By Jim Starling
Instant Karma is old and new at the same time, but never the same. The long-time Beach band dates back to 1982, but it's current composition dates back only a year.
Instant Karma currently includes Karl Werne, drummer Randy Caffee and bassist Robbie Meade, but A.J. Long contributes his vocal talents so often he should be considered an unofficial regular.
"A.J.'s made just about every gig," said Werne. "He's made some of the rehearsals and he's learned some of the songs that we couldn't sing ourselves. His voice is incredible."
Randy Caffee slipped in early last year. "I've known Karl for years. I began with them right after New Year's 1992, just sitting in on Thursday nights for their other drummer. I started full time with them last August," said Caffee.
"Randy started sitting in with us and then when our drummer couldn't make the gig, Randy stayed," said Werne.
Like Instant Karma's other members, Caffee is versatile, having played just about every style at one time or another, including country, big-band and rock.
Robbie Meade came in when the Instant Karma's bass player had other commitments.
"They gave me a call and I sat in unrehearsed and it clicked the first night," said Meade.
Werne and company play a variety of cover material and Werne's original work. He writes the lyrics and the guitar parts and lets Caffee an Meade come up with drum and bass accompaniment.
Instant Karma has a loose, pleasant style. It's obvious the band members are doing what they do for the sheer pleasure of it. Werne might be billed as last of the free spirits. He smiles constantly, whether on stage or off, and plays in his bare feet.
"A lot of things are free form. We just leave it wide open for people," said Werne.
But that doesn't mean he doesn't take his music seriously. Werne worked with Lewis McGehee for eight years and took part in The Lewis McGehee Group's 1986-87 tour with Bruce Hornsby, as the Williamsburg native's opening act. He also contributed to McGehee's 1990 "Distant Voices" album.
April 9, 10- O'Leary's, Virginia Beach
April 16, 17- Smackwater Jack's, Princess Anne Plaza
April 13- Green Leaf Inn, Williamsburg
April 14, 28- Headlines in Hampton
April 23, 24- Abbey Road
April 30, May 1- O'Sullivan's at Lynnhaven Mall