Daytona Beach News-Journal
Saturday, May 31, 2008
The Daily Journal, Page 5
‘Pirates’ keep rocking, honor memory of friend, band mate
By Paul Marseglia, Correspondent
NEW SMYRNA BEACH – Nearly a year after the untimely death of bandmate Timmy Probst, the remaining members of The Pirates are still rocking the boat at various venues.
“It’s been almost a year since Timmy’s sadly unexpected passing and he is truly missed,” John Hostetter said prior to one of the band’s recent shows.
“He was a dynamic character who was loaded with heart. He had great charisma and was a born entertainer. His songwriting was amazingly good and deceptively simple. He loved tell a good joke... in fact, he loved to tell a bad joke. Laughter was part of his daily melody.”
It all started about five years ago, when Probst was asked to fill in on a Thursday night booking at Peanuts restaurant and sports bar on Flagler Avenue. He invited his friend, Hostetter, to help him cover the gig. They rounded out the trio with drummer, Bill Games, a local chef who had played on the road in myriad R&B and funk bands.
“In Timmy, I discovered a special combination of talents and personality,” Hostetter said. “There was a psychic tennis match going on when we performed that allowed our disparate characters to play better together than we could have alone. We filled a certain blank for each other and then adding Billy on drums and vocals helped to glue the whole thing together so that we didn’t just fly off into space.” Games added, “We weren’t great musicians, but somehow we seemed to make great music.”
This is how these three happy Pirates started making waves every Thursday with their infectious blend of originals, country standards and rock classics. From the beginning, their onstage spirit and banter was loose and often hilarious and they started to see a crew of regulars at the bar and on the dance floor. These folks soon became known as Pirateheads.
With Probst’s unexpected death on August 3, 2007 at the age of 53, Hostetter and Games turned to Gary Buckels, who had played in a duo with Probst, to join the band and keep the magic alive. Soon after, as Hostetter puts it, “Justin Innamorato was shanghaied on board to play bass. He’d been snoopin’ around the ship for years and finally got caught. And so the Pirates were able to sally forth.”
In describing the band’s sound, Games added, “It’s real old rock ‘n’ roll played by real old rock ‘n’ rollers.”
The Pirates are all seasoned musicians and stage men, each with impressive backgrounds. Hostetter plays acoustic and 12-string guitars, harmonica, and sings. He had a successful career in Hollywood as a character actor and a musician for more than 20 years before moving to New Smyrna Beach. He also appeared regularly as “John the Stage Manager” on Murphy Brown for 10 years. He has dozens of film and TV roles to his credit, many of which can still be seen in reruns. He also was founding member of the popular a cappella doo-wop quartet, The Mighty Echoes.
Games, who plays drums, percussion and sings, has played with War, Curtis Mayfield and the late Johnny Cash. He toured extensively for decades with R&B and funk bands before landing in New Smyrna Beach to become a chef—and a Pirate.
Buckels plays acoustic guitar and also sings. The seventh-generation Floridian started taking piano lessons at age 10, then progressed to guitar, trumpet, tuba, French horn and drums. He’s been making music in New Smyrna Beach for decades, while also becoming a computer whiz and state-certified building and roofing contractor. Plus, Buckels does an excellent imitation of a trombone with his voice.
Bass player Innamorato, who also sings, left New Haven, Conn., at the age of 20 to go on the road, playing bass with top-40 rock and show bands. He has appeared on stage with performers from Travis Tritt to Count Basie and has been a musical fixture in Central Florida since 1976, playing and recording with the best musicians around. He has made his life all about making music and, like many famous bass players, has a quiet, mysterious personality and a rather wry sense of humor.
The Pirates perform every Thursday night at Peanuts, 421 Flagler Ave. To hear their music, visit their web site at www.thepiratesnsb.com. They have released three CDs – “Magic Ship”, “Rockin’ the Boat”, and “Surrender The Bootleg”. These may be heard and purchased at the store on their web site.
Of Probst’s passing, Hostetter said, “Losing a friend is a void that one fills with tears and dark empty reflection and frustration. But then, insensitive as ever, here comes tomorrow and the machine of life is still chugging along, unconcerned about our sadness and confusion.
“Things still need to be taken care of... and songs still need to be written and sung, maybe now more than ever.”