Who Are the Castaways?

castaways

Taking the instrument of the islands to a whole new place, The Castaways play covers of our favorite rock and roll modern classics — on the ukulele.

Left to right…
Ed Viars began his musical journey with Beatles and Stones 45’s and Hendrix’s Band of Gypsies on 8-track. There was a brief, some would say horrifying, moment involving the Osmond brothers… until KISS, Cheap Trick and Van Halen freed him.  After his liberation (through guitar and anything loud enough to drive the neighbors crazy), his mother pondered sending the lad to military school. A jaunt to Kauai, Hawaii, put a ukulele in Ed’s hands. “I went out for pancakes at a local breakfast hangout and across the street was a music store having a uke sale. I tried one and was hooked on its syrupy tone. It was the most expensive stack of flapjacks I’ve ever had.”

Jim Abernethy is known for his ability to take in oxygen and convert it into much-needed carbon-dioxide for all vegetation in the Pacific Northwest — and the world to enjoy. This — and teaching public school, that’s all, no big deal — is how he does his part for the universe. Jim plays the ukulele and arranges The Castaways music, giving us our “Whoa, they’re doing that on the uke!” sound.

Pam Mandel picked up her first ukulele at a Capitol Hill “we’re fleeing the country” garage sale and hasn’t been the same since. Her other instrument is the keyboard, the QWERTY kind. Pam has a day job as a freelance writer, technical and travel, and has dragged her ukulele all around the world, from DC to Danang, Salzburg to San Francisco… she has the rare distinction of having played the ukulele on the last continent — Antarctica. Keep up with her at Nerd’s Eye View.

Jim Collins (bass, vocals): Called Jim Bob to close friends and family, he grew up mountain style, playing Bluegrass tunes on the front porch of his family’s one-room cabin. Jim counts his family as some of his biggest supporters, including his four brothers and dad, aptly named Joe, Bo, Joe, Bo, and Billy Bob. After mastering the washtub bass (single string), Jim nimbly whittled his first multi-string instrument from an old hickory stump. Jim credits moving from a single-string instrument to a multi-string instrument a “snap” noting, “I simply tune all the strings the same, that way there’s no worry of playing the wrong one!” Recently relocating to the big city of Black Diamond, Jim has had the pleasure of experiencing everyday life with electricity for the first time ever. “It makes my bass loud,” Jim extols with a grin.

Unlike other drummers, Pete Harris lays down the groove for The Castaways unencumbered by wooden tools.  He recently discovered the modern efficiency of being able to sit on his entire drum kit.  When he’s not keeping us funky, he helps train people on new software products and makes pictures.