The local band celebrates over 30 years of playing bars, dives, festivals and theaters.

Earlier nights. Fewer gigs. Lower energy levels. Colonoscopies.

Hey, what else do you expect when you're in a band that has been rocking for 30 years?

In a place like South Florida, where so many people come and go, these fab four — John Harris, Pete Noble, Jim Jones and Richie Schmidt — are still in harmony.

The blues band started out in 1984, the same year "Miami Vice" debuted on TV, "Ghostbusters" first spooked movie audiences and The Police were on tour. And though two of its original members eventually moved on to other things, their replacements have been with band between 14 and 20 years.


Photos: Coolio show in South Beach

Band members have seen a lot change, and changed themselves.

"Thirty years ago, did you ever think we would be talking about our colonoscopy?" Noble recalled telling a bandmate recently. "It just goes on like that. It's a lifestyle."

And it's a lifestyle they've had to adjust to. Instead of performing three gigs a week, as they did in their youth, they are more selective about when and where to play.

"We don't have the energy anymore. I can't make it to 3:30 a.m. and then drive home," said Noble, the drummer. "I am 54 years old and it's a little too late for me."

On average, they perform three times a month. Among their more frequent venues: The Funky Biscuit in Boca Raton and Kevro's Art Bar in Delray Beach, where the band celebrated its anniversary March 16.

They played at the Delray Beach Garlic Fest in February and are expected at the Pompano Beach Seafood Festival on April 26.

"It's a love ... we are not doing it for a living. It's a part-time thing, but it's a good part-time job," said Harris, a 54-year-old Delray Beach resident who is the lead singer and harmonica player.

"We have no goals. We have no dreams. We have no hopes. We get a gig and play," added Noble, whose home recording studio in Boynton Beach serves as the band's Monday night rehearsal space. "We are not out to be a big name in the industry. We are all our in 50s. We are lucky to get out there."

Harris launched a band called Useless Truck with fellow founding member Noble, a drummer he befriended at what is now Palm Beach State College. When their lead singer left, Harris and Noble decided to regroup as the Fabulous Fleetwoods in March 1984. The name came from a band member's 1957 Cadillac Fleetwood.

They call their sound blue wave, "a kind of rocked-out version of blues," said Harris, a landscape designer in Palm Beach County. They point to George Thorogood (of "Bad to the Bone" fame), the Fabulous Thunderbirds ("Tuff Enuff" is one of its popular songs) and The Nighthawks as musical influences.

Though the Fabulous Fleetwoods perform cover songs, they also write their own music. In all, they've produced about 30 originals. Some were featured in a six-song cassette demo in 1989. Other songs have been included in five followup CDs.

The group reminisces about opening for bigger touring bands, including Sister Hazel, Blues Traveler and Uncle Kracker, when the bands stopped in South Florida while on tour. Another proud moment, they say, was when one of their songs, "The Key," was used in the background for a local cable TV commercial for a nightclub in 2003.

Any advice for younger bands?

"We all get along very well," said Jones, 53 the bass player and a computer designer who lives in Boca Raton. "That's one of the key ingredients for us sticking around. It's like a marriage with four other people."

The good friends hang out during their down time from music. They have barbecues and attend baseball games together. They've been to each other's weddings. Some of their children have grown up together.

"We are all of the same age, of the same attitude," said Schmidt, 54, of Boynton Beach. "There are certain pressures that we don't feel anymore as we might have when we were younger. We each enjoy what we are doing, which is probably the key to our longevity."

Schmidt is a full-time musician who also sings and performs with his wife as a duo called Twocan Blue. But he always makes time for the Fleetwoods.

"I love to play the guitar and I get to be just the guitar player with his group," Schmidt said.

Can they rock for another 30 years?

"As long as everybody's got their health," Noble said. "It's hard to find something so stable and so steady now."

johnnydiaz@tribune.com or 954-356-4939

If you go

The Fabulous Fleetwoods' next performance will be 3 p.m. April 26 at the Pompano Beach Seafood Festival, 222 N. Pompano Beach Blvd. Admission for the festival, which is from April 25-27, is $15 per day; free for children younger than 12.

Info: fabulousfleetwoods.com, pompanobeachseafoodfestival.com