Cherished local promoter and drummer Jimmy Pagano's life will receive a long, heartfelt look during a memorial tribute held at America's Backyard this Sunday.
Pagano, who died in mid-April in the aftermath of a violent altercation at Fishtales Bar & Grill in Fort Lauderdale, had built a strong rapport with the local jam community as well as thousands of area music fans. Right before his death, he was organizing a memorial tribute for another fallen musician, drummer Nate Aiello.
This event will feature a raffle and silent auction to benefit the Jimmy Pagano Music Program and Scholarship Fund. The new charity "will offer financial assistance to student musicians and fund the music program at the Dan Marino Foundation Florida Vocational Campus, opening Fall of 2011, in Fort Lauderdale," according to the Marino Foundation's website. Additionally, funds raised from food and drink sales will go to place a memorial brick in the Fort Lauderdale Riverfront.
Here is a collection of heartfelt messages from a sampling of the music scene Jimmy Pagano helped nurture for so many years.
From Judy Blem:
"Jimmy Pagano was more than 'a local drummer.' He was a relentless promoter, a topnotch soundman, an entertainment director, and a special events coordinator. He ran jam nights for 30 years, sometimes three or four per week, to give musicians an opportunity to play, to network, to rehearse, or just to have fun.
"He was a man with a huge heart who never hesitated to organize a benefit when a fellow musician was in need. He was a man who poured his heart and soul into helping others without expecting anything in return. He was a man with big dreams whose optimism was contagious. He was a man who taught me to brush off negativity and start every single day with a positive thought. I am overwhelmed with grief over the loss of such a wonderful human being, my friend for over 20 years. May you rest in peace."
From Bobby DeVito, guitarist:
"On April 7, Jimmy Pagano called me to do a gig with him, as he had done many times over the years. We did a "jam nite" at Cagneys, and I was a member of the host band that evening on guitar.
"Jimmy spent an hour with me after the show, telling me about how proud he was of all the guys he has seen and helped develop into better players at his jam sessions over the years. He stressed to me how important it was to be supportive of those musicians — even if their skills were very rudimentary.
"His attitude toward the jam sessions was entirely altruistic. He truly wanted to help people get better at performing, and there was nothing he liked better than seeing a musician bloom into a working professional after going to his jam sessions for several years.
"I feel very grateful that I was able to play one last gig with Jimmy a week before he was killed, and his words to me that night will forever remain lodged in my heart and soul. He was the hardest-working man in the South Florida music scene, and I don't think anyone has the drive and energy to replace him.
"He was the guy who would bring you a PA system when yours broke down. He was the guy who helped hundreds of musicians learn how to play live music at his jam sessions. And he was the stand-up sort of guy who would defend a bartender at his gig, even if it meant he would get hurt. I am deeply saddened by this loss to our musical community."
From Joel DaSilva, Joel DaSilva and the Midnight Howl:
"Jimmy was always nice to me. Always took his time to talk to me to see how things were going and what I was doing no matter how busy he was at the time, and I'll always remember that."
From Dar Lopez, WKPX-FM (88.5)'s Sunday Blues With Dar:
"Everyone who knew Jimmy, or really even met him, knew that he had a heart of gold. He was always there for his friends, to lend a hand if anyone needed it and to support music. He was one-of-a-kind, a true giver, and never wanted anything in return.
"At the last two Riverwalk Blues Festivals, he came and worked like three people. Afterwards, I told him, 'Man, I owe you so big! What can I do to repay you?' He replied, 'You never owe me anything; I love you guys and what you are doing.' I am just one of thousands of people who have similar stories.
"When he was organizing the 'Sunset on 33rd Street' events last year on Sundays, I just remember the smile on his face. People were coming together to support live music and art, having fun, and raising money for charity. Every time he was promoting an event, a band, or a fundraiser, you could hear the excitement in his voice. Rest in peace, Jimmy. You will not be forgotten."
From Michael Fabian:
"Jimmy Pagano was a friend from back in New York and again in Florida. He was one of the hardest-working guys I know in the music business — not only playing but doing sound for others. He was also the man behind the Southern Hot Rod Association 'Battle of the Bands: Rock & Racing.' Without Jimmy, we never could have done this."
From Jay Cummings, Self Induced:
"I knew Jimmy as a hard-working drummer, and he knew me. Drummers are a rare breed and share a common bond, which we did. He always complimented me on my drumming technique and my sound, and coming from him, it always meant a lot. Jimmy had the task of running many open-mic nights, which is not an easy thing to do. He was the guy to give it to you straight but in a way that wasn't cruel. He gave not-so-good musicians the true desire to want to be better. Godspeed, Jimmy. You will be missed."
From Bob Moshen:
"I met Jimmy back in 1979, when he first moved to Florida. After a short time, we opened up a business together. Jimmy's passion was always to play music — even in the store we ran, we set up the drums and guitars and jammed all night long. We lost track of each other for about 25 years, but when I called him up, it was just like old times. I let him know that my son and daughter were playing music, and he invited us with open arms to come in and play. He had a heart of gold."
From Lori Grundman Syvante:
"Every time I saw Jimmy, he was putting something together. He always found a way to play with all kinds of different musicians and had a love for music, life, excitement, cooking, and enjoying every day as it came."
From David "Zeta" Hall:
"I'm so proud to have played music and shared ideas and dreams with this man. I hope we will continue to perpetuate the love and creativity that Jimmy wanted for us each day and not allow the action of an awful person to tarnish the wonderful, higher vibration of love and creativity that Jimmy Pagano stood for. I will always remember looking back to see him with a set of sticks in his hand and a smile on his face."