This is the land of the Weird Beards

Shrouded in a blue-green haze, Brian Skidmore was strumming his ukulele and describing a phone call he received from the President of the United States.

“He just called to ask if I could stop playing the ukulele, so he could continue his war campaign freely,” the 36-year-old Skidmore shouted to a packed Oasis Pub in New London.

He then launched into the chorus of “Patriot Act:” “No way man! I’m a robot, but not your robot,” leading the band – and a good portion of the audience – with the boyish zeal of a punk rock Willie Wonka.

It’s a safe bet that Skidmore never actually received a phone call from the White House, but with Skidmore and his band, the Weird Beards, it sometimes can be difficult to define the boundary between fantasy and reality. The Weird Beards are adept at blurring the lines – between musical genres, between individual songs and even between who is and isn’t in the band.

Along with Skidmore, the core band includes bassist Jake Kaeser, acoustic guitarist Jay Silva, drummer Tim Donnel and trombonist Pango – but the actual membership roles vary significantly. Members range in age from 27 to 37 years old, with the exception of Kaeser, who isn’t saying how many years he has on the rest of the group. Weekly rehearsals cultivate an all-are-welcome atmosphere that spills over into the live shows, where as many as 12 Beards might end up onstage.

“It’s a tribe,” says Donnel.

“It’s not like there’s a limit,” says Silva.

Skidmore adds, “I just want to play music with my friends.”

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