MAGNOLIA LANDING FIRST NIGHT – THE GARAGE BOYS – ISLAND HOPPER SONGWRITER FEST – THE RED COCONUT RV PARK
By Stephen A Duncan
Picture this… we moved into our new home overlooking the 6th Tee of the Magnolia Landing Golf Resort. Our first night in our new home we set up the bed in the “Master Bedroom”, found some not so fresh bed clothing also used to protect pictures on the way down here in the truck, and dressed the bed. We fall into bed exhausted, hoping for a good night sleep. I am awakened in the dark of night by automobile lights flooding the bedroom walls with light. What the hell are car lights doing outside our naked bedroom windows? I sit up about half way in the bed and notice a maintenance man on a very large lawnmower with “real” headlights at 5:30 in the morning mowing the grass on the 6th tee. Hello? After he makes about 10 passes over the green, he is off to… what… the 7th tee? Then, about five minutes later, another set of lights is working the sand trap on the 6th tee.
That startling experience was our first night in our new home. I can see I need to put up a blanket over the windows or something.
Then, in the light of day, the tractors come by and punch holes in the ground. How many vehicles does it take to care for the sixth tee at the Magnolia Landing golf course?
ON THE SOCIAL CALENDAR: I have been to two “Garage Guys” meetings. The boys from the neighborhood bring a lawn chair and their drink of choice to a neighbor’s garage and talk “Shop.” They hold these events in a different garage each Wednesday from 4-6 PM. A few light up a huge cigar. I make sure I’m sitting on the other side of the garage. What goes on in the Magnolia Landing “Weekly Garage Boys Meeting” stays in the Magnolia Landing garage.
I did not catch the name of the first man on left, Art Zazzaro, Bobby Yoxall, Bob Schuerman (I think), Ed Noonan, Len Methner
Larry Schultz, Ray Pratt, Jim Oyster
Ed Noonan, Len Methner, Mick Rodery, Toby Johnson
My drink of choice.
SOUTH WEST FLORIDA IS TRYING SOMETHING NEW. The event, or series of events, is titled Island Hopper Songwriter Fest. If I understand the promotion it will bring singer-songwriters, like Kristian Bush of Sugarland and Thompson Square, to the islands of Captiva and Fort Myers Beach during the fall of 2014. Island Hopper Songwriters Fest is sponsored by BMI, along with a local country radio station with the logo of iHeart Radio, the Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel, are hosting the events. The festival will take place over two weekends at popular island night spots. With dozens of free shows to select from, attendees will have the unique opportunity to experience the voices, back stories, and personalities of the artists in intimate island settings.
I have been knocking around South West Florida for a couple of weeks now. With that in mind I decided to take a break from unpacking boxes and jump in the yellow Solstice two seat hot rod and drive down to Fort Myers Beach to the Red Coconut RV Park. Songwriter and performer Ken Johnson and Andi Zack were performing.
I really didn’t know what to expect, but it took me longer to get to the Red Coconut than I had planned. I arrived late and was only able to hear a few songs. I was surprised at the stage or what was considered a stage. The Red Coconut is a Recreational Vehicle Park. The draw of the RV Park is you can park your RV on the beach and see the ocean from your unit. It’s the only RV Park on Fort Myers Beach that offers this quality view.
I found a place to park and walked to the beach side of the park and found about 100 or so people sitting in lawn chairs and on park benches listening to the music. The stage, if you want to call it that, was an RV concrete pad with electrical hook-up for the amplifier and microphones. Rather primitive to my way of thinking for what was billed on-line as a real experience. But I’m not a RV type of guy, so I was on a real steep learning curve here.
KEN JOHNSON, is a singer/songwriter from Birmingham, Alabama, based in Nashville, TN. His songs have been recorded by many major label country music and rock artists including Craig Morgan, Uncle Kracker, Clare Bowen, Josh Thompson, The Farm, Chris Janson, Tyler Farr, Joey and Rory, Rachel Bradshaw, Ty Stone, Josh Grider, Walt Wilkins, Todd Richard, Chris Rogers, Jason Greely and Paul Sanders along with Vince Gill, among others… Ken even wrote and released an album with Mr. Las Vegas himself, Wayne Newton!
