Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Jimmy and I - the New Nucky, In a Suit and Tie

Jimmy Buffet - the New Nucky - By Bill Kelly 

                                      Jimmy Buffett, the New Nucky Thompson, in a suit and tie.

They might as well officially call August Jimmy Buffet month, as he is always on tour in August, will be playing Atlantic City Boardwalk Hall and Camden waterfront, while his old mate Scott Kirby peforms a free concert on the Somers Point Beach Friday and the Parrotheads tribute band play every Friday at the Back Bay Cafe at the Tuckahoe Inn.

When I tell people I have a photo of Jimmy in a suit and tie it's usually good for a bar room bet, so here's the photo and the story behind it.

                                               Jimmy & I - the story behind the picture 

The first time I met Buffett was at the Caribbean Club - the old Key Largo Hotel bar, before he made it big time. The hotel, where the classic Bogart film Key Largo was filmed, had burned down long ago, and in its place was this little one story bungalow, shot and beer bar on the bay, with a pool table. We were shooting pool there one afternoon with Lynn Delcorio and the guys from the Quiescence dive shop, when Jimmy, apparently having been asleep in the corner booth, woke up and introduced himself.  

Since he didn’t have a hit yet, nobody knew who he was, but he fit in well with our crowd, bought a round of drinks and fell into the nine-ball rotation with the guys while the girls sat in lounge chairs out back under the palm trees by the bay.

Later he played solo guitar and sang during the open mic night and won the $50 prize, which was a lot of money in the days when a bottle of beer cost fifty cents.

A few years later we were all glad to hear his songs on the radio and were proud to know him, especially when he made it, made it big-time from such humble beginnings. And from all accounts, the money and celebrity didn’t seem to change his personality or style.

When we finally got to Key West, after parking the van at the trailer park next to the shrimp boat docks, we went to the bar we had heard Jimmy opened – Margaritaville. Jimmy wasn’t there, but the bartender said to stick around, as he was due in to pick up the receipts, and sure enough, he came in and went right to the cash register, counted the money and put it in his pockets, and as he was walking out I stopped him and asked if he remembered us from the Key Largo days.

He stood back and scanned us, clicked his fingers and then said “nine ball, the afternoon of open mic night, right?” 

I really was surprised that he recalled us saying, “You mean that was such a special day you really remember it?”

And he said with a laugh, “You must think that I always slept in the back booth there. Sure I remember it. I just got my first record contract and I was on a load, but yea, I remember it.”

A crowd had developed around us, and somebody tugged at Jimmy’s shirt and asked him to autograph a record album. He smiled, shrugged and signed, but then somebody wanted a photo of them together, and people started pestering him, and buzzing around like flies, so he just waved to us as he walked backwards out the kitchen door.

That was the last time I saw Jimmy until Freemantle, Australia, 1987, or was it 1988? There for the America’s Cup sailing regatta, we were cheering on Dennis Conner to win back the Cup he had lost to the Aussie in Newport, R.I. four years earlier. The Cup is the oldest sports trophy in competition and it was the first time since 1858 that a foreign country had taken the America’s Cup away. Dennis Conner was embarrassed he had lost it and was determined to win it back. Jimmy wrote a song about it, and Americans who had never sailed in their lives were suddenly interested in the America’s Cup sailboat race on the other side of the world.

I heard Jimmy was there from Joe Scafario, my Ocean City, NJ neighbor who said he was walking around town when he came across Jimmy playing guitar and singing on a street corner like a vagabond, and he had a video to prove it.

A few days later I caught up with Jimmy at the bar at the Sail & Anchor pub. He was by himself, having a cold Swan, the local beer.

Even though I had grown a beard since I saw him last he recognized me. “Key Largo, right? Nine-ball. You Jersey guys are the only ones I know who play nine-ball.”

After shooting the breeze and trading a few shouts – Australian for rounds of beer, Jimmy said he really enjoyed being Down Under.

“They don’t recognize me here,” he said, incredulously. “So I can go out and about like this without people bothering me. I can’t do this at home. I can’t even hang out at my own joint because of the freaking idiots who just want a piece of me – my signature, my picture, do this, do that, I can’t even go out in public anymore. But here they don’t know me. It’s great.”

Just then a new Australian friend came up to me, “Hey Ned, What about you now?” he says.

