1. Hotel California 2. Knockin' On Heaven's Door 3. Volcano 4. Three Little Birds
5. One Love 6. Buffalo Soldier 7. I Shot The Sheriff 8. Jammin'
9. Yellow Bird/Jamaica Farewell/Day O 10. Red Red Wine 11. Sweat
12. Dollar Wine 13. Easy Skanking 14. Hot Hot Hot 15. Angel
Sometimes it's a long and winding road that leads you to great music, but if you surrender to the God of music and pay close attention you will be attracted to it and it will be attracted to you.
So there we were, my bride and I in Cape May America's original seaside resort Exit Zero lounging around the pool sensational view of the beach and the Atlantic. Our DJ, Lance, an ex-record promotion guy from San Francisco, who resembled Michael Stipe in looks and Buddha in attitude, playing Paul Simon singing "The nearer your destination the more you're slip sliding away." A reminder that we're only here for a brief time so enjoy, and as the refreshing sea breeze swept over us we spied an ad in the local paper Full Moon Martini Madness at Congress Hall Pool Bar, free buffet, a performance by Ed & Carlynn singing Sinatra and Peggy Lee plus a bevy of martinis.
It sounded like a cool place to begin the evening so that night out we went. Now some folks think Congress Hall is the Waldorf of Cape May so they wind up shelling out a small fortune to stay there . . . poolside . . . summer party lanterns . . . a country club in Greenwich Ct. kind of scene. We passed on the free buffet because, well it was just a tad bit too popular. I wasn't about to wait on line for a half hour for a complimentary crab cake, but we did grab a few martinis.
Unfortunately the vocal duo didn't have a band, not even a piano player. They used backing tracks, kind of a Karaoke, and the volume was so low it sounded like Frank & Peggy were singing accapella. It was disappointing. Funny thing is the rest of the crowd didn't have a problem with the situation. Maybe they had a head start on the martinis. Well, different strokes for different folks and so on and so on. We finished our drinks and left the Martini Madness soiree and headed out to a few other spots.
They thanked me. Phew, and then in an attempt to get out of my self imposed insanity, I said we had to go because we were going to hear Steve LaManna. Let me tell you about this guy. We found him by accident a few summers ago when we followed the sound of some tasty piano music. It was coming from a very small couch-filled lounge where he was doing his thing at the piano. He's fantastic and plays a combination of jazz/classical/cocktail, and it's his choice of material that knocked us out. You ever hear a cocktail pianist doing The Stones' "Wild Horses?" The guy is totally unique. Frank disagreed, "He rambles. If you want to hear a great pianist, go over to The Merion Inn and hear George Mesterhazy. He's the best."
I thanked him for the tip and we went over to hear LaManna. When we got there the room was packed. With no where to sit we decided to take Frank's advice and check out the other guy. It was one of these "Food and Spirits since 1885" upscale Victorian décor deals. The bar was a pretty huge room. Next to it were several tables where diners who didn't make it into the main dining room were finishing their coffee and desserts. We found a few chairs at the bar and our wine was served in carafes by bartenders in white shirts and ties. The piano player was way over in a corner playing, but no one was paying attention to him. It was background music and a completely different setup from LaManna's which was intimate with everyone focused on the music.
He explained that they were in a reggae band and they had just finished playing a gig at a beach club. They dropped in here to relax and unwind. Cool I thought, and he gave me his card, a very colorful deal with a photograph of the band and their name, Reel Ting. As we continued our chat he told me a great story. He's from Florida where he's a broker or something like that. You gotta understand, this was all taking place around midnight so some of the details are a little fuzzy. Anyway, in June he gets on his boat and heads up to Cape May where he plays with Reel Ting all summer. So far I was envious of his lifestyle. He had it right work hard, play hard, or at least, play steel drums.
So anyway they're sailing up the coast and at some point along the way they see Jimmy Buffet's vessel. Now right here I'd like to point out that I don't know the proper nautical terms so I'm telling you this from the point of view of a guy who is usually land locked. George told it with the accurate sea lover's lingo. Also for the uninitiated, understand that Buffett is considered to be a God by many. In fact he is God manifesting himself as Jimmy Buffett, but that's a whole other article for another web site. Point is, George and his crew were excited about possibly meeting the guy. But he wasn't on board and the Captain was sailing north to pick him up. George suggested that they could all sail up the coast together. So that's what happened, the boats headed on up side by side. Now remember it was now after midnight, I'd been sipping wine, and this is the way I heard it, ok?
Great story. My fantasy ending is . . . they write a song about the adventure and Buffett cuts it with one of those spoken word intro's he does sometimes, you know, "I was down in Cape May and I saw a couple who did a tribute to Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee and they told me about this piano player I should check out. So I went to see the guy and while sipping on a tall cool one I met this other guy named George who was in a reggae band called Reel Ting and he told me a story that I'd like to tell you now" And then he'd sing the tune that outlines George's adventure. In my happy ending, the song is a huge hit, bigger than Margaritaville, and when Buffett performs it in front of a huge sellout crowd somewhere, he introduces George who was playing steel drums on the tune. The crowd goes wild.
"Fearless Child" by Reel Ting contains over 71 minutes of pure no frills good time music. Put it on your CD player, sip a cold frozen concoction and let the tropical breezes sweep over your consciousness. They are a steel drum band who kicks out reggae, Latin, calypso, and all the traditional island sounds. These are all covers; with fresh interpretations - the overall sound is a lot breezier than the originals. The vocalist (sorry he's not credited) has his own soulful sound and makes the tunes his own and the steel drums give each song their own Reel Ting brand.
They cover Marley, Three Little Birds, One Love, and more, but you've never heard them like this. I like some of these versions better than the originals. They just flow from the speakers. My favorite is Hotel California. Reel Ting has striped it of all its 1970's layered pretentiousness and man, what a surprise to find a sensational tune under there with story lyrics that rival Dylan. You've never heard the true story of Hotel California until you hear this version.