By Kristy Tolley
Sustenance and Song in the Carolinas
J.R.R. Tolkien once wrote, “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
No doubt, food and music are an ideal combination, and smaller communities in the Carolinas are rich with both. Situated between Myrtle Beach and Charleston, the “Hammock Coast,” is a charming seaside hamlet, and the third oldest city in the state. Alongside Georgetown’s historic churches and plantations, you’ll find an array of water and outdoor activities, varied shops and local museums.
The area is also a hub for shag dancing, which is almost synonymous with coastal Carolinas. A descendant of the jitterbug, it became popular in the 1940s and likely originated along the strand between Wilmington, N.C., and Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Events like the Pawleys Pavilion Reunion showcase beach music and shag dancing, as well as coastal life “back in the day.” Locals and visitors gather each Mother’s Day weekend to celebrate memories of the Pavilion with dancing, live entertainment, and various food vendors. Ticket sales benefit the local Habitat for Humanity.
“People who don’t live in the area anymore still come back every year for this event,” says Christine Cribb, resource development director at Georgetown County’s Habitat for Humanity.
Music and food aren’t only promoted annually here. Local restaurants often feature a musical component, and Georgetown teems with culinary choices. Front Street alone is home to 15 restaurants that offer everything from Italian and sushi to Lowcountry and Jamaican style cuisine.
One of those restaurants, Alfresco Georgetown Bistro, serenades diners Thursday–Saturday with local talent like Time Pieces and Touch of Gray.
Alfresco’s menu celebrates Old World Italy and artful, innovative dishes. Choose from pasta dressed with classic Bolognese sauce, or nosh on their popular Tuna Nachos. You can also enjoy dinner and wine flights in the bar. Servers are well versed in wine selections and can pair every food item with something delicious.
Also situated on Georgetown Harborwalk, Five Rivers Tavern features casual fare and fantastic waterfront views. Menu standouts include the Waccamaw Burger and the Monte Cristo. In addition to frequent live entertainment, Five Rivers hosts shag night on the first and third Tuesday nights.
With a view of the salt marsh and Winyah Bay from every table, Chacon’s is a lure for locals and tourists alike. This thriving restaurant is namesake of Eddy Chacon, executive chef and owner, who began cooking when he was 14. His extensive skills are reflected in thoughtfully prepared plates of locally caught seafood, premium steaks and fresh salads.
Sunday brunch here is wildly popular. However, if you want to top your weekend off on a high note, grab a table on Sunday, starting at 3 pm, for grilled dinner and live music on the outdoor deck. The menu varies weekly, but expect customer favorites like seafood paella, seafood platter and handcut ribeye steaks and specialty desserts.
Thursday nights in Georgetown, throw down a blanket and set up your lawn chair at Francis Marion Park for the free “Music in the Park ” concert. Listen to local and regional acts while you savor a glass of wine.
Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina, Boone is known for its numerous year round outdoor adventures. The town beautifully balances the pioneer spirit of their namesake, Daniel Boone, while embracing their mountain heritage through music and food.
Boone is also part of the Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina, which comprises 29 counties in the western third of the state. Established in 2013, Blue Ridge Music Trails highlights the various cultural and historic music styles prominent in the region. They provide an artist directory, suggested itineraries and other resources.
Sharing their musical heritage with younger generations, local musicians gather at Boone’s historic Jones House for concerts, lessons and jam sessions.
Built in 1908 by physician Dr. John Walter Jones, it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Dr. Jones’ daughter sold the home to the Town of Boone with the stipulation that it be used as a cultural and community center.
Today the Jones House hosts free outdoor concerts every Friday on the lawn from June through August. Harkening back to a time when neighbors gathered at someone’s home for impromptu music, the Jones House’s Thursday night jam sessions draw both participants and spectators.
“If you’re interested in hearing some really good traditional Appalachian musicians, visit a jam session,” says Jill Jones, director of marketing and communications for the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area.
“It’s a friendly and helpful atmosphere because older musicians are eager to teach the next generation.”
Jones House is also the site of the Doc Watson Day Celebration, which will take place June 17. The annual event honors the music and legacy of Watauga County’s beloved musician.
Enjoy live music while dining at the Boone Saloon. The Saloon features live music on Thursdays and Saturdays and sometime other nights of the week. Local and national acts perform – everything from post punk and jazz fusion to blues, surf rock and indie rock. Their menu includes sandwiches, burgers, wings and freshly made salads.
Boone is certainly a hotbed of music throughout the month of July as host to one of the country’s largest regional multi-arts festivals. An Appalachian Summer Festival began as a chamber music event in 1984, and soon morphed into a month-long celebration highlighting both performing and visual arts.
Presented by Appalachian State Uni-versity, it features a wide spectrum of dance and theater performances, art exhibitions, and an eclectic mix of music and films. It’s incredibly popular, and the Southeast Tourism Society consistently names it one of the “Top Twenty Events in the Southeast.”
For drive routes and hotel reservations to these small towns and others, visit AAA.com/TripTik or call 800-398-0379 and speak with a AAA Travel Specialist.
Doc Watson Day Celebration Video.