Archive for the Trop Rock Happenings Category

Richard Crooks A.K.A. Father Time

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However, Richard was always the most professional player I’ve played with. Before we recorded my album, I gave everyone who was going to play on it an acoustic demo that I recorded, so that they could learn the songs. Now mind you, the entire crew were first rate musicians. When we got into the studio, more often than not it became a musician saying to me “Woh! Wait a minute, what the hell did the song do there?” to which I replied “I gave you the demo recording, and the chord sheet that went along with it. Didn’t you listen to it? Then they would say “Well, I was thinking your stuff was like that other Trop Rock guy……” and I would reply “No, my stuff isn’t like his or anyone else’s. My stuff has chord changes that are not the norm. They go off the beaten path, but manage to flow quite naturally.  That’s why I took the time and money to record and give you the recording and lyric/ chord charts, so you wouldn’t be learning the damn song in the friggin’ studio.”

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Here’s an amazing thing about Richard Crooks. When we were finished with the rhythm tracks, (Bubba Low Notes, played the bass at the San Carlos Institute sessions along with Richard, by the way!), we went back to the studio to prepare for the other instruments, that would be added to the rhythm tracks. As it appears on the grid on the computer, there are the sound waves and every few inches there are vertical lines. These are the exact points of where the beat lies. As humans, no one is perfect. Inevitably, a musician is either a touch in front of the beat, or a touch behind the beat here and there on occasion. The engineer will move it digitally to compensate for the error. I’m talking about drums, however this can happen with all instruments.

My life long friend, Vintz McKeon, came to Key West a few years back. Vintz and I had been in bands together until I left New Jersey and moved to Florida when I was twenty one. Vincent is an extraordinary drummer, based in New Jersey, not too far from NYC and is in the city very often catching music shows of all sorts of genres over the years. From the Allman Brothers, to Charles Mingus, to The Band, to Tower of Power, to James Taylor, to Miles Davis. He’s also active, playing with a band named “The Harmony Brothers” for the last several years. When Vintz heard Richard, he was in awe.

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(“Island Blue” featuring Richard Crooks on drums)

Guitarist Larry Baeder mentioned to me the day after Richard’s passing that the entire music fraternity in New York City was mourning. I can tell you that so is the one in Key West.

Key West is so grateful you chose to be part of this island.

My most sincere condolences go out to his wonderful wife Nina and his entire family.

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To obtain my music:

My CD is available on iTunes, CD Baby, CD Universe, Rhapsody, and Beachfront Radio.
Search: Key West Chris

Thank you everyone!!

 

Article source: http://keywestmusic.blogspot.com/2014/12/richard-crooks-aka-father-time.html

Happy Merry Christmas From Key West!

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Happy Merry Christmas From Key West!

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The end result is a very fun recording and we’re offering it for sale for less than a dollar!!! 













Article source: http://keywestmusic.blogspot.com/2014/12/happy-merry-christmas-from-key-west.html

In The Presence of Greatness

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Article source: http://keywestmusic.blogspot.com/2014/12/in-presence-of-greatness-as-performers.html

MOTM Part 3 and MUST DO’s in Key West!

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Later that evening we headed over to The Bull where Kelly McGuire was playing and hosting the Atlanta Parrot Head event there. Lots of friends were there as well! Key West / NJ resident and pal Beth Schreier (she was also at Schooner! She gets around!), Dianna Greenfield Christ, Pablo Heins, Art Hessen, Darlene Hessen, Jeff Lange, Debbie Simmons, Lee Simmons, Micki Greer, Fred Wunder, Rich McGuire, Michelle Tafoya, Brian Fields, …the list went on and on! A typical Bull evening too! Lots and lots of laughs all night long!

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Complements to Mike Miller for organizing this great event!

Mr. Andy Westcott playing for the Hugo Duarte fundraiser at Captain Tony’s

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(Sam Rainwater)


MUST DO’s IN KEY WEST

On an odd note, at the aforementioned Sunday event at Captain Tony’s, Dani and I started off with a song of mine, “Sailing”. Before we started I got on the mic and asked how many people in the house had been out on the water since they’ve been here? No one raised their hands. I thought maybe no one heard me, so I asked again. Again nothing. So I said “No one’s been out on the water?”. Nothing. We went on with our set and all went great and we were well received!