I explain to Jimmy that the Aussies nicknamed me Ned, after their famous outlaw, and I introduce him, “Ian, this here’s my American friend Jimmy Buffett.” They shake hands and Ian orders a shout for the three of us, and asks Jimmy what he does in America. Jimmy looks at me, laughs and slaps his thigh. “See!”

They knew his songs if you named them, and hummed a few bars, but his name and reputation hadn’t quite got as far as Freemantle yet, partially because the people there pretty much live a laid back Jimmy Buffet lifestyle anyway, so it isn’t that special.

The America’s Cup races went on for weeks, through November and December, our winters being their summer, and the competition was fierce, but once there was a break in the action, before the main showdown between Dennis and the Australians, they had the America’s Cup Ball.

A black tie affair in which Prince Albert of Monaco was the guest of honor, the America’s Cup Ball is the principal social affair of the entire event, and everyone has a smashing good time. I knew Albert from Ocean City, where his family has a beach house, and once saw his mother give the trophy to Graham Hill at the Monaco Grand Prix, but I didn’t get a chance to talk to Albert because of all the festivities.

All of the best Australian bands took turns performing, and about three o’clock in the morning we were still on the dance floor when the emcee said, “We understand that Jimmy Buffet the American pop star is in the house and we’d like him to come up here and sing us a song.”

I hadn’t seen Jimmy all evening, but he came through the crowd towards me laughing and saying, “Now I’m a Pop Star, how about that?”

Then he grabs me by the arm and leans over and says in my ear, “Kelly, do you believe this? I didn’t even wear a suit and tie to my high school prom, and here I am UNDERdressed.” Just then a flash went off and somebody took a picture of us.

While all the other men wore black tie tuxedos, Jimmy had on a white suit and white tie, thus expressing his casual individuality without insulting our Aussie guests.

A few days later, at the Sail & Anchor, Jimmy was saying that he was disappointed that he didn’t do anything for Dennis Conner’s Stars & Stripes crew, who were always sailing, either practicing or competing. So one night they threw a party for the crew at the Beach Bar, where Jimmy could give them a good show.

I had met local Australian singer-songwriter Kelly Newton at a concert at the Eagle’s (Australian rules) football stadium a few weeks earlier, and she had tickets to see Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton at the arena, but I convinced her Jimmy would be better.

“Whose Jimmy Buffett?” she wanted to know.

I don’t know how the Rogers and Parton show went, but Jimmy was tremendous, playing acoustical guitar with another local guitarist who backed him on rhythm, with a few dozen people at the Beach Bar in Freemantle, Australia.

Jimmy playing solo acoustic at the Beach Bar in Freemantle, Australia, (circa 1988).

A few nights later Kelly Newton and I were sitting in this Italian restaurant when the waiter brought us over a bottle of champagne, saying that it was compliments of the gentleman at a nearby table. I look over and it’s Jimmy sitting with an older man.

“Jimmy Buffett,” I say.

“Jimmy Buffett?!” the waiter said.

“Yea, that’s Jimmy.”

I thought it was a big mistake because even though the waiter didn’t recognize him at first, he said he played guitar and knew Buffet’s songs and started asking Jimmy questions about music. Then he asked if he would sing a few songs if he got him a guitar, and a few minutes later the waiter was back, guitar in hand, and Jimmy was serenading a dozen people and the staff of the restaurant.

Two free and intimate Jimmy Buffett shows in as many nights.

Later on I apologized to him for breaking his cover as I knew he didn’t like the attention, but he shrugged it off and said he really likes the Australians. He then introduced me to the older man he had dinner with, - his dad, saying that he was glad he got the opportunity to sing a few songs as it made the night a little more special, especially for his pop, who seldom got a chance to see him perform.

The next day, I was walking across the Stars & Stripes compound when I came across Jimmy and his dad going the other way, thanked them for the bottle of champagne and impromptu performance, and stood back and took a picture of them.

[To see photo of Jimmy and his dad in Freemantle, Australia go to: Whitedeercafe: Jimmy and his Dad ]

A few months later, back in the States a group of us went to a Buffett concert in a limo, and I took along a copy of Jimmy’s children’s book “Jolly Mon,” about a magic guitar. I went back stage gave him some of the photos from Australia and got Jimmy to personalize it to my friend’s son, Chris McCall. But things were too chaotic and we didn’t get a chance to talk.

