The Coppertones: ‘Eat mo’ grits!’

Local keys man Larry “Sugarbritches” Williams, the tam-topped co-leader of oldies/beach group the Coppertones, probably couldn’t be more excited about this Sunday’s Lowcountry Grits Festival at Bowens Island. He even set the City Paper a list of reasons why everyone should try to attend.

“What else do you have to do next Sunday at 2 p.m.?” he asks. “It’s at Bowen’s Island, which is a great venue and a great view of the waterway. Admission is only $8 in advance … and children 12 and under are free. Plus, if you come, you can skip your monthly meeting of the Jim Hensley Fan Club.”

That’s Sugarbritches giving bandmate/guitarist Jim “Kavorka” Hensley a tough time for fun. “You can tell your grandchildren you were there at the world premier of the ‘Eat Mo’ Grits’ line-dance, too,” he adds.

The Coppertones formed in Charleston four years ago with a mission to deliver “great party entertainment” with a touch of old-school class and Blues Brothers-style humor to the shag audiences around the Lowcountry. Their first few gigs for opening sets for Billy Scott and the Coastline Band (an impressive feat in the shag scene of the Carolinas).

The current lineup includes Williams on organ, piano, and vocals alongside Hensley, bassist/vocalist J.R. “Rainman” Ryan, drummer “Fabulous” Lou Salvino, pianist, vocalist and harp player “Memphis” Richard Fowler, vocalist Judy “The Gidget” Marshall, and newly-initiated saxophonist Louis “Louie D” Dixson.

In 2006, the band released two piano-driven originals as radio singles — “Party Down the Street” and “Eat Mo’ Grits. Both tunes worked from a basic shag swing-beat and some laid-back guitar and piano riffs. “Party Down the Street” was first released on a compilation disc titled SOS (Sounds of Spring), which was distributed to over 200 radio stations and DJs across the South. That party song may have caught on with the upstate shaggers, but “Eat Mo’ Grits” surely landed the ’Tones this week’s sweet local gig.

The Lowcountry Grits Festival is hosted by Piggly Wiggly and the Recovery Room Tavern, and sponsored by Fat Cat Productions, 1340 AM The Boardwalk, Carolina’s Cooking Team, Budweiser, Mail and More, and Reputable Volvo.

“The Coppertones will be there, so that’s 10 pounds of party in a five pound bag,” proclaims Williams.

The Coppertones perform at Bowens Island Restaurant (1870 Bowens Island Road, 843-795-2757) on Sun. April 19 from 2-6 p.m. Admission is $10 ($8 in advance). All net profits benefit the Crisis Ministries.

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