By Scott Sechman/Correspondent
I have entered my sixth year as a resident on the Outer Banks and entering my third year writing “Beyond the Music”.
When I lived in Southern California from 1979 to 2015, it kinda blew my mind how many people were transplanted there. I know that in that era, (and before), California was a magnet for actors, musicians, writers and essential workers of every color and stripe. It’s what’s known as a melting pot.
I was a “native” of sorts. A Navy brat, I was born in a Naval hospital in the middle of the California desert. A place called Corona, that is now best known as the home of the Fender musical instrument company. Weird, huh?
We didn’t live there long, as my dad was next stationed in Japan, then Maryland and ultimately, (like most sailors), in the Tidewater/Hampton Roads area. It’s also known as a melting pot.
Since I’ve been writing this column, I’ve noted that the OBX is not unlike So Cal in that there seems to be more transplants than natives. I don’t know that for sure, but it seems that way. Especially, musicians.
How, exactly, did this tribe of artists come to find themselves in our thin, long slice of paradise?
I asked and the answers are as varied as the subjects.
Amanda Williams of Gypsea Souls, music teacher at the Mustang Outreach Program:
I’m originally from Nashville, NC. My college sweetheart and now ex-husband was from Kitty Hawk. When we separated, I decided to stay in the place that had become home.
Barry Wells – Singer, songwriter, guitarist:
My dad was a surfer and he relocated in 1993, I believe, and I was quick behind him. Times were tough in Baltimore and by 7th grade I moved down to live with my dad and NEVER LOOKED BACK! So to answer your question, MY DAD is the reason I live here!
Bobby Soto – Singer, guitarist, passing and member of The Ramble:
My mother moved to Powell’s Point from Northern Virginia not long after I graduated high school in 2007 and I eventually followed before moving out onto the beach.
Cristina Garey – Singer, Songwriter, Guitarist, front woman for Trio Los Playeros & the Havana Club OBX:
I first came to Nags Head, (as it was referred to in the late 70’s), ’cause my college roommate’s parent’s had a cottage here and I LOVE the ocean.
Graham Outten – Singer, songwriter, guitarist, producer:
Born and raised on the beautiful beaches of Southern Shores. It’s a privilege to call myself a “local”. Other than my tenure as a vocal performance major in UNC Charlotte, I have lived here for the past 30 years, performing for the first time as a solo artist in 2012. The fun crowds and amazing music scene on the Outer Banks will keep me coming back each year. Never a dull moment.
Harry Harrison – Singer, songwriter, guitarist, novelist and modern music historian of the first order:
Joshua “Marty” Martier brought me to the Outer Banks. His family took me in and, along with another OBX OG native, Ed Tupper, integrated me into the local music community. They’re a family of artists and OBX royalty.
Jesse Fernandez – Singer, guitarist, bassist, hand drummer for Hello Robot, (and East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame inductee: Surfboard factory at WRV offered me a full time position building boards.
Michelle Fernandez – Singer, songwriter, guitarist for Hello Robot:
An advertising sales job at the Outer Banks Sentinel.
Joe Mapp – Guitarist, teacher, bandleader:
His car may have brought him to the OBX where his father had built a house, but his motivation was discovering a dead body on the steps of his Washington D.C. condo one morning. “I just wanted out of there”.
Kevin Roughton – Singer, guitarist, raconteur, founding member of the Wilders:
I was raised in Columbia, NC and we would come to the Outer Banks often when I was a kid. I spent time out on the road playing music and tired of that. The liquor laws here changed from “brown-bagging” to “liquor by the drink” in restaurants sometime around 1982. That’s when I started playing solo in local establishments while I was also a “bridge-tender” on the Alligator River bridge.
Tim Reynolds – Guitarist, songwriter, leader of TR3 and member of the Dave Matthews Band:
About 13 years ago (2007 or 2008), my partner at the time, moved to NC. So I moved too, with her (our) family. I had played there before, years and years ago. So, I knew about the place. I really wasn’t that much into beaches. But it was good and that’s when I started playing with DMB on more of a full time basis.
Broughton Aycock – Singer, guitarist, bandleader, world traveller:
I am as native as it gets! My dad is a sax and trumpet player and is in the Carolina Beach Music Hall of Fame with his band, the Men of Distinction.