Then I got four Jimmy Buffett concert tickets in the mail. I don’t know if they came from him in exchange for the photos or what, but as the date got closer, I decided I really didn’t want to go. I lived in Cape May at the time and just didn’t feel like driving to Camden (my hometown) and march through the cattle pens to see him play from 300 yards away. I knew a lot of Parrottheads, and gave them to one of the biggest, one of the owners of the Fudge Kitchen, who was taking his whole family to the show.

I was really surprised to hear in the news that Buffett was going to turn the Trump Marina into a Margaritaville Hotel and Casino, and once that deal went sour thought that was the end of it, and was really, really surprised to learn that he was opening a Margaritaville on the Boardwalk at Resorts. Resorts had already adopted a 1920s motif to go with the age of the hotel and capitalize on the popularity of HBO's Boardwalk Empire, so I was wondering how the Buffett style would fit in with the 20s motif? 

I almost didn’t believe it but when it was announced I showed up for the press conference on the boardwalk.

For a guy who now owns hotels, bars and restaurant chains and puts on multi-million dollar concert tours I was surprised that he bothered to show up himself. Knowing Jimmy however, I knew he wouldn’t stick around too long with the stiffs and suits, so instead of standing with the other reporters in front of a makeshift stage on the boardwalk, I waited outback, leaned against his limo and had a smoke with his driver, Al, a young Italian kid from Chicago.

Al was telling me that Jimmy doesn’t just plan on opening up a Margaritaville Bar and Restaurant on the Boardwalk, he has bigger ambitions – he wants to hold a week long jazz festival like New Orleans and a bar bands bonanza like they have in Austin. He wants to bring back Miss America and fix the Boardwalk Hall organ, and he even wants to bring the America’s Cup boats to Atlantic City and hold the races right off Resorts so you can watch them from the hotel roofs.

It wasn’t long before Jimmy came out of the stage door of Resorts and Al opened the back seat door for him. He’s wearing shorts, a green shirt, brown baseball cap and sunglasses.

“Hi Jimmy,” I said, “remember me from Freemantle?”

“Sure Ned,” Jimmy said, “I remember you from Key Largo.” 

“You’ve come a long way since then,” I said. “Welcome to Atlantic City. Al’s been telling me about some of your plans.”

“Well thanks, yea, I’m the New Nucky Thompson,” he says with a laugh, “maybe you can show me around someday, but I gotta run right now. I’m on a tight schedule.”

“Jimmy,” I said, “will you do me a favor?”

“Sure, anything you want.”

“Sometime down the line, when you have the time, will you do a benefit show for the Marine Mammal Stranding Center?”

“Sure thing,” he says. “Anything else?”

“Well, for me, this is Atlantic City, my backyard, and if you’re the New Nucky, I’d like to have the Island Shirt concession.”

Then snapping his fingers and pointing at me, he cracks a smile and says, “You got it!”

Then the limo door slammed shut and Al jumped in the front seat and they drove off.

Just then the stage door opened and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie sticks his head out of the door saying, “Is Jimmy here?”

I point to the limo driving off down South Carolina Avenue.

Dressed in black suit and pink tie, the governor has a piece of paper and pen in one hand and a camera in the other, and wipes the sweat off his brow with his arm while saying, “Shoot, I wanted to get his autograph and a picture of us together.”

“You’ll get another opportunity for that. He’ll be back,” I said. “You know governor, you’d feel a lot better and look a lot more comfortable in an island shirt.”

 Australian Outlaw Ned Kelly 
Jimmy Buffett - the New Nucky Thompson, complete with  carnation in his lapel 

                                                                                                                The Real Nucky Johnson 


The Somers Point’s Beach Concerts 20th Anniversary Party joins the “Parrothead” Celebration this Friday night with an appearance by one of the acclaimed “princes” of the Key West Caribbean musical kingdom, Scott Kirby, performing a free 2 hour concert on the Beach Friday, August 3rd before the King himself, Jimmy Buffett, appears in Atlantic City on Saturday, August 4th.  One of the most requested recording artists on radio Margaritaville, Scott Kirby will perform his enchanting “Floribean” folk rock melodies that echo the sounds of James Taylor and Jimmy Buffett from 7 to 9:30PM.  Scott will also do a meet and great with his fans and sign autographs. 

