Last summer, we cruised out to the Indian River Marina in my friend’s motorboat and stopped by Hammerheads Dockside, where a trio of musicians were just getting ready to play. Our entrance seemed so perfectly timed that my intuition was telling me something extraordinary might happen and then I reminded myself of my surroundings and told myself not to get too excited. They're probably going to play Jimmy Buffet tunes that these old salts sipping their afternoon cocktails will enjoy singing along with while flirting with the cute server chicks bopping around in tight T-shirts.
They did not play Margaritaville or anything remotely close. They played blues-based rock with a funkified rhythm – lyrical melodies above percussive bass lines woven around a jazzy drumbeat. No doubt about it, these cats could groove! But then there was this crazy guitar. . . it made animal sounds that we don’t hear in our waking lives but are instantly recognizable from the soundtracks of our dreams . . . you know, like the sound of a sabretooth tiger purring and a mourning dove singing an operatic aria. On top of all that, like whipped cream on a sundae, the entire set was interlaced with a psychedelic motif that gave it this ethereal floating quality that balanced out the driving beat. I was sitting there totally blown away wondering who are these 3 scruffy dudes, what planet did they come from, and how did their spaceship land on this little fake sand beach?
They turned out to be Jake Banaszak (guitar), B.J. Muntz (vocals and bass), and Paul Weik (drums) and their band’s name was lower case blues. Originally from the college town of Newark, DE, in the Fall of 2003 the newly-formed trio went down to the historic beach town of Lewes to play at an open mic night hosted by Jimmy Bones, who was so impressed with their performance that he offered to help them secure some gigs at popular beach venues the following summer. According to local legend, the band took Bones up on his offer and drove down to “Lower Slower Delaware” aka “LSD” in the Summer of 2004 and never left. Not only did they get better bookings downstate, but the enthusiastic audience response they received encouraged the wee lads to quit their upstate jobs, move into a double-wide trailer in Rehoboth Beach, and live their dream of playing music professionally full-time. Their burgeoning fan base didn’t sit there tinkering with their phones merely tolerating the boys going off into an improvisational reverie - they actually appreciated the journey of the jam and they showed it by filling the tip jar.
Over the past 15 years, lower case blues, affectionately known as LCB, has established a loyal following. There are the annual visitors - whose summer vacations wouldn’t be complete without LCB - and there are the locals, who have made LCB part of their weekly routine with ritualistic devotion; one man calls his Sunday afternoons with LCB his “guilty pleasure” and a woman calls it her “therapy.”
Among LCB’s many accolades is its 2009 rating of “Best Band in Delaware” by Delaware Today Magazine, its 2012 induction into the DE Blues Hall of Fame, and its placement in in the semi-finals of the 31st International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN. Furthermore, their proximity to the Bottle & Cork, Dewey Beach’s “Greatest Rock-n-Roll Bar in the World,” has given lower case blues the opportunity to open for celebrated artists such as Buddy Guy, Jonny Lang, Robert Randolph, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd; they also backed up legendary funk bassist Leo Nocentelli of the Meters.
Fortunately, you still have plenty of opportunities to catch a live lower case blues set this summer at one of their standing gigs. On Tuesdays, they play at Hammerheads Dockside (Indian River Marina) at 4 pm and on Thursdays, they play at Murph’s Beef & Ale at 7:30 pm. Fridays and Saturdays, they play a variety of Delmarva locations that are popular with residents and weekend warriors alike, including Paradise Grille the Crooked Hammock Brewery and. On Sundays, they play a double-header at the Big Chill Surf Cantina at 4 pm and The Pond at 10 pm. Or if you dig the Festival scene, LCB will be playing at the 2nd Annual Weedstock Festival in Townsend, DE, on Saturday, August 25th and the Fairway Blues Festival in Magnolia, DE, on Saturday, Sept. 8.th
After watching lower case blues perform 7 times in 4 different venues, so far my favorite place to watch them play is the Big Chill Surf Cantina on Sundays at 4 pm. It doesn’t matter whether it’s rain or shine, there’s something about the relaxed outdoor setting - complete with a trickling fountain, vibrantly colored plants, surfboards poking up out of the sand, and Mexican picado banners floating in the sea breeze that transports you across the continent to the Pacific coast of Mexico. Lower case blues fits this scene perfectly – for 2 reasons. First, as I’ve mentioned before, their music is transportive in that it sends the listener to another place mentally and emotionally, just like the bar transports its patrons to the West Coast. Second, despite their chops, LCB is as unpretentious in style, appearance, and personality as the setting – which “loosens up” the audience so that they can let go of their social hang-ups, leave their personal problems outside the door, and let some enjoyment enter their lives. They like the liberating way it feels so they come back next week. This time, there’s more trust built up, so they feel even more comfortable. If the band can bare their souls wearing goofy, sweaty T-shirts, then the people in the audience can get up and shake their butts without worrying about what other people are going to think. That’s how “good vibrations” are born.
