Lower Case Blues goes in for some High Stakes

“We like to welcome each new month with Lower Case Blues,” said Brian DeLuca, owner of High Stakes in Fenwick Island. “They play here on either the Friday or Saturday of every first weekend.”

Coastal Point: Lower Case Blues members, from left, B.J. Muntz, Rick Webster, Jake Banaszak during their last performance at High Stakes Bar & Grill in Fenwick Island.Coastal Point
Lower Case Blues members, from left, B.J. Muntz, Rick Webster, Jake Banaszak during their last performance at High Stakes Bar & Grill in Fenwick Island.

High Stakes is an unpretentious local bar that has earned its year-round popularity with its friendly staff, satisfying “Philly’s finest” food and good music.

DeLuca describes Lower Case Blues as a “true” band.

“They play excellent music and have a great standing in the region,” he said. “Our regular crowd loves them, and they bring in new faces, as well. And I like them because as individuals they are good people, friendly and reliable.”

Lower Case Blues is a three-piece band renowned for its high-energy funky blues sound, expert musicianship and originality. Jake Banaszak, guitarist, and B.J. Muntz, lead singer and bass player, founded the band, and they credit one of their high school teachers with the band’s name. Rick Webster is their regular drummer for most local gigs. In 2009, they were voted Best Band in Delaware by Delaware Today magazine.

Banaszak and Muntz have been living and playing in the area since 2004.

“We came down from Middletown in October 2003 to play at a fundraising street festival in Rehoboth and were blown away by our reception. We were all under 21 and we vowed to save enough money to move down for the following summer. We’ve been here ever since,” said Banaszak.

Webster has been playing drums for 30 years.

“We were lucky to get him,” said Muntz. “Before Lower Case Blues, he was the drummer for some seriously good bands, like Scrapple and Tom Larsen. Tom believed in us when we were still teenagers, and it’s great to have one of our mentor’s former band members with us now.”

Webster lives in Dagsboro with his wife, Beth, and three children, and by day works in the construction business.

“It’s fun playing with Jake and B.J.,” said Webster. “They use a lot of ‘improv’ and we all feed off each other, so a piece never sounds the same twice. And High Stakes always has a lively crowd that is into the music and enjoys a good time.”

Lower Case Blues’ original song “Make it Funky” is one of Webster’s favorites and one that always brings out the dancers in the crowd. It is on the band’s newest CD, titled “Down Home Girl.”

“We released the album in May and were lucky this summer to open for some great acts at the Bottle and Cork,” Banaszak said. “It exposed new audiences to our sound and we were able to sell lots of copies.” Those acts included Los Lonely Boys, Jakob Dylan and Robert Randolph. Additionally, the band had the honor of backing Funk guitarist Leo Nocentelli, of The Meters fame, at Dogfish Head.

The next two appearances for Lower Case Blues at High Stakes are on Friday, Nov. 5, and Saturday, Dec. 4.

Ocean View’s Anita Kendus loves blues music and is a six-year fan of the band. She’ll be there.

“I don’t know how they do it, but they still manage to get better and better all the time,” she said.

But one doesn’t need to wait for Lower Case Blues to listen to good music at High Stakes. Singer/guitar player Bobby Burns entertains on weekends from 4 to 8 p.m., followed by DJs Z-Man on Fridays and DJ Rupe on Saturdays.

DeLuca also announced that Chris Button and Joe Mama, with their repertoire of classic rock and whatever-else-you-request, will be appearing on Wednesday, Nov. 24, to get everyone’s Thanksgiving off to a rockin’ good start.

For the complete list of Lower Case Blues’ future performances, both local and in Baltimore, Philadelphia and Wilmington, go to their Web site at www.lowercaseblues.net. High Stakes is located near Happy Harry’s on Route 54, approximately a half-mile from Route 1, on the right.