Chip Howard and his band are happy to be settling back into their regular groove.
“It feels really good to get back,” said Howard, who has played in Myrtle Beach for more than a decade. “A lot more people are comfortable being around the band. The band’s more comfortable being around other people. And shows are coming back through. We’re having a great time and things are sort of coming back to normal.”
Chocolate Chip & Company is a six-piece band that plays a variety of genres, including Motown, classic rock, soul and funk. After the initial lockdown at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said his band continued to have a limited number of shows lined up, though the larger venues weren’t open.
Howard said they took advantage of the extra time.
“We did a lot of rehearsing, got a lot of practice in, which was needed because we played so much we didn’t have time to practice as much as we wanted to,” Howard said.
However, instead of finding a lot of camaraderie among the musicians, Howard said the dynamic was hostile. During the isolation of the pandemic, people turned to music, yet the people who provided that music weren’t united in bringing that entertainment back to the stage.
“In Myrtle Beach, we, as musicians, need to pull together and stop the hate,” Howard said.
For its part, the Chocolate Chip & Company band has multiple shows planned throughout the summer. Howard said he originally came to Myrtle Beach 12 years ago to play with a house band called Ntranze at the House of Blues. During that time, he was inspired to start his own band.
“I always had that at the back of mind,” Howard said. I ran into some great musicians who worked with me.”
Playing with his own band for several years now has been a rewarding experience.
“It felt really good to get out there and branch out and do my own ideas about how to put together a good, tight show,” Howard said. “The people that started out with me were some of the best musicians around; we had so much fun building this. We got so much love from all the fans and the venues. It’s just been wonderful.”
Howard said he started playing drums when he was 6 years old and was playing with a band by the time he was 9. Professionally, he’s been playing for about 15 years. In that time, he’s traveled around the world performing with different artists. He’s played in London, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and has performed with the Drifters, Percy Sledge and a hip-hop group called Cameo.