In last week’s Blog Post “Hambone & Baby” I told the story Of Hambone (A true Florida Cracker) and how I acquired his Baby. In the Blog Post “The Journey So Far….” I touched briefly on my Florida roots. Over the last six weeks I have reunited with 16 people from different places and times in my past. I have basically relived my whole life in the last couple of months. Yesterday I got reunited with an old Florida buddy and it got me thinking about my roots, specifically my Florida, Blues and BBQ roots.
I arrived in Florida fresh out of high school. At that time it was cattle ranches, orange groves, and fish camps where my folks had settled. My first real job was with a construction company who were building greenhouses on a farm. I got to know the manager of the farm and one of his employees named Ronnie real well. I stayed on at the farm after the construction was done and Ronnie and I became good friends. We worked together and played guitar most evenings after work. In fact we would jam for hours on end out there on the farm, cranking our amps for the gators and the hogs. There was nobody else around back then, we were truly in the country, and could play as loud as we wanted.
A lot of my new Cracker friends were musicians and I started playing in local Country and Southern Rock bands with them. I would try to sneak blues licks in every country song we did, especially if I could play slide on it. Ronnie had been checking out my website since we’d been talking and told me he was surprised to see that I was playing Blues. Which in turn surprised me. I was always a rocker but deep down I’ve always loved the blues. And the events of the last several years have certainly inspired me to play the blues. I guess I was a closet Bluesman back in the day. I first came across the blues through Eric Clapton and Duane Allman. Their acoustic version of “Mean Old World” grabbed me as a teen and I’ve always loved the raw Delta Blues sound of a resonator guitar and a slide.
We played a lot of BBQ’s and private parties back then and ate some of the best BBQ I’ve ever had. Real BBQ. Not the stuff they sell in the restaurant chains that promise real BBQ with lots of fake smoke flavor poured in. I’m talking about real BBQ by Florida Crackers out in the country fired with Oak and Orange wood. Chicken, Pulled Pork, Turkey, Whole Hams, Whole Hog, Brisket, Ribs, Gator, and I’ve even had Shark. I’ve been around the world and there is no better BBQ than I’ve had in Florida.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of eating some of that delicious Florida BBQ again when I went to visit my old friend Ronnie and his family out in the country. It was the best BBQ I’ve had in a long, long time. We spent the day reminiscing about our days jamming out on the farm, and talking about Blues & BBQ. Not only is Ronnie a True Florida Cracker, he is also a Competition BBQ Pit-master, BBQ engineer and builder. I know you think you just throw some wood in one barrel connected to a bigger barrel and smoke away. Not so, there is a science to engineering and building BBQ pits, and Ronnie and I spent a lot of time talking about the science of it all.
So yesterday as I sat down with a family of Real Florida Crackers, reminisced about Real Good Times, ate Real Good BBQ, and played some Blues, I felt like I’d truly gone back home again. Time stood still for a day deep in Florida Cracker country and I felt like I’d never left. Took me back to a time when life was simple and good. Back to a time when good friends, good BBQ, and a guitar in my hands underneath the shade of an old Oak tree in Florida was all I needed.
Thank you Ronnie, Rhonda, Steve, Tiana, and the rest of their family for a truly wonderful day.
God bless y’all!
Thanks for supporting me on My Blues Americana Journey!