Up & Coming Weekly

March 15, 2022

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 15 of 32

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM MARCH 16 - 22, 2022 UCW 15 Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 670 have scheduled a new event. eir Spring Fling with e Em- bers featuring Craig Woolard will be held on March 20, from 4 to 7 p.m. at VFW Post 670. e Embers were formed in 1958 by Bobby Tomlinson and Jackie Gore. "[e Embers] were one of the first integrated bands that had a Black saxophone player," said Craig Woolard, lead singer and featured artist of e Embers. "ey recorded their first album live from the North Carolina State University student union." Being in the group was an excel- lent experience for Woolard. "e band opened a nightclub in Raleigh, opened a nightclub in Atlantic Beach, drove nice Cadil- lacs and it was big time for me," Woolard said. Woolard dreamed of performing early on in life. "I am from ... Washington, North Carolina, and we would go to Atlantic Beach, and that is when I first heard about e Embers," said Woolard. "I was a musician, and I would look at the stage and wish that one day I could be on the stage performing too." e Embers laid the foundation for Beach Music in the Carolinas, Virginia, the Gulf Coast region and the beaches. e current band members are Gerald Davis, bass player; Jody Bundy, keyboards; Wayne Free, drummer; Jeff Grimes, guitar; Bob Nantz, trom- bone; Stephen Pachuta, trumpet ; and Craig Woolard, lead vocals. ey are supported by sound, lights and setup crew members Julio Eubanks and Bob Blair. Woolard feels his bandmates are very talented and enjoys perform- ing with them. "Gerald [on bass] and I joined e Embers the same day in November of 1976," said Woolard. "He is easily one of those influen- tial musicians in my life." e Embers have recorded numerous albums and single releases that span decades. Some of their greatest hits include "Far Away Places," "I Love Beach Mu- sic," "Solitaire," "What You Do To Me" and "Cool Me Out," to name a few. Woolard has also had indepen- dent success as well. "I have had several hits that in- clude 'Love Don't Come No Stron- ger an Yours and Mine' and 'I've Got A Feeling We'll Be Seeing Each Other Again,'" said Woolard. e Embers' awards and accom- plishments include induction into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame, the South Carolina Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame, the South Carolina Beach Music Hall of Fame, the honor of carrying the moniker of North Carolina's Of- ficial Ambassadors of Music, mili- tary coins of excellence for their distinguished service, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award and the Group of the Year Award. "I have won Male Vocalist of the Year at the Carolina Beach Music Awards and Entertainer of the Year many times, so much so that I retired myself from it," said Woolard. "When you win the first few times, everybody applauds, but when you win 15 times, you might get some boos, so I figured I needed to quit while I was ahead." Some of the band's most signifi- cant accomplishments include playing at former President Bill Clinton's Inaugural Party, playing for an ambassador at his home in Ottawa, Canada, and being spon- sored by Anheuser-Busch. "It was a big deal to get spon- sored by the national company, Anheuser-Busch, in the 80s, and they picked up our song "I Love Beach Music" and turned it into "I Love Budweiser," so people all over the country were getting to hear that," said Woolard. "ey would fly us to different places to play at their conventions in New York City, Chicago, Palm Springs and Hawaii." Touring is one of the band's fa- vorite things to do, and they have traveled the world extensively, averaging 250 shows a year. "When COVID-19 hit, everything was shut down," said Woolard. "Everybody sat around and ad- justed as best as we could. I was fortunate because, in January 2020, the owner of a radio station asked me if I would be interested in doing radio, so I gave it a try and every Sunday night from 6 to 11 p.m. was the Craig Woolard Show." e radio position helped Woolard through the pandemic. "I got the radio job because the Lord knew what was going to happen, so he looked out for me and carried me through," said Woolard. e Embers hold an annual cruise during the Christmas holi- days, and about 300 of their fans show up to the party. "It is called the 'Making Waves Cruise,' and it is something that I started during my time away from e Embers," said Woolard. "I had my own band, e Craig Woolard Band, and I started the Making Waves Cruise, and when those guys who were in charge called me back, it became the 'Making Waves Cruise' with e Embers." He added, "We have been doing this cruise for at least 15 years until the pandemic hit." "Right now we are working on a destination instead of a cruise because of the pandemic and you just don't know what is going to happen," said Woolard. Future projects for the group involve recording an album. "Every Christmas, we release a Christmas album to go along with the Christmas show because we do the show the whole month of December all the way up to Christmas Eve," said Woolard. "I am happy to be able to do what I am doing, and I don't have a problem keeping my spirits up," said Woolard. "If I have got to sing the same songs every night, then I have to find a way to make that interesting, and the way that I do it is to listen and see how well I can sing that song a little better than I did the last time." e Embers are looking for- ward to playing good music at the Spring Fling. "e audience can expect the most entertaining and profes- sional performance that we can possibly muster," said Woolard. "You cannot rest on your laurels, and you have to make people a believer every time that you play." e Spring Fling will feature food trucks, vendors, music and more in addition to e Embers. e Spring Fling is free from noon to 4 p.m. and the concert is open to the public. After 4 p.m., tickets cost is $10 to $15 and can be purchased at the door and online at https://thetick- eting.co/events/theembersatvfw- post670. Sponsors, food trucks and ven- dors are still needed. Interested trucks and vendors are asked to call/text 910-779-8425 or email agoraproductionsmc@ gmail.com. COVER STORY Beach Music's The Embers to perform at VFW 670 by DR. SHANESSA FENNER e Embers perform outside at an event. e Embers laid the foundation for Beach music in the Carolinas, Virginia, the Gulf Coast region and the beaches. (Photo cour- tesy of the Craig Woolard). e Embers are featured in the Great- er Raleigh Business Journal in 1990. (Photo courtesy of Craig Woolard.) DR. SHANESSA FENNER, Principal, WT Brown Elementary School. Contrib- uting Writer. COMMENTS? Editor@ upandcomingweekly.com. (910) 484-6200

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