Making the show even sweeter for South Jersey fans, the Scott Kirby Band will be joined by another well known and beloved music star, Lew London, playing electric violin and guitar.  Everyone is invited to this free “Parrothead Weekend Kick Off Party” on the Somers Point Beach where the feathers will fly to the some of the finest sounds this side of Key West.  For further information go to www.SomersPointBeachConcerts.com.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dr. Bobby Fingers & Hawkins Road at the Beach

Dr. Bobby Fingers on Piano and vocals 

Hawkins Road Band 

This Friday nights free Somers Point beach concert will be a double header, and begin 15 minutes early (6:45pm) and feature the amazing Dr. Bobby Fingers on piano with his band and Hawkins Road, a country-rock band that includes local guitarist Danny Eyer.  

Bobby Fingers is amazing, not only because of his quick fingers and astounding vocals, but his ability to really entertain a crowd. As the master of the keys, he can pretty much play any request, and knows every popular song. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Persuasions & Shakes



Nightbeat – 7 –20-26

Friday – July 20                 

The Persuasions plus The Shakes: Legendary Doo Wop Vocal Stars PLUS Motown Party Dance Songs in a free concert at the Somers Point Beach. Because it is a double-header, this show starts early.

News Bulletin Alert from Concert Central! -

Tonights Somers Point Beach Concert will be held at the Elks Lodge, 1815 Somers Point Mays Landing Road, EHT. Hot dogs, hamburgers & clams will be available. There is a bar available, please, no coolers. Limited chairs, consider bringing your own chair. Start time is 6:45 with the Persuasions followed by The Shakes. Hope to see you there! 

The Persuasions have long been the acknowledged “Kings of A Cappella,” which means they sing without the musical accompanyment of a band. With a pronounced emphasis on harmony and style, the group first came together in the early 1960s singing on the streetcorners of Brooklyn, but all hail from different parts of the country.

Frank Zappa was responsible for The Pers” first serious LP recording, Acappella. He heard The Persuasions singing over the phone from a New Jersey record shop known as Stan's Square Records. The store's owner, Stan Krause, was the group's manager at the time. Zappa had an appreciation for soul and street corner style singing, and after hearing the group, flew them to Los Angeles to record their first album. Thirty years later, Zappa fan Rip Rense supervised and encouraged the group in the creation of a Persuasions tribute CD to Zappa, Frankly A Cappella on Earthbeat Records.

All the original Persuasions came from a strong history and deep background in church-based music. Their singing, style and musical inventory has always included the heavy influence of gospel, a major measure soul, and a dose of pop. Their legendarily eclectic repertoire has drawn from everything from Sam Cooke to The Temptations to Kurt Weill to Zappa; from country to blues to gospel to rock to jazz.

The Persuasions later recorded tribute albums consisting of material by Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead (Might as Well), the Beatles (The Persuasions sing the Beatles) and Zappa.

Since those long ago days of 1962, The Persuasions have gone on to sing in concert halls and nightclubs the world over. They have released 26 albums, and opened for artists including: Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention, Ray Charles, Bill Cosby, and Richard Pryor. Amazingly enough, Roseanne Barr and Bruce Springsteen once opened for The Persuasions.

With a career spanning half a century and showing no signs of retiring any time soon, the Persuasions continue to take on new and exciting musical projects. Over the summer of '09, it was the music of J.J. Cale, featuring the powerhouse baritone/tenor of "Sweet" Joe Russell on "I'll Make Love To You," and basso profundo, Jimmy Hayes on "Travelin' Light." Continuing the tradition of in-house self-arranging and producing, the group is now joined by Dave Revels, former member of the Drifters and long time Persuasions friend (who sang with them on their Beatles tribute CD and later arranged and produced their U2 tribute CD) as producer/arranger of the group's recording projects, along with Jimmy Hayes. Since the departure of lead singer Jerry Lawson, the "Pers" have regrouped and continue to perform nationwide to rave reviews.

The group's first ever recording specifically for children, "On The Good Ship Lollipop," was released in 1999, and won a bushel of awards from parents' organizations. In March, 2000, The Persuasions released an album in tribute to their old friend, Zappa, "Frankly A Cappella: The Persuasions Sing Zappa." At the time, Jerry Lawson of The Persuasions said, "Frank gave us our start, and this is our way of saying 'thanks'". The album was critically acclaimed in publications including People Magazine.

