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In this issue:



53 103

Feature A Mesmerizing Voice: The Musical Siren with Velvet Vocals 30 The Power of Music The Magical Mystery Fest: Inside Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival 20 Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam Takes a Bow 42 He’s Got the Beat 53 Feels like the First Time: Seafood and Music Festival Rocks Panama City Beach 68 Couture Life Is a Runway: South Walton Fashion Week 2013 78 Hear Me Roar: Nicole Paloma Rocks the Runway 120 Creating Happily Ever After 130 Giving Back The ART of Giving: Justin Gaffrey Art + Food For Thought Outreach 64 Get Healthy All Natural and All You: The Holy Grail of Antiaging Medicine? 152 12 | N O V E M B E R / DE C E M B E R 2 013




Home and Garden Live Beautifully Inside and Out 138 For the Love of Food A Feast for Body and Soul 112 The Art of Life The Faces of an Artist 94 Voyager The New St. Petersburg: Florida’s Ultimate Renaissance Rendezvous 103 Perspectives Transportation at Its Finest: Getting You from Here to There 89 A Sense of Place Roll the Dice: A Classic Board Game Goes to the Beach 147

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VIE is a registered trademark. All contents herein are Copyright © 2008–2013 Cornerstone Marketing and Advertising, Incorporated (The Publisher). All rights reserved. No part of this periodical may be reproduced without written permission from The Publisher. VIE is a lifestyle magazine and is published at least five times annually on a bimonthly schedule. The opinions herein are not necessarily those of The Publisher. The Publisher and its advertisers will not be held responsible for any errors found in this publication. The Publisher is not liable for the accuracy of statements made by its advertisers. Ads that appear in this publication are not intended as offers where prohibited by state law. The Publisher is not responsible for photography or artwork submitted by freelance or outside contributors. The Publisher reserves the right to publish any letter addressed to the editor or The Publisher. VIE is a paid publication. Subscription rates: Digital magazine (iPad only) – One-year $11.99; Two-year $17.99 / Printed magazine – One-year $23.95; Two-year $34.95 (U.S. Only – price includes free access to digital magazine versions for iPad). Subscriptions can be purchased online at

On the Cover:

VIE Creative Team: Lisa Burwell Publisher

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Bill Weckel Web/Project Manager Photo by Emma Mead

She may be petite, but when Broadway starlet Morgan James sings, the silky power and depth of her voice is anything but small. Last month, this budding musical sensation performed songs from her latest album, Morgan James Live,

Benjamin Rosenau Video Producer

Shannon Quinlan Distribution Coordinator Anita DuFalla Contributing Designer

Tim Dutrow Videographer

at Sinfonia Gulf Coast’s 2014 season kickoff event at Seagar’s Prime Steaks and Seafood in Miramar Beach, Florida. Currently appearing several times a week as Teena Marie in the Broadway production Motown: The Musical, this Juilliard graduate exudes confidence with a down-to-earth attitude about life and her career. James shows true heart and soul, both on and off stage, and VIE is honored to have her grace the cover of our first Music Issue!

VIE Contributors: Contributing Writers: Sallie W. Boyles Kim Duke-Layden Lori Hutzler Eckert Anne Hunter Dr. Kimberly Moskowitz Tori Phelps Alan Roberts Anne W. Schultz

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Publisher’s Note:





And the Beat Goes On If moods or seasons in one’s life can be likened to musical notes, I’d say I’m in a C-minor state of mind at the moment; intense introspection, retrospection, and evaluation prevail in my life and music plays a huge role in the process. The power of music is undeniable. Think about a world without music. I can live without many things but music isn’t one of them. It’s good for the soul and therein lies its power. From time to time, everyone could use a musical score in the background for dramatic effect. I love all kinds of good music—disco, classical, jazz, blues, rock ’n’ roll, opera, gospel, and country. The full gamut. As I get lost in its wake, music helps me to understand. It may be the best storyteller and emotional healer known to man. With an association to time and place, a song can conjure visceral memories that evoke either great joy or sadness. One such tune that comes to mind is Cheryl Lynn’s chart-topping disco smash, “Got to Be Real”: it can bring a smile to my face as I am transported back in time to moments of a carefree youth. In high school chorus, singing Handel’s “Hallelujah” would give me goose bumps—and it still does! Our cover girl, songstress Morgan James, is an exquisite beauty with the vocal chops to rival the great female soloists, both past and present. Last month, for the kickoff of the Sinfonia Gulf Coast 2014 season, Morgan and her talented band flew in from NYC to serenade an intimate group of patrons in a cabaret setting at Seagar’s Prime Steaks and Seafood at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort and Spa. Her performance was sexy, mysterious, and captivating. The immense power and range that emanates from Morgan’s demure frame beguiles the mind. With a talent that seems to transcend the act of singing itself, this songbird knows how to evoke passion. We were blessed to be there! 16 | N O V E M B E R / DE C E M B E R 2 013

Near and dear to my heart is the story “He’s Got the Beat” by Tori Phelps (on page 53) about Lennie DiMuzio’s legacy and his new book, Tales from the Cymbal Bag, which chronicles his life in the music business while at Zildjian and how he has garnered love and respect from everyone along the way. He is father to Cecilia, whom I’ve known since embarking on a friendship with her at the age of twelve. Lennie was a cool cat back then—and he still is. He’s funny, irreverent, speaks his mind, and peers intently when he speaks to you. He both understands and genuinely likes people. Discover this legend as you read about him! Hailing from Nashville, Tennessee, the lovely and talented Abigail Rose took the stage like a pro during the 2013 Panama City Beach Seafood and Music Festival at the Aaron Bessant Park Amphitheater in late October. Though this seventeenyear-old has grace and confidence beyond her years, her voice and stage presence are light-years beyond that! As the opening act of the festival that featured the likes of Better Than Ezra, Collective Soul, Loverboy, and Foreigner, this singer-songwriter gave an engaging performance to boldly tell the world that she is here to stay! She rocked it! Her EP is due out this November. With Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s just around the corner, I hope and pray that music fills your senses and your soul with joy and comfort. And the beat goes on! To Life! —Lisa PS—Buy Morgan’s new CD, Morgan James Live – From Dizzy’s Club CocaCola: A Celebration of Nina Simone. You will not be disappointed!

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Lewis, the Lumineers, Passion Pit, Of Monsters and Men, and many more. But the appeal of ’Roo, as veteran attendees sometimes call it, isn’t only in seeing some of the best concerts of your life; it’s also about the sheer excitement and freedom of expression that you see down on the farm. There’s no judgment. People are allowed to dress as they please—most choose to dress in very little, considering the Tennessee heat in June is no joking matter. And, people don’t frown on yelling, whooping, singing, running, dancing, hula hooping, or spontaneous friend making; in fact, it’s encouraged. Sharing is caring, late-night campground powwows are common, and someone is always willing to help pitch a tent or jump-start a car battery. Every ’Roo is different for every person who attends. My first two Bonnaroo experiences were spent with friends, but after graduating college and moving to Florida, I found myself with no one to join me this year: my friends either had scheduling or financial issues. I figured I would sit this one out as well—until the official lineup came out and my eyes gravitated toward one name: Paul McCartney. Paul. McCartney. The greatest recording artist of all time was coming to Bonnaroo. I failed to contain my elation as I looked at the rest of the lineup. Mumford and 22 | N O V E M B E R / DE C E M B E R 2 013

Sons! I saw them at ’Roo 2011 and was blown away, immediately becoming a die-hard fan. That was enough to seal the deal—I was going to the festival even if I had to make new friends when I got there. That wouldn’t be so hard, after all. But Paul McCartney and Tom Petty seemed to also draw in a new crowd—respect the classics, man—and with it came my 2013 Bonnaroo partners: my parents. “You took your parents to Bonnaroo?” If I had a dollar for every time I heard that… “You must have cool parents.” Why, yes, I do. In fact, I give them complete credit for my great taste in music. I grew up riding in the car to school and on family vacations with the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac and my dad playing drums on the steering wheel. I knew all the songs on Jimmy Buffett’s Songs You Know By Heart by heart (except one, which my parents always conveniently skipped over, so I didn’t even know it existed until I was old enough to listen to the CD on my own). One of our favorite family quotes to this day comes from my little brother, who was about three years old at the time. Sitting in the back seat and listening to the Eagles, he asked, “Mama, why dat man wanna take it to da wimit?” So, yes, I took my parents to Bonnaroo, and we had an amazing time together. I drove up and met them in Alabama, but not without some complications. Having your car break down on

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the Interstate and then having your aunt, then your mom’s friend, and then your parents pick you up just lends to the whole “hitchhiking to Woodstock” vibe. I wasn’t even worried—I was going to see Paul McCartney! We made it to Manchester and the long and winding road to the festival entrance Wednesday night before ’Roo began on Thursday. People come and go all weekend, but once you park your car in the campground, you really shouldn’t plan to leave until it’s all over. It’s best to get there early and get a spot in a camp that’s close to Centeroo, or else you’ll be hiking up to maybe a couple of miles from your tent to the music every day—trust me, that’s not fun. My parents and I made it into Camp Biff Tannen (Did I mention the campsites are named after movie and TV characters so you can remember where you were?) and lucked out with an empty spot beside us to pitch our tent. The guy parked next to us was backpacking over to the Tent Only section and gave us permission to use the bed of his truck if we needed it— another stroke of luck since it gave us room to spread out a bit. We set up home sweet home, then explored the campground that night, stumbling upon our first ’Roo performance—Super Tall Paul, a clown/beatboxer/crazy dancin’ fool who was entertaining a small crowd at our pod. Pods are stations situated around the campgrounds: in each pod, Bonnaroovians can find restrooms, showers, a medical tent, and a community art project. Really, all of Bonnaroo is a community art project. From the wall surrounding Centeroo that everyone is encouraged to graffiti, to the “Before I Die, I Want To…” board, to people walking around in body paint and wild costumes, art is never in short supply and never discouraged.


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It was a ’Roo full of firsts for me this year. It was my first trip with my parents, my first seven-dollar shower at the pod, and my first time to venture into the Cinema and Comedy Tents, both of which have constant indoor entertainment to help Bonnaroovians beat the heat and also see some great shows. The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Totally ’80s Sing-Along in the Cinema Tent were some highlights of our experience, while the Improvised Shakespeare Company and Bob Saget’s set in the Comedy Tent—which included a surprise appearance by John Stamos—left my abs sore from laughing so much. But for me, Bonnaroo will always be all about the music. Even though Mumford and Sons had to cancel and Jack Johnson took the stage in their stead, it was still my favorite ’Roo so far. My dad will brag—rightfully so—that he waited at What Stage (the largest venue among Which Stage, This Tent, That Tent, and The Other Tent) for over twelve hours, working his way up in the crowd to get a good view of Sir Paul McCartney. By the time Mom and I found him, we were maybe fifty yards away from the stage and packed in like sardines, but it was worth it. Paul delivered hit song after hit song with as much energy as ever, sharing tidbits and stories with us about the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and the meaning behind his music. His tour this summer included the first live

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performances of some Beatles songs that had lacked the technology to be done on stage when the band was together.

Jack J


In the middle of it all, I kept glancing around at the crowd—my dad in particular—and marveling at the power music has to bring people together and create common ground between us all. It amazes me that a band from the 1960s can still be so relevant today and that everybody still knows them. And after three mind-blowing encores from our good friend Paul, including an insane pyrotechnic performance of “Live and Let Die,” we exited the What Stage lawn singing “Hey Jude” with about a hundred thousand other people. If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is. It’s unlikely that any concert I attend could ever match that one. But, we still had two days of ’Roo left and other incredible artists to see. I learned that Macklemore and Ryan Lewis actually go much deeper than “Thrift Shop” and that they have crazy amounts of energy on stage, and also that I knew many more of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ songs than I thought I did. But the real lesson I learned was that my parents are pretty darn cool, and that the most magical part of any Bonnaroo is the people you get to share it with.

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She leans in with all her might once, twice, and then, still undeterred, a third and final time—but the gleaming black baby grand piano doesn’t move a fraction of an inch. With hands firmly on her hips and a look of dismay, the diminutive Morgan James appears genuinely perplexed, as she is clearly a woman used to making seemingly impossible things happen all on her own. James, who can be found most nights in the glow of Broadway theater footlights, was setting the stage, literally, for Sinfonia Gulf Coast’s 2013–2014 season kickoff at Seagar’s Prime Steaks and Seafood on October 10 in Miramar Beach, Florida. Dressed in jeans with her blonde hair pulled into a neat, low ponytail and peering through thick-framed glasses, her ingenue-like appearance belied the glamorous chanteuse who would belt out soul-stirring song after song at the sold-out show only a few hours later. Quite frankly, Morgan James is not a “what you see is what you get” kind of person; she is more. The uncontrived contradictions she embodies reveal her as endearing, intriguing, and, if not a bit vulnerable, at least exposed in a very honest way.

Recently heralded by the New York Times as “heatedly compelling,” James, who possesses an ethereal beauty, is a rising star on a trajectory that is the stuff of which success stories are made. However, cover-girl looks and breathtaking talents aside, her career hasn’t evolved because of unsighted providence; rather, it’s been painstakingly planned through her dogged determination and innate will to succeed. Flashing a charming diva-may-care smile, she confesses that she has “always been a schemer,” even as a child. Born in Idaho and raised in Northern California, James credits her family with fostering her gift on a multigenerational level. Her parents, who were involved in the arts, planted the seed for her appreciation of the theater, while her grandparents provided encouragement from the time her talent began to emerge. “My grandfather overheard me singing in the other room, and he picked me up and hauled me upstairs—I think it was at Christmastime—and made me sing for the whole family,” James says. Shortly after, her grandmother offered to pay for voice lessons, which was a commitment she honored from the time James was in sixth grade through her education at New York City’s prestigious Juilliard School. And while the abundance of love and lessons prepared her to be in the spotlight, nothing could have braced her for the reality of a young entertainer’s life in New York City before she found success.

“When I graduated, I was …” James pauses, carefully

And then there’s her voice, which she describes as having “always been much bigger than my body.” Actually, it’s the voice, because it is unlike any other, with a tone so seductively rich it reverberates in you long after James is gone and leaves you wanting more. Just ask any of the Sinfonia guests who heard her perform songs from her debut album, Morgan James Live, which was released earlier this year by Epic Records.