“SAILING” 

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Thanks!

Article source: http://keywestmusic.blogspot.com/2014/11/motm-part-3.html

MOTM 2014 Part 2

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Key West Chris

Article source: http://keywestmusic.blogspot.com/2014/11/motm-2014-part-2.html

Key West! The MOTM Adventure 2014 Part 2!

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Key West Chris

Article source: http://keywestmusic.blogspot.com/2014/11/motm-2014-part-2.html

Fantasy Fest/MOTM Part 1

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MOTM 2014  Part 1
The last two weeks ave been beyond busy! We were busy throughout Fantasy Fest and MOTM. Fantasy Fest Tuesday and Wednesday Dani and I played The Bull’s late night gig 10 – 2 What a hoot that was! The place was packed all night long with people in various costumes, plus a few with body paint.

Fantasy Fest is a great festival. Naturally the body paint folks get the main publicity from it all, however in reality, they only compromise maybe about 15% of the crowd.


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Dani Hoy and John Sausser at The Bull

The Shanty Hounds had their weekly Saturday gig at The Hen and Hound, on Angela Street, just in from Duval St. and we made it a Welcome to Key West gig for some of our out of town friends, who arrived in time for the Fantasy Fest Parade, later that evening!

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Art and Darlene Hessen arrived from Georgia along with their friends Lee and Debbie Simmons. What a great way to travel to Key West!  Dave and Audrey Overholt in from Ohio, Tim and Angela Cordts came from just a few Keys up, Naval Airstation at Boca Chica Key and Tim sat in with is playing harp! They live on their sailboat at the marina there. Talk about living the good life!

We had a “Welcome To MOTM” BBQ party at our place on Sunday. A stellar crowd again at our home, what we call “the Conch Rock Shanty” too! Michelle Tofoya and Brian Fields from Alburquerque, Patty and Rick Holden from New Jersey, Micki Greer from Tennesee, Fred Wunder from Pittsburg, Audrey and Dave Overholt from Ohio, and Shanty Hound percussionist John Sausser and Terri Wlaschin, recent arrivals to Key West from Maryland.

A BBQ is our standard welcome party here at the Conch Rock Shanty and this followed in the tradition. I think it’s fair to say that a marvenous time was had by all! If you come to Key West, let us know and we’ll throw a BBQ! (we’re just looking for an excuse to throw party!)


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The next day we were off to Key Largo, 100 miles (162 km)  up the Keys, for the 7th annual Pit Stop Party, with our friends Brian and Michelle from New Mexico!  This would be an over night excursion and we wanted to make it an adventure. To make things easier on us all, we let our dogs Cajun and Tooloulou drive while we sat in the back and enjoyed the scenic drive through the Keys, which by the way, is always rated in the top ten most scenic drives in the United States.

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On the way down, someone posted in facebook that they got a speeding ticket rushing to Key West.

Wow. rushing to Key West. Now there’s a prime example of someone who is in a mainland mentality. Hey! You’re in the Keys. Relax. You don’t rush to get anywere here. Leave that “got to get there” mentality back in Pittsburg, Atlanta, Newyork, L.A…. what have you. If the speed limit in the Keys is 45, go 45… or 40, for that matter. The I rushed to get here so I can relax” theory is just flat out wrong.

Before I moved here I lived in a town called Cutler Bay, which was about 36 miles to Key Largo. I used to head to the Keys quite often and whenever I crossed that border line at the Last Chance Saloon in Florida City, where the Conch Republic starts, it was as if a large weight lifted off my shoulders. The pressures of day to day life were now released and I just relaxed. On the 18 mile streatch ( the drive through the Everglades between Florida City and Key Largo, the speed limit is 55. I’d go 55 but it seemed there was always someone who had to rush to the Keys come up behind me. Here’s the usual look on their face:

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Now is that the mindset you want to be in when you’re in the the Keys? Of course not! Leave the rushing around back at your front door when you leave. Or at lease when you cross the border to the Conch Republic.

Come to the Keys, relax and chill. You’re on Island Time!

