The Duke of South Walton: Documentary screening puts local musician back in national spotlight

Published: Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 05:32 PM.

Little did Bardwell know how much The King would impact his life.

On the film, Bardwell talks openly of drugs and the run-ins with The King’s bodyguards, but Bardwell told The Sun that the main reason he was replaced is because Jerry Scheff, the original bass player, wanted to rejoin the show and Elvis really wanted him back.

Bardwell took the rejection hard when the association ended and he retreated to his family's summer home in South Florida to lick his wounds, try to refocus and get back his groove. It was there in those peaceful surroundings and through his pain that the words for new music began to come, including the one that has become his signature song: "Bayou Country," which was released by Lou Adler and his Ode record label.

But these days, except for his annual trek to Europe for an annual Elvis reunion tribute, those privileged to be able to hear Bardwell's soulful voice and expert guitar playing live on 30A.

Bardwell moved to South Walton in 1985, a decade after Elvis, to get away from music and the lifestyle that comes with the territory of playing in a band. He was running the front of the house at the now-defunct Paradise Café in Grayton Beach and had not played in five years when he met a local guitarist by the name of Bill Garrett. As chance would have it, Garrett was playing with Franko "Washboard" Jackson, who had heard Bardwell's "Bayou Country" in Louisiana and liked to perform it. Jackson had never met Bardwell and thought he was a deceased Black man. Garrett introduced the two and Jackson talked Bardwell into picking up his guitar again and joining them.

Bardwell talked to The Sun about the founding of the band Hubba Hubba with Jackson, which the first year also included Potter Brown and Owen Saunders. Garrett joined later.

Bardwell, Jackson, and Garrett still perform as Hubba Hubba about four times a year. This will be the 18th Super Bowl Sunday for them to command the stage at The Red Bar.

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