Musings, opinions, observations, questions, and random thoughts on island life, Fernandina Beach and more

Musings, opinions, observations, questions, and random thoughts on island life, Fernandina Beach and more

Island Musical Duo Issue Their First Album; Area Locals Help Each Other During Storm

dan-michele-cdTwo of the most admired musicians on Amelia Island, whose popularity is quickly growing throughout Northeast Florida, are the duo of Dan Voll and Michele Anders, talented and fun entertainers with a dedicated group of followers that are now treated to the couple’s first CD — “Kiss Me Salty.”

Baraboo, Wisconsin native Voll, who has lived hereabouts since 2010 and has been playing guitar since he was nine, studied in Los Angeles with recording artist Ted Greene and is the recipient of a number of music awards

Known for his dry wit, sparkling instrumentals and soulful vocals, Dan’s versatility is obvious to his audiences as he blends genres including rock, pop, blues, jazz, country, and Latin music. His unique connection to his audiences becomes obvious whenever he appears as he makes each individual or couple feel as though he is singing just for them.

Following his move to Amelia Island he became wildly popular playing solo and with several groups, quickly becoming one of the most established guitarists in NE Florida. A chance meeting led to his partnership with Michele “Shell” Anders in the summer of 2011, and the duo’s sound, stage presence and chemistry proved to be a successful formula charming audiences of all ages and musical tastes.

Michele and Dan

Hailing from Pennsylvania, Ms. Anders played bass and sang in cover bands in central Pennsylvania, the Maryland and the Delaware beaches before moving to Florida in 1999. When her career took a turn to radio broadcasting, she put her musical aspirations aside and enjoyed popularity on the Jacksonville air waves. Now the pretty, versatile bass player, who has a crowd-pleasing voice that’s a unique cross between Bobbie Gentry and Janis Joplin, also teaches English to lucky Yulee 8th graders. Mr. Voll also teaches guitar to Yulee grade school kids.

A CD release party that was originally scheduled to be held Thursday, October 6 at Pajamadave Voorhees’s Pajama Life shop on downtown’s South 2nd Street and was postponed due to the hurricane, was held yesterday evening with a packed house to introduce the new CD. More information about it and Dan and Michele is available at The CD is available for $10 when the two perform (Saturday afternoons at Sandy Bottoms, 1-5:00; the Salty Pelican upstairs on Sunday evenings 4-9 p.m.; and most Friday evenings at the Green Turtle 6:30- 10 p.m., are three regular venues.) The CD is also available at Pajama Life.

The album is beach themed with songs written by both artists including one Dan and Michele wrote together a couple of years ago called “Treasure Seekers” about the crew of the local Polly L and the search for the Spanish ship San Miguel and its treasure lost off the coast of Amelia Island in the 1700s. The local treasure hunters approached Dan requesting a theme song for a reality TV show they were shopping and “Treasure Seekers” is the result.

It also contains some of Voll’s trademark instrumentals including: “Esta es Vida” or “This is Life”, and “Fernandina Daybreak.” He also covers Tito Puente’s “Mambo Gallego”. Also included is “Ocean” written by the duo’s late friend the Mike Donzi, that they included not only to honor his memory but because they think it is “a great song.”

Other songs are about the beach and Shell’s move here from Pennsylvania: Kiss Me Salty”; and one about an old boyfriend in Ocean City, Maryland, “Coming Over.” Ride on Gator” is about a character they met at the Green Turtle, plus more.

It’s not really relevant but Dan’s hometown of Baraboo (population 12,000) is home to the International Clown Hall of Fame. Just saying.


Real American Heroes Right Here: Each time I see a TV image of creepy San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem, I get even angrier than I was before, particularly after watching our Fernandina Beach and Nassau County Police, Sherriff, Fire, EMS, power crews and others put themselves at risk to aid people in our community before, during and after Hurricane Matthew.

