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Kala Uke Arrtists The Atomic Sharks

Kala Ukulele Artists “The Atomic Sharks”

I (Bry) enjoy getting to know ukulele musicians and Kala uke players even more so.  I have interviewed several Kala musicians but this is the first duo/band that I have interviewed together. As I also play “island music” and ukulele (as well as playing occasionally for kids)… I was looking forward to getting to know the Atomic Sharks. Thanks, guys, for answering these questions!

The Atomic Sharks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bio: from their website www.atomicsharks.com

The Atomic Sharks are Kris Hensler and Kenny Taylor.

 

Both Kenny and Kris share a passion for kids and music education. The Sharks were a perfect opportunity for both of them to combine their musical assets into one giant feeding frenzy of fun and mayhem. There’s one thing that the Sharks love as much as making great island music…and that’s teaching kids how to do it too. As musical ambassadors for Kala Brand Music Company, Kenny and Kris love to show kids how to have a great time while playing the ukulele.

1) Where is home for you at the moment?

Both born and bred in Fort Wayne, Indiana… although I’ve (Kris) spent time in Southern California and Chicago. We’ve both logged plenty of miles on the road in the 80’s and early 90’s.

2) What were your earliest/current musical influences?

Kris Hensler:

I started playing drums when I was 4 years old. My uncle was a jazz drummer in and around Chicago back in the ’50’s so I was drawn to performers like Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa.

As a teenager I got interested in songwriting and started to study the craft by listening to people like Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, James Taylor, and later on, Sting. The best lesson I learned from those guys was to stay out of the way of a good song. You should be able to strip away all of the glitter and ego and still be left with a compelling statement, whether it be musical or lyrical.

These days I’m a big fan of the Zac Brown Band. Good songwriting and great musicianship.

For pure vocal beauty, I love listening to Darius Rucker. He’s got one of those rare voices that I never get tired of hearing. I always liked him in Hooty but even more now that he’s on his own.

And of course Jimmy Buffet. Even though I love his songwriting and live shows, what I really aspire to is his ability to turn his passion into a viable business. Brilliant!

Kenny Taylor:

My earliest influences were the country western music played by my father, a fiddle player, the jazz my much older brother played on records, and seeing the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show. Yes, I remember it and I had just turned 3.

3) When did you start playing the uke?

Kris Hensler:

I started playing in late 2002. I bought myself a cheap 50 dollar uke for Christmas. So right at 11 years.  

Kenny Taylor:

I got to the uke late in life, when I was 30 yrs old. I started with a baritone, then a soprano, and then about 15 more sopranos over the years. I used them for theatrical and studio work. My 1990’s rockabilly band the Blue Moon Boys, featuring Nic Roulette, used the uke on several albums. We toured in a van a lot and a cheap ukulele I bought became the “bandvan” uke. Everybody in the band learned how to play it and countless musicians had a go at it, including cowboy band, Riders in the Sky and Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers (both of whom signed it).

4) What Kala ukes are you currently playing?

I (Kris) play an all Mahogany Tenor with cutaway. The model is K-SMHTE – C.

Kenny plays the Tenor Acacia with cutaway.

We also bring several of the Makala ukes to lives shows so kids can play them. We often do a short session to show kids a few uke basics.

Atomic Sharks

5) Any current musical projects you would like to tell us about (tours/CD’s)?

We are currently working on new material for the Atomic Sharks’ first CD. We’re still working on a title for the CD, although we’ll be releasing several of the songs as singles online before the end of 2013. The first single off the new CD will be “Smile.” It features Kenny playing the Tenor Ukulele like a Lap Steel.

We’re also working with WTIU in Bloomington on a video project. It’s a series of 12 music videos that will be aired on PBS stations in the Midwest as part of a series for kids called the “Friday Zone”.

In addition to that, we’re also producing a series of 10 short music education spots that will air on PBS stations across the country sometime in 2014.

There are a few other projects in the early stages that I can’t talk about just yet. We work with a company called Creative Licensing Group (CLG). Our ongoing relationship with them will help us to extend the Shark brand around the globe in the next several years.

Plus live performances throughout the year.

2014 will be a busy year for the Sharks.

6) Any question that you wished someone would ask but never has? With answer of course 😉

Kris Hensler:

Nobody has ever asked WHY I write music. I hear many people who profess to be songwriters say things like, “well, I just write for myself and if people like it then that’s great.” I don’t subscribe to that at all. And I don’t think too many others really do either. I just think that’s the answer they want people to hear. I write music because I have something that I want to share with the rest of the world. I want to write that ONE song that someone remembers 20 years from now and thinks to themselves…hey, that was a really catchy tune. If that happens even once, I’ll be a happy man.

Parrot Island Band update: It slows up a bit for us in the cooler months but this gives us time to record a few of our original songs.  I have a couple of songs to add congas and background vocals and we should have our CD “Parrot Island Ukulele” out early in 2014.

Thanksgiving is only a couple of days away… we thank all of you who have listened to us and encouraged us this year… Have a blessed holiday season and I (Bry) hope we see you in 2014, if not before.

Blessings and beaches,

Bry Harris

Kala Uke Artist

www.parrotislandband.com

Kala ukulele Bry

 

Kala Ukulele endorsing artist Jesse Daniel Edwards

Kala Ukulele endorsing artist Jesse Daniel Edwards (Jay Smart of the Smart Brothers)

I have enjoyed getting to know some of the Kala Ukulele artists and although I am almost done with those I have been able to reach so far, I hope I will catch up with some more over time. Thanks to Jesse Daniel Edwards (Jay Smart of the Smart Brothers) for giving us a chance to get to know him a little better.

Bio (taken from jessedanieledwards.com/about/)

Kala artist Jesse Daniel Edwards

Jesse Edwards' first language was music.

"I loved hearing my granddad sing songs from the "Sound of Music" while strumming his ancient uke. I learned to play by watching and listening at his feet at the ripe old age of 4."
Born with a love of music and a natural talent for singing and picking up pretty much any instrument he got his hands on, Jesse studied guitar, bass, drums, piano, clarinet, saxophone, and the oboe growing up. In Jesse's teen years, his classical training clashed with his many punk and heavy metal bands. Since then, he has adopted a unique blend of folk and roots music as his characteristic style.

"I spent a lot of time touring around the US with my brother and we cut our teeth in towns like Nashville and Atlanta. As a result, the music of the region, specifically the Southern roots and folk music of Appalachia have really affected me artistically," Jesse says of his inspiration and sound.

Jesse has recorded 3 nationally-released albums, 4 solo albums, and 2 live albums – as well as music for an independent film. He has toured professionally on the festival and college circuits for the past 4 years in the US and abroad where he has shared the stage with notable acts including Matt Costa, John Prine, Roger Clyne, & The Squirrel Nut Zippers. His award-winning songs have been featured in radio, TV, and film and are available on ITunes, Amazon, Verizon V-Cast, and Napster. He lives in Carlsbad, CA, and is an officially endorsed Kala Ukulele artist.

 

1) Where is home for you at the moment?

“Current home: Running Springs, CA”

2) What were your earliest/ and current musical influences?

“Earliest musical influences: gospel and traditional music. It was all my brothers, sisters and I were allowed to listen to.”

3) When did you start playing the Uke?

“Started on the uke at age 6, listening and watching at my granddad’s feet as he played old family songs.”

4) What Kala Ukes are you currently playing?

“I play a Kala tenor.”

Kala artist JaySmart

 

 

 

 

 

 

5) Any current musical projects you would like to tell us about (tours/CD's)?

“Not on the road at the moment; heading in to the studio though to work on an acoustic album which will be out in the summer.”

