Pirates from Colorado Invade in Bocas del Toro: It’s Panamanium

Pirate. Funk. Rock. Party!  The Runaway Grooms just touched down in Bocas del Toro and are ready to headline Aqua Lounge’s new festival series: Panamanium.

There is no better venue for controlled chaos than Aqua Lounge. Thursday’s Reggae Night, Domingo Paraiso (Sundays): these wildly popular weekly events attract hordes of locals and visitors for musical celebrations and unbelievably good times on the tiny island of Carenero.

Sprinkle an international music act in there with a theme party night on a Saturday night and what do you have? A mini-music festival in paradise.  This is the concept that Aqua Lounge is introducing to the community and the latest edition starts today, May 11, 2023.

The main event? Saturday night with The Runaway Grooms, all the way from the Rocky Mountains, bringing their blend of all things American Rock. “From the folk to the funk,” as TRG guitarist/vocalist Adam Tobin put it.

The Runaway Grooms group photo

The Colorado musicians sat down for a Zoom interview just before they hit the road to what will be their first international performance. They expressed to The Breeze that they are prepared to deliver an upbeat and driven concert, with lots of guitar and organ solos, set in the established pocket foundation of drums and bass.

Bassist/vocalist Zack Gilliam tells us he grew up on country, folk and southern rock in Tennnesee, and when he moved out west, the rest of the guys introduced him to the exploratory jam band style of The Grateful Dead. Together the group also incorporates elements of jazz, soul and disco to their style.

Check out their most recent single “Here I Come Again” and have a listen for yourself. Their latest album, “The Road,” their 3rd release in six years as a band, was recorded for the most part live, with all four members laying down initial tracks in the same room at same time to ensure that the recording reflected the on-stage chemistry and the freedom in the groove that characterizes their original compositions.

“We’re going to explore some new boundaries; and we’re going to bring a jam-funk-soul-roots-rock vibe down to Panama,” said Gilliam. “We hope to create some music we didn’t even know we were capable of,” added Tobin.

The band is eager to collaborate with members of the talented and diverse Bocas del Toro music scene and is grateful to Aqua Lounge providing the space for a weekend of music and creativity. They really respect all the hard work that Aqua Lounge ownership and management have put in on the back-end to make this festival a reality.

“We’re going to make sure we do it justice. I’ve been looking forward to this day since it was even an idea,” said percussionist Justin Bissett.

The four-piece band is all geared up to match that party energy they have absorbed consuming Bocas del Toro social media from afar and hearing the stories from their dear friend and co-owner of Aqua Lounge, Jason Fish, the catalyst for bringing these formidable musicians from the Rocky Mountains to the Caribbean Seas of Panama.

“The goal is to do these festivals always in the low season and bring different demographics and different music styles,” says Jason Fish. “We want to promote good music in Bocas, get locals involved and experience something different.”

The concept leverages the existing weekly events at the Aqua Lounge venue and creates a scenario where the headlining artist is able to promote their own fan base this idea of an all-inclusive festival experience in Bocas del Toro. 

Reggae Night Bocas Aqua Lounge Bocas del Toro Panama

Reggae Night Bocas, Thursdays at Aqua Lounge

Domingo Paraiso Aqua Lounge Bocas del Toro Panama

Domingo Paraiso, casual electronic pool party every Sunday at Aqua Lounge

The debut Panamanium was in October 2022 with Black Wolf Sound.  This week The Runaway Grooms are here and the next international act is already being lined up for October 2023. Stay tuned!

But first thing’s first, there is an invasion of Pirate Funk Rockers on Saturday Night. Yes, the party is pirate themed and doors open at 9pm. Early bird tickets are available for $5 and can be purchased on this link, at the Aqua Lounge entrance, or at the ticket booth across from Selina until 10pm on Saturday night.

Members of the local funk band Juicy Cake will combine forces with a past project “Toast” to form “Toasty Cake.”  The hybrid funk project will open the night out, followed by the now highly anticipated Runaway Grooms performance, all to be capped off with an electronic set by DJ Jordan Rogers.

This is Panamanium. Don’t forget where you heard it first!

The Bocas Breeze is a digital and print newspaper proudly serving the Bocas del Toro community since 2004; reporting news, advertising local businesses and promoting tourism in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

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