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ENTERTAINER of the Year 2013
Written By: Brenda Golden
*Click images below to view larger versions.
ENTERTAINER of the Year 2013
2Guyz & a Mama, Joe, Dave & Chris, receiving the Entertainer of the Year award at BJ's.
ENTERTAINER of the Year 2013
Dave Sherman's 1st season, 2000 at Buxy's Salty Dog.
ENTERTAINER of the Year 2013
Dave Sherman (lower left) in Nantucket, ca. 1975
ENTERTAINER of the Year 2013
Joe Mama & Chris Button continue to play as a duo.
ENTERTAINER of the Year 2013
Joe Mama at his first pro gig w/ Kevin Poole.
ENTERTAINER of the Year 2013
Joe as member of the Drumline in the Westshoremen.
ENTERTAINER of the Year 2013
At only 5 years old, Joe Wirt loved music.
ENTERTAINER of the Year 2013
Shore Thing w/ Chris Button & John LaMere, ca. 1991.
    It could have been a tough choice to make  since I had several candidates in mind for this year’s Entertainer of the Year award. However, I kept coming back to a group who I had been considering since early in the year. My indecision was only caused by the fact that the trio did not play all year long and they did not play together in many venues, two of my usual prerequisites for consideration. And then again, two of its members had already received this recognition. But I just kept coming back to how much we all enjoyed hearing their music and primarily the fact that its core member, Dave Sherman, has been a favorite solo performer in the area but had been exempted from qualifying as his venues were not among the Coconut Times list of clients. Happily this omission has been rectified with the creation of 2Guyz & a Mama. I was happy to bestow the award upon Dave Sherman, Chris Button & Joe Mama a few weeks ago at BJ’s on the Water and they were certainly proud and happy to receive it. Following is a result of interviews with all three, beginning with Dave Sherman.
    “I first picked up a guitar when I was about 12,” says Dave Sherman. It was Jan. of ‘64. “My mom had been giving me piano lessons for only about 3 weeks. Then I saw the Beatles on TV and that changed everything. I told my mom ‘I wanna play guitar,’” he remembers.” Young Dave began playing in Teen Center bands in the Baltimore area until after high school when he went into the Navy for four years.
    “After I got out of the Navy, I joined a Top 40 band (guess I was about 23) and spent the next 14 months on the road.” The band was called Nantucket and we played the Holiday Inn circuit throughout the Southeast.” Dave says he began to feel the desire to settle down, and of course, his family kept telling him to “get a real job.” So in December of ‘76 he left the band and in short order met his wife Mickey and had kids. For the next 17 years he says he didn’t even pick up the guitar.
    Then in late ‘93, Thanksgiving night, “I walked into a local pub in Baltimore and there was a guy standing in the corner playing guitar. He was about my age and told me he had been playing since school. ‘Dave, there’s a million ways to make a buck,’ he said. Those nine words stuck with me and I didn’t like my job, so from ‘94 to ‘96 I practiced and worked on my repertoire.”
    “Over the years Mickey and I visited Ocean City a lot and now that I had begun playing again, we started taking in the local music scene at places such as the Carousel where we met Michael Tracey White, Lauren Glick & Mike Armstrong who played as Chameleon then, and Kevin Poole. In fact it was Kevin who helped me get started with my first regular gigs at the Cottage Cafe and Carousel on Sundays;  while I was still working in Baltimore, too. I knew what I wanted to do so my wife Mickey and I set a goal that by 2000 we would change our lives, move to the beach and play music full time.With her loving support, I was able to quit the corporate world and follow my dream.”
    “These past 14 years I’ve played solo jobs at the Cottage Cafe, Carousel (13 out of 14 years), Caribbean Pool Bar (14 years), Harpoon Hanna’s (12 years), BJ’s, 19th Hole, adn the Jungle Bar at The Plaza.
    I first met Chris Button at Ryan’s Cafe on Rt. 26 where Michael hosted Open Mic shows. He asked me to cover his show one week when he got trapped in New York by snow. That night this guy asked if he could borrow my guitar and he and John Karahasan (Simple John as he was called then as a solo act, together called Simple Truth), did some songs. I met Joe at the Rio Grande Tiki Bar when he sat in with Kevin Poole playing drums just for tips.
    “When BJ’s restarted their Wednesday Deckless Deck Parties, I checked in to see if I could get in there but they wanted duos and trios so I got in touch with Joe and/or  Chris to see if they could jam with me. They both said yes! Jeff Hicks asked us to play at Coconuts and he said he had to have a name. So even though we hadn’t considered a name yet, we had to come up with one. Joe already played there on Wednesdays with Chris and some Fridays and Saturdays with Kevin and before that with John LaMere in Crowded Outhouse. So we called him the ‘house drummer’ and thought his name should be there, and we were just two guys playing with him. Hence, 2Guyz & a Mama. This worked out well, too, since when I couldn’t play for five months because of wrist surgery, someone like maybe Darin Engh (of Opposite Directions) could sit in for me and the name, 2Guyz & a Mama, would still fit.” Clearly, Dave is living his dream and plans to play as long as people want to come hear him.
