Featured Listens Nov 15, 2011

1. Miracle Year “Nights Like These”

The brainchild of Myrtle Beach’s Chris Ford, Miracle Year has gone through some changes since they played our first ListenUp Loves showcase in February.

No gone are guitarist Ryan Regina — now working on a project called Echoes In Theory — and bassist Fabian Boyzo. Ford now fronts a three-piece with remaining member Danny Rosario on drums and John Dee on guitars.

The group continues to work on new material and performing, though ties to the Augusta, Ga., area — where Rosario resides — means most of their work is being done out of town. However, they sounded sharp and no worse for the wear at their most recent local show, opening for Hawthorne Height at Pirate’s Cove in September so it appears brighter days are ahead for the recalibrated lineup.

Their most recent single “Nights Like These” was released on iTunes in October. Though Ford’s vocal soft-to-shrill vocals and the track’s soaring, feel-good melodies will grab he attention of many a listener, it’s the hard-hitting beats from the drummer that drew our attention and in their own not-so-subtle way, made the track.

2. Rashad Starr

In a town that can sometimes seem flooded with rappers and asipiring hip-hoppers, it’s refreshing to find Steven Rashad Alderman (aka Rashad Starr) an R&B song spinner who originally hails from Whiteville, N.C.

The son of a music teacher mother and sax-laying father, Rashad says that the music is in his blood and he was destined to be part of the scene in some way.

“Man, I got a love for music I can’t even describe,” he writes.

His music pulls from a wide range of influences including doo wop, rock and classical but the foundation of everything he does is keeping it soulful.

His latest track is a collaboration with one of the area’s hardest-working young MC/Producers, Lil’ Z. Called “Pressure” the smoothy song definitely sits squarely in “slow jam” territory.

3. Exklusive Musik “Day In The Life”

This trio of MCs — Chandler “Chandler Ave.” Costner, Brendan “Benny C” Corkum and Byron “B. Cool” Brown — has been working hard around town recently taking pretty much every opportunity to getting involved with local hip hop events and even injecting themselves into a few rock shows.

With a string of performances at spots such as Uncle Tito’s, Butter’s Pub, Cool Daddy’s Bar & Grill, Zulu Lounge, the boys of Exklusive Musik are building a bit of a buzz locally and are hoping to extend that with their second mixtape this year called “Sex, Nugs & Rap.”

Released last week on 11.11.11, the 16-track effort showcases the group’s lyrical skill and ability to work well off each other, switching nimbly between MCs throughout most tracks. The focus on lyricism and dense beats means Exklusive’s music leans more toward the backpacker crowd (do people even still use that word?) than carrying wider appeal to mainstream audience, but there’s no doubt the skill is there with this trio.

Along with the mixtape the group has released a video for “A Day In The Life,” a clever little self-produced piece which chronicles a wasted day spent trying to get high to no avail.

4. Local Jazz

I recently came across a message board observation that “Jazz is obsolete” here in Myrtle Beach, and while the scene for this classic genre may be stagnant — since the closure of the Jasmine Supper Club a few years back — there are still a handful of places and groups making sure it doesn’t die out all together. Here’s a look at some local jazz you ought to hear:

• Holman-Gravel & Friends: Drummer Bates Holman & pianist Jordan Gravel play at Aspen Grille every Thursday. Here’s a clip of them playing Mercer Ellington’s “Things Ain’t What They Used To Be”

• Jazz Therapy: Sharkey’s at Broadway at the Beach has begun having Jazz Night with this local jazz group in every Wednesday from 6-9 p.m. Check out their music here.

• Bernie Kenerson Group: We’ve written on this master of the EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument) multiple times. Keep up with his work and upcoming shows at

• U-“N”-I: Five-piece jazz & blues group led by CCU professor/saxaphonist Dan O’Reilly and his wife and vocalist Lisa. You can catch them at Croissant’s for Wine Tasting Tuesday from 6:30 to 8:30 each week.

• Denny Hess Trio: Bassist Denny Hess performs in the Palace Theatre band and intermixes with many of the other groups listed, but he also fronts a trio. Among other spots, the group has performed at “All About Jazz” night which takes place each Friday night from 8-11 p.m., generally with O’Reilly and U-N-I. 

• Urbyne: Smooth Jazz and R&B group from Conway. Though they don’t play out much, you can still find their music online.

5. The Necessary Band “The Traveler”

This latest release from one of the area’s most well-known acts, The Necessary Band, was produced by Mark Bryan of Hootie & The Blowfish. The video, produced by Filmhaus Productions, was released on Nov. 8 and features Ten Toes Up vocalist BJ Craven as the song’s title character.