With a friend holding a protest sign declaring “The Day The Music Died” on busy Gulf Drive Thursday afternoon, longtime Bradenton Beach musician Russell Adams staged his own musical demonstration against the city’s controversial noise ordinance.
“Freedom is not free, everybody,” Adams told a cheering crowd. About a dozen fellow musicians had just exited a Bradenton Beach City Commission meeting, where they spoke up about what they feel is a need to fine-tune the beach city’s commercial noise ordinance, which is 85 decibels from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; 75 decibels from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.; 65 decibels from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.; and 55 decibels from 2 a.m. to 7 a.m.
As far as bands go and music when it comes to islands, like Anna Maria or communities like St. Petersburg and Longboat Key, people are there to enjoy themselves. All we are trying to do is provide a service that they want.
Scott Lubore, owner of The Freckled Fin Restaurant, Bradenton Beach
The musicians complained to Mayor Bill Shearon and commissioners that it is very hard, maybe even impossible, to entertain a crowd looking for fun and excitement and still keep things at 75 decibels — which, they said, could endanger their abilities to earn an income and support their families.
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Shearon and the commissioners announced their support for a public workshop in the future to discuss the noise ordinance, which has been in place in the city since 2014 and, up until now, was not a huge problem.
“Freedom has to be maintained and fought for,” Adams told the musicians after they applauded his rendition of “American Pie” while Mark Silver held the sign. “And it’s OK to go to jail for it sometimes. They’ll never prosecute. And it’s the only thing that really counts.”
Adams’ jail comment was a reference to Scott Lubore, owner of The Freckled Fin Restaurant, 101 Bridge St., who spent a night in jail several weeks ago when the decibel level at his restaurant was recorded at 98 after the restaurant had received numerous citations and warnings, according to Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale.
Lubore’s arrest has escalated the noise controversy in Bradenton Beach, but noise is also an issue in other Anna Maria Island cities and in Bradenton.
At Thursday’s commission meeting, the 10 pro-noise speakers included musician Koko Ray Hansen, Island Time Bar and Grill owner Bill Herlihy, Freckled Fin manager Steven Shannon, Frecked Fin employees Rachael Cate and Thida Sou, Matt DeSear, musician Melanie Massell, attorney Sean Flynn and Lubore.
When his turn to speak came, Lubore said, “As far as bands go and music when it comes to islands, like Anna Maria or communities like St. Petersburg and Longboat Key, people are there to enjoy themselves. All we are trying to do is provide a service that they want.”
“I think money is being spent to bring tourists here,” Lubore said. “We have a decibel reader here with us today and just talking in this room, and it is pretty quiet... That means that with no music, absolutely nothing going on, we are in violation after 10 p.m. So I would like to be part of that workshop to see what could change.”
“What people fail to realize about music is that it’s different than talking,” Speciale said. “I understand where the musicians are coming from and I understand that we can’t stop progress, but we also don’t want Bradenton Beach to be New Orleans.”