Hot Tuna jammed at the Grove Pub on a Sunday afternoon once. It was packed. The place to be. Miami news was shooting. They were using Bethlehem Asylum’s equipment with reluctant acquiesance from the Asylum band members. These guys were rock stars, they destroyed things. Joey Covington broke my snare drum head. He wrote me a check to cover it and I think it actually cleared..
Below downtown Miami, turn off Dixie Highway, through the jungle bungalos and dead end at the Grove Pub, adjacent to the Coconut Grove post office and Winn Dixie. Army green little bar owned by a retired Miami police officer. When the Asylum arrived in 1969, it was a sleepy local tavern. Not much happening. He offered free cold cuts on Sunday afternoons. There were a few regulars. A dart board. A pool table in back. This was the Coconut Grove that had existed for a long time as a stopover for end of the roaders, fishermen, spooks, and poets.
Living on avocados was not good. The bus was parked behind Lease’s house, he was still missing in action. Animal swore that he was hallucinating from too many avocados as he worked on fuzz tones by the light of a candle. We had to do something so I approached Dick and offered to bring in a jazz trio on Sunday afternoon. I had much bigger designs than that but we had to start small so as not to scare him away. We needed his cold cuts.
The effect was like lightning striking a dry tinder box. Word spread; live good music on Sunday afternoon. Christian bounced through the changes of “Work Song”, Charlie shined on flute and I kept up while a cougar draped her leg over Christian’s Wurlitzer electric piano. We were an instant hit. Soon we added Jim and Danny. The dartboard still got used when we took a break.
The recluses of the Grove started to appear. The beatniks retired from the Village. The writers, the photographers, the real artists of American culture who had found a way to successfully hide away in the lush embrace of Coconut Grove. The crowd grew steadily every Sunday. Dick got rid of the dartboard and put in a stage. We were the only band playing live music in Coconut Grove. The live theater next door suffered silently through the thin walls. Vince Martin came in; flip flops, Brooklyn to the bone, and full of heart. he saw the importance of what was happening, he played with us and encouraged us like no other. Then Fred Neil appeared, wild eyed and full of party, I realized that we had accomplished something. Freddie jumped up on the stage and proceeded to play conga drum and sing with us. His followers were aghast. This was not the Freddie they expected. Some of them immediately wanted to make money off of his musical inspiration since it had been a long time since he appeared in public. I saw it as healing. Freddie was in pain, just like the rest of us and the music we were doing was a good voodoo. It healed people.