At any given time, even in the off season, there are dozens to hundreds of venues presenting live music along the Grand Strand, from small bars to large restaurants and music halls. Though many featured acts are solos and duos, the weekends and occasional mid-week shows often feature bigger bands; four or more players performing a wide variety of music – country, rock, reggae, pop, Beach Music, classic rock, R&B, 80s, dance and more.
So, who are the best?
“Best” is relative, and like all art, likeability really depends personal taste. Music, after all, is in the ear of the beholder. Though new bands form every day, and others retire, here are some of the biggest and best we’ve found regularly working along the Grand Strand. Some are new to the scene but have already started to make an impact, some are stalwarts who’ve played the area for decades (such as The Mullets, Tim Clark Band and The Paul Grimshaw Band) and others are somewhere in-between. All are well vetted, well respected and have their fan base. Check these artists’ websites for online videos and their calendars, and enjoy the diversity and the musical fun, year-round.
Though this talented four-piece ensemble plays mostly recognizable hits, they uniquely avoid certain overplayed songs that many bands seem to feel obligated to perform. Bullfrog tends to dig deep into the rock roster to play hits along with deep album cuts from bands and artists such as Pink Floyd, Bill Withers, Bob Marley, Nirvana, Grateful Dead, and Peter Gabriel (among many others), adding their own twist, as well as a handful of originals, too.
Known for its funky, highly danceable sound, Chocolate Chip & Company is one of the busiest bands in the region, combining talented musicianship with multiple background vocalists, multiple lead singers, three ladies, four men and bandleader Chip Howard on the electronic stand-up Zendrum. You wanna get down? This is your band.
This five-piece band features multiple lead vocalists, a female vocalist and four talented men who perform the hits of the 80s, 90s and double-aughts. Hits from Fun (“We are Young”), Journey, Bryan Adams, DNCE (“Cake by the Ocean”), and many others are often a part of this party band’s set list.
Lead by trumpeter, soulful co-lead vocalist and bandleader Craig Sorrells, this R&B, soul, funk Jazz band shakes up stages all along the Grand Strand with deft musicianship, engaging, jam tunes, soaring vocal harmonies, and makes space so individual members of the “project” get their turn to shine as individuals on the stage. Bandmate (and Sorrells’ wife, Chas of the Carolina Opry), rips up lead vocal duties on songs such as “Lola” by the Kinks, and countless others. Here New Orleans meets the Lowcountry in one of the most original groups performing today.
Dawn Crans, the dynamic lead vocalist of Dawn and the Southside Band, is a veteran performer along the Grand Strand that many longtime visitors will know from her many years performing at Ocean Annie’s. Performing danceable pop and rock tunes from oldies to current radio hits, you might here Etta James, followed by Bruno Mars and Journey. Always entertaining and engaging.
A Carolina Beach Music Association Group of the Year award winner, Gary Lowder & Smokin’ Hot are far more than just a Beach Music band. The act combines Lowder’s smooth vocals with a stellar horn section, tight rhythm section and a wide variety of tunes, performing at festivals and fairgrounds, and at the area’s hottest clubs including Local on the Water, Duck’s Night Life, Captain Archie’s and many others.
Known as “the Gents,” to their fan base, this four-piece band covers an amazing variety of music played by seasoned instrumentalists and lead by the laid back, often-barefooted lead vocalist Nick Andolora. From classic rock by CCR, Neil Young, Pink Floyd, Joe Walsh and The Doors to modern rock and pop and even a few tasty originals.
Americana and “soul-driven” country music lead by lead vocalist Brittany Carter on originals and covers that are bluesy, rootsy, sometimes bluegrassy, old-timey and always creative and played with skill. If Birds Could Fly Is the kind of band that should be on world tour, and one day just might be, but for now is entertaining a legion of local fans here in the area.
Jebb Mac Band
Sometimes a six or seven-piece ensemble, this group of very talented players performs radio-ready, original, modern country, danceable pop hits, that are southern and South Carolinian to the core. Packed houses and a large local fan base sing along to two original albums’ worth of tunes, and fill dance floors when the band performs Bruno Mars, Eminem, Zac Brown Band and others. Seeking a national audience catch this band at a local watering hold while you still can.
Award winning songwriter and vocalist Jim Quick leads his talented band with southern charm entertaining audiences with humor and a warm smile. After three decades in the Carolinas, Quick’s fans, known as “Coastline Crazies,” know his many original tunes, which stretch from traditional country to modern pop and Beach Music. Playing mostly at festivals, fairs and private events it is possible to catch Quick at a few Grand Strand honky-tonks as well.
Originally from Spartanburg, SC (the home of the Marshal Tucker Band) Brannon’s roots are in southern rock and country, though he’s called the Grand Strand home since his college days. Touring the southeast in a refurbished tour bus, the five-piece act performs original country and popular country and dance covers.
Lead by Julio Navaro, this five-piece act is a party band like few others, with a diverse playlist, new & old, and fantastic musicianship, the Saltines are crowd pleasers whenever they perform, and for audiences of all ages. From college tailgate parties to the area’s largest music halls and restaurants, the Saltines playlist is a hit-driven wonder to behold. Journey, Morgan Wallen, Led Zeppelin, Bon Jovi, Sublime and more.
From Beach Music to party-ready dance songs, classic rock from Fleetwood Mack, Sheryl Crow and more, the MMB performs recognizable, crowd-pleasing booty-shakin’ hits. This long-running classic, iconic cover band aims to please all audiences, and succeeds. Morgan is a disarming and charming frontwoman with a ready smile and an arsenal of tunes backed by a tight, ready-to-party band.
