Swingin' Medallions will celebrate 50th at Beach Blast



When the Swingin’ Medallions hit the stage at Lady Antebellum Pavilion on Friday, July 13, the South Carolina-based band will be marking its 50th year.

Jimmy “Jabbo” Perkins is the lone original member of the band and still continues to ply his trade among the eight-member group known for its brilliant horn playing, choreography and vocal prowess.

“I’m still hanging out with fellas who are in the mid-to-late 20s,” said Perkins, adding that like one of his musical influences – James Brown – “Overall, I feel good.

“You get a pain here and there, but you learn to live with it,” said the 65-year-old bassist and tenor saxophonist, who said the group was largely made up of college students from Lander University and from the Greenville, S.C., region when they decided to combine their musical talents.

The result has been 50 years of good times and fun from what started as a hobby, said Perkins, who was nicknamed Jabbo after the group witnessed James Brown and the Famous Flames perform in Augusta at Bell Auditorium in the mid 1960s.

“I played bass guitar and the guys felt I had that same type of ferver and energy as James’ drummer, John “Jabo” Sparks. So, I’ve been known as Jabbo ever since,” he said.

The Medallions was founded in 1962 by John McElrath and now includes his two sons, Shawn McElrath and Shane McElrath. The band also features Jake Bartley, the son of original Medallion Hack Bartley.

Perkins said the group has not looked back since recording its oft-requested signature song, Double Shot of My Baby’s Love. The song was recorded in 1965 at Arthur Smith’s studio in Charlotte, N.C., Perkins said.

“We’ve probably played the song 10,000 times,” he said with a chuckle, “but we always play what the people want. And if it’s requested, we’ll play it again.”

Drummer/manager Robby Cox agrees with Perkins, adding that the band has often been typecast as a beach band.

“We get lumped into that category, but that isn’t just what we’re only about,” he said. “We do play some beach music, but we’re basically a good-time band. We’re there to entertain.

“We do what we do and hope people like it, even if you’re an Anthrax or Metallica fan, come on out and see our show, you can dance and have a good time.”

The July 13 bill also includes The Tams and The Drifters. The music starts at 7 p.m.; doors open at 5:30.

Tickets are $15. For details, see evanstownecenterpark.com or call (706) 312-7192.

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WHAT: Summer Beach Blast with the Swingin’ Medallions, The Tams and The Drifters

WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday, July 13; gates open 5:30 p.m.

WHERE: Lady Antebellum Pavilion, Evans Towne Center Park, 7016 Evans Town Center Blvd.

TICKETS: $15; (706) 312-7192; evanstownecenterpark.com