6) Any question that you wished someone would ask but never has? with answer of course;-)

“Have you ever performed Bohemian Rhapsody on solo Uke? The answer: hell yes.”

You can find Jesse at jessedanieledwards.com

www.facebook.com/thesmartbrothers

Here at the Parrot Island Band, Linda (my wife and steel pan player) and I had a fun day playing at a surprise wedding shower and tomorrow we play for a home school prom (we will provide the music while the students are having pictures taken) and then I get to share a few “words of wisdom” to the students between dinner and their dance… still trying to figure out how to work the Uke into this part but sure I’ll think of something. 😉 Until next week….

Beaches and blessings,

Bry Harris

Kala Uke Artist

www.parrotislandband.com

Kala ukulele Bry aa

Low G Aquila String Review

Low G Aquila String Review

Low G Aquila String Review.  I received a low G Aquila string in the mail a couple of weeks ago to try on my Eddy Finn ukulele. Ukuleles are generally strung with a high G string (in the progression of GCEA strings), but the low G string is an octave lower.

Edyy Finn uke set up with low G

I put the low G Aguila string on my Eddy Finn Spruce ukulele (spruce top/mahogany back and sides). The Eddy Finn Spruce ukulele is sometimes referred to as a “guitar player’s ukulele”. My Eddy Finn uke has a great look with a nice cutaway and its coloring is similar to my Martin acoustic guitar. It also has a pickup so that I can play it with our band (Parrot Island Band; a Trop Rock/Jimmy Buffett tribute band in Atlanta, Georgia). While many traditionalists are not fans of pickups in ukuleles, the one that Eddy Finn uses provides a great sound for the types of events we play (maybe another trait that guitarists find appealing?).

So how does the low G string setup sound?  The traditional tuning (high G,CEA) provides a brighter sound that is usually associated with the ukulele. With the low G tuning, the ukulele has a lower top end sound (more bass sounding).

Some people say that the low G string makes the ukulele sound more like a guitar (making it a great compliment to the Eddy Finn Spruce ukulele). In playing with the low G set up, I’m not sure I would say it sounds more like a guitar… but it does set the ukulele up to play more like a guitar with the strings going from low (G) to high (A). This also gives more notes on the lower end and a more ‘mellow” sound (you can find a more in-depth discussion on the topic here).

How do I like the low G setup? I think it sounds great! I also picked up an Eddy Finn Bamboo uke (I’ll share some thoughts on this beauty in another blog post J) that I will keep as my high G string setup. One lesson I learned in trying out the low G string… don’t be afraid to experiment!

While I’m at it, stop by and check out the Eddy Finn Spruce Tenor giveaway at www.eddyfinnukes.com … running now until October 31stThis message brought to you by Bry Harris, an Eddy Finn Ukulele Ambassador (endorsing artist/musician) 😉

 

Beaches and blessings,

Bry

Old Man and the Sea

 

Old Man and the Sea

Old Man and the Sea. They say that “a picture is worth a thousand words”, so I’ll keep this post short.:) This picture was taken a few weeks ago while we (the Parrot Island Band, a Jimmy Buffett Tribute Band from Atlanta, Georgia) were in St. Augustine, Florida. We played as part of the A1A Beaches Parrot Head Club’s Beach Bash event.

Bry Harris play Eddy Finn Ukele to relax

As you can tell by the smile on my face, I love sitting on the beach… I also love playing my Eddy Finn Ukulele (or uke for short).  What better than to combine the two and sit by the ocean, reflect on the beauty and play a few songs… I did… as Jimmy Buffett sings, “I want to go back”… “Someday, I will”…

Beaches and blessings

Uncle Jim Rocks Alabama Elementary School

Uncle Jim Rocks Alabama Elementary School

Uncle Jim (bass player for Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer band) rocks Alabama elementary school with help from a Parrot Island Band lead singer and a Parrothead councilman.

(Today's post is by Derek Raulerson, friend of the Parrot Island Band – a Trop Rock Jimmy Buffett Tribute Band from Atlanta, Georgia.  Derek and Bry met a couple of years ago when the Parrot Island Band played an event for the summer reading program in Jacksonville, Alabama.  Since then Derek and Bry have become good friends and occasional golfing buddies… both share a love of all things Jimmy Buffett).

Jim Mayer hanging out with Bry Harris of the Parrot Island Band

It’s hump day on the mainland and a lot has been going on!  Jim Mayer, known to kids as “Uncle Jim” and to adults as the bass player for Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band brought his anti-bullying message (www.unclejimrocks.com) and IM4U program to 818 elementary students with the help of Parrot Island Band Head Parrot Bry Harris.  Bringing Mayer to Kitty Stone Elementary was the result of a few coincidences and the legwork of Councilman & Parrothead  Derek Raulerson, who had dealt with a friend's child’s encounter with a bully at school. The issue was already on his mind when none other than Bry Harris recommended Mayer’s campaign to bring awareness to anti-bullying across the nation. After checking out the program, Raulerson took the idea to Kitty Stone Elementary Principal Christy Hamilton and district administration, ultimately securing $1,500 from the city to pay for the show, which Raulerson said covered Mayer’s expenses.

Derek and Jim looking for Bry and the Parrot Island Band?

Fourth-grader Deandre Sigler said that message was the most interesting part of the program, learning what kids can do to help, “like telling people and reporting it if something’s wrong.” “You need to tell somebody,” Mayer told them. “This is really important because kids all over the country are getting hurt because nobody’s speaking up.” Deandre had never heard of cyber-bullying until Friday, but now he knows to be cautious before “you go online or text someone, and you hurt somebody’s feelings.” Mayer told students that once they hit send, they can’t take it back. A chorus of “Whoa!” met Mayer’s explanation of how something goes viral, of how quickly one message to a friend can turn into 125 quickly.

Conga Line to Parrot Island

A sea of children danced around a man with a guitar and broccoli hat last Friday morning at Kitty Stone Elementary School in Jacksonville, AL, probably not realizing who stood before them.  Those impressionable minds are comparable to sponges soaking up life’s lessons from an entertainer who travels the world bringing us a form of escapism.  Some would say “I don’t know and I don’t care” (Jimmy Buffett/Jim Mayer) but with the help of the coconut telegraph and Bry Harris, Buffett’s bass player was brought to a small town in Northeast Alabama. Isn’t it amazing how our love for tropical climates, cheeseburgers in paradise and Jimmy Buffett can bring us together and make things transpire?  Hope to see you in Atlanta next month for the largest Parrothead gathering in the southeast, we will be the ones under a mango tree!

Jim Mayer can play with Parrot Island Band any time

What are YOU good at?

What are YOU good at?

I was talking with some elementary school children this week and I asked them what they were good at. One said “dancing”, another “playing” and after a few more answers, one little girl said confidently, “singing!”

I asked the little girl how she knew she was good at singing. She said she knew she was a good singer because she had fun doing it… what a great answer!

What are YOU good at?

Think of how many adults have quit singing, dancing, painting, etc. because someone told them when they were younger that they weren’t good at it. What if we redefined what success is, as it relates to our hobbies, talents or passions?

Now I’m not suggesting that everyone who enjoys singing should be on American Idol, but we shouldn’t be afraid to pursue activities we enjoy, simply for the joy these activities bring.

Don't Quit listening to Parrot Island Band

I was recently at a conference called the Quitter Conference by Jon Acuff. Jon not only encourages people to follow their dreams but also to leverage their “day jobs” in order to pursue those things we love to do. In some ways, this was a Non-Quitter Conference, as Jon often says, “don’t quit your day job, at least not yet”.

