Gary Goldsmith and Rocky Tabyanan (AKA Rocky Blaze) have shared a unique musical journey which has lead them on a path very different from most St. Augustine bands. Their band ‘Big Pineapple’ started out as a duo eighteen years ago, and today, they are joined by two additional bandmates, Randy Day and Dorman Pantfoeder. Big Pineapple’s style – a variety of genres fused with the unmistakable island sounds of traditional, Hawaiian music – was born of their eagerness to learn something new.
“We used to play a lot of rock and roll but eventually became drawn to Hawaiian music. Now, we are hooked on it,” says Gary about his and Rocky’s switch from the world’s most popular genre to one with a more lighthearted vibe to it. “This was a different style for us, but once we got into Hawaiian music we really wanted to learn more about it.” So that’s exactly what they did. Now, thanks to their passion, music lovers in St. Augustine have been introduced to a vibe that no other band in the area can provide in quite the same way.
“It wasn’t a conscious decision to put a band together,” says Rocky. “When we set our sights on Hawaiian music, I picked up the ukulele.” With his talents on the uke and vocals, Gary on the steel guitar and dobro, Randy Day on bass and vocals, and Dorman Pantfoeder on drums and vocals, Big Pineapple’s main objective is to share a good time with their audience. “Playing music and having fun are very natural things to do,” says Rocky.
Originally from Southern California, Rocky moved to St. Augustine in the seventies. Gary arrived in town in 1980 by way of San Francisco. However, having been raised down in Jupiter, Gary was already well acquainted with the Sunshine State way of life. The two later joined forces professionally at two St. Augustine advertising agencies, but their real bond was through their shared passion for music. “More than anything else about playing music, I like the fact that we’re always learning,” says Gary. “We’ve learned how to blend other genres into our main style.”
Adding to their band’s individuality is a varied song list, including both original tracks and covers from genres like 1940’s jazz, Bossa Nova, country, and swing. “Our instrumentation also gives us a signature sound,” says Rocky. With a long history of sweetening the ambience of favorite waterfront venues such as Kingfish Grill, The Reef, and Beaches at Vilano, Big Pineapple’s main venue is The Conch House Restaurant, where they play every Saturday night from 7-10 pm. Their relationship with the local dining institution is one that goes back almost two decades. “Sixteen years ago, we were presented with the idea of playing on the deck for dinner guests,” says Gary. “It has been a great partnership. We love this place.”
Learn more about Big Pineapple at www.bigpineapplemusic.com. Photography by Mark Cubbedge.