Turn It Off

Turn it off.  It seems like a simple enough directive.  Have I been able to turn it off while on vacation?  Barely.  My Facebook, Twitter, band and venue clients call to me like sirens.  I might be spending my days crashing waves and eating slices but my mind can’t escape the music.

De Lazy Lizard bayside bar: 2nd Street OCMD

De Lazy Lizard bayside bar: 2nd Street OCMD

I love my family and friends and am grateful for this week to spend with them in leisure.  But I can’t stop Gigspotting.

I left town with some hot loose ends that are haunting me.  I coordinated a performance by Silencio at Zoetropolis Art House on 7/13 and didn’t get to see the show; we left town that morning.  My friend Bjorn Jacobsen of The Wayfarer Experiment hosted the open mic at Shank’s Tavern in Marietta on Tuesday.  I hated to miss that!  Matt Wheeler played WCL at the Queen Wednesday night after my urging him to connect with Gable Music Ventures’ Singer-Songwriter series.  Missed it.  Today, Thursday 7/18/13, is The Ladybug Music Festival in the streets of Wilmington, DE.  My banner will be flying over the Xtreme Pizza stage.  Awesome women musicians will be in the spotlight from 5-11pm and the streets will be filled with vendors and music lovers.  I will only be there in spirit.

So what am I spotting in OCMD?  Boy, am I seeing a lot of great cover bands!  Our vacation home for the week is triangulated between two great bars: Caribbean Pool Bar on the boardwalk and De Lazy Lizard on the bay.  Both have live music every night and great drink specials.  At the Lizard, I saw Brandon Hardesty of Bumpin Uglies playing solo acoustic.  Have you picked up a copy of their latest, Ninjah: Reggae Assassins?  It’s phenomenal fun!  It was great to be there just relaxing with friends and not working behind my camera.  Tonight we might slip up to 45th Street Taphouse to catch a set by Bond and Bentley.  But first, it will be a seafood feast and some go-cart racing.S1140026

So I’m turning it off for now.  I’ll be back in central PA to stir the pot Saturday night and Sunday brings Dawes back to Long’s Park Summer Concert Series.  I hope to visit my new outrageous pals at The Rattler in Pittston mid-week.  Then it’s Toy Soldiers at Chameleon Thursday and three glorious days of the XPoNential Music Festival in Camden.  Count on me catching some central PA bands on those wonderful stages, namely The Districts and The Stray Birds.  Saturday night I get to see The Lumineers with my daughter.  The festival culminates Sunday night with Bob Dylan, Wilco, My Morning Jacket and other great acts on the AmericanaRama Tour.  It can’t be much bigger or better than that!

Blockstock IV in OCMD 7/29

DNL’s Blockstock IV: Rocking The Party Block in OCMD!

When Pirate Rob says it’s a party, I mobilize.  Lucky for me, my beach week in OCMD coincided with DNL’s Blockstock IV at The Party Block.  This club fills an entire city block with three separated bars, several party patios and an outdoor pool for a dip or lounging.  On Sunday 7/29, over 25 bands descended on The Party Block to throw down and party up!

For just $10, patrons could roam all three stage areas and find the grooves that fit their mood.  The Big Kahuna stage got it right for me.  I caught 45 minute sets by Bumpin’ Uglies, Lovebettie, Sweet Leda, Bond and Bentley and Pasadena.  Each band puts their own unique spin on rock and as a lineup they are formidable.  You better have comfy, sturdy shoes and clothes you can move in when this crew gets together because you will be movin’ and groovin’!

Bumpin’ Uglies have a reggae/metal/hip-hop sound that reminds some of Sublime and some of Linkin Park.  They come at you from many angles and know how to light a fire on the floor.  Lots of songs about partying and having fun keep people upbeat while hitting the downbeat.  Brandon Hardesty out front is engaging and stylish and boy, can he play guitar!

Lovebettie has gone global this summer with appearances at SXSW, Summerfest and Warped Tour.  It seems their Swagger Rock sound suits both dance halls and stadiums.  What is Swagger Rock?  It’s all about finding that groove that everyone feels and rocking it to the next level.  We are a team and we’re champions when we play together.  Dan and Larry on bass and drums level the playing field and all opposition.  C.T.’s guitar pyrotechnics light it up.  Alexandra’s vocal majesty erects the stadium and dresses us all in the same colors.  Remember Whitney Houston’s “Star-Spangled Banner?”  Their sound is that powerful and that unifying.

