A few weeks ago, celebrated promoter and drummer Jimmy Pagano died trying to break up a violent brawl at Fishtales Bar & Grill in Fort Lauderdale. Since then, the local jam scene has ached for its fallen brother.
For decades, Pagano used his winning personality, motivating words, and constant smile to help countless local players reach their potential. Of late, his weekly ProJam music events were held on Tuesday nights at Fishtales and Thursday nights at Cagney's Saloon in Davie.
He promoted other events around the region and regularly lent a hand for benefit shows, and all the while, the self-described "deep in the pocket" drummer provided his support as a rhythmic backing for numerous combos specializing in blues, classic rock, funk, and all else that could energize a late-night crowd.
The horrible altercation took place in the early morning of Sunday, April 17, after Pagano and his Untamed Band had finished performing at about 3:30 a.m. A bar patron got in an argument about his bill, and witnesses tell New Times that bar employees threw the man out after he refused to pay.
The man reportedly returned to the bar later carrying steak knives. He got into another argument at the bar and stabbed Pagano in the neck. Pagano fell over, asking for help as blood poured from his neck.
Other bar patrons approached, and the man stabbed five other people. The man was eventually subdued, and some of the patrons continued to hit and kick him until police arrived. Witnesses say the man was severely beaten and taken to the hospital.
Police say the attacker was Brian Edward Krebs, a 38-year-old Fort Lauderdale resident. He is currently in custody awaiting trial on murder and aggravated battery charges.
After the news of Pagano's death spread to his thousands of Facebook friends, the "In Honor & Remembrance of Jimmy Pagano" tribute page was created, a dedication site launched at jimmypagano.com, and several people have left flowers, candles, and mementos outside of Fishtales in honor of Pagano's many gifts to the local music community.
When a tragedy like this occurs at a bar, the fate of the venue is often unknown. In most cases, the result is not a positive one, but the crew at Fishtales plans to move on from this event and recover fully.
The Tuesday night after Pagano's death, Fishtales reopened its doors and made the decision to continue on with Jimmy Pagano's weekly ProJam. Several musicians and close friends — including Roscoe Peterson, Jeffrey Reeves, and Peter Leonard — got together for an open jam in honor of their friend.
"The first night back was rough," said a Fishtales bartender. "But we did have a packed crowd. We are planning on arranging a memorial service in the near future. We just want things to get back to normal."
Via Facebook, local promoter and Pagano's longtime friend Judy Blem also urged the local community to help pick up the pieces, expressing that "the show must go on!" She has put much effort into the "In Honor & Remembrance of Jimmy Pagano" page, which already has more than 2,000 likes. In addition to the stream of kind words, photos featuring Pagano smiling next to the people who knew him best are in no short supply.
According to Blem, a tribute concert and benefit show with the blessing of the Pagano family is targeted for Sunday, June 5, but a location is not yet firm. Numerous local musicians have volunteered their time to perform at the event. In addition to live music, a raffle and silent auction with proceeds going to the Dan Marino Foundation for Autism are expected.
"We all can only to hope to keep Jimmy's name and legacy alive," she says. "That is my wish for my dear friend of over 20 years. This senseless tragedy has shook me to the very core."