AMANDA JONES / JAS GRUBBERT
1969 - 1975
This band's story began in an old Hyde Park apartment building on Edison St. during the street-happy, sweet-smoked , psychedelic panorama of 1969: Trigg & Barb’s Turtle Tree, the Slack Shack Shea & Prange drugstore, Fulton fishmarket, the “cat man”(living tax-free on a houseboat crawling with cats, right off the bayshore), Monday’s Gasparilla parades coming up Magnolia St. en route to the old fairgrounds, Ayre’s Diner, Denny's on the river, the often baffled University of Tampa kids, exasperated city & county vice cops (don’t feel bad for them, they had good days too) and the seemingly endless parade of ‘merry minstrel’ souls, old buildings & images that were genuine, museum-grade Hyde Park
Emerging from the above- mentioned Edison St. Apartment house in the fall of ‘69, the band that would eventually be known as Amanda Jones thus began a 6 yr. run that would come to rest at their notorious Otto Rd. “compound.”
Based on the prolific song writing of guitarists Rick Johnson and Michael Yelton, the group was led by the late Jeff Bailey, drummer/lead vocalist - formerly of the Hungry Eyes. Rounding out the original foursome was ex-Trojans keyboard/vocalist Mike Regar. Contributing on bass through the years were: Bill Mann, John Fonte, Bob Murray and Kevin Brown. In the beginning, this often nameless band with its ever-growing extended family, might well be remembered for their performances at the late-60'/early-70's free-style jams on Sunday afternoons. The genesis of these legendary “happenings”began with a small number of local players in South Tampa’s Ballast Point Park, then quickly moved on to the Town ‘n Country area at Bay Crest Park.. It was here when the number of musicians & friends quickly began to swell. One could expect to experience such talent as the original members of The Outlaws, performing side by side with the many talented - and often overlooked - musicians & bands, representing the close-knit family of the bay area’s original, mid-to- late 60's rockers.
With momentum rolling and attendance booming, the next stop for this traveling gypsy event - much to the chagrin of local residents and Tampa’s finest - was on the banks of the Hillsborough River, at North Tampa’s Rowlette Park. A real stage was somehow constructed at this site, adding just a measure of organization and sophistication (however impaired). Folks also may recall the emergence of “emcee” Dave Hall and company, arguably one of Tampa’s more colorful characters, past & present ( Dave made his mark in taxi service and now runs his own company). It came as no surprise when - at the bequest of the park’s neighbors - local authorities cut the park’s power supply. Undaunted, a search began for a new site that could accommodate the large crowds, while adding some distance between the “noise” and suburbia.. It didn’t take long. The care-takers of the Men’s Garden Club (now a golf course adjacent to Tampa Int’l. Airport) agreed to rent their multi-acre site, where decibel levels from commercial jets flying overhead would exceed the ground-level “sounds of music.” With a cash-only business opportunity staring them right in the face, the mom ‘n pop caretakers of this property quickly built a concession stand and tried to charge admission at the gate .Who will ever forget the night that pistol-yielding “Mama” charged out of their trailer and - in a jealous rage - chased and opened fire on “Daddy?” I will testify to this, being on stage as her bullets came whizzing by (rumor had it that Bubba took one in the ass)! There were many who literally “dodged the bullets.”
At this point, it’s not only fitting, but indeed factual to interject that the Amanda Jones family initially “anointed” the Garden Club while hosting a “pass the hat” jam in an effort to raise money for legal fees. Hmm.......
By now, these psychedelic Sunday afternoon “outings” took on a life of its own, with overflowing crowds including the area’s absolute best players and their bands - along with those now traveling from afar - visiting & sharing stage time. Who will forget the unannounced visit from Jimi Hendrix?. The Garden Club would be the final outpost for this free-wheeling event, but not before hosting several summers of great music in a celebrating, cosmic, almost carnival- like atmosphere. This was a true microcosm of the era, and quite fitting that these jams be chronicled as a bold chapter in Tampa Bay’s rock n’ roll lore.
