Jul 06 2014

Folly Beach Bluegrass Society

Jamie Wilson, a mother who was in search for something to do besides change diapers and feed babies, decided to do something different with her life.  She decided to learn how to play music to distract her from the everyday doldrums that many new parents fall into when they have young children, and Jamie had four under five years old!

Under the watchful eye of Aaron Gdovicak of the Blue Plantation Band, she quickly fell in love with bluegrass.  The first song she learned, Clinch Mountain Backstep, sent her to the woods of Wilkesboro, NC to participate in a jam camp that preceded a popular festival called Merlefest.  While at camp, Jamie attended a session that discussed how and where to find fellow band members to jam with at home.  Thus, the idea for the Folly Beach Bluegrass Society was born, and Jamie hooked up with the Pelican Bar (now Loggerhead’s) to originate what we now know as a diverse and popular band that hits many popular hotspots on the island.

The Folly Beach Bluegrass Society plays regularly every Thursday evening at the Island Bar and Grill from 8 until the party is over at 11pm.  During the winter months, the jam sessions move over to the Folly Beach Crab Shack.  What Jamie Wilson established in 2002 has become an icon on the island with its fun and eclectic style and groovy tunes played by talented artists who drop by to participate in the open jam.  Oftentimes, you’ll see Jamie McDonald on the washtub guitar, Jamie Crisp on stand up bass,  Vini Youngblood jammin’ on guitar while belting out tunes ranging from John Cougar Mellencamp to Journey, The Allman Brothers to Bob Dylan, or to catchy jingles like the Hokey Pokey.  Sometimes, over 15 musicians hit the stage and join the fun.  As Jamie Wilson states, “we have a pretty steady audience, and it’s a joy to play for the tourists that love stumbling on bluegrass during their stay on vacation.”  These days, Jamie Wilson isn’t able to come out as often, but Jamie McDonald has taken over the reins to keep the tradition moving forward.

This week at the Grill on the Edge, we encountered several friends that have been in the core of the Bluegrass Society for the past few years.  Jamie Crisp, who plays stand up bass guitar, nursed a beer throughout the first set while some new faces appeared on stage.  “Three new guys came out today, and they’re pretty good,” he proclaimed.  After finishing his brew, Jamie hopped up on stage and strummed through favorite hits from the 70’s and 80’s with fellow musicians hitting their sweet spots on mandolins (3 this week), electric guitars, banjos and a saxophone.

“We have new people come out every week.  The music is always changing, but one thing that remains is the audience has fun.  People are always dancing,” says Gene Furchgott, a local photographer on Folly Beach who visits this venue often.  This point was witnessed when a little girl around the age of 5 years old joined her granddaddy on stage to belt out a song written by Woody Guthrie, Worried Man Blues.  The audience of about 150 went wild with applause, and the little girl beamed with pride after having shared this momentous occasion.

Fans, new and old, of the Folly Beach Bluegrass Society are quick to tell you how much fun it is to be a part of the experience.  Rick Hamrick, one of the many musicians who has jammed with the group tells us the reason it’s stuck around for so long.  “It’s fun!” he says.  And that’s the first thing you will notice too when you stumble across their sound on Folly Beach.



Bob Hart Author

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