Siesta John (Sollazzo)
by Mike Sales
Two very cool things happen on Sunday mornings in September; I get to sleep in and enjoy another glorious day of summer/fall hiatus and the Siesta Key Farmer’s Market, in Davidson’s Plaza, is once again, open for business.
The market features, fresh produce, of course, and a massage chair, some expertly potted bromeliads, crafts, eats, coffee (local bean is right there) and…wait for it…MUSIC!
As I mentioned, this is the time of year I get to take it a bit easy, so you can imagine my delight to discover a follow up email to a phone conversation with Siesta John, containing all the info I’d need for an article.
I dragged myself away from the pool long enough to get this in under the wire for the deadline.
John began playing music, in his teens, in the 1960’s, “during the Beatles hey day”.
His first band, for which he played rhythm guitar and sang, performed at church dances and parties. The band also featured a left-handed bass player, a lead guitarist and two drummers. The band apparently needed two drummers, because one of them could always be relied upon to be too inebriated to play, so they kept a spare.
Once John got performing in his blood; he was hooked so, as we flash forward to the present, we find him retired and residing in the Gulf Coast and still playing, every week.
A couple of times per month, you can find him at the Siesta Key Farmers’ Market. He enjoys those gigs, because he’s a morning person and, as he puts it, “These markets are the incubators for many of today’s entrepreneurs. There are quite a few vendors that started their businesses in these morning markets, and they’ve grown them into successful storefronts and online outlets. The variety of products and the creativity of the vendors is really impressive, too.” In addition to the Siesta Key Farmer’s Market, he can be found at other farmers’ markets in the area as well.
John plays songs from Jimmy Buffett, The Eagles, some Alan Jackson, Zac Brown Band, Bob Dylan, The Drifters, Creedence Clearwater Revival and some original tunes, like “The Lower The Latitude, The Better The Attitude”, “Common Sense” which he says, “isn’t all that common these days” and of course, “The Siesta Key Song”
The term, “one man band”, is thrown around the Key like beads at Marti Gras, but keep your shirt on. If you go looking for them, you’re likely going to discover the term just referring to the many talented solo musicians. When I was growing up, a one-man-band, or OMB, was the guy at the fair, with a guitar, a harmonica, cymbals on his knees and a bass drum on his back, singing and playing everything, simultaneously. It’s kind of a humorous image, but the fact is, those guys were blessed with talent even in their kneecaps!…simply because they were required to play everything live, in real time…enter Siesta John, the modern day OMB, once again, in his own words; “I play a keyboard with my feet, using a set of midi foot pedals. I’m basically a guitar player and singer, but having played for years with 3 and 4 piece bands, I missed that full sound. It took a while, but I figured out how to play the single-finger feature of a keyboard with foot pedals. I’m able to play real-time background tracks with minor, major and seventh chords… literally with my toes. This gives me full organ chords, whatever drum style I need, and a bass line. I trigger every chord change as you hear it. Nothing is pre-recorded…I also use a vocal harmonizer to create 2 or 3 part harmonies with my own voice…” He prefers this approach to canned backing tracks because he can go wherever he wants with the song based on how he reads the audience.
If you’d like to see him in action, do yourself a favor, get up bright and early on a beautiful Siesta Key Sunday Morning and visit the Farmers’ Market!
To watch videos of Siesta John playing live visit youtube.com keyword: SiestaJohn
The Siesta Key Farmers’ Market is held at
Siesta Village Plaza, 5124 Ocean Blvd Siesta Key every Sunday 8am-2pm.
For more information visit siestafarmersmarket.com
Mike Sales is a local singer/songwriter. For more information visit MikeSalesSings.com