Pete Shackett is honored at a Madeira Beach City Commission meeting for his original song “Grouper Republic,” which was named the official city song. Making the presentation is Vice Mayor Robin Vander Velde.
MADEIRA BEACH – The branding of Madeira Beach continues, with a new identifying logo, signs and banners now being joined by … an official city song.
The “Grouper Republic” is music with a Florida beach feel, according to singer and composer Pete Shackett, who originally wrote the song in 1987. It took another 25 years for Shackett and the city of Madeira Beach to enter into a licensing agreement that will permit “Grouper Republic” to be used “in the promotion of the city for tourism, relocation, business and other general purposes.”
Vice Mayor Robin Vander Velde initiated the city song idea.
The dedication of the song was done at the Jan. 8 City Commission meeting, where Shackett gave his official permission for its use by the city.
Shackett said he came up with the idea for “Grouper Republic” when he was approached by Mike Hubbard, the oldest child of fishing icon Wilson Hubbard (Hubbard’s Marina) “many years ago.”
“Mike asked me, ‘Why don’t you write a song about the area?’” Shackett recalled. “I recorded the first version at my house on a little cassette,” he said.
Shackett said Mike Hubbard was crying when he heard it. Hubbard had said it brought some amazing memories and “helped bring that whole thing to life.”
Fishing, the city’s original reason for being, dominates the song’s message. The music is a ballad with a tropical, Jimmy Buffett-style sound. Shackett played with Buffett on occasion.
The song speaks of fishermen who go out for days and weeks because “it takes a ton of fish just to make ends meet.” They “trade some of themselves for their catch, with every set and cast.”
“People come by thousands to romance the sun, head boats take ’em for a charter run. The big one got away but the memories will always stay.”
The impact of the condo age is touched on. “They buy and sell condos the outcome’s ignored, locals learn to live with that double edged sword,” the lyrics go on to say. “But that’s the price for paradise, that’s what they say.”
The fisherman’s life is not always smooth sailing.
“They load up their boats try to keep it their own. They’re just holes in the water where all their money is thrown,” the lyrics go on. The song concludes, “They’ll fish that Grouper Republic ’til their dyin’ day.”
Mayor Travis Palladeno proclaimed Grouper Republic “pretty amazing.” A charter boat captain, Palladeno recalled that his first grouper was caught on one of Hubbard’s boats.
The Hubbard’s impact on the local fishing business has been huge, Palladeno said. “Now, that name and fishing lives here forever in a new song,” he said.