Beachbilly Lifestyle' born on Perdido Key, now a national brand and Amazon Prime show

Josh Brown was once in a boy band. Now, the long-haired, bearded fella with the easy going, but energetic nature, is a Beachbilly. Part beach bum, part hillbilly. Hey, it's a living. Seriously, Brown is a professional beachbilly.

He's also made it a lifestyle.

Brown, 44, is the founder/creator of Beachbilly Lifestyle, a lifestyle brand born on Perdido Key that has transformed in a bigtime business with lots of merchandise and even a high-production show, "Beachbilly Lifestyle," that is available for streaming on Amazon Prime.

The show, originated as a YouTube series, shows Brown, his wife, Jessika, and three sons living the Beachbilly Lifestyle, with episodes showing the family's adventures from extracting honey with a Perdido Key beekeeper to fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. Some of the first season's episodes feature Brown visiting other locales, including the Everglades where he tangled with pythons, and Nashville where he visited for the recording of the "Beachbilly Lifestyle" theme song.

Born in Mississippi and raised in Louisiana, Brown came to the area when his family uprooted on his 18th birthday moving to Lillian, Alabama, just across the state line from Perdido Key. Standing 6 feet 4 inches, Brown said he was kind of a jock and a "preppy" during his teenage years, and was even the "Bad Boy" in a boy band while a student at the University of Mobile, where he met Jessika.

Brown said he wasn't really the academic type.

"You know how once you get past about sixth grade it stops saying 'Math" on your book and says 'Geometry' or 'Algebra' instead? I was in college and mine still just said 'Math,'" he quipped.

He dropped out but continued with the boy band for a bit.
Now, he's a beachbilly businessman with a wife of 22 years and three children, Logan, 20, Lukas, 16 and Lex, 12. After the death of his parents to cancer, Brown and his family bought some land near Naval Air Station Pensacola's back gate.

He got together some chickens and a coop, had a little garden, and started living a more rural lifestyle, while the family spent a lot of time on Perdido Key enjoying the beach during off time.

"I grew vegetables before, but I never raised chickens and didn't know what I was doing," Brown said while hanging at his favorite Perdido Key spot, the Perdido Key Sports Bar & Restaurant, where his own signature burger, "The Beachbilly Burger," is on the menu. "One time, this older gentleman came out and was helping me out some and he said, 'I love how you live. You live like a bunch of hillbillies on the beach.' I even had a surfboard leaning against the chicken coop and that phrase ‒ hillbillies at the beach ‒ just stuck in my head. I couldn't stop thinking about it."

The YouTube series came first a few years back, with Brown showing the transformation to living more off the grid. There were videos on raising chickens, growing tomatoes in sandy soil and more.

But he eventually decided to go all in on the Beachbilly Lifestyle, launching numerous company-branded shirts, hats, stickers and more that are available at a few locations on Perdido Key as well as online.

He's cut back on the garden, goats and rabbits he once had. With a professional production team and a growing brand, he's spending more and more time on marketing, sales and the show.

"I'd like it to really be the next 'Salt Life' or something like that," he said. "When once a hobby and a fun little YouTube channel has turned into a business."

At Perdido Key Sports Bar & Restaurant his "Beachbilly Burger" recently went on the menu. The more hillbilly side of the half-pound burger features, Brown said, "a ton of bacon," while the beach aspect of the burger features a seared pineapple with a sweet barbecue sauce.

The sports bar and restaurant has been one of Brown's biggest supporters, he said. In the T-shirt case at the joint, there are almost as many "Beachbilly" shirts of various variety for sale as there are shirts for the actual business.

Down the street, at Perdido Key Souvenirs & More, there is even more "Beachbilly Lifestyle" merchandise, and the television plays a loop of the eight-episode program.

"We love him," said B.B. Bagnato, who works at the souvenir shop. "When he comes in with his personality, it just uplifts me. And the (Beachbilly Lifestyle) merchandise is popular. We just had two people from Kentucky come in and said they just had to have a shirt. I explain to them about 'Beachbilly Lifestyle' and Josh and the show. The merchandise speaks for itself. It's awesome and helps put Perdido Key on the map."

While Bagnato was talking, Brown was in the back of the store, underneath the television that was showing his adventure in the Everglades, chatting up a married couple from Orange Beach who were into the "Beachbilly Lifestyle" gear, even though they knew nothing about the show.

He found out that they have a beach friend named "Billy" that they wanted to get a shirt for. He gifted it to them, telling Bagnato that he would replace it.

"Just watch one episode," he asked of the couple. "Even a half episode. If you don't like it, that's OK too."

Tammy Thurow, president of the Perdido Key Area Chamber of Commerce, said Brown's promotion of the Key "is wonderful. He's a true representative of Perdido Key."

She said that at a board retreat, a question was asked of the board members ‒ "If Perdido Key was a person, what would that person look like?''

A majority said Brown, while a few older ones said Flora-Bama legend Pat McClellan.

"Josh just looks the part," she said. "He's Perdido."

Brown said he is proud to be part of the community.

"Beachbilly Lifestyle is a community brand," he said. "Perdido Key has given me everything I have. I love Perdido Key and Pensacola. I just want to be a positive force for the region."

Though he didn't truly discover his more rural side until he came to the Gulf Coast, Brown said the country life is part of him, though he associates more with the "beach" side of beachbilly.

"My Dad was a Southern Baptist preacher born in Monkey's Eyebrow, Kentucky, and raised 10 minutes south in Possum Trot," Brown said. "I love to tell that story."

He said Beachbilly Lifestyle merchandise is selling nationwide.

"When we go out to Johnson's Beach and walking through the packed parking lots, I see license plates from Kentucky, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Texas, Mississippi, Georgia and all over,'' he said. "I'm like, these are all beachbillies too. They're people that live in the Southeast who love the country life, but they save up once a year to come here and live the beach lifestyle. They might not have seen the show, but they understand the Beachbilly Lifestyle."