Father’s Day Special – Hilton Head’s Own, Steppin Stones, Featuring a Chip Off the Old Block

Rockin on Hilton Head

Steppin Stones Drummer, Ryan Tye, Vocals and Lead Guitarist, Hannah Wicklund, and vocals & bass guitarist, Mick Ray

Have you ever gone completely slack-jawed, blown-away by a live band that you’d never heard of?  Well, now I have.  And that band is Hilton Head Island’s own, Steppin Stones, born and bred right here on the South Carolina geologic tennis shoe.  I first saw this band at the Chamber of Commerce Christmas After Hours party 2012, where I had gone to connect with local businesspeople and promote myself.  I ended up connecting with exactly – goose-egg – new business contacts, except for Gregg Russell and Mira Scott (two of Hilton Head’s most renowned artists, whom I already know, and who don’t need my services by any stretch of the imagination), who were also hanging out front row while The Steppin Stones blasted out “Gimme Shelter like nobody’s business.

It might amuse you to know that Hannah Wicklund & The Steppin Stones is comprised of three teenagers, who rock down the chandeliers with as much talent and  gusto as their predecessors, a la Steppenwolf, and the Rolling Stones; two bands by the way, who entertained us waaayyyyyyyy back yonder before these kids were born.  But you knew that already.  The great thing about this band is that you can bring the whole family and totally rock yourselves OUT.  Your kids will love this group, because they’re watching their contemporaries on stage, while you will also love them, because they’re playing our favorite tunes from our own, said, formative years.  The whole event resolves the paradox of being safe AND totally cool.  And, as everybody knows, that’s really hard to do these days.

band poses for album

Picture from self-titled 1st cd portfolio shoot.

How did such a trio begin?  Well, apparently, while many kids around the age of seven are watching tv and playing video games after school, these three decided it was more fun to make a whole lot of racket in the garage.  So, under the watchful tutelage of two well-known island artists, Nancy Mitchell and Matthew Wicklund (lead singer, Hannah Wicklund‘s, parents) The Steppin Stones emerged out of Palmetto Bay bedrock.  Oh joy, you say, will they be on America’s Got Talent?  Not any time soon, since this band is already booked all summer long, and everybody within lowcountry regional earshot has already heard of them.  Lead singer and guitarist, Hannah Wicklund, and bass guitarist, Mick Ray, started out playing piano when they were each six years old, and went on to take guitar lessons for five more years.  Ryan Tye began drumming at age eight.  Their manager/roadie/sound guy is Hannah’s father Matt Wicklund, who is the go-to man if you want ever want to book this group.  Mom, Nancy Mitchell, is renowned for her paintings and murals that can be seen in various island public venues and private homes.

Since officially forming the band in 2006, Hannah, Ryan, and Mick, have improved and honed their repertoire substantially, taking on classic rock songs with edge and confidence.  Not afraid to tackle the difficult ranges of Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Mick Jagger, they will transport you to a time when young up-and-coming bands actually played instruments and wrote their own music.  And in keeping with their rock muses, The Steppin Stones also write and produce their own music, which is for sale on cd’s at any of their concert showings.  Sample the video below, where they sing one of their original songs, “Make Up Your Mind,” (starts about four minutes in).  This past January, their 2nd cd hit the Internet called, Handle Me, and is doing quite well.  Currently appearing three nights a week at different Hilton Head venues (see schedule below), Hannah and her bandmates – now, age sixteen, Mick, seventeen,  and Ryan, seventeen – graduated high school this year, and are looking towards their own careers in music.  So, if you want to catch up with them before they are too famous, and tickets to their concerts are the price of a small mortgage payment, you will most definitely want to check them out this summer on Hilton Head Island.

