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Musicians to help Simpson Brothers Band, longtime residents of SC



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Brian Simpson on keyboards and Mike Simpson on guitar performing on Hilton Head Island as the Simpson Brothers Band.

Brian Simpson on keyboards and Mike Simpson on guitar performing on Hilton Head Island as the Simpson Brothers Band.

courtesy of the Simpson family

The Simpson Brothers Band finally struck a sour note.

Mike and Brian Simpson have been our own Sam and Dave, playing the background music of the booming Hilton Head Island tourism industry for 32 years.

The people who came to live the dream danced the night away with the Simpson Brothers at the Quarterdeck at Harbor Town Lighthouse.

They entertained themselves at the Electric Piano Bar, Salty Dog and Smokehouse, where occasionally Rascal Flatts bassist Jay DeMarcus would sit with them.

In recent years, they have performed for the herds at Reilley’s, Crazy Crab, Fish Camp and Aunt Chilada’s restaurants.

And this week, this local CRAB restaurant group will be hosting a benefit concert for the Simpson Brothers from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at The Crazy Crab restaurant in Jarvis Creek.

For the first time since the teenage brothers had a “garage band” in their family living room in Albany, Georgia, they couldn’t make music for a living.

Everything changed in an instant. One Friday in late July, Mike took his daily beach walk near his home in South Forest Beach. At around 5 p.m. Brian came from his house on the same street to pick him up for their concert from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Aunt Chilada’s house.

But Mike didn’t get out of the van.

Brian approached the door and heard the muffled cries of his 69-year-old brother.

Mike had had a stroke. He was flown to Charleston, where he was hospitalized for five weeks.

He’s home now, doing physiotherapy, but paralyzed on his left side, unable to pick up a guitar or walk.

He moved in with Brian, his caregiver. Friends Rick Hilton and Kevin Snyder helped build a wheelchair ramp and renovate a bathroom at Brian’s.

“He’s in a terrible situation,” Brian said.

Fortunately, Mike has Medicare. But the musician jobs that set the pace at Hilton Head don’t come with 401 (k) or insurance.

Their sister, Tish, set up a GoFundMe page without her brothers’ knowledge, and it brought in around $ 33,000.

Now the musicians are trying to help their brothers.

Island pianist Martin Lesch posted on Facebook: “Two of my favorite humans and also legendary performers from the region during a looooonnnnnngggggg. I love these guys and can’t say enough good things about them. It’s time to show them the love they’ve earned and deserve.

National musician James Otto told his 246,000 Facebook followers: “These guys have devoted their entire lives to entertaining others. They are two of the coolest guys on the planet. Health problems have kept them away from shows, which are their main source of income. Please consider helping them if you can.


The Simpson Brothers saw signs for Hilton Head during their years of tearing up Interstate 95 for concerts at every Holiday Inn, Ramada, and Sheraton South, or so it seemed.

But they never came to see it until the late Jack Tarver Jr. asked them to play the Old Post Office Emporium around 1989. The Old PO was a legendary little room that was literally the Old Post Office. of the island on Pope Avenue.

The brothers came with their drummer at the time, Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson, founding member of the Allman Brothers Band.

Today you have to pinch yourself to realize who all played Old PO from the mid-80s to the mid-90s.

Widespread Panic played there often. An unknown group from Vermont that the locals didn’t quite understand showed up a few times. You must have heard from them. They are called Phish. The reggae band I-TAL was almost the house band.

But the brothers found themselves on a stage that had hosted Gregg Allman, the Buddy Rich Orchestra, Taj Mahal, Bonnie Raitt, Wynton Marsalis, Dave Mason, the Nighthawks, the Outlaws, Doc Watson, Edgar Winter, the Byrds, Warren Zevon.

Jesse Winchester, the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Poco, Chuck Leavell, Vince Gill, Bo Diddley, Tommy Dorsey, Mose Allison, The Band, Jeff Foxworthy, Delbert McClinton and many more.

The Simpson Brothers were also blown away by local musicians like David Wingo, the Mundahs, Billy Blair, the Chilly Willy Band and the Truly Dangerous Swamp Band led by Old PO co-owner David Truly.

They found an active nightclub scene, led by headliners at Club Indigo in the Hyatt and Bobby Ryder at Scarlett’s in the Mariner’s Inn.

They found groups shaking the wood floors until 4 a.m. at Roy Prescott’s Remy’s Restaurant and Bar.

It was a time when a group of college kids known as Hootie and the Blowfish played at Callahan’s Bar and Edwin McCain played Tiki Hut on the beach.

The Simpson Brothers were thrilled to be invited back to the island to play Quarterdeck. And they were even happier when they were asked to become the house band there, following David Wingo, who put it on the map.

“I fell in love with Hilton Head,” Brian says today.

“It was a 35 mph world instead of Miami’s freeways. It was a good relaxed and beautiful place.


Musicians play for us, but they often have to play for each other.

The first benefit concert I can remember was for Marilyn Daly, who had cancer. She was known as Janis Joplin No. 2, so strong was her voice on stage with her husband, Mike, and their child musicians, including Jevon and Gavin.

Years later, other musicians would help pay for David Wingo’s back surgery.

About 50 musicians staged a concert to raise funds to fight Alzheimer’s disease after it claimed the life of Dick Mariotte, who wrote countless columns about local musicians in the former Hilton Head News .

Twenty local bands performed at the Shoreline Ballroom to benefit bassist Cotdney Ulmer when he needed a new heart.

Soon after, Lavon Stevens organized his funeral service and conducted the combined choirs. The Heavenly Areas harmonized the gospel. And Earl Williams’ saxophone performance of “The Lord’s Prayer” set the tone for 2.5 hours of song, horn, applause, witness, weeping and dancing.

Louise Spencer did her popular version of “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” and regional jazz pantheon Teddy Adams on trombone and Kenny Alexander on saxophone helped conduct “Just a Closer Walk With Thee,” “Amazing Grace” and “When the Saints enter the march.

Brian Simpson said the brothers deliberately never tried to be successful in Nashville or break a bunch of records.

“We have had a blessed life,” he said. “We made just enough money to be happy and satisfied. It’s been a rich life. I turned 18 in New Orleans. We played in Coconut Grove in the 70’s. We went where everyone had fun.

On stage this week for The Simpson Brothers, there will be David Wingo, Pete Carroll, La Bodega, Jarad Valenti, Sara Burns and Mike Kavanaugh.

“Hilton Head has been good for the music business,” said Brian Simpson.

“And the music business has been good for Hilton Head.”

David Lauderdale can be contacted at [email protected]


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