“You never know when the big white bus will come to your neighborhood.”
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DESTIN – Patricia Martin was talking on the phone in her Destin home when she caught a glimpse of someone familiar through her window.
Unloading music equipment in Martin’s driveway were two members of her favorite Destin band Flash Flood, Rusty and Tim Morinelli. Rusty sings and Tim plays acoustic guitar for what they deem the Flash Flood Duo. The two performed Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s song “Shallow” and Patsy Cline’s “Walkin’ After Midnight.”
“I was just blown away, completely blown away,” Martin said. “Our neighbors on either side came out. It was the most beautiful surprise for those of us in lockdown.”
Rusty and Tim deemed their performance a “Flash Flood Drive By,” and have done 15 total. They performed Disney songs Friday at three group homes in Fort Walton Beach.
Martin found out after the “drive-by” that mutual friends told Flash Flood she and her husband, John, were suffering from cabin fever. As members of the Parrot Club in Destin, the Martins were fans from seeing the band play at Harry T’s Lighthouse and The Village Door restaurants.
“Their music is just outstanding, things you want to get up and dance to,” Martin said. “It was such a shock. In this time of everybody worried and upset and housebound, to go out of their way at no cost – they wouldn’t take tip money – and just bring joy to our lives is just unheard of.”
The idea came after Tim found a way to power their music equipment through the cigarette lighter in their van, Rusty said.
“We’re calling it the Big White Bus right now,” Rusty said. “We said, ‘You never know when the big white bus will come to your neighborhood.’ What’s really cool about it is we do it from 20 feet away. We’re not breaking any rules.”
The two have done live performances on social media since the coronavirus outbreak, but wanted to take it a step further. They perform one song per driveway; their first performance was Norah Jones’ “Come Away With Me.”
“We had played at their wedding years ago, so we knew what song to play for them,” Rusty said. “We pulled up in the driveway, and they came out of the house and we played their wedding song and they slow danced to it and started crying.”
The band is known for performing music by Patsy Cline, Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac, but also performs Journey and Bruno Mars.
“We do everything,” Rusty said. “We’ve been together 27 years. We do country, rock, dance. If we know where we’re going to, we try to go with what their favorite songs are.”
By the second and third house, the pair realized their idea was a good one.
“All the neighbors came out there and everyone was crying,” Rusty said. “I went, ‘Oh my God, we must be doing something good here.’ We started getting chills going, ‘This is a good thing.’ We don’t have a lot of money. We can’t give anything like that, but I thought, ‘There must be something we can give to make people’s day or help.’ ”
Emerald Harbor Communications offered to sponsor the endeavor, and now provides gas money to continue the concert series.
Some of Rusty’s favorite performances were for their friends Debra Brodie, a nurse who is working on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak, and Penny Vance, a groomer with Village Grooming who is helping the elderly continue to care for their pets.
“My husband said, ‘I can’t believe you’re holding it together,’ because I almost cried a couple of times,” Rusty said. “I try to not to think of sadness and I try to think of something happy – their smiles. It’s really cool. The reaction we’re getting from them makes both of us feel really, really good.”