop of Chicken Day, a high school garage band of his youth, to teaching guitar and performing original alt-rock compositions as the Sleeping Policeman, Charles Grace, 22, says he’s “enjoying learning how to be an adult.”

A lifetime Myrtle Beach resident, Grace has been a regular fixture for some six years around town at open mike nights and other gigs where his lack of cover tunes might be best appreciated. No venue better caters to those who wish to be heard than the Fresh Brewed Coffee House in downtown Myrtle Beach, with its dedicated listening room and artsy, smoke-free, caffeine-laden vibe. Grace is hosting, producing and performing at a songwriter showcase featuring his own Sleeping Policeman originals, along with music from two touring singer/songwriters on Saturday night at the Fresh Brewed Coffee House.

After graduating from Coastal Carolina University with a B.A. in Music Performance, Grace says his own musical stylings have changed dramatically, even since the spring when he performed classical pieces in recitals on campus. “The last CD I released was ‘Closing Chapters’ in 2011,” said Grace, “but in the last year-and-a-half or so I’ve been writing new material for a record I hope to put out next year.” Grace will perform as a soloist, but it’s not for lack of trying to establish a new ensemble. “I’ve tried to get the band thing going, but somehow it always comes back to just me,” he laughed.

Joining Grace on Saturday are Erin Rae, from Nashville, Tenn., and Courtney Marie Andrews, from Seattle. These women recently finished a small European tour together, and are touring the Southeast with a stop in Myrtle Beach. Grace says the showcase will be an “intimate performance in a listening room,” and that makes it somewhat rare.

“Fresh Brewed is perfect for Courtney’s music,” he said. “She’s influenced by Joni Mitchell, she has a strong voice, a lyric-heavy approach and finger picking style, that really needs a listening room. The show is geared for people that like to hear and follow story songs; those who are going to a concert to be fed, and pay attention to the music, not just for a social experience. What’s on the stage is the focus, and everybody is invested in that.”

Fresh Brewed Coffee House is located at 933-A Broadway Street in Myrtle Beach. This is an all-ages show which starts at 8 p.m. Saturday; $5 cover at the door.

Big in Japan?

Powerful crooner, consummate performer, songwriter and aspiring contemporary country artist, Brad Long, from Myrtle Beach, continues his six-night per week schedule with the Carolina Opry, regular showcases in Nashville, Tenn., and local late-night bar and tavern gigs in support of a new country single “Every Heart Has a Different Road” released on a new local indie record label.

“I’ve been at the (Carolina) Opry since 2009,” said Long, “and I’m still back and forth between Myrtle Beach and Nashville whenever I get a chance.” Long is a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and extraordinary singing talent, with a ridiculously powerful high-lonesome tenor voice that has made him a fan-favorite at the Carolina Opry, and at Bourbon Street Bar & Grill, where he performs with guests most Saturday nights. His ability to sing tender ballads or screaming rock ‘n’ roll makes him a musical force that’s hard to replicate, though Nashville has been slow on the draw to recognize his talent.

“We decided to put out our own record on a little indie label, Blackwater Records,” said Long, whose business partner, local attorney, Jeff Chandler, and investors have long believed in the marketability of Long’s talent. While work on a full-length debut record continues, Long and company released a single three weeks ago, and hired a radio promotions team that is helping the song get some traction. “We’re played in Florence, we’re getting spins in Japan, if you can believe that, all over the place, but I can’t get on the air in my own hometown,” he laughs, with just a twinge of justifiable frustration bubbling underneath. “It’s not our local [radio] guy’s fault. The song has to be added from the top down by a Cumulus [Media] program director. We’ll see. It could still happen.”

In the meantime “Every Heart Has a Different Road,” co-written by Lee Brice, Kyle Jacobs, and Kylie Sackley, is available on iTunes, Amazon.com, and may be heard at www.bradlong.net. “I’m realistic, and I’m not an idiot,” said Long. “I don’t expect this thing to go crazy, but you never know, and you’ve got start somewhere. We’ll keep spreading the word.”

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

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