I got rid of the excess baggage after returning to Florida, went back to work, and started engaging in more musical and entertainment enterprises. Two of those enterprises that I had endeavored in, were modeling and acting. Some of the acting included an extra in the movie “Coup De Ville” at the Greyhound track in Tampa, Florida, and television commercials for the home shopping network. Some of my modeling and promotional photographs may be seen below. Of course models have a swimsuit shoot, so I included just one. I was much younger then, as we all were in the early 90’s! Musicians have to find other avenues of income when they’re not playing gigs. I just happened to live on the Gulf Coast of Florida at the time. Some of the best back drops in the world for film, movies, music videos, and just enjoying the beach!
While doing the modeling and acting thing, I hooked up with a couple of musicians and did some duo work. One musician in particular was a guy that went by “Kicker”. We played in the Ocala area of Florida for a private party (for a really good price). The funny thing about that gig was, after we had finished playing, the guy that hired us wanted to play some pool for money. I asked him if he was sure he wanted to do that, and he was insistent. After more than tripling my earnings from playing music in a very short time, he decided to call it a day. Sometimes in the music/entertainment world, the things that happen off stage can be just as entertaining as what happens while performing. Through the years of playing gigs and having slow nights, I had accumulated a lot of time on pool tables and had gotten pretty good.
I did the modeling, acting, side musician, and duo deals for another year. Then in 1995, I joined up with a family band (Black Diamond) in Riverview, Florida. We played pretty steady at the Showman’s Club until there was family dissension which broke the band up. I remember showing up for the gig, seeing my amp was over in the corner, and no band set up on stage. So I loaded it up, headed back home, and started looking for another band.
I continued to play as a side man, hit the jam sessions, talent contests, and started copyrighting and recording some of my original songs. One of the places I used to frequent was “Joyland Country Music Nightclub”. I met Lari White at a talent contest, (before she made it big in Nashville) and she told me that she thought I should have won that contest. I thought that was such a nice thing to say, and that this was a real classy lady! I was the first one to introduce “Friends in Low Places” to the club. I learned the song about a week after it came out. I just knew it was a cool song destined to be a hit. I was also the only one to date that played “Freebird” wireless, jumping off of the stage to walk around the whole club playing the leads note for note. At the time (the 90’s), country music was not the more southern rock influenced as it is today, so playing Lynyrd Skynyrd in a hard core country club might have been a little ahead of its time. Here are some pics of me playing live in Joyland in the 90’s. Wow it seems like the “fashion” hasn’t changed in 25 years!! Oh! Sorry, I forgot…I’m ahead of my time!! I still have the 1960 Gibson Les Paul Jr. seen in the photographs though. That guitar has seen more gigs in the 35 years that I’ve owned it, than I can remember. And I was the one playing it! LOL……
I let the facial hair grow out a little, but eventually lost the beard and kept the ‘stash’, and then around the mid to late 90’s, I connected with another family band (Ozark). Somehow we got it all together in a very short period of time and was out doing gigs all around the Gulf Coast area. We played a benefit for St. Jude’s, then on to a whole bunch of country gigs. We stayed pretty busy playing cover tunes even playing the “Strawberry Festival” at the Florida State Fairgrounds. It’s a pretty big deal in February in Florida when the strawberries get ripe. Shawn Norton, the lead singer wrote an awesome song about the fall of Savannah during the civil war. We recorded it but I don’t know if he did anything with it. We had a ton of promo pictures taken, and we really did look like a bunch of Outlaws!
Ozark was a great band but the Achilles heel for them was, it was not professionally managed. I was replaced by a lesser skilled guitarist (because of “connections”), and soon the band went downhill from there and broke up. I have no hard feelings and enjoyed the ride while I was on that train. Sometime down the road I even played a couple of gigs with the bass player’s (Don Phillips) band “Bullseye”.
In 1999, I started jamming with 4 other musicians: Tom-Guitar, John-Guitar, Rick-Bass, and Lee-Drums. We never really had a name, but we were a “Guitar Army” and played a lot of Southern Rock. When we finally got out and played 3 gigs (2 clubs and a Halloween party). I thought we might be a long standing band because one of the clubs we played, was one of the hardest in the area to get a gig in. It turned out to be just another part of the journey.
In 2003, I met Rob Emmett, (a bass player that was playing guitar at the time) who introduced me to Mark Evert. Mark had a band called the Dixie Rollers. I auditioned with them at a jam session, and as the journey continues, I started playing with them as their lead guitarist and additional lead vocalist. We had a great time, played steady, and gave the opportunity to really sink my teeth into some great songs. The bass (Tommy) player was a state champion bass player, and his brother (Timmy) was the Drummer. We predominantly played the Am Vets Post #8 in St. Pete on the weekends and as the host band for jam sessions on Sunday afternoon. It seemed like there was always a great turn out with that band. Then late in 2004 Mark got some terrible news about an illness in the family. The band disbanded and we all went our separate ways. Dave and Rob liked playing music with me and since we all got along really well, we decided to keep on playing music together. So what were we going to call this new three-piece outfit?
Next blog: The journey revisits the past…