About 5 years ago having just picked up the guitar myself I would go to the open blues jam at Ace’s Lounge in Bradenton, FL, to practice in front of friendly peers.
Everyone there was cordial and supportive, but the talent pool was deep and every week the best players in attendance would invariably wind up in a blues guitar shootout, with each slinger, firing more mercilessly than the last, but the man who absolutely stole the show, in my opinion, with his effortless mastery of the guitar and polished stage presence was Tony Tyler.
Its no wonder that his name comes up most often, in this article, each month when I ask the interviewee which local musician(s) they like to go see.
I went to the “Come Back Alice” show to set an appointment for an interview, and caught an amazing set that featured Tony playing a lightening fast muted string guitar solo…first time I’d ever seen that done. As he stepped off stage on break, he responded to my request with a gracious, “I’ve got time right now.”
WPT: Are you from around here?
Tony: No, I was born in Macon Georgia; kind of the home of the Allman Brothers, James Brown, Otis Redding and that whole thing.
WPT: When did you first start playing in a band?
Tony: I put my first band together when I was 13, with my dad, who played drums and we stayed together for nearly 15 years, until I was ready to expand my world and leave town.
WPT: Which instruments do you play?
Tony: I play a few; drums, guitar, bass, organ, harmonica…I just, I like to play music. If I can scratch out a song on something, I’ll try to make it sound okay (laughs).
WPT: When did you come down here?
Tony: I came down here about 5 years ago, while touring with Greg Allman’s oldest kid; Michael Allman, and reestablished ties with Dangerous Dan Toler, who a lot of people around here remember and love. I played guitar and sang in his band before he passed away, which is one of the honors of my career. That’s also when I met and fell in love with Dani J, and we started a band.
WPT: Who do you go to see play when you get a chance?
Tony: There’s a lot of great musicians around here, but when I get a chance, I definitely try to go catch “Ari and the Alibis”, you know they’re a good band and starting to do a lot of good stuff. I love “Kettle of Fish”, of course and “Ship of Fools” is just wonderful. Really, I love it all, there are so many great bands around here, so many great musicians, and it’s hard to just pick out a few favorites. We play a lot, but when we get out to see our friends play, we try to go see them all.
WPT: How many nights a week do you play?
Tony: We’re playing a good solid 5 nights per week. We play here (5 O’Clock Club) on Tuesday & Wednesday nights and I do the thing at SKOB on Mondays, on Siesta Key and we get out of town and travel to the festivals on the weekends.
WPT: How far do you go?
TONY: As far as our truck will take us. We’ve gone to New York City and as far out as California. We want to branch out. We like to get out and stay out. Of course we always want to come back here, because its home.
WPT: How much of your show is comprised of originals?
Tony: When we play a club show, its about half originals and half covers, but when we play a festival gig which is just one set, we play about 95% originals with just a few covers.
WPT: How many CDs have you released?
Tony: I’ve personally released 4 CDs on my own and “Come Back Alice” released something out of Spirit Ranch last year and just recently came out with a full production album a few weeks ago.
WPT: How did you come up with the name “Come Back Alice”?
Tony: “Alice” is a classic, comfortable name, that harkens to a simpler idea of when things were more basic, and before we had all of these stresses of the world coming at us through the TV. “Come Back Alice” is an invitation to forget about these modern day worries and just enjoy a simple entertaining musical experience.
WPT: What would you say, is your career highlight, so far?
Tony: There have been so many things over the years, but I’d have to say that recording this last album with “Come Back Alice” was the best. The whole experience was complete, with the hard work and camaraderie. We went into the studio, everyday for a week from noon to midnight and gave everything we had. Except for our drummer, who’d never been in the studio, we’d all done our perspective projects before, but we all agreed that this was a home run.
WPT: What are your career goals?
Tony: We would like to continue doing what we’re doing and play more clubs and festivals around the country. We are working toward getting this album recognized on a national level. We put a lot of hard work into it and are looking to get to the next level of the game.
WPT: How much of the management are you doing yourselves?
Tony: We know how to put a show together and play the songs and over the years we’ve acquired the ability to promote and book ourselves, because it’s a necessity nowadays, but we’re getting ready to hire music industry publicity and promotion professionals, because we’ve reached the point where it takes experts to reach the next levels.
WPT: What’s your message to your audience.
Tony: Support local live music. Regardless of who’s playing, local, live music is the heartbeat of the nation with a finger on the pulse of the youth and the next ideas. There seems to be a notion that we can’t express our ideas anymore, but we can. Whether you’re performing or listening to the music, we’re all in the same boat, on the same journey, seeking the same things. If we can provide a good experience at our shows where people can forget everything else and then take that happiness back into the world with them; we feel like we’ve done our job.
You can connect to and keep up with Tony Tyler and “Come Back Alice on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/comebackalice
SKOB is located at 5238 Ocean Blvd Siesta Key and features live music daily
Mike Sales is a local singer/songwriter. For more information visit mikesalessings.com