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Coast to Coast having fun with their kind of songs

When people think of beach music, they may conjure up images of Myrtle Beach, circa 1955.
But there’s a group of guys right here in Lincolnton who are doing their best to put beach music back on center stage.
The band is called Coast to Coast, and the guys are bringing their brand of upbeat, toe-tapping, horn-infused beach music to the Alive After Five concert series Thursday night in downtown Lincolnton.
Coast to Coast has seen a lot of changes since Jim Beard formed the band two years ago with some impromptu playing at a cookout, but Beard feels the current lineup has the potential to be around for a long time.
“We’ve got a good bunch of guys,” he said. “We’ve got the A team.”
Although some members have been involved for a year and a half, others have only been playing with Coast to Coast for a few months. The guys also range in age, from mid-twenties to middle aged.
In addition to Beard on bass guitar, Coast to Coast is made up of Jack Nance (vocals), Cain Leonard (trumpet), Trent Hoyle (saxophone), Bernie Schulze (keyboard), Kendall Davis (drums), Mark Reese and Charlie Fisher (trombone) and Jeremy Blalock (guitar). Mike Bivens is the band’s sound man.
Coast to Coast has come a long way since their days practicing in Beard’s garage. They have a single, “Would You Believe,” that is currently the most requested song on Myrtle Beach’s 94.9.
“Our new song is an old Tempests song from the 60s,” said Beard. “We put a new coat of paint on it and we made it ours.”
While vacationers have had plenty of chances to hear Coast to Coast on the radio, Thursday’s performance will be the first time the band has rocked Alive After Five with their repertoire of covers, everything from the Fantastic Shakers and Chairman of the Board to Wilson Pickett classics like “Mustang Sally.”
Beard describes his band mates as seasoned and experienced musicians. Beard himself falls under that category as well, having first played in a band at age 15.
The Lincolnton native says he dreamed of being a professional musician as a teenager. He once tried to form a hard rock band, but found it wasn’t his cup of tea.
“I never did like hard rock,” said Beard. “I wasn’t raised on that kind of stuff. I’m a beach guy.”
Now, Beard’s love of beach music has made him a bit of a crusader for the cause of bringing the sound to a new generation.
Last Sunday, the band attended a membership drive for Carolina Beach Music Awards, a group that is trying to add members in an effort to land a Grammy category for beach music.
“It’s trying to make a comeback,” said saxophone player Hoyle. “It’s a little different because every time it comes around it’s a different form.”
For at least one member of Coast to Coast, joining the band was an introduction to beach music. Keyboardist Schulze, a New Jersey native and teacher at Burns Middle School, had never heard of beach music before hooking up with Beard and company.
“I’ve learned a lot about it from listening to these guys,” said Schulze.
According to Beard, Lincolnton is a hot bed for beach music. He credits the Fantastic Shakers with laying the foundation that Coast to Coast is attempting to build on.
“They’re great friends of the band,” Beard said.
Coast to Coast is hoping to release a CD some time this fall, and the band has also recorded another single, impressive considering all nine members have day jobs.
Yet despite being a part-time band, Beard is proud of the full-time dedication he gets from the his fellow musicians.
“These guys are dedicated,” he said. “We’ve been through a lot of hard times and they just stay with me.”
According to trumpet player Leonard, the bond among the group members is extremely solid.
“‘Band of Brothers’ is more than an HBO show,” said Leonard.
Leonard says the band members’ close relationship grew out of the fact that they have been through a lot together, from deaths of family members to departures of band members.
There is also a common bond that keeps them all humming the same tune.
“This is all of our creative passion and this is what we do for fun,” Leonard said.
Coast to Coast is planning on bringing that fun to the Alive After Five crowd on Thursday.
While band members acknowledge the sense of nostalgia that comes with beach music – especially as baby boomers move into their 50s and 60s – they also describe their particular brand of beach music as eclectic, incorporating elements of beach, rhythm and blues and the best sounds of the 60s and 70s.
As guitarist Blalock puts it, Coast to Coast’s music is in a class by itself.
“This is not standard beach,” he said.

Coast to Coast will play at the Alive After Five concert series this Thursday beginning at 6 p.m. on the courtsquare.
by Allyson Levine

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