The Bubba Mac Blues Band is among the acts performing at the new Somers Point establishment 800 Bay Restaurant & Bar on Bay Avenue
Two separate eras spring to mind when reflecting upon Somers Point as southern New Jersey’s institution for higher nightlife activity. One goes way back to when the town’s entire bayfront was abuzz with music and dotted with clubs, the flagship of which was Tony Mart’s. Much later came the Bubba Mac Shack, which only lasted about five years but created a popular, year-round, Bourbon Street-style ambience and a constant flow of local and nationally recognized musicians.
If Dr. Ira Trocki and Herb “Bubba Mac” Birch have their way, this may be the dawning of a new age of Somers Point musical renaissance. Trocki, a prominent area cosmetic surgeon, businessman and entrepreneur, recently purchased what had for years been Tucker’s Restaurant and converted it into the Key West-themed 800 Bay Restaurant & Bar. He infused an upscale-but-down-home atmosphere (shades of the Shack) and a nightly slate of musicians that will hopefully remain intact year-round. Headlining the bill will be the Bubba Mac Blues Band, which will perform in the same time slot it always had when the Shack existed — every Sunday from 6-11pm.
“Somers Point has missed him, all South Jersey has missed him,” says Trocki regarding Bubba Mac’s Bay Avenue return. “He’s an icon in our community and the music industry. He’s entertaining and fun, and will be helping to bring the Somers Point music scene back to where it belongs.
“Basically our concept is to give Somers Point back what it’s missed for so many years after Bubba left, which is entertainment second to none where locals and vacationers can feel comfortable,” adds Trocki. “And with a beautiful bay setting that I feel has been underutilized, we’re giving Somers Point a little slice of Key West at the Jersey shore — a place where you can walk up, drive up or come by boat.”
On the bay side of the renovated Victorian-style structure is a marina with boat slips and a deck with a dance floor where the bands perform. While the musicians are playing, patrons can order from an extensive menu selection specializing in fresh seafood and including several raw-bar offerings — all prepared under the auspices of executive chef Charles Soreth.
“Concerts on the beach every Friday night is a great thing [referring to the Somers Point Beach Concert Series], but we’re doing it every night and I think Bubba’s coming on board shows a commitment to reviving Somers Point as the entertainment capital of South Jersey like it once was during the days of Tony Mart’s,” says Trocki.
Except, perhaps, with a slightly more subdued vibe.
“On Sundays The Inlet does their reggae night, which is primarily for the younger, bar-hopping crowd, and this will be more for families and the older crowd,” says Bubba Mac. “There will be no cover, so just bring your dancing shoes and get ready to have a good time. And it’s right on Bay Avenue where we used to be. It’s going to be like Sunday night revisited, if you will. The Shack’s not back, but we are. And the people really miss the Shack.
“It’s more for grown-ups, but families can bring the kids,” he adds, “I’m not trying to brag here, but kids love Bubba Mac. A lot of them think I’m Santa Claus and want their parents to bring them to see me.”
Others performing at 800 Bay — which Trocki touts as a casual-elegance dining atmosphere (“come in shorts or a suit-and-tie and feel comfortable”) — will be Doug Jennings on Monday, Chris Arena on Tuesday, the Eli Cohen Band on Thursday, and the Shawn Ashley Experience (with Daryl Robinson) on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. The Bubba Mac Blue Band remains largely as it always had, including vocalist Terri Showers, guitarist/vocalists Lew London, Richie Baker and Bubba Mac, and Larry Larrabee on blues harp.
“We’ll have visiting artists and different people sitting in with us from time to time, and we’ll have an alternating pair of keyboard players,” says Bubba Mac. “My drummer’s a guy named Guy who owns a plumbing company. I call him my plumber drummer who drives a Hummer.”
For more, see 800bayrestaurant.com or call 926-3500.
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