Rehoboth restaurants set the tone with gifted performers
Playwright William Congreve wrote, “Music has charms to soothe the savage breast.” Heck, restaurants and bars figured that out years ago. In fact, extensive studies (at least the ones I could remember the next morning) have proven that music can also charm the savage breast into ordering a second gin and tonic and another basket of hot wings.
In the late ‘60s, this writer’s rock band charmed many an Ocean City visitor into soothing him- or herself with Manhattans, 7 & 7s, Harvey Wallbangers and more than a few Schlitzes. Forty years later, the music is a bit different, and now they’re sippin’ Bellinis, Mojitos, Appletinis and craft beers. And through it all, the beat goes on.
So it’s no surprise that many of the restaurants and bars in Rehoboth Beach sport some pretty talented minstrels and bards plying their musical wares up and down the Avenue. None the least of these are guitarist Paul Cullen and keyboardist/singer Viki Dee.
Rehoboth Beach isn’t either of these players’ first rodeo. Paul Cullen hails from none other than English supergroup Bad Company, touring with them for four years. Over 2.5 million people watched Paul hammer out the band’s signature bass lines at venues throughout the world. Living on the road isn’t as glamorous as it might seem, and Paul eventually abandoned the electric bass in favor of the mellow mood of the acoustic guitar. He was hooked, and it’s been all about a jazzy Latin vibe ever since. Far cry from Bad Company, huh?
When Paul helped his friends David and Christina Jones open Luca restaurant in Millsboro, he was instrumental in their selection of wines. One evening during a break, Paul ordered a glass of Michael David Winery’s Seven Deadly Zins. He liked the blend so much that he asked for a look at the bottle. There was a little poem printed on the label that Paul set to music and sent to the wine producer. Fast-forward a bit, and Paul is now representing several wineries here in Delaware.
But that’s not all, folks: He recently introduced his very own line of wines called Sonata, and they’re appearing in wine shops and on restaurant menus all over Delaware. Paul’s combination of acoustic guitar (unplugged) and delicious vintages (uncorked) has even resulted in his writing feature articles for Coastal Style magazine.
Paul’s smooth sound has graced such eateries as Port in Dewey Beach, Striper Bites and Beseme in Lewes, and the Back Porch in Rehoboth. His third and latest solo CD, “Eleven Sundays,” is available for download from finer websites everywhere.
Talent can blossom in so many ways. Tony Dee, Baltimore’s top society bandleader, used to bring his little girl to rehearsals and gigs where he played and sang in his own orchestra. Young Viki was mesmerized: “I wanted to do what he was doing.” Lo and behold, that’s exactly what she’s doing right here in Rehoboth Beach.
The days of a stage full of musicians eventually yielded to technology. Viki’s musical experience led her to assemble a sophisticated array of computer-based devices that allows her to sound like an entire band. Horns, strings, drums, bass (sorry, Paul) - they’re all there, punctuated by her nimble keyboard stylings and her crystal-clear vocals.
Viki Dee has also had her share of national success. One of the cuts from her second album, “Drive,” made such an impression that it was featured on an episode of Lifetime Network’s “Missing.” SyFy Network also included Viki’s composition in an installment of Steven King’s “Haven.” Viki regularly draws diners and drinkers to the Seafood Shack, Eden, Mixx, Frogg Pond and the Rehoboth Ale House, just to name a few.
In spite of her TV success and years of wowing the Baltimore glitterati, Viki laughs as she tells me about her momentous performance at a surprise birthday party. Everyone had to hide. When they yelled “Surprise!” and proudly revealed the entertainment, there she was - playing from inside a walk-in closet.
After some prodding, Paul Cullen finally admitted that he was once honored to be the feature performer - at a furniture store sale. Fate has a way of reminding even the best of us to keep our feet on the ground, doesn’t it?