Larry Downtown Brown
Blues Saxophone, Songwriter
Born: Southeast AL
James Rushton “Rusty” McHugh, III was a talented songwriter and musician whose body of work gained thousands of fans from all over the world.
From his first band days with The Fish Camp Band in his hometown of LaGrange, Georgia, Rusty proved his songwriting abilities with a style and flair that stood out from the normal. The Fish Camp Band had a huge following and even opened for Johnny Paycheck during his, “Take This Job & Shove It” tour.
After several years with The Fish Camp Band, Rusty packed up his VW Thing, loaded up Barnie, his St. Bernard, and he and best friend Ray Tweed headed for Florida. Rusty played in Panama City & Ft. Walton Beach and ended up at the FloraBama Lounge & Package, on the line of Florida and Alabama. With Fish Camp guitar player Mike Fincher joining him, Rusty played the FloraBama for more than a decade.
Mike Fincher died in 2002 and good friend Downtown Larry Brown, stepped in to keep the music going. Friend Ricky Rayburn joined the band, along with Mark LaBorde on bass. The band continued to be a huge draw for the FloraBama, with fans planning their beach vacations around Rusty’s shows.
In early 2004, Rusty was diagnosed with cancer. He underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments and was unable to sing for the first six months of 2004. Ricky Rayburn, Larry Brown, and Mark LaBorde continued the tradition of music with occasional help from The Skins Doctor, Steve Picou.
Rusty returned to the stage in July, 2004, welcomed back by over 300 fans. He continued to play until Hurricane Ivan hit the Gulf Coast in September, 2004, destroying the FloraBama.
Good friends Pam Fortner & Earl Bernardt opened the doors to one of their bars, The Tropical Isle, on the corner of Bourbon & Toulouse Streets in New Orleans to the band and gave them continued and constant work until Rusty was no longer able to perform in January, 2005. Friends Nick Branch and Zack Taylor joined the band and even long-time friend David Stumpff performed during this time.
On February 14, 2005, Rusty and wife Millie made a final trip to Jamaica, their favorite spot. Rusty passed away the day after their return, February 21, 2005.
Rusty’s wish was to be cremated and a portion of his ashes scattered in Negril, Jamaica. Millie and a group of close friends traveled to Negril in 2005 and scattered Rusty’s ashes from the cliffs at Negril’s lighthouse. A memorial marker is located in Bayview Cemetery in Pensacola, on Scenic Highway (Hwy 90 East). Below is a link to the marker site — please feel free to leave thoughts and flowers on this site.
The band continues to perform on special occasions and the FloraBama hosts an annual memorial party for Rusty each year. During the FloraBama’s Frank Brown International Songwriter’s Festival, a tribute night is held in Rusty’s honor.
Check the Products page for cds and song bytes. This website is being rebuilt, so please be patient with me — pictures and more info will be added as time allows.-Millie McHugh