Prior to Friday May 28th, Reckless Steamy Nights was scheduled to be held outdoors at board member Christine Zemla’s home. Earlier that week, the weather forecast did not look good, and we thought the event would have to be cancelled. By Wednesday, it was looking even worse but we had received notice from the Red Bank Women’s Club that they were opening up in June. Since the Governor had lifted all indoor restrictions for small gatherings effective on Friday, we asked if we could hold the event in its pre-pandemic home that night, and our request was granted. Given that we only had 24 hours to switch gears, both our office manager Doris Lazur and our setup team headed by Jim Murphy had to come up with an heroic effort to make this happen.
That night everyone had to be contacted, the room had to be setup and at 7 pm. HP & His Hot Takeout Band opened with the familiar strains of Dr. John’s “Down in New Orleans,” and it was like we never left. There was a strange feeling in the room as most folks hadn’t seen each other in the last 15 months, but that soon dissipated as the music played on. Leader Howard Parker had spent some of the time in isolation producing a live CD of songs culled from one of my Keyport Summer Concerts several years ago. This CD release party benefitted Howard’s non-profit foundation, One Square Mile who will split all sales proceeds between the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund and the Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Foundation!
The band is made up of drummer and Monmouth University music professor Bobby Boyd, world class-accordionist and the “other Bruce” from Asbury Park, Bruce Gassman, inventor of the “Spice Rack” and nationally known percussionist Stevo Nelson and guitarist and lead singer Howard Parker. This was their first gig since the pandemic started and you would hardly have known it as they tore through a set where covers like “Love the One You’re With” and Howard’s originals such as “Back In the Woods” sounded like they all were born in that big pot of New Orleans Gumbo that birthed their great renditions of the classics “Hey Pocky Way” and “Iko Iko”.
The second set featured their secret weapon, Jill Baskind, on rub board with her patented bottle capped fingered gloves. The nearly full house was treated to a night of Mardi Gras style music which they thoroughly enjoyed.
What better way to return to normalcy than that!