Greetings from the Gulf: This place is full of rock stars, including one with a Twinkle

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 By John Morton

Now, I know Bobby Schneck has been on some big stages, but can any compare to his recent performance of the Siesta Sand jingle?

Yes, our local guitar hero recently volunteered to crank out on video a bluesy ode to all things fit to print here, and I can’t thank him enough.

Visit our new website at siestasand.us and enjoy the view.

And yes, Bobby, you have my permission to open and close your shows with the tune. That’s right, both!

Just wait until I ask him to sing once a month about the newspaper’s headlines.

A loud rocker about new hotel applications. A soft ballad about turtle nests.

Hey, a gig is a gig, right?

Truth be told, he and many of our local musicians are getting plenty of gigs around here, thanks to the robust music scene on the Key.

Just think how lucky we are — every night, about a dozen joints rock our world with top-shelf musical acts. Sure, it burned deep last year to realize traditional concerts would be extinguished for the unforeseeable future, but the return of the intimate, corner-of-the-bar shows you get here certainly eases the pain.

Right back at ya, buddy! You’re welcome!

Plus, you get to watch the shows mere feet away, and for free. With many of the tourists gone, they feel like private events.

Beats the heck out of the third deck of Amalie Arena at 150 clams per ticket.

Sitting sandwiched here between the rock royalty of AC/DC’s Brian Johnson to the north on Bird Key, and the Allman Brothers’ Dickey Betts to the south on Little Sarasota Bay, our area has often enjoyed the impromptu jams by them and their visiting friends.

Who is Siesta Key’s all-time most famous musical resident? That’s up for debate, but one could argue for the late Jerry Wexler, a former music journalist who went on to produce albums by legends Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and Bob Dylan.

Today, Schneck’s history of both tech and performance work with the likes of Aerosmith, Weezer, Green Day, and Slash certainly put him in the Siesta Key musical spotlight.

Another local musician of note (thank you!) is Thorson Moore, a guitar wizard who plays all around the area. When I asked Schneck for an interview a few months back, he agreed but made it a point to say “Now that’s the guy you should be writing about” in regard to Moore.  

Moore has even contributed music to some of Betts’ recordings.

And, someone else from these parts also has ties to Betts, starting when she was very young and following her father Buddy around as he played music with the Allman Brothers and the Marshall Tucker Band.

Twinkle’s demo CD from the late 1980s

She was a little star in the making, and thus a nickname for her was simple:  Twinkle.

And with that, I’m delighted to report that a search under the seat of my car finally unearthed the CD case holding one of my favorites.

Twinkle, I’m so happy to become reacquainted with you.

She doesn’t know me, but she should. I’m the guy whose jaw was on the ground at the Beach Club in the late 1980s as she captivated the audience with that certain something she has.

Yes, there was a twinkle in her eye, but mostly the eye of the tiger.

Part sultry cabaret crooner, part rock ‘n roll vixen, part super-duper soulstress, either way she blew me away.

Hey, not bad lyrics, eh?

A few nights later, after a second show at the old Bob’s Boathouse at the end of Old Stickney Point Road, I was jaw-droppin’-it once again. It was after that show that I also dropped a sawbuck on her homespun CD she was selling in the lobby. It was called Sun Girl and contained live-music excerpts from a showcase produced by Tampa’s community-based WMNF 88.5.

With those call letters, you’d think they’d be broadcasting Monday Night Football, but to my delight they were in the know when it came to true talent.

I always wondered what came of Twinkle’s career, and I’m thrilled to learn she still performs in our area with her Rock Soul Radio band.

In between, her story is compelling. Sure enough, she was signed by Warner Brothers, but superstardom eluded her — although that depends on how you define that, of course. Let’s just say you didn’t see her in heavy rotation on MTV.

Still, she has worked in a support role with many top-name artists throughout the years while staying true to her roots, her colleagues say. She’s never compromised who she is despite that taste of Hollywood.

It seems the little queen of soul refused to sell her soul in an era when so many did.

As for Wexler, he once declared Twinkle “the greatest soul singer I have seen in a long time and, believe me, I’ve seen my share of imitators.”

(Visit twinklerocksoulradio.com for more testimonials and all things Twinkle).

Meanwhile, Twinkle (real name Schascle Yochim) would be tracked down by an adopted brother she never knew (Tony LeClerc) and, straight out of a movie script, they’d join forces to make music together.

Their band has even toured Europe.

And, back to Aerosmith, Twinkle had the opportunity to open for them at what was then the St. Pete Times Forum because Lenny Kravitz wasn’t available. The crowd was 18,000 strong.

OK, let’s regroup. Twinkle’s doing great, I love live music, our area is loaded with talent, and one joint after another here showcases it night in and night out.

In fact, Blase Cafe in the Village recently hosted Jamie Tremps, who Schneck said “has one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard.”

Maybe she can sing the phonebook, but can she sing about a countywide phonebook-recycling initiative?

Bobby, I’m leaving that to you. You, sir, are my true headliner.

(John Morton is managing editor of Siesta Sand.)

John Morton
Author: John Morton

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