A chat with an old friend and fellow metalhead
On August 17, 2019 I sat down with one of my longtime friends, Jeff Keller, Owner of Avid Brew in St. Petersburg, FL. Jeff and I go way back as friends for over thirty years. In addition to asking him about how his musical tastes plays into his brewery, I had scanned my memory banks to see if he remembered a couple of specific events from years past that helped shape my love for heavy metal.
RC: What was the first concert you went to?
JK: Ozzy Osbourne with Queensrÿche opening at the Bayfront Center, I don’t know what year it was though.
RC: Wow, did we go to that show together (as I look it up to see that it was back in 1986)?
JK: No, I went with my friend Randy Riggs. He’s a guitarist and metal head too.
RC: yea I looked it up, I didn’t make that one. Damn, I should have that sounds like a killer show.
RC: What was the last concert you went to?
JK: (laughing) That YachtRock show at Jannus I mentioned to you as it was coming up.
RC: What’s the next show on your horizon?
JK: No shows coming up, my ears hurt and ring too much. I have to wimp out and wear ear plugs now. Getting old is weird
RC: Do you remember the last show we went to together?
JK: Suicidal Tendencies? No, wait. Tool? No, I think it was the festival in Fort Myers maybe (Fort Rock).
RC: Nope – it was Black Label Society and Corrosion of Conformity at Jannus.
JK: Ah that’s right. I thought it was Suicidal. I’ve been keeping my eye on that place to reopen (The State Theater St Pete which is where we saw Suicidal), love that venue.
RC: Ok man, here’s one from back in the day for ya.
JK: What you got?
RC: Do you remember taking me to my first ever Genitorturers concert?
JK: Oh yea man for sure. That was the night down in Bradenton or Sarasota somewhere when we went with (our friend) Ian and Gen was putting little tomatoes in her p*ssy on stage right?
RC: Yea in addition to other things.
JK: That was your first time seeing Gen?
RC: yep – remember Disfigurehead (one of our friend’s bands) opened for Gen and it was some bowling alley that had a side room for a stage. Then after the show we went to the strip club next door and eventually the guys in our friend’s band came in then so did the Genitorturers.
JK: Did I remember that right – to where she was putting those things inside of her?
RC: All I remember is they had these crazy hot, mostly naked chicks in cages on both sides of the stage and Gen would lead one out by a leash and do deprived things that I probably shouldn’t mention here (we both laugh). Was that your first time seeing them?
JK: No, I had seen them in Ybor once before, that’s how I convinced you to come that night, how you were in for a night like you had never had before. While it all is a big blur from being so long ago I do remember seeing some dude in a diaper with a Mohawk swinging 15 feet in the air by meat hooks/ chains in his back and a giant penis being nailed to a saw horse and thinking ” this is something for Randy for sure”. Oh such fun times.
RC: So I get to ‘blame’ you for the addiction I’ve had to Gen (lead singer of the Genitorturers) all these years (both laugh) (they are the band I’ve seen the most – at least 30 times, probably more as I didn’t keep track of all the bands I saw back in the day).
RC: And I remember from the strip club how Nick and Brian (our friends in Disfigurehead) asked if we wanted to go party with the Genitorturers afterwards and I was thankful we didn’t because when I saw them at work the next day they both had had Gen pierce their nipples.
JK: No way!
RC: Another one for ya from back in the day – do you remember that you were the one who turned me onto Pantera?
RC: Yea man, there was a night way back when, your dad was out of town so we started the night off partying at your place – we were drinking beer and you said ‘hey you gotta check these guys out’ and put on the “Cowboys From Hell” CD.
JK: Oh ya, we were hanging in my room and I had those giant speakers and I turned it up loud for ya.
RC: Yea and I was instantly hooked on that sound.
JK: I don’t remember what we did that night.
RC: Yea I don’t either but I’ll never forget hearing Pantera for the first time.
JK: We might have just stayed there, rocked out and got wasted.
RC: Probably. It wouldn’t have been the first and sure wasn’t the last time for that.
RC: So tell me a little about how music plays into the themes and atmosphere at your brewery.
JK: Our tasting room has kind of a dark atmosphere, in fact I have a black dripping blood heart that hangs on the wall. It goes with my love of crunchy heavy riffs like from Tool or “Zombie Eaters” from Faith No More. To me, heavy metal and beer go hand in hand. But it is not like back in the day where every day was a big party, now I am more of a connoisseur of good riffs and solid stouts.
RC: What is something you want to share about Avid that people can’t find on their own via Google or social media?
JK: A lot of people forget or don’t know that we also sell hydroponic products and that we are a retail supply store for home brewers. We also have classes for both home brewing and home gardening so we are a one stop shop for any and all of those needs.
RC: Any plans coming up to make any beers with a music related theme or name?
JK: We’ve always got new ideas in the works so you never know – keep an eye on our website and social accounts – better yet, if anyone reading this is in or near St. Pete they should drop by and check the place out – my staff and I are always up for a cold one and some great conversation with new friends.
RC: Awesome man – it’s been great having this chat. Thanks for your time and hopefully soon we can arrange a Shows I Go To event at your place.
JK: It’s been fun dude, thanks for taking me down memory lane for a little bit.
Visit Jeff and his staff at Avid Brew in St. Petersburg.
1745 1st Ave S, St. Petersburg, FL 33712