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St. Augustine Music Hall of Fame inducts inaugural class

St. Augustine Music Hall of Fame inducts inaugural class

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. â€" It’s been a haven for artists pretty much since its beginnings. Now the nation’s oldest city is finally recognizing its greatest musical contributors.

“It’s a small town but the music scene in [St. Augustine] is huge,” said Susan Green from Friends of St. Augustine Amphitheater on Sunday. It was a perfect fall day for the St. Augustine Music Hall of Fame to hold its inaugural induction.

“[Musicians] all come together when they need to, and they are all one because they love the music,” Green said.

Come together they did, as 11 acts and artists took their place among the pantheon. One of them is guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Elizabeth Roth, who has been performing in St. Augustine about 35 years. Roth described the ancient city as “a very diverse community of musicians”.

“When I moved here,” Roth recalled, “we all knew eac h other, but now there’s just so many more people.”

She said St. Augustine has grown with its musical masses.

“There are so many venues … there just seems to be a place for everybody.”

And now, a place for the greatest among them. The inaugural class is as follows, described by co-organizer Jim Stafford of Eclipse Recording Studios:

1. The Driftwoods are a musical family of friends who perform bluegrass music in Northern Florida and the Southeast. The four members are Eric Searcy on the banjo and dobro, Gabriel Valla on mandolin and guitar, Elisabeth Williamson on rhythm guitar and frailed banjo and Lon Williamson on the upright bass. Everyone sings and each member brings many years of performing experience to the stage as well as a great variety of songs and styles. From their notable originals to bluegrass, jazz, swing and old-time tunes, their song variety is one of the hallmarks of their stage presentation. They appear at Creeks ide Dinery in St. Augustine on the first and third Sunday of every month, with few exceptions. Please visit to find out more.

2. Don “Oja" Dunaway is a fixture at the Milltop Tavern, where he has performed and/or booked talent for the last 42 years. His best-known song, Kennesaw Line, is about a soldier’s death, which was recorded by several other artists and relates back to Don’s years of uncovering Civil War artifacts and knowledge. He played in folk-rock trio Chuffa with brother Barry (38 Special, Pat Travers, Yngwie Malmsteen) and sister Sharon.

3. The First National Rotagilla Band started out wanting to be like Crosby, Stills & Nash or the Kingston Trio, but quickly found that their strength lay in high energy music and making people laugh. Slapstick and satire became their signature and nothing seemed sacred. They were even dubbed “The Marx Bros of Rock” by one newspaper. They entere d a statewide rock concert without so much as a drummer or electric instrument. Incredibly, they won it, and it was off to the races. They became goodwill ambassadors for St. Augustine long before the town earnestly pursued tourism. They played more tha 100 colleges, appeared on NBC’s Midnight Special, and did television in Omaha, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Houston, and Jacksonville. During their time on the road they shared the stage with Dr. Hook, Steve Martin, Cheech & Chong, Firefall, Little River Band, Orleans, Mel Tillis, the Bellamy Brothers, and other name acts. Two trips to the Troubadour in L.A., shows at El Mocambo in Toronto, the Sahara in Las Vegas, and numerous nightclubs across the nation and Canada kept them busy. When off the road they played regularly at the Tradewinds.

4. The Folksters began as Art & Fred after meeting at the Tradewinds. Art was an insurance salesman and Fred was a cop. They both gave up their jobs to p ursue a new career in Folk Music. While performing as Art & Fred, again at the Tradewinds, they met Kenny Hodges, who the quit his job as a salesman and the Folksters were born. Soon after, Paul Champion, joined to complete the quartet. They signed with Mercury Records and performed on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson twice in 1962. Later, Fred, now Nigel Pickering, along with Kenny Hodges, played with Spanky McFarlane in Spanky and Our Gang eight times on the Ed Sullivan Show, and even did a command performance before the Queen of England.

5. Bob Patterson decided to make St Augustine his home in the late 1960's. He signed a recording contract with Vanguard Records back in those days and toured all over the country. He is a co-founder of the Gamble Rogers Festival and has served as the events artistic director for 24 years. He was awarded the “Fellow Man and Mother Earth Award” by the Stetson Kennedy Foundation, a Lifetime Achievement Awar d from the Florida Storytelling Association, and was nominated for a Florida Folk Heritage Award. He has won awards for his songwriting, including the Best Florida Song Contest. He has organized and performed at countless fundraising events.

