Main Street People
The Craig Woolard Band
The Cary, North Carolina
based Craig Woolard Band has experienced in their five plus years pretty much what many groups go through getting started
– a transitional period of players coming and going before settling into their niche. Through all the growing pains,
they have remained one of the strongest and most popular bands on the Beach circuit. I
have to admit, I had not seen CWB in several months, before having the chance to work with them this past November as part
of the Spanish Galleon Friday night entertainment at the Carolina
Beach Music Awards. I witnessed what I would call their evolution: a
band with a tightly polished groove turning out very impressive performances all weekend, while taking advantage of the opportunity
to showcase their latest album release.
Main Street People from Judy Collins’ SISBRO label is the third
album to be released by The Craig Woolard Band. All three have featured outstanding song selection, vocals, instrumentation,
and production. This one may very well be their best to date – truly an album with heart and soul! The music jumps off
on the first cut on what may be my favorite track. The Robert Ward written (Ward was a member of the ‘60’s group
The Falcons along with Wilson Pickett and Eddie Floyd) Your Love Is Amazing is
a hard driving tune that really serves to highlight Craig’s strong vocal range. Several artists have turned out renditions
of this song but for my money, none better than CWB. Craig’s vocal versatility also stands up strong on the horn laden
Love Sweet Love, the mid-tempo Somewhere,
Somebody and the seminal balladry of A Soulful Kind of Love.
The band’s mix of No More Cloudy Days certainly has the feel
of the Eagles to it – but also some soulful strains that have a sound similar to Bruce Hornsby as well. The regal Impossible may be the early leader from the standpoint of radio airplay. It features
the legendary Memphis guitarist Steve Cropper as a guest musician
with Craig really bringing it home. I LOVE the fact that Southern Soul is well represented on the album with I’m in Love With the Girl Next Door and Who’s Cheating Who?
Beachaholic is a regional tune of tropical novelty - turn right at Margaritaville!
One unique feature on this album is the number of lead vocalists that are utilized. Lead guitarist Don Jordan
does a nice job on a danceable bluesy shuffle rendition of Hound Dog. Bass guitarist
Greg Watson steps up with a little countrified side of life on Just Got Started Lovin’
You. Veteran keyboardist Andy Swindell (yes, he is a former Ember) turns out an old school R&B club flavor with the
very shagable Thank You Pretty Baby. Craig Michael (CJ) Woolard is right on time
doing a fittingtr ibute to the late Michael Jackson with Farewell My Summer Love.
The album title and track Main Street People were respectfully borrowed
from a 1973 album of the same name by the mighty Four Tops (a piece of vinyl that I literally wore out on the turntable back
in the day!). For Levi and the Tops of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, Main
Street was the Motown neighborhood on West Grand Boulevard
in Detroit. But for CWB and all of us folks of the Carolinas
that grew up as beach goers, Main Street was, is, and hopefully forever will be, in downtown Ocean Drive, South Carolina.
A big thanks to Craig and team for taking us back there with an outstanding musical variety of Beach, Soul, Blues, and R&B,
etc. on this album.