Inspiration / Aug/Sep 2012
Three Martini Lunch
Pure joy is a rare thing, but you know it when you see it—picture a child slowly savoring a fast-melting ice cream cone on a hot summer day. You can see that same joy on the faces of Three Martini Lunch, a high energy, up-tempo classic jazz trio, while they perform their music live. The unlikely threesome has been taking Central Coast audiences along with them on their joyful journey back in time for the last four years. And, the group, which pays meticulous attention to period detail with their trademark white tuxedo jackets and black bowties, has worked hard to perfect its authentic “60’s swank” vibe and achieve a style that recalls the late, great Frank Sinatra.
Band members, Michael “Mickey” Dias (bass/vocals), Len “Dr. Swank” Hardt (keyboard), and Isaac Laing (drums/percussion), have recently recorded and released an album called “Swankified,” which is full of many period favorites ranging from Dean Martin’s “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” to Brazilian inspired “Blue Bossa.” It’s all cool, hip, stand-up-and-tap-your-feet-and-snap-your-fingers-type music that fans of Frank Sinatra and those that enjoy the hit television show “Mad Men” will appreciate.
Despite, the swanky shtick, the three musicians come with some serious chops in “the biz” and a combined 100 years of experience. And, when they decided to meet one evening at Hardt’s Morro Bay home for an impromptu jam session, it all clicked and the trio found that they “shared the same deep-rooted passion for music” which came to each of them in unique ways. Dias, who originally hails from the Bay Area, put himself through college by “touring around playing music at every bar in nightclub that could be found.” Hardt came up as a “road warrior” crisscrossing the country to promote and produce live music shows and has worn many hats as the nature of the business has evolved over the years (today he works to develop local talent in an effort to help further their careers). And, Laing, the youngest member of the group, observes that “the language of music doesn’t know any ages,” and has been playing professionally since turning 18 years old—he also teaches drums locally.
Three Martini Lunch averages twelve to twenty gigs per month, “everything ranging from non-profit fundraising events to backyard weddings and everything in-between.” One mainstay over the years has been their regular Thursday evening appearance in Shell Beach where the Lido Restaurant in the Dolphin Bay Inn is transported to a much less complicated time. And, again, it’s that palpable joy in playing and sharing their music while interacting with the crowd that makes it a special and distinctively unique Central Coast experience—although sipping on a martini while watching the sun tuck itself into the Pacific for the evening certainly doesn’t hurt either.