Old Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School chums keep strumming

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Photo by Maddy Berg

Why would four 60-somethings brave damp fog, a chilly breeze off Edgartown Harbor, and the competition of the dinner hour to play ’60s and ’70s garage band music to brave, appreciative souls at Memorial Wharf? It’s simple: these guys love music, and they especially love playing music together. It’s akin to a group of high school classmates reminiscing over mugs of beer. Their stories: The hits of the Beatles, Jerry Lee Lewis, and the like. Their drinks of choice: A lead guitar, bass, and drums.

They’re the Bodes, and their story goes back nearly 50 years. “It’s short for bodacious,” band member Charlie Leighton said of the name. He then explained that the word meant “cool” back in the day — way back in the day. While in high school, the guys rocked out at any venue they could find. They stopped playing together in the Seventies when they had to enter the real world. Some moved off-Island while others remained in their childhood home, but despite the distance between them, the men maintained a close friendship. In 1998, the Bodes got together to play at their high school reunion and, as one would say, the rest is history.

The Bodes spent many a Wednesday night in the 1960s on Edgartown’s Memorial Wharf, jamming out before local crowds to their favorite tunes. Except for their now salt-and-pepper hair and deeper voices, current members Rick Convery, Charlie Leighton, Jack Mayhew, and Peter Valenti behaved much the way the original Bodes did 50 years ago when they took over the Wharf on Wednesday night, July 6. Between rousing renditions of “Secret Agent Man” and “Route 66,” songs that they had learned to play during the band’s first go-round, the guys joked around with one another and with familiar faces in the crowd. Despite the mist and gloom settling over Edgartown Harbor, their enthusiasm was infectious: listeners of all ages danced across the wooden planks, friends from high school sang along, and even the captain of the Chappy ferry was tapping his feet as he completed his last runs of the day. Only when the audience’s cries of “one more song!” were met with drummer Rick Convery’s groans of exhaustion were listeners reminded that it was not the Sixties anymore.

While the Bodes say that reliving their childhoods and having fun are their only reasons for performing, they were indirectly helping out a local cause. Years ago, Rick Harrington, who grew up in Edgartown, created a memorial at the base of the Edgartown Lighthouse in honor of his teenage son, Ricky, who died in a car accident. Although the Bodes were originally set to perform at the Lighthouse to draw attention to the monument, the poor weather forced them to relocate to the covered wharf. They didn’t let the weather get the best of them, however, and played a fantastic show while reminding their audience of the important role of the Martha’s Vineyard Museum in preserving the lighthouse and the children’s memorial at its base.

If you missed the Bodes’ latest performance, keep an eye out for another chance to see them this summer. You won’t want to miss these 60-year-old Sixties guys rocking out like it’s 1965.