During Memorial Day weekend, the most common sounds are the roars of motorcycles and the melodic beats of hip hop and rap music.
But on Friday near the SkyWheel, the wail of Metallica cut through the noise to draw a crowd.
Dennis Fox, 21, is a busker who plays acoustic and electric guitar for tips on Ocean Boulevard from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.
“Last year, it was really fun,” said Fox, who says he made almost $800 over that weekend. “It was just me by myself and I was playing the acoustic guitar. I had guys rapping over it, and they were dancing, and the black girls were dancing, like ‘throw a dollar in his case.’ And this year you go out there and there’s like a quarter of the people that there was last year.”
Fox has lived in Myrtle Beach for the last 11 years and has played guitar since he was 12.
After having club feet as a kid, he had surgery to repair them. While in a wheelchair, he started playing the video game Guitar Hero “obsessively,” and got a real guitar from his mother when she turned 12 years old.
Fox makes most of his money through music and playing cards in Atlantic Beach and Cherokee.
“I don’t really work,” he said. “I’ve done a couple beach store jobs airbrushing, but that’s not really my thing. I like music. I don’t even like playing cards that much, I like playing music.”
But Fox is saving his money and plans to go to school at the University of California, Berkeley to surround himself with other serious musicians. He’s trying to save $40,000 and has almost half of it so far.
“After this summer I still won’t have $40,000,” said Fox. “I might be closer but the way it’s looking, I won’t be able to go until next year.”
On an average night, Fox said, he makes between $150 and $200 for a few hours work, although he has some outlier nights where he could make as little as $40 and as much as $350.
Last Memorial Day weekend was his most profitable weekend ever as a street performer, playing for some of the “coolest people” he’d ever met, and getting one tip for $160, said Fox. But on Friday, he made only $54.
‘It was dead last night,” he said. “It’s more crowded during the Saturday in the middle of June than that day.”
Fox said that because of the traffic restrictions on Ocean Boulevard, bikers are heading other places like North Myrtle Beach.
“We need to take the barriers down, we need to stop being so racist,” he said. “The only people who are shooting people are people in gangs and nothing we put up or any helmet laws we enact are going to stop that. These guys aren’t gonna shoot anybody, they’re just hanging out.
“Obviously there’s a lot of bike gangs so eventually someone will get shot, but that’s every bike week everywhere, somebody gets shot and it’s very rarely an innocent person.”