7 questions with Graham Wood Drout, Musician

What is your artistic background?

I am an artist, musician, poet, songwriter and bon vivant, but I am best known as the founder and band leader of Tobacco Road’s legendary house band, Iko-Iko. My band rocked that house for over 30 years starting in 1980, sharing the stage with a who’s who of the best of the blues—people like John Lee Hooker, Albert King, Dr. John and on and on and on. The whole story can be found at iko-iko.com

What is your favorite memory of Tobacco Road, the 100-year-old Miami bar that closed its doors in 2014?

In 1980, I got the job as front man for the band that was to become Iko-Iko because the singer’s wife wouldn’t let him work there. The hours were too late (4 a.m.) and the neighborhood was too dangerous. I was so excited. It was my first real gig. It was pretty low-down, didn’t pay much, and I loved it. In the years to follow, I would play there well over 5,000 times. In November 2014, I played the very last set to a very packed house. When I finished, they locked the doors, and two weeks later, Miami’s oldest bar went under the wrecking ball.

How do you bring the blues in Pinecrest?

I never moved to the Village of Pinecrest. Pinecrest moved to me. In 1987, I bought a very nice little duplex in Sunniland, Florida. Raised my family here on one side with my mom on the other. I had been here almost 10 years when the Village of Pinecrest was incorporated in March of 1996.

Where are you from?

I was born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1953. Raised up in Houston, Texas, and arrived in Miami in the fall of 1966. I loved living in South Dade and was very disappointed when, in 1968, my dad informed me that we were moving to Brazil. I loved my three years in Rio. I read a thousand books, learned to play the guitar, got involved with the visual arts, creative writing and music appreciation from the blues to bossa nova.

I graduated from Escola Americana do Rio de Janeiro in 1971 and attended Miami Dade College and finally graduated with a bachelor’s of fine arts in art from Florida International University. The head of my art department, fellow Pinecrestonian Jim Cooper, lives right behind me.

Would you tell us something that no one knows about you?

I have to be listening to music if I want to fall asleep at night.

What’s your favorite quotation?

“Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”

—Winston Churchill

What’s your favorite thing about the Village of Pinecrest?

Saturday morning garage-sale shopping and Sunday morning breakfast at Wagons West Restaurant.

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