Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Loco for Coconut Grove

“When the Grove Was Groovy,” our history feature in the February issue of Boca magazine, revisits Coconut Grove’s jasmine-scented era as the Greenwich Village of the Southeast—the place where folk rockers toured, wintered and in some cases resided. One of the scene’s most famous residents was David Crosby, who, in his 1962 introduction to the Grove scene, found it freeing and delightful.

Some of his reminiscences are included in the article in our print edition; here are a few others, excerpted from Crosby’s memoir Long Time Gone

Co-author Carl Gottlieb: “That winter and the following spring David played and sang all over South Florida: solo, with Bob Ingram, another singer named Mike Clough, and with Ethan [Crosby], who came down from California when he heard about the folk scene in Coconut Grove. Miami was the southern corner of the established folk circuit, which now included clubs and coffeehouses all over the country.”

Crosby: “It was incredibly easy to open joints in those days. … We could invent a coffeehouse overnight. We didn’t have business permits and licenses and all that. It was fabulously simple because we could open clubs overnight.

“On a typical day we would get up late, goof off, amble or ride our bikes down to the Grove Pharmacy, which had a little restaurant in it. We would all hang out there, drinking iced coffee, making interesting patterns in the coffee with milk. I came down there with some weed that I scored in the Village, so I could be the big man around town, and it was no more weed than I’m the London Bridge. It was just green vegetable matter, bearing no resemblance to anything that would get you high.

“In the afternoons we’d play guitar and chase each other around. After work we could get the sailboats from the sailboat rental concession and take some joints and go out and cruise around Biscayne Bay, higher than kites, singing, baying at the moon, and sailing. We’d go to a place called Fair Isle and go skinny-dipping at night.

“There were hardware stores on the main drag. No cookie stores. You could get your shoes fixed. You could buy a hammer and nails. The Laundromat was where a hotel is now, and you could do all your clothes for 50 cents. It was a great, great time in my life.

Joni Mitchell: “I was folksinging in Coconut Grove, at the Gaslight South. … David had just purchased the boat that he loved. I remember being introduced to him and thinking he reminded me of Yosemite Sam.

“David was wonderful company and a great appreciator. His eyes were like star sapphires to me. When he laughed, they seemed to twinkle like no one else’s and so I fell into his merry company and we rode bikes around Coconut Grove and the winds were warm and at night we’d go down and listen to the masts clinking down on the pier. It was a lovely period and soon we became romantically involved.”

This story was inspired by our February 2020 issue of Boca magazine. For more content like this, subscribe to the magazine.

John Thomason
As the A&E editor of bocamag.com, I offer reviews, previews, interviews, news reports and musings on all things arty and entertainment-y in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

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