Very few towns or cities could ever claim that their Mayor was a smokin' hot guitar player. The island city of Marathon in the Florida Keys is one of those towns. While politics is a temporary call to service, music is a life sentence. John Bartus, a full-time professional musician, singer, and songwriter for more than three decades, continues to raise the bar with both his groundbreaking solo acoustic show, and his killer band, Storm Watch.
John’s songs cover a wide spectrum of topics – there are love songs, love-gone-wrong songs, and story songs about characters like the fun-loving Joe from “Vegas Town,” the Drifter from “Hit the Road Again,” the smuggler who ran out of luck from “Kiss Your Life Goodbye,” the dancer from “The Way It’s Meant to Be,” and the follower of visions from “Velvet Elvis.”
There are songs about dealing with life (“Victim of Gravity”) and death (“Goodbye”). There is the tribute to the Apollo I, Challenger, and Columbia astronauts as well as John’s father, a Saturn IB launch team engineer (“Dawn’s Early Light”). And there are the Trop Rock songs – “Palm Trees in Paradise,” “Captain of His Own Destiny,” “The Islands of Marathon” – that show the influence of living in a tropical island town for 30 years.
Rag Magazine wrote in an album review, “John Bartus could well be a force to be recorded with, in the very near future. The song, ‘Velvet Elvis,’ is reminiscent of the soft sarcastic style of Warren Zevon: a man, eating donuts in the Black Lung Cafe, receives a vision from ‘The King’ through a velvet Elvis hanging on a wall, and is inspired to go to Graceland to steal one for his own, even though it means jail time. The remainder of the CD is done in the story song style of Joshua Kadison with the Florida themes of Jimmy Buffett. A pure storyteller in a minstrel’s soul, Bartus’ voice is crisp and clear, and the music is easy to enjoy.”
John’s most recent CD releases are the Keys Disease 10th Anniversary Remaster, and Live From the Florida Keys Vol. 2. A new studio CD, Time & Tide, will be released in 2014, coinciding with the 30th anniversary of John’s first shows in the Florida Keys.
John performs more than 200 shows a year throughout the Florida Keys. He calls these shows, many of them regular recurring dates, his Perpetual Island Tour. His solo acoustic shows are never-planned-in-advance journeys into creative live looping, and the shows with his band Storm Watch venture toward John’s rock side, equal parts Gilmour, Knopfler, and Young.
You might have to subject yourself to a tropical island getaway in order to see John Bartus live – after three years on the road in the early 1980s, he figured out to stay in one place and let the listeners come to him. You’ll also have to put up with fishing, diving, beaching, fun in the sun, the world’s best seafood, and a tropical cocktail now and then… but the music is worth it!
BREEDLOVES: AD25/SR+, AJ250/SF+ (6- and 12-string), AC25/SR+, Cascade J25/CRe, Revival D/Ere Ab-Top.