The rural community of Buckingham is best known for its oak-lined roads, small farms and role as a World War II Army base where airplane gunners trained for combat. But a growing number of music lovers are finding their way to this relatively sleepy area between Fort Myers and Lehigh Acres for a dose of the blues.
Once a dark, dingy watering hole even bikers disdained, the Buckingham Bar got a new lease on life when Tommy Lee Cook, a longtime resident of the community, bought it, gave it a much-needed renovation and reopened it as the World Famous Buckingham Blues Bar. For the past two years, local blues fans have flocked there to hear live music and, in some cases, play some themselves.
"We're getting people from all over, especially Naples and Bonita Springs," Cook says. "We just had some from Los Angeles. They found us on the Internet and came up three times while they were in the area."
A general contractor by day, Cook not only owns the place, he performs there, playing guitar and singing with his group Tommy Lee Cook and the All-Stars. Cook's band and other blues acts draw an increasingly diverse crowd Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. On Wednesdays, anyone with the urge to play can join in.
Once a month, the club hosts an outdoor blues festival featuring four bands; admission is $5.
Upcoming blues fests are scheduled for March 19, April 16 and May 21. The music starts at 2 p.m. For a look at who's playing when, visit Cook's Web site at www.buckinghambar.com.
The World Famous Buckingham Blues Bar is at 5361 Buckingham Road, east of Fort Myers. Open daily from 10 a.m. Call (239) 693-7111.