The Pit Stop Party was a blast! They had a new location this year and it turned out, dogs were not allowed! Holy Crap! Well, in the end they were kind enough to let us stay in the back area, which was cool with us! We hung out with Harry Teaford and Billy Bob of Radio A1A! How cool is that? They play our music and also air our pod cast shows “The Key West Music Show – Conch Rockin in the Keys” and “Key West Beer Tales – The Sum of all Beers” Now that’s what I call good company! Great hanging with you guys!

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What a beautiful setting too!
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An all day event, with many performers, a big tiki hut, good food, BYOB, right on the water… who could ask for more? What a great event! Thanks to Ray Yu for putting on such a great event!

Just before sunset we ran up to my old favorite bar, the Caribbean Club, up US1 a couple of miles for sunset. Tough to beat both the establishment and the sunsets there. A lot of the 1948 movie “Key Largo” was filmed here and you can feel the spirits of Bogie and Becall there!
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For the evening we retired to Sunset Cove resort, which I spoke about in the last blog. I love this place. As it turned out, our friend Rick Schettino was also there and he, Dani, Brian, Michelle, and I headed out on the dock with guitars playing commenced! After a short while a few people came out who were also staying at the motel and joined us. They were from Washington State and had spent the last week in Key West for Fantasy Fest and catching a flight from Fort Lauderdale for home in the morning.

Dani, Brian, Rick, and I had decided all the songs we were going to play that evening out on the dock, would be the slow, quiet ones that we wrote, yet don’t get to perform all that much. It just fit the situation. All too often playing in bars, people want the up-beat, get up and go songs. These folks from Washington State were digging what we were playing though. They had a week of get up and go and the quiet music suited them perfectly. It was a seriously great evening of playing music in an ideal setting. A light breeze and you could hear the lines on the masts of the sailboats, anchored off shore.

Waking up in Key Largo at Sunset Cove is so relaxing! Nothing like Key West, which for us is like the big city.  This is tropical tranquility at it’s best. Do yourself a favor…

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(A view of the dock at Sunset Cove in Key Largo where we just hung out and played the night before)

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(At Sunset Cove Beach Resort beach tiki with Dany Hoy, Michelle Tofoya, Brian Fields, Key West Chris Rehm Cajun Rehm and Tooloulou Rehm)

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Dani Hoy and the author, Key West Chris hanging in the Tiki

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view of Sunset Cove Beach Resort, Key Largo, from the beach.

Here we are in Key Largo and now are heading back to Key West, albeit making several stops on the way! The game is a foot and we’re off to other destinations in the Florida Keys, bringing music and fun to wherever we go! That’s what we do!

To be continued…..


To obtain my music:

My CD is available on iTunes, CD Baby, CD Universe, Rhapsody, and Beachfront Radio.
Search: Key West Chris

Thank you everyone!!

Article source: http://keywestmusic.blogspot.com/2014/11/fantasy-festmotm-part-1.html

Visiting Key West (Part two) !!!

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Visiting Key West  (part 2)

What exactly is Key West? Well to begin with, it’s the capitol of the Conch Republic. What’s the Conch Republic? The Conch Republic are a string of islands that run from the the atoll of Dry Tortugas, through the atoll of the Marquesas Keys, past the Mule keys, through the archipelago of keys that run from Key West all the way up to some say Stiltsville, others say Key Biscayne, but definitely including Old Rhoads Key, Eliot Key, Boca Chita, and Sands Key, all of which sit north of Key Largo. In addition, all of the Keys in the Florida bay (approximately 2,900+), Including, Dildo Key, of course!

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Key West itself sits 106 miles (172Km) from the mainland. The Gulf Stream begins right here.
Key West has the Gulf of Mexico on it’s northern coast and the Atlantic ocean on it’s southern coast. Whitehead, Duval, and Simonton Streets run coast to coast.

When visiting Key West, if by car, the absolute best way is to stop for a night or two in the archipelago of Keys that lead over forty something bridges to Key West. Anyone who has traveled directly to Key West without stopping, in the past, then one time decides to stop over for a night or two on the way, all say the exact same thing “What was I thinking? Why didn’t I do this before?”