The Grateful Dead were next, when The Persuasions recorded a tribute album and released it in October 2000. The recording, "Might As Well: The Persuasions Sing Grateful Dead" celebrated the songs of Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia. Both the Zappa and Grateful Dead albums were the brainchild of co-producer and longtime Persuasions friend, music journalist Rip Rense, who had also secured the deal and acted as project coordinator/annotator for "On The Good Ship Lollipop." In 2002, The Persuasions moved on to Chesky Records, where they recorded the "The Persuasions Sing The Beatles."

This will be followed, on the same night, by a dance party concert featuring a set of pop favorites and Motown classics that same evening by The Shakes. Originally a rock and roll band out of Asbury Park, founded by the original E-Street drummer Vinny, the Shakes also once included local guitarist and singer Bob Campanell, but they have since reached out to other styles and now have a strong soul and funk sound that’s fun to dance to.

Bring your beach chairs and family and be ready to rock and swing as the very best entertainers are presented free, Friday nights in July, at the Somers Point Beach Concerts.
For more information go to www.SomersPointBeachConcerts.com or call 609-653-6069 or 609-457-1316.

 Other Friday Shows

        Mighty Parrot Band, Tuckahoe Inn, Back Bay Café, Beesleys Point 7-11
        Budesa Brothers – Biai deck, Bay Ave., 7pm
        Jack & Yvonne Duet in the Sandi Point Lounge.

• Seal, Macy Gray, Revel
• Kenny Loggins, Borgata
July 20-21
• Santana, Borgata 

Saturday - July 21

- Lew London & Bob Mower – Guitar Duo extraonaire – peform at Sandi Point.

- Ben Singleton and the People’s Choice Tuckahoe Inn, Back Bay Café, Rt. 9 Beesleys Point, 6-10.
- Dave Gustafson, Biai deck, Bay Ave. 7pm 

- Rick DeKarski on piano in the historic Tap Room at Atlantic City Country Club. Where Chef Ed Dagger’s reputation is renown.

• Howie Mandel, Borgata
• Boston, Trump Taj Mahal
• Air Supply, Resorts
• Matisyahu, House of Blues
• Chelsea Lately comics Heather McDonald, James Davis, Brad Wollack, Morgan Murphy, Golden Nugget
• Robin Thicke, Harrah's Resort

Sunday – July 22                   

- Bob Campanell at the Tuckahoe Inn.

Monday – July 23

-  Joe Breidenstine Quartet & Friends at Sandi Point
Tuesday – July 24

Wednesday – July 25

- The Bob Campanell Band [bobcampanell.com ]with Danny Eyer [eyermusic.com

Thursday - July 26

- Tim Keka Jazz Jam, w/ Tom Angello on drums and special guests at Sandi Point

- Mike Lunemann –  Every Thursday (6pm) on the patio at Atlantic City Country Club
• The Offspring, American Fangs, House of Blues

Friday, July 13, 2012

Where the Bands are July 13 -

                      Rick Estrin & the Nightcats - Somers Point Beach - Tonight - Friday July 13 7 pm 

Nightbeat July 13 – July 19 

Friday – July 13

-         Rick Estrin & the Nightcats. 7 to 9:30PM. Aappearing this Friday, July 13, 2012 at the Somers Point Beach Concerts, Rick Estrin, according to The San Francisco Chronicle, "is an amazing harmonica player, a soulful lead vocalist and a brilliant songwriter." The award-winning musician, another critic said, "sounds like Little Walter playing and singing Leiber and Stoller." Along with The Nightcats- jaw-dropping guitarist Chris "Kid" Andersen, singing drummer (who plays standing up) J. Hansen and dynamic multi-instrumentalist Lorenzo Farrell (electric and acoustic bass, organ and piano)-Rick Estrin serves up fresh and modern original blues injected with a solid dose of gritty roadhouse rock 'n' roll. Since the 2009 release of their celebrated Alligator Records debut, Twisted, the band has toured non-stop, honing their creative synergy to a razor's edge. Night after night, the band blazes their own innovative musical path while still remaining true to the blues. The results of all of this natural chemistry can be heard on their irresistible new album, One Wrong Turn

