An interview with Cliff E. Shoes
By Mike Sales
I had the job of introducing “The Boneshakers” when I hosted the stage for an annual event called E-Fest, the first time I saw Cliff perform. As the band stood on stage, poised to launch into what would be a fantastic show, I noticed the stand-up bass had a taillight…and soon learned why. I was absolutely floored by the talent and acrobatics on display. The Boneshakers wound up being one of my favorite area bands because of their sound, their showmanship and the assurance that every venue they played was going to be full and fun.
Cliff’s expertise is currently on display, weekly, on Siesta Key as a member of the band, “Whiteleather.”
WPT: Where are you from?
Cliff: I’m originally from Medford Lakes, New Jersey
WPT: When did you start playing music?
Cliff: I started playing music at the age of 18 after years of watching “The Monkees” on TV.
WPT: When did you start playing professionally?
Cliff: I started playing out while in college at the age of 21.
WPT: When did you start getting booked in Sarasota?
Cliff: In 1992, I joined a band called, The Funky Cats. We played Funk, Soul & Jazz and were the house band at “Downunder Jazz Bar”, which used to be at The Quay. We played 7 shows a week, 5 sets per night with doubles on Friday and Saturday and a 3-5am after-hours gig at the “Sarasota Bottle Club” in Gulf Gate. I played with them until 1998.
WPT: When did you start playing stand-up bass?
Cliff: In 2000, Johnny C and I formed, “The Boneshakers”, which started out playing Rockabilly, and called for a stand-up bass.
WPT: So, you learned for that project?
Cliff: Yes, it wasn’t entirely different from a jazz bass, but it did take lots of practice because of the different angles and the lack of frets.
WPT: How often do you currently practice?
WPT: How long did you play with The Boneshakers?
Cliff: We played for 14 years and added 80’s hard rock and dance to the repertoire.
WPT: Where was your first gig on Siesta Key?
Cliff: “The Funky Cats” and “The Boneshakers” played at “The Beach Club” in the Village.
WPT: Tell us about your current band, “Whiteleather”…
Cliff: It features John Whiteleather on guitar and vocals. Chuck Davis also plays guitar and sings and I play bass and sing backups. We play Americana, Classic Rock, Bluegrass and some Rockabilly. We play both covers and originals. Michael Peck plays drums for us at our 4-piece gigs.
WPT: What’s your schedule like with this band?
Cliff: During the season, we play 5 to 7 shows per week and we’re averaging 4 to 6 as we head into summertime.
WPT: How often do you play on Siesta Key?
Cliff: We play every Friday 2-6pm at The Siesta Key Oyster Bar and book some gigs at Gilligan’s as well.
WPT: How has the Key changed in the 24 years you’ve been playing here?
Cliff: It hasn’t changed that much and I’m grateful for that. There are a few more live music venues and restaurants but overall it has remained the same quaint and friendly little village it was in 1992.
WPT: What is your favorite thing about playing on a vacation island?
Cliff: I love the regulars and I love meeting all of the new people every week and hearing the stories from their travels all over the world. It keeps life very interesting.
WPT: What’s your favorite thing about being a fulltime professional musician?
Cliff: It’s a great way to make a living, playing music for people with my band mates. There are other ways to earn more money, but I wouldn’t have as much fun, so I keep my overhead low…I don’t live extravagantly and I can afford to live on a musician’s pay, just fine.
WPT: What can people expect to see from you that they won’t see from the average bass player?
WPT: Good word.
To keep up with Cliff and check his latest “antics”, check out his Facebook page “Cliffe Shoose”
Siesta Key Oyster Bar is located at 5238 Ocean Blvd – phone 941-346-5443
Gilligan’s is located at 5253 Ocean Blvd – phone 941-346-8122
The Beach Club is located at 5151 Ocean Blvd – 941-349-6311
Mike Sales is a local singer/songwriter log onto mikesalessings.com for more info.