Four Unplugged celebrates 25th anniversary of playing the ‘Bama June 11-12
Louisiana based party band Four Unplugged, along with its family of fans, a/k/a the Fourheads – a show unto themselves – will roll the party train into the tent stage June 11 starting at 10:30 p.m. and June 12 starting at 6 p.m.
The band and their fans will be celebrating their 25th anniversary of playing at the Flora-Bama bd celebrating the beauty of the Alabama-Florida Gulf Coast.
We will let the band’s founder, Ricky Windhorst, tell the story of how the phenomenon happened and continues to happen.
By Ricky Windhorst
Except for when Hurricane Ivan devastated the entire Gulf Coast and the World Famous Flora Bama Lounge, we never missed our chance to make the annual trek down to the Orange Beach/Perdido Key. It is so engrained in our psyche, that the band, the crew and the Fourheads from all over the country wait all year long for this one weekend of for sanity or should I say insanity.
For those of you who have never had a chance to party with Four Unplugged at the Florabama over the past 25 years, I’ll explain. F
our Unplugged is a 6 piece rocking party machine from St. Tammany, Louisiana. To explain Four Unplugged (4U for short) is hard to define due to our ever changing always expanding catalog of songs. At one moment 4U could be a high energy party band, the next a funk dance band, next a rocking classic rock band, we even throw in some Country, Blues and Standards. You never know what you are going to get at any given moment but it’s always Fun. With a diverse and crowd-pleasing song list, we try to find a way to satisfy fans of pop, rock, funk, dance and country from 18 to 80. When asked, I always say, “It’s goodtime, dance, party, singalong music!”
People always ask why the name Four Unplugged when on stage there is clearly six fully electrified members who are plugged in. The idea for the band was hatched during a vacation stop at the Flora~Bama by keyboardist and my amazing wife Jan Windhorst and myself in 1995. As we spent the day watching George Ridder and Lonnie Ferguson on the old patio and the Diving Ducks inside, Rusty and Mike on Sunday, after enjoying such great acoustic music we were inspired to form Four Unplugged. We took our name from the original line-up of four all-acoustic musicians during the heyday of “MTV Unplugged.”
But after the first two years, all that changed – except the name. Crowds got larger. Then people wanted to dance so bass and drums were added. Then sax was added, and eventually the band turned into the musical monster it is today. I say we call it Four Unplugged because we can’t count, but the truth is that when we started adding more people and instruments the name was so well known and respected that we couldn’t change it. But we do sometimes shorten it to 4UP.”
We are always asked, What are You Going to Play?? Well 4UP generally starts with a set list, but that usually goes off the tracks depending on the crowd – and that can happen after just a few songs. The group looks at each show as a new adventure and their job is to get the most out of it for the crowd and the band. We know our fans don’t want drama or ego, they want to have a damn good time and that’s our job to provide it. The group consists of Louisiana Music Hall of Fame members Ricky and Jan Windhorst on vocals and keyboards respectively (Jan also sings). Randy Bidleman is on drums, Kenny Schneider is on guitars and vocals, Jimmy Belew is on saxophone, and newest member Craig Courtney handles the bass guitar and vocals. I always say “Flora~Bama weekend is my favorite, and I’m excited about Thursday, usually we do an acoustic Four Unplugged night but this year we are bringing our musical brother, the rocking Jay B. Elston Band. This promises to be a special beginning to an already amazing weekend. Because the band fit so much great music into their show, they will constantly remind the audience that “it’s a marathon not a sprint.”
Along with the band’s show, their group of enthusiastic followers put on a show all their own all weekend. The Fourheads are the real party and the band is simply the soundtrack – and very appreciative of their support.
They also helped Four Unplugged get voted Best Band on the New Orleans Northshore by Sophisticated Women Magazine for the 15th year in a row and The EDGE magazine’s best band for the last four years. It wouldn’t be possible without our top-notch crew. Tony Corley of SeeHear Productions has raised the bar on production quality, and lighting engineer Steven Accardo greatly adds to the visual aspect of the show, along with help from BIG Ronnie Tew. Kudos also have to go out to Mike Locklin and the excellent production crew and awesome, friendly staff at the Flora~Bama.
With a song list of several hundred songs, we plan to play two separate four-hour shows barely repeating songs each night.
All I can say is get ready! Flora~Bama is such a special place to play – I know everyone says that. I’ve seen interviews with Kenny Chesney and others who say the same thing. I think it’s a blend of the vibe, the crowd, the history and the venue. Party music, the beach and the Flora~Bama – it just doesn’t get any better! Let the Marathon Begin!!!”