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Rock and rolling on the Great South Bay

Jimmy Buffet tribute band Barometer Soup plays for

Jimmy Buffet tribute band Barometer Soup plays for a sold-out crowd on the Moon Chaser Bay Jam Music Cruise on June 18. The boat leaves out of Captree State Park in Babylon and cruises around the Great South Bay. Photo Credit: Newday/Sally Morrow

A shirtless man wearing bedazzled skull and crossbones jeans jumps up and down onstage. He twists his hips, crooning to "Pretty Woman," as a disco ball and strobe lights cast green and red dots on the cheering crowd.

This may be typical of a rock concert scene. But Bay Jam on The Moonchaser -- a 65-foot boat docked at Captree State Park in Babylon -- is no typical concert. The performance series includes a cruise around the Great South Bay, live band, hot buffet, wine, beer and soda. Price: $47.

"It's incredible . . . That's everything," Cory Clyne, 42, of Manorville, says about the deal as she stands on the top deck one recent evening. "And on a perfect night like this, you can't beat it."

What to expect

Bay Jam started three years ago after hiring a Jimmy Buffett tribute band turned out to be "a smash hit," says Tom Greene, owner and captain of The Moonchaser. He decided to book and promote bands like a bar would do.

Expect to hear mostly rock tribute bands playing popular tunes by The Beatles, The Cars, the Eagles and Grateful Dead, among others. But original music by Long Island bands such as Barnaby Bye and Funkin' A are also thrown into the mix this season.

On this night, the four-member Van Halen tribute band Completely Unchained performed. "We're all about having a really good time. We're a high-energy band," says Gene Henriksen of Coram, a singer and David Lee Roth look-alike.

That appears to be true as the band churns out 23 songs on the canopied top deck, complete with pole climbing and duo guitar riffing.

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During the three-hour cruise, audience members bounce their heads and fist pump along to "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love." They chant -- "You really got me now/you got me so I don't know what I'm doing" -- on cue to "You Really Got Me." And when Henriksen dedicates "Beautiful Girls" to "all of my beautiful ladies tonight," one such lady in a tight black dress emerges from the crowd and gyrates next to him.

Taking a break

Such rockin' and rollin' can drum up an appetite. There's bench seating on the top deck along the bow's perimeter and wooden booths lining both sides of the enclosed main deck.

This deck also features "Surf Shack," a fully stocked wooden bar nautically decorated with a neon compass and steering wheel. The dinner buffet includes linguine in clam sauce, jerk chicken, spareribs, penne and roasted vegetables, salad and dinner rolls.

Michele McAleer, 43, of Babylon, said she and a friend were "impressed with the food," and that the show "surpassed my expectations. It's as close as you could be to Van Halen without being at a Van Halen concert."

Sailing to a close

Grabbing a last drink at the bar, Rosemarie Fitzsimmons, 45, of Port Jefferson, says, "I met a lot of nice people. After working in an office all day, this is great. I'll recommend this to people at work."

By 11:02 p.m., the dark sky and dark waters are nearly indistinguishable, save for the light of the moon. But the band shows no signs of winding down. They play "Ice Cream Man" at full throttle, as audience members snap photos and sway to the rhythm.

For Jim Irwin, 42, of Commack, the evening was quite the success.

"It's a good time and it didn't cost a lot of money."

 The Bay Jam series on The Moonchaser

 WHEN | WHERE Friday, Saturday or Sunday nights through Oct. 9 at Captree State Park, Babylon. Check for departure times -- and arrive early.

COST $47 including cruise, live music, hot buffet, wine, beer, soda and cash bar

INFO 631-265-1848,

For more: Upcoming bands 

Reckoning: The Ultimate Grateful Dead Experience

WHEN | WHERE 8:30-11:30 p.m. Friday, Captree State Park, Babylon

COST $47

Barnaby Bye

WHEN | WHERE 8-11 p.m. Saturday, Captree State Park

COST $60


Desert Highway: A Tribute to the Eagles 

WHEN | WHERE 5-8 p.m. Sunday, Captree State Park

COST $47

Funkin' A

WHEN | WHERE 9 p.m.-midnight, next Friday, Captree State Park

COST $47


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