John Balcomb: Writer, Musican, Photographer

John Balcomb is writing a book about Tom. I contacted him through Chris Gomez. Like so many other artists at Beaux Arts, John does not fit neatly into a label of musician or artist or writer. He is all three. I'm listing him as a writer. This is his story.

I lived at Beaux Arts starting around 1972 (I was 18 years old) in a third floor room where I practised guitar and wrote songs. After about 8 months I went back up North where I was from, but soon returned to stay at Beaux Arts again, this time in the garden apt. I spent a lot of time there (Beaux Arts), even after I moved out and was going to

My brother Richard had moved to Florida with his wife in 1971 after graduating from NYU...He won the July Fourth Poetry Contest, in 1971 for a poem he wrote about Tom and Beaux Arts...He really understood the intellectual side of Beaux Arts and filled me with wisdom concerning it before I arrived the first time...I came down in September and he immediately brought me over to meet Tom. After graduating Junior College I moved back North, this time to Pennsylvania.

Beaux Arts 1971 July 4th Poetry Contest. L-R Unknown female folk singer, Gilbert Maxwell (playwright, associate of Tennessee Williams) presenting awards, Richard Balcomb (1st place poetry, winner of the Beaux Arts Poetry contest), Betty Balcomb, Ken Joes, (folk singer).

I had become a professional musician and played in a number of different groups, doing a lot of original material. I toured the country for three years in the early eighties with a Creedence Clearwater Revival Tribute band called The Revival, playing the best clubs in all the big cities. For a while our management company had three tribute bands touring together, a Hendrix show called Fire, the Back Doors and us. We played a number of large venues including the Omaha Civic Center, the Louisville Gardens, the State Theater in Cleveland, the Coliseum in D.C., the Woodstock 15 year anniversary festival and the annual Riverbend Festival in Chattanooga, Tenn where we opened for Patti LaBelle in front of 50,000 people. We were featured on Entertainment Tonight in a 2 minute segment in 1985.

The Kids (John Balcomb singer/guitarist/frontman) 1982

I moved back to St.Petersburg in 1987 and more or less retired from music, the years on the road had taken it's toll on me. I played in a local band until 1990, while working as National sales Mgr. for a manufacturing company. In 1990 I opened a Bicycle Store and ran that until 2002 when I sold it. While operating my store in the early ninties, I did freelance spot news photography and writing for the St.Pete Times and Tampa Tribune. This was when I photographed Beaux Arts with my Nikon and Nikkor lenses. It is mostly outside photos, some wide angle stuff. I did it to document the Coffehouse for a book I began writing about Tom.

I started it then and interviewed Tom extensively, it is still in the works though and I fully intend to finish it but it is taking longer than I planned. I don't feel a conflict with your book though as I believe you are writing more about the Coffehouse and Tom, rather than just Tom. I would be glad to work something out if you want to use my images of the Old Beaux Arts in Pinellas Park.

Let's keep in touch. I am excited that you are writing the book and wish you the best of luck. It is a very noble project and I feel as passionate as you about the old days there and feel it's importance to be not forgotten.

John Balcomb

Beaux Arts