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searching for the right words. “I was very naive, and I thought, well, you know, I’m talented, I work hard … I have a dream, so my dream’s going to come true. And this is not the way it works for everybody. And it was not easy. I had many years when I could not get a job. I had many years where I couldn’t get arrested in this town. I didn’t find my niche, and I couldn’t find my path very easily. It made me very sad; there’s nothing more palpable than wanting something, and I didn’t think it was going to happen.” But James doesn’t love music; she is in love with music. Even during those early years that she recounts as “mean” and “harsh,” she simply was not going to settle for a one-sided affair. It is obvious that, from the start, she was all in. Many artists, even if blessed with immense talent, would not have had the grit and the guts to get knocked down and get back up again; however, during those uncertain years while tutoring, bartending, and catering for a living, James immersed herself in the music of her idols, including Aretha Franklin, Joni Mitchell, and Nina Simone, who inspired James’s current album. “All the artists I love, they have in common that they all have a darkness; they have a sex appeal,” she reveals. “There is an elegance, and yet, they are not completely polished and perfect. They’re connected to their sadness.”


“It’s the hardest job I’ve ever had,” she admits, “and people hate to hear that. They are like, ‘Oh, don’t talk about how hard it is!’ But it’s important, especially for kids growing up and wanting it. I wish someone had told me, ‘It’s going to be a lot of hard work, you are not going to see your family very much, you are not going to get a lot of time off, you are going to have to deal with a lot of rejection …’”

James’s own ability to connect to her emotions has been lauded by critics and fans for her work on Broadway, beginning with her 2010 role in The Addams Family, where Demetrius Fuller, conductor of Sinfonia Gulf Coast, first saw her. James has also appeared in a run of Wonderland and the first Broadway revival of Godspell; she is currently starring in the role of Teena Marie in Motown: The Musical.

But more than twelve hundred miles away from the Great White Way, James would soon experience only unadulterated adoration at the event to raise funds for Sinfonia, the Emerald Coast area’s only fully professional symphony orchestra. Looking around the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort and Spa’s AAA Four Diamond–rated restaurant as it was being transformed into a cabaret setting, she says, “Well, this is my favorite size. I think about a hundred and fifty people will be here. It is intimate enough, but I’ve also played rooms that hold twenty. You don’t know intimate until five people show up for your gig—which happens!” She laughs. “And this kind of setting, too—where people are with their friends and family, and their bellies are full—it just creates this atmosphere of enjoyment. And this restaurant is so classy; it’s so first-rate, and it deserves first-rate music.”

Making it to Broadway was “a relief ” for James, and she emphatically expresses gratitude for the opportunities and the relative success she’s had. However, with a measure of unvarnished truth, she revealed that she no longer glorifies the idea of Broadway.

Following a four-course wine dinner created especially for the event by Seagar’s executive chef, Dan Vargo, James’s presence filled the room as she entered singing “I Put a Spell on You.” The guests were unabashed in sharing spontaneous exclamations of

V IE Z INE .C OM | 35

approval throughout her set and punctuating the evening with a standing ovation and demands for an encore.

“And, it was priceless,” he added with a laugh, “to see everyone’s faces when that enormous voice came from such a petite person.”

Nina Jeffords, a Destin, Florida, resident and longtime supporter of Sinfonia, is now counted among James’s growing Emerald Coast fan base. She first saw James in a 2012 holiday performance held by the symphony. “Seeing Morgan James again was a great treat,” Jeffords said after the Seagar’s show. “When I closed my eyes and just took in her incredible voice, I realized, once again, it is amazing that we are able to experience this caliber of talent on the Emerald Coast.”

Following the Thursday night show, many of the guests gathered around James, who took time to shake hands and pose for photos, giving no intimation of the exhaustion she felt. Just the day before, she had performed in a 2:00 p.m. Motown matinee before flying with her five-member band to Northwest Florida, arriving at midnight. And six hours after the show’s end, she caught a 4:00 a.m. return flight to New York for another Motown performance that evening. With her wry sense of humor, she says, “Only a Broadway schedule could make a thirty-six-hour gig in Florida feel like a vacation—truly!”

Jeffords and many other area patrons of the arts have Demetrius Fuller, who has been behind Sinfonia’s baton since he founded the symphony in 2006, to thank for charting new roads on the area’s culture map. Fuller has brought in the likes of Tony Award winner Bernadette Peters, Grammy Award winner Roberta Flack, and Mary Wilson of Supremes fame during Sinfonia’s short history. Fuller handpicked James to kick off Sinfonia’s eighth season, titled “Musical Identities.” Calling James “one of the most gracious and humble people I have ever met,” Fuller also has extreme admiration for her as an artist. “Her voice is an extraordinary instrument, and I wanted to share her immeasurable talent with our community,” he said. “I have no doubt that her star will continue to rise, so it is a great pleasure to know that Sinfonia’s supporters were able to see and hear her perform live.

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James is back to making the wheels turn with her usual seven-days-a-week schedule centered on eight Broadway performances in addition to her solo appearances. Somehow, she still finds time to plan and “scheme” about what remains on her professional to-do list. “My next dream: it’s to continue to make records; it’s to continue to write music,” she says. “I’m a very new writer, and I want to hone that skill, and I want to travel the world singing. And then, who knows what dreams may come.” With the confidence of a person who stands ten feet tall in her own talent, she adds, “You are only as big as your biggest dreams.”









6. 7.







MORE FROM SINFONIA GULF COAST Season after season, Sinfonia Gulf Coast has raised the bar on the arts and entertainment options for Northwest Florida. The innovative programming continues in 2013–14 with “Musical Identities,” a season featuring the locally based professional symphony and nationally recognized guests. Season eight’s remaining schedule includes the following performances: Annual Holiday Concert – December 20 at Destiny Worship Center, featuring holiday classics and excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker performed by dancers from the Northwest Florida Ballet The Bernstein Beat – January 24 at Destiny Worship Center, featuring Jamie Bernstein, daughter of the iconic American conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein Sybarite5 – February 14–15 at the Rosemary Beach Town Hall, featuring this classical string quintet and educational activities Sinfonia Annual Gala Event – March 29 at Emerald Coast Convention Center, featuring Tony and Olivier Award winner Patti LuPone performing Broadway songs from her distinguished stage career

For more information on Sinfonia Gulf Coast, including ticket details, visit www.sinfoniagulfcoast. org or call (850) 269-7129.

V IE Z INE .C OM | 39

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I was thinking it was a great way to spend a balmy Saturday evening, but I was not expecting to see a production of such magnitude. I was impressed by the size of the stage, the organization and ease of parking, and the tricked-out sponsor tents put up by Jim Beam, Harley-Davidson, and others. I was blown away—and that was all before Toby Keith even took the stage! To say he was a crowd-pleaser is an understatement. I can see why his fans love him—and Toby loves his fans! He cares about his craft. He has an amazing band, and the patriotic message in his songs rang truer than true that evening. There is so much to say about the success of Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam, but as the old adage goes “a picture paints a thousand words.” So we’ll let the photos do the talking.

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Photo provided by Pep

44 | N O V E M B E R / DE C E M B E R 2 013



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V IE Z INE .C OM | 45

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The recent Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam, held September 26 through 28 in Panama City Beach, Florida, was the brainchild of Dave Trepanier and Rendy Lovelady, who pulled off a near-flawless feat for their first country music festival on the Gulf Coast. Over forty-five musical performers appeared on stages at multiple venues throughout the Panama City Beach area. Headliners Toby Keith, Trace Adkins, and Brantley Gilbert packed a musical punch, with Toby closing the festival to a crowd of thirteen thousand! “There is a natural synergy between our beach and country music, and this event delivered on that,” said Dan Rowe, president and CEO of the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau. Rowe added, “Music is part of the beach experience as well as our brand message, so it tied in nicely to the big picture of selling our destination.” This year, Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam is proud to announce that they were able to team up with several regional nonprofit organizations in order to provide over a thousand workers with employment during the month of September! As part of an ongoing effort to help the local community, Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam

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was also proud to put over $20,000 directly back into the local economy by way of donations to Habitat for Humanity, Arnold High School, Naval Support Activity Panama City, Miracle Strip Junior Women’s Club, and the VFW. The festival also brought additional revenues for local condos, hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions, retail shops, and more. Executive Producer Rendy Lovelady says, “I’ve said it before and I’ll proudly say it again: Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam wouldn’t have had a successful inaugural festival if it hadn’t been for the support of Panama City Beach. Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam is already making plans for next year, and we are looking forward to bringing more jobs, more people, and more music to Panama City Beach next fall—and the fall after that!” “Our sponsors came out in full force to align with us, and Pepsi was just amazing to work with—we both want to grow this festival onto a national stage now that we have the inaugural festival behind us,” echoed the festival’s cocreator, Dave Trepanier. Additional sponsors included Jim Beam, Land Shark, the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau, USA Association, Wind Creek Atmore Casino and Hotel, Harley-Davidson, Club La Vela, Sonicbids, and Team Cocktail. “We are dialoging with several national sponsors for next year’s festival, including Ford and major credit card companies.”

During the three-day event, patrons attended three beachfront stages, which were hosted by Edgewater Beach and Golf Resort, the Boardwalk Beach Resort, and Seahaven Beach Resorts. Festivalgoers stood on sugar-white sand and dipped their toes in the water as they watched their favorite performers. And as the sun began to set, attendees headed to Frank Brown Park to watch some of the biggest stars in country music!

For more information about Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam 2014, please visit 48 | N O V E M B E R / DE C E M B E R 2 013

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t a e B e h t t o G He’s uzio the DiM f o y s e t r u o hotography c By Tori Phelps // P


After five decades of helping drummers hone their unique sounds, cymbal guru Lennie DiMuzio has written what will undoubtedly become known as the “Beat Bible”—a be-all, end-all book detailing the adventures (and misadventures) of the greatest drummers of the past century. Why him? Because he was there. V IE Z INE .C OM | 53


n the surface, Tales from the Cymbal Bag is a love letter from Lennie DiMuzio to the many members of his extended family known as drummers—not to mention people who just dig a good backbeat. But a closer look reveals that, at its core, Tales from the Cymbal Bag is the story of one man who was lucky enough to live what he loved every day and whose grand adventures brought him into contact with icons such as Buddy Rich and Max Roach—all of whom, as it turns out, thought Lennie was pretty iconic, too.

Now in his eighties, Lennie is still the force to be reckoned with in the drumming world. He’s not a world-famous drummer, although the consensus is that he could have been. Instead, Lennie became a Wizard of Oz–style, behind-the-curtain magician who played a huge role in the sounds many professional drummers have created for themselves and their bands over the past fifty years.

From Drummer Boy to Cymbal Man If you’re not a drumming aficionado, you may not be familiar with the importance of cymbals. Don’t worry; Lennie will enlighten us in a minute. But first, a brief history lesson. As Tales from the Cymbal Bag points out, cymbals were among man’s earliest instruments. They’re thought to have existed in the Middle East for at least three thousand years; even the Bible references cymbals in Psalm 150. Today, every cymbal is different, and it can be argued that they’re the biggest factor in determining a drummer’s sound. So, as a cymbal selector, Lennie’s fingerprints were all over an artist’s identity. “I became popular because I analyzed who the drummers were and what they were looking for,” he explains. “Then I gave them the information they needed to formulate their own unique style of playing. I helped them blend cymbals—not only with their drums, but with the way they played—to create an individual style. I created a signature for them.” It’s a rare gift that can be traced back to his family. Lennie grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in a house overflowing with three generations. What they lacked in money, they more than made up for in musical talent. His mother sang and played ukulele, while his uncles played everything from saxophone to clarinet

He’s Got the Beat

Top Left: Paul Cellucci, David Garibaldi, Lennie Bottom Left: Lennie Cooper Band Top Right: PFC Don Gaddis, PFC Lennie, Miss Joyce Seeman

V IE Z INE .C OM | 55

to banjo. One of his uncles, a tap dancer who also dabbled in drums, saw that his nephew was similarly inclined. With no money for a real drum set, Lennie’s uncle broke rungs off an old chair and whittled them down to make a pair of drumsticks. Lennie was soon wailing on his first kit, which consisted of a washboard, cookie sheets, pie tins, and a couple of bicycle horns. Before long, Lennie and his saxophone-playing brother, Eddie, were performing in minstrel shows around New England and founding their own bands. Their steady rise was put on hold when the Korean War came calling, first for Eddie and then for Lennie. Even wartime couldn’t stop Lennie’s drumbeat, though, and he earned a spot in the Army band during his last year of service in Germany. After he was discharged, Lennie enrolled at the New England Conservatory of Music, where he studied to be a teacher. But as he delved into it, while also working as a teacher on the side, he questioned that decision. “I didn’t really enjoy it,” he admits. “You have to give so much to teaching; it was very time consuming, and I wasn’t able to focus on my own career as a drummer.” A transfer to the Schillinger House (now Berklee College of Music) allowed him to pursue a performance degree during the day and play with a band at night. During one of these gigs, he met Armand Zildjian, the son of Zildjian cymbal company owner Avedis Zildjian. The two hit it off immediately, and when Lennie inquired about openings at the company, Armand invited his new friend to meet his father. That meeting launched a forty-two-year career that took Lennie on the ride of his life.

The Good Doctor Though it was—and still is today—among the largest cymbal companies in the world, Zildjian was a fairly small company when Lennie came on board. Its size allowed Lennie to dip his toe into nearly every aspect of the business and rise to the top quickly. He was so enamored of this new career that he turned down the opportunity to audition for the legendary Woody Herman band, a move that took even Lennie by surprise.

