Steve Mathison and John Whittles are partners in their Palm Beach Gardens law practice by day, but they also share a lifelong passion for music. Mathison will play with an eclectic mix of guest musicians at Spoto’s Oyster Bar in PGA Commons this season, while Whittles plays in an all-lawyer, hard rock cover band.
Q: How did you get into music?
John: I started playing guitar when I was about 11 years old, and played through high school and in college and when I was in law school. It was the best way to relieve stress and have an outlet.
Steve: I would echo that. It’s our peace. After spending time with our family, it’s our peace.
Q: What happens when you play together, since you have very different styles?
John: I turn down. Steve turns up.
Steve: I think that sums it up. I play a lot more piano now, so it helps the mix between the instruments.
Q: Guitar, piano, do you play anything else?
Steve: In third grade, at North Palm Beach Elementary, a man came into our classroom and said if anybody wants to get one hour out of class after lunch, come to the cafeteria. I was the biggest kid that came in the cafeteria, so he gave me the string bass. He got me in the union at age 14, where I played at the Royal Poinciana Playhouse in the pit orchestra with him and his other union musicians until I got out of high school. The $50 a night was wonderful, but the experience was priceless.
Carol Channing, Robert Goulet, all the great Broadway stars would come down in the winters and play.
Q: Growing up here, how have you seen the landscape of Palm Beach Gardens and north county change over the years?
John: I remember when Indiantown Road was two lanes. There was one Publix off by the beach (in Jupiter) that had just been built. The way people described it then it was like this great frontier, because it was so hard to get to. The good thing is that north county has retained a lot of its great character. That’s due to careful planning and good stewardship from the elected officials.
Q: You’re representing Avenir (a proposed 4,763-acre mixed-use development), and a lot of people are worried about how that might affect Palm Beach Gardens.
Steve: Avenir provides an opportunity for the future. The opportunity is to create a tremendous employment opportunity, for example, for my son, who’s coming back from Georgia Tech as an engineer, and others to raise their family in environments where you can have your home, you’ll have an employment center, you’ll have cultural activities. They’re actually working on a community garden concept, which is a wonderful, healthy lifestyle for people.
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