LCB’s Sunday gig at the Big Chill Surf Cantina is the quintessential example of the continuous give-and-take required to create and maintain an authentic relationship between a band and its fan base. It’s not unlike an ideal love affair – the audience supports the band physically and financially, and the band fulfills its promise to deliver the goods that the audience craves – a temporary escape from mortal bondage – with both parties exchanging emotional encouragement and affection. It’s a common occurrence for audience members to hoot and holler at climactic moments in a song – just as common as it is for band members to hug people in the audience and pet their dogs. I’ve heard that LCB’s goal is to keep blues and roots music alive, but they’re doing far more than that – they’ve become an integral part of what keeps this coastal community alive by transforming people’s pain into joy. Maybe that’s what blues and roots music is – a kind of spiritual alchemy that transcends time and space but ultimately brings people together. Whatever it is, I’m not alone in saying that I’m truly grateful to have experienced it.
 Why was I initially so excited to stumble upon a trio? Like Picasso’s famous painting, 3 is a magic number in music, but it takes courage to be part of a trio instead of a quartet or quintet because there’s a stripped-down quality to the sound that requires a powerful delivery and technical proficiency to be effective. Everything you play is so exposed. And people can tell when you mess up (if they’re listening, that is).
 I don’t have anything against Jimmy Buffet in particular but cover bands playing in resort areas generally keep their audiences wallowing in past memories by playing songs they’ve heard a million times before. I don’t blame the bands entirely because they’re only reacting to perceived audience demand. The audience has been tricked into thinking this is going to be a fun activity but ultimately, it results in state of self-pity fueled by alcohol (a depressant) and lack of exposure to anything new and exhilarating, which also induces depression. Who’s tricking the audience? The illuminati? The lizard people? That’s the subject of a campfire chat over s’mores. The spiritual musical alchemy of 3 is all we have time to delve into today, and that’s plenty, don’t you think?
 Proud of their heritage as residents of the First City in the First State, the folks who live in Lewes get all pissy when visitors mispronounce the name of their town. The correct pronunciation is “Loo-is.”
 Despite the fact that you can buy LSD stickers for your car at on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Slower-Delaware-Bumper-Window-Sticker/dp/B00GOF8CEG, some people insist on calling it Slower Lower Delaware. The debate rages on.
 For more information on LCB’s history, see “Lower Case Blues Reflects on a Decade at the Beach” by Jon Bleiweis at DelmarvaNow, https://www.delmarvanow.com/story/entertainment/culture/2015/02/04/lower-case-blues/22861539/. The 3 amigos no longer live in together in a trailer, I’m told, but the double-wide is such classic feature of the LSD lifestyle that Lower Case Blues adopted as their own that it deserves to be mentioned in any re-telling of the band’s folklore.
 LCB has played numerous festivals including blues-focused festivals such as the Riverfront Blues Festival in Wilmington, DE, and The Blues House Festival in Winchester, VA, and festivals featuring a wide range of musical genres such as the Firefly Festival in Dover, DE, and the SXSW Festival in Austin, TX. I haven’t had the opportunity to witness LCB play a festival set, but I would bet my bank account that their high-octane drive and trippy style would make them an ideal festival band.
 This is exactly what is sounds like - a fundraiser hosted by the DE chapter of NORML to support marijuana legalization laws in the State of Delaware. Camping is available. In other words, hippie heaven. For general info, lineup, ticket prices and purchases, see https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3445294
 There’s something about the month of August that brings me back to Mexico. Maybe that’s because the 1st time I visited Mexico, it was in August 2004. The Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza were hotter than Dante’s 7th level of hell and I swore I would never go to Mexico in August again, but my mind perennially migrates there like a monarch butterfly. Check out our post from August, 2017 about Pizzas Ron in Sayulita, Mexico.
 I wish I could explain where this place is and what it looks like and feels like as well I can explain what a physical place like Mexico looks and feels like. When listening to the music of Miles Davis, I first became intrigued with the concept of transportive music – every time I listened to a Miles tune, it didn’t sound like the same song I’ve heard before; I felt like I travelled somewhere different each time, and I exited onto a different street than I entered, kind of like a fun house in an amusement park. LCB’s music has a similar quality but whatever mysterious wellspring of energy it’s tapping into is more emotional than intellectual and warmer instead of cooler.
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