By Dave Scott
January 26, 2018 1:10 p.m.
Editor’s Note: We thank Dave Scott for his willingness to allow us to post his touching tribute to local musician Dan Voll who died suddenly on January 22. Although we have seen many personal responses mourning the loss of Dan, we believe Dave produced a wonderful heartfelt tribute to a well respected musician and friend.
Early Monday morning the music died on Amelia Island.
A long long time ago
I can still remember how
That music used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And maybe they’d be happy for a while
But January made me shiver
With every paper I’d deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn’t take one more step
I can’t remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride
Something touched me deep inside
The day the music died
Reprinted with permission from
Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die
— Don McLean
Popular local musician, my friend, and friend to so many more, Dan Voll (60), passed away following a stroke suffered almost three weeks ago.
A native of Baraboo, Wisconsin, Dan moved to Amelia Island in 2010 and immediately picked, sang, grinned and charmed his way into the hearts of locals and visitors. He was quickly offered a regular Friday evening slot at downtown Fernandina Beach’s Green Turtle where he, bassist/vocalist Michelle Anders, and drummer/vocalist Nico Findeisen, became regular performers with an always enthusiastic standing room only audience.
As word of this incredibly talented guitarist’s talent spread, he was in demand by every musical venue on the island including a regular Tuesday evening slot at PJD’s Beer & Wine Garden, Sunday evenings with Michelle on the Salty Pelican’s balcony, Wednesday’s at the now shuttered Alley Cat, regular performances at Sliders, The Surf, Ritz Carlton, Amelia River Cruises sunset sailings, David’s, Sandy Bottoms/Sandbar, the Omni Plantation Resort, Falcon’s Nest, The Patio and many more. He also performed with the popular local Beech Street Blues Band, and appeared many times at the local farmer’s market, the annual Sounds on Centre sessions in downtown Fernandina Beach as well as many other local events and concerts. He was in huge demand outside of his island home as well with numerous requests to perform at venues as far ranging as New York and California.
Dan & Michelle at the Green Turtle
He may have been the best guitarist in northeast Florida as his exceptional talent drew praise from professional musicians as well as appreciative audiences. He combined that extraordinary skill with an “Aw shucks” stage presence that made every person in the audience feel he was singing directly to them. Without missing a beat he would call out audience members names, sing one of his many versions of happy birthday to them, or point to someone in the audience and say “this one’s for you (name)” and then break into a song they had requested days ago or through an email to him. Dan’s versatility was obvious as he effortlessly blended genres ranging from rock, pop and blues to jazz, country and Latin music.
He sported a dry wit and an unassuming, easy-going nature that brought out the best in his audiences and those that were fortunate enough to be called his friend. He was free with praise for those close to him and if he disliked anyone he kept that to himself, as none of those that knew him well can recall him uttering a harsh word about anyone, a rare quality indeed. He was rarely seen — indoors or out — without his trademark straw fedora and could be spotted often biking around the island.
Dan began playing guitar when he was nine, studied in Los Angeles with recording artist Ted Greene and is the recipient of a number of music awards. He happily transferred his guitar playing skills by teaching local primary school-age pupils and performed many times for grateful crowds at the island’s two senior facilities.
His last performance was with the drummer/vocalist Les DeMerle, singer Bonnie Eisele and keyboard player Doug Matthews on New Year’s Eve at the Amelia Island Club.
In an article in Jacksonville’s “First Coast Magazine” last year Dan summed up his career saying that his self-image and objectives have evolved with age and experience. “Originally, I wanted to be an ‘important’ guitar player. Now I just want to make someone smile,” he said. He said he wanted his music to “make everybody feel like somebody, at least for a little while.” He accomplished that and more. On Tuesday Fernandina Beach Mayor Johnny “Sunbeam” Miller and Dan’s close friend, Pajamadave Voorhees, lowered the flag flying in front of the town’s marina to half mast to honor one of the island’s most beloved residents.
Following the airplane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. Richardson (the “Big Bopper”) in 1959 many of us listened to the words to Don McLean’s song “American Pie” and thought we understood what he meant. However, when the words are put together with pictures and film clips the song takes on a new meaning for those of us that knew Dan, and with his passing the song may be even more fitting. Watch the video here and judge for yourself: http://youtu.be/VhX3b1h7GQw
Dan is survived by his immediate family in Wisconsin including his Mother Shirley Churchill Voss, brother Jeff Voll, sister-in-law Cheryl, sister Lisa Johnson and niece Ashley Voll, as well as girl friend Donna Carine, close friends PajamaDave Voorhees, Zan Maddox, Susan and Flip Gallion, Jeff Malone, “Shel” Anders and many, many more.
A celebration of his life will be planned to honor this extraordinary man and details will be announced as they become available.