Checking in with Marty Jourard

The musician/writer remembers the motels, his flash of rock `n' roll fame, and always, growing up in Gainesville


Published: Wednesday, June 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, May 31, 2005 at 10:50 a.m.

On a dreary, late-winter day that seemed more like Seattle than southwest Gainesville, musician MARTY JOURARD looked out over Bivens Arms and grinned.

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Former Gainesville resident and The Motels band member Marty Jourard poses outside Chop Sticks Cafe.

ROB C. WITZEL/Gainesville Magazine

"This is it, man. This is my turf," the Seattle resident said.

His turf indeed. He spoke from the deck at Chop Stix Cafe, a building that - among many incarnations - once housed The Connection Lounge several decades ago. Jourard and his family lived two lots away, and he recalled tromping along the water's edge to gigs with instruments in tow.

The band, at that point anyway, was Southpaw, which covered everything from David Bowie to Captain & Tenille. This was, after all, the mid-1970s. Years earlier, when he was in high school, there was Road Turkey; former Heartbreaker STAN LYNCH played drums, STEVE SOAR played guitarr, and Jourard played everything else.

"Marty was the total go-to guy," Lynch said. "It never occurred to us that Marty couldn't do it."

Back to the dreary day in 2005: Standing on the Chop Stix deck with Lynch, Jourard pointed to his old house and told of the alligator that rushed onshore one day and gobbled up his dog. In turn, young Jourard and his brother, JEFF, vowed revenge on the beast. The mission failed, and the gator swam away unharmed and very confused (an M80 firecracker and a brick were involved; further details withheld to protect the guilty).

But that's another story. Jourard is full of stories, especially when he returns to his beloved Gainesville, perhaps his last vestige of sanity before he left for Los Angeles in the late `70s to join his brother and pursue a degree at the University of Southern California. Along the way, the brothers hooked up with a band called THE MOTELS.

Guitarist Jeff left the group after what Marty called a "power struggle" with lead singer MARTHA DAVIS. Marty remained with the band on keyboards and saxophone, and The Motels hit it big in the 1980s with "Only the Lonely" and "Suddenly Last Summer." It was a brief ride, though, with Davis breaking up the band in pursuit of a solo career (she now sings in smaller clubs and cabarets).

Jourard, meanwhile, moved to the Seattle area, operated a recording studio for six years, played on some movie soundtracks, wrote a music column for Rocket magazine and even joined some old friends from Gainesville in the studio (he played sax on TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS' 1990 disc "Southern Accents" and Petty's solo disc "Full Moon Fever").

These days, he teaches music - mainly piano - in his home studio. He also is writing books, the first being 1997's "Start Your Own Band" with a foreword by Petty.

Earlier this year, he released his second book, "The Marty Method: How to Play Piano and Understand Music," available through www.martymethod.com and, locally, at Sims Music & Sound.

Now divorced, Jourard has two children: Sydney, 16, and Jack, 13. Brother Jeff still lives in Los Angeles, where he works - very successfully - in computer networking. Jourard's father, SID, was a noted psychology professor who taught at the University of Florida for two decades before his death in 1974. His mother, TONI, now lives in Crescent Beach.

As for The Motels?

Well, late last year, the VH1 show "Bands Reunited" tracked the members down, sorted through some issues and convinced them to stage a one-night only concert. The camera crew's first stop was the Seattle suburb of Kirkland. A bewildered Jourard opened the door and - after asking for the crew's IDs - agreed to the reunion.

And, it should be noted, he was wearing a "Gators" T-shirt.

IN OTHER NEWS

  • Speaking of TP & THE HBS, the band resumes touring this month, stopping at Tampa's Ford Amphitheater on June 10.

  • In dance news, Santa Fe Community College English professor STEVE ROBITAILLE is directing and writing a documentary about one of his fellow faculty members: choreographer and Cuban ballet master ALBERTO ALONSO. Set for release early next year and aimed at film festivals, "Dancing in Freedom's Shoes" will follow the life of Alonso, the co-founder of the National Ballet of Cuba.

    Now 88, Alonso started teaching at SFCC in 1993.

  • And finally, dance news that dips into rock `n' roll: BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, wife PATTI SCIALF and SOOZIE TYRELL of the E STREET BAND have collaborate with Minneapolis-based SHAPIR & SMITH DANCE for a touring production of music, movement and dialogue based on Springsteen's music.

    How does this weave into Gainesville's web? For one, University of Florida Performing Arts co-commissioned the work, which will appear at the Phillips Center on Oct. 15. Secondly, the show features UF faculty membe KELLY DRUMMOND CAWTHON, a dance professor and Shapiro & Smith performer with a talent for modern dance, acrobatics and aerial performance.

    Cawthon, who dances as the female lead in one of the show's three families, called "ANYTOWN" a "dream project" that has been discussed for about a decade.

    "It's really an exciting work, crossing the boundaries of theater, rock `n' roll and dance," she said.

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