1970s Fort Walton Beach Club Scene

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by misterturtlehead, Apr 20, 2015.

  1. misterturtlehead

    misterturtlehead Member

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    A few days ago I watched this talk about the rise and decline of the Miracle Strip AKA the Redneck Riviera.


    He mentions two clubs, one that is still there, the Flora-Bama in Perdido Key, Florida, and one that was around until the early 2000s, the Green Knight in Destin, Florida.
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    The Trashy White Band was the house band at the Green Knight from the 1970s into the 1990s. Their guitar player in the 1980s was the late Wayne Kolbeck from Alabama. Occasionally Jeff Cook of the band Alabama played with the Trashy White Band. Wayne Kolbeck knew Alvy Crunschlechter who played guitar along the Redneck Riviera, the rest of the Florida panhandle, and in southeast Alabama in the 1980s. Wayne and Alvy were two of the best guitar players who were playing music in that area at that time. Another was Bert Colwell who sometimes played with the Trashy White Band as well as his own band. Bert is still living in the Fort Walton Beach area and plays with Deep South Express.

    Not long ago I was doing some Google searches looking for pictures of real honky tonks and nightclubs and the musicians who played in them. There weren't many. Though there were lots of sites about 1960s garage bands from every state. Not much mention of the 1970s. But I did find this series of pictures of 1970s Fort Walton Beach nightlife. There are pictures of bands, a couple bars, musicians, and entertainers. There were several strip joints along the Miracle Strip at that time.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/69799548@N00/sets/1271101/with/58748097/

    Although I am from Alabama I am too young to have played around Fort Walton Beach in the 1970s. But I was playing all over the Florida panhandle and southeast Alabama in the 1980s. There was still a lot going on along the Miracle Strip at that time. The area wasn't as built up with condominiums back then. But there were lots of places to play music. Many bars had the same band several nights a week. Some clubs had house bands. When I moved to Fort Walton Beach in 1983 the house band at the King's Den, pictured in the above photo series, had been playing there five or six nights a week for eight or nine years. There were several military bases in the area that had live bands in their Officer's, NCO, and Enlisted clubs- Eglin AFB, Tyndall AFB in Panama City, and in Alabama Fort Rucker, Maxwell, and Gunter. The Holiday Inns and Ramada Inns also had live music. There were also lots of bars scattered around the Florida panhandle and in southeast Alabama. Some were sketchy. Many weren't. But most of them had a nice selection of regulars and characters to observe.

    Most of those bars are no longer there. Other than the Flora-Bama the only ones I can think of that is still around and still has live music are the Hog's Breath in Destin, FL, Cowboys in Dothan, AL, and the Double Branch in Troy, Alabama. Troy isn't in the panhandle. But lots of Florida musicians traveled to Alabama to play music. And many Alabama musicians, especially those that lived in dry counties, went to the Florida panhandle to work. A few musicians that I knew around Dothan, Alabama moved to Panama City Beach to play music full time.

    Some of the bars along the Redneck Riviera that I remember were the Garrett Brothers Theater, the Little Bar, the Bowery, Crow's Nest, Nero's Nook, Liollio's, King's Den, Sil's Little Nashville which later became an Eagles Club, Jimmie's Hideaway, El Villas, the Fireside, Old Keg, and around Niceville, Florida Joe's Place, Roman Gardens, Cash's, and the Friendly Tavern. For awhile in the 1980s Charles Linton's band The Entertainers had a house gig at Roman Gardens. Roger Strickland's band Prizm also played at Roman Gardens, Joe's Place, and Jimmie's Hideaway, and at some of the military base clubs. I played with Prizm for a short time in about 1986. Po Boy Cobb & The Circle C Cowboys was one of the many house bands at El Villas. Billy Jackson also played at El Villas. For awhile Gene Carroll and Kenny Jenwright played at Jimmie's Hideaway. Landis Rich is another musician who played lots of clubs around Destin and Fort Walton Beach.

