Even with the House of Blues standing as one of the Grand Strand's most lively musical outlets, the blues can often be an overlooked art in an area known for its beach music and shag dancing.
But for at least one night this week, the blues will take center stage in North Myrtle Beach at the first-ever Grand Strand Blues Society Awards Show.
The event, which begins at 8 p.m. Friday, will be a chance to give recognition to half a dozen local musicians and to showcase some great music with performances from the Grand Strand Blues All-Stars and headliner Bob Margolin, a world-renown blues guitarist who made his name playing with Muddy Waters.
The ceremony is the first of its kind to be hosted by the Grand Strand Blues Society, a group which formed about two years ago with chairman Lee "Spider" Webb at the helm.
"We felt like we needed to support the blues," said Webb. "Beach music is heavily derived from the blues and much of it is being played in this area that we just thought it be great to allow folks to come listen to real blues from time to time."
Webb, a drummer and vocalist who plays locally with Spider and The Grand Strand Blues All-Stars, says that since its inception his group has garnered a following of more than 200 members of blues musicians and enthusiasts.
"We want anyone to be able to get involved, so we're not highly structured — we don't have dues or anything like that," he says.
Though the group's board does get together to meet from time to time, Webb says the focus is mainly on putting on events and shows.
"Blues is not the easiest thing to book in this area," he says. "Alot of clubs would rather have tourist music and we don't play Jimmy Buffet. But we do play some mean blues."
One place where they have had success booking is The Hideaway in North Myrtle Beach, which hosts the group's weekly Grand Strand Blues Jam on Wednesdays.
"It's been great. We've had great turnout," says Webb. "We've got a lotta lotta really good musicians coming through here."
The show, which has been going on for nearly a year, has drawn musicians from as far away as Ohio coming to sit in and jam while on vacation.
"There's some I've seen that I wish would stay here. There's some great talent out there," says Webb.
Contrasting old-school blues with new-wave technology, the group has also taken to broadcasting their weekly jams online through streaming video service Ustream.
"I saw an awards show 4-5 months back on Ustream and thought 'Hey we could do that!' So I bought an HD camera and just started trying it," says Webb.
"Now everyone that comes to the bar sees the computer an thinks its cool and when people come and jam they can call their friends back home in Pennsylvania or wherever and have them check it out. It's been a really cool way to connect."
And whether it be connecting online or in person locally, bringing blues fans together is really what the group is all about.
"In last 6 months, more and more people are starting to undersatnd and catch on to what we're doing, and this awards show is just another step in getting folks to know that there is good blues here at the beach," said Webb.
Grand Strand Blues Society Awards Show
When | Show starts at 8 p.m. Friday, Doors open at 6 p.m. (dinner at 7 p.m.)
Where | Swillie's Hideaway (formerly The Hideaway), 1021 2nd Ave. N., North Myrtle Beach. The bar is celebrating its grand opening under new ownership all weekend, beginning with the awards show
How much | Tickets are $20 and include a buffet dinner and a free drink