The South Walton community came together last year at an event called "Franko Fest" to help out one of its own -- iconic music man Franko "Washboard" Jackson.
Jackson was sick and needed a new liver, but he had to come up with some big bucks to get his name on the transplant list.
Hearing of the need, the community rallied and he received his liver on July 2.
Just four months after the surgery, Jackson is back to doing what he loves -- making music and creating art.
Jackson is the newest artist at the recently-reopened Elmore's Landing on U.S. Highway 331S.
Elmore's Landing is an enclave of artists operating around the late Joe Elmore's work and offering a unique variety of art.
Jackson was busy last weekend setting up his room to the left of the main entrance that is filled with his original folk art pieces. He is a self-taught folk artist who looked to the late great Woodie Long for inspiration, as well as Billie Gaffrey, whose art hangs next door to his at The Landing.
"I couldn't help him because as a university-trained classical artist, anything I said would mess him up," said Jackson's wife, Eileen West, who is the art director at Elmore's Landing. "We are now the only functioning folk art gallery in South Walton."
Jackson's life-long love of the arts hails back to his childhood.
"He had always wanted to play music," said West, telling his story as Jackson listened. "His mom made music using household items. She inspired him. Then he found an album about jug bands of the '20s and he identified with jug band music played on site with homemade musical instruments."
Jackson picked it up in 1975 and began playing the washboard in the streets, at a commune in the Ozarks, and even in Amsterdam, where Eileen said they loved it. From there, he took it to the streets of New Orleans in 1976, where he met West. The couple moved to South Walton in 1990. Here, Jackson met South Walton's own iconic music men -- Potter Brown and Duke Bardwell. Jackson played in Brown's Angel Band until Brown's death in 1999. He and Bardwell are founding members of the band Hubba Hubba.
Jackson also plays with The Steenos every Sunday at Stinky's brunch.
With music in his core and living with an artist, it came naturally to Jackson to want to paint the music men who had inspired him. So, in 2000 he picked up some brushes.
He paints on wood panels with acrylic paints, with one on velvet -- his "Velvet Elvis" -- and on doors. Sometimes he uses mixed media. He has lent his brush to paint his interpretation of Bill Monroe, Esther Flatts, Potter Brown and his Angel Band, Little Freddie King, Big Boy Crudup, Sonny Boy Williamson, Professor Long Hair, John Brown the Evolutionist, Clifton Chenier, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Guitar Slim, and Southern Songbirds, to name a few, all of which are hanging at his Elmore Landing gallery.
"I'm a lot better," said Jackson with a big smile. "I'm painting and playing music again. It's incredible."
He also has a piece of artwork hanging at 30A Radio in Publix Plaza.
Elmore's Landing owners are in the process of getting a beer and wine license and music will be performed in the courtyard.
"I'm looking forward to that," said Jackson.