ELIZABETHTOWN — Folks won’t need to follow the yellow brick road to find magic on stage Thursday night — just come to the Cape Fear Farmer’s Market in downtown Elizabethtown.
The third in the Elizabethtown-White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual Summer Sounds Concert Series will feature the Band of Oz, one of the longest-running bands on the East Coast beach music scene. Celebrating its 50th year this year, the group was formed as the Avengers in Grifton in 1967 by junior high school buddies. At the time, the group gravitated toward R&B. By 1970, however, they had dropped the name “Avengers” in favor of their current moniker.
Around the same time, beach music was making a wave, and Band of Oz joined the tide, still as a group of semi-professionals. The musicians turned their efforts full-time to music, however, in 1976 with a core group mostly from the J.H. Rose High School Stage Band. Their first single, “Shaggin’,” released in 1978, received extensive air time. A followup single, “Star of My Life,” released the following year, received national airplay and upped the band’s exposure.
In the 1980s, Band of Oz released its first album, Keep Keepin’ It Up on the Surfside label, as well as a followup album, One More Step.
It was the group’s third album, however, that catapulted the group to the status it enjoys today. Let It Roll, released in 1995, contained the song “Shama Lama Ding Dong,” a song made famous in the movie Grease. The Band of Oz rendition became the People’s Choice Song of the Year at the Cammy Awards that year and remains one of the most requested beach songs of all time.
To date, nine albums have been released by the popular band, as well as 21 singles, and, in 1997, Band of Oz was inducted into the Beach Music Hall of Fame.
Over the years, the band has morphed and grown, seeing 28 members contribute to its success at various times.
Today, the eight-member, all-male group, featuring a full horn section, is one of the most sought-after groups in the Southeast. It is featured at most of the major beach concerts in the Carolinas, Virginia, and Georgia and plays more than 200 shows per year at corporate events, festivals, concerts, and public and private events, receiving “the very best reviews from the top people in the entertainment business,” according to its web site.
“The Band of Oz is really good about engaging the crowd,” said Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dawn Maynard. “I think they’ll definitely have everybody up on their feet dancing and enjoying the show, and it promises to be one of the top shows of the summer.”
Band of Oz will take the stage in Elizabethtown on Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. The concert is free to the public.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing email@example.com.