Driveway parties give band a way to give back

Band members of Boardwalk, Gary Lanza, left, of the Village of Pine Hills, on guitar; Roy Bill, of the Village of Buttonwood, on drums; Marge Phillips, of the Village of Osceola Hills, on keyboard; and Wayne Beal, right, of  Village Hacienda, on bass guitar.

Boardwalk’s shows may have been canceled, but the band found another way to keep some of those gigs.

In February, group leader Wayne Beal started getting phone calls from clubs saying that their meetings would be canceled. He also got calls from restaurants where they played at least once a month, receiving the same news.

“Everything just stopped,” Beal said.

Then Beal, who plays guitar and sings in the group, came up with an idea. He started asking the clubs Boardwalk was supposed to play for if, instead, the band could do a neighborhood driveway concert for free.

“It’s just our way of saying thank you for supporting us over the years,” said Beal, of the Village Hacienda. “It’s our way of giving back. To be able to play again has been a godsend. It really is a blessing.”

The band has hosted, or will soon host, driveway parties in villages everywhere from Santo Domingo to Osceola Hills to Mallory Square to La Belle.

“It’s a party,” Marge Phillips said. “We’re so glad to be out doing our thing again. People are saying, ‘Thank you for helping us to feel normal.’ They’re still hearing live music.”

Beal tested out the driveway party idea in his neighborhood, where he recruited a few musicians in the area to play.

“The people loved it,” he said. “I thought it would work for the clubs. So far, it has.”

During the gig for the Osceola Hills Social Club, the group played “God Bless the USA” in honor of a member who had recently passed away.

“There was a very emotional response to that,” Beal said. “Everybody stood up.”

Thanks to these gigs, Beal has discovered a new love for performing outdoors.

“If you’re a singer, you love humid weather, because it’s so good for your voice,” Beal said. “It never dries out. You can hit the higher notes without any problem.”

Phillips, who plays keyboards and sings, is fairly new to the group, having joined in January.

“We laugh a lot,” said Phillips, of the Village of Osceola Hills. “The energy is very high in the group. The high energy (the audience brings) bounces back to the music and makes the music high-energy.”

The band members initially met via Zoom to talk through various songs, how they would want to handle the songs’ arrangements, if they wanted to add any new music to the set list.

With four virtual meetings under the band’s belts, Beal decided the group had been isolated at home long enough, so they gathered for a rehearsal at a home.

It helped that the individual musicians had practiced their parts separately before bringing it all together during the band’s rehearsal.

The band is taking July off, but when August rolls around, the group hopes to return to playing at country clubs, and maybe a few more driveway concerts.