Twenty Years of the Lone Sharks
by Yolanda Carruthers
It was only fitting that our
interview took place at a restaurant that promised genuine southern-type
barbeque eatin's, located on the north fork of Long Island's
east end. For years ("maximum rhythm & twang since 1988"
reads their website) the Lone Sharks, led by singer/guitarist
Gene Casey have been serving up their own southern-fried fare
of rockabilly, swing and blues music in every bar room, dancehall
and would-be honky tonk on the island. Their love for all things
rural and raucous is unquestionable and if one hasn't the time
or inclination to venture into the swamps and backwoods of the
deep south one could do worse than spend a spirited night dancing
to the Lone Sharks. Gene sat down at the bar and we discussed
the group's history, music, in general, and their original music,
Q: So, let's talk a bit about
"Rhythm & Twang" what do you say?
GC: Excellent idea.
Q: Is this like a "greatest
hits" record -- we notice some familiar tunes on it as well
as new ones.
GC: Well, calling it a "greatest hits" is pushing it
a bit! It is a mix of things, mostly new stuff, some live things
and yes, some earlier -- "favorites" can we say? --
things that have gone out of print from some of our earlier CDs.
Not much of a concept, just keeping some quality product out
Q: Is "Sherri" of
the song "Sherri On The Ferry" a real person?
GC: Most definitely! She's a friend of ours and she indeed works
on the ferry, on Shelter Island. We were worried that she wouldn't
welcome the attention but she's taking it in stride. Joe Lauro
taped those ferry sounds, the horns and crowd noises you hear,
He spent a morning down there with his portable tape machine.
All for authenticity, folks
Q: Moving along, I really
like the song that starts the record, "It Turned Out That
Way." So upbeat.
GC: Thanks, it's actually one of the few happy songs I've writen
for some reason. It was inspired by Don Gibson, one of my favorite
classic Nashville guys from the 60s. I am a huge fan of that
whole Music Row scene of guys like Roger Miller, Willie Nelson,
Mel Tillis and Harlan Howard writing those great tunes back then.
Q. But, what is the deal with
"Girl On the Cutting Room Floor" ? That really comes
out of left field! It reminds me of a movie theme from some old
GC: Well, I was actually thinking of Frankie Laine, who did a
lot of those raw-hide "Blazing Saddles" things. The
funny thing is that tune really goes over well at our shows.
We recorded it years back but I got cold feet about putting it
out, which as it turns out was silly. Best not to over-think
things. It's totally over the top.
Q. Would you classify the
band as rockabilly?
GC: Hmmm, well, I really don't tend to classify us at all,
as that doesn't strike me as our job, really. I think people
get too hung up on labels, as much as I understand the need to,
to a degree. To me rockabilly is another form -- or offshoot
-- of R&B, and it is certainly part of our whole bag. I have
nothing against the term, as long as it doesn't inhibit or limit
one's conception of the band. Just listen and enjoy -- or not!
Q: How did you go about selecting
cover tunes for this record?
GC: We've always resisted recording other people's tunes for
a Lone Sharks record,. What was the point doing a cover unless
it was something relatively rare or something that we felt we
could really put our stamp on.?You hear a bit of that on this
record, a mix.
Q: Your drummer Chris Ripley
sings one, that is rare, no?
GC: Chris usually sings one or two per set and he's quite distinctive.
I love his voice. We've been doing "Something Goin' On In
My Room" for years and the version here is pretty good.
We also through on a (New Orleans saxophonist) Lee Allen tune
to feature Paul Scher on tenor sax.
Q: How did FX Network's TV
show "Justified" come to use two of your songs on its
GC: Wasn't that a blast? It
was a very cool thing. We have two friends to thank, Miss Vicky
Germaise and Howard Thompson, who runs his own internet radio
show NORTH FORK SOUND as well as a spot WPKN in Bridgeport, CT.
They believed in the band and Vicky got in touch with her friend
Monica Benson out in Los Angeles. We set up a little publishing
deal with BOK Music and I must say, Monica really works those
tunes. One thing led to another and after about a year we got
the call that "Justified" was using the songs. More
than happy about it.
Q: After twenty years of playing
all the bars and clubs in New York and Long Island do you ever
find yourself wondering if it is all worth it? A musician's life,
contrary to the glamorous image some may have, is a hard life,
GC: All work is hard, whatever your profession. There is no easy
road in life, unless you are born to inherit $20 million dollars.
As far as "making it" or "the big time" well,
all I can say is this band was never designed for that. It was
never about making lots of money, drugs and rock stardom. Thank
heavens! We put the group together -- I had come out from trying
to make it in the New York City scene -- to have fun, and play
good music and get back to the roots of the whole thing. Keeping
a band of musicians working and quality as high as possible has
been the goal and still is.
Q: What are your favorite
places to play?
GC: All of our regular haunts are fine with us. We are lucky
in that we enjoy good relationships with so many people and venues.
Out in Montauk we feel so at home at Nick's. Up island we do
a regular monthly gig at a tiny place called Giacomo Jack's and
in Manhattan there is the Rodeo Bar. It's sort of like family.
But really, as long as there is electricity and enough room for
the boys -- and room for some dancing, please! -- we are cool
Q: You still do private events
and weddings too, right?
GC: Oh yes, for sure. Usually the client knows and likes the
band and that makes things a LOT easier all around, but there
are different requirements at a private gig. We treat it seriously
and actually quite enjoy doing our lounge material as well as
the raucous stuff! Keep 'em coming, I say!
Q: Are there any immediate
plans to tour out of the NY area?
GC: We'd like to. We've done mini-jaunts here and there but there
isn't a week that goes by without someone saying "you guys
gotta play Europe. or Japan" Sure, we'd love to. I'd rather
see the world as a musican than as a tourist, for sure.
Q: In the meantime...?
GC: In the meantime the calendar
is full and the van is loaded up and we're off to make it to
wherever we're expected this week! Buy the record and come see
us, sometime. Everybody has a good time and nobody gets hurt!!
See CDBaby.com to purchase
Lone Sharks records.