– Mighty Parrot Band Tuckahoe Inn Back Bay Café - 7-11

• Blue Man Group, Caesars
-         Aziz Ansari – Borgata Music Box (8pm)
-         Squeeze & B52s – Borgata Events Center (8pm)
-         Darryl Worley, David Lee Murphy and Bo Bice – Trump Taj Mahal (8pm)
-         Nickelback – Revel, Ovation Halol.(6:45 pm)
-         Yes – Tropicana Showroom (8pm)
-         Blue Man Group – Casears (8pm)

Saturday - July 14

- Ben Singleton and the People’s Choice Tuckahoe Inn Back Bay Café 6-10
- Who Dat Band – Mott’s Creek, Galloway
• Jerry Seinfeld, Borgata
• Def Leppard, Poison, Lita Ford, Revel
• Sandra Bernhard, Atlantic Club
• Vinnie Favorito, Harrah’s Resort
• Tribute to Donna Summer, Whitney Houston, Resorts 
- Foam – Showboat House of Blues (9pm)

Sunday - July 15

-Bob Campanell – Sunday Tuckahoe Inn Back Bay Café 6-10
Also Reggae, w/ SMB
- Bob Pantano Dance Party – Clancy’s By the Bay – (8 pm)

- Ocean City Pops – “A Night at the Opera” Ocean City Music Pier featuring soprano Suzan Vinnik, tenor Coddy Austin and baritone Wes Mason, plus violin prodigy Elli Choi playing “Carmen Fantasy.” www.ocnj.us (609) 525-9248

-Stevie Nicks – Borgata (8pm)

Monday – July 16

- Lori Kelley – Clancy’s By the Bay  - 101 E. Maryland Ave. SP, 609-927-6969

- Dave Mason - Monday • July 16 • 8:00pm Stockton Goes To The Beach!
Great Lineup for the summer! All Shows at the Cape May Convention Center.
$30 All Seats Call (855) 708-9699

- Arlo Gunthrie – Ocean City Music Pier (8pm)

Tuesday – July 17

- The Barrel House Boys – Clancy’s By The Bay.

- Ocean City Pops – “Mancini by Moonlight” – Ocean City Music Pier (8pm)

- Stevie Nicks, Borgata
- Ivory Kings starring Darin MacDonald, Resorts

Wednesday – July 18

- Danny Eyre leads the Open Mic Nite at Carolines By the Bay at the Point (8pm)
Danny say “A good jam never hurt nobody.”

- Steve Moore & “MIA” – Clancy’s By the Bay –

- Ocean City Pops presents the Duprees 50th Anniversary (8pm) (609) 525-9248

- Stevie Nicks, Borgata

Thursday – July 19

-         The Fabulous Grease Band – Ocean City Music Pier (8pm) (609) 628-2476

-         Thursty Wilson – Clancy’s By the Bay 

-         Tony Perez (Ola Latina) & Webb Thomas Superband – Chickenbone Beach Concert at Kennedy Plaza (Boardwalk Hall) AC 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Where the Bands Are July 7-12

Nightbeat – July 6 - 12

Friday - July 6 –

- Jeremiah Hunter Band - Somers Point Beach 7 pm 
- Mike Pedicin Trio – Jazz – Avalon, N.J.
- Billy Hector, The Crab’s Claw (Rt. 35N, Lavallette)
- Kayne West, Ovation Hall
- Disco Biscuits, House of Blues, Showboat
- Bob Saget, Borgata
- Celtic Thunder, Harrahs
- James Tayloor, Borgata

Saturday - July 7

-         Ben Singleton [bensingleton.com], w/ Who Dat, Love & Branca, Camellion – Tuckahone Inn (6-10)
-         Dr. Cheeko, Martells Tiki Bar – (12:30pm
-         Billy Hector – Harpers Pub, Clementon
-         Celtic Thunder, Harrahs
-         James Taylor, Borgata 
-         Billy Gardell, Music Box
-         Sarah Silverman, Caesars
-         Commodores, Trump Taj Mahal
-         Papa Roach, House of Blues
-         Cedric the Entertainer & Friends, Tropicana

Sunday - July 8

- The Glenn Taylor Band will be leading worship up on the boardwalk every Sunday at the Ocean City Music Pier. Will be up there every Sunday in July and August from 8:00-8:45am.