The truth was that Lennie was happy at Zildjian and was becoming happier by the day. Along with working in areas such as advertising and design, Lennie spent a considerable amount of time in artist relations, a business segment he pioneered for the cymbal manufacturing industry. “Artist relations today are a very powerful thing,” Lennie says. “But in the old days, there was nothing like it, so I created it.” While working in advertising and promotions, Lennie hatched a win-win strategy for Zildjian and the drummers the company worked with. He gave the artists the opportunity for publicity through print materials, clinic instruction, and performances. In return, they signed an agreement allowing Zildjian to use their names in its advertising. Thanks to Lennie’s combination of natural charisma and business acumen, the concept was an instant success, and other cymbal companies took notice. “I knew all the artist relations people from other companies, and a lot of them leaned on me,” Lennie explains. “My policy became the policy throughout the industry, and today all the companies have artist relations managers.” Innovative ideas aside, Lennie’s main area of expertise has always been cymbals and the drummers who use them. Thousands of drummers came through the Zildjian factory during Lennie’s four-decade tenure, and he built relationships with most of them. These were his people. This was his craft. And he was their go-to guy. He modestly says that he met all the great rock drummers, but he did more than meet them. Lennie characterizes Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer as “a good friend” of three decades. He’s longtime pals with David Lee Roth drummer Gregg Bissonette, with whom Lennie made some backstage memories that were nearly too risqué to put in his book. And then there was the time Lennie merrily shoved a lemon meringue pie in the face of Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith—just because. The connections he cherishes most are the enduring ones—like his twenty-fiveyear friendship with Rush drummer Neil Peart. Peart, whom Lennie calls “a wonderful person and an excellent musician,” is considered one of the best rock ’n’ roll drummers of all time. He’s also a big fan of Lennie, even following him to the Sabian cymbal company ten years ago when, after a brief retirement, Lennie decided he wasn’t done with the business quite yet. Dozens of other household-name drummers would say the same thing about the man they know as “the cymbal doctor,” “the good doctor,” or simply “the guru.” His daughter Cecilia explains, “He’s a specialist at his craft, and not a lot of people can do what he can. He has really exceptional ears that have allowed him to pick cymbals for all these drummers. Everyone wanted Lennie.” That extended outside the cymbal factory as well. Another industry nickname for Lennie is “Jump Back,” a reference to his signature expression, “Jump back, baby!” Apparently the guru of sound was also the guru of good times. Lennie’s career included plenty of traveling, often to industry conferences where he became

He’s Got the Beat

Top Photo: Neil Peart, Lennie Bottom Photo: John Blackwell, Paul Cellucci, Andy Zildjian, Lennie, Horacio Hernandez

V IE Z INE .C OM | 57

known for spearheading after-hours outings filled with laughter and high jinks. “I always had a group of drummers hanging with me,” Lennie says, “and they would constantly ask, ‘Where are we going tonight?’ One night I answered, ‘Jump back, baby.’ I think I meant it as, ‘Relax, we’re going out soon. And when we do, things are gonna happen.’ After that, ‘jump back, baby’ kind of became my thing.” Poor, popular, in-demand Lennie—he was incredibly busy. And he loved every minute of it. “Being accepted as a close friend, given front row seats to their performances, having conversations where we talked about everything in the music business, and then helping them pursue their sound and their identity—that was the best part of the job,” he says. It also makes for a great book.

Tales from the Cymbal Bag

Lennie seems to have encyclopedic knowledge of every drummer you’ve ever heard of—and most of the ones you haven’t. Lennie knows, for example, that Whitesnake drummer Tommy Aldridge taught himself to play drums by mimicking Ringo Starr and Jimi Hendrix’s drummer, Mitch Mitchell. And that Ginger Baker, drummer in the classic rock band Cream, dreamed of becoming a professional cyclist but got a job in a band the first time he sat down at a drum set. This PhD in “drumology” didn’t come from a book. It’s the result of time spent and relationships built—not to mention adventures so unbelievable that they have to be true. Luckily, nearly all of them are recorded in Tales from the Cymbal Bag. Included in the book is everything from how cymbals are made to stories like catching Frank Sinatra in the middle of a self-pep talk before a show. And the pictures. Oh, the pictures. Between Lennie’s alwaysready camera and “chronicler of the drumming world” Lissa Wales, to whom the book is dedicated, they captured thousands of “right time, right place” photos. This visual feast of Lennie with his legions of famous friends and of iconic musicians performing and picking out cymbals at Zildjian makes readers feel like they were there, too.

The idea for the book arose out of necessity. These stories had to be told, and everyone agreed it was Lennie’s duty to tell them. Thanks to his membership in countless music organizations and his attendance at thousands of concerts, clinics, and conferences, Lennie became an industry legend simply because he was there. “So many people asked me when I was going to write a book, and I would always say, ‘Someday,’” he says. “But then I started thinking about the younger generations who won’t know these stories and these people. There was nothing that said Gene Krupa was a nice guy who went to church on Sundays or that Buddy Rich was a bastard who was tough on kids.” Yep, he goes there. All the way there. Lennie doesn’t apologize for shooting straight, and why should he? These are his stories, after all. Heeding the call of history, Lennie teamed up with longtime friend and band director Jim Coffin, who offered a unique arrangement: Lennie would tell his stories into a tape recorder (he made about forty tapes), and Coffin would arrange his words into book form. The entire process took more than a decade, but the marathon was worth it. “The book gives people insight into what it was like to work with these great musicians and to be part of their lives,” Lennie says. “These are the masters who put down the roots, who created the formula of what it means to be a great musician.” Not surprisingly, the experiences that are most memorable to him involve two of the greats: nice-guy Gene Krupa and obnoxious Buddy Rich. Lennie credits Krupa with being among the first to bring drums from the back of the stage to the front, featuring them as an instrument rather than just a timekeeper. “He gave the drums identity and personality,” Lennie says. Krupa’s close friend (and biggest competitor) Rich, however, was in a category by himself. And not just because he could be insufferable. “He was a man from another planet; I believe we’ll never see another player like Buddy,” Lennie asserts. “He was a genius. He never read music, but he could hear something once and remember it forever. His playing was so far superior to anyone else’s, and he developed a style that lives on in every drummer today.” Tales from the Cymbal Bag also shines the spotlight on people who may not be famous, but who mean the world to Lennie—like his best friend, the late Armand Zildjian. As Jim Coffin writes about the twosome in the book, “You saw one, you saw the other.” Lennie says it was an honor to spend so much of his life working and playing with Armand, whom he calls his inspiration and the reason he has this treasure trove of memories. Lennie’s family is on full display in the book, as well—mostly in photos, but they also make cameos in some of his stories. Especially present are his daughters, Cecilia and Thèrése, who followed their dad into the music business. Cecilia has been a singer and co-owner of the Boston-based band Stardust for twenty years. Thèrése is a drummer, vocalist, and DJ who has two musically gifted daughters of her own. Of his children’s pursuit of the family business, Lennie rhapsodizes,

He’s got the Beat

He’s Got the Beat

Top Left: Newspaper article on Lennie Top Right: Freddie Gruber, Robert Gottfried, Steve Smith, Steve Houghton, Lennie Bottom Right: Tony Tedesco, Cecilia Colucci, Fred Taylor, John Pizzarelli, Thèrése DiMuzio

V IE Z INE .C OM | 59

“It’s the most beautiful thing in the world. We’re very lucky that we can get together and share music with one another.” She may appreciate the musical genes—and the many times she got backstage access to amazing bands—but Cecilia says Lennie’s legacy is about much more than that. “I haven’t met anyone who hasn’t loved my dad,” she swears. “He just has a way of winning people over, and he can find humor even in the bleakest times. He makes the best of every situation, even making everyone in the room laugh when he was going through chemo. That’s the kind of guy he is.”

The kind of guy Lennie is can be found on every page of Tales from the Cymbal Bag. You’ll meet a passionate man who has made a real difference not only in his children’s lives, but also in the lives of countless drummers. Ironically, the man who turned away from teaching may go down in percussion history as one of the greatest teachers ever—the kind who didn’t give you the answers, but who helped you find them yourself. His latest assignment: “Read the book and learn about what life was like back in the day,” he encourages. “Enjoy the history. That’s the only thing I can ask for.”

For information about ordering Lennie’s book, Tales from the Cymbal Bag, please visit


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He’s Got the Beat

Thèrése DiMuzio, Vic Firth

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The ART of Giving Justin Gaffrey Art + Food For Thought Outreach By Jordan Staggs | Photography by Gerald Burwell

On September 26, philanthropists and art collectors

sponsors and volunteers who made it possible, and to

from South Walton and beyond gathered at Justin

our community for its great success.”

Gaffrey’s Studio/Gallery in Blue Mountain Beach on Scenic Highway 30-A for the ART of Giving event and

“I am inspired by the people in my life who move me

the culmination of an online silent auction featuring

to help, and I am fortunate to have the opportunity to

over a hundred of Gaffrey’s paintings.

do so,” Justin Gaffrey adds.

The silent auction, which was presented online at

Gaffrey and his director, Christy Milliken, hosted the, raised over $90,000, with

event, with the quirky, beautiful Justin Gaffrey Studio/

admission and raffle ticket sales bringing the total for the

Gallery in Blue Mountain Beach serving as the

evening to well over $100,000. All proceeds from the

backdrop. Patrons mingled over cocktails, brews from

event went directly to Food For Thought Outreach, Inc., a

Grayton Beer Company, and delicious fare prepared by

nonprofit organization based in Walton County, Florida.

renowned chef Phillip McDonald of Table Five and


Justin Gaffrey himself. Kyle Paxton provided ambience Food For Thought works to provide Walton and

for the crowd as he played the hammered dulcimer.

Okaloosa County children in need with backpacks full of easy-to-make meals during weekends and holidays,

But, as the name rightly suggests, the night was about

when they are not getting breakfasts and lunches

the art of giving. Gaffrey’s brilliant, sculptural artworks

served at school. This allows them to focus on

to be raffled off adorned every wall, were stacked

development and education instead of where their

around the studio, and stood alert on easels in the

next meal is coming from. Since 2010, founder Tiffanie

front courtyard and lakeside backyard for patrons to

Shelton and Food For Thought Outreach supporters

peruse. Spirits were merry and charity abounded as

have increased the program to be able to feed over

friendly bidding wars ensued throughout the night,

two hundred children in the community.

with spectacular result. It was a splendid evening for a wonderful cause.

“This is a story about doing what you can as an active member of your community,” Shelton says. “Too often

Sponsors for the event included Summer House

we allow what we cannot do to overshadow what we

Lifestyle, Beachy Beach 30A Real Estate, VIE, 30A.

can. This is an extremely proud moment for me

com,, Destin Shines, M Public Relations,

personally, for the organization, and for our community.

Wine World, CopySystems, and Red8 Creative.

This event will serve as a huge milestone for Food For Thought Outreach and has provided a foundation for

Thank you to everyone who helped make this beautiful

longevity and growth in our service. I will be forever

event come together to help feed the children in need

grateful to Justin for providing this gift, for the

of our community!

64 | N O V E M B E R / DE C E M B E R 2 013

Bridgette Mitchell and Justin Gaffrey


Madra and Phillip McDonald


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Laura and Michael Granberry, Allison Wickey, Tiffanie Shelton, and Gaëlle LeGoff


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3 4 2






10 V IE Z INE .C OM | 65

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Seafood and Music Festival Rocks Panama City Beach BY KIM DUKE-LAYDEN | PHOTOGRAPHY BY NIKKI HEDRICK

V IE Z INE .C OM | 69

Collective Soul Abigail Rose

he Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, and the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau teamed up with local restaurants, businesses, charities, and volunteers to present the 2013 Panama City Beach Seafood and Music Festival October 17–19. Record crowds attended the main event at the newly built Aaron Bessant Park Amphitheater to celebrate the area’s legendary seafood and coastal lifestyle—not to mention a few rock ’n’ roll legends. “It was a wonderful event that really showcased the new Aaron Bessant  Park, which opened this past spring,” says Dan Rowe, president and CEO of the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The various musical events featured there this year alone  demonstrate that Panama City Beach is able to attract a wide audience of visitors as well as locals.” “Vines to Steins” was the theme for the UNwineD walkabout event, which kicked off the festival on October 17. The evening’s crisp fall air was filled with the sounds of popping corks and lively tunes performed by singer/guitarist Sean Flood of the local band Panhandlers. More than two hundred attendees sipped and sampled award-winning wines, craft beers, and delicious cuisine prepared by area chefs. Among the mouthwatering menu items were crab cakes with red pepper aioli from Fishale Taphouse and Grill, seared tuna with mango chutney from Sharky’s Beachfront Restaurant, seafood ceviche from Runaway Bay Caribbean Grill, and espresso-braised boar shank from Firefly. Hammerhead Fred’s white chocolate bread pudding paired with a bubbly glass of Stellina di Notte prosecco made for a luscious finale.

Foreigner Andy Velo


Throughout the weekend, restaurants set up festival booths with boatloads of fresh seafood prepared every way imaginable. Adventurous eaters lined up for shark on a stick, Hawaiian-style ahi tuna poke, and deep-fried frog legs and alligator. Smok’n Butts BBQ and Shipwreck Island Catering and Concessions rounded out the something-foreveryone menu. Sports fans flocked to the Coors V IE Z INE .C OM | 71

Better Than Ezra

Light mobile party bar, which debuted at this year’s festival with a sleek, wraparound bar and fourteen flat-screen TVs so fans could catch all the action on the field and at the fest; meanwhile, the Redd’s Apple Ale team entertained with party games and free samples of their new strawberry brew.

On Saturday morning, October 19, the reel festival action shifted to Capt. Anderson’s Marina, where a plethora of waterfront activities and competitions took place, with proceeds benefiting three local children’s charities. Visitors of all ages participated in the deep-sea and bay fishing tournaments, as the marina’s lofty mission was to get every fishing pole (and spear) in Bay County into the water. This zealous effort paid off—nearly two hundred lionfish were caught during the second annual Lionfish “Lion-Tamer” Dive Tournament. Congratulations to this year’s winner, thirteen-year-old Courtney Galbreath of the Diver’s Den team, who brought in twenty-three lionfish! Capt. Anderson’s Marina furthered its efforts to inform the public about the destructive yet delicious lionfish by holding free cooking demonstrations and tastings throughout the day that featured this emerging seafood delicacy.

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Another highlight among the waterfront activities was the Kids’ Art Contest exhibit, which featured wonderful artwork of various fish species by Bay County art students in grades K–5. The amazing winning masterpieces were displayed on the official fishing tournament weigh-in boards. On October 18 and 19, when the sun started setting, the stars came out to play. This year’s stellar lineup of live musical talent brought out festivalgoers in record numbers. More than 11,000 people attended the festival over the weekend, with VIP tickets for both nights selling out weeks in advance. “I think the festival accomplished two goals,” says Lance Allison, president and CEO of the Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce, “It brought people into town and at the same time provided the locals with great entertainment. It far exceeded the expectations we had for this year; attendance was double what I was going to consider a success. We’re ecstatic about the turnout.” Besides the cool October weather and the full moon, Friday’s attendees enjoyed live performances by Nashville singer-songwriter Abigail Rose, popular New Orleans rockers Better Than Ezra, and V IE Z INE .C OM | 73

Ed Roland & The Sweet Tea Project

headliner Collective Soul, whose hit single “Shine” had the audience singing along like it was 1995. Saturday’s sizzling roster drew an even bigger attendance. Collective Soul front man’s country side dish, Ed Roland and the Sweet Tea Project, got the party started, while the Andy Velo Band kept things down South with singles such as “Hank It Up” and “Southern Thing.” The crowd’s response was far from “cold as ice,” especially when headliners Loverboy and Foreigner brought everyone to their feet. Festivalgoers and event organizers alike left Aaron Bessant Park in high spirits late Saturday night, with excitement already brewing for another rocking festival next year. “The success of this festival highlights why the tourist development council invested its first BP marketing support funds after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill into the park,” says Rowe. “It is a lasting legacy. Having such a nice performance venue will allow us to create tourism opportunities, like the seafood festival and other big concerts, for a lifetime.”

