For more than "Three Decades" the Charleston based band "STRATUS has entertained not only the tri-states of West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, and performed throughout the east coast with their urban contemporary sound, but are also an international band. Performing for our U.S. Troops in places like Germany, Korea, Japan, Spain, Italy, The Caribbean and even Saudi Arabia, just to name a few.
Since the Bolland brothers teamed up with
Detroit natives, Burks and Loyd, the group has managed to create a
style of it's own. Stratus has not only headlined some of the major
festivals in the area like Multi-fest of West Virginia, and The Charleston
Regatta. But also opened for groups like The Temptations, Average
White Band, War, Kool & the Gang, Chic, The Gap Band, just to
name a few. Stratus has even played with NBA Legend, (jazz bassist),
Wayman Tisdale. Playing a show
evolving from the 60's, to current, including Top 40, Hip Hop, and
Jazz, shows the band's versatility.
|Thursday May 26, 2011
Live on the Levee opens with veteran R&B, jazz unit
on the Levee begins this weekend at Haddad Riverfront Park. The weekly
concert series runs through September. CHRIS MORRIS/COURTESY PHOTO
|CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The City of Charleston's
"Live on the Levee" free music series starts its eighth season
under the white canopy at Haddad Riverfront Park this Friday with a show
featuring Stratus and opening act Inspiration.
The music begins 6:30 p.m. and the evening concludes by about 9:30 p.m. with a short fireworks display. Stratus, one of Charleston's longest-running groups, has performed its mix of R&B, Classic Motown, hip-hop, jazz and more around the world, opening for such acts The Temptations, Look & the Gang and the Average White Band
Proceeds from T-shirt sales and raffles will benefit five local charities that provide services for the homeless: Covenant House, Daymark, Religious Coalition for Community Renewal, Roark-Sullivan Lifeway Center and YWCA's Sojourners Shelter.
Live on the Levee happens every Friday night through Labor Day weekend. Most acts are local favorites, but three national acts will perform: country singer Andy Griggs (July 8), hard rockers Anchored (July 15) and alt-rock trio Fastball (July 29). Visit www.liveontheleveecharleston.com for a full schedule.
Entertainment lineup runs gamut of musical styles
Publication: THE CHARLESTON GAZETTE
The Sternwheel Regatta may not be the 10-day event it used to be, but when it comes to the entertainment, organizers are trying to revive the draw of the event.
Regatta Commission Chairman Jim Burdette spent
more money than was budgeted for this year's entertainment, but that
doesn't mean he spent what wasn't there. He said in July that the
budget for entertainment was not enough, so he spent more to get better
Friday night will open with Charleston-based Big Planet Soul and Stratus, followed by The Temptations. And to accompany the legendary Motown performers, Burdette said, there will be a shag dance contest set up near the stage.
Publication: THE CHARLESTON GAZETTE
HIGH TECH BARNEY HATING_ Barneyphobes, those intent on bringing low the reptilian kid's show star, have peeled out onto the information superhighway in pursuit of their purple quarry. The Internet's Usenet now features a new computer newsgroup, which you can access by typing "alt.tv.dinosaurs.barney.die.die.die." The Internet Usenet News reports that the word "jihad" is often used by contributors.
LAST ONE OUT, TURN OFF THE COFFEE - The Common Grounds Coffeehouse will no doubt hope to live up to the Maxwell House motto - "Good to the Last Drop" - when it shuts its doors after two final concerts on this Friday (featuring teen alternative groups), and Saturday (a traditional musicfest). The coffeehouse, located in a room off Health Foods Etc. in West Charleston, hopes to reincarnate itself later this year, perhaps in a downtown Charleston locale.
Meanwhile, Bob and Becky Webb and its other backers hope to decaffeinate themselves from the rigors of running such a space.
"We're hoping to come in for a landing, a temporary refueling sort of thing," said Bob Webb. "I need a vacation." NIXON AND STRATUS - The year was 1974, and Richard Nixon's presidency was going down in flames. Meanwhile, over in West Virginia, as Nixon resigned and left the political stage, a new band called Stratus took to the musical stage for the first time in Charleston. Nixon is dead and buried now (are those flags still flying at half mast?), but Stratus lives on. The group will be celebrating its 20th anniversary with a show of rhythm and blues, jazz, Motown and more, at the Ace of Clubs on Quarrier Street this Sunday, 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. If you're tooling up Interstate 79, you can catch them in Jane Lew at the Plantation this Friday and Saturday.
DADDY, WHAT'S A RECORD ? - CD music industry executives may hum the tune "CDs Uber Alles" when walking into music stores these days. But a small band of audiophiles keep the flame burning and the turntables turning for vinyl records. Mobile Fidelity, a California company, is now releasing a limited edition batch of classic records, made from original master tapes. The lineup so far is: "Atom Heart Mother" (Pink Floyd); "Tarkus" (Emerson, Lake and Palmer); "Folk Singer" (Muddy Waters); "Extensions" (Manhattan Transfer); and "Tales of Mystery and Imagination" (Alan Parsons Project).
Luddites interested in more information should call (800) 423 5759.