There is a lot to be said for following passions because they are fun, even though they may never pay the bills.  I also wrote in my notebook while at the conference, “approval is terrible fuel for a dream”. Sometimes we give up on our dreams because we aren’t very good at the activities we love… but maybe we could be if we gave these dreams time to develop and our talents time to improve.

After a 25 year break from music, I started playing the guitar again. Before I knew it, I had formed the Parrot Island Band, a Trop Rock/Jimmy Buffett Tribute band near Atlanta, Georgia. We started playing backyard events and if being “really good” was the mark of whether or not we continued (versus the fun we had), we probably would have quit right then.

Bry Harris of the Parrot Island Band

Since those early “gigs”, we have now played at events in Tennessee, Florida, Alabama, North and South Carolina and Virginia. We have played at Cheeseburger in Paradise, for several Jimmy Buffett concert/tailgate events, a National Movie Theatre Manager’s Convention (Carmike Cinemas) and even a minor league baseball game (the Augusta Green Jackets).While we haven't met Jimmy Buffett, we have met most of the Coral Reefer Band and I (Bry) have played a song with Doyle Grisham (Jimmy's Pedal Steel guitar player)

Even with all of this, there is a temptation to compare our band to bigger, better, more successful bands… but I won’t. How do I know that we are really, really good? I know we are really good because we have a LOT of fun (going back to the little girl’s explanation)…

What dreams have you given up on that you would really have fun pursuing? Another quote from the Quitter Conference that spoke to me is, “our dreams may not pay the bills but they may feed our souls”. Wow! Do it (whatever IT is) because you love it and have fun… what a great way to know if you are “good at something”.

“Sidewalk Surfers” are Parrothead friendly.

“Sidewalk Surfers” are Parrothead friendly.

Stuff Parrotheads Like.  If you find yourself at Cool Spring Galleria in Franklin, Tennessee, stop in the Flip Flop Shops and tell Jeff Kent (General Manager) that Bry says hello. While at a recent conference in the area, I wandered into the mall to get out of the cold for a bit (it was 25° outside…brrrrr).  I saw the Flip Flop Shops store and it made me smile as I thought about the warmer months ahead. Next thing I knew, I was making a beeline toward the store…

Stuff Parrotheads like

While I wasn’t in the mood to try on flip flops, Jeff talked me into trying on a pair of Sanuk “Sidewalk Surfers”. “Sidewalk Surfers” are part sandals, part shoes and extremely comfortable.  When a friend from California visited a couple of months ago, he was wearing these types of shoes and I dismissed them as some “California fad”. On my feet, in the Flip Flop Shops, in 25° weather, in Tennessee, these looked totally cool. :)

Parrot Island Band approved footware

If you end up in the Flip Flop Shops store in Cool Spring Galleria, be sure to ask for the Parrot Island Band (a Trop Rock Jimmy Buffett Tribute Band from Atlanta, Georgia) discount. I must warn you that Jeff will likely pretend he doesn’t know what you are talking about. Next, ask him for a business card and once he gives it to you, ask him if that card is worth any kind of discount. That should work.

If you see us (the Parrot Island Band) playing this spring or summer, you just might get a glimpse of these comfortable shoes… I mean sandals… um, “sidewalk surfers”. 

 

Three Little Birds

Three Little Birds

Don’t worry about a thing.”  While these are words that many people recognize as being from Bob Marley’s song, Three Little Birds, they are also words that are captured throughout the Bible.

 

Jesus said, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe you?” (Matthew 6: 25-30)

There are many things that we worry about… bills, health, jobs, relationships, etc. There are so many things that seem to be out of our control and cause us great anxiety… the words of the apostle Paul remind me that it is not God’s desire for us to worry when he writes, “ Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

As I turn to God for comfort and peace, I often find that my worries are smaller than when I started. I am also reminded that I am not alone and that God’s love is bigger than my worries.

Paul also writes that we are to, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) If you have a lot on YOUR mind today… remember that God loves you and that you are not alone.

Blessings and peace from the Parrot Island Band. May your hearts be filled with songs of joy and love.

Check Out “The Finder”

Check Out "The Finder"

Stuff Parrotheads Like.  There is a new show on FOX, that has a Tropical feel to it… The Finder.  The show is an offbeat detective show that is set in “Looking Glass Key, FL” and in a beat up bar named Ends of the Earth Bar.  Geoff Stults plays Walter Sherman, a detective who is both quirky and talented, often sporting Hawaiian shirts and flip flops.  Stults solves cases in part due to an obsessive compulsive focus (and strangely ingenious) that is related to a brain injury he received while in the military.

Parrot Island Band approved

Stult's “sidekick” is Michael Clarke Duncan who had a breakthrough performance in the movie The Green Mile.  I love Duncan’s character and his deep voice (and he has some incredible muscles). Duncan plays Leo Knox, a gentle giant who is a bit of a home spun philosopher (and legal advisor).

Michael Clarke Duncan digs the Parrot Island Band

The only thing the show is missing so far is a good Trop Rock band and I gladly offer up the Parrot Island Band as a solution.  I could also see Trop Rocker Howard Livingston as a regular on the show or maybe we could take turns bringing Tropical tunes to the show… OK, I digress, the show is definitely worth checking out and hopefully will find an audience before it goes the way of most of the shows I like (long term hiatus or cancellation).

Maybe if enough Parrotheads begin to follow The Finder, the writers will bring Buffett on for an episode and we can finally solve the mystery of Jimmy's "lost shaker of salt"… tune in :)).

I Filled In For Jimmy Buffett

 

I filled in for Jimmy Buffett

I filled in for Jimmy Buffett today. OK, to be fair… he wasn’t asked to play for this gig but I’m sure he would have loved to be there. Last night I received a Facebook message from a friend (who had a friend… with me so far?) who was looking for someone who played Jimmy Buffett songs. This friend of a friend (who is now my friend, Patti Johnson ;-)) was trying to find someone who would visit Mike Hansell. Mike has struggled with Lou Gehrig’s disease for seven years.

Parrot Island Band highlight

Mike Hansell is a BIG Jimmy Buffett fan. He loves to sail. He loves his family. He has Hawaiian shirts all over his walls and filling his closet. Mike is my kind of guy. I wish I had known him before he contracted this terrible disease (I would love to have had the chance to talk with him). Mike can only communicate by using a computer program that follows his eye movements to type out (and verbalize) his thoughts.

Best applause ever for Parrot Island Band

(Mike gives applause by way of computer. He is able to reflect light off of his eyes in order to type on a special computer screen.)

Although Mike has been growing weaker physically in recent weeks, the last couple of days he has rallied a bit. Today Mike’s eyes were open and as I came in with my bright Hawaiian shirt and guitar, Mike smiled and seemed ready to listen to his favorite Buffett tunes.  I played for close to an hour, with family and friends gathered around… it was a wonderful time for me and hopefully for Mike and family as well.

With Mike’s grandchildren sitting on the bed, Barbara, his lovely wife, told me that the grandkids thought their grandfather’s voice was the voice of Jimmy Buffett (because Mike always played Jimmy’s songs for them and they had never heard his voice). I told them that was interesting because I thought I sounded like Jimmy Buffett :).  Everyone seemed happy that I had cleaned up the lyrics a little (no offense Jimmy, but Patti says some of my re-writes are even better than your original lyrics…).

Parrot Island Band

One of the unique parts of this story begins almost 3 years ago. I was visiting someone at the hospital and they had heard I was a musician and Buffett fan. They mentioned a friend of theirs (turns out to be Mike) who also loved Jimmy’s music and was struggling with Lou Gehrig’s disease. We talked about setting up a visit to see this friend but somehow time slipped by and we never got around to it. Fast forward to last night and another friend, Patti Johnson, (with God’s nudging, I believe) helped put together a very special afternoon (with fruit drinks, beach balls and beach umbrellas) .