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ulevard at Grand Bo re to S d n a estaurant nced VERS, M y Bahama R as people gla O m L ir m a o N e T th IO d h H in g S h u FA uld en lawn be rackle thro e bright gre and what wo seemed to c th e y d n rg si o e n in d e e e t k rg c li e n conv t it looked ach. A disti h to bring ndering wha Miramar Be o w in , r n e te eady enoug n re e lr g a t C n e re c e ja w Town d n a o nt on the anticipati a group rge white te eek, and as mystery and W e n h io T sh t. a h F ig over at the la n not be uth Walto later that n oast should very first So the runway C e n th ld o r ra n e fo e m p g p n E a h wd prepari , 2013, the tober 10–13 the small cro c O to t n n o e d m e e v it exc signers pro d fashion de n a s re o st l a of loc scene. of the style counted out




THINKING OF FASHION AT THE BEACH LIKELY BRINGS TO MIND IMAGES OF COVER-UPS, BIKINI TOPS, AND FLIP-FLOPS FOR MOST PEOPLE. IT’S TRUE; THOSE ISLAND-INSPIRED PIECES ARE STAPLES IN THE WARDROBES OF SOUTH WALTON NATIVES AND VISITORS ALIKE. BUT THIS DOESN’T MEAN THAT, AFTER A DAY OF BEACH FUN, THOSE SAME BATHING SUITS AND CUT-OFF SHORTS ARE THE GO-TO STYLES FOR DINNERS OUT AND SOCIAL EVENTS. THE GOAL OF SOUTH WALTON FASHION WEEK WAS TO SHOW VISITORS AND LOCALS THE RANGE OF GREAT FASHION CHOICES THAT ALREADY EXISTS IN THE WALTON COUNTY AREA AND TO ALLOW MANY AREA SHOPS AND DESIGNERS—BOTH THOSE NATIVE TO THE AREA AND THOSE THAT HAVE TRANSPLANTED HERE— TO SHOW OFF THEIR UNIQUE LOOKS, TO HAVE FUN, AND TO ENGAGE THE AUDIENCE WITH THEIR RUNWAY SHOWS. “We’ve been plotting and dreaming about this event for a few years now,” says Jennifer Steele, executive director of the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County, who cofounded South Walton Fashion Week with Hillary Fosdyck and Briane O’Dell of Monark Events. “We did a small runway show in 2010, but we really wanted to make sure this was done to the best of our ability. The CAA’s mission is to put on events that drive tourism and are rich in culture, but also are fun for the community, and we think everything just came together for it.” It was clear their vision had become a reality the moment the first model stepped onto the runway. Each show contributed something different, but one thing was clear: South Walton is abundant with creativity and style.

Shoppe, Southern Fashion House, Ophelia Swimwear, 30A Gear, Snap Tweens, Pretty Please, Seaside Kids, Gigi’s Fabulous Kids’ Fashions, and Coconut Kids, as well as trunk shows and special events at Southern Fashion House, Perspicasity, Willow Boutique, the Alys Shoppe, Nicole Paloma, Jewel Toffier, Island Clothiers, and the Red Bar. Additionally, Saturday night’s runway shows featured a competition with six emerging designers from around the Southeast vying for the top spot. The winner was chosen by a panel of celebrity judges: Nashville boutique owner, blogger, and singer-songwriter Holly Williams; founder

Cassie McConnell Kelley; and Project Runway designer Mychael Knight, who will also appear in this year’s season of Project Runway: All Stars. The weekend’s runway festivities were hosted by All My Children actress Heather Roop. This year’s emerging designers were Sarah Winford, a native of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and cocreator of The Winford Label; Nashville’s Jennifer Nina Evans, whose objective is to take inspiration from the “ugly” and create something beautiful; Ella Rose from New Orleans, whose use of recycled alligator skins brings an edge to her feminine silhouettes; Destin’s own Cayce Collins, whose spring 2014 collection was inspired by a trip to Petaluma, California; Andi Eaton of fashion line Hazel and Florange, taking cues for her spring collection from travel and her beloved city of New Orleans; and Ashlie Ming, a Mississippi native whose line, blackout., features sophisticated pieces with a downtown edge. Each of the designers brought something different to the runway, but in the end, it was Ashlie Ming who won over the judges, receiving the title of top emerging designer as well as $1,500, a six-month storefront display at Grand Boulevard, and the exclusive photo shoot seen here, shot by Hayley Green of Goode Green Photography. Ming was announced as the winning designer, along with winning model Emme Martin, at the Saturday night after-party hosted by The Market Shops of Sandestin. “When they said my name, it didn’t register at first,” Ming says. “It was kind of surreal.”

“Our area is currently enjoying an explosion of local talent—artists, musicians, chefs, entrepreneurs, architects, photographers, designers,” says Mike Ragsdale, founder of 30A Gear and Ophelia Swimwear coproduced a high-energy, crowd-pleasing runway show during Saturday night’s festivities. “Once again, the Cultural Arts Alliance has created a brilliant way to honor and showcase the most talented among us.” The four-day event included exclusive runway shows from South Walton stores including Visit South Walton, Tommy Bahama, the Seaside Style, Nicole Paloma, Altar’d State, Billabong, Chico’s, Brooks Brothers, Coco’s by M. Cline, J. Jill, Sunglass Hut, the Orvis Company, the Zoo Gallery, the Alys

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Originally from Jackson, Mississippi, Ming attended the University of Mississippi before transferring to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. After graduating, she began her career in fashion working with LA-based line Stella and Jamie. After hearing about the budding fashion scene in New Orleans, she returned to the South and founded her own label, blackout., in 2012. “The name was inspired by the way black pieces always seem to be staples in my wardrobe and my friends’ wardrobes,” Ming reveals. “Black is so versatile, you can do anything in it.” When the Cultural Arts Alliance put out a call for regional fashion designers to apply for its inaugural fashion week event, Ming gladly rose to the challenge and was excited to be accepted into the emerging designer competition and to see what South Walton Fashion Week had in store. She says she wasn’t disappointed. “It was different from other fashion weeks I’ve been to,” Ming says. “They brought the Florida chill and relaxed vibe into it, and it was a great way to showcase my clothing. I arrived Thursday night and they had my models all picked out for me—it was such a relief not to have to worry about that part, and they all did such a great job.” Dozens of local women—and a few young men— strutted the runways of South Walton Fashion Week, bringing talent and energy to the runway and further enhancing the curated looks from stores and designers. Many of the female models were also competing for $500, a photo shoot with Hayley Green, and to be the face of South Walton Fashion Week 2014. Seaside Neighborhood School student Emme Martin said she was nervous when she first auditioned to be a model for South Walton Fashion Week. “After a few rehearsals, it was actually a lot of fun,” she admits. “Being backstage with all the models and getting ready for the shows was pretty crazy.” Martin, who had never modeled before, wowed the judges—including VIE’s creative director, Tracey Thomas—with her professional walk and overall look on the runway. According to Thomas, there were several great contenders for the spot of top model, but the decision was unanimous: Martin was a natural. “There’s this moment when you’re walking down the runway and the music is playing and all the lights are on, and it’s just this great feeling,” says

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Martin. “I think it was really good for me because I proved to myself that I could do it after I was nervous about it.” Ming and Martin met Hayley Green and Sheila Goode two days later for their exclusive South Walton Fashion Week photo shoot, which took place in the iconic 30-A community of Alys Beach. The Mediterranean-inspired white walls and cobbled

pathways created a gorgeous backdrop to complement Ming’s styles, and she and Martin looked stunning with accessories by S. Carter Designs, hairstyles by Aveda in Rosemary Beach, and makeup by MAC Cosmetics. “I think the Florida market is a great place to showcase my aesthetic,” Ming says. “I want to keep growing in boutiques and smaller markets, and I’m excited to pursue business relationships in the South Walton area.”


“I THINK THE FLORIDA MARKET IS A GREAT PLACE TO SHOWCASE MY AESTHETIC.” South Walton retailers and sponsors of the event agree that South Walton Fashion Week was a great success, and they look forward to expanding their business by working with future SWFW events. “With the upcoming renovation of The Market Shops, South Walton Fashion Week represented a fantastic way to begin reintroducing the resort shopping center to the South Walton market,” says Tom Watson of JPB Commercial Real Estate Advisors, which handles marketing and leasing for The Market Shops at Sandestin. “The fashion-forward retailers and designers that participated in South Walton Fashion Week fit the profile of an important part of The Market Shops’ clientele, and we were excited to see the impressive level of participation from the local fashion community.” “The event was well organized and fun!” adds Makenzie Carter of the Seaside Style, which showed on the runways Friday night. “We wanted to educate our audience on what the Seaside Style brand is all about … more than the famous T-shirt. By mixing resort wear with some of our signature Seaside pieces, we wanted to convey ‘a simple, beautiful life.’”

















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No doubt future South Walton Fashion Weeks will continue to showcase the artistic talents of designers in the area—such as Grayton Beach–based Nicole Paloma, who captured audience members’ hearts during Friday’s event with her fun, elegant designs and narrative runway show—and emerging designers from around the country. Net proceeds from the 2013 South Walton Fashion Week benefited the Cultural Arts Alliance’s Educational Giving Program, which provides funds to inspire and help bring up a new generation of artists, entrepreneurs, and, yes, fashion designers in the community. Event organizers, sponsors, and fashion lovers in South Walton are already buzzing about next year’s show. See you on the runway! V IE Z INE .C OM | 87

TRANSPORTATION AT ITS FINEST GETTING YOU FROM HERE TO THERE By Alan Roberts // Photography by Sheila Goode With the continued growth of our area, tourists are using Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP), located just north of Panama City Beach, at an escalating rate. Getting from there to wherever your final destination may be isn’t always easy. Sunshine Shuttle and Limousine has been helping people go to and fro since 2004, but a significant milestone occurred this past April: the board of directors at ECP decided it was time to further promote the area by offering a positive and family-friendly solution to “getting around town.” Thus, Sunshine Shuttle was accepted as the first and only car service kiosk inside the airport terminal, where guests can reserve transportation needs near the baggage claim area, instead of calling a taxi service. This on-site transportation was greatly

needed—according to customer surveys taken at the airport—and Sunshine could not be prouder to meet the community’s request. This year-round service reduces vehicular traffic, increases safety in the area by removing thousands of rental cars from the roads, and serves as a positive branding opportunity for the Emerald Coast, due to the company’s high level of customer service and professionalism. “Sunshine Shuttle provides a great first impression for visitors coming to Northwest Florida,” states Paul Wohlford, vice president of sales and marketing for The Resort Collection of Panama City Beach, one of the area’s largest hospitality providers. “Their vehicles are always clean and their staff is professional, friendly, and on time. The most

reoccurring word we hear from our guests when describing Sunshine is all-encompassing: reliable.” Upon arrival, airport patrons are greeted by a professional transportation specialist at the kiosk, where they are immediately treated with respect and professionalism, which makes a big difference for the weary traveler. Whether guests book a Town Car or a passenger van, the company operates with a determination to “drive and deliver” at ECP (and all other Emerald Coast airports). Across the United States, over twenty fixed-base operators (FBOs) and regional and international airports are turning to single sources to provide all their ground transportation needs. Managing over

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forty cab companies at an airport and ensuring that each one is up to date on its insurance and maintenance for every vehicle—not to mention keeping tabs on every driver working every day—takes hours of labor that could be better spent elsewhere. Imagine the expenses involved if Yankee Stadium allowed a different hot dog vendor to set up shop at each gate and exit ramp. Derek Jeter would starve! To maximize operating efficiency and allay budget concerns, many American airports rely on one provider to deliver superior car and shuttle services. August in Northwest Florida generally means that there are countless bookings at resorts and that vacation rentals are close to—if not totally—full. An interesting dynamic has taken shape over the last few years: Families with toddlers and preschool-aged children are choosing to vacation in the area after school starts because of availability issues during June, July, and early August. These guests relish the opportunity to experience the Emerald Coast’s pristine beaches and azure Gulf waters when the “big kids” are absent. Because of this extended summer vacation season, the ECP airport maintains a high level of passenger travel through Labor Day, meaning dancing dollar signs for the entire Emerald Coast. An airport affects its surroundings the way a big drop of water falls into a full bucket—expanding out in concentric circles until reaching its outermost perimeter—splashing down in the center of a region, then creating an economic ripple effect throughout its territory. Through June of 2013, Delta and Southwest airlines delivered around 211,000 travelers to ECP. Imagine how Highway 98 would look if just half of those visitors used airport shuttle transportation instead of private vehicles. John Finch, owner and founder of Sunshine Shuttle, views this partnership with ECP as a small brushstroke on the canvas of a much larger picture: public transportation throughout Bay, Walton, and Okaloosa Counties. “We have the opportunity—with this kiosk at ECP, our on-site transportation at Sandestin, and our recent employee shuttle service for Seaside this summer—to really change the culture here. Creating an area where families can visit without the hassles of driving and parking would be a huge positive for us over other vacation destinations.” Finch adds, “We have commitments from almost every major business, resort, and community along Scenic Highway 30-A for a tram service, at least for the summer months. More golf carts equal more vehicles, even if they are slow moving. That equals more parking problems as well. Golf carts are not the answer. Business leaders ought to follow Sandestin’s example—take the bull by the horns and get the Rosemary Beach to Gulf Place shuttle rolling. Waiting for government financing that may never come isn’t going to ease anybody’s pain. We’ve got to make it easier for people to continue visiting and growing our economy, or we’ll have a situation like Yogi Berra once described (referring to a St. Louis restaurant, Ruggeri’s), ‘Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.’” A car-free vacation destination should be made available to Emerald Coast visitors, and perhaps this is possible in the not-so-distant future. Less traffic means more visitors, and by creating jobs, bringing attention to this issue, and moving ahead without waiting for government funding, Sunshine Shuttle and Limousine is in line to make it happen.

