Next to Christmas, Halloween is my favorite holiday.
What’s not to like? You knock on total strangers’ doors, and they give you candy! You get to play dress-up like you did when you were a kid, and no one thinks it’s odd. Things that are usually scary—like dead guys and ghosts—become lighthearted and fun.
When else might a man dressed as a woman wearing a fat suit and scanty lingerie come up to your table in a most friendly way, as happened to me and my companion at Star Bar Saturday night? On what other occasion can you see a huge black-and-white-spotted Great Dane wearing a cowbell and a balloon udder, as in fact I did? Under what other circumstances might you wash your hands in a restroom next to a woman dressed as a mail carrier, with a stuffed Rottweiler attached to her leg?
The holiday puts a giant smile on my face every year, even though I am always torn between staying home to pass out candy to the adorable trick-or-treating children, or dressing up myself and finding a party. (Last year, when I decided at the last minute to do the latter, my costume scramble finally yielded a stuffed monkey I happened to have lying around—don’t you?—which I bungee’d to my back. Then I got the giggles all night long when people said, “Hey, you know you’ve got a monkey on your back?”) Halloween indulges my inner twelve-year-old—and I’m not alone, judging by the number of costumed bar patrons I ran into this past weekend all over the island.
At first glance you might have thought the band the Castaways had come to play Porky’s Last Stand dressed as a bowling league, in their matching personalized collared shirts.
But no…I’m pretty sure that’s just the uniform the three-piece band wears when they venture over from the other coast to play the BBQ joint once a month.
The Castaways are a refreshingly live, versatile, upbeat trio that pumps out a powerhouse of sound. Like the other regular weekend bands Porky’s hires to turn their bar area into a nightclub, the group presents a set list that’s designed to keep patrons on the dance floor.
But the band varies their play list pretty widely: not just energetic dance tunes, but everything from Motown to disco, fifties rock to classic rock, and of course, the inescapable “Margaritaville” and “Brown-eyed Girl.” (The bartenders and I decided these tunes are the island equivalent of their overplayed northern cousins, “American Pie” and “Jack and Diane.”) I walked in about halfway through their evening, and was dazzled when the group segued directly from Barry Gibb to Barry White—no small leap.
And while we are on the topic of the brothers Gibb (which happens seldom enough in day-to-day life that one must seize that iron while it’s hot), the Castaways might have a backup career as a BeeGees tribute band.
On drums, Reggie Fecteau has a castrato-worthy falsetto that’s a dead ringer for most of the BeeGees’ hits. And the Castaways know it and play to their strengths—presenting tune after tune lifted from the Saturday Night Fever sound track and the hit charts of the seventies. Fecteau also puts that warbling alto to good use on a Supremes tune, with a rendition that even Miss Ross would approve, but he can wail out songs like “Great Balls of Fire” equally well in his normal fully testosteroned range, and he even trots out a tune sung in Spanish.
But don’t discount powerful singer Brad Scott on keyboard. Scott’s a standout on a number of levels. Tall, with a mane of blond hair, he takes lead on the rest of the covers, everything from Bob Marley’s “Is This Love” to the Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody.” (And he does not cheat that infamous high note, folks.) And on his keys he creates a whole orchestra of sound, everything from piano to xylophone to an entire horn section.
Rounding out the lineup is guitarist Rob “Thirsty” Howell. (Yeah, I wondered too. Howell claims the moniker is a reference to his scratchy voice, but I have a few possible theories of my own…) He’s good on guitar and harmonies, but the best thing about watching Howell is the sheer delight he evinces in being there. Most of the night you’ll see a giant grin plastered on his face—exactly the reaction I can imagine having if my job were to get onstage and rock the house.
They’re not gimmicky—just good solid musicianship with a crowd-pleasing play list. You can check them out next at Porky’s November 25 from 8 till midnight. Check their Web site at www.thecastaways.biz for more info and other appearances.
In my ongoing efforts to keep you intrigued, I’ve got a new e-mail addy: drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org