June 2012

The Big B and the Stingers

Author: Lindsey Hawkins | Photographer: Photography by Anne

Think of the most contradicting scenario you have ever been so lucky to encounter. Now imagine running into a massive, overjoyed, singing, cigarette smoking, whiskey-drinking bumblebee on a park playground slide, surrounded by a swarm of hyper seven-year-olds attacking his stinger while giddy mothers snap instagrams to commemorate their incredible luck.

This would be the mayhem a local band with an undefined musical genre, Big B and the Stingers, created just hanging out at Jarvis Creek Park on a random, sweltering Monday afternoon glittered with no-see-ums and a whole lot of questions. And they weren’t even playing any instruments.

Over the years, island locals and tourists have seen and heard countless dive-bar imitators rocking Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Van Morrison and the like, including Big B himself, Brian Hollingsworth, lead vocalist of Big B and the Stingers. According to Big B, however, those talented copycats are the reason he and his swarmadelic crew created the ultimate cover band for people who hate the same old cover band songs.

The playlist that Big B and the Stingers throws down on the weekends at several of the Wild Wing Café locations in the area, including Hilton Head Island and Bluffton, isn’t pigeonholed to just another list of songs they just so happen to find underplayed. Yes, they cover an array of unrelated artists’ records, from Alanis Morissette to Metallica to The Doors to Eminem, but they are known for their deliberate and creative juxtaposition of songs blending into one another based on similar beats, rhythms and sometimes even riffs.

“We’ve currently got like 20 songs we’ve mixed together like a DJ would do, like we’ll do ‘Ice Ice Baby’ and then go directly into ‘The Ocean’ by Led Zeppelin, and it just sounds good—a little cross-pollination,” Hollingsworth said.

Cross-pollination indeed. In fact, Big B and the Stingers is exponentially cross-pollinated if you will, and not just when it comes to sticking to a musical category. The fans of the band, also referred to as the swarm, cannot easily be identified demographically. Big B, also known on the island for his entertaining karaoke hosting, is just as likely to pull a 4-H Club member in a Lily Pulitzer dress up on stage at Wild Wing, as he is to have a rowdy, 20-something take a spin on the bands custom made stripper pole at Remy’s Bar and Grill.

“There are some phenomenal bands out there that sound great and have great music, but they lack fun. We take the stage, and it’s all about the fun and all about the crowd, even if there are only two people standing there,” Hollingsworth said.

Fun being the operative word here, Big B and the Stingers has become so popular with their fans that Wild Wing Café has officially named a honey-flavored wing after them, though the band is still holding out for a Wild Turkey American Honey sponsorship, as they never take stage without a bottle of the character appropriate whiskey in hand. And character plus a little whiskey and a ton of talent makes for a great show.

Five laidback veterans of the Lowcountry music scene who have collectively traveled all over the southeast region for the last 20 years explains why Big B and the Stingers tend to outshine their cover band competitors in stage presence. Hollingsworth, a.k.a Big B, on vocals, Collins Hinchliff on drums, C. W. Jameson on lead guitar, Jason Hill and Todd Toho on rhythm guitar, Mike Allen on bass and techy Mark Campbell on sound, makes for some sick imitation and a full-on IMAX worthy performance—IMAX as in a big sweaty, Cheshire Cat-grinning bumblebee skipping around your table, handing out flowers to the ladies while spitting out Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” melodically.

You can only imagine that this type of stamina would plateau and fall calm after show hours, but you’d be wrong. The male swarm that is Big B and the Stingers, is inclusive of a clique of friends who also define themselves as hardworking family men who just so happen to have love of the game syndrome. They have creative jam sessions at least once a week in addition to playing Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays most weeks. With a big jar of honey always kept in a nearby garage refrigerator, Snoop Dogg would be a choice as guest of honor at any Big B jam session where the energy is high and the mood is fun.

Cover band yes, lack of original material, no. Big B and crew are currently working on recording their own material for all of their loyal group-bees, and are likely to be a force to be reckoned with this summer 2012 as they embark on their southeast region Wild Wing Café tour. Charm them now while they’re still on the island every weekend this June. Schedules for the band are found on the Wild Wing Café website and always posted on the Big B and the Stingers Facebook swarm page.

As for the environmental conditions under that bee suit, that might be a good question to ask Hollingsworth himself or even Saturday Night Live NPR’s Delicious Dish co-host Alec Baldwin.

Schweddy Balls indefinitely.

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