In back of a rural piece of property in Plant City, a garage rumbles. A monicker tacked up outside says: “If this sign is shaking, band practice is in session.” It’s called “The Room.” And it’s where all the jam sessions for Just Friends take place.
Last week, the sign was shaking. Opening the door, a converted man cave is revealed. Inside is a pool table, neon bar lights and a Beatles poster. It’s the perfect hangout for a band that likes to have fun.
“Music is everything to us,” Paul Biese says. “It really, really keeps you young. If you want to stay young at heart in mind and body and soul, have fun playing music.”
Biese is one-third of the band; he plays three instruments, and all at once — the harmonica with his mouth, guitar with his hands and his own makeshift percussion with his foot.
The 64-year-old is joined by his 70-year-old wife, Shirley. The rocker chick flaunts her stylish guitar earrings while her pink fingernails pluck at the bass. Although her husband has always played instruments, she just learned how to rock four years ago.
“For years I would just sit there and watch,” Shirley Biese says. “My husband says, ‘Why don’t you play?’ Well I can’t play six strings, but I can play four. So he taught me how. So now I’m playing the bass. Happy dance.”
The youngest member, in his 30s, Fabian Thomas Nunn has been singing with Biese since the couple moved 13 years ago from New Jersey.
“It is incredible,” Nunn says. “We’ve been family for 12 years now, and we just have fun. That’s the most important rule. When we’re on stage, when we’re at a show, just enjoy yourself. You can’t go wrong.”
The band got its start during a Superbowl party at a neighbor’s house more than a decade ago. As everyone sat around a fire outside, Shirley Biese told the group her husband played the guitar; they made him go get it from his house. The neighbor joined in with his bongos.
The rhythm lured Nunn from his home. He headed up the driveway with tiki torches in hand and his mom in tow. He started singing, harmonizing with Biese.
“The next thing I know, people were asking us to play at parties,” Biese says. “That’s when they asked us, ‘What’s the name of your band?’ ‘Band? We don’t have a band; we’re just friends.’”
And so, the name was born.
The Who, Janis Joplin, Creedence Clearwater Revival — Just Friends plays it all. They bring it all out during open mic nights around Plant City and Tampa Bay. Among the local venues are O’Brien’s Irish Pub and Family Restaurant and Rail Ale Pub. They also play at birthday parties, special events and friends’ get togethers.
“We love playing classic music; we love people to sing along with us,” Biese says. When people sing along, that’s the band’s favorite part.
“I’m loving it, I’m having a ball,” Shirley Biese said. “And everyone else is having a ball. They say, ‘Ah, you play songs that we know,’ and that’s what we want, and that’s what we do.”
FOR MORE INFO
Visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/Just.Friends.Plant.City or call Paul at (813) 982-1924.