Gary hails from Philadelphia, Pa. And from San Francisco,
Maui, Las Vegas, and finally Key West.
He’s the quintessential traveling minstrel.
But – did you know he was also a TV star?
When Gary left for California many years ago, he moved
to San Francisco during the hippie movement. He joined a band, had
a lot of fun and stayed for 17 years. A flight to Honolulu was only $99 – he and
his friends made that trip several times. The draw of the tropical islands was strong and he eventually
moved there, where the water was beautiful and his love of boats began.
While in Hawaii, he went over to Maui. He was young, hanging out, playing on a pier when he met
some people who became friends. They took him to Blackbeards on Front Street, introduced him
to the owner and got a gig playing for a couple of bucks and poo poos (finger food). The funny
thing was that the owner only wanted him to play…no singing allowed.
A year and a half later, the mainland beckoned. So he came back to San Francisco, bought a sailboat
and played music, much as he does now. The difference is that at that time, he played a lot of his
own music – original pieces. Didn’t get paid much but never gave up.
Wanderlust hit again.
In Gary’s own words……
“Friends in Las Vegas needed a singer so off I went to the land of neon. We
clicked right away and found a nice niche. The band was basically a Greatful Dead cover
band and was the most fun you could have as a player. We had 8 people at times
and what a lot of fun……”
“Got a cab license to subsidize my income and fell into Taxi Cab Confessions for HBO.
So I quit the real cab company and just did the TV show for the next 9 months.”
“Taxi Cab Confessions was a great experience. At that time, I was developing
all these cover songs and playing in coffee house type places where acoustic
music was being played … so I was learning all kinds of songs and instruments…
when the show finished filming, I came to Florida on vacation.”
“Visited Key West and fell in love……heard all the guitar players and thought
“Hey, that’s me!”.
Unfortunately Gary had to go back to Las Vegas. It took him another
month or two to get back to Key West.
Back in Las Vegas, Gary kept thinking what a nice place that island was….so he decided to go back.
When he hit the island, he sold his art, mainly wire sculptor, and tried to play music.
“My first gig was at Blue Heaven and, man, I loved it! A great place and great people.”
He also played on the porch at a now defunct place called Grunts on Caroline Street.
Such a nice old Key West place.
Gary’s first audition with Captain Tony’s didn’t go so well. “My ears were clogged from snorkeling
and I couldn’t hear a thing, couldn’t sing worth a damn….sounded awful.”
So he didn’t go back.
A year and a half later, the new GM of Captain Tony’s, Randy Christ, heard him at Grunts, and
offered him a one day a week gig. He’s been there ever since and that was
9 years ago!
Although he’s never actually met Jimmy Buffett, he was in the bar while Gary was playing.
“The first song I played at Captain Tony’s was Uncle John’s Band and someone put a dollar in my tip jar
and said Jimmy does that song.” He had only heard a few Buffett songs so he took himself down
to the local music store and bought a couple of Buffett CD’s and listened.
now how crazy is that to an old hippy from California.”
At first, Gary liked Jimmy’s ballads – not so much the screwball stuff – until he started playing and
singing. He’d learn 2 or 3 new songs each week and add them to his play list.
That’s when he realized this is what Key West is…
Just singing and ordering drinks…..CLICK…..WOW…..I GET IT!
So now he’s a big fan….has collectibles, plays fairly regularly at Margaritaville,
and has been friends with Captain Tony* for 10 years.
Gary performed at Captain Tony’s 92nd Birthday Bash on August 10, 2008.
It was a great performance!
Not only did Gary sing, he told numerous stories about Captain Tony.
It was a wonderful tribute to the Captain.
wanted to so….play music…”
“Since I have been a traveler most of my life, I don’t look at visitors as tourists and never have.
To me we are all travelers. Now, whenever I play at Captain Tony’s, and someone is there that I know,
or a large group of people that come back to Key West…and to Captain Tony’s…..
Well, that’s the nicest compliment of all…….”
* Captain Tony passed away on November 1, 2008.
***original article – 2009
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