When I graduated from high school (1978, where has the time gone?!), I was the one who would someday “open for Jimmy Buffett”. That would still be a pretty cool thing to have happen, but I don’t think it could ever top my time with Mike and Barbara (and their wonderful friends and family).  Today, I didn’t open for Jimmy, but in a way… I filled in for Jimmy Buffett (and giving one special family a day of beach songs and fun memories).  Of all the events Jimmy has played, none could have been more important than this one. One of Mike’s favorite songs that I played today was Lovely Cruise.  In light of Mike’s condition, I was a bit choked up as I sang this song but I was deeply touched by Mike’s faith and courage. While Mike and I are both big fans of Jimmy Buffett, today I became an even bigger fan of Mike and Barbara Hansell… thanks for the chance to be with you today… God bless.

 

One More Day With You

 

One More Day with You

If I could have one more day with you. I just finished writing a song for my grandmother and great grandmother. They have been gone for a long time, but I have some wonderful memories of them from my childhood and the unconditional love they gave me.

Parrot Island Band groupies

I am a big fan of Jimmy Buffett and would certainly love to meet him and sit in for a few songs, but while writing this song, I had a thought. If I could have one more day with my grandmother/great grandmother OR meet (and even get to know) Jimmy Buffett… obviously I would choose the time with them over Jimmy (sorry, Jimmy J).

As the song states, thoughts of my grandmother/great grandmother come when I least expect it. Sometimes it is like they are very close and sometimes I wish they were here to see my wonderful family (or listen to the band play – they were both great supporters of my music). My grandmother used to come to some of my gigs in bars when I was in college. She was my biggest fan (although sometimes I was a little self conscious when she showed up in certain places).

Here are the words to the song One More Day With You:

Sometimes when I’m driving down the road

Sometimes when I’m visiting back home

Sometimes it’s a story, or maybe it’s a song

Suddenly it hits me just how long you’ve been gone…

 

Chorus)

If I could have one more day with you,

I know just exactly what I’d do,

I’d sit right here and listen, there’d be lots of reminiscing

If I could have one more day with you

 

Sometimes when I’m looking at the door

Remembering how many times you’ve walked through it before,

Sometimes how I wish that I could hear your voice once more

Suddenly I swear I hear you whisper in my ear

 

Chorus)

If I could have one more day with you,

I know just exactly what I’d do,

I’d sit right here and listen, there’d be lots of reminiscing

If I could have one more day with you

 

Bridge-

I can’t believe it’s been so many years

I still have these moments when I’m fighting back the tears

I hope that you can hear me, sometimes I feel you near me

When I close my eyes, it’s like you’re standing here

 

Chorus 2)

If I could have one more day with you

I know just exactly what I’d do

I’d tell you that I love you, I’d get a big hug from you

If I could have one more day with you…

If I could have one more day with you…

 

As part of the Parrot Island Band: a Jimmy Buffett Tribute Band, I usually write songs that are upbeat and tropical. Although this is not a Trop Rock song, I hope you enjoy listening to it and I would love to hear who you would love to have one more day with (and what you might do together).

 

A Great View From the Mic

 

A Great View From the Mic

Peoples and Henches drop by for Parrot Island Band fix

A great view from the mic. This week Linda and Bry (of the Parrot Island Band: a Jimmy Buffett Tribute Band from Atlanta, Georgia) were in St. Augustine, Florida, for the Beaches A1A Parrot Head Club event… Betty Teague Memorial Beach Bash. We played on Saturday afternoon to a great crowd and although there was a good chance of rain, the weather was beautiful.

A great view from the mic

Looking out from the mic, we were treated to a view of good friends. Dale and Peach Hench (Trop Rock fans of the year for 2010) were there along with Buddy (the “good Parrothead”) and Billy (the “old Parrothead”) Peoples. Both of these couples have been very encouraging to us since we started playing a few years ago at Trop Rocks the Smokies.

Although we had heard Jim Morris (and steel pan player John Patti) before, we also had the treat of listening to Jimmy Parrish (and the Ocean Waves) and the Calypso Nuts for the first time. Both groups were outstanding and we really appreciated the opportunity to spend some time getting to know Robbie and Lynley of the Calypso Nuts. While all of these groups are outstanding (and genuine/friendly people), the Calypso Nuts are a high energy duo that I hope we get to hear again (and often).

I can’t forget to mention Tropico (Barry Olsavsky, steel pan player who also plays with Jimmy Parrish) and Mark Hart, who also did a great job. Mark looks a bit like a ‘70’s rocker (maybe someone who might have played for Grand Funk Railroad) and had a hilarious delivery of his line, “this is the drinking part of this song”, which he shared at some point in every song (it must have worked, people were tipping him like crazy!). Unfortunately, the group Mango Fever was rained out on Friday afternoon but played a number of songs in the hospitality room (it was pretty noisy in there but what I heard was very good).

Mark needs some time on Parrot Island with the band

A special thanks to Debbie Mayer and her team. They did a wonderful job of making sure everything went smoothly and it looked like everyone had good time. One of the many things I like about events like the Beach Bash is that they also raise money for a good cause (Beach Bash focuses on Alzheimer’s related charities). Thanks also for bringing in the Parrot Island Band/duo and giving us the opportunity to play for the event (if you enjoyed hearing us, please let Debbie know she made a good decision in bringing us in J).

Well, that’s a quick view of this year’s Beach Bash. Linda and I had a great time and hope that we see some of our new friends in the coming year. If you are having a Parrothead event in 2011, we would love to be considered for the music lineup. In addition to Linda and myself (steel pan, guitar/vocals), our conga player (Kevin Garrelts) is a great addition to the Parrot Island sound and would love to come along if your budget allows.

If you read some of my other posts, I know you are waiting for it, so here it is… ready… ready- until next time… beaches and blessings to you all!

 

Parrotheads Like to Travel

 

Parrotheads Like to Travel

Parrotheads like to travel.  When I think about stuff Parrotheads like… travel comes to mind. I must not be a very good Parrothead because I don’t travel nearly as much as most of the Parrotheads I know. The islands. The lake. Some beach, somewhere. It seems like my Parrothead family is always on the road.

Parrot Island Band heading to Beach Bash

Having said that, this week we are heading off to St. Augustine, Florida. Linda and I (Parrot Island Band/duo) will be playing at the  Beaches A1A Parrothead Club eventBeach Bash (15th annual event with proceeds benefiting Alzheimer’s charities). There will be a number of other Trop Rock musicians playing, including the Calypso Nuts and Jimmy Parrish. I have heard many good things about these Trop Rockers and I look forward to listening to them after we are done playing on Saturday afternoon (by the pool). I enjoy playing at Parrothead events as I enjoy meeting some new friends at each event.

So that’s pretty much it for the blog this week… I may sneak in an update on the road, but maybe not. As far as travel goes… I would love to hear some of the places my Parrothead friends like to travel (send your thoughts to Bry Harris at parrotislandband@gmail.com and maybe you will be mentioned in a future blog post). Until next time… may your week be filled with beaches and blessings….

Parrot Island Band heads to St. Augustine Florida

Another View From the Mic

 

Another View From the Mic

Another view from the mic.   Last night, we (the Parrot Island Band: available for events throughout the Southeast) played for the summer concert series in Cartersville, Georgia. While it was extremely hot, there was a great turnout and it looked like everyone was having a fun evening.  A good number of folks were up dancing and the kids were up and having a good time with their parents (our music tends to get the children moving… one of the most enjoyable parts of the evening).