- Bob Campanell – [bobcampanell.com ] Sunday Tuckahoe Inn Back Bay Café 6-10
- Billy Hector – Surf Taco, Jackson
- Dr. Cheeko – Martells Tiki Bar (12:30pm)
- Celtic Thunder, Harrahs
• Sarah McLachlan, Borgata 

Monday – July 9

- Dr. Cheeko – Trump Plaza Beach Bar

Tuesday - July 10 

- Dr. Cheeko – Martell Tiki Bar (8pm)
- Sevendust, Music Hall 
- B-52s, Squeeze, Borgata
- Aziz Ansari, Borgata
- Yes, Procol Harum, Tropicana
- Nickelback, Bush, Revel
- Darryl Worley, David Lee Murphy & Bo Bice, Trump Taj Mahal
- Zeds Dead, Music Hall

Wednesday – July 11

- Billy Hector, The Stone Poney –

Thursday – July 12

- Reggae Night at Carolines w/ DJ J.J. Walsh/Jah
- Billy Hector, Ragin Cajun, Belmar  -

Monday, July 2, 2012

Bob Campanell Beach

Bob Campanell Beach

Officially the Somers Point Municipal Beach is named in honor of William Morrow, but it’s Bob Campanell's beach for one day a year. Campanell owns the Somers Point beach every July 4th, as he’s been playing that gig every independence day for a number of years now, and when they sit down to book the summer beach concerts for the season they can just keep penciling in Bobby’s name for that day every year, at least as far as the music fans are concerned.

For Campanell the road to Bay Avenue was long and winding but he seems to be glad to be there. An original South Jersey guy who discovered rock & roll at an early age, Bob began playing the guitar and singing in a garage band before making his way to Asbury Park, where he was an integral part of the blossoming music scene of the ‘70s. With the Shakes, Bob played the Uptown, Stone Pony and other now legendary Asbury Park Clubs, often sharing the stage with Bruce, Southside Johnny and John Bon Jovi, whose band once opened for the Shakes.

Bruce and Bob at the Pony 

The unofficial history of Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band records the facts that, “On 28 May 1977, the Springsteen-Apple lawsuits reached a final settlement and finally Springsteen was able to get into a studio and record. Recording sessions for the next album began in early June 1977, but Springsteen kept making guest appearances at other artists' gigs, and jamming with Southside Johnny at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ. On 13 Sep 1977, he performed a set of 5 songs (including THUNDER ROAD) with Southside Johnny and the E Street Band at the club. This was during a benefit show for Bob Campanell, member of The Shakes, who were a house band at the club at the time.”

While those guys went elsewhere, Bob Campanell and the Shakes drove down Highway 9 until they got to Somers Point. Since there weren’t any beach gigs then, they drove down Bay Avenue and auditioned for Anthony Marotta at Tony Marts.

Not getting that job, and feeling a bit rejected, they went around the corner to Mothers, which was a late night, all night joint just on the other side of bridge, and technically in Egg Harbor Township, where the beer and booze could flow after the places in Somers Point closed at 2am. Like the Dunes, Brownies and the Attic, Mothers was popular with those who left Bay Shores, Tony Marts and the Anchorage, and wanted to keep dancing. The party that never stopped.

Mothers had previously been a shot and beer bar with a pool table and previously known variously as O’Brynes, the Mug and the Purple Villa before Andrew bought it. He remodeled the place as a carpet joint and named it after the nightclub in the once popular TV series Peter Gunn. Gunn was a private eye and the TV Mothers had a jazz band with a hot female vocalist, but at Mothers at the Jersey Shore, rock & roll was king, at least at that time.

Other good bands – Airport, Hit & Run, and some great ones like Johnny Caswell and the Crystal Mansion played Mothers, but I remember Bobby Campanell and the Shakes the best, and he was the guy I always went out of my way to see. He plays with a passion and makes a classic cover song his own, just like he owns the Somers Point beach. 

