SOUTHWEST HARBOR — For anyone who has missed the delicious combination of dining and entertainment once found at the late, great Deckhouse, Southwest Harbor’s newest restaurant, Coda could be the just the thing.
Coda also offers an eclectic selection of musical entertainment about three times a week. This musical element, by the way, is not simply suggested by its name or an afterthought but built into the bones of the place with a decent sized, properly lit stage for performers.
Coda’s entertainment is usually more homespun with local musical talents ranging from rock, pop and jazz bands to folk singers and fiddlers.
Somewhat of an exception to that rule was the cabaret-style entertainment offered last Saturday night by Mount Desert Island’s Barn Arts Collective.
Andrew Simon and Brittany Parker, who headline a crew of eight multi-faceted musicians, are the creative powerhouses who brought the live Rocky Horror Show to the Criterion Theatre last October. They host a head-spinning variety of theatrical and musical entertainment at their own barn venue in Bass Harbor.
For Coda, they managed to create a show that was both professional in its cohesiveness, organization and sound, and yet structured loosely enough to feel largely unscripted and accessible – like you could sing along if you knew the song or get up and dance. The music they performed Saturday included a few old classic show tunes, but more contemporary pop, rock and R&B fare, and a couple of original tunes, all of which appealed to its largely young-ish audience. They also managed to engage the diners in a couple of silly-fun audience participation activities.
The theme of the evening was “love,” and the first set had Simon channeling his inner smarmy lounge singer – shades of Bill Murray – wandering through the audience crooning a jazzy pop tune to the diners.
Carl Ferm followed with a Broadway-lite version of “Some Enchanted Evening.” The extraordinary Joey Dupree put down his trumpet, guitar, bass, keyboard, tambourine, etc. and demonstrated that his voice is yet another instrument at his command with a fun performance that brought to mind Jack Black schooling us in hard rock.
But perhaps the highlight of that set was Parker sharing with us a song she wrote for Simon, suggesting activities for their first real date. This was so sweet, funny and personal it made it abundantly clear why he fell in love with her – aside from her being so darn pretty. If it weren’t a live show, you’d swear she was airbrushed.
It was something of a marvel that the crowd, normally way too loud for ballad singing at these types of venues, quieted down considerably for this and another ballad Parker sang later in the set.
The second set brought a change of costume, a change of attitude and the darker, tormented side of love, with Simon emoting “Tainted Love” like a true rock star and Parker prowling about the room in a slinky black dress, and stiletto boots, belting out “Heartbreaker” and “These Boots are Made for Walking.”
The evening closed on the upbeat “I Will Survive,” during which another miracle occurred – the guys in the room led the rush to the dance floor! When does that ever happen?
After the show, Executive Chef Carter Light said Coda will soon be expanding its hours.
The Barn Arts Collective will begin their season in Bass Harbor this coming Saturday, May 28, with an opening night concert party from 7-9 p.m.