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Beach fest brings musician home
Members of the Coastal CruZ’rs are (from left) Carlton Wilkes, Bill Brown, Carroll Aldridge, Bob Suttenfield, Don Peach, Aly Malone, Bob Drake, Bill McNeil, David Buddin and Jay Flippin. They will play tonight at Rania’s in Martinsville and Saturday at the beach music festival in Stuart. (Contributed photo)
Friday, June 7, 2013
By CHARLES BOOTHE - Franklin News-Post
This weekend’s Hot Fun In the Summertime Beach Music Festival in Stuart will be a musical homecoming of sorts for Dr. Jay Flippin.
A 1964 graduate of Stuart High School, Flippin is a retired music professor living in Kentucky who will play tonight at Rania’s in Martinsville and Saturday at the festival with the band Coastal CruZ’rs.
Flippin, a keyboardist and vocalist for the band, recently retired from Morehead State University after teaching keyboards, jazz studies, theory and music history for 33 years. He teaches part-time at both Morehead State and Marshall University.
But performing is what he loves to do, and Flippin said he is excited about playing this weekend, his first commercial performance in the area since his high school days.
“I recently went to the Baptist church in Stuart as an organist for the church’s 150th anniversary,” he said. “I’ve played at the church a couple of times. But this will be the first commercial venue for me (in this area) since 1964.”
Flippin was one of the original members of The Embers from Stuart, a band formed in 1963 that also included Carlton Wilkes, Wes Wells and Mike Clay from Bassett, David Arnold from Collinsville, and Cecil Akers and Rick Flippin (Jay’s brother) from Stuart.
During those days, Wilkes, who retired a few years ago as Franklin County High School’s longtime band director, said he, Jay and other members of The Embers played all around Martinsville, Patrick County and at Danville’s “Saturday Night Barn Dance” on WBTM Radio.
“We played in all of the country clubs, at Martin Stables, in people’s homes, at churches, at Bassett Pythian Hall and at the Moose Lodge,” Wilkes said.
After high school, band members went their separate ways, Wilkes to Patrick Henry Community College and Jay Flippin to Mars Hill (N.C.) College as a piano major.
Since then, Flippin’s career has been stellar not only as a teacher but a performer and composer as well.
Flippin has toured with dozens of artists, including Clark Terry, James Moody, Chris Potter, the Count Basie Orchestra, Bernadette Peters, Ray Charles, LeAnn Rimes and Wilson Pickett.
His compositions and arrangements include more than 2,500 works for orchestra, chorus, band, jazz ensembles of every size and description, keyboards, solo instruments, voice and orchestra.
He also has scored more than 50 films and videos, and composed cues for several television series. In 2000, he won an Emmy for his score for the documentary, “Ashes to Glory,” and in 2001, he was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for best original song.
Flippin’s recording credits include arranging, producing, and/or playing on more than 350 album/CD projects. He has five CD releases under his own name, including his most recent, “The Jay Flippin Trio: By Request.”
But Flippin’s music may be more familiar to the most people through television.
Two of his commercial jingles, “We Do Chicken Right” for Kentucky Fried Chicken and the jingle for Roto-Rooter, are well-known tunes.
He also is organist and minister of music at the First Baptist Church in Morehead; accompanist and arranger for the Lexington Singers; and musical director, keyboardist and arranger for the Patsy Meyer Band.
Flippin credits much of his success to Akers, his cousin with whom he grew up in Stuart.
It was Akers’ idea to start The Embers, he said.
“He taught us pretty much everything,” Flippin said of Akers. “The music was rhythm and blues, rock and roll — Cecil got it all started. The thing is, if he hears something one time, he can play it.”
Flippin said his brother Rick also has stayed in the music business and has a recording studio and record label in Florida.
Coastal CruZ’rs was started in 2010 after Flippin, Wilkes and other musicians who knew each other and had played together from time to time decided to meet for a “musical reunion.”
After playing for a Mars Hill homecoming that October, the members decided to continue their occasional practices, Wilkes said.
“Eventually, the engagements (concerts) came and a CD was produced in 2012 in a Martinsville studio,” Wilkes said.
The group initially called itself Bob Drake and the Imperials, but the name was changed to Coastal CruZ’rs after a gospel music group from Nashville that owns the rights to the name “Imperials” became aware of the band.
“They kept what they wanted — their name — and we came up with an outstanding band name that really sums up what we like to play,” Wilkes said, “the best of rhythm and blues, oldies and beach music.”
Flippin said he loves beach music, but it is not played much in Kentucky.
“Beach music is like a letter from home,” he said. “I am really looking forward to playing. There will be some good bands at the festival.”
Band members include Flippin (Morehead, Ky.) on keyboard and vocals; Wilkes (Boones Mill) on alto and tenor sax; Bob Drake (Ware Shoals, S.C.), vocalist; Aly Malone (Mauldin, S.C.), vocalist; Don Peach (Lincolnton, N.C.), trumpet; David Buddin (Anderson, S.C.), trumpet; Bill McNeil (Sunset Beach, N.C.), tenor and baritone sax; Bob Suttenfield (Mt. Holly, N.C.), drums; Carroll Aldridge (Mt. Airy, N.C.), guitar; and Bill Brown (Easley, S.C.), bass guitar.
Coastal CruZ’rs will perform from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. today at Rania’s and at a late afternoon show at the Stuart Beach Music Festival on Saturday in Wayside Park.