It was Mar Bar gold at its best. The rarefied rock rhythms of The Missiles of October spilled out the open windows and door onto Ocean Avenue as patrons from the past 25 years flowed into the tavern earlier this week as easily as drinks flowed from the bar.
There was no pretense, no stuffiness, free upscale finger-food, like lobster macaroni and cheese, guava-barbequed meatballs and chicken empanadas, and a no-host bar that kept bartenders tending. The place was packed.
It was the first of a two-night party Tuesday, celebrating the end of an era and sending proprietor Kelly Boyd off to relax, restrengthen from a recent illness, return to the golf course and continue to contribute to the course of city matters as a city council member.
It was also an unofficial welcome to new proprietor Chris Keller, host of the retirement parties, and his plans to retool the downhome “Cheers”-like tavern, uplifting the bar’s spirits, literally and allegorically, and overall appeal.
Locals turned out who have been listening to local bands there for as long as Boyd has been bringing them in. There were also Boyd’s longtime golf buddies, not so much rock ‘n rollers but good for a drink or two nonetheless. There were the die-hard dancers, scrunched on a table-crowded dance floor and in-between captain’s chairs, which didn’t leave much room for gettin’ down and lettin’ loose but that was happening anyway with a couple of dancers gracefully falling on their caboose.
Every spot was crowded, every space was taken, even men were packing the small hall outside of the men’s room door (a line at the men’s room is something rarely seen). The serious talkers tended to stay in the back poolroom, which was a bit cozier, and near the food, catered by K’ya Bistro and House of Big Fish and Ice Cold Beer restaurants, both owned by Keller.
But the overriding theme was party-hardy. The Missiles, who have been playing there every Sunday afternoon for at least 20 years, were followed by the Trisha Freeman Band, who has played there the first weekend of every month for the last 15 years. Then The Girls, a local trio of Beth Fichet Wood on guitar and vocals, Susan Bredice on keyboards and vocals, and vocalist Carolyn Miller ripped out a throaty, sexy, emotion-packed “Fever.” Richard Stekol and Steve Wood from the band Honk, on guitar and keyboards respectively, joined in wherever they could.
Boyd said the turn-out was “phenomenal” and was looking forward to part deux Wednesday, although hoping it might be a quieter, tamer soiree. Keller admitted that Boyd’s idea of splitting the party into two nights seemed unnecessary until he found himself stuck somewhere in the middle.
And the night roared on Tuesday until the wee hour of 9:30ish, leaving the right amount of time for the happy little people in a sleepy beach town to get enough rest and start all over again for send-off party, round two, which promised to be more gold.