Chris Day may be a newcomer to the Charlotte County music scene, but the lead vocalist of Thunder Beach is an old soul when it comes to performance.
“It’s all about playing for the crowd,” he said. “It’s about what they want to hear. You got to hit an emotional nerve with the crowd.”
Thunder Bay, a classic rock dance band formed in January, just played Hurricane Charley’s – its first gig in Punta Gorda – in late May and is scheduled for TT’s Tiki Bar at 6:30 p.m. June 14. The scene might be different from the venues it had already played in Fort Myers Beach and Cape Coral, but Day’s music axiom applies everywhere.
“We keep it pure rock,” the rock tenor said. “None of us wants to do music that we can’t keep true to the original.
“People can dance to so many different rock ‘n roll tunes. It’s amazing how many tunes that people get up and bounce around to.”
Demo songs Day recently posted on the band’s website, www.thunderbeachband.com, include the Spencer Davis Group, John Mellencamp, Styx, the Doobie Brothers, Credence Clearwater Revival and Greg Kihn.
“The mantra of my band is, we’re a band for any event,” Day said. “We can play a bar, a large festival, a corporate event, a yacht club. We’ve done it all. It’s classic dance rock.”
Thunder Beach has already come to the attention of the music community north of Cape Coral, where Day and his wife, Deborah, settled in 2014 after moving down from Philadelphia.
Jim Kiefer, North Port resident and bass player and manager for Maiden Cane, one of Southwest Florida’s hottest arena rock bands, believes Day and his new band will fit nicely into the Punta Gorda music scene.
“I really believe they’re going to do good,” Kiefer said. “Chris plays with really good musicians who want to perform. The area is ready for some new entertainment to come in. A lot of bands, you got to get out of your hometown. That’s what Chris is after.”
Thunder Beach is made up of Day on lead vocals; John Haussmann, a Punta Gorda Isles resident, on bass and vocals; Ray Marsch on drums and vocals; Vinnie “McPicc” Piccolo on keyboards; and Jim Stewart on guitar and vocals.
“The chemistry between these guys in this band far exceeds anything I could have expected,” Day said.
Day, 59, is a former Philly Catholic grammar school choir boy who did not get started singing in a rock ‘n roll band until seven years ago. He had moved to Florida’s east coast in the 1990s, when he began singing karaoke.
“I didn’t know there was such a thing until I moved to Florida,” he laughed.
That moved proved to be a false start, and Day moved back to Philadelphia. This was when the foundation for what he does today was formed. Outside of music, he does engineering IT support and works from home here. Up north, he had to show up at an office.
Folks at work began putting on cafeteria shows — including planned fundraisers — and Day’s voice was heard. Day formed relationships with the other lunch-room musicians and eventually they formed a band, Undercover. He fronted that band until he moved down here.
Fits and starts accompanied his first attempts to hook up with a band in this area. He finally found Shore Patrol, with which he performed until stepping away in November 2018.
Fronting Thunder Beach is his most recent incarnation. All of the members are either retired or have day jobs. They perform because they love it.
“The driving factor for me is seeing the people’s faces when you perform for them,” Day said. “Seeing the reaction on everybody’s face, knowing they’re having a good time, I get a charge out of that. That’s what motivates me to practice, make myself better for the next event.”