SandFest 2014 brings a festival of ephemeral art to Port Aransas Friday through Sunday, April 11 through 13, 2014. This is the 18th Annual Texas SandFest.
More than a dozen world-class master sculptors and hundreds of amateurs will create stunning works of art using sand and water. One huge wind gust or wave can easily destroy these fragile creations and by the end of the weekend they are gone forever, making them all the more special.
The festival features another ephemeral art form: live music. Think about it: you no sooner hear music than it’s gone, not to be performed live exactly the same way ever again.
Various bands will entertain throughout the three days but I am most looking forward to hearing the Sand Band.
I first heard the band at the now-shuttered Tarpon Ice House during SandFest last year. The Sand Band was awesome and the place was packed. Now that I’ve learned the secret behind that performance I’m even more impressed.
The Sand Band is a five piece musical group whose origins are in Port Aransas. In September, 2012, Alan White was lying in bed in Yukon, Oklahoma one night and began thinking of a way he could play his congas and bongos more frequently. At the time, he was playing with a Dallas based TropRock band called The Bad Monkeys. So the next day Alan called Kelly Brown, the front man for the Bad Monkeys and Mike Eiras, an incredibly talented vocalist and guitarist from Austin. Alan asked them if they would be interested in playing somewhere in Port A if the opportunity arose. Both said they would love to do that.
Alan’s next move was to find a place in Port A for them to play, not an easy thing to do while in Yukon, OK. However one day White called the Tarpon Ice House , explained the situation and, knowing the odds were remote, said he was looking for a place to play on Friday of SandFest. The answer was an immediate yes. Alan was surprised to have booked an unknown, unnamed group on that day. Of course it helped when he said the band would be bringing 60 or 70 Parrotheads (Jimmy Buffett fans) from all over Texas. (Alan’s a member of both the Parrot Heads of Port Aransas and the Cedar Creek Lake Parrot Head club.)
Fast forward to April, 2013. Upon arriving in Port A, Alan contacted Paul Fain, the owner of the Tarpon. Paul said the booking was good to go. During the course of that month, Kelly Brown talked the bass player and the keyboard player for the Bad Monkeys into coming also. Paul Fain needed a name for the band. Alan said, “Well, we’ve never played or practiced together, but since we are playing during SandFest, we will call ourselves The Sand Band.
The group put together a set list of cover TropRock songs and many of Brown’s and Eiras’s original tunes, plugged in at the Tarpon, and commenced to rock the place. The group was so on that night, that in addition to Parrot Heads, many people came in off the street to see who was playing. Alan says “Inasmuch as we had never played together it was the quintessential jam session. Louie Chambers, keyboardist, said it was the most musical fun he had ever had.”
From where I rocked out in the audience, all I heard was great music. I had no idea then that the evening was essentially impromptu.
The Sand Band is made up of:
Kelly Brown – the frontman for The Bad Monkeys. Kelly is the rhythm guitarist and vocalist. Many of the songs played by the group were written by Brown. (For a sample, check out this YouTube video, http://youtu.be/KzXj0bxyxnw, which features Kelly Brown and his original “Song of the Ocean.”) He has been a musician in the Dallas area for over 20 years. As the driving force of the Monkeys, he has performed all over the country.
Mike Eiras – Mike’s musical roots go back 20 years. He has played in groups from Alabama to Texas and points in between. Mike is a virtuoso guitarist. Alan said he would put him up against any guitarist he has ever met. In addition, Eiras is a gifted singer/songwriter.
Randy Brooks – Randy is the bassist. However, he also plays the guitar and banjo. Randy is a regular in the Nashville music scene. He has written many, many songs for himself and others. His most famous tune is “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” (yes, that one!). He currently travels all over the United States singing his tunes and delivering his homespun humor.
Louie Chambers –Much of the lead instrumentation not performed by Eiras is done by Louie, the keyboardist. He has played for many Dallas groups; however, the most famous artist he toured with was LeAnn Rimes.
Alan White – Alan plays all kinds of percussion but for The Sand Band it is congas and bongos. There are no other drums in the band. He has the unique ability in any given song to make his hand drums sound like a regular drum kit and back to hand drums and does so without an audience noticing there are not two drummers. He also plays the guitar and piano.
The Sand Band will perform on Friday night, April 11, from 7 to 11 at Stingray’s, 401 Beach Ave., and again Sunday, April 13 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the SandFest tent. They’ll also play in September, 2014, for the Parrot Heads of Port Aransas WINGS 2014 fundraiser with the Bad Monkeys. This full seven- piece band features vocalist Sharon Oefinger. I’ll see you there. —http://devorahfox.com