Monday, 01 July 2019 16:52

Embers return to Rockingham's Plaza Jam series

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The Embers return to Rockingham for Plaza Jam on Wednesday. The Embers return to Rockingham for Plaza Jam on Wednesday. William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM — If you love beach music, than Cole Plaza is the place to be on Wednesday.

The legendary Embers, featuring Craig Woolard, will be kicking off Richmond County’s Independence Day celebrations with the third installment of Rockingham’s Plaza Jam summer concert series.

The Embers have been around since 1958, evolving from the Satellites, according to the band’s website.

Although the lineup has changed in the past 60 years, many of the current members paid their dues before joining.

Frontman Craig Woolard joined the band in the ‘70s as a singer and saxophone player and left the group for a while before coming back. He has racked up a number of awards in his beach music career.

Trumpet player Stephen Pachuta cut his musical teeth with several other beach music bands — The Coastline Band and The Main Event  and has recorded with The Band of Oz — before joining The Embers.

Guitarist Jeff Grimes sat in with The Embers as a sax player in the 70s. Later, he recorded and toured with artists including Ben E. King and Sister Sledge and played in other bands in North Carolina and Florida before getting a phone call from founding Embers member Bobby Tomlinson to join up.

Andy Swindell, who sings and plays keyboards, is an award-winning songwriter and has been with the band for a while; bassist Gerald Davis played with Al Wilson and Sammy Hagar and has been with the Embers off and on since 1976; Bobby Nantz, of the horn section, spent 30 years with The Catalinas and played on the hit “Summertime’s Calling Me,” played with Woolard during his solo years and followed him to the Embers; and drummer Wayne Free is a studio engineer who has also been with the band off and on.

“We're looking forward to the high energy show that The Embers and Craig Woolard always put on,.” said Rockingham Events Coordinator Kim Williams. “This is a great way to start the Independence Day holiday.”

The show is free and begins at 6:30 p.m. Smoking is not allowed on the plaza green.