    Next I talked with Joe Mama, who as was mentioned before, has, and still, does play with many area musicians. Several years ago I awarded him a “Percussionist to the Stars” plaque as he had been the drummer for several Entertainer of the Year recipients. Then he received the award as a member of The Chest Pains. Here’s what Joe has to say.
    “My oldest brother Tom was a drummer. I would watch him perform in school marching bands and it just seemed natural that I would follow in my brother’s footsteps. When I was only about 5, I was interested in spinning records to hear music and would bang on the sofa with my brother’s sticks,” he recalls.
    “So, in 4th grade (9) I started taking lessons and made band in the 6th grade. Even though I played baseball, too, my passion was music. I was at college (Salisbury State Univ.) when school drum instructors got me involved in a drum & bugle corps called the Westshoremen in Harrisburg, Pa. So I was going to school in Salisbury and driving four hours every weekend to practice and compete up and down the coast for six years. The last year, 1996, we won the world championship. All my training was developed from playing in the drumline of the Westshoremen until I was 26.”
    Joe remembers that “when I was 23 I went to a jazz concert to see the Rippingtons (from Calif) and this is when I had my ‘ah ha!’ moment. I knew that’s what I wanted to do.” Joe says that was his defining moment of where he wanted to take his drumming training but it was to be nearly 10 years before his dream became a reality.
    He lived in Philadelphia for awhile where he worked as a courier and tried to break into music there, but it just wasn’t happening. Then he came back to the beach for the summer of 2001 working as the captain of the Fenwick Beach Patrol. He was, of course, taking in the Ocean City music scene, too.
    “I knew Kevin Poole from going out to hear him play and one day I introduced myself. Then one night I went to a bonfire party and I asked if I could sit in and play drums with him. Then I began to join Kevin at the Rio Grande and I guess you could say that was the beginning of my music career. It was 2003; I left my job in Wilmington and moved down here permanently.”
    After that, he began playing drums for anyone who asked him such as Michael Tracey White, Dave Sherman, Chris Button & John LaMere. I asked Joe how did he come to be called Joe Mama (real name is Joe Wirt).
    “Kevin started announcing me by my real name and it just didn’t seem to work so he asked me what he could call me. I suggested maybe Joe Cool but that didn’t work either. The next time he announced me as Joe Mama and it seemed to stick. Everyone began calling me that.” Joe had built up enough musical relationships to enable him to play music full time.
    “In 2003 after realizing I could play in this circle of musicians, I could quit my job. So from the time I realized I wanted to play music for a living, it took 10 years to come to fruition.” And so, Joe too, is living his dream.
    Next up I spoke with Chris Button who has already been recognized twice for his exceptional talent, first with John LaMere in Crowded Outhouse and a few years ago with The Chest Pains. I remember meeting Chris when he first came to town following his Long Island bandmate (band called Shore Thing) John LaMere. John was playing at Fager’s Island and he brought the whole band down and then Chris decided to stay.
    When John went back to Long Island for a time, Chris put together a band with Tom Cooper on drums, Joe Daddy on bass, Eric Bomhardt on vocals and called it Grass Daddy. After a few years the band split and he hooked up with solo player Simple John, now called Johnny ‘Mojo’ Karahasan, and played as a duo called Simple Truth, which they still do today. In between Chris has played with just about every musician in town and has been dubbed “guitar wizard” by this author for his amazing guitar riffs. Chris is also an accomplished bass player and keyboard player and has done many recordings from his in-house studio.
    “I first met Dave when he camed to BJ’s in 2009 and saw me with Under the Outhouse with Joe Mama and Walt Farozic,” Chris recalls. “We invited Dave up to do a few songs with us and we discovered a great chemistry between the three of us.” (Chris was about to break out with the Chest Pains at that time, too.) David had been trying to get into BJ’s to play but they wanted duos or trios so he asked us to play with him for some Wednesday gigs.
    “In the Spring of 2010 we needed a name for the trio for Coconuts but Dave has already told you how that happened. We had a steady stream of gigs that first year but our shows became limited to the off season because we each became involved in other projects. It’s fun to join up again after a busy summer and reunite with these two guys. Since Dave plays guitar, I decided to play bass with him and sometimes keyboards too. Dave had always wanted to play more guitar and electric as opposed to acoustic so I said that would be cool; I don’t get to play the bass much.”
    The two share vocals, doing harmonies to back each other. Dave says he’s been working on some new stuff and it’s great that Chris can usually just follow along and it works out well. So look for some new material to be added coming up. The trio will be playing twice a month at BJ’s, either a Wednesday (Oct. 23) or the weekend Fri., Nov. 1).
    You can still catch Chris playing with John as Simple Truth (Sat. at Harborside and Abbey Burger Bistro most Sat. nights). Chris and Joe play as a duo coming up on Sat., Oct. 19, at High Stakes and, of course, still playing solo at 19th Hole and Abbey Burger Bistro. And the Chest Pains will be at BJ’s this Fri., Oct. 18.
    “I enjoy playing with everyone, having a good time and seeing people enjoy coming to hear me play.” Three dreams realized for these wonderful guys. And I speak for all of us when I say that hearing these talented and dedicated musicians play is a joy to all of us. Keep it up.
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