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The Fantastic Shakers

Jul 3, 2014

The Fantastic Shakers bringing 'fun' to Peace Center

July 3, 2014

The Spartanburg Herald-Journal, Vincent Harris - July 3, 2014 3:15 a.m.

There are bands that stay together for the paycheck or the glory, and then there's the Fantastic Shakers, a three-decade-plus institution that is bringing its classic soul, beach and R&B revue to the Peace Center for the Performing Arts' TD Stage tonight. 

The band has kept going for one reason only, said vocalist Freddy Tripp: "Fun."

"We try to play music that our audience can relate to that makes them feel good and get up and move," he said. "We bring a party atmosphere to wherever we perform, whether we're playing beach, R&B, dance, or modern hits. The show really features something for everyone. Plus, the members are good friends off stage as well as on."

The versatile group began life in 1976 as a Top 40 cover band called Blacksmith. But when former Catalina singer Bo Schronce joined, the Fantastic Shakers were born. 

"With Bo, the band evolved into a show, variety and beach band, thanks to bo's experience as frontman for the Catalinas," Tripp said. "He was actually the voice on their hit, 'Summertime's Calling Me.' "

Though the Fantastic Shakers don't mind playing for a sit-down crowd, they're happiest  when the audience is moving just as much as they are onstage. 

"We've got plenty for the ones who want to listen, but we interact best with audiences that can sing and dance along to familiar music regardless of their taste," Tripp said.

One might think kicking out classic chestnuts like "Sixty Minute Man," "Carolina Girls" and "Some Kind of Wonderful" might get old after a while, but Tripp said the universal appeal and timelessness of those songs keep them fresh.

"The simple, familiar nature of the music allows people to sing along and (it) reminds them of pleasant memories of the beach, that special girl or guy, their youth or just good times," he said.

And it's not like the Fantastic Shakers stick to the same set list every night. In addition to their own popular favorites such as "Myrtle Beach Days" and "Shakin' the Shack," the band has a playlist of nearly 200 songs as its disposal, ranging from Louis Armstrong to Billy Idol. 

"We have songs we play almost every night, but we can cater to a varied audience with almost any style," Tripp said. "We just want to make the audience go home with a song in their head and a spring in their step."