This is the latest in our series of reviews of local bars, clubs and other venues along the Grand Strand. Friday, we hit up The Hideaway in North Myrtle Beach for the Grand Strand Blues Society awards. The bar, which is having its grand re-opening this weekend as Swillie's Hideaway (after new owners Willie and Stacy Greene).
Having never been to the Hideaway under previous ownership, it's hard to judge how the newly-tweaked version stacks up, but from taking in the bluesy affair it hosted to kick off its new stint on the strand, I'd say there's alot to like about Swillie's.
The place was set up for the first-ever Grand Strand Blues Society awards show, an event it appeared custom-made to host. While the stage at one end of this multi-roomed bar wasn't large it easily accommodated a full band set up and the many different guitars and mics the musicians used throughout the night.
Looking out from the stage was a small room with tables, a space set up to dance and a doorway which opened to another room allowing for a full soundboard setup. Beyond that was the larger, longer dining room area which featured tables set with nice linens, a long bar and three full-sized pool tables (one which doubled as a buffet). In this area, the older crowd of blues fans chatted and enjoyed drinks, while still having full view of what was happening on stage.
The fully-stocked bar look freshly painted (as did most every other room) and featured some nice design touches around the edges of the room. The bar also wrapped around a corner with seating all the way down into another room and even a few seats around another corner down the hallway to the bathrooms.
In addition, there was also a back room with some nice big couches and a little private bar that could be a nice spot for intimate chatting, as well as the kitchen and offices in back. All these different areas gave the place a feel that was much larger than it appeared from the outside.
As the evening progressed, Lee "Spider" Webb took the stage to present the night's awards. In addition to local musicians including Gabbie Rae, Jaynie Trudell and Michael Stallings, the group gave a special award to the Greenes for supporting their cause and giving them a home at the Hideaway. The brief ceremony was entertaining, but seemed to really just be an appetizer to the main course of the night, the performances.
Once the music started, the night really began, with the crowd lighting up to the sounds of guitarists Buddy Black and Michael Stallings as well as Spider and The Grand Strand Blues All-Stars. Whether up near the stage, in the bar area or just at their tables, nearly everyone seemed to be dancing, moving or at least tapping their foot to the beat of some smokin' hot blues.
As the night wore on, the place became a little smoky for this reviewer's liking, but I suppose that is to be expected in this atmosphere and probably just added to the bluesy setting for some.
After a few hours of mixing and matching lineups of the musicians performing, the night's headliner Bob Margolin took the stage. The former Muddy Waters guitarist tore through some great tunes with Spider on drums and "Downtown" Jerry Brown accompanying.
Overall, it was a classy event that seemed to be enjoyed by all the fans and folks in attendance, and something that both the blues society and The Hideaway can build on to further enhance the weekly jam sessions held Wednesdays at the bar. Going forward, it appears the bar plans to remain a great place for local blues fans to experience the music, but also would like to provide a variety of different options.
Before heading out I had a brief chat with Willie, who said that while he's happy with the way things turned out and the work they put in to improving the bar, but that he also plans to begin bringing in a DJ to spin modern hits and hopes to bring in a younger crowd at least one night a week.