Music was very important to Kerouac. In New York, he was always the first to have the latest recordings and the last to leave any jazz club he was at. He frequently talked about the importance of rhythm and flow in his music and felt that how the sentence or paragraph moved was as important as the words within.
Kerouac was known to frequent music venues in St. Pete such as The Manhattan Casino and The Cactus Club, despite some locations being segregated, in a quest to sate his appetite for music which has played a unique role as a unifying force in society. Despite our differences music serves as a reminder of what we have in common and can bring us together in celebration of our shared humanity.
Ronnie Lowe was able to provide Kerouac with a local entrée into a musical world that he most certainly missed from his days in New York and San Francisco. Lowe was a local celebrity of sorts and a friend of Jack’s, the leader of a popular band called “Ronnie Lowe and the Dominos” The band was one of the first racially integrated bands in St. Pete, and touring musicians would often stop to play with them such as Dicky Betts of the Allman Brothers and Jim Stafford. Lowe grew up in Winter Haven, FL and was somewhat of an intellectual. He was able to go head to head with Kerouac during conversations about literature, philosophy, etc.
He also had a car, which was very important to Kerouac, who didn’t drive. One of the traditions that Ronnie and his bandmates had was that everyone took turns picking the place they’d eat or drink after a gig. Jack, being a regular part of their crew, was a part of that rotation. Once, when everyone asked where they should eat, he said “Miami”, and eventually wore the band down so that they packed up their gear and drove down to Miami for an after-show meal. (Murray)
Image below of the Manhattan Casino with an art installation by local artist Ya La'ford. Find her work on Instagram.