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hen I left Fonville Press in 2006, I did not know that Ceruleans in WaterColor and the artists of 30-A were waiting for me. Fonville Press is a beautiful coffee shop situated in Alys Beach, and no expense was spared in the design of its fixtures, finishes, style, or decor. In contrast, Ceruleans was an empty retail space tucked into a corner of WaterColor that would later be transformed into a haven for local artists. In my initial meeting with The St. Joe Company, the developer of the property, the executives asked, “What do you envision for this space?” My mind flashed forward into what would become Ceruleans: “There is a stage and art is on the walls. I see books, coffee, wine, and tapas, people everywhere—and there is music. This is a place for community and artistic expression.” I wrote a proposal, and Ceruleans opened three weeks later. I used my budget to purchase an espresso bar, paint the walls, and install bookshelves and a stage. I called my friends and said, “I need art.” Word spread fast, and soon artists were showing up at my door with their work in hand. We hung the pieces the day before the café opened. Soon, Susan Lucas’s art graced the walls of Ceruleans—just as it had at Catherine Dickson Fine Art, Page O’Connor Fine Arts, the Beverly McNeil Gallery, Eileen West Gallery, and, most recently, the Hidden Lantern Gallery and Gordie Hinds Contemporary Art (mostly galleries along Scenic Highway 30-A). Chromatically, Susan’s abstractions felt like the chords of a well-composed sheet of music, which imbued Ceruleans with a silent understanding. There was a syncopation of sound

Self-Portrait/Collage, 18” x 12”


emanating from her work that made you want to dance, but it would be eight more years before I would uncover the sources of her inspiration—her treasure chest of sound, composition, and color.

Art is the funnel, as it were, through which spirit is poured into life. —THOMAS MANN

This summer, Susan and I reconnected at Grayt Grounds of Monet Monet, a charming 30-A café in Grayton Beach, over our passion for Der Ring des Nibelungen, a series of four epic operas by the German composer Richard Wagner. It’s called the Ring Cycle, and it’s rumored that J. R. R. Tolkien drew inspiration from Wagner when he wrote The Lord of The Rings trilogy. Tolkien refuted Wagnerian gossip saying that “Both rings were round, and there the resemblance ceases.” Susan had read my VIE blog that referenced my Ring Cycle moments at the Metropolitan Opera and recounted her own experience with Siegfried, Siegmund, and Brünnhilde. As we dished on Wagner, opera, art, and family, I thought about another resemblance between Wagner’s and Tolkien’s great works: the ring bearer in each case was one who possessed a mastery of his or her own world. I contemplated Susan Lucas and wondered about the epic stages of her life. It seemed to me that she, like Frodo and Siegfried, was also a ring bearer. Unlike them, she had left behind the curse of the ring and instead had forged a path that few others have. She had discovered the artist’s way, whereby the power of the ring is purely used for creative pursuits. I asked Susan about her journey into art and on becoming an artist, which led to a series of conversations over the course of the summer that would forever fill me with inspiration.


usan Lucas on the way of the artist:

“In terms of a journey and my art, part of the journey has been moving slowly from realism to abstraction. My theory, based on my experiences, is that the artist’s journey is a classic bell-shaped curve. When we begin, we know very little but want to try everything, so we go to classes and try oils and watercolors and pastels and drawing and sculpture and so forth. Then, we begin to shed the things that don’t fit us comfortably, and the curve eases back down as we eliminate, refine, and focus. “I think my life is pretty much the same way, as I have tried different ways to be: teacher, community leader, journalist, and more. But at this point I am so delighted at being wife, mother, grandmother, friend, beach bum ... and my art is an expression of those experiences. “Relevant to that, last year one of my teachers and mentors, Katherine Liu, was invited to give the keynote address at the Invitational Exhibition of Contemporary International Watermedia Masters in Nanjing, China. Her topic was how artists move from painting realistically to abstractly, and she used my old work to illustrate the process.”


n living an authentic life:

Lakeside Light, 48” x 24” 96 | N O V E M B E R / DE C E M B E R 2 013

“Lately, I have been musing about authenticity. I think that the most rewarding life is the one that is most expressive of who we really are; of course, it isn’t a fixed target as we grow and learn on life’s journey. It is always a challenge to identify that which is ourselves and to express it, even when it may not be the easiest course to take. It occurs to me that the same thing is true of the art we make. The best and most rewarding art is the expression of the uniqueness of who we are.”

Slough 5, 12” x 36”



n teaching:

“It seems that I always have taught. Not that I am such a master, but I work hard and learn things, and love to pass on what I have learned to others, making their art journey easier, I hope. Usually I teach on a topic, such as color collage or design, to a class of five to fifteen students. For several years, I taught five students at a time in my studio. Every week, I had a lesson or topic for study and an exercise for them to do, then each person painted what he or she wanted to, hopefully applying the lesson learned that day. “Now I am focused on being a painting coach. I think it is the most effective way to help someone discover his or her unique way to make art and how to make that next step. We look at their art and discuss their artistic interests, hopes, desires, and heroes, and develop a plan to enhance the strengths and explore possibilities. “When I teach, I quote the artist and teacher William Christenberry: ‘Just as every person has a unique handwriting and a particular way of walking, so every person has a unique way that they are built to make art, and my job is to help you discover that.’ That is my approach to teaching, but also it describes the objective of my art journey: to discover the unique way that I am meant to make art. And that is another challenging journey, because how do we know what that is? The process of learning and growing as an artist never ends. We are always looking for that next step to progress or wondering, ‘What would happen if...?’ This is one of the great things about a life in art.”


n music and painting:

“Relevant to my musings and why I always paint to music, I read this quote (by Keith Bond) and saved it because it is so true, at least for me: ‘Memory and emotion are closely linked to creativity, which leads to meaningful works of art that have authenticity. Music is a powerful way to tap into those memories and emotion.’”


n collaboration:

“Being with other artists helps the artistic process, too. I love my artist friends here, and every year in March and November I go to an art workshop and retreat. Part of the appeal is working with one of my mentors who helps me progress, but often I go to paint in the independent studio, pursuing my own direction. The chat with the other artists there and the relationships we have formed are part of the stimulation and the pleasure, too. And, of course, there is the great aspect of total immersion in the creative process and being away from the distractions of life.”


n beholding art::

“I am a believer in looking at great art. Just looking at art—all kinds, the kind you like and the kind you don’t get yet—educates the eye and, as we discussed, you ‘see’ things looking at the actual work of art that is impossible with a reproduction. Looking at art is crucial to growing as an artist. I try to get to museums as much as possible: the Met and MOMA in New York; the Hirshhorn and the Corcoran in DC; and the National Gallery, the Tate, and others near the British Museum in London. There was a time when I was at the British Museum with my

V IE Z INE .C OM | 97

sketchbook almost every day. Whatever city I am in, I find the art museum and there I go. Last year, my wonderfully supportive husband and I went to DC just to see the Richard Diebenkorn Ocean Park series at a rare exhibit.”


n the 30-A art scene:

“Since I first moved here in 1999, the thing people have often commented on is how the change in my life was reflected in my art—something I didn’t realize until after it happened. Pre-move to Florida, my paintings were dark landscapes, partly reflecting the reality of the Tennessee hills, valleys, and gray weather, but largely expressing a dark and difficult time in my life. Once in Florida, color and light exploded on the paper and canvas, and my use of the color black disappeared. “In the early days of the art scene on 30-A, there were fewer of us and less going on. We all knew each other and supported each other. There was the Cultural Arts Alliance, ArtsQuest, and the Women’s Art Network, which was fairly new at that time. It was a monthly gathering of female artists where we shared food and talked about art—a marvelous institution. Lots of friendships made and opportunities shared. “There were many great galleries then, as now. There have been so many openings through the years for many artists, who, like me, were always drawn to 30-A by

its incredible beauty: Nina Fritz, Donna Burgess, Woodie Long, Marti Schmidt. Sue Foster had a gallery in Grayton, just behind the Red Bar. She and Jan Clarke created ArtsQuest, which was first held on the streets of Grayton. “One of my greatest friendships here with Claire Bannerman began four decades before I actually moved to 30-A. Claire’s parents and my parents moved here at about the same time in the 1960s. My mother and Claire’s mother, Grace Bannerman, first became friends and, through them, Claire and I forged a friendship. Claire and I didn’t see each other often in those days but kept up through our mothers until we both moved here about the same time in the late ’90s. We’ve been close ever since, and we both reminisce about taking our babies to play in Redfish Lake, where we would spend hours soaking up the sun and the beach. We were both involved in the arts then, and when we reconnected in the 1990s, we became involved with ArtsQuest. Those were the early days, and we like to remember all the ‘old timers’ who made and promoted the arts at the beach.”


n passion:

“I think the underlying force for me is passion. I think my love of opera is that it has so much passion, and through music it connects that to its listeners. I have a passion for making, sharing, and encouraging art. I have a passion for life that has led me to make changes that were difficult and guides me on the path as the journey continues.”

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According to a local legend, if Michigan native John C. Williams had won a coin toss in 1892 against Russian immigrant Peter Demens (born Poytr Dementyev), Florida’s fourth most populous city would be known today as Detroit rather than St. Petersburg.

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Inheriting the nickname “God’s Waiting Room” didn’t help to boost tourism either. For me (and many travelers), St. Petersburg simply fell off the radar—that is, until recently, when my husband, John, and I redirected our GPS to downtown St. Petersburg for a long weekend getaway. Wow! What a pleasant surprise awaited us! In today’s culture where “seventy is the new fifty” and “fifty is the new thirty,” sleepy downtown St. Petersburg has reawakened, and it looks better than ever! The town, once jeered as the “land of newlyweds and the nearly dead,” now radiates a sophisticated, hip vibe that is attracting international foodies, fashionistas, and culture vultures of all ages. Nestled along Beach Drive’s mecca of eclectic shops and eateries is the spectacular Chihuly Collection, a permanent display of the unique artwork of worldrenowned glass artist Dale Chihuly, whose handblown blossoms also embellish the ceiling of the Bellagio’s lobby in Las Vegas. In this intimate St. Petersburg gallery, the magnificent Azul de Medianoche resembles a dangling ten-foot-long blue Medusa. Astonishingly, Chihuly’s “chandeliers” don’t contain lights; rather, they are meticulously created by hanging hundreds of individual, gleaming curlicues. His Persians and Tumbleweeds glass menagerie is equally mesmerizing, and it bursts with brightly colored flowers and Dr. Seuss–like formations. Nowadays, when the sun melts over Tampa Bay, downtown St. Petersburg no longer rolls up its sidewalks. A fresh spirit has swept in and lit up its restaurant and nightlife scene like a Christmas tree. Tree-lined streets are trimmed with twinkling blue lights. Crowds gather at pet-friendly sidewalk cafés and trendy watering holes for gourmet fare, fine wines, and craft beers. Perennial favorites are Parkshore Grill (, the Moon Under Water Tavern (, and the Ale and the Witch ( St. Petersburg’s bar continues to be raised (pun intended) with the recent addition of the Canopy (, a sexy rooftop perch atop the Birchwood hotel with private cabanas and spectacular bay views. ORIGINAL HAND-STENCILED PECKY CYPRESS CEILING BEAMS ABOVE ONE OF MANY COZY NOOKS IN THE VINOY’S GRAND LOBBY

Dubbed the Sunshine City and holding the record for the most consecutive sunny days (768) in The Guinness Book of World Records, St. Petersburg averages 361 sundrenched days per year and is situated on a pristine peninsula between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Numerous causeways and bridges connect St. Petersburg to mainland Florida to the north, the east (to Tampa), and the south (to Bradenton). Besides its sunny disposition, the area boasts sugar-white beaches that have been rated “America’s Best” by both TripAdvisor and “Dr. Beach” Leatherman.

To fully embrace St. Petersburg’s heart and soul, you need only consider one place to stay—the luxurious Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort and Golf Club (, a premier AAA Four Diamond resort that deftly blends old-world refinement with modern-day amenities. For nearly a century, this invincible grand dame, painted “Vinoy Pink” (its exclusive hue), has stood as a spectacular example of 1920s-era Mediterranean Revival architecture and St. Petersburg’s most iconic landmark.

Despite humble beginnings as a shipping terminus for Demens’s Orange Belt Railway, St. Petersburg’s popularity soared during the Roaring Twenties, when the real estate boom thundered through downtown, transforming its skyline seemingly overnight. St. Petersburg quickly became a prestigious playground for the insanely rich, like the DuPonts and the Guggenheims, who fled the frigid north to winter in balmy Florida.

When we arrived at the Vinoy’s stately entrance, we were greeted by friendly attendants who magically swept our car and bags away. We followed the hotel’s walkway, which

Unfortunately, the Sunshine City’s popularity began to wane in the 1950s, and within thirty years, the once-thriving resort town had withered into a retirement refuge, as depicted by the 1985 blockbuster movie Cocoon, which was filmed there.


