Live music at the Sea Shanty in Cayucos

June 30, 2022

Editor’s Note: The following series, “Life in Radically Gentrifying Cayucos by the Sea,” to be posted biweekly includes the notes, thoughts, and opinions of an original American voice: author Dell Franklin. 

Franklin’s memoir, “Life On The Mississippi, 1969,” is currently on Amazon.


The Mighty Croon Dogs played this past Sunday in the late afternoon and early evening at the Sea Shanty, a restaurant with a parking lot in back that Bill Shea, the owner, turned into a music venue with chairs, a small dance area, somewhat of a canopy, a bar with beer and wine, and a stand selling his tacos.

It is an event. Every other Sunday the music flows. In a small beach town where the community is dwindling, with whole neighborhoods and blocks thinning out permanent residents, this event draws what is left of the community together in a thriving, even rousing, who’s who.

There is nothing like music to draw people together, especially outdoors on a perfect afternoon, where the sun is not too hot and a slight breeze keeps one from roasting. I walked the three blocks down to the event with my folding chair and met Nick and Pete, two younger charter members of the morning seawall gang, both ex-athletes in their fifties who have lived here for decades.

We sat as a threesome back against the kid’s play area of the adjoining park with an excellent view of the slowly gathering crowd, all agreeing this was terrific people-watching. All ages attended. To our right, chairs lined the road, two burly middle aged men who looked like former football players sat with their wives when they weren’t up socializing with the knots of people standing behind the chairs on the patio or at the bar and food table.

People came and went before us walking dogs of every size and breed. Some stopped to have a beer or listen, and if they liked the music, they ate and had another beer and took up conversations with those perhaps they’d never talked to before, and as this occurred everywhere a genuine sense of a joyful community emerged.

Everybody felt good and thought good thoughts and forgot about work and the crazy insane politics and gas prices.

Nick, who spends half his time in Krakow, Poland, where he has an apartment, said, “In Krakow this kind of stuff goes on everywhere—in parks, bars, along the river, out in the streets, and people are out. A lot of the people are from Italy and France, and you hear all these different languages, it’s a great atmosphere.”

Of course, this is the Caucasian Coast, and all of the people spoke one language, and this was a long way from a sophisticated cosmopolitan European city, but essentially it was the same thing—a festive spreading of temporary happiness, a celebration of just being alive.

An extremely attractive blond girl perhaps in her late 20s appeared in ragged jean shorts, and I asked Pete, did she cut those jeans off or did they come that way?

“Are you kidding? That’s the new style.”

We scrunched our seats around when the chairs in front of us filled up, so we had a better view of her, for nothing lights up a big crowd like a good looking woman with great legs. She was with a group of people her age, men and women, an attractive gaggle, casually yet fashionably clad, drinking beer, gabbing nonstop, laughing, occasionally touching and even hugging.

“When did men start hugging?” I asked Pete.

“I think Magic Johnson started it all,” he said.

“Can you imagine the Celtics and Lakers hugging back in the 1960s?”

He looked at me like I was crazy. “Are you kidding?”

The great thing about attending an event like this, is that while “old home week and a who’s who in Cayucos” takes place before us, and the music serenades, these two worldly dudes can talk on nearly every subject, and especially experiences on the road, in different countries. We’ve all been to Europe and other places. Nick was recently in Lyon, France, the gourmet capital of the world, and said, “I wasn’t all that impressed with the food, the snails and so on. Too rich for my taste. And the French were the French…” He made an exasperated face.

Meanwhile, the party went on and on. Good music. Good conversation. Good people-watching. The crowd growing bigger and bigger as the afternoon turned into evening, toddlers and grandparents and women carrying papooses, the surrounding conversations almost as loud as the music, the booze doing its job, the food helping.

Does it get any better than this? We need more of it. And the Sea Shanty has it every other Sunday. A destination. A festivity. A celebration. A meeting place to catch up. Not Krakow. Not Paris. Nope. Small town Cayucos by the sea.

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Thanks for the heads up and thank you Bill and Carol Shea! Jill Knight on the 10th. She is great.

Yup, locals are a struggling breed in our own little towns/’hoods. Wealthy tourists and big city people occupy/own too many vacation rentals and vacant homes, driving down the supply of housing, up goes the rent, changing the character of community.

And, yup, people travel all over the globe, I suppose they are antsy but they miss what’s right next to them.

This County is world class as are it’s people, local entertainment, natural wonders and businesses. Can’t believe we actually live here, always grateful.