Location: Pleasant Hill, California, USA
Description: Sun bleached tropical vacation music perfect for your backyard Tiki bar
Biography: The Coconut Boat Band grew from an idea that started with the escapism theme that is so prevalent in Jimmy Buffett’s catalogue of Caribbean music-lore. When Scott Ellis and Scott Kirkpatrick crossed paths in the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 90’s, they discovered that they shared a common spirit of adventure and wonder for the ocean and things tropical. Ellis, a veteran water man, has scuba dived on many of the great shipwrecks in several oceans around the world including the famed Atocha and Flor do Mar galleons. It wasn’t until Ellis found out that Kirkpatrick was a musician did they decide to collaborate on writing tunes that captured the essence of the beachcomber lifestyle.
Meanwhile, a couple of decades before that, Scott, and his brother Chuck Kirkpatrick, grew up in South Florida playing a variety of music, including a heavy calypso/Caribbean influence inspired by their mother, who sailed the Caribbean and the South Pacific bringing a rich island culture into the household. Chuck’s stellar career includes playing guitar and singing with such luminaries as The Bee Gees, Firefall, Eric Clapton, America, Eddie Money, Peter Frampton, Meat Loaf, Harry Chapin, Dion, Coco Montoya and others too numerous to mention. He also engineered Derek and the Dominoes classic “Layla”. Scott’s notable history includes touring as drummer and vocalist with artists such as McGuinn, Clark & Hillman (The Byrds), Firefall, Jaco Pastorius, Chuck Berry, Lou Christie, Coco Montoya, Beach Boys and Shirley Caesar to name a few.
Add all the above ingredients, some sun, a warm ocean breeze, a palm tree for good measure, toss it into a blender and fire it up for some soothing CBB music. Enjoy at or near the five o’clock hour.Press
With a record titled Rum Is A Many Blendered Thing and a band name like the Coconut Boat Band, one could easily assume this is a novelty record, a Jimmy Buffett wanna-be act, or both.
Those assumptions would be wrong. While humorous novelty songs make an appearance, and while Buffett’s spirit is certainly evident--and put to fine effect--the album’s themes and influences run much deeper. Rum Is A Many Blendered Thing is a Baby Boomer’s delight, and the Coconut Boat Band serves as the perfect host through a dozen tunes that are as reflective and poignant as they are platforms for partying and celebrating life.
The record’s overall theme is about “getting away from it all” without running away from it all, or as Mr. Buffett might say, “growing up but not old.”
While the instantly memorable title song (You’ll be humming it in the shower sooner than you think) and others such as “This Ain’t No Vacation” are playful paeans to tropical beverages and locales, most of the record is an appreciation of the wisdom gained from maturity and experience. The importance of listening to your inner child and allowing it to flourish, of enjoying the rewards of parenthood , and of incorporating nature into one’s life, are lovingly treated here in song.
All are wrapped in beautiful melodies, percolating steel drums, flourishes of electric guitar and best of all, shimmering, goose-bump inducing harmonies. CBB is a throwback to when good singing mattered more than ‘being bad.’
The band often wears its influences on its sleeve. But that’s because the band’s primary members, Floridians Scott and Chuck Kirkpatrick, not only grew up listening to bands such as the Beach Boys, Byrds, Bee Gees, America, and of course, Jimmy Buffett, but are also their peers, having worked as session musicians, back-up vocalists and engineers with many of the classic artists they admire and emulate. The third core band member, Californian Scott Ellis, must have been a Floridian in a previous life. He provides the band’s all-important steel drum grooves and adult-as-eternal child philosophy.
While the title song sets the record’s uplifting toneand makes a compelling case for rum’s superior qualities over other beverages--the song that most closely pays homage to the laughter, lifestyle and land of Jimmy Buffett is “Jamaican Me Crazy,” The opening steel drum riff is pinched with gratitude from Buffett’s classic Changes in Latitudes& An ode to ‘Margaritaville’with the band paying tribute much more so than playing copy cat----the song is also a humorous, cautionary tale about the perils of infatuation. (Buffett would do well to put this on his next record or bring the CBB with him on his next tour.)
Aside from Buffett, it’s easy to hear strains of America and Steely Dan throughout the record. And “Caroline,” Scott Kirkpatrick’s love letter to his daughter, is a note-for-note replication of the Four Seasons, thanks to perfect harmonies provided by brother Chuck.
For the best sense of the band’s soul and most original sound, listen to “Heaven’s Nest” and “Midnight Rum.” The former is a wistful ballad celebrating the soothing, romantic power of nature from fields of flowers to shifting clouds and harvest moon. The latter is the most mysterious song of the bunch and allows Chuck Kirkpatrick to unleash his guitar prowess. As much about a state of mind as it is about a drink, the trance-like guitar riff transports listeners to another time and place. In the song, it’s a 16th Century land of pirates, but like much of the record, the groove encourages the listener to reflect and set sail for any destination.
A final thought on ‘Rum’: The liner notes suggest that the best time to enjoy this record is around 5 p.m. Truthfully, ‘Rum is a Many Blendered Thing’ should not be so limited. Indeed, this ‘Rum’ is a many splendored thing, deserving of much more of your time.
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