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The Vinoy’s Grand Lobby is aptly named and oozes oldworld charm redefined with modern panache. Soaring two-story vaulted ceilings are adorned with dozens of glimmering chandeliers...

nuzzles a shady patio with couches and fire pits, up to the historic arched veranda. A long row of rocking chairs overlooking the glistening bay beckoned us to linger before continuing inside. The Vinoy’s Grand Lobby is aptly named and oozes old-world charm redefined with modern panache. Soaring two-story vaulted ceilings are adorned with dozens of glimmering chandeliers and hand-stenciled pecky cypress beams. Bold carpets with patterns reminiscent of the ocean are splashed atop quarry-glazed tiles. The dramatic Art Deco–inspired backdrop is accented with vivid blues, greens, gold, and silver, creating theater for the eyes. As I gazed about, I couldn’t believe that I was finally staying at the Vinoy. When I was an employee of Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, many of my former bosses and colleagues had raved about the historic gem where they had worked before moving to the Emerald Coast. More than a decade had passed since their days at the Vinoy, but during my stay, I met many staffers whose adoration hadn’t waned for these Emerald Coasters: Mike Stange, Rob Babcock, Sabine Laguna, Paul Wohlford, Hem Chee, and Mike Speicher.

fictional French Arab chieftain, Aymer Vinoy. Laughner bet his best friend, famed golfer Walter Hagen, that if Hagen could drive several golf balls off of Laughner’s watch face without breaking the crystal, Laughner would build a luxury hotel on the waterfront property across from his home and name it “Vinoy.” Needless to say, Hagen won the wager, and on New Year’s Eve 1925, Laughner opened the glorious Vinoy Park Hotel—and a legend was born! These days, to commemorate the Vinoy’s serendipitous inception, hotel guests are invited to step back in time each afternoon at five and test their putting skills atop a replica watch. Although my stroke was decent, John scored a hole in one! From the get-go, this boom-era hotel became the bee’s knees of premier winter retreats for the affluent, famous, and influential. Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio were often spotted rendezvousing in the Vinoy’s lush Tea Garden, which held some

The Vinoy was recently singled out as the Renaissance Hotel of the Year among all of its U.S. properties. This historic luxury lodging features a seventy-four-slip marina, an eighteen-hole golf course, and a twelve-court tennis complex. In addition, St. Petersburg’s leading lady has a riveting story that unfolds like a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie encompassing celebrity, devastation, and a phenomenal comeback! It all began back in 1923 during a party hosted by prosperous St. Petersburg businessman Aymer Vinoy Laughner, whose flamboyant father named him after a


With much pomp and circumstance, the “pink palace” was rechristened the Stouffer Vinoy Resort and was named by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of the Historic Hotels of America. of the hotel’s most unique amenities, including portable solaria for nude sunbathing. For thirty-five cents, attendants would continually rotate these roofless tanning booths on wheels as the sun inched across the sky. Back when St. Petersburg was known as the Health City, nude sunbathing was as much wellness related as it was risqué, and it was often prescribed to treat arthritis, neuritis, rheumatism, and respiratory problems. Top-drawer clientele were allured by the Vinoy’s world-class entertainment and opulence. The hotel’s avant-garde Pompeii Dining Room featured hand-painted, frescoed ceilings and wall murals, which reflected the then-recent discovery of Pompeii’s ruins. The in-house orchestra serenaded the Vinoy’s Downton Abbey– attired guests daily during afternoon tea, dinner, and dancing that followed afterward in one of Florida’s grandest ballrooms. Because the Vinoy catered to such a well-off clientele, the hotel breezed through the Great Depression without so much as a hiccup in business. Yet, when WWII erupted in 1942, it crippled the belle of the ball. Desperate for revenue, the hotel stripped down to its bare bones and leased itself out as a military training center and barracks for war-bound cooks and bakers. By December 1944, however, the Vinoy had reprised its role as the grand dame of St. Petersburg, and its glorious heydays returned. Unfortunately, the good times didn’t last long. Beginning midcentury, when the hotel’s owners refused to add air-conditioning and travel trends shifted, business started spiraling downward again. By 1970, the Vinoy barely subsisted as a lowrent boarding house; within four years, the inevitable happened. St. Petersburg’s beloved landmark was boarded up, its contents sold off; for the next eighteen years, the dilapidated building sat abandoned. Had it not been for the determination of St. Petersburg’s tenacious townspeople, this saga could have easily ended very differently. The locals rallied and secured the Vinoy’s coveted placement on the National Register of Historic Places ( Later, they freed her from the wrecking ball with a ORNATE FRIEZE AND WINDOW SURROUNDED BY “VINOY PINK” STUCCO—FROM THE EXTERIOR OF THE ORIGINAL POMPEII DINING ROOM, NOW MARCHAND’S 106 | N O V E M B E R / DE C E M B E R 2 013

voter referendum. Despite their highly commendable endeavors, the fight was far from over. What they needed was a visionary with incredibly deep pockets, otherwise their pink stucco phoenix would never rise again. After a litany of failed attempts by countless investors and developers facing insurmountable odds, the stars finally aligned in 1990. At this time, developer Fred Guest accomplished the impossible by rescuing the Vinoy! Almost immediately, St. Petersburg’s cherished grand dame underwent an epic two-year, $93 million extreme makeover. Painstaking measures were taken to preserve and recapture the historic hotel’s original design and detailing, while simultaneously expanding and upgrading rooms with modern creature comforts. Several crucial recreational amenities were also added, enabling the resort to compete against its numerous beachfront rivals. The big reveal occurred on July 31, 1992. With much pomp and circumstance, the “pink palace” was rechristened the Stouffer Vinoy Resort and was named by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of the Historic Hotels of America. Fully restored to all her original splendor, the first lady of St. Petersburg returned to her rightful place as the epicenter of the downtown waterfront, and for the first time, she operated year-round.

The grand reopening was hailed a huge success, yet several uncontrollable financial setbacks forced the property into foreclosure before its first anniversary. Fortunately, the hotel was allowed to continue operating, and shortly thereafter, the Renaissance Hotel Group bought the Vinoy. Fittingly, it was given the name the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort and Golf Club. Under the leadership of Mike Stange and Rob Babcock, business soon rocketed and has soared ever since! The Vinoy’s victorious revival did more than restore St. Petersburg’s deflated morale: it was the catalyst for spurring downtown’s remarkable revitalization that followed suit. I can’t imagine a more avid cheerleader for St. Petersburg than the Vinoy’s current general manager, Russ Bond. Both an endearing ambassador and an unofficial mayor, Bond is constantly touting his adopted hometown, and he enthusiastically encourages his resort guests to patronize the businesses in the area. Our lovely and spacious room was located in the newer guest tower and featured sweeping views of bobbing boats and Tampa Bay. After settling in, we sipped sunset cocktails on the breezy Veranda, then walked downstairs to Fred’s Steakhouse. Fred’s is named for the resort’s rescuer, Fred Guest, and is only open on Friday and Saturday evenings. Exclusive to Vinoy guests and club members, Fred’s is an elegant place with dark oak paneling, bow tie–clad servers, and Continental cuisine. After a delightful dinner, we explored St. Petersburg’s lively downtown waterfront. Following a great night’s sleep, we ate breakfast at the Vinoy’s signature restaurant, Marchand’s Bar and Grill. Located in the former Pompeii Dining Room, Marchand’s retains a 1920s vibe with ceiling frescoes and recently restored Italianate murals. Typically, I breakfast on Greek yogurt and fruit, but I couldn’t resist Marchand’s tempting weekend brunch menu, starting with their bottomless Bellini bar. The entrées were equally decadent: Florida lobster omelets with asparagus and Havarti cheese; rhubarb French toast with candied almonds and mascarpone; and Eggs in a Jar—Anson Mills cheese grits, poached eggs, and fried rock shrimp topped with roasted chili hollandaise. It might be more aptly named “Joy in a Jar”!


I loved the historic clubhouse, which was once part of a Russian palace and features Moorish architecture with keyhole arches and onion domes. THE SCENIC SIGNATURE EIGHTEENTH HOLE AT THE VINOY GOLF CLUB

One of my favorite nonfattening highlights was a guided history tour given by the Vinoy’s in-house historian, Elaine Normile. She took us through the Vinoy’s grandiose ballrooms and the Tea Garden, and she shared fascinating stories about the hotel’s history and its famous past guests. Among the original artifacts on display in the Vinoy’s noteworthy History Gallery are room keys, pieces of china and silver, and vintage postcards. Normile, who has worked at the hotel since its reopening, readily credited Mike Stange with initiating the Vinoy’s award-winning history tours. Stange says that he conceived the idea after taking similar tours at other historical hotels, like Hotel del Coronado near San Diego and the Hotel Hershey in Pennsylvania. Anyone can attend Normile’s history tours, which are given Wednesday through Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and include a three-course lunch at Marchand’s ($25, inclusive of tax and gratuity. Reservations are required, so please call 727.894.1000, ext. 8005).

The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort and Golf Club is truly a destination within a destination, and royally spoils you with its world-class amenities. While John channeled his inner John McEnroe on one of the beautiful clay courts, I sweated it out in a complimentary Pilates class at the Vinoy’s fully equipped fitness center. At their salon and day spa, “Octo-hands,” the name fondly given to masseur extraordinaire Paul Ameda, worked out all my kinks and knots. Later, John and I reunited poolside for a refreshing dip under the cascading waterfall that overlooks Tampa Bay, and we basked in the sunshine while smiling servers brought us yummy frozen mojitos and cooling towels. The Vinoy’s Audubon-certified 18-hole, par-72 championship golf course is located nearby on prestigious Snell Isle. Osprey nests and wildlife sightings are prevalent here—a beautiful setting for our putting lesson. I loved the historic clubhouse, which was once part of a Russian palace and features Moorish architecture with keyhole arches and onion domes. Although the resort runs a complimentary shuttle, we decided to walk the scenic mile-and-a-half stretch back to the hotel. Our walk was enjoyable, but traveling the same course aboard an exquisite, fortyfour-foot catamaran was definitely the cat’s meow! After cruising around the bay, we dropped anchor near Snell Isle and frolicked among the dolphins before returning to the Vinoy’s marina. Besides cruises on the Meow, Sailing Florida ( offers an extensive fleet of sailing and powered boats, all of which would be purrrr-fect for a great day on the water. On our last night, we returned to award-winning Marchand’s for an amazing sixcourse farm-to-fork feast. Chef Mark Heimann outdid himself and deliciously prepared several foods that I had never tasted, such as deviled quail eggs and a tender roasted lamb’s tongue. From the first sip of bubbly through the dessert course, expert sommelier Mark Jenkins paired the vines divinely. MOORISH AND SPANISH INFLUENCES ARE EVIDENT IN THE VINOY’S HISTORIC CLUBHOUSE, WHICH AT ONE TIME WAS PART OF A RUSSIAN PALACE.

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The next morning, during an early run along downtown’s continuous strand of picturesque, waterfront parks, John and I couldn’t fathom eating another bite. Yet hours later, when we returned to Marchand’s for our “final hooray,” my eyes lit up at Sunday’s “Build Your Perfect Bloody Mary” bar. It brimmed with thirty squeal-worthy toppings: beef jerky, bacon, shrimp, olives stuffed with goat cheese, feta-stuffed Peppadews, asparagus, smoked Gouda, and an array of crunchy veggies that the Vinoy personally pickles. Needless to say, I relished it like a crudité candy store, and I rank it as my best Bloody Mary ever! Much too soon, our glorious getaway ended. On the six-hour drive home, we couldn’t stop reminiscing about the trip’s many highlights and started a lengthy wish list of to-dos for a future visit. When our lucky thirteenth wedding anniversary rolled around a few weeks later, I surprised John with reservations for a déjà vu rendezvous to St. Petersburg’s effervescent grand dame. This December 31, when the Vinoy turns eighty-eight years young, John and I will be celebrating with one foot in the Great Gatsby–era and another eagerly greeting 2014! Cheers and happy New Year!

Kim Duke-Layden is an international adventurer whose motto is “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my Bucket List!” She lives at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Miramar Beach, Florida, with her husband, John, and in between adventures, she writes for VIE. You can drop her a line at

DECEMBER 7 , 2013 TH



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p: 850.231.3087

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Clay pots and hanging baskets brimming with flowers, an inviting outdoor porch with chairs and picnic tables, and a welcoming cherryred front door seem to shout out: “Y’all come in and sit a spell.” Red Bay Grocery serves up Southern hospitality and home-style cooking in a unique grocery store/restaurant combo owned communally by sixty-four residents of the tiny community of Redbay, located in the rural Florida Panhandle, north of those spectacular South Walton County beaches. Charles Morgan—local resident and owner of Destin’s landmark restaurant Harbor Docks—cooked up this idea when the local grocery store, in operation since 1936, threatened to close. In an article for the area newspaper, Morgan said, “It was really in my best interest as there is no place else for a cup of coffee, no retail outlets or restaurants less than twenty miles away.” What he didn’t say is how this venture helped all the residents by providing not only a close-by grocery store but also—perhaps even more important—a place for town folks to gather and socialize, keeping their close-knit community spirit alive. You can tell by his many charitable actions that Charles Morgan really cares about people. He manages to reach out to others in a variety of helpful ways— along with running a slew of restaurants: Harbor Docks and Red Bay Grocery; Camille’s in Destin; Dharma Blue in Pensacola; Five Bar restaurants in both Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, Alabama, as well as in Athens, Georgia; and Chuck’s Fish in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa. Needless to say, an outstanding staff supports him. November kicks off two of Morgan’s annual events at Harbor Docks. First is the Take-A-Kid-Fishing-Day on Sunday, November 3, when forty to fifty charter boats take 350 to 400 kids fishing in the Gulf of Mexico and Choctawhatchee Bay. On Thanksgiving

Day, Harbor Docks serves a sumptuous traditional feast free of charge for anyone who walks in the door. They do accept donations from those capable of contributing. Morgan has hosted both events for nineteen years. With Morgan’s assistance, his restaurant partner, George Landegger, started Destin Harvest. The nonprofit organization collects 100,000 pounds of food from area restaurants and grocery stores and delivers it to about forty places like churches and shelters that help feed the hungry and needy. “If you’re in the restaurant business and don’t care about people, you’re in the wrong business,” says Morgan. “It’s all about people. It’s just what we’re supposed to do. Heck, I get way more out of doing something like taking kids fishing when I personally see what a difference it makes. I don’t think some people realize how much better you feel. I want all my employees to know that getting involved in something bigger than yourself is a natural part of life. I’ll pay my employees if they volunteer a hundred hours of their time per year to a nonprofit organization.” He considers opening Red Bay Grocery “a labor of love.” That spirit filters down to Morgan’s employees. “After a devastating tornado struck Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Charles opened food trailers and provided free food for those affected. It worked so well he kept them open. Local businessmen frequent the place and drop off big donations in a jar to help support the project,” says manager Linda Bradley, who has worked at Red Bay Grocery for over two years and once worked at Harbor Docks. “When I applied for this job, it was as a waitress and cashier. I said I preferred to be a cashier, and Charles told me I’d do both as we all help each other out. We are like one big family,” she says. That becomes evident when you pull up a chair at a communal table and listen in. “I’m one of the sixty-four shareholders who own this here grocery store/restaurant,” an older gentleman with white hair and glasses says with pride to a perky college student from Gainesville, who looks young enough to be his granddaughter. Differences such as age, lifestyle, or social and economic class vanish

