Last call

A changing of the guard at the Narragansett Café
By BOB GULLA  |  December 12, 2007

All good things must come to an end. And so it is with Dan Alexander’s tenure at Jamestown’s legendary Narragansett Café. This Sunday, December 16, Alexander will mark the end of his tenure at the watering hole by the bay with a massive party. He’s calling it his “Last Waltz,” and the website ( notes it’s doubling as a Christmas party.
“We opened on October 16, 1987 — 20 years ago, Alexander says. “It was a whole different world back then. Years ago, the weekends were so busy they used to support the weekdays,” he says, with some melancholy. “I don’t want to say people don’t appreciate live music any more, because they do. But all I can say is that being on an island here makes it tough. There are two roads on and off Jamestown and they’re heavily policed.”
Alexander, who owned the Café with his brother Tom, never thought that when they obought the place they were buying into a two-decade stint. “Time moves so fast,” he says, “and there are things I want to do. Every time I turn around another year goes by.”
Alexander, now 51 and an engineer in the Merchant Marines, will return to his former gig, nautical miles away from the rabble-rousing and late nights of barkeeping. “It’s tough to walk away, but it’ll be best for everyone. I’ve had my moment. I’ve seen some great times here, when it wasn’t so regulated. Remember when the Young Bucks used to play? I can’t believe we made it through that era! And then there was the fire in 2005. Made it through that as well. But it’s somebody else’s turn now.”
In January, Alexander will hand the reins to a local couple, Joe and Cathy Recca. Joe is a successful, semi-retired bond trader willing to invest in the Café’s infrastructure, but unwilling to change the vibe, community spirit, and devotion to local music of its predecessor. “The new owners are absolutely interested in keeping everyone in place and keeping what we’ve got here going,” says Alexander, thankfully. “They’ll have to throw me out!”
But not until after Alexander’s “Last Waltz.” The show will start at 5 pm and run till closing with ERIK NARWHAL, DAVE HOWARD, YOUNG NEAL, and GARY GRAMOLINI all taking the stage with the house band. Most notably, Sunday marks the temporary return from retirement of JACK SMITH AND ROCKABILLY PLANET. There will also be a pig roast and a free buffet. “My ambition is have everyone play 30 minutes, and leave some time to jam,” Alexander says. “But I’ve learned over the last 20 years that you really never know what’s going to happen until it does.” Call 401.423.2150.

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