A great view from Parrot Island band gig in Cartersville

A special thanks to Cartersville Downtown Development Authority Executive Director, Liz Hood. She and her staff did a wonderful job in planning and making sure the event ran smoothly. The tropical theme was evident throughout the venue and helped set the mood for the evening.

Look a flock of pink flamingos

 

A special shout out to Bones and Gristles BBQ. I now have another great place to visit the next time I head up to Cartersville. I had their pulled pork sandwich… mmmmmm.

Feeding the head Parrot Bry

If you haven’t figured it out yet, the Parrot Island Band is a Jimmy Buffett tribute band. We play 40-50 Jimmy Buffett songs, all with a Tropical flavor (steel pan, acoustic guitar and congas). We have also added a few Zac Brown and Kenny Chesney songs (all of which went over well last night :)).  In the mix of all these fun song, we also play several Parrot Island Band originals.  The Parrot Island Band has been nominated the last two years as duo/trio of the year in the Trop Rock awards that are held in Key West each year.

While we have a blast at events like last night, we are also right at home… at your home! We play a lot of neighborhood and backyard events, pool parties, boat docks, and corporate events. You can reach us on our website or call Bry directly at 770-855-3404 to plan your next event.

 

A View From The Mic

 

A View From The Mic

Last night Linda and I (Parrot Island Band/duo) played at the Alpharetta Athletic Club (West Course) and had a wonderful time at their first adult pool party for the summer. We set up to a beautiful view of the pool and even though it was “hot, hot, hot” to start with, by the end of the evening the weather was wonderful.

A view from the mic by Parrot Island Band

While it was a fairly quiet event, it was nice seeing people sitting and visiting with one another. I usually like to pick out a few people at each event and talk with them throughout the evening, but last night was a night where we just settled in and played while the group enjoyed a relaxing evening of music and conversation.

On nights where there is less interaction, I look for more non-verbal cues to tell me how “things are going”.  A foot tap, someone singing along, thumbs up or a smile from someone passing by are all good signs. We were set up near the entrance/exit of the pool and several folks stopped by and told us how much they enjoyed the evening (much better than dropping their heads and looking the other way 😉Parrot Island Band draws a crowd

 

 

 

 

As I was loading up the equipment, one of the ladies asked if Linda and I were married.  When told that we were, she noted that she thought that it was neat that as husband and wife we have found something like this that we can do together. I agree, playing with Linda only adds to the enjoyment of what we are doing and hopefully it shows. While we only had the duo last night, it is also great when Kevin is sitting in with the congas as he is not only a fine musician but a good friend.

As the summer gets into full swing, it’s not too late to put together a tropical themed party. While the economy is still a bit sluggish, remember the Parrot Island Band IS “Jimmy Buffett on a budget” and is probably more affordable than you think.

We can set up in a small area (back yard, pool… clubhouse, etc.). If you are in the Atlanta area, maybe it’s time to get some friends together, cookout and bring in that Island feel of the Parrot Island Band. Yes, we are a Jimmy Buffett tribute band, but we also bring in some Trop Rock originals, Zac Brown Band music and even Kenny Chesney (not Kenny himself, but his music ;-)).  Until our next gig…out at a local marina next Saturday night… blessings and beaches to you all.

 

A Night Out at Hemingway’s

 

A Night Out at Hemingway's

Jeff Pike, Scott Kirby and David Edmisten come to town

Last night I headed down to Marietta, GA to Hemingway’s (a local bar/grill). The entertainment lineup for the evening was Jeff Pike, David Edmisten and Scott Kirby. While Jeff (of the band, A1A) is a regular at Hemingway’s, I later found out this was Scott’s first time playing in the area. Scott plays and travels with David Edmisten, an EXCELLENT guitarist with fine vocals as well. David once played in Cowboys (until recently a local country music/dancing venue) where he played with Vince Gill (a pretty good guitarist himself).

I hadn’t seen Jeff Pike in a few months and I have to say, he has lost some weight and is looking GOOD (congratulations Jeff, I know you have been working hard at taking care of yourself and it shows)! Jeff helped promote the event and there was a great turnout for the evening. Jeff opened the night with a great set, playing music that he has written over the last 20 years. While I always enjoy an evening of A1A and Buffett music, I really enjoyed listening to Jeff’s originals… especially the song that he co-wrote with Monty Tolar called, “There’s An App For That”. Jeff told me that he has added a couple of new members to his band (including a steel pan player) and I look forward to hearing them soon.

Scott Kirby followed Jeff and did a wonderful job, as usual. I saw Scott last fall at Tropstock in Cocoa Beach, FL. The Parrot Island Band opened the event so I guess I can say we opened for Scott as well. Scott is a singer/songwriter who tells some wonderful stories of his life by the sea and on the road. Scott’s music is Tropical/Acoustic/Folk and I was wondering how well I would be able to hear his music as crowded (and noisy) as Hemingway’s was. Scott and David quieted the crowd quickly with their music and held our attention throughout the evening.

As I mentioned earlier, David Edmisten does an excellent job in complimenting Scott’s music. I could tell that David enjoys playing and his lead guitar skills are outstanding. He really gets into the music but at the same time makes it look effortless, a true professional. It is amazing how much one or two instruments can add to the sound (not that Scott isn’t great by himself, but David and Scott together… beautiful).

In our own band/trio (The Parrot Island Band), I have been blessed to have Linda (steel pan) and Kevin (congas) as part of the group. People often comment how “full” a sound we provide with just the three of us. While there is a temptation to add more instruments into the mix (for bigger events like those A1A is able to handle), our configuration is a great one for small to medium sized events and also for those with a limited budget.

As you can tell, I really enjoyed the evening (even the hot wings ;-). I was able to visit with Fred McFarlin, of the Atlanta Trop Rock Alliance, and Georgia…his better half. Always enjoy our visits. We will see them in a few weeks at the Atlanta Parrothead Club’s Buffett tailgate party as the Parrot Island Band will be performing. Fred will be providing music as well (Fred is a mobile DJ, among his many talents). Also great seeing Drew Higgs, Thomas (Gringo) Roberts and Betsy. As I pulled into the driveway, I was told there would be a change of clothes waiting in the basement so that I could come in (yup, lots of smoke to go along with the wonderful music… the first I could do without, the latter I will remember for a long time :).

Tiki Thom Visits Parrot Island

 

Tiki Thom Visits Parrot Island

Another Trop Rock "Good Guy"

Bry Harris and Tiki Thom at Cheeseburger in PAaadiseMy favorite “good guy” of Trop Rock this week is none other than Tiki Thom Starkey.  Thom and I met up yesterday at Cheeseburger in Paradise here in Atlanta. Although it was a quick visit, we had a chance to catch up a bit… a real treat on a chilly spring day (Thom must have brought some of that Maine weather with him).

 

 

 

 

 

Tiki Thom Starkey playing a PArrot Island Band tune?For those of you who haven’t met Thom yet, he is a Trop Rock musician from Maine who travels quite a bit, with recent stops at the New England Parrothead Convention and Spring Phling (with the New Jersey Parrotheads). Thom and I met last fall at Tropstock, as the Parrot Island Band had the opportunity to open this event (like how I worked that in here?). While we haven’t picked our next place to visit, I hope that we have the opportunity to share a stage before too long.

I was pleased to hear that Thom offered the proceeds from his Bikinis and Martinis CD (at the Beachfront Radio Music Hut) to help out disaster victims (through the Red Cross). I know that the recent tornado victims here in the south appreciate the efforts of all Parrotheads. Thanks for your efforts Thom (see, another reason Thom is on the “good guy” list this week).