These remarkable and dedicated people, both black and white, braved terrible and many times dangerous conditions to assist all area families and ensure their safety, despite the fact they had families of their own to secure and worry about.

welcome-homeWatching the police wave folks back across Shave Bridge and welcome them home after the storm ended brought a lump to the throats of many islanders.

While Linda and I evacuated Wednesday, October 5 to my Canadian cousin’s home on the Gulf Coast’s Indian Shores, we depended on the online newspaper Fernandina Observer and the Nassau County Economic Development Board’s Karen Schexnayder’s frequent posts to keep us informed of developments. Both did a remarkable job and as far as I can tell, their comments were accurate, based on information they received from the devoted experts at the Nassau Emergency Management team, another group of folks that deserve a big “thank you.” It makes me wonder where the bi-weekly News-Leader got its inaccurate information about the Shave Bridge opening and closing. The only area that I and others found that could stand to be improved next time would be in clearing and issuing information, as there didn’t appear to be an overall spokesperson, one single authoritative source that gathered, cleared, coordinated and dispensed information for both the county and Fernandina Beach.

City Commissioner Tim Poynter and his wife Theresa managed to open their downtown Cafe Karibo on Sunday despite not having electricity or a generator, and cooked for crews of safety and rescue folks, utility workers and city employees who were getting the city ready for the return of evacuees. Using a gas grill and a miner’s like head-lamp Theresa cooked while Tim handled serving chores.

In her Thamm-O-Gramm, Suanne Thamm, who also serves as an investigative reporter for the Observer, reported that Fernandina Police Chief Jim Hurley was frequently seen during the storm surveying the damage, soothing frayed nerves of both those who had stayed and those who endured long waits to return to the island.  According to Ms. Thamm Chief Hurley and Lt. Jason Smith stressed that one of the reasons for the delayed Shave Bridge opening was the need for city and utility crews to make sure that the island was safe by getting trees and signs out of major roadways, clearing downed power lines, and getting traffic lights working. These tasks and many others faced city crews when they returned to the island Saturday morning in advance of home and business owners who had to wait until 4:00 p.m. to return.

Hurricane Matthew incoming


City officials and others that deserve a pat on the back include Patti Clifford who quickly initiated paperwork for disaster relief funds to help pay for the cleanup and Advanced Disposal, which added extra crews to clear debris.  City Marina manager Joe Springer also had his hands full with a marina that suffered severe damage. I’ve also heard nothing but good reports about City Manager Dale Martin’s activities during the storm. Power was off for a little more than 24 hours, testimony to the expert crews that took care of that critical service. Driving back home we saw lines of bucket trucks heading home, their good work here done.

However, it’s folks like our first repsonders and those in the U.S. military who are in remote war zone locations and worried about their families here during the storm that I think about when I see a twit like Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem. Why does the NFL level penalties and fines for personal fouls, excess celebrations, taunting opposing players, and wearing 9/11 shoes, yet allows blatant disrespect for the country, our flag, the military, law enforcement officials, and our national anthem? The NFL commissioner and team owners should develop backbones and put an end to the atrocious behavior of loons like Kaepernick. By tolerating this crap they are implying that the owners and the NFL approve of it, thus showing blatant disrespect for their fans, who are not pleased by this nonsense.

Getting back to our local heroes, area bloggers Tarah Warren and Ashley Hart Hogan are coordinating an island community cookout as a “thank you” for the area’s first responders to be held tomorrow, Saturday, October 15 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the First Baptist Church, which offered its site for the event at 1600 South 8th St.  It is free and open to everyone in the community who would like to say “thanks” to our local heroes.  So far a wide variety of residents, organizations and businesses are donating time, food and drinks to the event including Tony’s Pizza, The Elizabeth Pointe Lodge, Journey Church, Coastal Current Electric LLC, Amelia To Go, Macedonia AME Church, Hampton Inn on Sadler, CBC National Bank and many more. Any other businesses, organizations or individuals that would like to participate with preparation, set-up, clean-up or anything else should contact Ms. Warren via e-mail at and she will coordinate the details with them.


