Coconut Times - Ocean City Maryland
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Written By: Vincent Paez
*Click images below to view larger versions.
Dave Sherman playing at Plim Plaza's Caribbean Pool Bar.
Sherman playing in OC, leaving the corporate world behind.
Photo taken by Dave's wife Mickey in 2002.
Chris Button, Joe Mama & Dave Sherman, 2009; 2 Guyz & a Mama were named Entertainer of the Year in 2013.
In his most recent photo, Dave flashes his friendly smile while playing at Bourbon St.
Picture a sailor setting out to sea. He just got his haircut military-style and boarded a submarine in Ballast Point, San Diego, California, and is prepared to be underwater for months. Little did that submariner know, he would become one of the top booked performers in all of Ocean City, Md. That submariner is Dave Sherman, who has been entertaining crowds in our resort town for twenty years. He’s come a long way from his days in the Navy, judging from his long well-groomed hair, giving him that Neil Young look. Dave is a gracious person who invited me to his lovely home just before dinnertime for this interview. We shared a bottle of red wine as we talked.

Vincent: “Dave, you’re a staple here in Ocean City. You’ve been doing this for so long, and everyone knows you.”
Dave: “I think I’ve done more than 3,400 shows – not counting the ones where I got rained out.”

Vincent: “Wow! How did you get your start here in OC?”
Dave: “I’m originally from Baltimore. I had played in teen center bands in the mid-sixties. Then I joined the Navy after high school. After I got out in 1975, I couldn’t find any full-time work in San Diego, so I came back East. I met up with one of the guys in my teen center band, and we became a top 40’s disco band, playing throughout the southeastern USA for about a year. I met Mick (his wife is Mickey), we were married and I was doing regular jobs, building a family. Mick’s parents had a place here, and we would come down on the weekends. We used to go to the Carousel; that was the place to be back then. That’s where I met Kevin Poole. I was not an entertainer back then. I was working at a regular job in Baltimore. The popular acts were Kevin, Michael Tracy White, and Chameleon (with Lauren Glick). One night out in Baltimore, I went to a bar, and I met a musician who was entertaining that night, and he was telling me that he had been a musician since he got out of college. He said nine words to me, ‘There are a million ways to make a buck.’ And that’s all the spark I needed! I hadn’t played in almost seventeen years, but I was in a job that I really hated. So, I went home and pulled out an acoustic guitar that had been in its case for seventeen years. I learned five or six Eagles and America’s tunes and played at parties. I learned more songs and started playing some gigs on the weekends in Ocean City.”

Vincent: “So it was pretty easy to get work, right?”
Dave: “Well, I give a lot of credit to Kevin Poole, who first booked me at the Cottage Café. Mickey knew Buxy (of Buxy’s Salty Dog), and we went down to talk to him and got gigs there on the weekends. Then, [the late] Jeff Marx, the manager of the Caribbean Pool Bar, came into Buxy’s Salty Dog and heard me play and said that I’d be perfect for his pool bar on Mondays. Then his wife, Dawn Marx, who was the manager of Coconuts at the time, hired me for Wednesdays. I also had the Carousel booked. So now I had five days a week booked, and Mick and I made the decision to move here. My first summer here in 1999 was completely booked.”

Vincent: “How long have you been doing Saturdays at Harpoon Hanna’s?”
Dave: “This year will be my seventeenth year at Harpoon Hanna’s. As a matter of fact, July 13th of this year will be my 1,000th show at Harpoon Hanna’s. And I’ve been at The Carousel for nineteen years. I just took off one of the years in 2010 to play Coconuts with Chris Button and Joe Mama as Two Guyz and a Mama.”

Vincent: “What is it that attracted the bar managers to you, so they would book you?”
Dave: “Well, I wasn’t that great of a musician back then, so I don’t think it was my playing. I think it might have been my voice.”
Dave is very humble about his talent, and I could see he didn’t want to chat anymore along this line.

Vincent: “I notice at your gigs that you have a good connection with the crowd.”
Dave: “I always show up an hour before the show, because I like to set up and observe the crowd, so I can form a set list in my head for that crowd. And here is my philosophy about being a musician here. People, who are in the audience, are not paying a lot of money to come and see me play. Those people are not there for you; you are there for them - to entertain them. My main purpose, as a bar professional, is to make those people ring the owner’s cash register. That’s what it’s all about.”

Vincent: “So, how do you know when you’re successful in doing that – pleasing the crowd?”
Dave: “Well, for one, people like it when I remember their names. Also, I respect a crowd that is more quiet. I call that a gray crowd. Maybe they don’t want engagement with the musician. So, I’ll just be the background music, and I’ll try to make eye contact with someone, and drag them in slowly and easily into my performance. Other times, you start playing, and everyone is out of their minds right from the start. Those crazy moments make it easy.”

Vincent: “Tell me about the craziest thing that has ever happened in a gig:”
Dave: “Well, I’ve seen a lot of drunken people and the weird things they do, but, other than inebriated people falling into my equipment, there hasn’t been anything in Ocean City really crazy at my gigs. When I was playing with the disco band years ago, we had something happen to us. Our agent booked us at a rock n’ roll bar in Edgewater, Maryland. It was really obvious that they didn’t want to hear songs like, “The Hustle” or “Fly Robin Fly.” But we didn’t play songs by Led Zeppelin or any other rock band. So, we played the song “Johnny B. Goode” for about thirty minutes to please the crowd. I remember that I could not wait to get the heck out of there!”

Vincent: “Where can people see you this summer?”
Dave: “On Sundays, I am at the Carousel Hotel. Mondays, I’m at the Caribbean Pool Bar. Wednesdays at Harpoon Hanna’s. Most Fridays I’m at Bourbon Street on the Beach. Other Fridays I’m at the Bethany Boathouse or Jake’s Seafood in Rehoboth. Saturdays, I’m at Harpoon Hanna’s. So, five shows a week with Tuesdays and Thursdays off.”

Vincent: “And on those days off, do you have another job?”
Dave: “Well, I’m the President of our Home Owners Association in this neighborhood. I’ve been doing that for years.”

Dave has management skills, of which I was unaware. At that point Mickey walked into the house with dinner. They graciously invited me to stay, but I needed to leave to go to my next interview. Dave has always struck me as such an approachable person. When you go to see his show, feel free to walk right up to him and introduce yourself. He will remember your name. And then, ask him to play “The Hustle,” just for laughs.  

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