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Written By: Vincent Paez
*Click images below to view larger versions.
Vincent met with Chris Button at Harborside Bar & Grill in West Ocean City.
Meet The Band author Vincent w/ wife Sherri and Carrie w/ Chris Button at his Thursday night gig, Bourbon St.
Joe Mama has played drums w/ Chris many times over the years, here at Coconuts.
Meet the Band: Chris Button
Vincent Paez, June 2019
It was a beautiful, warm, sunny Saturday, and about thirty patrons were all smiling and quietly chatting around the bar at the Harborside Bar and Grill, watching the working and pleasure boats cruise by. A seemingly quiet man with short white hair entered the bar area and scanned the crowd. He looked carefully at each customer, then walked away. It was Chris Button, and he was studying each person in the crowd.

Vincent: “Hi, Chris, why were you just staring at everyone in the crowd?”
Chris: “Hey, Vincenzo.” That’s what he calls me. “I do that before every gig. I try to see the ages, genders, and possible backgrounds of the people in the crowd, so that I can put together the most enjoyable set for that particular group.”

Vincent: “That’s smart. I don’t know of too many musicians who do that so intensely. What else makes Chris Button different from the other bands?”
Chris: “Well, you have to be in tune with the crowd. Sometimes, I’m just background music, and that’s ok. Other times, I have a fun crowd, and I can joke around with them a little more. But no matter what the crowd is like, I try to do different stuff that nobody else does. Everybody plays your standard songs, you know, like Margaritaville and Brown Eyed Girl. But I play some different songs, and I play them differently, you know, the guitar lead stuff.”

Vincent: “Well let’s talk about that. There are people who go to listen to you because of your guitar skills. You even play like Jimi Hendrix with you teeth and behind your back!”
Chris: “Awww, that’s just all show! Anybody can do that.”

I couldn’t believe he actually said that. I thought of all the times I tried to do the teeth trick and ended up cutting my lip on the guitar strings.

Vincent: “But the way you riff through the scales? Where does that come from?” For all of you reading this, guitar scales take years to learn, and Chris blends them together so quickly, that you cannot see his fingers move.
Chris: “Yeah, well, that’s kind of my thing, because a lot of people don’t do that. They just kind of strum the guitar and sing.”

Vincent: “Did you have that from an early age or acquired that skill later on in life?”
Chris: “Oh, I started playing guitar at six years old. I’ve been playing in bands since I was thirteen. Then I started doing the acoustic solo thing, because, well, you can make more money that way. The more people you have in the band, the less money you make, unless you’re with one of those big well-known touring bands.”

Vincent: “Do you prefer to play solo or do a duo?”
Chris: “Whatever works. If I play by myself it’s fine, if I play with a bunch of guys like I do at the Sunday Jamm sessions at the Bayside Crabcake Factory, that’s fine too. I play with Joe Mama a lot, I played with Sean Loomis the other day, and I played last week with Jimmy Charles, a country artist who was on American Idol, and I had never played with these guys before. Someone came up to me and said that Jimmy Charles and I sounded great and wanted to know how long we had been playing together as a duo. I told them since tonight at 6:00 PM!“

Vincent: “And how do you get your gigs? Do you go out and find gigs or do the gigs come to you?”
Chris: “Both. Very often, I’ll be playing and someone will ask me to do a gig at either their establishment or at a private party, which is real good money. And sometimes I’ll walk into a place and ask if they have any entertainment and give them my card.”

Vincent: “And now you’re starting to play on the other side of the bridge in Annapolis.” Chris’ fiancé lives in the Annapolis area and he gets to see her and do gigs there once in a while.
Chris: “Yes, I’ll be doing that quite a bit. It’s a stepping stone. One gig, and now I’m getting calls from other places around there. I’ll probably not play over there in the summer, but maybe after the summer, when it’s slow at the beach.”

Vincent: “Speaking of summer, where can our readers find Chris Button playing?”
Chris: “My schedule this summer will pretty much be the same every week. I’ll do Harborside every other Saturday, I’m at The Crabcake Factory Bayside on Sundays, Fox Pizza in Millville on Mondays, Summer Salts in Bethany on Tuesdays, Coconuts or Lobster Shanty on Wednesdays, Bourbon Street on Thursdays, and Crabcake Loca Madre on Fridays.”
Whew! I was exhausted just listening to his schedule.

Vincent: “That’s a busy schedule. And how long have you been doing this?”
Chris, “Here in the Ocean City area, I’ve been doing it since 1992. I came down from Long Island to play here. This is my home, and I have no intentions of going back. I’m happy here, and I get paid per gig here, while in New York, you get paid by how many tables are filled or by how many people go through the door.”

At that moment, it became 2:00 PM and Chris needed to get on stage. He tuned his guitar one last time, greeted the crowd and started playing something upbeat. I could sense that he loves his job. The crowd definitely liked it, and it was clear that he had a fun crowd. Apparently, Chris read the crowd perfectly.

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