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over a plate piled high with crispy fried chicken and fresh collard greens like Grandma used to make. Eating family style at communal tables magically nourishes a spirit of community between all sorts of diverse folks. Weekends draw bikers passing through, kayak groups in from nearby Morrison Springs, or locals fresh from church to mingle at long tables where they are served up one of the daily blue plate specials or regular favorites like succulent pulled-pork sandwiches, hand-cut fries, and a tangy cucumber salad. Since word’s gotten out, what started as a meeting place for locals is now attracting people from around the northwest Panhandle region; that includes tourists driving back and forth from the beaches as well as folks from surrounding rural areas. They love the old-fashioned, cozy feeling about the place. Tiffany-style stained-glass ceiling globes cast a shine on varnished tables topped by coke bottles holding fresh flowers. Narrow grocery shelves line the walls, neatly stocked with staples ranging from flour and grits to local honey and MoonPies. Red Bay Grocery logos on things like T-shirts and baseball caps fill several rows along with homemade sauces, pickled products, and jams and jellies labeled with quirky titles like Frog (fig, raspberry, orange, and ginger) and T.O.E. (tangerine, orange, and elderberry). A whiteboard propped up by the entrance lists the blue plate specials that change daily. “Pulled pork, fried chicken, and barbequed ribs are the best sellers,” says Bradley. With Charles Morgan involved you can expect the same high standard of quality and freshness he serves at all his restaurants. Farm to table is not a new thing in Red Bay; it’s the way these families have always eaten. Locals share from their own gardens whatever is growing at the time. And the rest is purchased from Luke Langford, owner of Cypress Cattle and Produce Company,



whose family has lived here for generations. Ouida Miller, another longtime resident, contributed her favorite recipes from a cookbook she published. Callie Lindaas is the main cook who whips all this up into home-cooked goodness. As for an unbiased recommendation: celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse eats lunch on the front porch with his family and last year ordered a pumpkin cheesecake for their Thanksgiving dinner. That tells you a lot! Planning delightful daytrips around a meal here can be combined with the many outdoor attractions nearby. Learn more about the rich biodiversity of this region at the world-class E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center down the road, which is open to the public on Saturday mornings. Hike a portion of the Florida National Scenic Trail, accessed off Highway 20 near Seven Runs Recreation Area; Seven Runs is also a great place to paddle. Or continue on Highway 81, where the restaurant is located, to Morrison Springs, a crystal clear spring where you can swim, scuba, or paddle. After all this outdoor exercise, you can justify indulging in one of their fabulous homemade desserts like coconut cream pie or hard-to-find Southern specialties like sweet potato and buttermilk pie—an Emeril Lagasse recipe Linda Bradley used for a church group gathering. The ice cream at Red Bay is made the old-fashioned way with an egg-custard base. On the way out, don’t forget to sample one or more of Camille’s crunchy homemade cookies from a glass jar by the cash register.

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Red Bay Grocery gives you a taste of a simpler America—where many lived close to the land on farms instead of in cities. Here you sample a more peaceful lifestyle and what it was like before chains, big-box stores, or social networking—when people actually talked face-to-face and helped each other out, shared, and worked together for the common good. A visit here may do more than satisfy your appetite. You might even learn a lesson or two useful for today. That kind of community spirit blended with comfort food and seasoned with Southern hospitality is a foolproof recipe that whets your appetite for more. It’ll keep you coming back to Red Bay Grocery. Winter hours: 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday–Wednesday 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday–Friday–Saturday Directions: Red Bay Grocery is located on State Highway 81— halfway between Bruce and Ponce de Leon—ten miles south of Interstate 10 and ten miles north of State Highway 20 To learn more, call 850-836-2220 or visit

Shop Simply Dine Simply Live Simply

A Simple Beautiful Life

SO YOU THINK RED SNAPPER IS EXPENSIVE? spend a week with DAlE BEEBE. He catches an average of POUNDS of red snapper on a five day trip. His fish are caught on



in crushed ice, and delivered to our market in beautiful condition. in SIX fOOT SEAS, with wind chill in the teens, the rain blowing sideways and a raging tide, dale beebe is still catching red snapper.

THINK AgAIN. Harbor docks _ GULF to tabLe since 1979 check our website to find out which restaurants sell certified Gulf-to-Table fish from harbor Docks Seafood market. S E A F O O D & C O C K TA I L S

DES TIN , FL | 850. 837. 2506 | h a r b o r D o c k S .co m

Nicole Paloma Rocks the Runway by jordan staggs photography by marscha cavaliere


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he Nicole Paloma presentation at South Walton Fashion Week on October 11, 2013, had the audience hooked from the moment the small wooden canopy bed was rolled onto the runway. Before the music even started, applause broke out—the runway show was already different from anything else the crowd had seen that night. And the rest of the show didn’t disappoint. “I think it turned out amazing for my first time doing any kind of runway thing,” says Nicole Paloma Rockhill, the designer and creative genius behind all things Nicole Paloma. “It was crazy getting ready backstage. Our models started going down the runway, and at one point I just heard this roar from the crowd, and I was like, ‘What happened? What’s wrong?’ and Kristen just looked at me and said, ‘That means they like it.’” Kristen Mitchell and Grace LaPerriere make up the rest of the Nicole Paloma team, along with Nicole’s mother, Marscha Cavaliere, who has sort of become the brand’s official photographer. In fact, Nicole Paloma has always been a family affair. Nicole bought her first sewing machine seven years ago, when she began making clothes for her daughters, Laurel and Laine. “I filled up their closets,” she admits. “I have a little bit of a fabric addiction, and I thought, ‘If I sell some of these, I can buy more fabric!’” The obsession only grew, and when the family moved to Walton County, Florida, Nicole decided to start her own business. Duckies Shop of Fun in Seaside picked up her kids’ line, and she opened her own retail location in the Shops of Grayton two years ago. The shop’s walls are adorned with Marscha’s photography while Chip Rockhill, Nicole’s loving and supportive husband, helped hang large branches from the ceiling, giving the small cottage a rustic-yet-coastal-chic vibe. Chip also built the bed used in Nicole’s runway show, which has found a home in the shop as well. “I mostly just wanted a space to sew, with enough space in the front to sell a little bit and pay the rent and go on sewing,” Nicole says. That’s when she found the “crazy ruffle fabric,” as she calls it, that has become something of a signature for many of her pieces. “I thought it would make great skirts, and V IE Z INE .C OM | 123

Mercantile in Seaside picked them up and started selling them. That’s really what launched me into women’s clothing.” But Marscha says she knew long before Nicole started her kids’ line that her daughter was going to be in fashion. At two, Nicole would spend an entire day trying on every article of clothing in her wardrobe. “Nothing else mattered but cookies and trying on those clothes,” Marscha says of Nicole. At four, Nicole graduated to cutting, making her first ensembles out of oversized T-shirts. “And she is a business person,” Marscha adds. “As much fun as she has creating, she has just as much fun on the bottom line—and that’s good, because I think that gene tends to skip a lot of creative types, like me.” She laughs.

Nicole explained the necessity of continuing her women’s line in order to increase profits, since “you can only charge so much for kids’ clothes.” Her business savvy has obviously paid off; she has enjoyed a boom in popularity among the 30-A and South Walton communities in the past two years, and her smashing runway debut at South Walton Fashion Week is sure to drive even more business her way. With most ranging in price from about $30 to $175, Nicole’s pieces bring together gorgeous design and affordability. “This is my heart, soul, and passion,” she says. “It’s really important to me to keep the artistry in the label, but that doesn’t mean it has to have a ridiculous price tag.” The stunning ruffled dresses and skirts that were mixed in among Nicole’s collection on the runway

are a little pricier, ranging from about $300 to $1,000, but she still does not want to create anything that would be unattainable for her usual clients. “My goal is for my creations to make you feel comfortable but also like a rock star,” she explains. “This fall, I was planning to launch my couture collection anyway, and I was approached about doing South Walton Fashion Week, and I thought, ‘Okay! We’ll give life to these ladies and put them down the runway.’ And I wanted it to tell a story, with the bed at the beginning where she’s getting up, stretching, ready to take on the day. Then the rest of the show kind of moved from day to evening wear, with Dawn (the first model) collapsing onto the bed again after a night out in her ‘lion skirt.’” The runway show was a huge hit with the fashion week audience, in part because of the jewelry and accessories on the models. Showing with Nicole’s couture collection were accessories from Adorn by Mary Kay Samouce, who uses vintage keys, chains, mirrors, and all kinds of other baubles to create oneof-a-kind pieces. Prior to the runway show, a photo shoot at A. Wickey Studio-Gallery in Seacrest Beach focused on the perfect pairings of the Adorn collection and Nicole’s clothing. The Adorn line is available at A. Wickey and at Nicole Paloma in

Grayton Beach. “I love supporting other local artists,” Nicole says. The future is bright for the Nicole Paloma line, which has been carried at retail locations in Florida, Texas, Mississippi, and Kentucky. Nicole’s goal is to open more of her own stores, starting in Nashville, and to eventually see her couture pieces walk the runways at Paris Fashion Week. “She’s having a blast,” Marscha says. “And she’s doing things her way.” “I really want to get my brand out there and make it grow in the next year,” Nicole continues. “I’d like to keep it made in the United States. I don’t know what the next five couture pieces are going to be—I guess I need to start thinking about that—but I want to push my creativity and keep this one-of-a-kind thing going in addition to my ready-to-wear pieces.” And one thing is certain: Nicole won’t be on this journey alone. Her family and trusted team are behind her all the way. “There’s a team here that is flawless,” Marscha says. Nicole backs her up, saying, “I have the best team and I couldn’t do it without them. Kristen is like the right side of my body. I don’t know how she puts up with me.” She laughs. “I’m really going to start hitting everything hard and heavy this year,” Nicole says. From the runways of South Walton Fashion Week to the runways of Paris? Who knows where she might end up—but her fans are excited to find out!


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Nicole Paloma 26 Logan Lane, Cottage E Santa Rosa Beach, Florida (850) 231-0206


R e F R e S H , R e n e W, R e S t y L e . w w w.LovelaceInter | 850.837.5563 12870 US Highway 98 West | Miramar Beach, FL (between Destin and Sandestin) Become a Fan on FACEbOOk!



hether it’s a mahogany chest lined in velvet or a pink vInyl heart with a pop-up ballerina, a girl’s first jewelry box is among her most treasured possessions. It holds all the gifts and promises of the future. She doesn’t necessarily perceive differences in value among the contents: a delicate strand of pearls and a gaudy plastic ring are equally precious in her eyes. They all make her look and feel like a princess.

Needless to say, the modern princess in training is not the subservient Cinderella of yesteryear. Instead, she has visions of ruling the kingdom— or running the company! Even so, she probably longs to meet her Prince Charming when she grows up and to “live happily ever after.” Although life’s realities often detour from such childhood fantasies, today’s empowered woman—one who feels good about herself and embraces life—overcomes setbacks and shines at any age. Lisa Peters, owner of Destin Jewelers, has made “Live Happily Ever After” a philosophy and trademark of her business, especially in encouraging women to celebrate their lives. “The great thing about working with jewelry is that it revolves around celebrations,” says Peters. “The fairy-tale theme embodies the joy and happiness people feel when commemorating these special times. Whether it’s an engagement, an anniversary, or the birth of a newborn, the jewelry celebrates someone’s happy ending.”

She emphasizes, too, that any occasion, even a carefree afternoon with friends, is reason enough to drop by Destin Jewelers. “We want our customers to grab their girlfriends, relax, and enjoy the charm and whimsy that our store has to offer,” says Peters, who loves to see customers play dress up in the store as they try on jewelry and accessories. It’s more than the message that appears in ads. The concept came to life inside the whimsically designed Destin Jewelers store in Miramar Beach, Florida. “I never had the typical jewelry store,” says Peters. For starters, she has eliminated “threshold resistance” by facilitating an inviting first impression with one happy surprise after another: a frog prince mascot and a friendly staff; vivid colors and approachable displays; and high-end yet fun, trendy jewelry and accessories. The merchandise is upscale but the atmosphere is never hushed or intimidating—certainly not with Lola and Louie (Peters’s Ragdoll cats) and Gracie Lee (her chocolate Lab puppy) manning the floor!

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Peters’s approach has won favor with customers and industry peers. In 2004, readers of INSTORE Magazine, a trade publication, voted Destin Jewelers in the top ten stores that received the “America’s Coolest Store” award. The retailer has been rated among the top twenty stores two other times. For eight consecutive years during the store’s seventeen years of doing business in the region, Destin Jewelers has been named Best Jewelry Store by a reader’s poll, “Best of the Emerald Coast” by Emerald Coast Magazine. “We have tried to stay away from the mass-produced, heavily branded designers that can be found in any high-end department store,” says Peters. Her merchandise is refreshing to discerning shoppers who can buy any big label at the mall or online. “We also focus more on the artistic and easy-to-wear jewelry and accessories.” City life, she explains, dictates a more prescribed, professional way of dressing, but the beach remains casual. “Our selections are fashionforward but not over-the-top formal.” When choosing a jewelry line, she says, “I look for unique characteristics in designers that set their work apart, and for pieces that customers can easily incorporate into an existing jewelry collection and style.” The Mazza Collection, for one, features colored gemstone jewelry and pearls in high-fashion designs that complement everyday jeans or classic little black dress. The company is also a resource for women who seek a casual update to the fine jewelry they already own. “Mazza can restring pearls with a toggle clasp, or we can add one of their enhancers for a less formal look.” The designer will also remake customers’ jewelry into fabulous new signature pieces. Armenta, another designer line at Destin Jewelers, presents a completely different look with delicately handcrafted diamond and gemstone jewelry, both in gold and “midnight” oxidized sterling silver. “Our mix of designers—from The Mazza Company and Armenta to others like Nanis and Yvel—allows us

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What would succeed in destin, she

decided, was a boutique jewelry store.

to offer a variety of styles for a truly glamorous presentation,” Peters says. Though she expresses that she would be hardpressed to pick favorites, Peters personally loves the array of precious and semiprecious gemstones that are now available in her store. In comparison to when she first began buying jewelry, she now enjoys having a greater variety to offer her customers. The prevalence of stones like sleeping beauty turquoise, lapis, green onyx, moonstone, crystal, and quartz

Our mix of designers—from the mazza

“ gives shoppers plenty of affordable alternatives to emeralds and diamonds. Likewise, designers are creating dazzling effects with unconventional pairings of stones and mixed metals. Meanwhile, gold is back, so for those who adore its richness but not its price, Peters enthusiastically suggests jewelry in sterling silver with a gold overlay.

company and armenta to others like nanis and yvel—allows us to offer a variety of styles for a truly glamorous presentation.”