FACE OFF - LITERALLY - The contestants will have no choice but to face it this Saturday, in the local finals to a national "Facefinders" contest, starting noon at Town Center mall. In past months, preliminary heats have narrowed the field from 600 to 122 of "the best new faces the area has to offer," says a press release.
Well, that may seem a bit facetious, but anyway one male and female in each contest category will be awarded a scholarship to July's "Facefinders Expo" in Palms Springs, Calif. The contest is part of a national scouting network for modeling and commercial agencies worldwide. Baby faces are up first at noon, followed by 4 to 8 year olds, 9 to 12 year olds, and adults at 2 p.m. Needless to say, they'll all be trying to put on their best face.
TODAY'S BEAT LOGO is by BEAT editor Douglas Imbrogno. He declined to comment, except to say "I love my Macintosh." The logo, we understand, was concocted on a Macintosh Performa 550 using ClarisWorks, and printed out on a Laserwriter 310 printer. The electronic clip art image of the woman is by Olduvai Inc.
- By Douglas Imbrogno
blankPublication: THE CHARLESTON
HEAVY MEDAL MUSIC - Next
time somebody hears Charleston band Stratus play, the glint you see
off their outfits may not be jewelry but medals of honor. Six members
of the band toured U.S. posts in Saudi Arabia after Operation Desert
Storm (a seventh female band member was not allowed to perform in
the highly segregated country) and they recently received in the mail
"Desert Storm Civilian Service Medals" from the Department
of Defense, which sponsored the tour. "We were actually the first
band to perform in Saudi Arabia," says Stratus member JoLloyd.
"The USO acts played on the water on ships. None of the bands
ever played on land. So we were, like, making history." Not to
mention a scene. Playing before thousands of troops, band members
sometimes sported desert camouflage outfits or Arab robes. "Just
for style," JoLloyd adds
MAINTAINING MILITARY FUNK
Publication: THE CHARLESTON GAZETTE
When they heard that the Armed Forces Professional Entertainment Program was looking for a few good men, local funk band Stratus.
decided to be all they could be and apply. After all, performing for troops overseas isn't just a job - it's an adventure.
On Thursday, Stratus will leave for the Caribbean for their second AFPEP tour. The band consists of Stanley Bolland, JoLoyd, Michael Burks, William Collins, David Loyd and Eddie Bullard.
The aim of the AFPEP program is, in effect, to maintain military funk. A flier says the program exists "to help maintain readiness and effectiveness of our military forces overseas by providing live entertainment which will lift their spirits and morale while serving in defense of our country." "We wanted to see the world and experience some different things," said Bolland. "We also wanted to serve the country." For a similar tour that Stratus took to Germany in 1987, the band contacted AFPEP, filled out applications and received an audition. A representative of the program came to Charleston and heard them play. "Four or five weeks later, we were on our way," said JoLoyd.
Members of a band must meet security requirements, Bolland said.
"Some of the places you go to are very high security, so you can't talk about anything you saw.
"They look for a band who is well-groomed, a wholesome act," y he said. "It's really a 24-hour job. You're representing your government the whole time, and you have to do a good job. You talk.
to the troops after the show, make the guys feel good. You just have to be down-home." In Germany, the band played for as many as 000 men at one time.
In the smaller outposts in remote areas, the men performed for as few as six people.
They will spend a month in the Caribbean. "We'll play in Puerto Rico, Panama, Antigua, all the American bases," said JoLoyd.
"We play six days a week, and some days we do two performances.
This is a voluntary thing. They pay our travel expenses and a living allowance." Bollard says the band's popularity on the first tour helped them get the second. "We received some award certificates while we were in Germany," he said. "They made a video of us and showed it on the military television station. They told us when we left Germany that we would be able to do it again. You're rated in every place you go, so if you get a certain grade level, you can go back.
It's an honor." Spending a month abroad required some reshuffling of job schedules. "And it's kind of hard on the guys with wives and.
girlfriends," said Bolland. "But it's worth it. Some of these guys are in really remote places and are locked into their jobs. They really appreciate it. "
"I'M PLAYING FOR THE ENTIRE MALL'
Publication: THE CHARLESTON GAZETTE
YOU CAN HEAR IT THROUGHOUT THE TOWN CENTER MALL, THE SOUND OF someone playing the piano. Who is it? Where is it coming from?.
Follow the sound, up, up, up to Picnic Place. In the vast lunchroom, amid the clatter and chatter of a thousand people going blithely about the business of eating, you'll find David Loyd tickling the ivories.
Skilled at keyboard, drums and trumpet, he was discovered by mall personnel while playing for happy hour at Michael's Pier.
He plays at Town Center from 11:30 to 1:30 four days a week.
Another pianist takes over on Thursdays and weekends.
Loyd is 27, looks like a serious musician in a bow tie, beard, mustache and glasses. A visitor from Detroit, he was beckoned to.
Charleston by his brother, JoLoyd, a drummer in the band Stratus.
In addition to his lunchtime gig at the mall, he works with his brother's band, programming music for computerized synthesizers.
"It's a big room to play, a weird room to play for lunch.
