There is something extra special about a house party concert, both for audiences and performers. Everyone feels free to freak out a bit harder. At fisherman Jon West’s two decades of “Backyard Rock Shows” on his vast compound out in the Pinellas sticks, I remember everyone was always half naked, barefoot or in flipflops, wet and smelling of sunscreen.
Jon West, who lost his battle with colon cancer this March at the age of 45, was known as an avid fisherman. The Old Salt fishing website adds “storyteller extraordinaire, avid writer, captain, mate, husband and friend” to Jon’s description. But to many musicians in Tampa and St. Petersburg, as well as some select national acts, West was also a unique musical impresario, regularly hosting very special concerts in a verdant, loving environment.
At first, this meant playing in front of an active pigeon coop. One could hear the birds cooing and humping between songs. “It would start raining and you’d just be standing out there exposed with your amp hoping nothing bad happened,” recalls guitarist George Eckerle, currently of Fowler’s Bluff, who has played West’s BRS in three different bands.
Jon’s widow, Christine West, surprised me by telling me I’d played guitar at the couple’s first-ever yard concert in 1996. Longtime friend of Jon’s and Tampa Bay concert promoter (as well as part-time CL graphic designer) Jack Spatafora, who at the time played bass in our band, convinced the Wests to host Michigan ambient guitar duo, Windy and Carl. From there, Jon caught the bug. CLICK HERE to read the rest of the piece at Creative Loafing, Tampa…