Jazz, cocktails, brunch, wings: And the band played on!
So many people tell me that living at the beach is like a year-round vacation. If that is the case (it is for me), then the Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival is like a little vacation wrapped up inside a bigger one. So many things to do, and only four days to get it all done. My post-jazzfest wrap-up is sort of a tradition, and it’s always fun to relive the adventures - at least those that I can clearly remember.
There was no better way to kick-start the weekend than with Sheila E.! In my former life, my Washington, D.C. recording studio played host to Sheila E. and Prince for three all-night sessions as they scrambled to finish their “Batman” movie soundtrack album. It was great seeing her again on the stage at Cape Henlopen High School. Initial sound system slip-ups notwithstanding, by the time the 56-year-old (she looks 29) Latino percussionist took the stage, everything was perfect. Her dad, the legendary Pete Escovedo, was a special surprise, keeping up with his energetic kid on the timbales, cowbells and cymbals note for note. The man is 78!
I felt bad for the people who found it necessary to rush out of the theater before the encore (Where were they going? It’s 10 p.m. on a Thursday at the beach in October!). That annoyance aside, the encore was the best part of the show. Sheila not only performed an amazing drum solo, but she integrated two Cape music students into the program. The high schoolers performed their sax and trumpet parts like pros.
Guitarist Paul Cullen was busy on Friday, adding his cool Latin jazz to happy hour at a(MUSE.), then hightailing it over to Touch of Italy to play until 1 a.m. We enjoyed appetizers and Chad Ackland’s incredible martinis at Espuma with none other than Bethany Beach fitness guru Lisa Velasco. This woman is the poster child for endorphins, and time with her is upbeat and memorable. She whips people into shape at Custom Fitness by Lisa and enjoys a long list of faithful fans. We tried to get her to join us at Touch of Italy, but she starts pumpin’ iron at 6 a.m. (Up until that moment I thought 6 came around only once - followed by sunset.)
We restrained ourselves at Espuma, saving room for Touch of Italy’s crispy Focaccia alla Robiola da Ciro prepared by our favorite pizza guy, Biaggio Lucci. Of course you don’t go to Touch of Italy without grazing the pasticceria, and smiling deli man Carl broke into the display cases to liberate a couple of Italian wedding cookies just for us.
Sunday morning of jazzfest weekend is reserved for one thing and one thing only: Jazz brunch at The Back Porch Café. Eggs Benedict, mimosas, ridiculously fresh blueberry scones and hot coffee on the sunny upper deck of Back Porch’s back porch harmonized perfectly with the sax and guitar stylings of the John Ewart Trio. We were joined by one of our favorite Bethany Beach expatriates, Jack Reamy (now our neighbor here in Rehoboth), and we raised our glasses to those who had joined us there in the past, especially Back Porch Chef Leo Medisch and Jack’s wife, Jacki, both of whom departed this earth during 2013. And the band played on.
Our last official act was to join the WOCM radio crew at Jake’s Seafood for the very first Ocean 98 Best Wings on the Shore Contest. Tony Mowen provided music for the jam-packed event as Bulldog, Big Al Reno, Coach and the rest of the Seacrets-based radio crew gorged on wings and beer.
Winner for Best Overall was Jake’s. Hari Cameron’s a(MUSE.) took the trophy for Most Creative (followed closely by Robert Wood’s Cultured Pearl). The award for Hottest Wings was taken by Port Dewey’s Mitch King and Chef Inton Mouynivong (loosely translates to “the guy makes a heckuva wing”). WOCM general manager and weekday morning guru Bulldog bit into one and started to cry. King put out the fire with a well-aimed stream of Reddi Wip. It wasn’t a pretty sight.
With Sea Witch this weekend and Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival just around the corner, we’re set to do it all over again. After all, we’re on vacation, aren’t we?