Summer Starts And Ends At The ‘Commah!

wellfleetbeachcomberIf this is a true statement, then summer starts this week – and Mother Nature is in full agreement. With the first few days of sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s on Cape Cod, it’s time to pile into your old CJ-7 and head into the dunes of Wellfleet for the annual opening night celebration at the Wellfleet Beachcomber.

Every Memorial Day Weekend, since 1978, the Beachcomber has opened its doors and given Cape Codders the official green light for summer. If you aren’t familiar with the iconic Cape Cod landmark, I will give you a brief history. But we are going to have to travel back nearly 120 years!

The building that we have come to love for its great music, strong drinks and locally caught fish and shellfish was originally used to save stranded fisherman of the coast of Wellfleet and Chatham.

The historic landmark: In 1897, the Wellfleet Beachcomber was one of the nine Life Saving Service stations built on the Outer Cape.wellfleet beachcomber history

The Inn: In the 1950s the building and property was purchased and converted into an inn named The Beachcomber in operation until 1978.

The Wellfleet Beachcomber: In 1978 the property was sold to its current owners and was magically transformed into the summertime must-visit-venue we know and love.

It doesn’t matter if you grew up on the Cape, or just visited in the summer, everyone has a story about a day or a night, or a day that turned into a night that turned into another day in the dunes of Cahoon Hollow Beach.

First dates, first concerts, first drinks first oyster on the half-shell… I threw out a social media net asking friends for their favorite memory about the ‘Commah. I will be honest; I can’t repeat many of the stories, including the one about the guy who was pushed down the dune inside a Port-O-Potty!

No matter what the story was, or who shared it with me, there was one common thread: a trip to Wellfleet to see a favorite band: Bim Skala Bim, Toots and the Maytals, Letters To Cleo, Ween, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Morphene, Dick Dale, NRBQ and of course: The Incredible Casuals.casuals-endless-summer

Johnny Spampinato from the Incredible Casuals reminded me that the Casuals (bassist and songwriter Chandler Travis, guitarist Steve Shook, drummer Rikki Bates, guitarist Johnny Spampinato and later joined by Aaron Spade) played a regular Sunday afternoon gig every summer for 33 years! Do you realize that’s over 175 BAND YEARS?

Johnny Spampinato must have laughed out loud when he saw my message asking for his favorite memory of the Wellfleet Beachcomber. “I am guessing my favorite memory might not be the story you want to share with the general public,” he said.

I did convince him to share a memorable moment with me. In his own words (mostly), here it is:

“We had just seen the movie “Creeping Terror” (If you don’t know, this was a low-budget sci-fi movie that came out in 1964) and we (The Casuals) thought “making” a monster like the movie would be cool. The monster in the movie ate girls in sexy clothes.

This must have been my first summer with the band. 19?? It was a packed house. We had two friends inside the monster-like horse suit. They walked up on stage and we had a few girls get sucked in a hole in front. Technically, it was a big blanket decorated to look similar to the monster in the movie. (See Picture to the right.)Creeping Terror

Once the few girls got “eaten” the crowd was going wild! Somehow the crowd got a hold of the monster and pulled it apart! It rose over the crowd like a body surfer and disappeared into oblivion. Of course, there were girls left, drunk on the stage. It was pandemonium!”

“Thirty-three years straight we played Sundays. Best time ever,” Johnny added.

The entertainment calendar is filling up for the summer of 2018: Pink Talking Fish, Jo Mersa Marley, Bim Skala Bim, and Keller Williams are in all in the line-up – SO FAR!

The opening night lineup for Thursday’s “Locals Night” includes The Ticks, The Greenheads and Earth Junior. This is the night you earn your free LOCALS season pass, so don’t miss out!

If you have a favorite memory about The Wellfleet Beachcomber, please let us know!

About Cat Wilson

Cat Wilson is "That Girl" on Cape Country 104 – a Cape Cod native and longtime Cape radio personality. She is a passionate supporter of Military and Veteran causes on the Cape and also hosts local music spotlight program, “The Cheap Seats” on Ocean 104.7.

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