Twenty-five years of providing rhythm ’n’ twang on the East End may mark a silver anniversary for Gene Casey and the Lone Sharks but for the readers of Dan’s Papers, Casey and his Sharks have always been platinum. For more than a decade Gene and the Sharks have been at the top of the list (platinum level) in the annual Dan’s Papers Best of the Best readership survey. Coming out on top as male singer and band, they have had an impressive run. Along with Montauk’s Nancy Atlas and her band The Nancy Atlas Project, Gene Casey and the Lone Sharks have consistently been voted Best of the Best on the East End more than anyone in any other category.
As Casey and the Sharks prepare to celebrate their 25th year with a dance party/concert at Bay Street Theatre on Saturday, September 14 they are also looking back over their past. Looking at Sag Harbor’s Main Street in 1988 Casey noticed, “All these bars with live music” and thought, “I could throw a band together easily and have some fun.” Their first gig was for Tim Burke at the Roadhouse in North Sea and they were soon playing all over the Hamptons. Casey sounds justifiably proud when he says, “There are no gold records but 25 years of good music and great friends.”
“Any time playing in Sag Harbor is a nice time to reconnect,” says Casey, who considers it a bit of a reunion and a reminder of why he started the band to begin with. His hope is that at Bay Street the band will get the chance to “see those original fans who were dancing, wild and crazy 25 years ago” at the Wild Rose, Marine Park and other local venues.
“Music triggers memories like nothing else,” muses Casey. “You remember people and places—it’s mystical and magical.” While many of Casey’s memories involve the fans, wild flotilla parties and the tight community of hard playing musicians on the East End, he’s also had fun connections with some of the East End’s most well known “proper ladies.” Always a big fan of Bay Street, Casey and the Sharks were playing a theater fundraiser several years ago at B. Smith’s when none other than Julie Andrews asked them to quiet down. “I think someone was about to speak maybe” recalls Casey “but it doesn’t matter we’ve always been honored to have been shushed by Julie Andrews.” At yet another party, this time at Mort Zuckerman’s, Martha Stewart misread the band’s name from the bass drum and congratulated Casey on the clever name—“The Love Sharks.” When Gene politely corrected Stewart she instantly came back with “You should change your name. You’d get a lot more gigs.” While the band didn’t take Stewart’s advice, Casey admits they still sometimes refer to themselves jokingly as “The Love Sharks.”
Their 25th year has been a big one for Casey and the Lone Sharks with a new CD out, Untrained, and the news that one of Casey’s songs, “It Should Rain,” was used in the recently released Robert DeNiro/John Travolta film The Killing Season. With a large following among local residents and hugely respected as a musician and song writer by his fellow East End musicians, Casey is proud that The Lone Sharks have always been a favorite of “the year-round people, other artists, carpenters, people who still show up in the winter.” The concert will include some special surprise guests as well: Gene’s brother Vincent, Phil Giulliano and Stan Mitchell and the current Lone Shark crew of Chris Ripley, Paul Scher and Tony Palumbo. Tickets are available at the Bay Street Theater box office in advance as well as at the door—unless of course this very special event sells out!