That three guys could pull off the sound and energy of a much larger band is a testament to the craftsmanship displayed in this band lead by shredding guitar whizz kid Matt Parker. Funky, jazzy, rock-oriented and experienced, Parker has played on the beach for close to two decades. Originals and recognizable covers including crowd favorites. Catch their version of Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher” if you have an opportunity.
Unashamedly a tribute band to the glory of the 1980s (including its Princess Bride namesake), and the 80s then revolutionary attack on popular music, MM&PMs quickly became thee party and dance band of the Grand Strand when they first arrived on the scene. Donning the outrageous garb and attitude of the 80s, and of course playing the classics; “Don’t You Forget About Me,” “867-5309,” “Break up Song,” “Rock the Casbah,” and countless others, this fun band will put you in a time warp of big hair and big songs.
For than two decades NTranze has been entertaining crowds all along the Grand Strand with R&B, Beach Music, Motown and the danceable hits of the 70s – today. Line Dance favorites fill the dance floor at weddings, festivals, private corporate events and area nightclubs.
Guitar whiz Vince Peeples has led Painted Man through various iterations over some two decades, always bringing the party to stages wherever they perform. Urban funk, classic rock, modern dance, old school R&B and soul all the hallmarks of this talented group of five men. Playing at clubs around the Carolinas there’s almost always a local show at least once a week.
Among the most talented younger musicians working in the area, the founders of this band have been performing together since they were in high school. Add in some new-to-town Coastal Carolina University music majors, and you have the makings of a really great band. Playing hit cover tunes from the 60s through today, plenty of Yacht Rock, along with creative and funky originals, Paperwork is a pleasure to watch and listen to.
Three people, massive rock sound and deft musicianship are helping make the Southside Saints a newer band worth following. Nothing namby-pamby about this in-your-face trio. Steve Senes, lead guitarist, won Guitar Player Magazine’s Guitar Superstar in 2009 and hasn’t stopped rocking. Hear rock hits from Yes, Asia, The Doors, Guns and Roses, Van Halen (including the best cover of the Knack’s “My Sharona” you’ll ever hear) along with plenty of funk, R&B and few originals thrown in for good measure.
Since 2014 Sunburst Radio, led by guitarist/producer/audio engineer Ed Dennis, has been performing your favorite FM radio AOR (adult oriented rock) hits from the 70s, 80s and 90s, and surprising fans with its diverse set list. Most often a four-piece ensemble, including co-lead vocalist and acoustic guitarist Joan Burton, the band performs Steely Dan, Heart, Chris Isaak, the Moody Blues and many more.
A five-pc R&B and funk outfit, this band of young players covers mostly danceable pop and R&B from the 1970s, but throws in more modern funk as well. Full of smiles, youthful energy, and great set list full of dance music from classic line-dance tunes such as “The Electric Slide,” to newer slow dance classics such as “Tennessee Whiskey,” adding their own magic with Gospel-tinged harmonies and two keyboard players, guitar and drums.
Any live music fan who’s been on the Grand Strand as a resident or visitor for the past 40 years, knows The Mullets. This is the longest continually performing act in the region and for good reason. Strong musicianship and a dedication to the classics have kept The Mullets actively performing. Though their schedule has slowed from its halcyon days to just two-to-three shows per month, the band still draws a crowd of loyal fans and newcomers who appreciate the skill and sound that comes from a partnership spanning nearly four decades.
This genre-defying band has performed along the Grand Strand for some 20 years, playing requests as its hallmark. From danceable pop hits, to folk-rock icons, rock, reggae, country, southern rock, R&B and more, the PGB has some 900 songs in its arsenal from George Gershwin to Incubus and no two shows are ever the same. The core four-piece band employs special guests and is often a five or six-piece band, even doing staged tribute shows honoring Neil Young, Van Morrison, The Beatles, James Taylor, Bob Dylan and more.
Established in 2019, Seth Thomas leads his popular country music band in area nightclubs bringing crowds of country music lovers to hear great renditions of classic and modern country hits to the stage. Performing somewhere locally nearly every weekend, Thomas Road never fails to deliver an authentic country show with a little rock ‘n’ roll and a few originals thrown in for good measure.
Delivering dance, shag, rock and party music to the Grand Strand since the 1980s, the award-winning Tim Clark leads his six-piece band in front appreciative crowds who come to hear his covers and Beach Music #1 originals. Popular throughout the Southeast at festivals and fairs, the TCB also plays locally two-four times per month. Originally in the Charlotte-based act “Sugarcreek,” Clark is the consummate front man engaging with the audience and performing Kid Rock, KC & the Sunshine Band, Van Morrison, Chairman of the Board, Gnarls Barkley and much more.
Bringing a taste of the blue-eyed Caribbean to the Grand Strand, and through tours of the U.S., the Virgin Islands, and elsewhere, this award-winning Myrtle Beach-based reggae act is full of multi-instrumentalists and the immensely likeable bandleader, lead vocalist, trumpeter and guitarist Jeremy Anderson. New York Music Daily says, “They played as if they were headlining Coachella.” Check them out for yourself at an infrequent area show.
The premier dance and party band on the beach for nearly 20 years, Tru Sol is in such high demand, the band travels and plays private events making catching local shows a bit more difficult, but well worth the effort. Regularly winning Best of the Beach awards, the seven-piece act combines talented men and women bringing Motown, disco, R&B and current dance hits to life like no other band in the area.