By Gwen D’Vyne Lanier
The Beal Street Bottle Club (BSBC) was founded by Gwen D’Vyne and EdMo Lanier in May 2010. This club-art gallery-live music venue-restaurant was the incubator for creative expression. The BSBC was owned and operated by EdMo and Gwen for four and a half years. Gwen and EdMo sold the club in 2014 so they could focus their efforts on their personal musical evolution.
Eight years later, a day doesn’t pass without someone saying “I sure miss the Bottle Club.” It is amazing to reflect on the talent that was fostered and the friendships that were forged in such a short period of time.
Some people remember the Wednesday Night Fam Jam, others remember Thursday Night Express Yourself—dedicated to spoken word and open mic. Friday night jazz shows and Saturday night blues shows both featured local and regional talent. People gathered on Sundays for the NuWine worship service, hosted by “The Love Bomb.”
Among the talent that graced the stage—Smilin’ Fritz Froeschner, Traylin Gastone, Fly Dents, Andy Durand, Cheryl and Denny Jones, Kathy Lyon, Ike Bartley, Al Alvarado, Blue Lew and Nora, Obliq’ and Kevin Price of Strange Tang, the Forrest Williams Band, Donnie Sundal and Derwin Perkins, and Act4Murder (now Act4Mystery).
The BSBC was the first stage Season Ammons played when she moved to the area from Texas. DJs Cool Ice Water, Mickey Bro Daz and Nighthawk entertained the late night dance crowd. Blues legend J.B. Lawson was a regular on the BSBC stage.
Trumpet player Dr. Brian Taylor got his start at the club when he moved here from New York. Patrons also got to see southern soul artist Alonzo Reid, Danny Clay’s Luther Vandross tribute show, The Blenders, Latin Traffic by DJ Taino, Stephanie Pettis and Rio, Titus Tucker, The Swinging Harpoons, Michael J Thomas, Vibe Irie, Tribe Zion, Tomato, Mixture and the Industry, Funky Projekt Band…the list goes on and on.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Hope Given (Q’werty) and Anthony O’Shae (I’magene) sang for the first time together at Beal Street Bottle Club. It was the birth of Continuum. Gwen and EdMo fondly recall them stopping by their home to borrow a PA for their first gig at the Downtown Fort Walton Beach ArtWalk.
Lionel C “The Showstopper” was driving a gravel truck when a friend brought him to the club. Lionel auditioned a capella and became a favorite on the BSBC lineup. He met his wife (and Gwen’s cousin) Sheila at the club. They are now married and blessing people at 10 assisted living facilities in the FWB, Niceville and Pensacola areas. They also play local clubs and private parties. They blend performing with DJ and karaoke, and their music is their ministry—R&B style.
EdMo and Gwen met Gino Rosaria at a Pensacola Jazz Society event. He quickly became part of the Beal Street Bottle Club core band and played every Friday night for several years. Gino now plays locally but is in high demand across the world. He is a songwriter and recording artist.
Curtis Clark a/k/a Homemade Soul made his live performance debut at Beal Street. His soulful voice and contagious spirit captured music lovers immediately. He now lives in Virginia, where he continues to write and record and is passionate about elevating other musicians. His music is broadcast around the world. He is focusing on publishing and distributing his music and the music of the artists he works with around the world.
Al Alvarado had performed with Jones and Company for many years. Following his departure from the band, Al found a new home with Gwen and EdMo at Beal Street. He moved into a solo career and played local clubs and parties. He also collaborated with Gino Rosaria. Al is now the full-time entertainment aboard the Solaris dinner cruise.
Jae Rich was a Beal Street regular whose passion was production. Jae arranged, choreographed and promoted several shows with a variety of local singers and musicians. He went on to perform in Sister Act at the Mattie Kelly Arts Center following a recommendation to the casting agent by a fan he met at BSBC.
In addition to music, EdMo and Gwen hosted Express Yourself. SpeakTuMePoetry Troupe was birthed by Niger Hoffman. The artists under her direction have now started poetry jams from Atlanta to Mobile.
Next Issue: BSBC alumni share their fond memories, and what are EdMo and Gwen up to these days?