Close your eyes and listen to the music, and you will think you are listening to John, Paul, George and Ringo live. It’s the music of RoshamBeatles, the 2018 Beachcomber Music Award winners for Best Tribute Act and a Northwest Florida band that has been together since 2012.
Chris Hayes, who sings and plays acoustic guitar, grew up in London, England. He was a member of The Aardvarkz, a ‘60s revival band he formed in high school. He was 21 when came to the area in 1990 to stay with his brother who was stationed here—Hayes only planned to stay a month. He’s still here.
“Someone suggested to me that I should sing songs on the beach for the rest of my life, and that sounded like a great idea,” Hayes says.
Hayes started out playing at local bars like Hog’s Breath (when it was on Okaloosa Island) and Hosers. He also played a regular solo gig weekly for years at KJ’s in Destin where he first got to know Jim Couch and other members of the band Roshambo.
He has played solo gigs over the years in many other area venues and can currently be seen Friday through Tuesday nights at the Swizzle Stick Lounge in the Best Western Beach Resort on Okaloosa Island. Hayes also performs at AJ’s on the Bayou in Fort Walton Beach Thursdays from 5 to 9 PM. He mainly plays music from the ‘60s and ‘70s, which, of course, includes a lot of Beatles tunes.
Couch, an original member of Roshambo and former owner of KJ’s, plays guitar and sings. He grew up in a Navy family and graduated from the University of West Florida in 1989. He then got a band together and began playing in the area at places like Chan’s and Timbers.
Adrian Howland plays bass guitar and sings. He has been a member of Roshambo since 1998, which he notes “is half of my life.” Howland is from Panama City and was raised in Fort Walton Beach. He did not know much about the Beatles when he started, but he certainly does now.
Rounding out the members of RoshamBeatles is drummer Hayden Welch, who is just out of music college. Ron Pekrul, the original drummer for Roshambo and RoshamBeatles, is now retired.
Hayes joined Roshambo in 2012, and the now-four-piece band played their first show on Halloween that year. Raymond Ramirez, the band’s costume and instrument manager, suggested dressing like The Beatles for that show and playing their music.
RoshamBeatles kick off their shows with early Beatles songs like “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Help!”, “Eight Days A Week,” “All My Loving” and “Can’t Buy Me Love.” They then move into the period that includes “Yesterday” and “Magical Mystery Tour,” followed by a set dominated by Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Abbey Road selections.
As for the name Roshambo, the guys collectively agree that the meaning is “Rock, Paper, Scissors.” It originated from an early South Park episode.
About the band’s recent Beachcomber honors, Hayes says, “That was fantastic! We are very happy about receiving that award.”
Ramirez also owned some replica guitars like the ones the Beatles played, including a Hofner bass guitar, a Rickenbacker 12-string guitar, and two hollow body Gretsch guitars. “Playing those instruments really makes a big difference,” says Couch. The band learned 10 Beatles songs for that show, did a few more shows, and RoshamBeatles took off.
So far this year, RoshamBeatles have performed six shows, and they have more lined up for the second half of 2018 including July 7 at Coasters in Downtown Fort Walton Beach at 9:30 PM.
Find out more about the band and their upcoming events at Facebook.com/RoshamBeatles.