    The Scene, where Nyman Furr & The Little Juice Band had a house gig in the 1970s, burned down in 1979. Nyman Furr & The Little Juice Band also played at the Fireside, the Bowery, Sil's Little Nashville, Mr. B's in DeFuniak Springs, and the Dinner Bell in Florala, Alabama.

    Here is a photo of Nyman Furr & The Little Juice Band from about 1982.
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    L to R: Landis Rich, Moe Jackson, Wolf Manz, Rich Sturgeone, Nyman Furr

    Landis Rich, Moe Jackson, and Nyman Furr have passed on. Moe Jackson was playing music around Daytona with the Moe Jackson Blues Band until just a few years ago. I played with Nyman in 1983. By this time Landis Rich was no longer in the band but was still playing music in the Fort Walton Beach area. He eventually moved to Manatee County, Florida. Wolf Manz was playing music around Bristol, VA in the late 1980s. Rich Sturgeone is still playing music around Charleston, SC. Nyman played around FWB on and off until his death in 2007.


    Mr. B's in DeFuniak Springs, Florida was one of the joints where lots of working bands played. Mr. B's had the same band Wednesday through Saturday. The Dinner Bell in Florala, Alabama, just over the state line, had bands five nights a week and had a house that the bands that played there stayed in. The Four Sons in Opp, Alabama also had the same band several nights a week and had a trailer for the bands to stay in.

    Some of the other clubs I remember in the Florida panhandle and in southeast Alabama were the Cat's Eye in Vernon, FL, Guys & Dolls in Graceville, FL, the Long Branch in Darlington, FL, the Horseshoe in Quincy, FL, Mr. C's in Opp, AL, the C&C Club in Andalusia, AL, King's Inn and the Red Barn in Dothan, AL, Gilly's in Hinesville, GA, and the Red Carpet in Gordon, AL. But there were dozens, maybe hundreds, more with names I can't remember right now.

    The C&C Club, Mr. C's, the Long Branch, and the Red Carpet were cut and shoot bars. I don't remember any bars that had chicken wire in front of the stage. But lots of bars had a railing that you could set your drink on. Most of those bars had stages. And the cut and shoot bars paid as well as a lot of suburban strip mall restaurant lounges do now.

    I remember playing a lot of country music, even in many of the nicer clubs. I don't remember lots of requests for "Mustang Sally", though some bands played it as well as "Brown Eyed Girl". Many of the bands were playing pop and country favorites of the time. I don't remember any of the clubs along the strip having hard rock bands. But some of the clubs off the strip did. What there wasn't was blues, unless one went to some of the black social clubs that were scattered around. But most of them were in Alabama. Those bars weren't advertised in the paper.

    I moved from the area in 1989. Sometime in the 1990s I drove through Panama City Beach. It had changed a lot. There weren't as many of the cool looking roadside motels that I remembered. Long stretches of road that were once open beaches were now filled with high rising condominiums.

    In a way I wish a lot of those kinds of bars were still around. I would probably be playing in them. But I am more concerned about kids these days. In a perfect world they would also get to play music in the same bar several nights a week until three or four or five in the morning.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2015
  2. docgorpon

    docgorpon Member

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    I am a native Floridian, and I'm completely fascinated by this kind of stuff. I loooove the look of old 50s/60s Florida. And I have this super romantic notion of non-famous, working bands from the state through the 70s. It's been a fantasy of mine for the last several years to just play beaches and out-of-the-way rural bars around the state. Thanks for posting.
     
  3. Bob Maximus

    Bob Maximus Silver Supporting Member

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    Great post man! I'm an area frequenter since the 80's. I know some guys from that area that play around Nashville, including Guthrie Trappe. Its great to read about the history of a cool place like that.

    I keep seeing bars in Fort Walton that try to bring back live music on occasion, but it never seems to stick. AJ's in Destin has bands that are pretty good much of the time.
     
