Photo by PHYLLIS BATOR // Buy this photo
205 Harbor Place, Goodland, FL
Merrill is his name, and playing every Sunday night at the Little Bar Restaurant in Goodland is his game.
But who is Merrill? I really couldn’t tell you anything about his background because he refused to do an interview. And I can understand why.
According to Merrill (I don’t know if that’s his first or last name), the articles that were previously written about him had misquoted him more than once, and at one time, a retraction was called for regarding something he didn’t say but a newspaper said he did. Therefore, it’s easy to see why he was gun shy.
He said he’s read my articles, but I couldn’t convince him to talk to me. So whatever you read here is strictly my own interpretation of what I saw and what I heard. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll feel the same way and that’s the way it should be. We are all entitled to our own opinions.
According to Mark Vesel who hires the entertainment, Merrill has been at the Little Bar on and off for about 15 or 16 years.
“He’s a wonderful musician, has a great following, and if you hang around tonight, you’ll see he has his regular crew that comes in every night,” Vesel said. “He’s a really good entertainer and everybody enjoys him.”
So what is it about Merrill that keeps his regulars coming back? It’s certainly not his singing although I suspect when he was younger, he may have had a very good voice. He does play a nice six string guitar that he uses with a pick, and he is very friendly and always smiling. Oh, and he never takes a break.
Wearing cowboy boots, jeans, yellow shirt, and long white hair and beard, he also wears sunglasses when he plays and sips a bottle of beer in between songs. It’s apparent he enjoys playing for the crowd and they love listening to him. Within one hour’s time, there was standing room only (not that the bar area is all that big).
Only there for one hour, (that’s really all I could take because it’s very noisy), I recognized one song and it had nothing to do with age. Maybe if I had a few beers, his singing would sound better.
He responded to a request about a horse. He started out with a big ‘Neighhhhhhh!’ It scared the beejeebers out of me because I didn’t know he was going to do that. His friends knew, and they loved it.
Is he personable? Well, he says “hello” to people who come in, he shakes hands with those who put their hands out to him, so he does have a certain amount of charisma. If you like a crowded atmosphere and loud music, you might enjoy Merrill. If you’re a fan, you definitely enjoy Merrill.
When asked if he would allow me to take a picture since he didn’t want to do an interview, he said, “It’s a free country.”
He did tell me that people have come in and asked why he wasn’t where the newspaper said he should have been the previous week. That is the truth, and I have a witness to prove it. I told him that unless an establishment faxes the correct information for the week, how are they supposed to know who’s entertaining where, when and what time?
It’s always nice to know how a musician got his start and where he’s played before. Some of them have some interesting stories to tell. People may not like to read the negatives, but that’s their prerogative. I’ve been accused of writing that everyone I interview is terrific. Well, this time, it just isn’t so. But I give him credit for trying.
Merrill plays every Sunday regularly from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Little Bar Restaurant is located in Goodland. Phone: 394-5665.