“All I need is an excuse to come to Marathon,” said Billy Rice. Well, he’s got one.
On Saturday, Oct. 13, the Billy Rice Band will join Jerrod Neimann, Little Texas, Zach Stone and The Carousers for a special all-day-into-night concert at Marathon Community Park. It’s being put together by the American Legion xxxx and called the Coral County Road.
What will set apart Rice from the rest of the musicians, is the number of friends in the audience. That’s because Rice has owned a house in the Keys for decades, and sold his house on Mockingbird Lane just a few months before the Hurricane.
“But I was just there, staying on my boat at Banana Bay,” Rice said. “I have two passions — music and fishing.”
Back in the day, Rice did a lot of songwriting in Marathon. Which lead to impromptu, backyard concerts.
“He’s a big deal and a hell of a songwriter,” said Steve Buckholt of Shelter Bay Marine in Marathon and former neighbor. “I’ve been to many of his concerts in his backyard. They started at about 8 p.m. and ended at midnight.”
Rice has toured extensively throughout Florida and graced the stage with acts such as Tommy James, The James Gang, Marshall Tucker, The Box Tops, The Turtles, Mama’s & Papa’s, Moody Blues and even Eric Clapton. He’s also played with played with Toby Keith, John Michael Montgomery, Lonestar, Danny & Frankie Toler from the Allman Brothers, Ricky Lynn Greg from the band Head East, and Mark Chesnutt.
According to Rice, about 90 percent of the music he’ll play at the one-day festival is “rockin’ country stuff” and all original. Tracks from his latest album include “Taking on Water,” and the title track “I’m Just Saying.” But he also performs a chillingly good “Wicked Games.”
He approaches the music with a songwriter’s appreciation of what makes a good tune, good lyrics. For residents of the Keys, that makes for a good time.
The Coral County Road Concert
Saturday, Oct. 13
11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Marathon Community Park
$25 in advance, keystix.com
Billy Rice — vocals and guitar
Al Marney — bass
Mark G. Miller — guitar
Gary Gazzardo — drummer