It was standing-room only at the Voodoo Tiki Bar and Lounge during last night’s “Jazz Summer Nights” event (Tues. July 21). Local combo Garage Cuban Band — electric guitarist Bill Carson, upright bassist Jonathan Gray, Casio keyboardist Nathan Koci, and percussionists Jack Burg and Ron Wiltrout — played two very groovy sets of Cuban claves and Latin-jazz standards to a diverse and appreciative crowd.
Set up in the back corner of the side room, the band’s stage actually resembled a musical garage sale, with an assemblage of hand percussion instruments (congas, bongos, shakers, rattlers, etc) under the shiny gold curtains against the wall, Gray’s scruffy bass at the standing at the opposite end, and a teetering stack of small amps and an antique loudspeaker in the middle. A row of the band’s family members and close friends sat on couches nearby.
During the band’s first set, the main barroom swelled with thirsty customers, most of whom clamored for some of the venue’s specialty drinks and shooters. Nearly overwhelmed, the small bar staff showed some hustle and held their composure as they dealt with the rush. Despite the mad-dash at the bar counter I was able to order and quaff more than a few pints of the citrusy Allagash White. Belgian-style ale and Cuban style instrumental music in a New Orleans-themed tiki bar? It was the best Tuesday evening I’ve had in a while.