In general, Peters caters to a fashion sense that reflects “the decadence of Southern charm—big, fun statement pieces with lots of color—but also the high-end elegance of big-city style.” The hottest trends also appeal to that sensibility. “Bold and beautiful jewel tones in all categories, from jewelry to scarves, are in this season,” she reveals, “as are edgy, geometric shapes.” Accessories definitely share the spotlight at Destin Jewelers. “We have all silhouettes of handbags,” says Peters, “from big totes to large and small clutches. You’ll find a number of patent leather options with embossed designs, from crocodile to quilted textures. For the second year, we’re also carrying some interesting fur pieces—ponchos, scarves, and vests—in natural hues as well as ombré dyed (or dipped) in colors like wine and royal blue.” Beginning in January 2014, beach and travel merchandise will return: totes in bold colors and patterns, oversized hats, cover-ups, and sandals.

If the selection is intimidating to gift shoppers, individuals can count on personal assistance plus the peace of mind that the recipient may return or exchange any item that doesn’t deliver ultimate joy and satisfaction. Many customers also simplify the process for their significant others by maintaining a wish list at Destin Jewelers. “If I have a relationship with a couple,” says Peters, “I’ll call the husband and say, ‘X just left the store, and she loves a certain ring.’ He’ll know there’s no pressure to buy, and he appreciates having the option.” Peters notes that she also has watches and cuff links for men. “French cuffs are back!”

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The mazza

collection, for one, features colored gemstone jewelry and pearls in high-fashion designs that complement jeans or a little black dress. Styles come and go, but Destin Jewelers, now celebrating seventeen years in business, remains a fixture in Northwest Florida through commitments that extend well beyond the walls of the store. “As a business owner, I believe it’s important to support the local community,” says Peters. Drawn to the area’s charities that help women and children in need, she names Children’s Volunteer Health Network, Sinfonia Gulf Coast, Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation, and the Boys and Girls Club among those she has recently sponsored. Considering the ways in which Destin Jewelers strives to make a difference, many would say the most significant is in reminding everyone to celebrate life and create their own “happily ever after.”

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A Jewelry & Accessory Boutique

w w w. D e s t i n J e w e l e r s . c o m | 8 5 0 . 8 3 7 . 8 8 2 2 Located on the corner of Highway 98 and Holiday Road, Miramar Beach, Florida

L I V E B E A U T I F U L LY INSIDE AND OUT Photography by Randy Lee As you approach through a beautiful courtyard oasis, you know you have arrived somewhere special. The comfortable outdoor furniture and olive trees are just the beginning of your experience at Aqua Décor and Design. Venture inside the store and you will be amazed. “The variety of items is endless,” says one customer. “I came in for a special gift and found quite a few special gifts for me,” she laughs. As you look around the store, furniture, jewelry, art, upholstery, lighting, bedding, and a vast selection of accessories—all arranged in ways that are truly unique—can be seen from every angle. Buyer and designer Liz Taylor has brought her incredible talents to life inside these walls. “Our showroom is evolutionary—always changing, always something new,” says Taylor, who has been an interior designer for over twenty years. “Coming to Aqua is more of an experience than the average shopping trip,” says co- owner Shawna Fisher, who invites people to enjoy complimentary coffee or wine while they shop. With so many choices, including one-of-a-kind pieces, people of all budgets and style preferences can easily find what they’re looking for. “We want everyone to have the opportunity to buy something beautiful.” V IE Z INE .C OM | 139

WANDERERS WELCOME If you don’t see something on the main floor, feel free to wander into the neatly organized warehouse. The variety of pieces at Aqua lets shoppers check out numerous items at one location. Designers in the area often send their clients to Aqua to see and feel items firsthand rather than relying on website images as a means of conveying a concept. Fisher and Taylor like to search for unusual items, prowling markets across the nation for merchandise not stocked by local shops. They seek eye-catching things that offer quality at affordable prices, putting themselves in the customer’s shoes and asking, “Do I love it, or do I just like it?”

QUICK SUCCESS “This store wasn’t even in the original plan,” Fisher says. Shawna and her husband, Vince Fisher, already owned Aqua Pool and Patio, a chain of stores along the Gulf Coast. Liz was hired to develop an outdoor furniture showroom.  They soon decided  to add a few lines of gifts and accessories to the pool and patio stores.  Once they saw how well things were received, the idea of Aqua Décor and Design came to life. “We wanted to provide beautiful things at affordable prices,” says Fisher. It’s all part of Aqua’s motto: “Live beautifully indoors and out.” This goes for the interior design side of the business as well.

A SURPRISE HOME MAKEOVER Aqua designer Jill Doughty calls it “a dream project.” A Texas man who owned a Gulf-front vacation home in Navarre, Florida, wanted to surprise his wife by having it redecorated without her knowledge, and he wanted Aqua Décor and Design to do it. Doughty thought the surprise aspect was sweet, but she really wanted the wife’s input. She expressed this to the man; he agreed and told his wife, who was thrilled. After visiting with the owners, Doughty knew that not only should the space be beautiful, but it should be durable as well. Because the couple liked to entertain friends but also wanted a stress-free home, Doughty found furniture made for durability as well as style—a galvanized table, for example, and chairs with Sunbrella covers, 140 | N O V E M B E R / DE C E M B E R 2 013


V IE Z INE .C OM | 141

items in its 11,000-square-foot building. This is a big advantage over many other designers who must special order items.


Doughty gives credit to her coworker and fellow designer, Liz Taylor, who oversees the inventory and is always on the search for eye-catching items. “To be able to pull from your own inventory is wonderful,” Doughty says. “You can put as many beautiful things in a room as you want, but it’s the continuity and consistency that will give you the complete look you’re really after.” A look that will help clients live beautifully, inside and out.

making them easy to clean. Touches of Texas, such as cow horns and hides, were included in the home, which overlooks the blue-green Gulf of Mexico and beautiful white beaches. The master bedroom, the couple’s private retreat, received a more elegant look. To change the dated look of the custom cabinets, Doughty turned to Big Finish, a Pensacola firm, to provide a faux finish for a driftwood look. “Those rooms would not have had the same impact if the

cabinets hadn’t been redone,” says Doughty, whose clients were surprised and delighted with the home’s new look—all done in the wife’s favorite colors. To complete the dream project, Design Star Fabrics provided custom window treatments, chair coverings, and custom bedding chosen by Doughty. Another plus is that the project was done in less than three months. The quick turnaround was possible because Aqua Décor and Design has thousands of



Aqua Décor & Design 1320 North 9th Ave. Pensacola, FL Telephone (850) 912-4744

j e w e l ry


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realized that Visit South Walton, a premium brand in itself, should be associated with Hasbro and Monopoly.” Convincing Hasbro of this was the next step. “When I reached out to Hasbro, they hadn’t heard of us,” says Wickey. “They wanted me to prove that we were Monopoly-worthy. I was engaged in a three-month courtship before they were sold on the notion that our branding would be a positive extension of Monopoly.” Once Wickey closed the deal, winning approval for the Visit South Walton Edition, Hasbro awarded his company, 30A Games, exclusive distribution rights. Wickey, nevertheless, asserts that the Monopoly project was never a one-man production. “The effort has succeeded as a collaboration of 30A Games, Hasbro, and the South Walton Tourist Development Council, or TDC,” he insists. “The TDC immediately understood the vision.” 148 | N O V E M B E R / DE C E M B E R 2 013

Without a doubt, Wickey and others in the region see real value in being distinguished as the first beach destination of its size and kind to have a Monopoly game. “That gives us international recognition,” he says. Filling the space where the prestigious Short Line Railroad would normally be on the board is VIE Magazine. When Wickey approached VIE about the possibility of participating in his brainchild, he was met with an immediate and enthusiastic “Yes!” VIE’s parent company and publishing house, Cornerstone Marketing and Advertising, Inc., has been an integral part of the South Walton community and its growth for the past twenty years. “When I was growing up, Monopoly was always a favorite with our rather large family,” says VIE’s editor-in-chief, Gerald Burwell. “We are thrilled to have VIE proudly displayed on this Monopoly board and to be part of creating unforgettable memories from one of the world’s most exciting beach communities.”

“Our brand is prestigious, as are the Hasbro and Monopoly names,” adds Jon Ervin, director of marketing and communications for Visit South Walton. “Monopoly is also known as a beloved family tradition—a theme that describes South Walton. We have so much to celebrate here, and the game exemplifies what we value.” “For many years, and now spanning generations, families have traveled to Seaside and South Walton to find top-notch quality and service coupled with a comforting throwback to simpler times; here, they build traditions and create memories of their time together,” says Lori Leath Smith, director of public relations and marketing for the Seaside community. “The Monopoly: Visit South Walton Edition provides these families with a unique activity that takes them back to that easy, somewhat slower pace. It also provides a unique memento to remind them of how they feel when visiting.” Specifying what would portray the essence of South Walton did present some tough decisions. Icons represented in game pieces and within categories on

the board—beach towns, art, music, natural outdoor wonders, and restaurants—were sponsored, but each symbol chosen had to be meaningful, not monetarily motivated. Players’ tokens, for instance, include a YOLO boarder and a sea turtle. Meanwhile, gamers who are intent on landing the highest income-producing properties on the board will roll the dice for 30A (Boardwalk) or Seaside (Park Place). “Seaside is thrilled to be featured as one of the premier properties on the game board,” Smith remarks. Every feature and detail mattered. Surrounded by a border of brightly color-coded property squares, an iconic view of pines along Western Lake by local photographer Kurt Lischka fills the center, creating a particularly eye-catching game board. Additionally, partway through the design process, Hasbro’s project manager and designers grasped the beauty of the region and encouraged the South Walton team to use photographic images for the individual Chance and Community Chest cards rather than the usual logos. Local photographers responded by providing an array of photos from which the TDC and Hasbro made their selections.

“Only New York City’s Monopoly game cards had that custom treatment,” says Wickey. “Our objective was to represent the beach experience in ways that would withstand the test of time. The TDC ran the checks and balances, and we all made the investment to ensure we had an aesthetically beautiful game that would reinforce and enhance the image and standing of the Monopoly and South Walton brands.” Just in time for holiday giving, Monopoly: Visit South Walton Edition, which retails for $39.95, is available to purchase online from 30A Games (, or from numerous South Walton area retailers, including Publix Super Markets. All retailers are listed on the 30A Games website. “It’s a great gift for people who live or vacation in South Walton,” says Wickey. Above all, as “Play Together”—the tagline for 30A Games—suggests, Wickey hopes that Monopoly: Visit South Walton Edition will bring families together and compel them “to slow down, unplug, and enjoy the most important things in life.”

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Kickin’ it With

THE STARDUST BAND Book us for your next event! HIP, DYNAMIC AND SOPHISTICATED, are only a few of the qualities that make The Stardust Band one of the most sought-after musical groups anywhere. Performing throughout the United States and known as Boston’s “Super Band”, Stardust is comprised of only top entertainment professionals. With an unprecedented five lead-vocalists along with a vast repertoire, The Stardust Band’s chic mix of vocal harmonies and dynamic personalities continue to captivate audiences across the country.


All Natural and All The Holy Grail of Antiaging Medicine?

D R . K I M B E R LY M O S K O W I T Z

The Holy Grail is rivaled by few myths in its power to intrigue ‌ this vessel was believed by many to be a source of endless nourishment and regeneration. Mysterious and glorious, like hope for eternal youth, the Holy Grail symbolizes an elusive object of desire. Decades of research have finally uncovered that the holy grail of antiaging medicine may be found within our own blood. 152 | N O V E M B E R / DE C E M B E R 2 013

Blood is a natural reservoir of healing cells, particularly platelets, which release growth factors, stem cells, and bioactive proteins that accelerate healing and regeneration. Growth factors stimulate the healing process by recruiting fibroblasts that increase collagen production, remove aged and damaged tissue, and stimulate cellular regeneration. A concentration of platelets, a.k.a. platelet-rich plasma (PRP), optimizes healing because it contains up to 600 percent more growth factors than a normal volume of blood. In one process, PRP is collected from your own blood and reinjected just beneath the skin’s surface, where it triggers a cascade of accelerated healing and renewal. PRP helps your body do everything it tries to do on its own but can’t accomplish because there aren’t enough healing factors in one place at the same time. Boosting collagen production and replacing volume and elasticity is big business in the cosmetic industry, as people desperately seek to erase their fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin. Wrinkles and sunspots do not occur overnight; rather, skin photoaging accumulates slowly as the sun’s UV rays damage cellular DNA and inhibit cells called fibroblasts, which are responsible for producing collagen in our skin and tissues.

Inhibition of fibroblast proliferation, decreased collagen synthesis, and increased collagen degradation account for 95 percent of prematurely aged skin. As we age, the damage we accumulate eventually overcomes the body’s natural ability to repair itself. The field of antiaging medicine has enjoyed an enormous shift toward less invasive treatments, as surgical procedures have been replaced with laser treatments such as Fraxel Restore and Fraxel Repair. These laser treatments reverse the aging of skin by creating microscopic wounds in the skin’s dermis. These tiny wounds cause immediate contraction and tightening of the skin by stimulating the body’s natural healing process to produce abundant new collagen and elastin. Fraxel Repair, the gold-standard treatment for antiaging skin, capitalizes on the fact that our bodies hang in the dynamic balance of injury and repair. Can we circumvent this paradox by capturing the ingredients of repair and using them for regeneration and renewal? PRP is created in our bodies and is already designed to stimulate healing and renewal. PRP therapy begins by drawing a small blood sample from the patient which is spun in a centrifuge to concentrate the platelets.

This powerful serum is then injected into problem areas such as the eyes, cheeks, nasolabial folds, neck, chest, jawline, hands, and arms, where it works to add youthful volume and elasticity back to the skin. A new era of antiaging medicine has emerged as the technology of the “Laser Light Age” collides with our exploration of self-healing and regeneration. People are learning how to combine nonsurgical treatments like Fraxel and Thermage with the body’s natural resources to maximize the power of platelets and growth factors for healing and rejuvenation. Our bodies are constantly battling the aging process, but the troops are tired; they don’t have enough weapons and they are too spread out to win the war. PRP brings all of the forces together and energizes our tissues with the weapons they need to combat collagen loss, wrinkles, sun damage, and aging. PRP may not be able to mend a broken heart, but it can heal the wounds of time. The secret to eternal youth has been inside us all along. Dr. Kimberly Moskowitz

VIE November / December 2013  
VIE November / December 2013  

VIE is a French word meaning “life” or “way of living.” VIE sets itself apart as a Northwest Florida regional, high-gloss publication focusi...