‘Two Hands’ Joseph Particska – Never Give Up

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We are fortunate here on Fort Myers Beach to have so many talented musicians to entertain us, with stories as varied as the grains of sand on our beautiful beach. Some grew up here, some ended up here and some came via a long and winding road involving many trials and triumphs. The latter is the case of Joseph ‘Two Hands’ Particska, a man born in Hungary where he first learned to play guitar from a band of Gypsies.

“I was born in the 1950’s, and I was very influenced by the American music I heard growing up,” Joseph told us. “My grandmother gave me a guitar when I was 10 years old, and I drug that thing all over the place banging on it like it was a drum. One day these three Gypsies asked to borrow it, and when they started plucking it and harmonizing, I got goose bumps! The song they played was Tom Jones’ ‘Delilah’ and it blew me away. They showed me how to tune it, and taught me how to position my fingers just right so I could play a song – ‘The House of the Rising Sun’.”

Young Joseph would practice that song over and over, as it made his mother smile. Years went by and he became a professional soccer player, which would lead him to the United States for the first time.

“I was hired to play for the Tampa Bay Rowdies, so in 1981 I came to the U.S.,” Particska told us. “They were a ruthless bunch (laughs) and I ended up breaking my ankle not long after. I wanted to stay in the States, but it’s hard to get a good job as a foreigner here who can barely speak English.”

It was then that Joseph remembered something he’d learned while in Germany awaiting passage to our country.

“I really wanted to make America my home,” he said. “I liked what I’d learned about the American military – how you can travel the world and get an education. Sure, you might get sent to a war zone, but unless you are a wuss (laughs again) that shouldn’t be a deterrent.”

Joseph entered the Air Force, making Fort Myers his home base as he’d often vacationed in our area while playing for the Rowdies.

“Back then the town ended at Page Field, with nothing much besides a couple of fruit stands until you reached Bonita Springs,” he said. “I joined the Air Force in 1985 and made Fort Myers my home of record.”

Particska’s Air Force career would last 21 years and cost him the sight in his left eye
before retirement led him back to the music he loved to play as a child.

“I started performing on Fort Myers Beach at Jimmy B’s,” he told us. “I am called ‘Two
Hands’ because I pre-record all my own back up tracks – some with my own daughter
singing harmonies – so people always asked how I could create all that music with only two
hands.”

It is this unique style that has earned Joseph many accolades and a substantial following
over the last 10 years. He now plays every Thursday from 5-8pm at the Outrigger and
Sunday afternoons at Bonita Bill’s.

“I play a lot of different kinds of songs – everything from Zeppelin to Stevie Ray Vaughn to Stevie Wonder,” he told us. “Especially for the more challenging songs, it’s much better
to play to my own recorded tracks than to a drum machine.”

As far as the future, ‘Two Hands’ says he’s perfectly happy right where he is.

“Some people take it for granted, but we really do live in paradise,” he said. “We have the best sandy beaches in the world right here. I would know, because I’ve been to beaches
all over the world. I traveled to Turkey on what was supposed to be a luxurious vacation, and the beach was brown dirt and the water was freezing. I spent six years in Italy; they have nothing close to what we have. This is my home.”

Joseph says his biggest hope is that his daughter follows in his musical footsteps.

“She joined the Air Force like I did, and I hope she continues singing, too,” he told us. “Her voice is so beautiful – when she was younger she sounded just like Olivia Newton
John.”

To those who dream of a career as a musician, Joseph says it’s all about practice.

“Everyone has their fair share of ups and downs, just don’t give up.”

To find out more about Two Hands, visit www.twohandsmusic.com.

Keri Hendry Weeg