Shorty Sundays are in Full, Rowdy Swing at the Sea Shell

Jun 27, 2018
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

At the Sea Shell Resort and Beach Club in Beach Haven, the last thing a newcomer might expect to see poolside is an 11-piece band amongst a muddle of wires and electrical equipment. Last Sunday, despite the supposed risk of water and electricity at such close proximity, pool swimmers swam on, either oblivious or apathetic to the hazard. Perhaps they were simply happy to have the best seat in the house for one of LBI’s most in-demand cover bands.

Shorty Long and the Jersey Horns have made themselves Sabbath day residents at The Sea Shell, a tradition so intrinsic to the resort’s weekends that the day has been dubbed “Shorty Sundays.” But there’s more than one element of danger to a Shorty Long performance. Ricky “Shorty Long” Tisch was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease.

“Every day is sort of like dealing with a stuntman. He does so many incredible things, but he could easily get hurt,” said John Kern, the band’s bassist, vocalist and designated emcee.

OI hindered Tisch’s growth and mobility, confining him to a wheelchair at a very young age. Disregarding the limitations associated with his condition, Tisch taught himself the keyboard at just 5 years old and started his first band as a teenager. “The only thing that stops him is when he gets his wife mad and she puts him on the refrigerator,” joked Kern.

Established in 2002, the band is a rough and tumble ruckus of seasoned musicians. Performing around 200 shows a year, the group plays up to seven nights a week, traveling as far south as Florida and as far west as Pittsburgh. However, they can’t deny their affinity for the Jersey Shore. “We have the most enthusiastic friends and fans that come out to see us and support us day after day, week after week,” said Kern.

The group relishes their Sundays at The Sea Shell. “It’s got to be the nicest beach club on the shore. There’s nowhere else you can sit in a pool, with a drink, 2 feet away from the band,” said Tisch.

When asked what their typical set list looks like, synchronous laughter broke from Kern and Paul Baccash, the band’s in-and-out guitarist.

“What’s a set list, what does that mean?” joked Baccash before adding, “My biggest frustration with this band is that we don’t have set lists. But the thing I admire most about this band is that we don’t have set lists. John is incredibly good at reading a crowd and knowing what to call next.”

“I literally play what we feel,” added Kern.

On Sunday, the crowd was a mixed bag. Large families were parked at the poolside tables, receiving plates of fries, burgers and sushi. Young moms and dads crawled behind their toddlers, allowing them to indulge their explorative pursuits. Twenty-somethings scantily clad in beachwear crowded the tiki bar and lounged in reclining chairs on the resort’s private beach. Catering to the range of generations represented in their audience, the band played favorites from every decade, always with a signature twist.

The group performed with ease and fluidity, taking artistic liberty to new heights. Each song rambled along, far past their radio edits. Tisch improvised skillful, bluesy riffs on the keyboard while the trumpet, trombone and sax players took turns blasting solos beyond the tiki bar. Impressive were singers Coretta Davis and Allie Dombrowski, who took turns belting out hits with their bold, sultry vocals. Right on par with Tina Turner and Amy Winehouse, Davis and Dombrowski knocked out “Rolling on the River” and “Valerie” in powerful, seamless succession.

The band’s lineup changes on a weekly basis, which prevents the style and sound of the group from going stale. This week saw Tommy Karrick on drums, Alec Conigliaro on tenor sax, Dan Fitzgerald on alto sax, Kyle Kern on tenor sax and Danny Kern with vocals and on the trumpet.

Not to be forgotten is the band’s trombone player Neal “Percolator” Perkins, who is also the founding father of The Jersey Horns, the group’s horn section. Soft spoken with a smooth, deep voice, Perkins provides a soothing balance to his rambunctious compadres, but a complementary addition nonetheless. “We’re all a family,” he said.

Tisch started his first band, called The Fill-Ins, at just 19 years old. Since then, he’d been involved in a variety of musical projects before settling into his Shorty Long persona. The band has reached such renown that they’ve met Stevie Wonder and opened for Eddie Money, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Rolling Stones, Tony Bennett and more. They’ve even scored a sponsorship deal with Coors Light this year.

Sixteen years strong, it doesn’t look like the musicians will be disbanding anytime soon for alternate pursuits. “Music is a filthy *****. It just kept drawing me back,” said Tisch, causing a ripple of laughter around him.

The band’s brazen attitude is a refreshing deviation from the local music scene. As a group, they skirt the line of political correctness, shocking fans with their audacious humor, but ultimately winning them over with their charm.

“I call ourselves the most unprofessional professionals in the business. I don’t know how we’ve done what we’ve done,” Tisch said, raising his cocktail up toward the sky. “Salud. Little bit of whiskey and you can do anything, kids.”

Every Sunday afternoon, Shorty Long and The Jersey Horns perform at The Shell. For more information on the band and their upcoming shows, visit their website, shortylongrocks.com.

— Sarah Hodgson

 

 

Set list Snippet:

Right Place Wrong Time,” Dr. John

“Give Me One Reason,” Tracy Chapman

“Heaven,” Los Lonely Boys

“Superstition,” Stevie Wonder

“Just a Friend,” Biz Markie

“Valerie,” Amy Winehouse

“Rolling on the River,” Tina Turner

“Pride and Joy,” Stevie Ray Vaughan

“Call Me the Breeze,” Lynyrd Skynyrd

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.