SUMMER, 2013 SCHEDULE:

Thursdays 6:30-8:30 pm, Coligny PlazaFridays 4:00-7:00pm, Hilton Head Beach and Tennis; and Saturdays 7:30- 9:30 pm, under the Liberty Oak in Harbour Town 

For info and bookings, call: 843-842-2380 or email: thesteppinstones@aol.com  You can also check Hannah’s Instagram page, for up-to-date photos.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And finally, in honor of Father’s Day, I implore only islanders who have been here since the early ’80’s to read on (anyone else will be bored to tears beyond this sentence).  For those of you who may or may not have been of a certain age and living in Hilton Head thirty years ago, you may wonder, from what pedigree doth Hannah Wicklund spring?  Ah… I am pleased to connect some dots for those of you who weren’t drowning in a beer bong at that time (or maybe you were).  There once was a seaside cantina upstairs on the beach side of Coligny Plaza, in what is now known as The Big Bamboo restaurant.  The cantina was known to local ne’re-do-wells as Dos Borrachos, which translates (most inauspiciously, I might add) to Two Drunks.  Yes, I know.  We are so proud, that this classy, gentile, family-oriented island was once home to a Mexican restaurant so named, Two Drunks.  Very impressive.  Well, it certainly spoke to the clientele, as I remember visiting (for entertainment and educational purposes only) with my best friend Amy on occasion, which would make us, dos senoritas entering to enjoy con queso and imbibing mucho cerveza, and exiting as dos borrachos.

Why do I mention this short-lived late-night dining pleasure from back in the day?  Because starting at the early-bird crack of 11:00 pm, playing until the wee, 3:00 a.m.-ish on the weekends, we would rock out like idiots to the vivid music of Joe Walsh, Lou Reed, and the Young Rascals, as played by a  local musical ensemble known as, the most prestigious, Bonzo Brothers (who later became the Truly Dangerous Swamp Band).  Again, you ask… the point?  Well, the point is, the drummer for the aforementioned Brothers Bonz’, was the one and only manager/roadie/sound guy of today’s rockin’ Steppin Stones, Matthew Wicklund, FATHER of lead singer, Hannah!  (Whew… wasn’t sure I could put all that together coherently for you; or maybe it wasn’t very coherent, I’m sure I’ll find out.)  So how cool is that?  A Truly Dangerous Bonzo Brothers Legacy, lives on as we live and breathe on Hilton Head Island.  Now, wasn’t that worth reading all the way down to this point?

And if I wanted to riff on the Dos Borrachos connection all day long (but I will spare you my immature ramblings for the most part, except for this one more thing), I could mention that sometimes, I went to the late-night cantina with both Amy, and another best bud, Steve; then I could say that three amigos entered the bar known as Two Drunks, and came out as Tres Borrachos.

Okay, that’s all.  I’m done now.  I think that’s enough double-pun-entendres.  Happy Father’s Day, everyone.

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Parasailing Above the Calibogue Sound of Harbour Town, Hilton Head Island.

Parasailing above Hilton Head

Hello from Above! Carmen & Jesse Parasail Over Harbour Town

Hello again. You’re probably wondering where I’ve been for the past few weeks (or maybe you’re not, and now you’re thinking, “Wow. Is she full of herself or what, if she thinks I’ve checked here for a blog post in recent memory. I sure have lots more things to do than see what trivial minutiae Blog Angel is yammering on about.”), and if you are, I’m sorry to be remiss lately in reporting on the many extraordinarily fun things there are to do on Hilton Head Island.

But you see, in order for me to write about these extraordinary activities, I have to experience them myself first, while collecting information with note-takings, research, picture, and video-taking, and/or, chasing down other people’s smartphone pictures who were enjoying the activity with me and had to take the pictures (because I couldn’t take a picture of myself at the same time as holding onto the straps of a parachute with both hands). Then, I have to edit the notes, pick the best pictures, and/or edit the video and then search iTunes for suitable accompaniment to the visual art.  It takes alot of time and painstaking thought to intertwine this multi-media feast into a coherent blogpost, and I can’t just go into my own playlist and throw up any old Velvet Underground rockin’ song that I happen to like with a video that may not speak to Hilton Head Blog Angel‘s audience demographics.

All of this investigative journalism takes great time and care and fact-checking, and so that’s why sometimes a few days or weeks go by between blog posts. I know that’s a bit more information than, “the dog ate my homework,” but I like to explain where I’ve been, so you all don’t think I’m just kicking around down here, lollygagging on the beach days, with an umbrella drink in my fist, laughing my way to the bank.  Which, by the way. is something I’ve never seen anyone do (laughing their way into a bank, that is). Real artwork is always in progress, and sometimes I have to wait a little extra for the content to be workshopped at the Boston area’s Exclusive Writer’s Forum, a very elusive group of elitist-type writers, who critique one another’s work with filet knives and switchblades, thereby rendering you a sobbing, insulted artiste, with nowhere to go but up.

