By Andrew Kramer
SEA ISLE CITY, N.J. (CBS) – From hip-hop, to boy bands, to country, to the greatest hits of yesterday and today, the Secret Service Band has been doing it all together for a long time.
Thirty years this summer to be exact for Dom Albanese and Craig Phillips at the Ocean Drive in Sea Isle City.
“At the beginning of the night it doesn’t feel that way,” Phillips says of their milestone. “It feels new and fresh, especially when people are into it early in the night, but at the end of the night you realize it’s been 30 years because we’re 30 years older. But actually, when we’re doing it and beforehand, I really don’t think that way. The people make it fresh for you.”
Albanese says there’s been some noticeable changes since they started playing together at the bar best known as ‘The OD’ in the 80’s, like the “unbelievable mullet” he used to have, but overall, he says, many things have stayed pretty much the same:
“We started out, we were just a filler act, but midway through the first season we played here we got popular and just kind of rolled from there, but it’s still all about young people, older people, everybody coming together just partying, having a good time, and that’s basically what our show’s been for 30 years, we haven’t changed it really, other than the music changes every year.”
Some of their signature songs over the years include ‘Oh What a Night,’ ‘Brown Eyed Girl,’ ‘Sweet Caroline,’ ‘Your Love,’ ‘Hey Baby,’ ‘Africa’ and their Boy Band Medley, a few of which they say they “brought back.”
Listen to the full HearPHILLY podcast with the Secret Service Band here…
A lot has happened during the Secret Service’s 30 years at the Ocean Drive, but both seem to agree on one moment that truly stands out.
“We’re playing here at The OD at a Jam session and it’s packed,” explains Albanese. “It’s raining cats and dogs outside, so it floods and waters coming in the front door. Now there’s a foot of water in the place, we’re still playing on the stage with the electric and everything else, but we didn’t want to quit because people were having such a good time.”
“That would be the craziest moment for us,” adds Phillips, “because people didn’t pause for a second, we didn’t pause and they were floating, they were body surfing, right down The OD, like they were playing shuffleboard with their bodies, it was pretty fun.”
And that is the key word the duo has used over and over again to describe their #1 goal throughout the years.
“We don’t care about anything but having fun,” Phillips says. “I mean that’s the first thing with us, no matter what we feel like, no matter what our voices feel like that day, we’re going to go out and try to have fun for people.”
Albanese says despite being the “older guys,” they get a lot of respect from the younger generation:
“They kind of acknowledge the fact that they look at us an actually say ‘you know what, these guys have done something right for 30 years and they get it. And it’s just all about having fun and making sure the audience is in on it.”
A lot of bands have been around for years, but in the case of the Secret Service, it has been Dom and Craig from the beginning. And they credit much of that success to their relationships with two different owners over the past three decades.
But the big question after all this time…how much do they have left in the tank?
“As long as we’re physically able, and we’re both doing pretty good right now, and people want to hear us, I guess we’ll do it to some degree,” Albanese says. “Every time we try to cut back we say ‘alright, we’ll do another one, we’ll do another one,’ and we end up doing what we always do, so I would say who knows?”
“We really don’t know,” adds Phillips. “We kind of play it by year and see how we both feel at the end of each year, and see how people feel about us, because that’s what feeds me and I think it feeds Dom also, the fact that people are so into what we’re doing. People who saw us in the 80’s are bringing their kids here which is the coolest thing in the world to introduce their kids to us.”
The Secret Service, along with DJ Steve, has been celebrating their 30 years at The OD all summer long, with a 30th anniversary party taking place at the bar on August 15th beginning late afternoon.