The names Lori and Jonny Pellicer are pretty much synonymous with the St. Augustine music scene, and Jonny’s family is about as “St. Augustine” as a family can get. His ancestor, Francisco Pellicer, settled here from Menorca in the late 1700s. Today the name can be found all over town, including Pellicer Creek and the house at 53 St. George Street which bears Francisco’s name. Lori is also native, having been born and bred right here in the Ancient City.
The couple hasn’t always been in a band together, though. Jonny was initially the musician of the two and says he started plucking around on guitar at an early age.
“I picked around on the guitar when I was really young and I think I was about eight years old when I got my first one,” says Jonny, “but I didn’t really start playing until I was about 19.” Like most guitarists, he got his start in pick-up bands and garage bands. After a while, Lori would sing back-up and play tambourine, and they would often end up playing into the wee hours. Those late night jams ended, though, once the couple got married.
Lori’s move into being a bass player came much later. Her first real gig was when she played bass for Bo Diddley in 1992. She agreed to learn a few songs on bass to cover for Jonny (who played bass for a time) and it morphed into eventually being the bass player in the band. “I was scared to death. It was against my will. I didn’t really play, I didn’t want to play, and I had no desire to play.”
But play she did.
Over the years, the couple has cemented their place as St. Augustine musical favorites. Their longtime group The Red River Band continues to be a mainstay at area festivals, and they were regular entertainment at several local music venues including Tradewinds and Arnold’s. What they’re quite proud of his how members of The Red River Band have gone on to play with other musical stalwarts in the area, demonstrating how closely knit the music community in St. Augustine is.
Their latest project, Pellicer Creek, follows their tried and true formula for a successful band – good music played by some seasoned musicians who have a great time doing it. They’ve welcomed into their musical fold some of the same musicians they’ve played with in years past, and the chemistry is obvious. Jonny and Lori have a knack for surrounding themselves with people who enjoy playing good music almost as much as they do.
And, as if all of that wasn’t enough, Jonny has his own group, JP Driver, which also includes some of those aforementioned seasoned musicians. And, while not an official member of the band, Lori often takes to the stage, either on vocals or on bass or, most often, both. It’s rare to find performers so comfortable with each other on stage, but Lori and Jonny Pellicer are exactly that. It’s just like being married.
Photography by Steve Parr