They were playing at a bar in Coram when an audience member requested "Can't You See?" It wasn't part of their set list. They'd never practiced it. But one guy knew the words and he pulled out a flute and they killed the Marshall Tucker Band's hit.
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Last Thursday night at Swallow East in Montauk, another request. A fan asked for Dylan's "Wagon Wheel" … and the members of Bull Moose Party obliged, rocking it as a couple two-stepped on the deck under the twilight sky.
Six pieces comprise the Party – Rich Bente on bass, Brett Desing on lead guitar, lead singer Steve Mall (also on guitar and mandolin) Michael Costello on rhythm guitar and aforementioned flute, Doug Leax on keyboards and Brian Gabriel on drums.
The band's moniker, said Desing, was inspired by Teddy Roosevelt and his progressive party, "but the name took on a meaning of its own, being we are bombastic kind of guys."
A group of friends based in Patchogue – one of Long Island's emerging music epicenters – Bull Moose Party played together, at first, just for fun. After five years of fun, "It evolved into something we thought we should take to the masses," Desing explained.
The Party's sound is unique – each member sings and their harmonies are heaven, especially when combined with devilishly delicious expertise on an array of instruments. "Every musician in our group comes from different influences ranging from heavy metal to classical, to the Grateful Dead, the whole gamut," Desing said. "The style we most like to play together, some would call it 'roots American rock.'" They've been likened to Little Feat, which boasts an eclectic blend of influences, from rock to blues to R&B, funk, country, and jazz, and have created a sound unique to them – a little Southern Rock-ish, with some Led Zeppelin on the set list.
"Some of our songs have a country twist," said Design. "You could call it foot stompin."
That makes Bull Moose Party a pretty good fit for tomorrow night's "Daisy Dukes and Cowboy Boots" party at Swallow East in Montauk. But don't be surprised if they throw a little Black Sabbath into the mix along with the honky tonk tunage.
Bull Moose Party plays at Swallow every Thursday night from 7:30 to 10:30 PM. In addition to entertainment by the band, tomorrow night's hoe down promises a mechanical bull and pig roast.