Born and raised in Vilano Beach, J. Lee Driskell is a woman of many talents: A musician, a potter, a surfer and a pilot. These are just a few of the titles that one could use to describe Driskell. But for many of those who know her, she’s an inspiration.
“J. Lee is always game for anything,” says close friend and fellow musician Jacob Hamilton. “She makes and sells pottery to support her ‘living life to the fullest’ habit and her music habit. She also surfs better than me.”
Driskell’s mom, the late Carol Lee Slater Driskell, was one of the first female surfers in Florida in the early ’60s.
“She surfed her whole life — even two days before she tragically had a massive stroke and passed away,” says Driskell of her mom. “She was my very best friend and losing her changed my life forever. She was the most amazing person I’ve ever known, and the most fun.”
The apple didn’t fall far from the tree. In the late ’90s and early 2000s, Driskell tried her hand at competitive surfing and was ranked the East Coast Champion for both the Eastern Surfing Association and National Scholastic Surfing Association.
“I had the highest scoring wave at the East Coast Championships of all contestants — male and female — with three 10s and a 9.5,” says Driskell. “I was third in the U.S. Championships, an ESA All-Star and regional champion in Puntarenas, Costa Rica.”
Surfing has taken Driskell all over the world including the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, California, Mexico, Australia and Tahiti.
Unfortunately, Driskell hasn’t been able to surf over the past year due to a torn ACL from a mechanical bull accident.
That has left the 38-year-old Crescent Beach resident with more time to focus on her music and pottery.
“My mom was an awesome artist and potter. Her imagination was unbelievable,” says Driskell. “I inherited her pottery business after she passed away 10 years ago. I still do some of her designs. She left me many gifts, and still does.”
Driskell’s pottery can be found locally at Simple Gestures and at various locations along the East Coast from Key West to Tennessee.
In addition to pottery, there is a lot of music running through Driskell’s veins. This is made evident by the half-dozen or so musical projects that she’s currently involved in around town.
“I started playing my grandmothers piano at age 4,” she remembers. “Both of my parents played guitar and they bought me my first electric guitar when I was 11. They bought me a saxophone after that, but one day I came home from school and it had been traded in for some conga drums. I was terrible at the sax.”
Today, Driskell’s main instrument is keyboard. Back in her formative years in St. Augustine, she played in bands with Tony and Danny Lippi (of ’80s cover band, Papercutt) — particularly Destroy, which covered Weezer songs.
“I learned to play professionally from Soulo Lyons,” she says. “And now I play with bands and musicians like Night Nurse, Kenny and the Jets, Pili Pili, Grant Paxton and I just started playing with Aslyn Baringer and Jim Quine, which I’m really excited about.”
When Driskell isn’t spreading her musical talents all over town, she can be found fishing, traveling, riding dirt bikes in the mountains and hanging out with friends. You better believe that this musician isn’t wasting a single minute.
Instead, she’s living life to the fullest.
J. Lee Driskell plays from 9 p.m. to midnight every Sunday at Odd Birds. She will also be performing with Kenny and the Jets at 8 p.m. Saturday at Shanghai Nobby’s.