There's a lot of people in that big, open place and the piano is kind of small for a room that big. Every day, 2,000 to 3,000 people come through there. I'm a people person and it distracts me sometimes. I'm always looking around to see who's there so I know what to play.
"It's noisy, but I think it's beautiful that they're doin' what they're doing and I'm in the background. I don't want to distract them from eating. I don't want to turn it into a show or nothin'.
"They pipe the music through the mall. I didn't really know about that at first. I wasn't sure if I wanted to be broadcast.
Being broadcast somewhere else, that's different from just playing a ROOM. I THOUGHT MAN, I'M PLAYING FOR THE ENTIRE MALL. LIKE, THAT' s KINDA DEEP. I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT THE REACTION WOULD BE, BUT I GUESS.
IT'S COOL. ENOUGH PEOPLE COME UP AND TELL ME THEY THINK THE MUSIC is GOOD. I'VE GOT A SUBSTITUTE NOW AND I HEARD HOW IT WENT THROUGH TH e mall and I thought, "Well, this is OK.' "You know, it almost sounds like a recording. A lot of people might not know there's somebody playing the piano upstairs. One guy came up to me and said he'd been downstairs shopping and he asked.
somebody who was playing that music. He was a musician so he knew it was live.
"When I got here, I had a repertoire of about 50 songs and I ran out of stuff real quick. About the third week, I bought some.
books, the same style I was playing - mainly '30s and '40s, some '50s AND '60S. USUALLY I JUST GO BY THE ROOM AND WHAT I FEEL LIKE PLAYING. IF I PLAY "MISTY,' AND AN OLDER COUPLE LOOKS AT ME AND smiles, I might play another older song. If I see some younger people, I might play some stuff from the '80s.
"The only problem I have is I have to shift my mind to older music because I'm a today musician. It's a big transition to go from jazz to pop and top 40. It's a little frustrating sometimes.
ONE NIGHT I PLAYED IN OHIO WITH STRATUS AND THE NEXT DAY I played here and all this pop was in my head and I was trying to play jazz and play it in a pop way. I wasn't satisfying myself..
Sometimes when I'm not satisfying myself, other people love it. I was really dissatisfied with myself one day and somebody said, "Man, you're really jammin' today.' I had to throw every idea I had about playing out because I could be wrong about it.
"MUSIC IS ONE BIG LEARNING EXPERIENCE. I STARTED WHEN I WAS ABOUT 5, TAKING CLASSICAL PIANO LESSONS. WHEN I GOT ABOUT 12 I DIDN'T LIKE IT ANYMORE. THESE LESSONS STARTED WITH EASY ABC STUFF, but when it got heavy on the classical end, that's when I didn't like IT, BECAUSE I HAD TO PRACTICE A LOT. THE STUFF WAS BEAUTIFUL. I WA s just lazy.
"MY FATHER WAS THE ONE MAKING ME TAKE LESSONS. HE PLAYED DRUMS AND SANG. HE WAS A BIG INFLUENCE ON THE STYLE OF JAZZ I PLAY, because he played in the big band era. He had a lot to do with me being a total musician because he didn't discourage me from.
PLAYING DRUMS WHEN I WANTED TO STOP PLAYING PIANO. THEY WERE NEEDI ng A DRUMMER FOR THIS YOUNG CHOIR AT CHURCH. MY FATHER HAD A BIG DRUM set. I said, "Let me take this over to church and play.' He never saw his drum set again.
"I was a good drummer. For seven years, I hardly played piano.
I GOT IN A BAND AND PLAYED FOR FIVE YEARS. WE WENT TO Florida. When the band got into some personality problems, I came back and took some music classes. A cousin of mine came by one day and said they needed a keyboard player at this college. I played afew songs with the jazz lab band. The teacher was looking really surprised. He said, "Man, you play good enough to get a scholarship.
DO YOU WANT ONE?' I'M IMPULSIVE, SO I SAID, "YEAH.' AND I WENT to Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn.
"I worked at a watch factory, the GM factory, a paper plant and played in church and in a band, just playing around. Here's the thing about my brother asking me to come here. When I was about 8, he was 18 and went to Michigan State University and he'd come back on weekends and let me see his band. He knows I'm musically inclined, but I think it's more he wants to get to know me as a person, so he asked me to come.
"I think I'll stick around. Charleston is really a nice town.
WHEN I GOT HERE, IT WAS WARM AND IT WAS SAFE TO WALK.
In Detroit, you can't walk everywhere. I feel good about the pace HERE. I'M A QUIET MUSICIAN, THAT'S ALL. I'D LIKE TO PRODUCE MY.
BROTHER'S ALBUMS. HE'S A GREAT MUSICIAN. I'M SOMEWHAT OF A PRODUC er.
I THINK IF WE PUT OUR HEADS TOGETHER, WE COULD PRODUCE SOME GOOD.
MUSIC, A FEW ALBUMS AND VIDEOS. I WOULD LIKE TO WORK WITH MY BROTH er IN THE STUDIO. THAT'S A DREAM OF MINE, TO WORK WITH MY BROTHER."