Today is my 65th birthday. It comes just a few days after Mother’s Day. So, let me send a slightly belated HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to all the moms. “My Momma, She Really Loved to Dance”
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about fans and friends from all through my years in Key West and Florida. Notice how I separate them. I mean, technically, Key West is part of Florida. But, it always seems like a very separate place to me, like it is its own little Caribbean country with its own rules and its own way of life, separate from Florida. If you’ve been there for longer than a cruise ship stopover perhaps, you’ll agree.
I’ve been thinking back to those great nights we had, especially, at The Bull and at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, too. I often played with the trio, Acoustic Thunder which, over the years went through a few personnel changes. But, the band was always a great band and always a big draw for the venue.
It began with Dale Jacobs on drums and Francois Gehin (Poppa Chubby) on 7-string bass. Then, Dale left and David Snavely (Starbuck, of “Moonlight Feels Right” fame) took over on drums and it was David, Francois and I for about a year. Then, just before Fantasy Fest, 2002, both Francois and David left and were replaced by Skipper Krippitz and Rob Leon, RIP (the Dolphins, Rory Block, The Band, yes, that band). Skipper then, left and was replaced by Randy Morrow who stayed through to the end. When Rob Leon passed, he was replaced by Bubba Lownotes. It was this configuration of myself, Randy and Bubba that lasted the longest and that is probably most memorable to most of you. I continued to play with Randy and Bubba for 10 years after I moved from Key West. I moved but went back on a monthly basis to play with the trio for all those years. We mostly played at Sloppy Joes, Dante’s and Virgilio’s, with gigs at other venues more occasionally. To my best recollection, that trio never played outside of Key West.
Then, after we moved to the Florida mainland, in the greater Sarasota area, other venues became meeting spots for music lovers and me. I played a lot of venues in places like Sarasota, Punta Gorda, Marco Island, Port Charlotte, Bradenton, St. Pete and, Siesta Key. For me, the most fun places were O’Leary’s, Harry’s and the Beach Club (early on) in Sarasota and Stump Pass Grille in Englewood.
I miss all of you that used to seek me out when you visited Key West or southwest Florida. You came from Boston, New York, Baltimore, New Jersey (“What exit?”), Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and on and on. You even came from Europe. I met you from Norway, the U.K., Belgium, Spain, Italy, France and Germany and, Czech to name a few. I could name so many people but there are just so many of you, it wouldn’t be fair to try. I would forget someone important. You bought my CDs and I signed a lot of them over those years. I miss all of it and mostly, I miss all of you. Those were some great days. GREAT DAYS! And, it was an honor and a privilege for me to be there and to play some small part in helping make your vacation or, just a night out, memorable.