August 2008

That’s Entertainment!: Shoreline Ballroom brings top acts to the Lowcountry

Author: Melissa Koch

“It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock and roll.” —the late Bon Scott, of AC/DC

Our story begins one April evening in the Green Room: Skip, the tour manager for the jam rock band, Moe, huddles over his laptop in a booth by the window, typing away. A few of the guys from the band lean against the private bar and chat with their band mates, who are shooting pool nearby. “Man, this is better than Radio City’s,” someone says, referring to the backstage area at the renowned New York City venue, where they hit the stage two New Years ago.

Only tonight, the special occasion isn’t a holiday: It’s the Grand Opening for a new East Coast venue called the Shoreline Ballroom; and the locale isn’t in a big city. It’s right here on Hilton Head Island.

Conceived out of a love for live music and a desire to see more of it in the Lowcountry, The Shoreline Ballroom plans to host events ranging from intimate engagements to shows drawing crowds of up to 1,600. Live entertainment fans can expect to see acts ranging from popular stand-up comedians to local, regional and national musical artists from a wide variety of genres.

Shows at the Shoreline Ballroom are produced by Lighthouse Entertainment, a concert and comedy booking and promotions company owned and operated by former music venue owners and managers. The company brings together over 25 years of experience in the industry, including prior ownership of two well-known venues in Columbia, SC: the Elbow Room and the New Brookland Tavern. After putting in the time operating these smaller venues, owner, Bob Marzbanian, decided it was time to move his life’s dream of opening a larger venue to the beach. And like most people who vacation here frequently, he felt the pull of Hilton Head’s gentle tides.

One of the most frequently asked questions of Shoreline staff is, “What is your demographic? Who’s at your shows?” The answer? There is no demographic. If you love music, and live music at that, chances are, there will always be a show for you in the lineup, whether you’re 6 months old or days away from your 100th birthday. “We don’t want to limit ourselves to a particular genre, as we feel there is an audience in our area for all types of music, everything from bluegrass to metal, comedy to Christmas shows,” said booking agent, Jonathan Dunagin.

In its first four months, the Shoreline has already had an eclectic mix of legendary performers take its stage: from Allman Brothers Band founding member, Dickey Betts, to reggae kings; The Wailers; Southern stars Edwin McCain to the Marshall Tucker Band; and from MTV darlings, Switchfoot, to legendary comedian, Gallagher, among others. It’s been an exciting journey so far.

And don’t forget the locals! The Shoreline staffers are big supporters of the local music scene, and believe that local talent is key to the success of any music venue. You can spot them all around town checking out the ever-growing Hilton Head music scene, and you might even catch one of them behind an open mike! Many of your favorite local artists have already hit the stage at the Shoreline Ballroom, whether it be opening up for the likes of Martin Sexton and Dickey Betts, getting invited up on stage to sing a tune, or playing at a special locals-only event.

Tucked away on Folly Field Road, within the all-new Ocean Center (at the entrance to the Hilton Head Beach and Tennis Resort), the space has been completely renovated to accommodate live entertainment. With the addition of state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems and the largest art-deco style bar in the Southeast, the Shoreline Ballroom is expected to become one of the best destinations for live entertainment in the South. “We’ve had numerous write-ups in the local press, music trade magazines such as Pollstar, and an increasing buzz among acts that have performed at our venue,” said Dunagin.

While many of the acts love the venue for its open feel and great acoustics, what they’re really enjoying is what Hilton Head has to offer. Being steps away from the ocean has not gone unnoticed by the bands. Old Crow Medicine Show spent their day here “workin’ on our tans,” and Switchfoot attempted to go surfing, but alas, it was one of those days where the water looked like glass, and paddle boards where nowhere to be found. The Southern Fried Chicks Comedy Tour actually showed up a few days early to enjoy a “mini-vacation,” and enjoy it they did.

Things at the Shoreline Ballroom are only getting started. There is a steady rumor buzz going (well, this is Hilton Head after all) about which bands will appear next on the lineup, and some of those are in the works for next year. “As we continue to grow, our shows will steadily improve, both in audience size and name recognition,” said Dunagin.

“This is history in the making,” added venue manager, Anthony Marzbanian.

Though making history will take a little time and patience (and a lot of elbow grease), the staff is optimistic, and having a whole lot of fun in the meantime. Perhaps Dunagin put it best when he noted, “You are always fighting an uphill battle when it comes to being a new venue—both in dealing with bands and agents, and in informing the public of your existence. One goes along with the other, but there is a delicate balance that needs to be maintained, which we are achieving.”

Upcoming shows at the Shoreline Ballroom:
Friday August 1
Perpetual Groove
2 full sets
7 p.m. doors
9:15 p.m.
$12 advance/$16 door

Saturday August 2
Pink Floydian Slip—Pink Floyd Tribute
2 full sets
7 p.m. doors
9:15 p.m.
$10 advance/$12 doors

Friday, August 15
The Del McCoury Band
w/No Strings Attached
7 p.m. doors
9:15 p.m./10:30 p.m.
$15 advance/$20 doors

Saturday August 16
Col. Bruce Hampton & the Quark Alliance
AND Outformation
7 p.m. doors
9:15 p.m./11 p.m.
$12 advance/$16 doors

Friday, August 29
Leon Russell
w/Martin Lesch Band
7 p.m. doors
9:15 p.m./10:30 p.m.
$20 advance/$25 door

Saturday, August 30
Sister Hazel
w/special guest, TB
7 p.m. doors
$15 advance/$20 door

Friday, September 12
Indigo Girls
w/Missy Higgins
7 p.m. doors
$26 adv/$32 door

Friday, October 17
Air Supply
w/a special solo performance by Graham Russell
& special guest, TBA
7 p.m. doors
$28 advance/$35 door

For tickets and information, call 843.842.0358, or visit www.shorelineballroom.com.

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