Living The Norman Rockwell Life: I was amazed at the number of emails and cell phone calls I received from local people prior to and during the hurricane asking me if Linda and I needed a place to stay, wanted help, or needed cleanup assistance. These ranged from good friends Pajamadave Voorhees and Monty Kitchen to piano man John Springer (whose own house was severely damaged by a falling tree) and downtown Hampton Hotel General Manager Bob Ramshaw, to a variety of neighbors and others. Some drove by our house and shared pictures, even going into the back yard to take photographs and email them to us. We have lived in many places in the U.S. and Europe, but I have never lived in a place like this, were the folks are as sincerely helpful and caring as the ones here. As I’ve said many times before, living here is like living in a Norman Rockwell painting. We are truly blessed.


Funny Business: Despite the fact that clowns are supposed to make folks happy there is apparently no connection between the numerous area clown sightings and the fact that Fernandina Beach has been selected as one of the happiest communities in America by Coastal Magazine.

Maybe the fact that it is election season explains the clown phenomena, as apparently the clowns spotted hereabouts are doing the opposite of what we are used to seeing those in the circus do, and instead are doing a lot of what politicians do — scare people.

Getting back to “happy places,” Fernandina Beach has recently been named one of America’s 10 Happiest Seaside Towns by Coastal Magazine. Locals and others can take a look and even vote at through October 17 to try and boost the town’s ranking to the country’s number one happiest coastal location.

scary clown behind tree in park night scene

The magazine said it selected its finalists by reviewing destinations that have been covered by the magazine and nominated through social media. They also ranked cities based on something called the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, a percentage of clear and sunny days, healthiness of beaches, commute times, walkability, crime, standard of living and financial well-being of the locals, geographic diversity, and their editors’ assessment of each town’s “coastal vibe.”

The only surprise I saw on the list of towns to vote for was that there was one in New Jersey (Cape May) because when I think of new Jersey I don’t think of happy folks, I think of grumpy commuters, Newark, Bayonne, pollution, and crooked and incarcerated politicians. And as far as New Jersey coastal communities are concerned I will always remember the folks there complaining to New York City officials in the 1970s about “floaters” washing up on their beaches and scaring the kids. Maybe Cape May residents are happy because they don’t live in Trenton.

But back to the scary local clowns. According to the Nassau County sheriff’s office, a series of sightings include reports of clowns peeping in windows, knocking on doors, lurking in yards, luring people in cars, and chasing them. The reports didn’t mention if they carried “Vote For” signs or left behind campaign literature.

I’m betting that once the voting for happy towns and the November 8 election is over, all the clowns will disappear to city hall, Tallahassee or Washington, D.C. and people in Fernandina Beach will still be happier than those in Cape May or anywhere else in New Jersey.


Things I Wish I Had Said: “The world would not be in such a snarl, had Marx been Groucho instead of Karl.”– Ogden Nash.


A Choice Of Two Evils: During the Sunday evening presidential debate I felt I was watching a brothel madam arguing with one of her best customers. Out of a nation of 324 million people these two are the best the major political parties could scrape up to run the world’s most powerful country? We would be better off if they had just picked names at random from the New York City telephone directory.


Just Wondering Department: When people in China go out to eat do they say: “Let’s go out for food?”


Amelia River Cruises Ready To Go: All three of the Amelia River Cruise boats survived the hurricane with no damage and cruises are scheduled to begin again starting today. However, due to the extensive damage to the downtown marina docks the boats will depart out of the south end of the same marina, off of Dock 8, approximately 300 yards south of its former location at 1 North Front Street. A temporary ticket booth is just south of Atlantic Seafood in the gravel parking lot south of Ash Street. Amelia River Cruises & Charters offers three narrated historic sightseeing boat tours daily from downtown Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island up to Cumberland Island National Seashore, plus the Adult Twilight BYOB Cruise with live local musicians on Fridays & Saturdays. The current schedule is as follows and will be valid through October 19, 2016: 10:30 a.m – 12:30 p.m. Cumberland Island Tour; 2:30 – 4:00 p.m. Beach Creek Tour; 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Family Friendly Sunset Cruise. The Adult Twilight BYOB Cruise is on Fridays & Saturdays only, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Ask for a trip with Captain Pajamadave, you’ll be glad you did.  Tickets are available online at Call ’em at 904/261-9972.


