Mike Tozier is so much a part of Siesta Key that you’re almost sure to discover him if you make the rounds of the Key’s clubs that offer live music. His popularity with audiences old and new keeps him working steadily at Gilligan’s, SKOB (Siesta Key Oyster Bar), the Hub Baja Grill, the Island House Tap and Grill, the Sniki Tiki at Captain Curt’s … and maybe a couple more that I’ve forgotten … prompting one fan on Mike’s Facebook page to note “Dude … You’re everywhere!” (https://www.facebook.com/mike.tozier.5 )
With approximately 20 years of performing on the Key, this true Tampa native so loves it there that it’s been his musical home since his first gig … and that was at SKOB, where he still performs today. Before he moved to Sarasota, playing the Key meant a long drive from and back to Tampa every performance night. Some would consider that just way too much trouble to play a beach bar or club, but Mike loved it and showed up for every chance he got to play the island. Siesta Key is as much a part of Mike as he is of it.
“It’s changed my life and I love it,” he explains.
When he gave in to the all-too-familiar musicians’ obligatory move to Nashville, he held out for just 18 months before he could no longer resist the sound of the Key calling him back.
“I was so homesick,” he recalls. “I just had to try it (Nashville) so I wouldn’t have any regrets, and I don’t; I learned a lot. “
One of the things he learned was that he didn’t belong there.
“I’m just not the road-dog type,” he concedes. “It just isn’t for me. I like to work, come home, have a life.”
You don’t have that stability if you live on the road, but he did still play a couple of big gigs opening for Dr. John and Leon Russell.
Though he writes some of his own material (and put out the album Road to Life a while back), recording isn’t high on his list of priorities. Right now he has enough original material to put out a couple more albums, bit Mike’s true joy stems from working with other dedicated, talented musicians and performing for people who appreciate all the hard work it takes to be able to do that. Everyone has heard about “paying dues” and what a long, hard haul it is to get to the point that you can actually make a living with your music but hearing about it is a lot different than living it. Sure it’s fun to be on stage and have appreciative audiences applaud you … but that’s a very small part of the effort that goes into getting there. As part of that effort Mike has taught himself to play guitar, dobro, harmonica and slide guitar
“I try to keep everyone happy,” he explains, and he does that by performing the wide variety of music styles learned through listening to performers he admires. “I call it ‘adult music,’” Mike says. “Bob Dylan, Robert Johnson, the Beatles, Buffet, the Eagles, Allman Brothers Band, Tom Petty, some reggae … I always say, ‘If you don’t like what you hear when you walk in, just wait three minutes; you’ll probably like the next song.”
And probably the one after that. When a musician really loves what he’s doing and where he’s playing, it comes through in his performances… and Mike definitely loves Siesta Key.
“Siesta Key is a great place to be,” he enthuses, “and a really great place to be an entertainer.”
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At press time Mike’s Siesta Key gigs for January included:
Jan. 01, 08 and 22: Gilligan’s Island Bar & Grill, 6 to 10 p.m.
Jan. 04, 11, 18, 25: Siesta Key Oyster Bar (SKOB) 8 p.m.
Jan. 12 & 26: Siesta Key Oyster Bar (SKOB) 10 a.m.
Jan. 12 & 26: The Hub Baja Grill, 6:30 p.m.
All dates and times subject to change, check Mike’s website for updates and additional locations: www.miketozier.com. You can also hear some of Mike’s recordings there.