The biggest reason is that they didn’t do it before is elementary: Their brains are still in the mainland mentality of “GO! GO! GO!!!!”, so they have to rush to Key West. Some people think Key West is laid back. In the eyes of any Conch Republic citizen, Key West is just the opposite, at least as far as Keys living goes. For all of us, Key West is the big city, as far as island living goes. If you want laid back island living, stop at some mom and pop run hotel on the way to Key West. It’s the perfect way to release the mainland mentality and switch over to an island lifestyle. I’ve actually known people who did this on their way to Key West… and never made it!!! “We just decided we’ll hit Key West next year.”

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Sunset Cove, Key Largo

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Sunset Cove, Key Largo
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Sunset Cove, Key Largo

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Sunset Cove, Key Largo

I can’t stress enough, stop and smell the roses. There’s a lot to be seen and injoyed through out the Keys and anyone passing up on the opportunities is doing themselves a sever disservice. I know it’s not easy, but do your best to leave the mainland mentality back on the mainland.

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Keys Music

Regarding traveling the Keys, I can’t tell you how many people tell me:

“When we’re driving, as soon as we hit the Keys, we put your album on the car sterio and listen throughout our drive through the Keys!”

I’m of course flattered and at the same time I also realize that I achieved one of the things I set out to achieve. After all, “Shanghai’d and Marooned in Key West (things could be worse)” is a compilation of songs that are all about the Keys. On this CD there is not one song that is about anything other than the Keys! This is a Keys album first and foremost. Plus, every song is in a different genre, so nothing sounds like anything else on the album. Shelly Liebowitz, L.A. producer of Miles Davis (!!!!), Ela Fitzgerald (!!!!) Dr. John(!!!) Maria Muldauer (!!) said “Chris I LOVE your CD! I feel like I’m back in the Keys!”

 In addition, as I live in the Keys, it’s written from a first hand perspective. It’s not written by someone who came and spent two to seven days here, then went back home to Iowa, New York, Michigan, or California. This is music from the Keys. Spawned from the coral Islands, with it’s roots firmly entrenched in all the cracks in that coral. Like a line in “Raise My Glass To The Upper 48″ off the album goes “Roots have grown to this old rock, locked me firm and strong”
So if you’d like to get an actual Keys sound in your ears, it’s available for downloads at all the usual  places, just search “Key West Chris”
available on iTunes, CD Baby, CD Universe, Rhapsody, and Beachfront Radio.
Search: Key West Chris

Or write me at:  chrismusicnow@gmail.com
and I can mail you a hard copy.

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I’ll often get messages from people asking “Where should I stay in Key West?” That’s kind of a tough question, in a way. It’s not as though I stay in local BBs or hotels. I live here in a little house. Really, the best source I have for hotels is the feedback I get from others who come and stay in them. Quite honestly, I’ve never heard anyone complain about their accommodations here. Also, a lot has to do with what someone wants to pay. This can be a dodgy question as well. “We want something inexpensive” Okay, so I recommend hotel XYZ. Then it turns out they wanted something a bit more upscale.

Rates change with the seasons. As we speak, right now the rates are as low as you’ll see them. Once in season, rates will virtually tripple in many places. Additionally, the small places are being bought out by large corporations and being torn down, only to be replaced by, very expensive grandiose hotels. For those who enjoyed the Blue Marlin and the Spindrift, wave good by. They’re now closed and soon to be razed. Likewise, two small hotels on the southern coast are likewise being razed shortly, in favor of some wild corporate concrete hotel. Key West style? Hardly.

Why does Key West allow this to happen? Your guess is as good as mine. The city approves it and HARK, the historic preservation commitee, offers no objectios either. Go figure. 

New Things To Do!

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Dani and I had heard about the Coast Guard museum ship, USCG Ingham, now being available for sunsets! Now, keep in mind that the Ingham was built in the 1930’s and is permanently docked at the Mole Pier, so it’s not going out to sea, as the sail boats do for sunset. However, having stated that, the ship is docked and the view of sunset is as good as any in Key West, if not better!

We regretfully lost La Concha’s upper deck, which was used as a sunset vista since it was built in the 1920’s. City Hall approved it to be turned into a spa exclusively for hotel patrons instead of the riff raff that would go up there to view the sunset. Oh, did I mention? You and I are the riff raff. Why did City Hall approve this? Again, your guess is as good as mine. It strikes me as being a bit odd that a town like Key West, a town steeped in history and with history being a main attraction for the city, they would raze historic hotels and ruin traditions such as La Concha’s sunset deck. It’s really quite beyond me.

