NEW PORT RICHEY — Facing his first re-election challenge since 2000, Tax Collector Mike Olson was pondering how to raise money for his campaign. Barbecue? No. Been there, done that. Then he remembered his old saxophone he had played in the Gulf High School marching band. He got it out of a closet and squeaked out a few notes.
"It sounded like I was in sixth grade again," said Olson, 67. That was in July. Now the man who wants a ninth term as Pasco's tax man is inviting supporters to see him as the sax man.
Hey, it worked for presidential candidate and fellow Democrat Bill Clinton, who donned dark glasses and belted out Heartbreak Hotel on the sax during the Arsenio Hall Show in 1992.
After spending months "torturing" his family, Olson has planned a concert and jam session from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Bishop McLaughlin Catholic High School, 13651 Hays Road, Hudson.
"Rockin' Back the Clock" will feature rock, oldies, pop and country and includes many of Olson's former band mates. Singer-impressionist John Timpanelli has also agreed to perform. On the play list: Yakety Sax (the opening theme to the Benny Hill Show) as well as Tijuana Taxi and Peppermint Twist.
"It's kind of a rock-slash-variety show," Olson said.
Olson said the event's become more than a way to get his name out. It has given him an opportunity to relive his glory days.
"I've just always loved folk music," he said, recalling his musical roots.
His mother played the church organ, and Olson learned to play piano at age 5. At age 8, he took up the sax and later played in the Gulf High Buccaneer Band. As a teenager he played in various dance bands, too.
One group, the Capris, played during the summer at the Satellite Motel near Cape Canaveral.
"You could hear rockets going off in the middle of the night," said Olson, who, at 18, was so young he wasn't allowed in bars except while he was playing.
His Republican opponent, retired Tampa Electric executive Ed Blommel, said he'll do the voters a favor and stay off the musical stage.
His pick for a fundraiser?
A barbecue at Hungry Harry's Famous Bar-B-Que lake house. With live music provided by the band Stone Grey.
"I think I'd make more money if I promised not to sing or play anything," Blommel said jokingly.