Last issue’s article focused on the history of the Beal Street Bottle Club (2010-2014) and some of the amazing talent that performed there. Now let’s hear from some of the musicians who called the Fort Walton Beach venue home.
Hope Given: After I’d been coming to the Bottle Club on a regular basis, Gwen did something that changed my life. I was 19 and knew I loved music, but had no concept that playing it live professionally was an option. And fashionably, I was an un-hot mess—hair was wrong, clothes were wrong and I knew it, but didn’t know what to do to change it.
Gwen still loved me and saw something special. Let me tell you how Gwen changed my life. She invited me to her home and gave me the most transformative haircuts I’ve ever had, told me to look through her closet for a dress. I felt beautiful. It opened my eyes to the definition of beautiful. Gwen lit my fire. Gwen told me I was capable of playing music. Gwen helped me change and understand my image.
With everything great that happened at the Bottle Club, I am blown away by the impact EdMo (Lanier) and Gwen have been able to make on lives inside and outside of the club. I love the two of them unconditionally.
Lionel C: Need to open another club like that. If I had the money, I would just to have the gang back again.
Curtis Clark a/k/a Homemade Soul: BSBC holds a special place in my heart. I met mom and pops after going on a Saturday night and never left. Hosted open mics, planned shows, performed…that place was home. One memory that stands out—shameless plug—I wrote a song about it on one of my albums…the vibe was real. Now I’m in Virginia, working 9 to 5 and running a music publishing company, getting songwriters paid for their music.
Al Alvarado: Wow, what great times. This was a room where all people were welcomed and embraced by love. At its height, it was about the music and fellowship.
Jae Rich: Words couldn’t explain how grateful and blessed I am for the people, opportunities and musical confidence the BSBC gave me. The first venue that sparked something in me, which resulted in me putting together shows and productions, and allowing me to display those visions.
Moses West: I’ve been everywhere performing across the country, and that is still my favorite venue ever.
Vernell Leysath: I was new in town in 2011 and wanted to make new friends and have a great place to go. The clerk in the rental office told me about the BSBC. I went there on a Wednesday night and was told I looked like a singer, so P-Nut called on me and I sang “Summertime.” I didn’t know all the words, so I sang one verse over and over.
EdMo, P-Nut and Gwen saw something in me worth tapping into and continually called on me. And then, one Friday night in November, I was showcased singing two songs we rehearsed. It was a wonderful night, and that’s when I told EdMo I decided to stay in Florida and wasn’t moving back to New Jersey. I really miss BSBC…there’s no other place like it.
WHAT ARE GWEN AND EDMO DOING THESE DAYS?
After Gwen and EdMo sold the club, they created a duo and performed as the house entertainment at Cuvee 30A for nearly two years. During this time, they created a style utilizing elements of all of the music they love.
Their genre is Reggae Fusion. They both love rhythm and all styles of music. This direction has allowed Gwen and EdMo to keep songs pop, jazz, R&B, blues and indie songs in their repertoire while staying true to “the sound and soul” of Simply D’Vyne. They are currently working on their first album, which will feature the original songs “Take Me to the Sea,” “Spirit Bone and Clay,” “Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover,” “Let’s Dance,” “Shine On,” and “Be the Solution.”
Community remains important to Gwen and EdMo. They have established the Emerald Coast Blues Society and host a blues jam every Monday night at the Funky Blues Shack in Destin. The goal is to connect with other musicians, beginners and pros. On jam night, musicians collaborate, create, congregate and recreate the BSBC experience. The core band is EdMo (bass), John Wolffer (drums), Chris Gardner (keyboards), Lionel C and Pappa G. Gwen serves as the host.