Pleasure Island has another great week of FREE activities for your vacationing and leisure-time fulfillment. There is always something for everyone on our little slice of paradise. Please plan on joining us for Thursday nights’ FREE concert on August 23rd from 6:30 until 9:30 featuring the Radio Flyer.
Radio Flyer Band ; A Long Strange Trip
Shorty Watkins, was born and raised in the Wilmington area. He was introduced to the guitar by his father and uncle who were always playing guitars together at family gatherings and "white lightning" parties. "My dad bought me my first guitar for my 8th grade graduation" recalls Watkins. "It was a Stella and he got it from Finkelstein's Music." Leslie Amen, who played with local favorites Hayseed and the Rhythm Range Riders, taught Shorty a few chords and how to tune and he was on his way.
Like most local musicians who wanted to perform, then and now, Shorty's career was fueled by the tourist trade. "In the early 60's I started playing in bands on the party boats at Carolina Beach for Carl and Skippy Winner," states Watkins. The atmosphere was infectious---huge crowds hung around the docks, girls chasing musicians, musicians chasing girls. During the summer, the boats were being filled several times a night, seven days a week with tourists taking a musical moonlight cruise. Musicians that Shorty -played with at the time reads like a list of Wilmington's who's who; Buddy Skipper, Pug West, Charlie Daniels and Paul Peek. "Peek especially, was a legend at the time," explains Shorty. "He had been a member of Gene Vincent's Blue Caps, was in a movie with Jane Mansfield, appeared on the Ed Sullivan show twice and had recordings in the charts."
It was this connection with Peek that helped jump Shorty's career from the party boats to the road circuit. Shorty continues, "I was working at Wilson's grocery during the day and Pug West came by to ask if I wanted a job with Paul Peek. I quit Wilson's that day and moved up to Jacksonville." Soon after, they formed Shorty and the Shays and hit the road playing the Whiskey A-Go-G0 circuit and made Atlanta, Georgia their home base. "I was looking for the big time," states Shorty. "I was introduced to the Bill Lowery Talent Agency and started to do session work in Atlanta studios."
Working with the future Atlanta Rhythm Section producer Buddy Bui, sessions included work with the Classic's 4 and BJ Thomas.