Live After 5 Revs Up For Another Season
April 1, 2012
By JOSEPH SITARZ
Greenwood, SC - Men of Distinction are making Uptown Greenwood the destination for anyone wanting to hear beach and blues when the Live After Five concert series opens April 12 in Uptown Greenwood.
The series includes Live After Five performances connected with the South Carolina Festival of Flowers in June and the Blues Cruise portion of the South Carolina Festival of Discovery in July.
"We kick if off with the Men of Distinction," said Hack Bartley, Live After Five musical director. "They're good friends of mine from Columbia."
Columbia, Myrtle Beach, and Nashville, along with a little local flavor, are the destinations form 2012.
Bartley recently announced the 2012 series that features six Thursday performances and ends with Greenwood's own Swingin' Medalions on Sept. 13.
"I think it's going to be a good year," Bartley said. "I believe everybody will be real pleased with it. I'm looking forward to a great year. I believe everybody will enjoy every group I have here this year."
Live After Five shows start at 5:30 PM at the Countybank Plaza in Uptown Greenwood.
April 12 - Men of Distinction
May 10 - NTRANZE
June 14 - Brandon Giles
There are two Saturday Live After Fives part of the Rock 'n' Roll Cruisers cruise-in at the fountain in Uptown Greenwood. The first is June 16, another associated with the Festival of Flowers, and the second is Sept. 15. The Rock 'n' Roll Cruisers arrange the entertainment for those shows.
Greenwood City Manager Charlie Barrineau said Bartley does a good job with the lineup.
"We have an excellent mix of familiar bands (Men of Distinction, Fabulous Expressions, and Swingin' Medallions) and new sounds (NTRANZE and Brandon Giles)," Barrineau said. "We continue to focus on a mix of urban, R&B, rock and country....familiar tunes for every musical taste. Live After Five musical director Hack Bartley does a great job of making everyone happy."
Bartley said people have been asking for the Men of Distinction.
"They were here the year before last," Bartley said. "I've had as many or more requests for their return as anybody I've had here. They did a great job when they were here the year before last. If it wasn't my policy not to use the same group two years in a row, I'd have had them back last year."
The Swingin' Medallions are the lone exception to the policy.
"They play a little bit of everything," Bartley said. "They're beach and blues band. They are a big horn band. They have great vocals. They're a fine band."
Bartley said the group has added a female vocalist who might sing a few songs with the Men of Distinction here.
"I'm looking forward to that....the new addition of a girl singer," Bartley said.
Bartley found NTRANZE while in Myrtle Beach for St. Patrick's Day last year. He went to help Andy Sykora, owner of Custom Audio and Lighting, with a festival at the coast.
NTRANZE, the house band at the House of Blues, was one of the opening acts.
"I told the producer of the show, 'NTRANZE should have been headliner, they were the best band of the show,'" Bartley said adding they're a variety band noted for high energy, vocals and entertainment value.
"You kind of stumble across a great group every once in a while," Bartley said. "That's how I came across them. I think people will really enjoy them."
Bartley opted for variety with a country twist with Brandon Giles.
"He's like a young Jerry Lee Lewis," Bartley said, suggesting people go to YouTube and check Giles out. "He's a real fine entertainer, good singer and has played with everybody in the business. He is a great entertainer in his own right."
The July show is the preview night for the annual Blues Cruise. The entertainment won't be known until the entire Blues Cruise lineup is announced.
The Fabulous Expressions return this year.
"They always draw a great crowd," Bartley said. "They have a real fine following here in Greenwood. They've added a trumpet player to the band this year. They've made an addition to their band, and I think everybody will enjoy that."
The Fabulous Expressions include members with ties to the area including Ronnie Goldman, Jon Lee, Chris Alexander, Tyler McCutcheon, Marijayne Wells and Alicia Keys. The band plays beach and a variety of music.
The local theme continues into September.
"September will be our last one, of course, with Greenwood's own and finest Swingin' Medallions," Bartley said.
Swingin' Medallions founder John McElarth could perform a song or two with the band, but it depends on his health. He tries to perform with the band for Live After Five.
Bartley was even campaigning for an invitation to sign with the band. Bartley is a former Swingin' Medallion.
"If I get lucky enough and they invite me up to do a couple of songs with them, I'd be honored to do it," said Bartley, whose son Jake is a present member of the Swingin' Medallions. "I travel with them every once in a while and do shows with them. Anytime I'm around, they usually invite me to come up and sing with them. Hopefully that will be the case this year."
It wouldn't be a Live After Five without the Swingin' Medallions.
"The Swingin' Medallions are Greenwood's signature band," Barrineau said. "This event is almost like an annual homecoming."
In the past, the series didn't end until November. Bartley said October and November of last year were unusually cold.
"Attendance was low," Bartley said. "It was almost uncomfortably cool last year for October and November. You just never know. Usually October and November are good outdoor months."
Despite the drop in attendance because of the weather last year, the series continues to be a success. Barrineau said the success of the series has helped bring more music to Uptown Greenwood, citing Howard's On Main and T.W. Boons as examples.
"A strong music scene is critical to the economic vitality of any downtown. We believe that Live After Five has been a component of the success of a number of establishments that have either located or expanded in the Uptown during the last few years," Barrineau said.
The shows will again feature food vendors and other activities. Uptown restaurants will also be open.
Barrineau said Live After Five is another excellent public/private partnership.
"Uptown Greenwood Development Corporation is pleased to work with the City of Greenwood, Greenwood CPW, Countybank, Pepsi, and many, many other key sponsors to put this series on every year," Barrineau said.
Live After Five has three components that can make any activity a success.
"Live After Five is simply a safe, family friendly event that is free," Barrineau said.