Gatewood sparkles with love, laughter, amazing update of ‘Friends of Bay’

Aug 30, 2023 | Featured, Entertainment | 0 comments

BY D’ARCY PATRICK EGAN

Bob Gatewood became the Bard of Put-in-Bay and South Bass Island a long time ago, and the popular singer knocked it out of the park when he debuted “Friends-of-the-Bay” in the 1980s.

He grew up on Cleveland’s West Side, played its popular bars and taverns, and had folks dancing with the band Calabash, becoming stars of The Roundhouse Bar at Put-in-Bay.

His songs had the ability to generate a feeling of life and love on a pretty cool island, a place where it’s rare to live all year round as he and his wife, Andrea Lee, now do.

Gatewood, 58, has trimmed his musical work load quite a bit in recent years, giving up the constant travel and most of the far away stages, while developing a variety of island businesses that keep him busy.

He and Andrea Lee operate AB Cart Rentals, with golf carts now a mainstay on the island, as well as AB Lodging and kayak, paddle board and Jet Ski Rentals on both Kelleys and South Bass islands.

Music will always be on his mind and in his heart, and his gigs at The Roundhouse Bar, Boat House and the Beer Barrel are where couples can kick back and enjoy his many tunes. Gatewood doesn’t rely on bawdy comedy, but spotlights the good times and island life we’ve all come to enjoy.

“A lot of good times start when you arrive, and I know that the singers relying on rowdy comedy will always be favorites, as well.

A lot of people are here to laugh loudly and have a few drinks with their friends.

“The people who come to see me let me play my own stuff, my songs about the adventures of life and the love of good times with someone special. I’m sort of west of Springsteen and east of Mellencamp.”

When Gatewood decided it was finally time to produce another album for his legion of fans, though, one old tune was throughly polished and back in the mix to be included with the new music he was creating for the long-awaited album.

A song that would fit in with his new ones, like “You Make Me Smile” and “Good Times Start Today.”

“Friends-of-the-Bay” came about during a late night show at Put-in-Bay. I made up a part of it that night, then our guitarist, a young Tom Bucolic, finished it off the following day and we sang it at our next show. From that very first performance, it instantly became our most popular song.

“Everyone out front stood up, locked arms and started swaying back and forth singing along. It was amazing! That’s the way it’s always been, and it’s always been the last song of the show.”

Put-in-Bay’s village council went so far to officially make “Friends-of-the-Bay” the island’s official song in 2014 and noted local videographer Nick James immortalized the tune with a remarkable islands video created along Put-in-Bay Harbor.

The album was produced by Cleveland native Bukovac at his Nashville studio, and joining in were such other Ohio musical stars as drummers Joe Vitale and Shawn Fichter.

The CD can be purchased at bobgatewood.com, from online vendors and Apple Music and Spotify.

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