Joe Gilchrist, owner of the famed Flora-Bama and founder of The Frank Brown International Songwriters Festival, will receive long overdue recognition and appreciation from his loyal customers, music lovers and entertainers who frequent the legendary Flora-Bama. This historical event will take place Monday, Dec. 15 at 6 p.m. and will include proclamations from the governors of Alabama and Florida.
Friends, family, and foes will gather in the Main Room to pay homage to a local hero and much loved by all, near and far. No one ever forgets their visits to the Bama! Come and hear some of your favorite musicians and give Joe a high Five!
The following bullet points give history on Gilchrist and Flora-Bama.
• The Flora-Bama is located on the Florida/Alabama state line. It is a cultural landmark voted by Playboy Magazine as “The best beach bar in the world.” Home to the famous Mullet Toss and other events and concerts, bringing millions of visitors a year.
• Legendary entertainers have played there such as Kenny Chesney, Taylor Hicks, The Wet Willie Band, Willie Nelson, and Jimmy Buffet (who recorded a song titled, “Bama Breeze” on his album, “Take the Weather With You.”) Kenny Stabler, Alabama quarterback and NFL player, said it is his favorite “watering hole.” Even the famous Blue Angels flew over the Bama during it’s flight drills to salute the Bama and it’s owner Joe Gilchrist.
• The Flora-Bama has been featured in USA Today, Playboy Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, NY Times and CNN, etc. Joe Gilchrist, owner operator, bought it in 1978. Joe was born in Birmingham, graduated from Auburn and taught school in Pensacola, Florida before buying the Flora-Bama.
• Joe founded the Frank Brown Songwriters Festival in 1984 creating a “musical journey” for songwriters from all over the country. Around 200 songwriters perform their songs at venues (including Flora-Bama) all along the Gulf Coast from Pensacola to Gulf Shores. Joe pays for this annual “Out of Pocket” event to give new songs and talent a chance to be heard. The festival is named after the night watchman, Mr. Frank Brown, who worked at the Bama for 28 years always protecting and looking out for the songwriters. He was 91 years old when he retired and was featured in an interview by Paul Harvey.
• Flora-Bama plays host to many charities and has a “worship on the water” church service every Sunday where the musicians donate their time and talent. Joe took 100 residents and 10 songwriters to New York City after 911 to help the economy and to honor the policemen and firemen. Ten years later on the 10th anniversary, he returned again with residents and songwriters to let New York’s finest and best know they were not forgotten.
• In addition to surviving Hurricane Ivan, the great music, delicious food and exciting atmosphere (some say the Flora-Bama is a VORTEX of happiness), Joe feels that the success of the Flora-Bama is largely due to it’s motto: “To always be respective and sensitive to the human dignity of others. To grant equal respect to all who enter the Flora-Bama, expecting the same in return. To ensure our guests enjoy the magic of the Flora-Bama, leave safe and happy and come again with new friends.”