If you go
What: Live on the Levee
When: 6:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Haddad Riverfront Park
FYI: Friday's lineup starts with The Boatmen at 6:30 p.m., followed by The Recipe at 7:45.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A fun gig with a less than ideal stage placement gave Beckley-based The Boatmen their name.
The band — at that point really a group of musicians that got together for what they intended to be a casual thing — was playing for whitewater outfitter Class VI's Monday Wing Night, which drew a nice mix of locals and tourists.
The stage, though, was right in front of the wetsuit rental room, which was flanked by the restrooms. Bass player Nick Durm recalls a fan coming up during the second show to ask the band's name.
"We quickly searched around and racked our brains," he recalled. "There were three signs on that stage from left to right: Boatwomen (women's restroom), Wetsuits and Boatmen (men's restroom). So it was clear we were either going to be the Wetsuits or the Boatmen. The Boatmen sounded better and there you have it."
The name stuck and so did the band, after members realized they had a good thing going.
Durm and guitarist Matt Mullins had been playing together since high school, eventually forming Old School Abbey, a band that found them opening for the likes of Styx and The Spin Doctors. Three years into that band, guitarist Randy Gilkey signed on. As Old School Abbey started to fade as a band, Durm, Mullins and Gilkey formed an acoustic group with Rob Gross on djemebe.
"Quickly, after the first show I think we knew we all had something different than a side project," Durm said.
Friday night, the band makes its Live on the Levee debut, opening for The Recipe.