ANDI ZACK, British Columbia, Canada, native Andi Zack moved to Nashville to pursue a career as a singer/songwriter after an impressive run as a cartoon voice over actress for Chinook Animation in Calgary Alberta. Andi can be “heard” performing in over 100 features released in several countries around the world.
Shortly after moving to music city, Andi interned for publisher Ginny Johnson and producer Billy Joe Walker. There she got to experience the music business in full swing, working day to day with artists like Travis Tritt, Tracy Byrd, Mark Chesnutt and Billy Ray Cyrus. Soon she landed her first major publishing deal which lead to her first top 20 hit in 2010 with a song she co-wrote called “Beer On The Table”, recorded by Columbia recording artist Josh Thompson. Josh’s debut single reached #16 after 36 weeks on the U.S. Billboard Country Chart. The song is also featured in the hit Nintendo WII game, “Country Dance”.
KEN JOHNSON, ANDI ZACK
KEN JOHNSON , ANDI ZACK
After the “Thank you… Thank you very much, thank you…” the show was over. And the audience was then encouraged to move across the street to a different ‘stage’ and experience open microphone night for aspiring song writers and performers.
Again, the stage was a slab of concrete next to the Red Coconut office. A string of red Christmas lights gave a little light as was the two light bulbs that acted as stage light. The performers had two microphones and a hook-up for their guitars, a pretty basic set-up for a stage.
First up, in front of about 30-50 folks sitting in lawn chairs… Claire Liparulo and Frankie. Claire sings in the area with a band called The Freecoasters. Claire told me she has cut her first album and it is set for release shortly. With the Snow Birds coming to South West Florida shortly the restaurants and bars need live entertainment to attract customers. She works steady during the winter months in South West Florida.
FRANKIE, CLAIRE LIPARULO
Steve and Lourie Star are out of Hood River, Oregon and travel the United States. They have made the trip to the Red Coconut RV Park as many as twenty times. They are a seasoned RV couple. Lourie Star has a web site with information about their life on the road.
STEVE & LOURIE STAR
Next up was Ray, Marie and Jim. They started with “How Much Time Did I Need.” Jim was on the bass fiddle. Ray was saying he and Marie were on his motorcycle one afternoon and a big pickup truck came up next to them at the stop light and raced his engine. Ray got home and decided to write a song about the experience. The song was titled “Cowgirl in a long red tail.”
JIM, RAY, MARIE
My shoulder was tapped by a woman who politely asked to move because I was blocking the view of the folks in the home behind me. I apologized and indicated I didn’t mean to be a problem. The woman smiled and said, “It was fine… just don’t block our view, please. I asked her name. She was quick with Bonnie Alright. Where are you from Bonnie? Pennsylvania! Where do you call home Bonnie? “Right here in the Red Coconut, we’ve been living here for 11 years. We love it here and don’t owe anybody anything…” I asked again… You live here in this park? “Yes, for the last eleven years. We love it here.”
Bonnie and her husband were in the excavating business back in Pennsylvania and all their friends were dying… just about everybody they knew. She told her husband we need to make a change in our life now. They sold everything and moved to South West Florida. Life for her and her husband is very good right now. She has great neighbors.
The gentleman living next door to her is 87 years and was having problems caring for himself. Family put him in a hospital and then rehab. Bonnie decided to go into his home and clean it up and make it presentable and told his family to let him come home on a weekend and see his home… that would give him encouragement to fight to get back to his own home.
Bonnie and I talked for about 20 minutes, just a wonderful woman. What started out as a negative, (Blocking their view) turned into a lovely moment. I asked her if I could take her photograph. She resisted and so I said how about a photograph of you and I together… She was okay with that picture.
Allen was next on the program.
Then Bob Williams sang a couple of songs.
Bob was involved recently in the SWFL Music 2014 Singer Songwriter competition at The Shell Factory in North Fort Myers.
It was getting late and I had an hour drive back to the sixth green at Magnolia Landing. The late night air was perfect for a top down convertible ride back home..The radio station I’m getting to know and like very much is called WAVV (Pronounced Wave) Radio. They play the standards and it’s what I will call easy listening radio. Life is good.