Perched atop a stool in the front of the Indigo clubhouse, Tom Perillo glances up from his sheet music and gazes out across the room.
The iconic sounds of “When I’m Sixty-Four” by the Beatles filter throughout the room, as Tom’s fellow residents clap, stomp and sing along to the beat.
Tom can’t help but feel a sense of pride seeing his vision for a neighborhood band come together, as he and his fellow The Blue Pelicans bandmates, Bill Irvan and Ken Combs, help bring the community a little closer together.
A native of New York, Tom moved into his new home in Indigo, an active single-family home community by Neal Communities, southwest Florida’s premier, private homebuilder, full time last August after closing on the home in December 2015.
Tom and his wife, Jennifer, had been looking around the west coast of Florida, beginning in Naples and Fort Myers, for a potential home. As the couple prepared to head back to the airport, they happened to stop in Lakewood Ranch for an ice cream.
During their short visit, several people commented on the number of New Yorkers who call the area home. Tom made a mental note to check out the Lakewood Ranch area the next time he and his wife came back down to Florida.
Tom and Jennifer returned shortly thereafter and decided to check out Indigo. As soon as they pulled through the gates, the couple knew they had found the perfect neighborhood to call home.
“It was really almost luck, serendipity if you will,” Tom says. “I remember thinking this is really nice here and hopefully we’ll find a place, and Indigo was certainly that place. It hit us right between the eyes. It was perfect for us, and we are very, very happy.”
One day while talking to Club Indigo director Tami Prince, Tom mentioned he used to be in a band. For roughly 30 years, Tom and a few of his friends from work would get together to practice and once or twice a month would play for family and friends in the backyard.
It was the one thing Tom really missed about living in New York.
Tami suggested they put something in the community newsletter about the possibility of fellow musicians getting together for some light playing and jamming. Around the same time, Bill and Ken moved onto Tom’s street. The two were both around Tom’s age and had a similar taste in music.
The three neighbors, who all sing and play guitar, started getting together once a week for practice. Before long, three hours would go by as Tom, Bill and Ken got caught up in their music.
“It wasn’t too long, within a week or two, before we realized we sounded pretty good,” says Tom. “We kept moving forward and got to the point where we would be okay playing in front of people.”
On June 23, The Blue Pelicans played in public for the first time during Indigo’s community social. The band received rave reviews from their fellow neighbors.
“We are gaining confidence in leaps and bounds and are amazed at how good we are beginning to sound together,” the band says.
Since then, Tami has encouraged the band to play for an hour or an hour-and-a-half during Indigo’s weekly Wine Down Wednesday get together.
Right now, The Blue Pelicans feature a trio of guitar players, but the group is hoping to add some percussion to the mix in the coming months. Tom’s good friend and neighbor bought a set of drums and is currently taking drum lessons.
“We’re very hopeful that in two months or so he’ll be able to jump in and play with us,” Tom says.
While the band has dabbled with writing its own music, The Blue Pelicans are content playing the music they grew up listening to, specifically the Beatles and the Eagles, and is well known among Indigo’s residents.
At this point, The Blue Pelicans are welcome to other members of the community joining the band. Eventually, the band has plans to play during Open Mic Night at Naughty Monk brewery in Lakewood Ranch.
“We really enjoy the camaraderie and the opportunity to relieve our youth,” the band says. “It fits along with the blend of lifestyle that exists in this community, so we feel comfortable playing for our own kind. We don’t have to impress anyone and can just have fun. We hope it will entice people who have similar interests to join our community.”