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Many residents of Florida’s Heartland consider California Toe Jam to be the area’s most well-loved Good-Time Oldies Band. Their family-friendly shows have brought smiles to countless faces over the last three decades.
California Toe Jam was formed in 1984 by Harry Havery and Rodney Hollinger. Harry was a Senior at Sebring High School and was asked to put a band together for the school’s Homecoming “Thunder” Celebration. Havery immediately asked his good friend Rodney Hollinger, the school’s Guidance Counselor, to join in. They quickly recruited Sebring High’s Band Director, Roger Nubern, who would become a singer and sax player. The original rhythm section was made up of SHS students Jay Grubb on drums and Richie Shepard on bass. Another student, Mike McElfresh rounded out the band on background vocals. Sebring High’s Student DJ Sean Szoka took care of the soundman duties, and the band was complete.
But what about that horrible name, “California Toe Jam”, you ask? Roger Nubern had a penchant for wearing flip flops to practice, and he had, shall we say, unattractive feet. Some might even call them offensive. When it came time to name the band, the bandmates looked to those same feet as inspiration for their new moniker, and Toe Jam was born. As to the “California” on the front, the theme for Sebring High’s Homecoming in 1984 was “Back to the Beach”. Since there is no better beach music than the Beach Boys’, the group picked a few of their songs to play, and since the beach and the Beach Boys are synonymous with California, they stuck it on the front, and presto! CALIFORNIA TOE JAM!
The faces have changed over the years, but the founding members remain, Harry Havery on vocals and guitar, and Rodney Hollinger on keys, sax, trumpet, guitar and vocals. Bass player Richie Shepard moved away and was replaced by long-time local musician TJ Kinyon. Roger Nubern and Mike McElfresh also moved away and were never replaced. Rodney Havery took over on the drums in 2006. In The Fall of 2013, Toe Jam drummer Rodney Havery retired. Former Toe Jam drummer Joe Colangelo stepped up and took over. Longtime Toe Jam Sound and Lights Guy, Bil Kovacs moved to Jacksonville in 2016. Harrison Havery stepped in and has been making the band look and sound great.
Now beginning their 33rd year, California Toe Jam continues shoot for their lifelong goal- to make people happy, even if just for a little while. It has always been, and always will be about the joy of making music, and there are no signs of slowing down.
This beautiful building has been in the community for over 50 years and has undergone many upgrades in that time. Brenda Lee, Mickey Rooney, Gene Watson, Stephen King and The Amazing Kreskin are just a few of the big names to hit our stage. In addition to nationally known artists, the Theater houses a wide variety of shows and events all year long ranging from musicians, comedians, and plays to speakers, religious and conference-style events. Throughout the year, The Cultural Center produces a variety of shows including Swingin’ on Mondays with the Charlotte County Big Band, the Charlotte County Concert Band and Cul-Cen Follies.