Though it hardly seems likely from the look of the South Florida music scene these days, we were once a breeding ground for folkies that went on to change the direction of modern music.
David Crosby and Joni Mitchell were frequent performers in the clubs and coffee houses of Coconut Grove, Jimmy Buffett put Key West on the map and North Miami's hallowed Criteria Studios lured many an acoustic performer seeking to make the transition from their status as traditional troubadours to modern minstrels, finding a comfortable fit in the musical mainstream.
The Grove was at the hub of that thriving folk scene, but having been transformed from an idyllic bohemian village into something resembling an overgrown shopping mall, it's lost its musical lure, even though the historic Barnacle still hosts the occasional concert in its moonlit environs.
In recent years, the folk scene's moved North, embraced by the folk and blues clubs of Boca and Delray, and the occasional house concert. Nevertheless, South Florida's folk legacy still thrives, and happily, we needn't limit our bragging to Buffett! Here is a list of the top ten folk performers who helped shape the local scene.
10. Grant Livingston
Ya gotta give a guy credit for sheer perseverance when he's plied his craft for the past 30 years and still managed to retain his sense of humor. That's Grant Livingston in a nutshell, a local musician, observer, and philosopher who celebrates all things Florida in song.
A favorite at innumerable coffeehouses, benefits, house concerts, workshops and wherever else folk music is still celebrated, Livingston's become a veritable fixture on the South Florida scene, with an appeal that encompasses all ages, styles, and demographics. An adroit entertainer, he integrates his songs with wry commentary in true folkie tradition, sprinkling in ditties about road trios, pie eating, barnacles, armadillos, and even the planning of his own funeral amidst his various topics of discussion.
9. Bob Lind
Since scoring his sole major hit with the chart staple "Elusive Butterfly of Love" in 1966, Mr. Lind hasn't been heard from that much, aside from occasional appearances around town over the past few years. That's fine. After all, there's a certain proprietary pride in having a legend all to ourselves.
Lately though, Lind's undertaken a comeback of sorts, releasing his first new album in a generation via the aptly titled Finding You Again. Produced by pop pundit Jamie Hoover of North Carolina's Spongetones, it's the latest milestone in a career that veered from music to publishing -- encompassing five novels, an award-winning play, a screenplay called Refuge (which won the Florida Screenwriters' Competition in 1991), and a writing gig for Weekly World News and the Sun. We'd suggest his greatest source of pride may well be the accolade accorded him by the British band Pulp, who chose to christen a song in his honor, "Bob Lind (The Only Way Down)." How many people can claim that as a distinction?