ROCKING ‘N ROLLING ON THE RIVER


Aboard the Kemosabe, the Moroccan Sheepherders played a concert to an armada of fans bobbing in Blossom Cove on the Middletown side of the Navesink Saturday. (Photos by Stacie Fanelli. Click to enlarge.)

By STACIE FANELLI

Earlier this summer, a week after the Dockside fired them for drawing more fans than the Sea Bright restaurant could accommodate, the Moroccan Sheepherders took their act – and their fans – to a boat in the Navesink River.

‘Baaaquapalooza’ was born.

On Saturday afternoon, a second installment of the concert, in Blossom Cove on the Middletown side, attracted more than 35 boats for a good,old-fashioned floating rock ‘n roll party. That’s not including the band’s host vessel, Art Natsis’ Kemosabe out of Sea Bright, or the inflatable pool raft tied up to it, which served as a mobile mosh pit for the biggest fans.


The six-hour concert was free, though a “donation dinghy” was captained by friends of the band who shook their jar like a tambourine and danced so fervently that they nearly tipped over. (Click to enlarge.)

The Sheepherders have been around since 1996, and typically cover ’70s and ’80s rock classics – Steely Dan, the Allman Brothers, U2 among them –  but they play a number of originals, too. Concertgoer Lori Drohan, of South River, was in awe of how similar their sound was to that of the Doors.

That sound appeared to be well-received all around, including on a boat about 300 yards from the Kemosabe, where those on board cheered for mic feedback and shouted that the sharp noise sounded like music, thanks to the open-air acoustics.

A young girl in a passing canoe who covered her dog’s ears with one hand and her own with the other might not have agreed. But several other boaters out for a weekend jaunt, and even a couple jet skiers, said they were pleasantly surprised by the concert.

Later on, as the winds picked up and the skies grayed a bit, Sheepherders’ guitarist Steve Warendorf reminded the crowd of the brutal storm that passed through during July’s show and had the Sheepherders tarping up their equipment.

“We’re very happy to be not in a major storm right now,” he said. “But if I fall in the water, my guitar will be like toast.”

That’s a legitimate concern, said Bob Chenal, of Red Bank, who was aboard Ken Ameika’s C-Queen.

“If there’s any issue to be cognizant of here, it’s safety. And maybe drinking,” he said.

The brave soul who doggie-paddled between boats with a Solo cup in his mouth during a rocky few minutes on the river was a testament to the party atmosphere of the day.

Chenal was quick to point out, though, that those in attendance were experienced boaters aware that legal restrictions on alcohol don’t change off land. No boat owners or captains were drinking, he said. The marine unit of the State Police even drifted by to keep tabs on the scene.

“We came specifically because it’s a concert on a boat, but I know a lot of people came out just to hear the band,” said Danielle Chenal.

Warendorf, who said he and his bandmates have always loved playing outside and don’t get seasick, expects a Baaaquapalooza III next year.

“If you have a boat, why not?” he said. “Music on the water? Doesn’t get better than that.”