With the festive feel of Independence Day still in the air, expectations are high for Saturday’s July version of the Hot Nights and Hot Cars cruise-in series in Pilot Mountain.
According to Jerry Venable of the sponsoring Mount Pilot NOW group, organizers will continue a cruise-in Independence Day tradition by recognizing veterans in attendance.
The Depot Street stage will also feature the diverse musical sounds of Gary Lowder and Smokin’ Hot. With a repertoire ranging from soul to country to beach music and classic songs from the 50s and 60s, the group has compiled a collection of awards and recognitions.
In 2013, their “Soul Therapy” project was named CD of the year by the Carolina Beach Music Association. The following year the band was nominated for Group Of The Year and in 2015 received 13 Carolina Beach Music Award nominations.
A native of China Grove, lead singer Gary Lowder has spent 30 years in the music industry. He is a former member of the Entertainers, Mark Roberts Band and Legends of Beach as well as being a founding member of the 2012 CAMMY Awards’ favorite new group, The Carolina Breakers. To date, he has performed in shows with such legends as Tom Jones, Wilson Pickett, The Four Tops and The Righteous Brothers.
“I think that Gary probably has the purest voice out there,” Venable said. “We like to try to book them for July. They do a great job for Independence Day.”
Attendees are invited to bring lawn chairs for comfort as they relax or join in the dancing as the band provides a lively set including numerous classics from over the years.
Other features will include the Advance Auto Parts Classic Ride of the Month, shuttle service from the Key Street PART parking lots and a 50/50 cash drawing.
While official hours for the cruise-in are from 3 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., the event’s popularity generally causes the downtown streets to fill early as car owners claim prime parking spaces.
Owners of antique, classic, street rod, pro-street and muscle cars will be to cruise Main Street or park in one of the several designated lots. Lots are divided, with primary Main and off-Main locations designated for “classics” while secondary lots and side streets fill with spectators.
“We draw a diverse crowd from different states,” Venable said. “We always seem to have a large contingent from West Virginia and this time I’ve heard from a guy from West Palm Beach who’ll be bringing his ’56 Dodge. He’ll be coming through on his way to the MOPAR Nationals.”
“It should be a good day,” he continued. “We’re looking for some beautiful weather and we’ll have some summer heat, but we should have a big crowd.”