Bladen County’s Blackwater Rhythm & Blues to close out Summer Sounds series

By: Chrysta Carroll - Bladen Journal

ELIZABETHTOWN — A hometown favorite will return to the Cape Fear Farmer’s Market stage Thursday, when Blackwater Rhythm & Blues turns out for the last of the concerts in the Elizabethtown-White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual Summer Sounds Concert Series.

Based out of Clarkton and known for their high-energy live performances, the nine-member group’s mix of classic beach music, soul, funk, and classic R&B is played at clubs, festivals, weddings, and concerts from South Carolina and Georgia to Virginia and West Virginia.

The local group’s star is on the rise. In 2014, members played 38 gigs. By 2015, the number had risen to 81, and last year, the group performed at 152 venues on the East Coast. To date, the band, not yet comprised of full-time musicians, has booked 166 shows for 2017.

“We’ve played all those shows, and in the last five years, I’ve not called anybody to ask for a show,” commented Dale Edwards, band member and manager.

Perhaps the star is on the rise because it’s shining so brightly. Established in 2009, Blackwater Rhythm & Blues released its first single, Staying With Me, in 2010. The single, which received ample play time, was quickly followed by Elvin Bishop’s Fooled Around and Fell in Love.

After releasing numerous other singles, in 2015 the band won Song of the Year for its original tune, Dance Tonight, a song that stayed on the Beach Music Smokin’ 45 chart for 22 straight weeks and for which Gerald Robinson also won Song Writer of the Year. That same year, the band was awarded with the Rising Star award by the Carolinas Beach Music Association. The award was followed by, in 2016, being named Group of the Year by the same organization.

In September of 2016, Blackwater Rhythm & Blues released its first album, a self-titled collection of songs that got the group additional recognition. Songs like Love Without Mercy, the original Birmingham, and Local Girls have kept the group on the Beach Music Smokin’ 45 chart.

Locals attending Thursday’s concert might see some familiar faces. The group features Donald Jordan on guitar and vocals; William Sellers on keyboard and vocals; Dale Edwards on trombone and vocals; Fred Cook on saxophone; Andy King on trumpet and vocals; Devin Dove on drums; Frank Mills on bass guitar; Greg Elkins on trumpet, valve trombone, keys, and vocals; and Jeff Alspaugh on trombone. Among the group are folks from Bladen, Forsyth, Robeson, Columbus, and Hoke counties.

Edwards hopes the hometown concert will be a good one.

“This is as close as we can get to home,” he commented. “We try to get people involved and make sure they have a good time. If they don’t have a good time, we can’t either.”

The concert on Thursday will run 6 to 9 p.m.

Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing

Chrysta Carroll

Bladen Journal