In the early 1960’s, well before rock and roll gained a foothold in modern American music, “Folk Music” was popular among America’s idealistic youth. In fact, folk music spawned a number of now well known folk music musicians, such as Joni Mitchell, Arlo Guthrie, and Joan Baez that would perform some years later at Woodstock on the same stage as the likes of Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, and many others.
The Southcoasters took a different path.
Introducing, “The Southcoasters”, Texas’ own Folk Music Legends.
It was 1961, and the 23 year old Jerry Wright was helping a friend move some furniture into an apartment. It just so happened that the now-infamous weather event known as “Hurricane Carla” was approaching the Texas Gulf Coast. The storm was set on a course that would decimate the Houston-Galveston area. Tragedy turned to opportunity during the storm as Jerry happened to meet two musicians, Beeman Strong and John Reininga. Together, the three would help to define folk music for generations along with groups like the Kingston Trio that were well-known at the time. It was during and after the “hurricane party”, after the power went out, that these men formed a band and a bond that would last a lifetime.
The three would musicians would write their first song together. It was called “Hurricane”. It was a song about their experience, during one of the Gulf Coast’s most traumatic and tragic weather event of modern times. “Hurricane” would be one of the first in a series of hit songs that the trio would write and record. Their hits included a song called “Black Gold”. Together, their music ultimately led them to local and regional notoriety as well as a degree of international success in the music industry. The Southcoasters traveled and performed with many groups and musicians that became the mainstay of modern American music – names such as Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Judy Collins, Brenda Lee, Bobby Bare, Kay Oslen, Guy Clarke, and The Rum Runners, just to name a few.
Now retired, Simonton resident, Jerry Wright remains a fan as well as a performer of folk music. He still gets together with Beeman and John to practice, perform, and record their hits as well as other folk music standards.
The trio has recorded three “Encore” CD’s that capture and memorialize their journey through folk music. Their music is available for purchase through their website, Southcoasters.com, They don’t keep the money from the CD sales, though. The group donates proceeds to MD Anderson to be used for Prostate and Breast Cancer Research.
If you have a moment, take time to visit the Southcoasters website. They have many sample tracks of their recordings there. Of course, Jerry, Beeman and John hope that you’ll join them in the fight against cancer by purchasing a few CDs.