This is the latest in our series of reviews of local bars, clubs and other venues along the Grand Strand through the eyes of a music fan. Last Monday we visited Socastee Station, 4504 Socastee Blvd., for Angie Capone's Open Jam which runs every Monday from 7 to 11 p.m.
For many who frequent the S.C. 707 area, the long-running Socastee Station is a well-known gathering place. However, for this reviewer it was simply a place I'd pass by on the way to work every day for nearly five years without ever once considering stopping inside.
That is, until local songstress Angie Capone began hosting an Open Jam session there a few weeks ago and asked me to come check it out.
Located in a little shopping center/strip mall just down the road from Socastee High School, the exterior of Socastee Station is unassuming to say the least. Inside a homey locals spot thrives within its wood-paneled walls.
Entering into the bar area, you'll notice a large U-shaped bar with a faux-roof which provides the illusion of sitting under an outdoor tiki bar when you saunter up to it. Though the bar's decor is pretty minimal — there are some beads and quirky signs which hang on the underside of the bar — the brightly-painted wood paneling in parts of the restaurant are a nice touch.
To the left of the bar is a dining room with a few tables at back and a raised wooden platform, which provides ample room for a band or other performer to show their stuff. For this evening the setup consisted of an assortment of PA equipment, a couple mics, a set of bongos and a drum set which Capone informed me were the very first set of drums she ever owned.
Beyond that main room, the place also extended back into a room with a couple pool tables and another few places to sit.
For the past 15 years or so, the atmosphere and crowd associated with Socastee Station were synonymous with its owner Gary Pagliaro.
In 2009, Pagliaro sold the restaurant to a duo, David Nuth and Jim Soukup, who reopened it for a short period as Buckeye's Socastee Station, before the currenty owners Anthony and Cristina Parrino took over in August. They brought Pagliaro back on as a general manager of the place up until his untimely death from heart failure in October.
Now Parrino, who's main business is owning a slaughterhouse in Philadelphia, says he's doing his best to carry on the bar. While he respects what his friend Pagliaro started, he's also trying to make a few changes.
"When Gary left our menu had $16-18 steaks and lobster, but in this economy with so many people out of work we want people to be able to come and have an affordable family meal," Parrino said.
"We've gotten away from the beef, the pot roast and those country kind of dinners. I know how to make a great Philly Cheesteak and so we're doing that and we're doing the fries, onion rings, poppers, zuchini strips and all that."
As far as the food goes, I had a simple cheeseburger and fries which didn't stand out as great, but I can't complain as it came with a very reasonable price tag and managed to fill me up just fine.
The bar staff was nice and attentive to everyone in the place and overall the crowd — aside from seeming like they all knew each other — was very nice to this outsider.
Though it may not win much acclaim amongst the happening spots in Myrtle Beach, there's no doubt Parrino and his crew are trying to keep things lively at Socastee Station.
In addition to the open jam on Mondays, the bar also hosts two nights of karaoke each week — Wednesdays with Butterbean and Saturday with Joey D — as well as Thursday's with Tequila Sam (and sometimes local rockers Mafia) and a Friday night soul revue with De'Zhon Fields and Daune Farmer.
The popular Friday night affair is held down by Fields, who has played Sammy Davis Jr. at Legends In Concert, and Farmer, a long time musician and general manager at Grand 14 theater, who perform a show filled with 60s and 70s soul and mixed in with modern hits.
"They'll do a little Clay Aiken, some Smokey Robinson, Jerry Lee Lewis...it's all ove the map," said Parrino.
As to why he decided to add the newly-launched open jam, Parrino had this to say:
"I've been trying to figure out what to do and I just met Angie, she came in for a cheesesteak and gave me her card and said this is what I can do."
And from the looks of things, this was a good decision on his part.
Last Monday, the crowd consisted of at least a dozen different local musicians — ranging from professional players to weekend warrior-types — all happy to have a place to show their stuff. The always-energetic Capone led the charge playing some covers with her bassist, before giving way to the crowd.
There were a range of covers played including Dustin Pondysh doing Oasis's "Don't Look Back in Anger", Richie Shroyer doing a variety of Dave Matthews Band and Two Left Feet performing everything from Everlast to "Dust on the Bottle." In addition, the original crowd was represented with some great tunes by area artists like Jaynie Trudell and Gray Click.
Overall the night was enjoyable, a nice night of music from the unique crowd of musicians which Capone seems to have hidden in her pocket always on call for whenever she holds an event.
For more information call the bar at (843) 831-0527 or contact Angie on Facebook.