December 7, 2006


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The Lizards are everywhere
Ubiquitous cover band brings the party with them
By Bill Copeland

The ubiquitous cover band The Grinning Lizards can be found playing rooms all over New England. Their appeal comes in part from leader Paul Costly, a hair-disadvantaged middle-aged man.

Costly originally got involved with the music scene 35 years ago.

“I grew up in Derry. I went to Pinkerton. Back in high school I was playing in some high school bands in the Derry area and just continued on from that point,” he said.

Unlike other players who busy themselves only with their bands, Costly books several. He owns and operates Not So Costly Productions, an entertainment agency that books many area rooms.  

“Most of the people that play in bands have a regular job during the week, and running the entertainment agency, that’s my job. It ends up being a seven-day-a-week job, but I’m enjoying what I’m doing with it,” Costly said.

The Grinning Lizards have two upcoming local shows: The Derryfield on Friday, Dec. 8, and Whippersnappers on Saturday, Dec. 23.

Costly put together the Grinning Lizards band after burning out five years ago with a music and comedy duo that relied much on midi tracks. The Grinning Lizards, as their gig pages attest, play several gigs each month. Costley said his schedule has as much to do with perseverance as talent.

“Today, there’s less and less clubs opening,” Costley said. “We stay busy, but we really have to travel to do that. These days we’re heading anywhere from Cape Cod to the White Mountains. We probably do more out of the Manchester area than we do in.”

Being well connected, Costley’s band opens for many big names. The Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom is one place his Lizards grin brightly.

“This past year was my seventh year with The Beach Boys and Friday night we just opened up for Eddie Money and the band Heart with Ann and Nancy Wilson. It’s great. You have a huge audience. You get the energy. It’s always been something I look forward to. We’re lucky that they keep inviting us back,” he said.

Working with big names can also be stressful. That is why Costley works the local scene.

When forming or joining a band, Costley looks for talent and, more importantly, the ability to get along with one another. Band members spend so much time together they become like a “family away from family” and Costley seeks to avoid aggravating line-ups.

Costley’s fellow Grinning Lizards are roots-rock guitarist Dave Zangri (formerly with Boston Trading Company Jam Band), bassist Joe Zangri (formerly Nobody’s Fault), and drummer Rick King (formerly Nobody’s Fault). Costley plays the congas and sings.

Classic rock tunes fill the Lizards’ set list, including Van Morrison, The Rolling Stones, Sublime, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bob Marley and some surprises.

Happy geckos
Who: The Grinning Lizards
When: Friday, Dec. 8, from 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. at Derryfield; Saturday, Dec. 23, from 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. at Whippersnappers.
Where: The Derryfield, 625 Mammoth Road, Manchester, 623-2880,; Whippersnappers, 44B Nashua Road, Londonderry, 434-2660,
For more information: Go to