Best of Broward / Palm Beach

Ten Greatest South Florida Folk Singers of All Time

Page 5 of 5

4. Dion DiMucci

There are actually two Dions living in our midst -- one whose first name is Celine, and the other who goes by his surname only. Granted, the latter's initial notoriety was established far from our shores, what with his host of hits procured with the Belmonts -- "Runaround Sue," "The Wanderer," "Teenager In Love," et al. -- songs that struck gold in the Brill Building/pre-British Invasion era.

Solo hits followed the band's break-up, most notably "Ruby Baby" and his 1968 protest chart-topper "Abraham Martin and John," a song that affirmed his transition into the furtive folk scene of the mid- and late-'60s. As the years went by, Dion changed direction as frequently as he switched record labels, progressing through folk, religion, the blues, and various attempts to mine modern rock.

Occasional reunions with the Belmonts aside, he's mostly focused on rehashing blues standards these days, and his more recent albums reveal his undiminished devotion to reclaiming those roots. A resident of Boca Raton, he's one of only a few locals claiming membership in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

3. Jimmy Buffett

These days, it seems somewhat sacrilegious to refer to Jimmy Buffett as a folkie, given his fanatical following, his penchant for partying and years of incredible popular and financial success. After all, there are few tattered troubadours who can claim a mansion in Palm Beach, a private plane, a massive schooner, multi-faceted careers as a writer, producer, environmentalist, and entrepreneur, all a boost to his populist appeal.

Nevertheless, this adopted Key West homeboy (he originally hails from Alabama) helped popularize the appeal of the Keys with "Margaritaville," an idyllic ode to "booze in a blender" that became a nationwide favorite. Besides bringing him to the masses (his first single to hit the airwaves, "Come Monday," was a only a modest success), it also helped spawn a chain of restaurants that once rivalled Hard Rock. Where better place to grab that cheeseburger than in the paradise Buffett's always boasting about?

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Lee Zimmerman