One Wild Ride

A 1968 Pontiac GTO four-speed convertible, meeting Larry Mitchell, and then Rita Coolidge

The car pictured below is a 1968 Pontiac GTO four-speed convertible which I purchased new from Joseph Stein Motors in Asbury Par in November of 1967. The car is still in my family, now owned by my brother Mark of Tallahassee, Florida. The fellow posing with the car is Grammy-winning Blues guitarist Larry Mitchell. He was in town that day to perform a house concert at my brother’s residence to raise money for Autism awareness.

Larry Mitchell

While from Alabama, Larry has a connection to the Jersey Shore, having played the Wonder Bar in shows produced by former JSJBF board member and long-time festival MC, Lou Acevedo. He was a member of Tracey Chapman’s band and also played with Billy Squier and Ric Ocasek. He is best associated with Severn Knaggs guitars, one of which is shown in the picture.

The car has some other musical history as well, having chauffeured Johnny Maestro and the Brooklyn Bridge to a homecoming concert at LaSalle University! The GTO has been recently restored, and I was able to put it through its paces shortly before the pandemic closed everything down in February of 2020. I was visiting not only my family, but was also there to see Matt and Eryn O’Ree who I had arranged to perform at a house concert of family friends. Matt, who also owns a 1978 Firebird, got a chance to drive the car the afternoon before the show. Later that evening, I had the pleasure of sitting next to Rita Coolidge for the show. A member of the infamous “Mad Dogs and Englishman” tour with Joe Cocker as well as a successful solo career, Rita was charming and friendly as we talked music in this casual setting.

with Rita Coolidge
Matt & Eryn O’Ree, Rita Coolidge, and myself – Tom Baldino

She was kind enough to have her picture taken with Matt, Eryn and myself after the show. I have many other stories revolving around the car, but those are for another time.