Coming up on September 8th, at the Aiken Music Fest, Under the Sonar, will be the opening act for Dangermuffin, a national touring band from Folly Beach. Under the Sonar has quite a unique history involving two local musicians who grew up together, and whose musical paths took them on quite a journey through the years. There is no easy way to share this musical history except in list form, without writing a novel!
Bill Bentley (guitar) and Kent Redd (bass) are two thirds of Under the Sonar, a three piece act (including Josh Granade ) that has its roots going all the way back to the late 60’s, when they first began playing music together. Bill, who now owns Vintage Music Store in Aiken, was a rising 7th grader who was slowly adding pieces to his drum kit, and Kent, was a rising 9th grader who had gotten a guitar for Christmas. Through the years they have played with so many local musicians that represent a lot of talent in Aiken!
- Their first band was “The Yardlys” (without a “E”, to avoid any conflict with the Yardley cologne back then). They quickly became a 3 piece, when Wendell Hall joined in on drums and Bill switched to Guitar, as he found out the bass guitar wasn’t his forte. Kent switched to Bass. They would rent out the Municipal Auditorium and perform for parties and such.
- Steve Zorn joined in and soon it became two bands that morphed into one.
- A band called “The Rotations” with Johnny Carr and Gene Seeby came in, and the new group kept the “Rotations” name. Johnny was originally a guitar player, but became the keyboard player for this new group, which all came together around the 10th grade.
- By then, they had a new bass player, Kerry Marx, and the new band lasted about a year before they broke up and bands started splintering all over the area. Kent Redd and Johnny Carr ended up in a band called “Dawn”, and in time, Bill was in a band with the late Andy Woodward and Greg Scott.
- Johnny Carr eventually joined a band in Augusta called “Dixie Grit” (Anyone familiar with THIS name?), featuring local guitarist Frank Brittingham on guitar and vocals, and the legendary guitarist Steve Morse, which had evolved from an earlier group called “Nobody’s Children”. This was in the summer of 1970.
- Kent and Bill had kept trying to put a band back together, and Kent suggested that they contact a drummer named Keith Cato, so they all came together and played original tunes. They had about 5 songs and soon played a local Augusta coffeehouse called “The Glass Onion”. Keith brought a female vocalist to the group (“Miss Aiken” at the time), where they performed 5 country songs and their 5 originals at that year’s “Salley Chitlin’ Strut”, after which they played around the local area.
- In 1971, John Eubanks joined the band on Keyboards and stayed with the band until after they had won that year’s “Battle of the Bands”, when John left and Darrell Rains joined on guitar. The Allman Brothers were all over the radio then, and in 1972 after Duane Allman died (October 1971) the scene was huge, but the band broke up yet again.
- Bill moved to Kentucky and began playing gigs 6 nights a week until June/July of ’74 when he moved back to Aiken and started a gospel/rock band called “Sons of Glory”. Eventually Kent Redd quit the band he was in (“Turning Point”) and joined in to play bass. By May of 1975, they had a new drummer that was graduating from Aiken High School, named Scott Phillips. John Eubanks was back in with them, and Sons of Glory toured Florida and started a local coffeehouse in 1976.
- More bands branched off and Bill, Kent, and Scott stayed together until 1978 when Scott moved away. During that time, Sons of Glory had recorded an album in various studios here, and in North Carolina.
- From that time period on, Bill and/or Kent, found themselves in other bands featuring local musicians like “Wax Bean” and “Grand Façade” among others. Two CDs were recorded with “Wax Bean”.
Throughout this story of Bill and Kent’s musical adventure, there were names that came up such as Steve Morse, Kerry Marx, and Scott Phillips.
- One would imagine that everyone has heard of Steve Morse. Steve was the founder of Dixie Grit, Dixie Dregs, The Dregs, The Steve Morse Band, and has performed with Kansas, Flying Colors, and Deep Purple, among others. He is also well known for his mastery of the guitar, and has earned many awards and accolades throughout his career, including induction into Guitar Player Magazine’s “Gallery of the Greats”, for being voted as the best overall guitarist for 5 consecutive years.
- Kerry Marx has been a staple of the Nashville music industry as a studio musician and featured guitarist on The Grand Ole Opry since 2000. Kerry has performed and recorded with a who’s who of artists, including Johnny Cash, Taylor Swift, James Taylor, John Legend, Steven Tyler, and many others, and has performed on Grammy award winning albums as well as Grammy Award nominated music.
- Scott Phillips still enjoys sitting on a drummers throne and still tours. He is also the founder and owner of Mahalo Amplifiers, a boutique guitar amplifier manufacturer.
As this journey continued, fast forward to 2017, when Bill got with Josh Granade, a local drummer that was able to play the original tunes that Bill created with Kent and Scott Phillips. Bill and Kent’s new band was created – Under the Sonar. Completely original. No vocals. Just 3 musicians who push themselves to raise the bar, and fire on all cylinders while doing so. They recently performed at “Fire over Aiken”, and again, will be the opening act at the September 8th Aiken Music Festival (www.AikenMusicFest.com) with headline act Dangermuffin.
You can check them out again playing in front of Vintage Music Store #downonPark during Aiken City Limits on October 20. Click for more information on Aiken City Limits.
Support local and live music! #Aiken4Music #MusicMatters #AikenMusicFest #AikenCityLimits
Michael Eubanks is a local professional musician with both stage and studio experience and is also a popular music lessons instructor in the Aiken area. He has had major label interest in his works as a songwriter and from several top music publishers. He holds a degree in audio recording and production with several awards. He has performed and taught guitar/bass/songwriting and performance in the CSRA for many years. He worked in the music industry working at several large studios with some of the finest engineers and producers in the music and entertainment industry while living in Nashville TN, and has worked with many of the top artists in music. He returned to Aiken in 2005, and has since produced award winning students that have competed in talent shows both locally and regionally. He has served as a judge for “Aiken Idol” and other competitions.
For lessons, visit www.facebook.com/MikeEubanksMusicLessons/