Beach Music

My dad had this to say about his 50th high school reunion: it was full of a lot of old people.  He didn’t consider himself to be old. Just the others. His contemporaries. And I’m sure he’d feel the same today at his 70th gathering. When I went to the concert featuring a band popular in the 60s and 70s, I felt the same way. The audience was a bunch of old folks. With a young whippersnapper, me, in the middle of it all.

The band was The Tams. I don’t know how famous they might be globally, but in these parts they have a following almost as dedicated as those fanatical Deadheads. My wife is a big fan and spent many of her college aged evenings in the presence of the band.

The Tams play what we call Carolina beach music. And the audience is supposed to shag to the music. That’s a dance. In case you weren’t sure what shagging is. In these parts.

The Tams can best be described as a group of men who sing and do synchronized dance steps while being supported by a group of men who play instruments. Drums, guitars, horns, rhythm and of course a bass fiddle.

The opening act was just the band. One of them even sang. All the while the audience was busy setting up lawn chairs, eating barbeque, and hitting beach balls into the air.

And then came The Tams. They were all wearing white suits and white tam-o’-shanters. Thus the name I suppose. In spite of Mick Jagger still prancing around the stage at his age, it turns out that the music business is really a young mans game with the fast pace of the music and the synchronized dancing. What I noticed about this group, and they weren’t trying to hide it, was that they were really the sons of the original Tams. Those dudes would be nearly 75 now.

Throughout the show I kept expecting James Brown, The Godfather of Soul, to leap out onto the stage and I’ll b damned if he didn’t come out when the Tams sang an inspired version of I Feel Good. They also sang Shout, like we heard in the movie Animal House. They did the Love Train while they swayed through the audience with a line of enthused dancers. And for the oldsters among us, they sang Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy.

And all the while, all the old peeps were having a lot of fun. Around 9:30 I noticed a serious reduction in the crowd. Past their bedtime? Or were they off to another party? I don’t know, but the next time The Tams come to town, I’ll Be There. I’ll Be Around.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?


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