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Opening Remarks

Give the Drummer Some

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Editor Manson (right, though sometimes he’s wrong) with mandolin builder and musician Jason Sloan at the April Arts and Design Society luncheon in Fort Walton Beach. Mr. Sloan also plays in the band Copper Line Bluegrass, so we may have to bring back that category for the 2019 Beachcomber Music Awards.
Photo by Hanna Joensuu.

At press time, I had just gotten the news about Jab’o Starks’ passing. Mr. Starks was the drummer with The Red Bar Jazz Band for as long as I can remember, and I interviewed him for Beachcomber in 2006.


Prior to making countless memories for music fans in Grayton Beach, Mr. Starks played with James Brown’s band, along with Clyde Stubblefield (who died last February). Rolling Stone named Jab’o and Mr. Stubblefield the sixth best drummers of the Rock ‘n Roll era.

The uncredited Rolling Stone writer referred to Mr. Starks as “woefully underrated.” Questlove remarked that “Starks was the Beatles to Clyde’s Stones. A clean shuffle drummer to Clyde’s free-jazz left hand.” Together, these two greats left their mark on some of the Godfather of Soul’s most enduring music (“Cold Sweat,” “Superbad,” “Funky Drummer,” etc. etc.), as well as a ton of hip-hop artists.


When I first met Mr. Starks, I was under the impression he didn’t want to talk about his time with James Brown. So I swore I wouldn’t ask.


The first question out of my mouth was, “Do you and James Brown still keep in touch?” I half expected to be impaled on a drumstick after that, but he merely answered “No.”


He played with other legends, too, notably Bobby “Blue” Bland and B.B. King. Jab’o and Mr. Stubblefield continued to get on well, bringing their percussive double whammy to overseas audiences as “The Funk Masters.”


“I’ve played with some of the greats,” he told me at the time. “I don’t care if you know my name. I just want to play good music.”


One thing that stood out during our conversation was Mr. Starks’ disregard for labels. “If it has a groove and a good rhythm, I like to hear it,” he said. “I listen to everybody. You learn something from everybody. I love to play country, I love to play all of it.”


The last time I saw Jab’o Starks was at The Red Bar (naturally) right after the beachside service for Kenny Oliverio. That seems like forever ago. I spotted Jab’o at his car and said hello.


I’m not ready to say goodbye.

Editor Manson



Having read “Dreamers in the News!” (Ann Coulter, April 19-May 2 Beachcomber), you would think that every Mexican or immigrant has criminal tendencies. The article is so one-sided. This is the type of press that gets people worked up and helps form a negative barrier between Anglos and people of color. It is fuel for the fire!


I worked for over 25 years as a home builder in Texas and hired many immigrants, legal and otherwise. I must say that the greater portion of them were hardworking, honest people. Most of them worked very hard doing manual labor that no one here wanted to do.


Consumers benefit greatly from their “cheap labor,” which reduces the cost of new housing. We need policies that allow immigrant workers to come here, work and pay taxes. The current process is very bureaucratic, and it takes a long time to get a “green card,” which encourages illegal immigration. The construction industry is experiencing a severe labor shortage, which is driving up the cost of homes and reducing the number of homes available to purchase.

Robert Luongo



Mr. Luongo created, for “the people who care about and love Destin.”


Just a reminder to our readers that Ms. Coulter’s opinions are her own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beachcomber staff. Or most sensible people, for that matter.

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