John Harper – Radio personality, music historian, wedding DJ and Coast OBX correspondent:
I’m an army brat. But I consider Richmond to be my hometown. A radio job – WOBR-Beach 95FM – brought me here in 1985.
John Saturley – Guitarist, songwriter, singer, bassist, pianist, drummer, leader of Zack Mexico:
I moved to the OBX in the year 2000 with my family when I was 12. My stepdad was a project manager for the Outer Banks Hospital.
Josh “Marty” Martier – Drummer, guitarist, singer, songwriter, horticulturist:
I was born in Atlanta but moved to the beach at 5 years old. It’s pretty much all I can remember, so I consider myself local.
Leslie Buck – Singer, songwriter, guitarist, keyboard, percussion instruments, harmonica, and some bass guitar:
My ex-husband brought me here. I’d never heard of this beautiful, Cape Cod kind of place. As newlyweds, the OBX was to be one of many stops while going cross-country to Cabo San Lucas. We never left!
Matt McGuire – Singer, songwriter, guitarist, keyboards, trumpet and member of the Wilders:
My aunt and uncle, Paul and Donna Lacy, had a rental house and they invited me down. I went to one open-mic and that was it. I knew I wanted to be here forever.
Matt Wentz – Guitarist, songwriter, member of Zack Mexico and Harrison & Wentz:
I was brought here as a toddler.
Mike Dianna – Music Promoter, booking agent, restauranteur, entrepreneur: I was born and raised in Millersville, PA. Went to college in Indiana, PA. I spent the summer after my junior year in Kill Devil Hills. I went back for last year of school and moved here the day I graduated.
Monte Hooker – Singer, songwriter, guitarist, open-mic cat herder: I’m originally from Elizabeth City, NC and moved here because I have always loved the area.
Myles Wood – Drummer, former member of The Ramble:
I am fortunate enough to have been born and raised here, but it is the community and the love that people have for each other that keeps me here.
Natalie Wolfe – Singer, songwriter, guitarist:
My grandmother lived in Kitty Hawk, so I have been coming here as a child. But I moved here to work one summer during college and decided to stay.
Norman Harrell – Singer, songwriter, guitarist, bassist, former member of Snuff:
I have been fishing on The Outer Banks since I was 3, played music here since 1979 and moved to OBX in 2009 to run a studio with Chuck “Coyote” Larson. After being injured in an auto accident in 2006, I focused on recording and local gigs with Laura, my bride. We’ve been playing together for over 15 years.
Patrick Goller – Guitarist for The Ramble:
Working at a summer position starting in 2010. Turned out to be a long summer! haha.
Randy Burton – Singer, guitarist, songwriter, front and sideman:
I bought property in the Outer Banks decades ago, built a house as a rental property. Since it is paid for, I now I live in that house in beautiful downtown Duck.
Scott Franson – Singer, songwriter, guitarist, recording engineer and producer: We came to the Outer Banks when I was a kid on vacation. I came here for a weekend when I was almost finished with music school, here I am over 20 years later, and still here.
Shelli Gates – Singer, songwriter, guitarist, producer, promoter, teacher: I first came down in 1975 with my family and then with my sorority sisters in the early 1980’s. I always felt drawn to the Outer Banks. I moved here 26 years ago and never looked back. Best move I ever made.
Steve Hauser – Singer, guitarist, songwriter:
I was born in California. Playing Dick Dale records and listening to Wolfman Jack on the radio. Moved to Washington DC for high school. Moved to Alaska in 80’s. Came back to DC/Virginia area later in the 80’s. I played in an Alternative band until I decided to settle down to be try to be an adult. Now, I’m here trying to be a kid, I guess! The Outer Banks is one of my favorite beaches. There is a nice balance between quirky beach town and outdoor activities.
T.J. Hahs – Bassist for SoulOne: My sister lived here. I moved here with my mother in 2015.
Tom Vinick – Singer, songwriter, guitarist, bandleader: We came to the area in 1995 after I graduated Chiropractic school, to start a practice and raise our kids. Claire and I are from New England and we liked the climate, cost of living and proximity to the ocean!