Rehoboth Shuts Down Thursday Night “Piano Man”

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After offering unsanctioned musical performances Thursday nights at the Rehoboth Beach Bandstand for seven weeks straight, city officials have ordered him to stop!

Matthew Bennett Davey, 42, performs original music on his Casio piano and sings to the alternative rock-style tunes he creates. He had performed for free Thursday nights at the bandstand and had been steadily increasing his fan base with each of the seven performances. “The stands were full,” he said. “I didn’t invite anybody. They just came!”

But all that came to an end this past Thursday when he said he received a message from Corey Groll, bandstand program director, warning him that he would no longer be allowed to play without permission and police had been notified to shut him down. As a result, he decided not to appear last Thursday for his weekly gig.

“I did not want to cause any problems,” he said, noting that police had spoken with him the previous Thursday. He said he had called city hall, and was under the impression that if he were not disturbing the peace, or collecting money, he could perform.

Davey said his “free music concert series” performance times had been carefully planned around any official bandstand functions and he accepted no money. “Matthew is playing without permission from the City of Rehoboth, therefore I’m unable to comment on his performances,” says Groll. “In order to perform or hold a gathering on the bandstand, we require permission from our city office. I would not encourage others to model this behavior,” he added.

Davey’s Casio electric piano and sound gear are powered with his own rechargeable battery, he points out. And his performances did not cost the city any money, noting that some sanctioned performers receive a stipend. “I was trying to give the city more without hitting the city or the taxpayers,” he said. “I play for free and donate my time.”

Davey said the bandstand is a “gorgeous facility and the most underused resource in town. My goal was to play every Thursday, maybe get an ad in the paper… maybe there is a buzz… I was getting families coming the next week and the next week while not promoting it at all. I was just trying to fly under the radar until they ‘get it.'” He also wanted to play his original music in front of people he did not know so he could get an honest response from them.

“I won’t play up there anymore,” he said on Friday, noting that Groll did suggest that he submit a plan for consideration. “I need to write up a plan and submit it but I do not think they would approve it,” Davey said. Davey would like to continue to perform for free on a weekly basis, but he suspects the city would only offer a one-time performance.

Photos courtesy Matthew Bennett Davey