The first time I heard the Shakes I thought they were great, but wouldn’t be able to keep up the same pace for long, but they did. They came out and played hard every set, and introduced that frolicking Asbury Park sound and style to the South Jersey Shore. They never stop to talk about what song to do next, they just kept playing great songs they liked, and gave it a twist. You know how they keep the beat up between songs and tell a story, sometimes to frame a tune? Even on live recorded albums they cut it back to just the songs, so you miss out on all the between song banter, like an epic poem - that frames the song and places it somewhere, somewhere familiar or exotic. Well once Bobby was telling the story of how he auditioned for Tony Marotta, without actually mentioning his name, but you knew who he was talking about, “We walked in through the doors above which is a sign that reads: ‘through these doors walk the most beautiful girls in the world.’” 

Then after the brief audition, or maybe it was in the middle of it, Tony took a cigar out of his mouth and told Bobby with a wave of his hand, “Get out, you Bums!,” and then the Shakes would break into a rousing version of “Hit the Road Jack, and never come back no more, no more…”, the dance floor would fill up and the whole room would rock for the next hour or so.

Bob's not only a good guitarist and great singer, but a proficient song writer who has a number of original tunes, including, "Pour It Out," a cut that made the WMMR "Breakout" Album one year when the Shakes were playing Mothers. 

One night I followed the Shakes off the stage to their dressing room, a broom closet near the back bar, where I found Bobby sweating profusely from playing and rummaging through an old tin Beatles lunchbox he must have had since grammar school. Bob is also a big Phillie fan, and somewhat resembles Pete Rose, “Charlie Hustle,” especially when he wears a Phillie baseball cap, so I called him the “Pete Rose of Rock & Roll.”

I later learned that the Shakes were originally formed in Asbury Park in 1976 by Vinny Lopez, the original drummer with Bruce Springstte's band, but he was no longer with them when they came to Mothers. The other Shakes at the time included drummer, nicknamed “Bubba,” from South Camden, Frank Gross a sharp keyboardist, Steve Lombardelli on sax and a guitarist, Bobby Buttons, who went on to play with a number of other Philly bands including Robert Hazard's Heroes. Sometimes Bob's brother Gabbo would sit in with his sax, and it Gabbo and his band The Flys, who were playing Mothers when it burnt down, and the band’s equipment, was destroyed in the fire.

Before it was Mothers, the Mug was partially owned by the late George Naame, of Maloney’s in Margate fame. Naame also had a piece of Merals in Margate, where Bob Campanell and the Shakes became the house band throughout the 1980s, and stayed on with new owners when it became Gilhooleys.

One night I hired Bo Higbee to videotape the first Atlantic City appearance of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes when they played the ballroom at Boardwalk Hall. Then we went over to Merals and videotaped a set of Bob and the Shakes. I thought he got it all until on the ride home Higbee confessed that the whole time we were at Merals he accidentally hit the pause button and didn’t get any of it.

They were great times that will never happen again, and while left unrecorded, those who were there still have the memories.

At least I thought they were unrecorded. Then I found an old 90 minute cassette tape labeled “Mothers, Labor Day, 1980,” and recalled taping that and another, similar 90 minute cassette that I had replayed so often the tape broke. In a flashback I recalled sitting at the bar in front of the stage, running the microphone cord up above the glass rack and placing the tape recorder on the bar and then forgetting about it for an hour and a half.

Listening to it today you can hear the glasses tingle, the girls talking in the background, and can almost smell the cigarette smoke as the band gets ready to play. I’m going to try to make a digital copy of the tape, but until then, we’ll have to settle for the real thing, as Bobby Campanell and his new band will play live, on the Bob Campanell beach in Somers Point on July 4th, Independence Day 2012.

While the Shakes are still carrying on without their leader and co-founder, now playing a more funky beat, Bob's new band still rocks and includes Danny Eyre, one of the best lead guitarists at the Jersey Shore who also plays solo and with other bands. Because of his fondness for and prodigious consumption of java, I have dubbed Danny "the human percolator, and I'm proud of the fact that both Bob and Danny are my Facebook friends where you can keep up with where they are playing. 

Bob has also recently returned to play solo at Brian O’Keeney’s Library IV on the Black Horse Pike in Williamstown, and he plays regularly at the Tuckahoe Inn in Beesleys Point on Wednesdays and Sundays, both indoor and out back with his band at the Back Bay Café. Tyson Merriman’s Tuckahoe Inn is a great place to eat and has live music most nights. 

Bob Campanell's CD - "A Road in the Wilderness" 

By Bob's CD: 

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