The annual J.B. Hunt Scholarship Gala, scheduled for 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 24, at The Cinema, will once again reunite members of The Exotics in Orangeburg, offering fans a chance to enjoy a night of great entertainment and raise funds for aspiring musicians.
The band will be playing classics featuring a mix of soul and dance music with funk, rock 'n roll and more from the band The Time, also known as Morris Day and the Time, under the theme "Twas the NightTIME Before Christmas."
“We’re going to be doing some Morris Day and the Time music. So it would be appropriate that we kind of follow that theme. We’re asking people to wear their gangster hats. It’s still casual dress, but just put on your gangster hat in addition to that,” original band member Rogers Jarvis said, laughing.
Individual tickets for the event, which raises money for the J.B. Hunt Scholarship awarded each year to an aspiring music major, are $35, and reserved tables of eight are available for $280.
The Exotics Band Foundation is a nonprofit organization that awards scholarships thanks to supporters of the annual scholarship dance.
Tim Hinton is president of Exotics Band Foundation.
“He has been on the ball since he started with us. He’s just done a tremendous job. He’s a multi-talented guy who plays five or six instruments,” Jarvis said.
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One of the most sought-after bands of the late 1960s and early '70s, The Exotics had a hit song, "Boogaloo Investigator," and played back-up for some of the biggest names in the industry during its heyday -- Marvin Gaye, Peaches and Herb, ZZ Hill and Clarence Carter, just to name a few.
The group did extensive work with Bobby Womack, who wanted to sign them to a permanent, exclusive contract, but most of the members were reluctant to give up their family life and instead chose to earn salaries at regular jobs and maintain music as a sideline.
The Delta Zeta Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity recognized The Exotics for their contributions to the Orangeburg community during last year's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast at Edisto Fork United Methodist Church.
The J.B. Hunt Scholarship is given in honor of longtime Orangeburg music instructor James B. Hunt, who served as the first and only band director at Wilkinson High School, the first band director at Sharperson and Belleville junior high schools and Brookdale Middle School and organizer and director of the first band at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School.
The Exotics, who count among their eight original members Dwight "Sleepy" McMillan, Walter "Wally" Bowers, Francis "Egghead" Thompson, Levi "Rock" McDonald, Johnny Sabb, Stewart "Bogumma" Thompson, Harry Palmer and Rogers "Spod" Jarvis, have attributed their early musical education to Hunt, who served as their first band director at Wilkinson High.
Jarvis said it is a good feeling to have the J.B. Hunt Scholarship be in existence for so long.
“We feel great about it. I call us the older crew, but the younger guys that play on the band are beginning to buy into what we’re trying to do. That helps us out a lot. ... This is about our 18th year in presenting scholarships. We’ve given over $15,000 as far as scholarships is concerned to deserving students in the area,” Jarvis said.
“As we expand our audience and our appeal, hopefully we can increase the number of students that we offer scholarships to,” he said.
Two raffles will be held during the scholarship dance. The first will be at 9 p.m. and the other at 11 p.m. Breakfast will be served at 11:30 p.m.
Tickets for the dance are available at Jamison's Pharmacy, Goldstein's or from any member of The Exotics. Reserved table tickets are also available from Exotics members. Individuals are asked to bring their ticket stubs to the event because they will be used in the night’s raffles.