In would be an injustice at this juncture if we did not stop to give Tedd Webb a whole lot of love for his efforts and the respect he has shown creating and maintaining this web site. Ted was a witness to the entire scene and knows better than anyone that the Tampa Bay area has, for decades, spawned talent second to none! We all know and congratulate the national “ head- liners” from this pool. They took advantage of the few opportunities that would occasionally surface, and brought their ‘A’ game to the table when it counted the most..Tedd’s “garage band” site offers a glimpse at their most humble beginnings, in good company with former band-mates and the many standout groups who laid the foundation for rock n’ roll, “Tampa style.” The list is extensive; it’s best just to cruise the site. You’ll find them - they’re all there. Many thanks, Tedd!
For the “Forrest Gumpish” Amanda Jones & company, there would be several relocations as well. Keeping it all together, staying as close to the music as possible, meant living well below the poverty line. While living under one roof for almost 6 years, these folks refined the art of one-pot meals (usually served up by “master chefs” Rick Johnson or band matron, Robin Williamson). There were, of course, an array of ‘day jobs’ and, on the bottom end, panhandling when necessary. They kept the music close - writing song after song - with the strong belief their music would somehow see them through, knowing fully that Tampa was a wasteland for aspiring original rock groups. Any chance of reaching that oh-so-distant “next level,” meant getting the hell out of here: an obligatory pilgrimage to LA, New York, Atlanta/Macon GA.,etc. The road for Amanda Jones became impassable in 1971.
The debilitating illness that struck down Michael Yelton partially emptied the soul of this band. Michael was not only a primary songwriter and masterful guitarist, he seemed to lived inside the very heart of his music. After several courageous but unsuccessful come-back attempts, Mike Yelton’s jersey was retired, with the remaining band members deciding not to pursue a replacement. Down to four, the surviving members of Amanda Jones continued on for a few more years. Now residing at their infamous Otto Rd. address, fresh, new material continued to flow from Rick Johnson, Mike Regar and Jeff Bailey. There were gigs here and there, including the well known, worn-down strip of rock n’ roll clubs on Nebraska Av., My Back Yard at the 40th St. Bridge and - of all places - Mark’s Hurricane Lounge on Gunn Hwy. ‘Big Mark’ was growing weary of the club’s long established C&W venue. Upon establishing a dialogue with various members of Amanda Jones - who had become loyal regulars while stopping in for a drink or 3 on their way home, Mark urged the group to audition as part of his effort to attract a new, r&r crowd. Although lasting only a month or two (Mark didn’t believe in advertising), the ‘AJ’ band earned the distinction of being the first - and possibly only - rock n’ roll house band at this distinguished, early-Carrollwood landmark
Following Rick Johnson’s departure in ‘74, Jeff Bailey and Mike Regar re-grouped, adding a second drummer, Rick Bailey, Jeff’s younger brother, the Dudley brothers: Eddy on guitar & Andy on bass, with their cousin, guitarist Bob Smith. Are you following this? In addition to the afore mentioned venues, this version of Amanda Jones might also be remembered for their concert appearances at Pappa’s Dream (then & now the old State Theater building in St. Pete), opening for Wet Willie at the Lakeland Civic Center (following a cancellation by J. Giles) and The Barn, located in Oldsmar, where Amanda Jones played its final gig.
Jeffery Warren Bailey passed away in 1996, following his fight with cancer.
There is breaking news, however, regarding the current status of Amanda Jones! The project has been re-ignited by sole-survivors Rick Johnson, residing in San Marcos TX, and Mike Regar, of Brandon, Fl. Following their 30yr.”lunch break,” a demo was recently produced by Mike & Rick in Texas and is currently “making the rounds.” The game plan includes the complete ‘69 - ‘74 original collection as well as some new ones that have recently come about. Please do stay tuned!
Amanda Jones & family experienced a few relocations of their own. Staying together, living well below the poverty level under one roof , they refined the art of one-pot meals and creative “day jobs.” They also continued to write, song after song, with the strong belief that their music would somehow see them through.