For those not native to these parts, Fire Island is a 31-mile stretch of island parallel to Long Island, with the Atlantic Ocean breaching its Southern coast. It also happens to be a place where the partying never stops… Ever… Apparently…
Jake And The Mountain Men were invited to perform at The Sandbar, a short stumble from the Ocean Beach ferry where a mojito might not be on the menu, but the doors open at 9AM, and the party picks up right where it left off just a few hours earlier. It’s the ‘hair-of-the-dog’ of Ocean Beach, where you can enjoy your breakfast with a orange-flavored spiked seltzer or whichever shade of rum you prefer to take with your scrambled eggs.
Jake set forth on their journey early Friday morning amidst a string of torrential downpours throughout the Southern New York region. The path before us was uncharted, and the questions were abound:
Would we be allowed to transfer our band’s gear on the ferry, or would we get deposed to the dreadful-sounding freight boat?
Would our equipment survive the rain? What if the entire island was flooded?
And lastly, why the hell did any of us agree to this crazy idea in the first place?
For many of us in the group, significant others included, the thrill of being a pioneer made the entire experience enjoyable. For we were about to embark on an experience that would be unlike any other gig we would have for a long time.
The lot of us are experienced and seasoned musicians, some of which gig multiple times a week with a multitude of groups, have been on tours, have battled established bands in competitions (and come out on top, twice!), have performed on live television, etc.
But this was the first time any of us had loaded our gear onto a ferry, sailed to an island where vehicles aren’t allowed, and were expected to entertain an unruly ensemble of party-goers over two, very long evenings delineating the opening of the summer season on the Island.
Could we even hack it?
The first gig was a doozy– a three-hour stint from 7–10pm, prime time for the droves of 20-somethings who stormed the docks off the evening ferries, not one minute of which featured our boisterous and incredibly talented front-man. The crowd danced, they sang, they strongly suggested we didn’t play any more cuts from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon…
The band had to call a series of audibles… “They only want up-beat tunes; And we gotta give them what they want!” And we did. Hit after hit, song after song, we rocked as hard as Jake knows how to rock.
The lovely and talented Casey Carpenter sprinkled our set with the vocal stylings of Aretha Franklin, Stevie Nicks, Cyndi Lauper, and others.
The house DJ spun a set of dance-able rock tunes, and then fired into Jessie’s Girl. “Oh shit, they’re scooping our show!” we thought… So we jumped in and took over the second verse…
The crowd went APE-SHIT! It was a great moment.
Mussels wouldn’t show up until the following day, just in time to save our vocal chords from straining and shredding into oblivion.
That was of course after a very, very long walk from the Sandbar to our rental house, a round of Scotch (happy birthday, Brendan!), and even more spiked seltzers (is this a Fire Island thing, or is this just a 2019 thing?), a brief period of rest, and hearty breakfasts of BACON-EGG-AND-CHEESE-ON-A-ROLL.
While searching for utensils to prepare breakfast, we discovered that one of the drawers in the kitchen made a very distinct sound…
The second day we were set to play from 2–6pm, prime time for the Saturday crowd. With Mussels at the helm, we sailed through the greatest Jake tunes we know how to play. We even navigated through the choppy waters of some newer tunes.
The owner of the Sandbar happened to be a big Bruce Springsteen fan, so naturally we obliged…
We all lived together for two days without a single argument, or zany mishap. We ate, we laughed, we drank, and we rocked out.