On Saturday night the opening guitar licks of Steely Dan’s Reelin’ in the Years poured out the doors of Hooked in Oak Bluffs and the crowd roared with excitement. The house was packed and the music was loud — it was a good night for fans of rock and roll. The crowd had come to see a supergroup of classic rock musicians who, despite their graying hair, were still young of spirit and haven’t forgotten what it means to rock out.
The supergroup, called All Star Jam, featured an impressive lineup of classic rock greats: Jeff “Skunk” Baxter of Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers, Barry Goodreau of Boston on guitar, Fran Sheehan also of Boston on bass guitar, Robert “Mousey” Thompson of the James Brown Band on drums and Leroy Roman of the Wailers at electric keyboard. Danny Beissel of Fosterchild, a Philadelphia-based heavy metal group not to be confused with the classic rock group of the same name, took the mic.
The free concert was a “grand re-opening” party for Jimmy Seas Pan Pasta. The show was supposed to take place at Jimmy Seas but that restaurant has been closed for construction for some time following a break-in and vandalism, said James Cipolla, the restaurant’s owner. Instead of canceling the sure-to-be-legendary performance, Mr. Cipolla opted to move the show to another location.
“Hooked stepped in to host the show,” Mr. Cipolla said. “We’re just trying to make lemonade out of these lemons — but it’s great publicity for both places.”
Kristin Finley Brown, general manager of Hooked, said she was glad to help out a neighbor and also happy to see the bar and restaurant so full.
“I’m always happy to help out a friend,” she said. “We’re all part of the same Oak Bluffs family.”
All Star Jam is more than just a classic rock supergroup — they’re a rock band with a good cause. They call it “rocking with reason,” and most of their shows are fundraisers. However, Saturday night’s show was a little different. Instead of a fundraiser, the free show was a favor to Mr. Cipolla, a longtime friend of the band. Mr. Cipolla has cooked for the band on several occasions — both on-Island and on the road — and, according to band manager Bill Johnson, the band likes to thank him by playing a great rock show.
That’s quite the thank-you.
All Star Jam played through fan-favorite songs by each of the bands represented in the group. The crowd sang along to Boston’s More Than a Feeling and boogied down to James Brown’s Sex Machine. The musicians played with the same skill and hard-rocking style that made them famous in the first place. But, more important, the musicians played as a band, acknowledging each other’s strengths and prioritizing the sound of the group over their own.
he musicians displayed their versatility by adhering almost flawlessly to the style of each song. When they played the Doobie Brothers, the band rocked hard with reverb-laden guitars and heavy drums. When they played Steely Dan, the All Stars assumed the band’s intellectual sound. And when they played James Brown, the band played it oh-so-funky.
“This is really incredible,” said Skip Finley, who attended the show. “It sounds like they’re coming right off the album!”