I am a little jealous of Thom as he is preparing to record his second CD. Thom will be working with Kevin Johnston from the band, Captain Quint. Kevin has been producing some great Trop Rock CD’s and I am sure that Thom’s CD will be a winner (remember Thom, I was your friend before you hit it big ;-)).

Well, I think that is it for today. The only thing I am worried about is the company that Thom has been keeping recently ;-). Thom is also part of the Beachfront Radio staff (if you are looking for a great place to advertize your business, contact Thom and he will be glad to talk to you about opportunities on Beachfront Radio). Thom has been hanging out with the Pyrate girls and DJ Jeff Allen (from Beachfront Radio). I am afraid they might rub off on Thom and drag him to the dark side… resist them Thom, they will lure you with promises of a place on the “Bad Guys of Trop Rock” list but in the end you will find yourself heartbroken and playing for bar mitzvahs (no place for an up and coming Trop Rocker like you). Seriously though, our friends at Beachfront Radio (Thom included), show that you can have a good time and be good folks…. Thanks for the visit Thom (next time lunch is on me).

Jimmy Buffett Day

 

Jimmy Buffett Day

Jimmy Buffett Day celebrated by Parrot Island Band- Letty NowakAs Jimmy Buffett prepares to begin his 2011 tour “Welcome to Fin Land”, he does so on a day that was officially named “Jimmy Buffett Day’ by the state of Florida. Although I am not a big fan of some of Jimmy’s political views, I do appreciate his philanthropy and passion for using his success to help others.   (painting by Letty Nowak)

Did you know:

  • Jimmy used the proceeds from his 1995 tour to fund the Singing for Change Charitable Foundation, which gives "grants to local charities that support children and families, the environment and disenfranchised groups”.
  • Jimmy raised $3.4 million for hurricane victims in 2004 with his Surviving the Storm Hurricane Relief Concert.
  • Jimmy helped form and continues to support the Save the Manatee project.
  • Jimmy has supported the Wounded Warrior project.
  • Jimmy performed a concert in Gulf Shores, Alabama in 2010 to promote business and tourism in the Gulf after the oils spill.

While I am sure that these (and many other causes that Jimmy has supported) are reason enough to honor the father (or is that grandfather ;-)) of the Parrothead Nation, Jimmy brings a lot of joy to each city he visits. In a time when there are still many without work and the economy continues to sputter, we still need to take time to celebrate and spread joy.

While the Parrot Island Band is not playing anywhere tonight, I am looking forward to hearing Jimmy’s show on Radio Margaritaville. I always look forward to hearing a mix of the old and new Buffett songs. I also enjoy seeing who might join him on any given night (last year Zac Brown showed up at a concert and did a great job!)

Steel drum, congas, Peter and Jim Mayer, Doyle Grisham and Nadirah Shakoor… Oh yeah, I can’t forget Mr. Utley and Robert Greenidge, Tina Gullikson, Ralph MacDonald and McAnally (oops..and John Lovell). Wow, what a  great lineup of musicians that play alongside of Jimmy!

All of these guys and gals will be heading to Atlanta on Tues., May 24th. The Parrot Island Band (Bry Harris, Linda Harris and Kevin Garrelts) will be just outside of the main gates all afternoon entertaining the Atlanta Parrothead Club and the thousands of parrothead crazies who will be wandering the lots. Please stop by and say hello if you have a chance.

Parrot Island Band, Bry Harris, Linda Harris, and Keven Garrelts

Hope you have a great tour Jimmy and thanks for all the joy you brings us. Thanks also for using your talents to make the world a better place. Hope to see you in Atlanta (I don’t have tickets yet but there are always some to be found on the day of the concert). Also, please don’t hesitate to invite me to sit in Jimmy… I’ll be ready and waiting as usual 😉 Happy Jimmy Buffett Day everyone… now time for the show.

It’s My Dream

 

It's My Dream

Sweet dreams on Parrot Island

A few years ago I wrote a song titled “It’s My Dream”. Some dream of traveling, some dream of fame, some dream of riches… but almost everyone has a dream.

The first verse of this song begins:

Did you ever have a dream of flying to the stars?

Maybe make a million dollars, or drive a fancy car…

My dream may be quite simple, but it suits me to a tee

So sit right back and listen and see if you agree…

The key part of this verse for me is the section that goes, “my dream may be quite simple but it suits me to a tee”. It seems to me that the most important part of a dream is ownership. It doesn’t  help if it is someone else’s dream. For a dream to have meaning it needs to be YOUR dream (for you), or MY dream (for me).

The chorus to this song may be strange to some, but not to me:

James Taylor to the left of me, Jimmy Buffett to the right you’d see,

Coral Reefer band they’re circling me, man we’d have a good time,

man we’d have a good time

James Taylor and Jimmy Buffett dreaming of playing with the Parrot Island BandI’ve actually had this dream on many occasions, playing onstage with Jimmy Buffett, James Taylor and the Coral Reefer Band (and believe me, this is one COOL dream). I grew up listening to both Jimmy Buffett and James Taylor, both great songwriters and entertainers. While Buffett and Taylor may not seem a natural combination, it is interesting that they both have played with Zac Brown (hey, he’s living MY dream!).

Before heading into the last chorus I wrote this bridge:

If there is a lesson that I’d like to share with you…

It's sit back, count your blessings

And here’s my dream for you…

Follow your heart, keep dreaming your dream

Look for your star, and be who you are…

Since starting the Parrot Island Band a few years ago, I have lived my dream in a number of ways. I have played at Cheeseburger in Paradise and also with Doyle Grisham (steel guitar player for the Coral Reefer band). I have been surrounded by Coral Reefers (Peter and Jim Mayer, Doyle Grisham  and  Nadirah Shakoor) as we led a worship service together at Tropstock. I have also played several tailgate events before Jimmy Buffett concerts and will be playing even closer to the venue in a few weeks as we play for the Atlanta Parrothead Club Buffett tailgate (not bad for a kid that was named "most likely to open for Jimmy Buffett" by his High School senior class ;-)). While not exactly playing with Jimmy Buffett, I have come a lot closer than if I hadn't pursued this dream.

Coral Reefer Band singing a Parrot Island Band song?

I hope that if you are reading this, you are counting your blessings and that you continue to follow your dreams. Don’t settle for someone else’s dream and don’t worry if it isn’t as big or important as someone else thinks it should be.

OK, you’ve listened to my dream…now, I’d love to hear yours.

Margaritaville Nashville Review

 

Margaritaville Nashville Review

 

Parrot Island Band visits Mrgaritaville

 

A couple of weeks ago the Parrot Island Band was supposed to play an event in Pigeon Forge (Trop Rocks the Smokies) that was canceled at the last minute. Not wanting to pass up a weekend off, we (Linda, myself and Kevin and Wendy Garrelts) head off to Nashville.

Here comes the PArrot Island BandAfter checking into the Opryland Hotel, we head off to the Nashville Margaritaville and an early dinner. I like the atmosphere of the Nashville Margaritaville as it fit nicely into the downtown district (older/rustic buildings). Just inside the main doors were two musicians playing some country (go figure ;-)) music.

We were led up to the second floor by way of a musical stairway (each step played a music note… I couldn’t play the stairs any better than I could play a real piano). We had a great waitress (TJ), who made excellent suggestions regarding the menu. She also was very personable and took good care of us throughout the evening. Thanks TJ!

Kevin and I split a big plate of hot wings… mmmm… they were really good (sorry, can't remember what the gals had… but they enjoyed it).  I also enjoyed the atmosphere with Buffett music and video playing on numerous screens.

