Music Everywhere: The Rock and Roll Roots of a Southern Town, by Marty Jourard. University Press of Florida. 224 pages. Hardcover $19.95.
What a surprising breath of fresh air this is. Marty Jourard’s book is an insider’s story of how Gainesville, Florida developed into an important, though relatively isolated, capital of American popular music – rock and roll in particular. While Mr. Jourard offers a good deal of interesting speculation about why this happened, the fun of the book is in watching it happen. An effective narrative style; a compelling array of facts and profiles; and a low-key, comfortable sense of authority are hallmarks of Marty Jourard’s infectious blend of remembrance and research.
Organized chronologically, “Music Everywhere” begins at the beginning of rock and roll history, 1955, with a song written by a Gainesville musician named Tommy Durden. That song, soon after recast as “Heartbreak Hotel,” sits on the front porch of the black and white, country and urban music that in various combinations became the prevailing American popular music.
Mr. Jourard rocks back and forth between the macrocosm of larger trends (the Beatles’ invasion and takeover, the growth of the hippie counterculture) and the daily lives of aspiring musicians living in or passing through Florida’s heartland. He also notes the community’s happy support of and identification with a music culture. This sometimes means the roll of the University of Florida in supporting live performances and generally interacting with the music culture that is growing up along with the burgeoning university.
And then there is the dependable marijuana production.
Musicians need audiences, and University of Florida students showed up to hear the cover bands and the bands focused on original songs – bands that sharpened their skills on and off campus.
Can you guess the outstanding musicians you might recognize who are part of Marty Jourards’s Gainesville R & R tapestry? Well there’s Stephen Stills, a strong solo performer better know from his group work in Crosby, Stills, and Nash (and sometimes Young). There’s Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, one of the world’s best-selling bands ever. Don Felder and Bernie Leadon went from gigs in Gainesville to becoming part of the endlessly chart-topping Eagles. The list goes on, and the stories Mr. Jourard tells about them are most engaging.
Marty Jourard himself hit it big as part of The Motels in the 1980s.
The book provides insights into the life of professional musicians, whether famous or obscure or in between. More importantly, it is an effective as study of a community. The people writing, performing, and recording music cannot flourish without the support of others who work in the music industry. It is with a sense of reverence that Mr. Jourard writes about the owner of Lipham’s music company whose shop became a refuge for the Gainesville musicians. . . .
To read the entire review, as it appears in the May 4, 2016 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the May 5 Naples, Bonita Springs, and Palm Beach Gardens/Jupiter editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Jourard