From Key West, FL to Marietta, PA:
Meet Me in the Keys & my CD Release Party
By Dani Hoy
Waking up to a rooster crowing nearly every morning, when you’re not used to it, is a sure way for you to know you’re someplace different. You stumble out of bed, plant your feet on the floor and go in search of ibuprofen and strong coffee. How much fun did I have last night? Must have been a lot. (My apologies to anyone if I misremember or gloss over any important details.)
June 14th, around 11:30am, our 737 landed in the Conch Republic. My good friend J9, and I were here to participate in Meet Me in the Keys, a fundraising event for KOA Care Camps hosted by the Southernmost Coconut Castaways. This Keys-based club is an extension of Howard Livingston’s group of fans and friends from Iowa and was attended by the man himself, along with Cyndy, his lovely wife he affectionately calls “Cinderella,” and many other fine folk.
My “job” was to play the Meet and Greet that night, but our first stop was to hang out with John Friday at the Smokin’ Tuna. We had fun playing to the small group there and hamming it up for the Tuna Cam. After many previous Facebook chats, I finally met Key West Chris Rehm when he dropped by with his two lovely hounds. After a bit of Sam Adams and Ceviche, we scooted over to the DoubleTree for sound check (thanks for the use of your PA, Chris!) and the Meet and Greet from 6-8pm.
Marc and Tammy Hollander, and all of the Castaways, were a great audience and so much fun! Captain Josh, John Friday, Loren Davidson and a few other performers were there as they were playing over the weekend, too. The really cool thing for me was, after my gig and a few announcements, plus a song by Captain Ron, Howie came up to speak and play a few songs. Who’s guitar did he use? Mine, of course! For a lighter travel footprint, I brought a ¾ size Martin LXME. On me, it fits. On the guys, it looks like a toy. However, Howie played his wonderful songs on it, including “Meet Me in the Keys,” and proved that (wait for it), size doesn’t matter!
The following day there was a pool party and a beautiful fashion show featuring comfy, flowing outfits by Keykers. During the pool party, music was performed by Captain Josh, Jim Hoehn, John Friday, Loren Davidson, Paul Roush, C.W. Colt, and Thom Shepherd. After popping in to see the Barry Cuda show at B.O.’s, we caught Thom again, as he was appearing all week at the Tuna. Coley McCabe, a beautiful singer with wonderful music projects of her own, joined him on stage for a couple of songs such as “In Spite of Ourselves.” Thom blew quite a few strings over the weekend and, when one of his B-strings came apart, I lent him my mini guitar while I restrung the B on his. Tom got a lot of laughter when he asked, “Does this guitar make me look fat?” A few other musicians jumped up to do a number and, when Thom asked me to do one, I played “Meet Me on the Boardwalk.”
Saturday was a glorious, steamy day. After a dip in the pool at Casa 325 Guesthouse, we did a little shopping, then ended up at Artist Koz’s Green World Gallery. Captain Josh performed, and then I joined Jim Hoehn and Paul Roush for a little “round robin” on guitar in front of a great audience and the web cam. Later, we were back at the Smokin’ Tuna for more Thom Shepherd. He does a wonderful show, playing favorites like “Parrothead” and the hit song he wrote, “Riding with Private Malone.” He also performed “Djibouti,” which he wrote to entertain the soldiers when he visited there. This time, he was joined on stage by the lovely Gina Maseratti, a local celebrity.
After a brief downpour, Howard Livingston and Mile Marker 24 hit the stage. In my opinion, you can’t beat a horn band for creating a big sound and they really blew us away. The other thing that blew me away was the appearance of the Johnson outboard motor/margarita maker. After a vigorous auction, a generous bidder spent $4,000 for that first margarita. As I mentioned earlier, this was a charity event and the money went to the pool, collected over the weekend. The Castaways raised over $10,000 for the KOA Care Camps.
Sunday dawned, another beautiful day. (Dawn? Did I say, “Dawn?” Never got up that early!) After breakfast at Pepe’s, J9 and I meandered over to Schooner’s Wharf to catch some Michael McCloud. We then headed to Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar, for more fun with the Castaways. The crown of the evening was the Sunset Cruise on the Fury catamaran. Thom Shepherd played for the cruisers while we noshed on snacks, and sipped champagne and margaritas. I played “TropiGal” during the inevitable string break. Later, Chris Rehm, Loren Davidson, Captain Josh, Jim Hoehn and Captain Ron also each did a song or two. I’m pretty sure Loren did “Pirate Vacation.” With the champagne and margaritas flowing, I vaguely remember him whipping out a bandana. Arr!
Monday came, and it was time to go. After a queasy breakfast of coffee and a fiber bar, we packed and made hasty preparations to mail some booty and swag home. J9 won a wall-plaque created by one of the castaways and commemorates the Howard Livingston and Mile Marker 24 experience. I had a huge box of recently purchased cozies and t-shirts to get home. Marc Hollander (with thanks to Tammy for letting us “borrow him”) was kind enough to drive us to the UPS Store and Post Office. After he dropped us off, we made one last stop at Margaritaville, had a real meal and said, “see ya later” to Chris Rehm and his dogs. The plane flight home was fairly uneventful and I arrived home to temps in the 70’s and a fine rain. For the first time in five days I was cold.
Meet Me in the Keys was a great experience for me, and I highly recommend to anyone, to attend next year.
Original Article from WNYTheShore