The Tams at the Pioneer—old friends and a family affair

By on December 27, 2023

The Tams at the Pioneer Theatre (Photo credit: Maggie Miles/OBV)

It was a standing-room-only show at the Pioneer Theater in Manteo on Saturday, Dec. 23, as the latest version of legendary beach music group, The Tams, sang and danced the night away in a three-hour set that included their 1960s Billboard hits, from “Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy” to “What Kind of Fool.”

With an opening show by local trio The Tillett Sisters, who transported us back to the 1940s, and a brief intro set by the 24 Karat Gold Band, the Tams made their grand entrance dancing out onto the stage one by one in formation in striking crimson suits and black berets. As soon as the crowd saw them, audience members were out of their seat as frontman Albert “Little Redd” Cottle—son of founding member, the late Charles Pope—began crooning out their chart- topping R&B melodies.

Little Redd spent the majority of the night off the stage energizing the crowd with jokes and stories as he made his way around the theater, squeezing through the aisles as he danced and sang—at one point even paying homage to hometown Roanoke Island hero Andy Griffith.

“How y’all feelin’?” Little Redd asked the crowd to cheers. “My dad told me ‘Son, keep my music going.’ I said ‘daddy, as long as I got breath, I’m going to do it.’”

While Little Redd was making his way around the theater, the other three members of The Tams held it down on the stage, spending the night hopping, skipping, snapping, kicking and doing all kinds of fancy footwork to each song while the backup band carried the tunes with horns, keyboards, drums and the electric guitar. One of the three members jumped off the stage and did the splits midair—he happens to be Mikai Cottle, the 16-year-old grandson of Charles Pope and son of Little Redd. The other band members on the stage were Elton Richardson and Robert Arnold.

Mikai Cottle, 16-year-old son of Little Redd.

“That used to be me,” said Little Redd, referring to his son’s moves. “Not no more!” he said to laughs from the crowd. Later in the show, Mikai chose the Pioneer Theater as the first venue to try singing a solo verse, which he seemed to get the hang of after a shaky start.

Makai, who is the spitting image of his dad Little Redd, has been performing with the group since he was just five years old, and plans to take his father’s place as frontman someday. It was clear he inherited the family talent and stage presence.

“It was a little scary,” he told the Voice of his first solo, “but afterwards it was fun. It felt good…I was definitely nervous.”

Just as the group is multigenerational, it was also clear that so were many in attendance, with many of those who were fans of the original Tams back in the 60s bringing their adult children, and even grandchildren, along.

“My parents used to bring me to see you, now I bring my kids, and now I know my children will keep the tradition going because you’re keeping the tradition going,” one audience member told Mikai at the end of the show as the group posed for pictures and signed autographs.

The Tams spent the night hopping, skipping, snapping, kicking and doing all kinds of fancy footwork. (Photo credit Maggie Miles/OBV)

The Tams have a long history of coming to the Outer Banks, with many in attendance having seen them a half century ago. Gail Shelton is one of those fans and she was dancing front and center at Saturday’s show. She was wearing a Tams shirt that she bought at the first show she went to back in 1972, when she was 18 years old, right after the birth of her first child, who’s now in her 50s. As a longtime fan, “we hope that little boy [Makai] keeps it alive,” she said.

Little Redd told the crowd he would remember playing at the Pioneer Theater for a long time. “It was an amazing energy tonight. We don’t get that everywhere. It energizes you,” Little Redd told the Voice after the show. “Especially to see all the kids and families. We really enjoyed it.”


Barnhill Building Group has been selected as the Construction Manager @ Risk by the College of the Albemarle and is seeking to pre-qualify construction trade contractors to submit bids for the furnishing labor, materials, equipment, and tools for the new College of The Albemarle – Allied Health Sciences Simulation Lab (COA Health Sciences) located in Elizabeth City, NC. Please note: Only subcontractors who have been prequalified by Barnhill will be able to submit a Bid.

The project consists of the new construction of a 38,000-sf, 2-story expansion to the existing Owens Health Sciences Center and will house classrooms, labs, and a simulation lab. The site is just over just over 4.5 acres and is located on an active campus. This new construction will be a steel structure with a brick and metal panel veneer, curtainwall, and storefront glazing with a PVC roof membrane.

Principal trade and specialty contractors are solicited for the following Bid Packages:

BP0100: General Trades

BP0105: Final Cleaning

BP0390: Turnkey Concrete

BP0400: Turnkey Masonry

BP0500: Structural Steel & Misc. Steel

BP0740: Roofing

BP0750: Metal Panels

BP0790: Caulking / Caulking

BP0800: Turnkey Doors/Frames/Hardware

BP0840: Glass & Glazing

BP0925: Drywall

BP0960: Resilient Flooring

BP0980: Acoustical Ceilings

BP0990: Painting & Wallcovering

BP1005: Toilet Specialties / Accessories / Division 10

BP1010: Signage

BP1098: Demountable Partitions

BP1230: Finish Carpentry and Casework

BP1250: Window Treatment

BP1400: Elevators

BP2100: Fire Protection

BP2200: Plumbing

BP2300: HVAC

BP2600: Turnkey Electrical

BP3100: Turnkey Sitework

BP3290: Landscaping

Packages may be added and/or deleted at the discretion of the Construction Manager. Historically underutilized business firms are encouraged to complete participation submittals.

HUB/MWBE OUTREACH MEETING: Barnhill Building Group will be conducting a HUB/MWBE Informational Session. You are encouraged to attend the following session to learn more about project participation opportunities available to you. These seminars will help to: Learn about project and scope; Inform and train Minority/HUB contractors in preparation for bidding this project; Assist in registration on the State of North Carolina Vendor link; Stimulate opportunities for Networking with other firms. Location and time TBD. Please visit our planroom at for more information.

Interested contractors should submit their completed prequalification submittals, by July 22, 2024, to Meredith Terrell at or hardcopies can be mailed to Barnhill Contracting Company PO Box 31765 Raleigh, NC 27622 (4325 Pleasant Valley Road, NC 27612).


See what people are saying:

  • Ann Sjoerdsma

    The song is “Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy.” You have the adjectives in the wrong order in this beach music anthem. I saw the original Tams perform on the OBX in the ‘70s. Does Little Redd have a husky, gravelly voice like his father did? Sorry I missed the show. (You also want Little Redd to squeeze through aisles, not isles.)

    Thursday, Dec 28 @ 2:29 pm