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"About Carolina Beach Music"


Beach music, also known as Carolina beach music, and to a lesser extent, Beach pop, is a regional genre which developed from various rock/R&B/pop music of the 1950s and 1960s. Beach music is most closely associated with the style of swing dance known as the shag, or the Carolina shag, which is also the official state dance of both North Carolina and South Carolina. Recordings with a 4/4 "blues shuffle" rhythmic structure and moderate-to-fast tempo are the most popular music for the shag, and the vast majority of the music in this genre fits that description. Though primarily confined to a small regional fan base, specifically to "Grand Strand" communities such as Myrtle Beach, Carolina Beach, and the Golden Isles of Georgia, in its early days what is now known as Carolina beach music was instrumental in bringing about wider acceptance of R&B music among the white population nationwide. Thus it was a contributory factor in both the birth of rock and roll and the later development of soul music as a subgenre of R&B. While the older styles of R&B have faded from popularity nationally, the Carolina shag has gained wide popularity in swing dance circles around the US. This has not generally led to increased appreciation for the music of the beach bands, however. Many of these new shag dance aficionados prefer the "R&B oldies" and/or shagging to currently popular tunes that happen to have the required beat. As more networking is being done on the Internet among shag deejays and beach music fans nationwide, however, there is a growing acceptance of the regional bands by the "new shaggers".

Beach Music is extremely popular in the Carolinas, as far north as Virginia and as far south as northern Florida. It has nothing to do with surf music or the Beach Boys or California. It is mainly R&B music with a beat that is good for doing a dance called "The Shag." Very simply stated, the Shag is a slowed down jitterbug with a few fancy steps, but it was danced slightly different depending on your location in the Southeast. Basically a "perfect" song to "Shag" to is 120 beats per minute.
Beach Music was born after World War II and evolved from two different sources. It was a combination of the black big band sound (i.e. Tiny Bradshaw, Todd Rhodes, Lucky Millinder, Paul Williams, etc.) and the country blues of the South. The juke boxes at the beaches of the Carolinas were instrumental in exposing the young people to the "new" sound. Most of the Juke Boxes in the clubs down by the beaches (in the Black AND White venues) were stocked with many of the same records. The white kids found this new music fresh and addictive and a new dance (The Shag) was created around the early R&B sound. White kids could "HEAR" the music of the late 40's & early 50's on the black radio stations in the large cities in the Carolinas. Also a major force was 50,000 Watt WLAC from Nashville, which broadcast R&B at night for over 30 years. The problem was that, because of the segregated society at that time, the white kids could not "celebrate" this music in their hometowns. The Carolina kids escaped to the beach, away from their parents, preachers & teachers, to party, drink & dance to their beloved music. Beach Music has evolved over the years and is still going strong today 60 years later in the Southeast. Although most of the music on this list is over 40 years old, Beach Music is truly a timeless culture. In the southeast Beach Music is popular with people of all ages, from 8 to 80.

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