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By Kara Pound
Photos by Steven Howes
Howes It Look? Photography
With a tagline professing, “The most fun you can have on dry land!”, it’s no wonder the Landsharks Band has been bringing their feel-good tunes and high-energy performances to venues around the world for more than three decades.
“We were all members of another band, which was kind of like a Top 40, dance band,” says lead guitarist and vocalist, Gary Roland, of the group’s beginnings. “At the time, we had three female vocalists out front dancing, and the lineup – compared to the Landsharks Band – was quite different. We actually all played different instruments.”
Over time, members of the original band left to pursue other careers and start families. Ultimately dispersing, Roland and some of the other musicians found themselves “without a job.”
“One day, we got a call from a friend of ours and he wanted us to fill in for him at this little place nearby,” remembers Roland. “So we went in as a duo and that was the beginning of the Landsharks.”
Based in Vero Beach, Landsharks Band is both touted as a Jimmy Buffett Tribute Band and a Beach Boys Tribute Band. Today, the quintet features bass player and vocalist Sam Masiello, drummer Douglas Florence, John Nicodemo on keyboard and vocals, Rob Ellis Peck on lap steel guitar, vocals and harmonica, Today, the quintet features….Nicodemo on keyboard and vocals, Rob Ellis Peck on lap steel guitar, vocals and harmonica, and Roland on lead guitar and vocals.“We are high-energy and fun with a lot of audience participation,” Roland explains. “It’s a show where there’s never really a dull moment. It just keeps on going. We have top-notch musicians that we highlight throughout the show.”
Landsharks Band has enjoyed impressive success over the past 30 years. They’ve played several Super Bowl events, including the New England Patriots’ victory party for the players, managers, and owners, held in Jacksonville in 2005, and opened for The Beach Boys at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina for the hundred-year anniversary of Orville and Wilbur Wright’s first flight.
The guys have also played onstage with Jimmy Buffett on numerous occasions, iincluding an appearance at the Parrot Head Convention in Key West, which prompted Buffett to ask the Landsharks to serve as the house band at his Margaritaville restaurant at Universal CityWalk in the late-1990s and early-2000s.
“We work very hard and a lot,” says Roland. “Some people think that because you’re a professional musician, you get to sit around and go to the pool all day, and we do get to do that sometimes, but, in general, we work a lot.”
In fact, the musicians are not only constantly gigging and touring, they also handle their own bookings and travel coordination for shows, as well as payroll, web design, marketing, and cutting t-shirts by hand. Yes, cutting t-shirts by hand.
Roland explains, “We have an ‘I survived a shark attack!’ t-shirt that actually has shark bites on the side that we cut by hand. We’ve probably sold 50,000 of those and we cut every single one by hand.”
The Landsharks Band will be playing a free concert as part of the 3rd Annual, St. Augustine Race Week, an annual boating event that raises funds to send underprivileged children to local sailing camps as part of JDM Youth Sailing Scholarship Fund, which was named in honor of the late John Meehan of St. Augustine. The FREE concert will be held at the bayfront, on the grounds of the St. Augustine Municipal Marina on Friday, March 24th and the public is highly encouraged to attend, AND PARTICIPATE! Bring the whole family for a night of “Parrothead” inspired fun! The show starts at 6pm.