The setting: A delightfully just-right early evening in mid-July, the sort of night where everybody starts every encounter with a smile for the mere reason that a blanket of heat and humidity has finally peeled back from its two-week hold on summer 2013 in Syracuse.
The place: Sharkey’s Eclectic Sports Bar, the set-back-from-the-road joint in Liverpool with a lawn big enough to hold a little performance stage as well as a handful of sand volleyball courts on a plot that adjoins the Liverpool Golf Club.
The event: Thursday night’s Sharkapalooza, with two bands, an outdoor bar with beer in large metal tubs of ice and a roving waitress ready to hand out menus and haul out plates of dinner. (A burger for my dear wife Karen and a steak quesadilla for me, both accompanied by too many crispy, seasoned fries.)
The bands: An acoustic set by trio Simplelife, with guitarist-singers Mike Frisina and Ben Sumner showing the savvy of a decade well spent sharing those two talents and percussionist Jim Lucas sitting on the wooden box he’s using to keep the beat. They start with an ear-opening alteration of Outkast’s big hit “Hey Ya.” A sweet set unwinds. Headlining set by The Todd Hobin Band, with front man Hobin, keyboardist-guitarist-vocalist Doug Moncrief, lead guitarist Bruce Fowler, bassist Brett Hobin and drummer Shawn Hobin all right on the money. “New York Country Song” sounds as good as ever, and the material from the new album hits home. Next year the band celebrates its 40th anniversary. In its day, The Todd Hobin Band kissed national fame, and that fickle dame returned the passion for a while. Nowadays, recording and playing in their home Central New York keeps them sharp, smiling and something they, and we, should be proud of.
The moral: Something very good is indeed right around the corner.
PS: Simplelife and The Todd Hobin Band both are on the bill with Benny Mardones and the Hurricanes at a special Saturday edition of Sharkapalooza on Aug. 3.