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Music fest for vets this weekend at Ragged Ass Saloon

November 6, 2018
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

One of the biggest events of the season will be held this weekend when the "Guitars for Veterans Music Fest" is held at the Ragged Ass Saloon in St. James City.

Larry Morton, manager of Ragged Ass Saloon; Jim Frock, owner of Seven Seas Bait and Tackle; and several others are hosting the event, Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 10-11. All proceeds go to Guitars for Veterans, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that enhances the lives of ailing and injured military veterans by providing them free guitars and music instruction.

More than half of the 2.6 million veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars struggle with physical and mental challenges. In fact, 22 veterans commit suicide every day. But many are finding hope in an unlikely place: behind the wood and strings of an acoustic guitar.

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Larry Morton is the manager at Ragged Ass Saloon. "I travel back and forth from Maine to Pine Island and wanted to do some type of benefit for the veterans last year," Morton said. "So this year I reached out to Jim Frock, owner of Seven Seas Bait and Tackle, to help me get this going this year."

The two settled on the name "Guitars for Veterans Music Fest." Guitars for Veterans provides lessons and guitars to veterans free of charge. According to itswebsite (, "Thousands of our war Veterans are afflicted with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).... Many are finding hope in an unlikely place: behind the wood and strings of an acoustic guitar. The healing power of music helps soldiers cope. That's why we provide veterans with guitars and a forum to learn how to play."

"We've had so much help from Heather Swartz and employees here at Ragged Ass that I'm hoping to make this an annual event," Morton said. "We've had lots of donations from on and off the island and even our Ragged Ass suppliers are helping out."

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The two-day event will feature some of Southwest Florida's best entertainment.

The festival begins at 11 a.m. Saturday with the National Anthem sung by Bucking Wild followed by the Lee County Sheriff's Department fly-over and the American Legion Post #136 Honor Guard performing a gun salute.

Then starting at noon, Buckin Wild, Brother Love and Damon Fowler will entertain.

Buckin Wild is one of Southwest Florida's fastest growing country/rockabilly Bands. This five-piece group of seasoned musicians was formed around the vocals of Nashville recording artist Scott Utley and female vocalist Julie Weiss, who together create a pitch perfect harmony blend. The band performs regularly at Froggy's and the American Legion.

Brother Love is composed of four local Pine Island musicians: Corky, Todd, Gary and Sticks. The group plays blues, southern rock and other good, fun music! The band plays often at several Pine Island and Matlacha venues.

Damon Fowler is known for his electric blues with hints of country, swamp rock, R&B and swing. Over the years, he has worked with Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter, Edgar Winter, Jeff Beck and Greg Allman.

Sunday's entertainment, which starts at 11 a.m., includes Backlash, Bryan Lee and All Rise Revival.

Backlash is a Naples, Florida, rock band formed in 2007. With a focus on fan favorite songs, high quality musicianship and visuals and stage show, Backlash has carved a niche as one of South Florida's top bands. The band focuses on a wide range of music: early; classic; southern; ' 80s, '90s and current rock hits; as well as blues and country. Backlash has played a numerous venues on Pine island.

Those who haven't seen Lee perform at Seven Seas Dock Parties are in for a treat.

Lee has been playing the blues around the world for over 50 years. Born on March 16, 1943, in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, Lee lost his eyesight and was legally blind by the age of 8.

At an early age, Lee had an interest in rock 'n' roll and the blues. The man known as "Braille Blues Daddy" has been entertaining crowds since he was a teenager with the blues of Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and Freddie King.

While on tour in the 1980s, Lee opened for one of his heroes, Muddy Waters. After the show Muddy told Lee, "Bryan, stay with this and one day you will be a living legend."

"I went home and I cried" Lee said.

All Rise Revival will be performing the music of the Allman Brothers. Members include Mike Kach, RJ Howson, Pedro Arevalo and Frankie Lombardi from the Dickie Betts Band; Pat McDonald from Charlie Daniels Band; and Berry D. Oakley, son of the original Allman Brothers band bassist.

In addition to the great music Ragged Ass Saloon will have a pig roast on Sunday.

The event is sponsored and supported by the American Military Veterans Foundation, Southwest Florida Blues Society, Froggy's Bar, Beacon of HOPE, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Traders Hitching Post and Ragged Ass Saloon.

Admission is $10 each day or $45 for a VIP pass for both days.

For additional information, contact Ragged Ass Saloon at 239-282-1131 or Seven Seas Bait and Tackle at 239-283-1674

The Ragged Ass Saloon is at 3421 Stringfellow Road, St. James City. Visit



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