Digressing, again…

Back to parasailing. My cousins from Virginia were in town a couple of weeks ago and 17-year-old son, Jesse, had not experienced this exciting watersport activity before, so we scheduled a trip for him to join me and get an aerial view of the gorgeous, lowcountry seascape for which Hilton Head is so famous. Leaving out of Harbour Town on  an H20 Sports boat with two, rather buff-bod parasailing experts to hold our hands, we trolled out into the Calibogue Sound with all the other fun, outgoing, watersports-lovers who were going out on paddleboards, pirate ships, sportfishing boats, and kayaks (and sort of rolling their eyes at us novices giggling our way out to sea pointing, at every stupid thing that jumped, swam, or flew by),

Sean, our gentle leader, explained in a very relaxing voice, with cool undertones of been-there-done-that-please-don’t-worry-and-enjoy-this-fun-ride, what we would be doing before and during our delightful journey floating above the beautiful, scenic, southern end of Hilton Head Island. While, Jesse, my astute companion wondered aloud, what those dark, swirling clouds were doing a little over there, off in the distance above the vast Atlantic ocean, and asking, “isn’t this hurricane season down here?” To which we all responded, firmly and with courageous contempt, “Oh don’t be so alarmist, Jesse, they are just a few clouds that are blowing our way, and will pass by us with no drama. Please, can’t you enjoy yourself?”  To which, he just looked at us quizzically, and saying nothing, looked down to make sure the life-preserver jackets were indeed under our seats, somewhere.

Before going up on parasail

Jesse & Carmen Ready for Anything

No, we did not get caught up in a hurricane later that morning, but my clever young cousin was later fully vindicated, by news reports in the local paper the next day of water spouts (hurricanes’ ugly and dangerous second cousins) that did encircle Hilton Head at exactly the same time that we began heading back from our trip.  The moral of this tangent in my story, being, “listen to your teenagers and don’t write them off with scornful ha-ha’s, when they notice odd, weather patterns in the sky”.

So, to make this long story just a little longer, I want to say that we had a marvelous ride for about twelve – fifteen minutes, rocking quietly with the breeze and looking out over God’s blue earth from a comfortable, secure five hundred feet or so, while the boat pulled us lightly through the sky. It was a truly joyful experience and I thoroughly recommend this activity to anyone visiting Hilton Head and who would like to get a different angle on our little oasis along the southeast American coastline. H20 Sports did a great job explaining everything to us, and if we wanted to explore the area by kayak, or paddleboard, or simply cruise around the sound (among their many other watersport offerings), at a later time they were there to accommodate with similar experience and USCGA-licensed staff, secure equipment, and professional services.

Give them a call, 1-877-290-4FUN (4386) or check out their website.

Adios, and have a great week on Hilton Head!

Blog Angel signing off.

China Looks to Hilton Head for Resort Development Ideas

Harbour Town’s Liberty Oak Tree Graces Us Nightly While Gregg Russell Sings to the Children

Harbour Town’s Liberty Oak Tree Graces Us Nightly While Gregg Russell Sings to the Children

It seems the Chinese have cottoned on to what we already knew about Hilton Head, SC; it is a gorgeous island with high, environmentally sensitive, building standards to which developers must adhere when beginning construction on any kind of building or attraction. Last week – reported the Island Packet on July 10, 2010 – several representatives from two development corporations in China and Thailand, came all the way across the world to Hilton Head and toured Harbour Town, with Ed Modzelewski, Chairman of Applied Technology and Management Inc. (ATM), which has offices in Hilton Head and Charleston.

