The Story Behind Flora-Bama's License Plate Mural

There’s ball caps, photographs, dollar bills, and bras
License plates, from every state, nailed up to the wall
- Flora-Bama,
Kenny Chesney

We had just finished presenting Flora-Bama with a 2018 Top Florida Beach Bar award and were making our way across the bar to listen to some of the bands. We don’t get to the Flora-Bama as often as we should but we’ve been enough to notice that there was a new piece of art work hanging on the wall across from the Tent Stage.

 Flora-Bama License Plate Mural. Image by David Jordan.

Flora-Bama License Plate Mural. Image by David Jordan.

It was a larger-than-life mural of license plates, literally from “every state, nailed up to the wall”. As we approached it, we noticed that the license plates were cut up and stitched back together to form the entire song of Kenny Chesney’s “Flora-Bama”.

It. Was. Impressive. 

The décor in Florida beach bars are part of what makes them so unique and gives you something to look at while you wait for your frozen bushwhacker to be made. This mural was no exception and we just stood there staring at it with so many thoughts and questions.

How much time did this take?

How did they get all of the license plates?

How much did it cost?

Luckily, David and Charlotte Jordan’s names were above their artwork so we were able to connect and get our questions answered! 

The Gift That Started It All

David and Charlotte Jordan met each other almost 27 years ago on August 28 and then on October 17 of the same year, they got married.

One year for Mother’s Day and to celebrate Charlotte’s graduation from nursing school, David wanted to do something special.

“At the time, my daughter and Charlotte were listening to this young guy that was singing some pretty cool songs about tractors and stuff.  So I bought two tickets for Walnut Creek, North Carolina in the early 2000’s. We drove up and my goodness!  It occurred to us really quick that he was a very talented guy that had it going on.”

 David and Charlotte at A Kenny Show In Gillette Stadium. Image by David Jordan.

David and Charlotte at A Kenny Show In Gillette Stadium. Image by David Jordan.

Kenny Chesney’s shows have helped them plan long weekends to cities they haven’t been to and they’ve met many great people, all over the country, that they now consider good friends.

Since that concert almost two decades ago, they’ve been to a lot of Kenny shows. Charlotte recalls one of her favorite concerts…

“One of my favorites was at the amphitheater in Atlanta. He was still fairly new on the scene, but was amazing and he brought the Georgia Tech marching band out on stage. Little did we know, his momma was sitting right in front of us.“

I Go Back

In late June 2008, they traveled to a show at Heinz field.  By then, they’ve been to a lot of his concerts but this time, Charlotte wanted to try to get something autographed. On David’s car, he had a personalized tag that said “I Go Back”, which is a song Kenny wrote on his tour bus.  So they took it off his car and went to the show.

 David Gives Kenny a License Plate Mural. Image By DAvid Jordan.

David Gives Kenny a License Plate Mural. Image By DAvid Jordan.

At the end of the concert, I just kind of raised it up in the air and it caught Kenny’s eye,” said David. “He came over and asked if it was for him or if I wanted him to sign it. I told him that I didn’t think he’d want it. He said he did…so I gave it to him.”

From then on, David and Charlotte started spending a “ridiculous amount of money” buying personalized license plates for their trailers, only to give them away to Kenny at his shows. Some of the plates you may have seen in his music videos, some on his website, and they have put the last six tour names on Florida plates that they’ve given to him.

“If you bought his new album, Songs for the Saints, open up the booklet and you might be as surprised as we were.”

Made With Love For The Flora-Bama

They remember waiting for iTunes to release the album The Big Revival in September of 2014. When they heard the song Flora-Bama, it caught their attention and they had an idea when they heard the lyric “license plates, from every state, nailed up to the wall.”

“Right when I heard that, this idea came to us to cut up license plates and do the lyrics to Flora-Bama. By then we had collected about 200 license plates. If we didn’t have a letter we needed, we’d find a way to substitute with pictures that would represent the word or we’d flip numbers upside down to make a letter.”

 License Plate Storage Area. Image By David Jordan.

License Plate Storage Area. Image By David Jordan.

To reduce the cost, they tried to find license plates at flea markets, on Ebay, or through other various sellers around the country.  It was a labor of love as they cut out the letters by hand using tin sheers and started to lay the lyrics out on 16 pieces of cypress wood that was cut in Florida. 

After almost 3 months and 2500 self tapping screws, they had arranged 1200 words using over 300 license plates in a garage that was no longer able to store their cars. 

They had never been to the Flora-Bama before but their goal all along was to build this mural for this iconic Florida beach bar.

“We got on a ladder and took a big picture of it. We never had a Twitter account before this, so we tweeted it to Flora-Bama and Blue Chair Bay Rum. A week goes by and one of the Flora-Bama social media managers reached out and said that the owner saw the art and wants to know if you want to display it here.”

They couldn’t believe it.

 Hanging. The Mural at the Flora-Bama. Image By David Jordan.

Hanging. The Mural at the Flora-Bama. Image By David Jordan.

They disassembled the mural into 3 separate pieces, put it in their short bed pickup truck and headed up to the Flora-Bama in Pensacola. 

John McInnis III, one of the owners, met them there and they were honored when he asked them to pick out a place where it should go. They walked around for 45 minutes and found a special spot for it. After it was hung up on the wall, John had a light installed to highlight it.

“It was a heart warming experience to say the least. Since then, we’ve come to know John and his wife and all of the staff. They are absolutely amazing human beings. Their love and kindness to us has been overwhelming. We love those people.”

A Humbling Experience

Prior to making this mural, David and Charlotte had never done anything even remotely like this. Since this experience, they have created license plate murals of four other full songs, including lyrics to One Love for the Marley family.

But don’t think that this small amount of fame has gone to their heads. One night, David and Charlotte were walking around Flora-Bama and had a humbling experience.

“We were at the Flora-Bama and of course, we gotta walk by the mural,” says David. “So we’re standing there and this couple stops by it. The woman turns to the man and says…

‘Wow, would you look at that.’

She is clearly enamored with it and is looking over every detail.  Then the man responds to her by saying…

‘Looks like a guy with too much time on his hands.’

We started laughing so hard.”

See You At Church

If you get the chance to make it to the Flora-Bama (and we hope you do), we hope you take some time to see this mural up close.

 David and Charlotte By the Mural. Image By David Jordan.

David and Charlotte By the Mural. Image By David Jordan.

With a love for the Flora-Bama and Kenny Chesney, David and Charlotte are our kind of people and it was a pleasure getting to know them.

As they shared stories of the Flora-Bama, they told us something that we found to be perfect…

“There’s a lot of great beach bars but there’s only one world famous Flora-Bama...They even have church service there and if we lived closer, we’d go to church every Sunday.”

Amen.

To contact David and Charlotte, please email davidjordan22@aol.com.

 
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