There is a good sized stage on the second floor, all that was missing was the Parrot Island Band: a Jimmy Buffett Tribute Band from Atlanta, Georgia. 😉 I think the crowd would have enjoyed some live Buffett music with steel pan and congas– not country music, but hey- it IS a Margaritaville.

Of course we had to stop by the gift shop on the way out. I picked up a Landshark mug for a friend and Kevin found a beautiful shirt. I could spend a lot of time picking out souvenirs but with all of the many choices I could hardly narrow it down to one or two items…Kevin GArrelts of the Parrot Island Band

All in all, a fun night with great friends… priceless. Tomorrow, a look at Jack’s BBQ, another great place to eat (I see a theme here).

Beach Bucket List

 

Beach Bucket List

 

Bech bucket list for Bry Harris of the Parrot Island Band

 

Places I’d like to play (music)

  • ANY Margaritaville Restaurant

  • Lulu’s

  • Rapscallion’s (closed:(

Trop-Rockers  I’d like to meet/play with

Places I would love to visit

  • Key West, Florida

  • The Outer Banks

  • Hawaii

Place I wish I could play (golf)

 

It’s My Job

 

It's My Job

So Let's Make the Best of It

Let’s face it, some days it is really hard to get out of bed and go to work. Even as a pastor, I have days when I would like to pack my bags and run, or maybe sail away. I remember one night in particular when I was on my way home from a very long (unpleasant) meeting and I found myself humming a song. When I got home, I pulled out my guitar and a piece of paper and wrote my song, “See Ya Later, I’m Gone”. When we play this song at our gigs, we usually see heads nodding and a smile that seems to say, “yes, I feel that way sometimes too”.

One of my favorite Jimmy Buffett songs is a song that band member Mac MacAnally wrote called, “It’s My Job.” The song tells of an encounter street sweeper listenin to Parrot Island Band tuneswith a street sweeper who was whistling and bouncing along as he carried out what many would see as a “menial” job. Asked how he could be so happy to be doing this kind of work, the street sweeper said it was his job,

 

 

“to be cleaning up this mess
And that's enough reason to go for me
It's my job to be better than the rest
And that makes the day for me"

The next encounter was with the writer’s uncle who was a banker and self-made millionaire. Asked why he seemed so sad, the banker said,

“it's because in my contract there's a clause
That says "It's my job to worried half to death
And that's the thing people respect in me
It's my job but without it I'd be less
Than what I expect from me"

How do we find meaning in our work and embrace the attitude of the street sweeper?  In part, it is in finding work that we love, but it is also important to love the work that we find ourselves doing. Even the best jobs have their downsides and as we see, there are jobs that would drive us crazy that others seem to love!  Our faith can enhance our work when we follow the encouragement found in the Bible,

17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17

One of the ways I have found to keep my perspective on work fresh is having another outlet. As part of the Parrot Island Band: a Jimmy Buffett tribute band from Atlanta, Georgia… I have found a way of getting away from the stress sometimes associated with my "day job". The Trop Rock music that we play, write and listen to is a great way to enjoy each day and look forward to the next.

Until next time… it's Jesus and Jimmy.

School Boy Heart

 

School Boy Heart

school boys love Parrot Island Band tooI love the song “School Boy Heart” by Jimmy Buffett and Matt Betton. It reminds us that everyone is multi-dimensional and unique. Among other interests and influences (including his southern/gulf-coast view and dialect), Jimmy weaves his love for flying, sailing and writing into this song. While many of us share Buffett’s love for music, fun and ocean waves, it is important to also be true to ourselves and our own unique talents and influences (and not merely copy the Buffett image).

While I grew up with a short drive of VA. Beach, Va., I also had a number of other influences that formed my view of the world. I was the son of a golf professional and spent most of my childhood chasing golf balls and turtles around the numerous ponds and lakes of the local golf course where my father worked.  My life was profoundly shaped by my grandmother and great-grandmother, as I spent many nights and weekends at their apartment. There I learned to appreciate Lawrence Welk AND Hee Haw, both playing on the same night back to back.

One of the biggest influences on me has been music (especially Trop Rock, although I didn't know what genre it really was until the last few years). At the age of 12, I was given a nylon string Epiphone guitar and 5-6 “group” lessons at a local YMCA. From that moment on my life has been shaped by the music I’ve heard, the musicians I have looked up to and the opportunities I have had to play with and for others.  I sometimes wonder if other people stop to consider the many outside influences that shape who we are and how we view the world.

In recent years I have recaptured the dreams of my youth by playing with our band, the Parrot Island Band. The Parrot Island Band is a Jimmy Buffett Tribute Band based in the Atlanta (more specifically, Acworth), Georgia area. Through these experiences I have had the opportunity to meet several members of the Coral Reefer Band (Jimmy's backup band) and have actually played a song with Doyle Grisham… a highlight I have already documented in another blog.

Just as each of us have unique experiences and talents, we are also given unique gifts to love and serve others around us.  The Bible speaks of “spiritual gifts” that are given to us so that we might build up, encourage and love those around us (1 Corinthians chapters 12-14; Romans chapter 12; Ephesians chapter 4; and 1 Peter chapter 4).  I hope that if you are reading this, you might realize that you have special gifts and talents to make this world a better place (and make you extremely valuable to those around you). OK, hum along with me… “I’ve got a school boy heart…”, now go write your own lyrics (figuratively) given the influences, experiences and talents you have been given…

Until next time, it's Jesus and Jimmy.

Jesus, Jimmy and Peace of Mind

 

Jesus, Jimmy and Peace of Mind

Peace Like a Palm Tree

Peace lIke a RiverThere is an old hymn, "Peace Like a River"  (an African American Spiritual) that speaks of having "peace like a river" in our souls.  I have always found a great deal of peace sitting by  a lake, river and especially the ocean. This week I have faced some very difficult circumstances and I must admit I am not finding very much peace at the moment. Scripture tells us to "cast all our anxieties" upon Jesus because he cares for us (1 Peter 5:7) . Perhaps it is time to practice what I preach 😉 and let God help me with a problem I can't fix on my own.

 

Relax and enjoyI am also reminded of some difficult days in High School when I was learning to play guitar and hearing this relaxing music from an up and coming musician, some guy named Jimmy Buffett. Songs of island, beaches and palm trees had a way of calming the storms within. There is just something about a palm tree swaying in the breeze that  is relaxing and calming. There are no palm trees here in Acworth, Georgia, but I do have a guitar… probably time to pull it out and play a few Trop Rock songs.

 

Playing with Linda and Kevin in the Parrot Island Band: a Jimmy Buffett tribute band here in Atlanta, Georgia, has also been a very rewarding endeavor. Our music has taken us to Myrtle Beach, Cocoa Beach, Savannah, GA and many other beautiful places. I'll take a little time now to find my peace and give thanks for the many blessings and friends that I have. Perhaps you are facing some tough moments… God's listening, Jimmy's singing and if you ever need the Parrot Island Band to help you find a peaceful, relaxing place… please don't hesitate to give us a call.

Beaches, Bands and Bars

 

Beaches, Bands and Bars

Fred McFarlin - friend of Parrot Island Band: Jimmy Buffett Tribute BandIf you are looking for some good Trop Rock related reading, check out the blog by Fred McFarlinBeaches, Bands and Bars.  Fred has been in the music business for many years and is currently a mobile and radio dj.  Fred has been instrumental in helping start the Atlanta Trop Rock Alliance, along with Jeff Pike of the band A1A and Dawn Brys.  The Atlanta Trop Rocks Alliance will be bringing in Kelly McGuire, Brent Burns, John Friday, John Reno and hopefully many others in a "house concert" format in the weeks ahead.