Pulled pork in a bunDrinking, Dining & Dancing: Due to Hurricane Matthew the Smoke N Da Cockpit Bar-B-Que team and the Green Turtle Tavern moved the “Bar-B-Que and Brew 2016” fund-raising event from this last Sunday to Sunday, October 23, 3-6 p.m. The BBQ dinner, which will feature live music, is to raise funds for Foster Yates III, the brother of BBQ teammate Chris Evans. Foster received a kidney transplant September 23 and medical bills are piling up due to diabetic complications. The $10 dinner includes pulled pork and a choice of baked beans or green beans. The Green Turtle is also donating a portion of their sales to the cause.  Tickets can be purchased at the door but they go fast so I advise folks to get advance tickets by going to Bar-B-Que and Brew 2016.

  • Comment (5)
  • No mention of the intrepid Chad Bridges who stayed on island during Matthew and kept all us evacuees informed with real-time videos of the storm which he posted on the AI-Fernandina Facebook page? If anyone deserves a shout-out, it’s him! Grateful islanders have banded together to buy Chad a beer or two hundred, though we hear the man doesn’t drink! See #wehadchad

  • The first Responders and Community Leaders, need a “shut out” on the way this potential disaster was handled in a most Organized and Professional way. As a counter point to this, I’d like to share “How Not To Handle a Disaster” Back in 1972 Hurricane Agnes, hit the Southern Tier of New York. Torrential Rains swelled the two major rivers, running into and through the Chemung Valley. (Corning, Painted Post, Elmira) The Mayor Of Corning N.Y. Taped a Message to be played on the local radio. Telling folks, Nothing to worry about, that the Dikes, (built after a previous flood) would hold, Don’t panic, and stay in your home. Bottom Line, the Dikes Broke, 8′ of water flowed throughout Corning and the entire Chemung Valley. We found out after, the Mayor and his Family, had evacuated to Ithaca New York, and the Taped Message Continued to Play on. Lives were lost. So again, thank you all. our Heart felt Thanks.

  • RE choosing presidential candidates: the New York City phone directory is one of the last places i would choose to look. Rather Manchester, TN or Kokomo, IN or Adel, GA or hundreds of other American places other than NYC.

  • Cape May is designated a National Historic Landmark and is know for it’s Victorian architecture (second largest collection of Victorian homes in the US after San Francisco). In the 1950’s- early 1970″s, I vacationed there with my parents. It was a very quiet town – unlike Atlantic City and Wildwood. When I first saw Fernandina Beach, I thought, “This is a smaller version of Cape May. And, it’s affordable!” Imagine North 6th Street – in an expanded geographical area. You have the Cape May I knew.

  • Okay Dave, I guess there’s a first time for everything and this is my first comment ever but you hit a nerve! Under Funny Business in the third paragraph from the end you portray New Jersey in very unflattering terms. I grew up in the Philadelphia area and spent countless summers at the Jersey shore, mostly Ocean City. However, I’ve been to Cape May hundreds of times and it is one of the quaintest beach towns you’ll find anywhere. As a matter of fact our own Elizabeth Pointe Lodge is a perfect example of much of their architecture.

    The state of NJ is one of the most diversified in the nation with it’s factories in the north, mountains with ski resorts and lakes in the northwest/horse country in the westwest/farms in the south -believe me you’d die for Jersey corn and tomatoes. Trenton may not be the Princeton of NJ but their slogan was and remains “What Trenton Makes The World Takes”. Go figure, not sure what that is today?
    PS: I commuted for 14 years from Princeton to NYC and I will admit I was grumpy at times but my 16oz Ballantine Ale and newspaper made it easier on the ride home!


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