1 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
2 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.
3 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.
4 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.
5 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.
6 What’s your favorite quotation?
“Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”
7 What’s your favorite thing about the Village of Pinecrest?
Saturday morning garage-sale shopping and Sunday morning breakfast at Wagons West Restaurant.