6. Red River Band has been performing for 35 years. They have continuously headlined every major local event, including The Cathedral Parish Festival, Blue Crab Festival, and the St Ambrose Festival, just to name a few. Over the years many fine musicians have played in the band, including Jonny Pellicer, Lori Pellicer, Jody Stratton, Tommy Hurley, Ray Satterfield, Artimus Pyle, James Wilson, Doug Dennis, T.R. Zielinski, Mike Bennett, and Sam Candler.

7. Gamble Rogers was known to all as Florida's Troubadour. The beloved raconteur, environmentalist and down-home philosopher ushered in a renaissance of folk music and storytelling that touched and humored the nation. Known for his intricate finger-picking guitar style and rapid-fire stage act, Gamble Rogers was one a kind. His mythical Oklawaha County will forever be enshrined in the annals of Florida folklore. More than an entertainer, Gamble was the consummate Southern gentleman and humanitarian. In the end, he gave his own life to save another. While he traveled the country in his fastback Mustang spreading mirth and merriment, it was St. Augustine that was his home. From his earliest days at the Tradewinds Tropical Lounge, Gamble Rogers help define the Ancient City which he poignantly described as "a place of writers and artists, fools and fishermen”.

8. Elizabeth Roth has been entertaining professionally in clubs throughout Northeast Florida for the last 30-plus years. She came to St Augustine in the summer of 1985 to perform in the play Cross and Sword, at the Amphitheatre. She has been playing music since age 13, including solo gigs around St Augustine more than 35 years. Her 2003 a lbum release, Like the David, was named “Best Local CD of 2003” in Folio's Best of Jax reader poll. She performs several times a week as a solo guitarist/vocalist, and is lead vocalist and bass guitarist in a popular local classic rock trio called The Grapes of Roth. A 2006 graduate of Stetson University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music (classical guitar), she has self-produced an award-winning CD of original music. Since 2003 Roth has been employed as an adjunct music instructor at Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind, giving private lessons and also serving as assistant director of the after-school blind high school performance group “Outtasight”. In 2016 she was appointed director of N’Vision, the middle school feeder program to Outtasight.

9. Those Guys -- Who knew that a chance offer to play as an acoustic duo on Labor Day weekend 1992 at a little bar in Ja x Beach (something Chris & Walt had never done despite playing the NY, NJ, PA club scene for a decade) would evolve into a St. Augustine-based band full of great musicians, recordings, and performances? The list of musicians who have been in the band, played gigs, or made guest appearances with the band is too long to name, but includes Rock & Roll Hall of Famers, world-famous artists, and local legends. They’ve opened for many major acts. For more than 26 years, Those Guys have performed regularly every week in St. Augustine, and continue to do so to this day.

10. John Westbrook -- John was a native son of St. Augustine. He graduated from St. Augustine High School, then studied at St. Johns River Comminity College and at FSU before completing his BS in business at Florida Atlantic University.

John studied piano during childhood, then learned guitar and banjo as a member of The Wanderers while at SAHS. He continued his love of music throughout his life, becoming an accomplished songwriter as well as a versatile performer. He loved to do his own songs, but he would hold a crowd in the palm of his hand with covers from Roy Orbison to Ray Charles.

11. Tradewinds Tropical Lounge/Leonard Family (In-The-Biz Award)

  • The Leonard family first partook in Tradewinds ownership in 1954 (Elizabeth Leonard Clark)
  • After a change in ownership, it came back to the Leonard family (Duke Leonard) in 1961
  • Then located at One Aviles Street
  • Moved to current location on Charlotte Street in 1964
  • Hosted all 10 inductees at one time or another, plus national names including Jimmy Buffett, Doc Watson, The Platters, The Coasters, and The Byrds

The St. Augustine Music Hall of Fame will induct its second class in October 2019. To nominate an act or artist, click here.

© 2018 WTLVSource: Google News Music

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