Like each of it's members, the story of The Occasionalists is a quirky one. On a hot July night in 2013, Mark Vincent, invited three of his friends, John Allgood, John Marshall and Barry Stelboum (along with a few other musician friends) over to his home to help celebrate his birthday by playing some songs while his other guests would join us, unrehearsed, to sing. Basically, live band karaoke. We drank, we played and that was it.
Fast forward about a year, a friend of ours had a birthday of her own, as most of us do, and she asked if we would play a live karaoke set at her party. We agreed and played our first "public" gig at Freddy's bar in South Slope, Brooklyn. Again, we drank, we played and that was it. Although, in light of our leisurely one-year gap between gigs, we dubbed ourselves "The Occasionalists." We're very clever that way.
A few months later, we were asked to play another live karaoke birthday party (are you sensing a pattern?), this time at the dearly departed Fifth Estate in Park Slope, Brooklyn. We drank, we played and that was...really the beginning. This time the bar manager said, "That was amazing! Can you guys come back and do that for our usual crowd? You'll pack 'em in!" We looked at each other, shrugged and said "Why not?"
The rest, as they say, is history. Turns out, we did pack 'em in. We started to play regular live karaoke gigs at the Fifth Estate and a few other venues around Brooklyn and continued to play private parties. We were having a blast. But, then...then November 8th, 2016 happened and darkness descended.
Undeterred and determined to fight, we decided that, since we all had day jobs and were making basically beer and pizza money at our no-cover-charge gigs, we would start doing our shows as benefit shows for causes important to the band and which were under assault by the Trump administration. And, thus, Live Karaoke for the Resistance was born! In 2017, the band raised nearly $20,000 for organizations supporting women's rights, immigration rights, the environment, the arts and various LGBTQ causes.
If nothing else, Trump got the band in fighting shape as we're now rocking harder than ever and constantly adding to our ever-expanding and diverse repertoire of songs with everything from The Beatles to Bowie to Beyonce (we also play songs by artists whose name does not start with a B). And we're delighted to be part of a like-minded community in which we're getting to play to more people in larger venues and fighting the power with all our heart.
So, check out our set list, check out at our videos and come out to our shows. Or let us know if you want us to play a benefit show for your organization.
Oh, don't get us wrong, The Occasionalists will gladly take your money if you want us to play your next wedding, bar mitzvah or impeachment party.