I recently attended a house concert held by Drew Higgs at Lakeside Town Center. I brought along the prettiest member of the Parrot Island Band: a Jimmy Buffett Tribute Band here in Atlanta (and steel pan player), my wife Linda. Playing that night were Jeff Pike and Hugo Duarte. These two wonderful musicians did a great job and it was a real Trop Rock treat to be able to listen to these guys up close. Trop Rock and house concerts… a great combo! Hope to see you out listening to one of these great musicians or maybe at one of our upcoming gigs.

Beaches and blessings,

Bry

Happy Birthday Brent!

 

Happy Birthday Brent!

One Of My Favorite Trop Rockers

snow bird seasonChange of pace today, just wanted to take a moment and wish Brent Burns a happy birthday. Brent is one of my favorite Trop Rock musicians and a real character. He has written some hilarious songs (from Snow Bird Season to Double Wide in the Sky… and the list goes on). He has also written some songs that put me in the mood (sorry Brent, the mood to go to the beach… not the other kind), like Beach in My Backyard. A few years ago, Brent's song Pain at the Pump made the CNN ireport year end special, along with the Parrot Island Band song… Pirates at the Gas Pump (and I have to admit I was pretty excited that our song was mentioned in the same breath as one of Brent's). If you are as fired up as I am about the current gas price fiasco, you should definitely listen to Brent's song Drill, Drill, Drill.

On a personal note, I was honored to see Brent pull up a chair and listen to our set a couple of years ago at Trop Rocks the Smokies. While the rest of the headliners were sleeping off Friday night… we played on Saturday afternoon and Brent sat on the balcony with two of my favorite couples (the Peoples and the Henches). Thanks Brent, for your interest and encouragement. Thanks also for sharing your gift of music with so many… you get a check plus in my book (you can trade that in for a Landshark if you'd like)!

Check out Brent's calendar, if he isn't playing in Gulf Shores, Alabama (at great venues like Lu Lu's), you can likely find him at a Trop Rock event  near you! Oh yeah, I hear Brent plays a little golf… while I love his music- I can't personally vouch for his golf game. Hope it was a great day Brent- God bless…

Bry

Parrot Island Band: a Jimmy Buffett Tribute Band

Thanks Doyle!

 

Thanks Doyle!

Tropstock Revisited

“This is the day that the Lord has made, let us be glad and rejoice in it.” Psalm 118:24

Bry with the Tiki godsEver have one of those days when everything clicked and it was just a great day overall? I had one of those days (actually a weekend) last October at an event called Tropstock. The Parrot Island Band (a Jimmy Buffett Tribute Band here in Atlanta, Georgia) opened the event that included some wonderful musicians, including several from the Coral Reefers (Jimmy Buffett’s band).

On Sunday, I led a worship service with Peter Mayer, Nadirah Shakoor, Jack Mosley, John Frinzi and Doyle Grisham (among others). When I sang a song that I had written for the event (River Runs Deep), Doyle Grisham was gracious enough to play along. Doyle did a great job (of course) and was kind enough to suggest that we might play together again someday (yes, I am smiling as I write this).

 

In case you don’t know who Doyle Grisham is, he plays pedal steel guitar for the Coral Reefers and with many other fine musicians as well (edit: I should have said, many other musicians have the privilege of playing with Doyle). What made my day was not only playing a song with Doyle, but finding out that he (as well as Peter, Nadirah and all the others) is an extremely nice guy (not surprised, but pleased to know).

 

Doyle Grisham a friend of Parrot Island Band

I hope I have other music highlights in the years to come, but I will certainly treasure this one for the rest of my life. I have a picture of Doyle and me that I see every time I turn on my iPhone and believe me, I have shared it a few times. While I often find myself asking God for things, I don’t take as much time to thank God for things that I should. So here goes… thank You God for a great moment and memory… and thanks Doyle, for being a great musician… and did I mention… also a pretty darn nice guy :).

 

 

 

 

What’s Your Window on the World?

 

What's Your Window on the World?

Looking for Sunshine

While our experiences cause us to look at the world in a certain way, it is also true that how we view the world determines how we feel about certain experiences. If we have had a number of bad experiences, we may tend to look at things from a “darker” perspective… OR,  if we look at things from a more positive perspective, we may be quicker to find a silver lining in difficult circumstances (and don't forget, a Parrot Island Band tune can always lift your spirits as well ;-)).

What's Your Window ont eh the World?In the song, Window on the World, Jimmy Buffett sings about a number of experiences like travels and musicians that were only here for a short time. As in the song, I can relate to nights without sleep and too much caffeine consumption (mine coming from a childhood developed soda addiction). I am sure that many can also relate to the longing of a loved one while spending too many nights from home.

 

Sometimes our circumstances are difficult and it is easy to be overcome by everything going on in life. A Bible verse that I have found helpful along the way is from Philippians 4:8, “Finally…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is praiseworthy- think about such things.”  Now, I’m not one of those people that believes that a “positive attitude” solves all problems, but I do believe that when we live our lives looking for the best in others and the good around us… we are more likely to feel better about the challenges that each day brings.

The title to the song Take the Weather With You (Neil Finn and Tim Finn) seems to beg the question, what kind of weather (attitude) will you take with you? It also seems to suggest that we have a choice as to what we see when we look out our windows and that we can decide to take sunshine or dark clouds with us as we go about our daily life (another reason I appreciate Jimmy's Margaritaville attitude, he invites us to look on the bright side of life). My window on the world?  Although I don’t always succeed, I try to see the blessings and blue skies that come my way… and I wish them for you as well. 

 

Jimmy Buffett

 

 

Charlie Sheen Hysteria

 

What's Up With Charlie Sheen?

Pray for Charlie Sheen?

I have been changing the channel all week trying to get away from Charlie Sheen. Every station. Nearly every program. All showing Charlie Sheen ranting and wild eyed, looking like he is about to implode. Just when I was ready to close the book on Charlie Sheen, someone asks that we add him to our prayer list at church. I'm torn. What about all the others who are struggling and aren't famous? Shouldn't we spend time praying for those who are really trying to get their act together? And as to all the publicity…surely there must be more important news on TV? The unrest in the Middle East maybe? Or the rapidly rising gas prices?

Just when I find myself ready to dismiss the request to pray for Charlie, I find myself speaking on the kind of people Jesus reached out to. Those far from God. Those even farther from the church. Those who feel rejected by people of faith. In other words, Charlie Sheen. Someone's son. Someone's brother. Someone's father. I'm not sure that Charlie is too worried about what God thinks about him (or cares if I pray for him), but I am pretty sure that God loves him and would indeed want us to pray for him (and the countless others like him who are on the edge of disaster).

Not all that glitters is ... a diamondIn the song Diamond as Big as the Ritz, Jimmy Buffett sings of a man who has everything money can buy, and yet becomes a prisoner of his own success (or in Charlie's case, fame and money).

 

 

As Jimmy puts it:

It's the prophecy of the unattainable dream

if you take one look behind the shine

it doesn't always gleam

All of Charlie's posessions, his giant house, his money, his cars, his godesses… can't buy Charlie what he really needs… peace of mind, peace with others… OK, I'm in… "God, bless Charlie and help him to know Your love… and forgive me when I am too judgemental". I'm still changing the channel, but I'm (and I'll get the Parrot Island Band here in Atlanta to do the same ;-)) pulling for you Charlie.

Until next time, it's Jesus and Jimmy.

Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9: 12-13)