Apparently, they had all first met each other earlier this year in Shanghai at a boat show (go figure) and the Chinese representatives wandered up to Mr. Modzelewski, and said, “Hello. We are corporate partners developing a twenty-two mile stretch of land along the pacific coast where, up to now, we do alot of shrimp farming. But we want to turn this beautiful coastline into an economic stomping ground filled with marinas and condos and beachside towns and hotels and vacation rentals, but we’ve never done this before and do you know somebody somewhere on this green earth that could show us a model or something of how to build such a community without tearing down every single tree, blade of grass, coconut grove, and rubber plantation?”  Or maybe, something similar to that, and in the Chinese language.

To which, Mr. Modzelewski probably responded, “Duh. Hilton Head Island, SC, on the other side of the world, was built up in the 1970’s by the Brothers Fraser, Charles and Joe… and some other people, but the Fraser boys were the ones who were adamant about leaving the wildlife and trees and marshes right where they started and we would just have to put our little roads and restaurants and houses in the little spaces in between the trees and the beaches,” is maybe what Ed Modzelewski said to David Zhidong Li, the head rep of the Vanion Group from China.

map of Hilton Head

Hilton Head Island, SC

All of which led to this great visit from our Chinese friends who want to see how we shake things up in Harbour Town with live music under the Liberty Oak tree, and cocktails, yachts, charter boats, condos, shops, a lighthouse, a golf course, and everything highlighted in lowcountry style. Well, I imagine they collected alot of good notes and tips from all the realtors and builders here, and will be able to use that information when they go home to China and start building their own marina resort development project.  I hope we can visit this new place when its done, and maybe get a ‘locals’ discount on a dinner or charter boat or something.

AARGHH!! YOU MUST LEARN TO SAY AARGHH!!

Just when you thought all the fun ideas had been published, produced, and patented, along comes a no-brainer like this one to make you smack your head V8 style. Patrick Coughlin (aka: Captain Squint) hails from New Jersey and runs the Black Dagger pirate ship in the Harbour Town Yacht Basin. He is the total go-to guy if you want to watch your kids have the best time since Universal Studios opened their doors.

Bring lots of money and buccaneers aged 3-10 years and let the games begin. Captain Squint and his crew of reprobates, who look suspiciously like American college kids (don’t be fooled by the straight white teeth, it’s part of the act so you’ll feel comfortable allowing them to take your children out onto the high seas with their newly painted tattoos), begin training the kids thirty minutes before the cruise on the dock by the Harbour Town Lighthouse. Pirate tutorial includes dressing in the exclusive vest and bandana, swaggering about, learning to pronounce ahoy! correctly, and yelling AAARRGGGHH!!! so loudly, you will swear Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom have just fled their Quarterdeck bar tab.

Now, they stomp down the dock to the Black Dagger pirate ship (amidst adult onlookers’ guffaws) where they will board for the high seas and hunt for treasure. They leave the harbor cruising the Calibogue Sound, preparing for the treasure hunt. But wait! What’s this? Another pirate coming to foil their mission? AYE-AYE! Here comes Stinky Pete armed with a sword and Neutrogena spf 70, coming to steal the treasure map from the pirates of the Black Dagger. What happens next? Good thing Captain Squint has equipped the ship with water cannons to defend against any n’er-do-wells who might try to muddy up the seas, so to speak. Fortunately, crewmember Dastardly Dan brought along his trusty digital Canon to capture this incredible sea battle for YouTube, which is just as funny as it sounds like it would be.

Your kids will revel on this voyage with a little more room and ease if you book your reservations earlier in the week, says Captain Squint. By Thursday, the dock is crowded with grouchy outlaws and villains who are tired, cranky, and sun burnt because they waited all week to board the ship. You may guard against the last of these beach condo plagues by stopping at The Vacation Company and picking up some complimentary Banana Boat sunscreen packets.


Visit the Pirates of Hilton Head website for further excitement, adventure music, and pictures of Black Dagger treasure hunters past, to make reservations for your crew of miscreants. Cost is $24/kid, $30/adult. Be sure to bring extra $$$ for post-cruise Pirates-logoed keepsakes and marina grub – another good reason to board the cruise earlier in the week when you still have loot to spend. Call with any questions or for reservations, 843-363-7000.

And if you can’t make it this year, Squint tells us that next year the Black Dagger will return to Hilton Head with more exciting adventures for interested pirates.