Oracle Blue, a group of former Coastal Carolina University students who’ve been been described as “swank-pop / alt-jazz,” will perform at the third annual Myrtle Beach Jazz Festival. They’re part of three days of live jazz, soul and R&B music to be presented between Sept. 28-30, 2018 on the Grand Strand.
While still in college, the always-busy six-member collective shared the stage with acclaimed artists including Victor Wooten, Jeff Coffin of the Dave Matthews Band and Howard Levy of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. Oracle Blue worked as the house band for a collaborative album with Ron Daise, creator of Nickelodeon’s Gullah Gullah Island, and mounted a European tour that included performances at the Montreux, Umbria and Vienne jazz festivals. They were also recognized with a DownBeat Student Music Award for outstanding performance in the blues / pop / rock group category.
“This band started as a jazz combo at Coastal Carolina University,” Liz Keller-Travernier, who serves as Oracle Blue’s multi-talented producer, vocalist, guitarist and songwriter, told Low Country Live. “During our time there, we became friends. After we graduated, it was just too much fun to stop making music, so that’s how we got together.”
More recently, the group competed for and won a chance to open for five-time Grammy-winner Lalah Hathaway on a pair of 2018 tour dates; they’ve completed a debut studio project called Gilded Kingdoms, which was officially released during a performance at this year’s Waccamaw Getaway Festival. Oracle Blue has also performed at the Grateful Dog Festival in Florence, S.C., the Conway Riverfest, Brookgreen Gardens, and on national tours that included stops at Rudy’s Jazz Room in Nashville as well as venues in Kentucky, Kansas and Colorado.
Trumpeter, composer and arranger Zachary Douglas has been performing with Oracle Blue’s multi-instrumentalist JP Taylor since grade school. His favorite part of working with the group remains “improvising, and seeing what everybody else in the band is going to do,” Douglas told Good Morning Carolinas. The core group also includes bassist Mckinley Devilbiss and drummer Wade McMillan. Wade told WPDE that he gets the same kind of charge when Oracle Blue is on stage, because he likes “seeing what happens in the moment based on everyone’s feelings, and trying to put it in the music and see what happens. It’s like a conversation, you know?”
They opened for Lalah Hathaway at the Levine Center of the Arts in Charlotte, N.C., and at the Cone Denim Entertainment Center in Greensboro, N.C. Oracle Blue also took part in the 2017 NPR Tiny Desk Contest. They shared the main stage at the Umbria Jazz Festival with Lisa Simone, daughter of Nina Simone, and the Randy Weston African Rhythms Quintet.
“It’s been a wild ride, so I’m really excited to finally be releasing an album for people to listen to,” Kelley-Tavernier told WPDE. “Between the six of us, we have a lot of different inspirations, so it’s kind of a big melting pot of all of those things.”
As always, the Myrtle Beach Jazz Festival is free. Bring your lawn chairs for this special event, to be held on historic Carver Street in Myrtle Beach. In addition to all of the great music, there will be food and merchandise vendors, children’s activities and a wine and beer garden.
Lineup announcements are continuing, so check back often. You can also follow the Myrtle Beach Jazz Festival on Facebook for the latest information.