For more than 50 years, the Greenwood-based rhythm and blues ensemble The Swingin' Medallions has been entertaining audiences all over the South with performances of timeless classics like "Double Shot of My Baby's Love," "She Drives Me Out of My Mind" and "Hey, Hey Baby."
That is about the only thing about The Swingin' Medallions that hasn't changed.
Over the years, the band, founded in 1962 by John McElrath, has shuffled its eight-man lineup more times than a professional baseball team with members rotating in and out to start families and start businesses or simply take a break from the group's somewhat grueling spring and summer touring schedules.
Such tumult was how current member Chris Crowe, who had not yet been born when the band recorded "Double Shot," was brought into the fold in 1996.
The group had a New Year's Eve gig on Amelia Island, Fla., and needed someone to play baritone sax and, in a pinch, approached Crowe to fill in. He'd never before played the instrument and had 30 days to learn.
"I knew how to read music and I know how to play the piano so it really was just a matter of learning to blow the instrument and learning the omniture," Crowe said. "I practiced for eight to ten hours a week and that was it. I played with them for the next six years."
But real life also came calling for Crowe, who left the group briefly to start a furniture restoration business, before recently rejoining the Medallions as did original member and fellow saxophonist and bass guitarist Jimmy Perkins.
Perkins, Crowe, McElrath and the rest of the band will perform June 7 at the Jasper County Farmers Market in Ridgeland as part of an event sponsored by the Jasper County Chamber of Commerce.
"It's always a treat having the Swingin' Medallions back in Jasper County," Kendall Malphrus, the chamber's executive director, said in a statement. "Crowds love them. They appeal to a really broad age group from baby boomers to teenagers because they are terrific entertainers."
In addition to playing their hits and R&B classics from Otis Redding and The Drifters, the band's three 45-minute sets also typically feature modern chart-toppers such as LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem" and The Wanted's "Glad You Came."
Crowe said the band plans to fold songs by former Black Eyed Peas member Will.i.am and Old Crow Medicine Show's "Wagon Wheel" into shows on this summer's tour, which will also include stops in Greenville, Athens, Ga., and on Tybee Island.
"We really do run all the way to the end of the radio dial," Crowe said. "It's something we do as much for ourselves as for our audiences. We've got to keep it fresh."
Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at twitter.com/IPBG_Patrick .
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