  4. misterturtlehead

    misterturtlehead Member

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    A couple more bars I remember were the Moonlighter and the Oasis in Wicksburg, Alabama on the road between Enterprise and Dothan, Alabama. Both were cut and shoot bars. But the Oasis was a little bit fancier and bigger than the Moonlighter. The Moonlighter was directly across the street from the Oasis. The Oasis eventually became a strip joint.

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    Roger Strickland who had a band, Prizm, that played music around Fort Walton Beach in the 1980s.
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    I found this record in a thrift store in Falls Church, Virginia a couple years ago. Bert Colwell moved to Fort Walton Beach from Hazzard County, Kentucky to play music in the late 1960s or early 1970s. A bass player from Hazzard County, Dru Baird, eventually moved to Fort Walton Beach to play music with him.
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  5. misterturtlehead

    misterturtlehead Member

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    Phil Calhoun, who owned the Green Knight, opened up another place around 2011, Calhoun's Pub & Grub. A new version of the Trashy White Band, with Bert Colwell on guitar, played there. I don't think it is still open. Bert plays with drummer Brent Bledsoe and bass player Kenny Jenwright in a band called Deep South Express. I think they play every other Saturday at the VFW in Fort Walton Beach. I played a few gigs with Brent around Fort Walton Beach and on the road in about 1988. Kenny Jenwright played a lot at Jimmie's Hideaway with Gene Carroll in the mid-1980s. Kenny was playing a Gretsch Monkees guitar.
     
  6. scottlr

    scottlr Member

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    I played for 2 weeks in a club in Ft. Walton Beach in 1974. Had a great time there, too. I can't recall the name of the club, but it was in town, and half of the building was a liquor store IIRC. Stayed at the Blue Horizon Motel right on the beach. A whole LOT of fine women there.

    Also played at Machine-gun Kelly's in Pensacola the week after, then a club I don't recall in Pascagoula MS the next week. Then the Airman's club and NCO club at Keesler AFB in Biloxi.
     
  7. misterturtlehead

    misterturtlehead Member

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    El Villas was one half bar half liquor store in Fort Walton Beach. It was on Mary Esther Cutoff.

    I also played at Keesler AFB.
     
  8. GuitarsFromMars

    GuitarsFromMars Member

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    I played some gigs with Moe Jackson in Daytona when I lived there in 1999-2001.
     
  9. Bob Maximus

    Bob Maximus Silver Supporting Member

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    It sure was a good time when bands roamed the coast like that! Maybe the pendulum will swing back someday. BTW, I played cowboys in Dothan several times. Its funny that we had to keep the volume down to a hundred decibals or so, but the break music was crankin!
     
  10. misterturtlehead

    misterturtlehead Member

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    I met Moe in 1982 when he was playing guitar with Nyman Furr & The Little Juice Band at Mr. B's in DeFuniak Springs, FL. Moe told me that Po Boy Cobb & The Circle C Cowboys had a house gig at El Villas in Fort Walton Beach and they needed a guitar player. I went down, sat in, and got the gig. It turned out that Moe was the bass player on those gigs for a couple weeks. He got fired when he decided to play pedal steel for a song and made a whole bunch of noise. But soon after that he was playing with Nyman Furr again. A couple months later Moe was taking a job with a different band. I ended up playing guitar with Nyman Furr & The Little Juice Band. A few months later Moe wanted me to play bass with him in his band. We had one practice. But he was offered a job with Demetriss Tapp who had a house job at a lounge in Destin. That was the last time I saw Moe. It wasn't until the internet when I Googled his name that I found out he was playing blues around Tampa and Daytona.

    I bought an old white Stratocaster from Moe.

    Moe was the first cat I saw play blues live. He was also the only person I knew besides myself who had blues records.
     
  11. Jordan Cobb

    Jordan Cobb Member

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    I was doing some Googling tonight, about the Green Knight, and I found this post. I am Po Boy's (Wayne's) grandson. I enjoyed reading these stories about him.
     
    misterturtlehead likes this.

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