Sweet Leda brings the soul-rock sound.  Whether they want to save your soul, tempt it or doom it is up to your imagination.  Don’s drumming is clever and deft.  Omar on guitar is some kind of wizard.  Jaime on bass thumps you up one side and down the other.  Julie’s sultry, powerful vocals open your pores and touch every nerve.  When Pasadena’s drummer joined them at the end, the place just went berserk with the beats.

Bond and Bentley just kidnaps your ass.  Their hip-hop rock hits hard.  Does anybody play an acoustic as hard as Ray?  The lead players are incendiary, the drums and bass percussive.  The keyboards create this carnival atmosphere around it all.  People just surrender to it and go dervish.  If National Lampoon remakes Animal House, count on Bond and Bentley being the house band.

Pasadena headlined the Big Kahuna stage for good reason.  They unify this musical crew and their diverse styles.  This night they were snake bit by a missing sound man and an absent bass player.  Did it keep them from making it a party?  Hell no!  Jaime from Sweet Leda stepped up to play bass.  All the bands shared PA and monitors.  And everyone sticks around to cheer on everyone else in the Pasadena family.  Nobody else was leaving either!

When you see DNL Entertainment or any of these bands on the bill, step up.  You’ll be glad you did!

Who’s Your Favorite Pirate?

Who’s Your Favorite Pirate?

Growing up in Pittsburgh and loving baseball, I idolized our hometown Pirates.  Roberto Clemente was and is still my favorite.  The game would benefit from his leadership today; if only he wasn’t lost in a plane crash doing earthquake relief work!  It broke my nine-year old heart!

I like movie pirates: Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush were brilliant scallywags in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie.  Tim Curry vamped it up brilliantly as Long John Silver in The Muppets’ Treasure Island, a must-see. David Warner was a ruthless degenerate pirate in a 1980 movie apparently only I saw and loved, The Island.  Peter Benchley (Jaws) wrote the novel and screenplay and Michael Caine starred. It is great, honest and just re-released on DVD.

Who is my favorite pirate today (with a nod and smile to the above)?  Pirate Rob!  Never heard of him?  Pirate Rob, aka Rob Bryan, is owner/partner of DNL Entertainment, One Koast Productions and a plethora of other music-related ventures.  When Pirate Rob says it’s a party, he makes Capt. Morgan look like Donald Duck.  When he brings his band of merry bands to play, it’s “…a festival of conviviality” to quote Long John Silver.

I first met Rob at The Legendary Dobbs in Philly one cold November night.  I had gone to check out my friends Lovebettie’s show and he had several bands on the bill.  He is a blunt yet easy-going guy with a ready laugh and great taste in music.  He is too busy to waste words or time.  It’s always the next horizon, the next adventure, the next show. He handed me some cd’s and said, “Stay in touch.”

Soon I was noticing the bands Pasadena and Bond and Bentley sharing shows with Lovebettie in Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Buffalo and Philly.  These two distinctive, powerful, professional bands belong to what I call Rob’s fleet.  I had no idea what a large and vibrant music scene existed in the Baltimore-Annapolis region or that it connected to OCMD, Dewey and Rehoboth Beaches.  This guy could summon up thirty bands with a lopsided grin, it seemed.

I felt the full force of his fleet at Pirate Rob’s Birthday Bash on February 18, 2012.  He sold out the 1,500 capacity Rams Head Live in Inner Harbor and fifteen bands played their asses off, each ending their set with, “Thanks a lot everyone and ‘F&*k you, Pirate Rob’!” as is apparently tradition.  It’s obviously a true sign of love and respect in this crew.  You should hear 1,500 people scream it sometime.  You’ll know.

Talk to any of the bands who work with him; he makes stuff happen.  Go to any show he’s part of and you’ll get it.  These people are believers and they stick together.  Best of all, you can join in on it!  One Pasadena or Bond and Bentley show will be all it takes, but take my word for it: you need to check out Sweet Leda, The Grilled Lincolns, Bumpin’ Uglies, Fresh Competition and the whole fleet.

I just spent the weekend with this crew at Jam @ the Dam.  It was like a family reunion for 400 people and the best party.  With thirty years of party experience under my belt, you can take my word for it.  Or not.  But if you have any thoughts of a weekend trip to OCMD, make it the weekend of July 28-29 and request Monday off.  Pirate Rob and Jayslow Entertainment are throwing Blockstock IV in The Party Block that Sunday.  If you can make it, you will be there very late.  If you miss it, just drop anchor on the couch because you are not sea-worthy.

F&*k you, Pirate Rob!  And sail on, brother!

You land-lubbers can see videos from Jam at the Dam at this link: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLC43C3D4C10B5FA32&feature=plcp

If you were there: great partying with you!!