On the Town - Southwest Florida Special
THE KEY OF SEA
BEACHFRONT GIGS AND BEAUTIFUL WEATHER HAVE CREATED A LIVELY MUSIC SCENE IN SOUTHWEST FLORIDA.
BY LIBBY MCMILLAN
(from left): Danny Morgan at Casa Ybel Resort; David C. Johnson at The Grill Room; Thursdays on Third
Southwest Florida's balmy winters attract more than birds and Northerners. Over the years, its warm weather and relaxed lifestyle have drawn an extensive collection of world-class rockers, including Aerosmith and AC/DC members who live by the sea when not touring the world.
Most of the area's musicians, though, earn a living by playing locally. And with such a wellspring of talent, it's easy to see anyone from a jazz great or former Motown crooner to a garage band at the local pub.
"This place is like a vortex," says vocalist and producer Ryan Kida, whose restaurant Yabo (www.yaborestaurant.com; 239-225-9226) hosts weekly performances. "There are a lot of big names who live here. There is the potential of being discovered, and you can get lots of public-ity. That's inspiring to other musicians."
Singer-songwriter Danny Morgan is one musician who was drawn to the Ft. Myers sunshine. He moved from Cincinnati more than 25 years ago, and since then, has created a beachy-style of music that's become synonymous with Sanibel and Captiva islands. These days, Morgan's dreamy gigs include the pool bar at Casa Ybel Resort (www.casaybelresort.com; 239-472-3145) on Sanibel Island and an excursion boat from Captiva Cruises (www.captivacruises.com), where he conjures up the coconut smell of sunscreen with southwest Florida-themed lyrics and laidback melodies.
Other local legends include rock band Both Hands and the bluesy Captiva Band, two groups that perform regularly at the tiny restaurant Jacaranda (www.jacarandaonsanibel.com; 239-472-1771), and David C. Johnson of the Neville Brothers, who regularly belts out funky grooves at the piano bar at The Grill Room (239-390-9081). Even hotel lounge acts in Ft. Myers are a cut above: Pop-funk duo Heather Brooks and Mike Rogers-who once rocked the bars in New York-perform at the modern lobby bar at downtown's new Hotel Indigo (www.hotelindigo.com; 239-337-3446).
Although the musicians-and their favorite venues-range from slick to beachy, their reasons for staying in Southwest Florida all hinge on a common theme: "You meet a lot of really nice people, and with all the resorts and restaurants, there's plenty of work," Morgan says.
MUSIC AL FRESCO
ENJOY SOUTHWEST FLORIDA'S FANTASTIC WEATHER AT THESE OUTDOOR GIGS.
THURSDAYS ON THIRD
Jazz, rock, folk and steel drum bands play at these once-a-month concerts among the restaurants and shops on tony Third Street in Naples. www.thirdstreetsouth.com
BELL TOWER SHOPS
The free Friday night concerts in this shopping center courtyard feature everything from rock to bluegrass. Stake out a spot near the fountain. www.thebelltowershops.com
GULF COAST TOWN CENTER
Latin music, pop and jazz are performed at a dedicated stage here. Bring a lawn chair or watch from the surrounding cafés. www.gulfcoasttowncenter.com