With their wide variety and silky smooth sound, perfect for a tropical evening, it would be easy to assume Georgia and Mike’s career consisted of dedicated polish of an admirable cover music here on the Gulf Coast, so you can imagine my delighted surprise to learn that their collective resume has more weight than most anyone I’ve interviewed to date…
WPT: Normally I start out with, “Where are you from?” but instead, lets start with; where did you first become “Georgia and Mike”?
Mike: In 1979, Georgia who’s from Buffalo (NY), was playing disco in a road band at the nicest hotel in Dayton, Ohio, where I’m from. Some of their gear broke down, so they brought it in for repairs at a music store I was managing and while there, told me there was soon to be some openings in their band and so I referred a couple of players. After that, when the band got an offer to do bigger things, I quit my job, took over the bass playing from Georgia, and went on the road with them.
WPT: Ran away with the circus?
Mike: Ran away with the circus. I sold my sister’s car to buy a $275.00 step van to travel in and we worked our way up from there.
WPT: How far up?
Mike: In the early 80’s, we were working in Dayton and got an offer to record an album with the Commodores for Motown, so we went to their studio in Tuskegee where they produced and recorded our first album. Contract disputes with Motown, prevented them from releasing it. We also recorded an original R&B album with a group called “Split Image, which consisted of 3 members from the Ohio Players and 3 members from our band in1984. That recording was also produced for Motown and didn’t get released either.
In 1987 Georgia recorded a song called, “Come to me tonight”, with the group, “Flamingo (ft Georgia Riber)” that became a disco hit.
WPT: It sounds like you were doing well.
Mike: We did very well during the 80’s. We had a lot of real estate at the time, like 20 houses. We bought a nightclub and had a limousine service and had the band going the whole time.
Georgia: A lot of juggling…talking about the circus.
Mike: After that, we sold everything and moved to Nashville, where a friend of ours, Eddie Bayers, who played drums and was in demand as a studio player, offered to produce Georgia. We did a lot of demos and jingles but never did an album with him. We landed a house gig at the Opryland Hotel, in the Jack Daniels lounge where we were popular with a lot of the convention attendees, because we were the only act in the hotel that didn’t play country music. After that, we landed a gig on cruise ships and worked our way up from a piano duo to Georgia headlining a concert vocal performance with the orchestra, which I conducted, in the showroom. We booked world cruises on the QE2 among other well-paying gigs until she got tired of being on the road.
Georgia: I got tired of making money (laughs).
Mike: Yes, we were making ridiculous money. After she quit the road, I went out with one of the “Bill Haley and the Comets” touring groups of which there are 3 out there. This one featured the original drummer, with whom I toured for a year until I found out Thoroughbred Music was opening a store in Nashville. I quit the road to go manage the store and be with Georgia, who had pretty much quit singing by then.
Georgia: …one or two gigs a year maybe…
Mike: Sam Ash bought the chain and Georgia and I were both managers there when we came down to Florida.
WPT: How many instruments do you play?
Georgia: I grew up playing guitar and bass, upright bass, quite a bit, played flute in school, piano in college and in my later years I took up cello and a little harp, just for the fun of it.
Mike: I started off in school on trumpet, and picked up guitar, bass and keys, which I’ve been playing ever since.
WPT: How did you get to Sarasota?
Mike: We had a lot of friends from the cruise ships, who settled down in Naples (FL). They played country club shows, which pay well, so we started traveling down there 15-20 times per year, and when Sam Ash opened the store in Sarasota, we moved down.
WPT: How long did it take you to get established as a music act in this area?
Mike: We just got out and started hustling for gigs. We quit working at Sam Ash, scaled back our overhead and nowadays we do 8-10 high end gigs, balance it out playing locally and live modestly & comfortably and just enjoy ourselves.
WPT: What can people expect when they come to see you on Siesta Key?
Mike: A variety.
Georgia: We play everything from the 1920’s to current.
WPT: Who do you like to go see live?
Mike: We like the whole gang; Marcel, Ben Hammond, Andres Collins, Sandi Grecco Jennifer Leigh, Aly Couch, Ari and Nick, Twinkle, Melanie Massell, Karen Klarich and of course, Debbie Keeton, who is from my hometown of Fairborn, Ohio. When we got here, we were often asked if we missed the talent pool from spending twenty years in Nashville. I always told everybody that there was such a concentration of amazing musicians and singers gathered along this coast, there was nothing to miss.
WPT: What’s your message to your audience?
Mike: I just want everybody to have a good time listening…
Georgia: Relax and enjoy it, that’s all.
Georgia & Mike play weekly at BluQue Island Grill located at:
149 Avenida Messina, Siesta Key, FL
You can find out more about Georgia & Mike on their website Georgiaandmike.com
Mike Sales is a local singer songwriter for more information visit mikesalessings.com