City Hall seems Hell-Bent on shooting themselves in the foot, one toe at a time.

On the other hand, the Ingham is actually a shot in the arm! What a breath of fresh air! It’s privately owned and is sitting on the dock that the United States Navy owns. I didn’t ask, but it’s my guess that they lease out the dock from the Navy? The grounds up to the dock are owned by the City of Key West, so it’s not in a restricted area.

The ship has been here for a few years, however only in the very recent past has it been used for a sunset venue. The very recent past. It’s a great deal too! The cost to board for sunset is only $5, however that also covers your first wine or beer, so it’s actually free when it all comes down to it.

What a sunset too! On the deck of the stern you’re about twelve to fifteen feet above the water. Perfect for a panoramic view. and as I say, there’s beer and wine available. I was quite impressed with the beer. Considering they have beer and wine for sunset only, I was amazed to find both Cigar City and Magic Hat beers offered on draft, in addition to the standard American brews.

The crew was fantastic as well! Fun folks who know how to have a great time and setting a jovial, but not obtrusive atmosphere.

We had the pleasure of going there with our friends Dave and Leslie Bevins, of the Cork and Stogie (1218 Duval St), who were celebrating their wedding anniversary!

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While we lost La Concha, we gained the Ingham! I strongly recommend this as a sunset venue. To say we had a great time would be an understatement. Here we were aboard ths historic ship, with good friends, having a few beers (or wines) and enjoying the Key West sunset. It goes without saying that they are also open during the day as a museum, so don’t cut yourself short

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A Funny, Yet  Typical Key West Tale!

I have this friend, lets just call him Hans. That of course is not his name and I really don’t know anyone named Hans, here in Key West at least. well Hans is someone who lives payday to pay day and frankly, he sometimes gets a little behind on things. In this case here, he got behind on his phone and they turned him off.

As rent was due, he felt it most important to keep a roof over his head, so the phone stayed off for a bit.

A few days later he gets up in the morning and finds a homeless vagabond sleeping on his front porch! We’ll call him Sleeping Beauty. Hans actually was remotely acquainted with the guy.The landlord comes out and sees this, calls the police and Sleeping Beauty gets hauled off to jail for 28 days for vagrancy and trespassing.

After he’s gone, Hans notices that the vagrant left behind a cell phone. Hans picked it up and, low and behold! It works! Until Sleeping Beauty gets out of jail, Hans now has a phone! :-O

“The guy is homeless and actually has a nicer phone than I do!”

Thank you for reading the blog!!!

Key West Chris

To obtain my music:

My CD is available on iTunes, CD Baby, CD Universe, Rhapsody, and Beachfront Radio.
Search: Key West Chris

Thank you everyone!!

Article source: http://keywestmusic.blogspot.com/2014/10/visiting-key-west-part-two.html

Visiting Key West (part one)

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Visiting Key West (part one)

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The vast majority of people living in Key West, started out as vacationers. Those born here are called “Conchs” (pronounced: Conks). Those who are not from here, but have lived here seven years are called “Fresh Water Conchs”.  For those who are not born here, be it Fresh Water Conchs or those here less than seven years, we started out visiting these islands, here in the Keys.

I came up with a couple of terms that fit the two basic types of people that come here for vacation.
1) Visitors – People who want to live here, but cannot for various reasons. When they come they will search out the places locals go and get a big thrill when they fit right in. They want to be a part of Key West.

2) Tourists. Tourists love to come to Key West, revel in all the bachanalia and fun things to do, but have no desire to live here. They’ll go to all the tourists spots, then go home and look forward to coming back.

If you come to Key West, are you a visitor or a tourist? Mind you, one is not better than the other, they’re just different.

Myself, I first came and found the town quite similar to Provencetown, which is at the tip of Cape Cod. I had spent many summers on Cape Cod growing up and often hitch hiked from where I stayed (Chatham) up to Provencetown (a.k.a. “P-Town”) with my pal Fudd.

The first time I came here to key West I discribed it as a “Tropical P-Town”. A lot of the architecture here is from New England. Sea captains from New England back in the 1800’s would build second homes here.

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Myself, I’ve always been a visitor. Forever I wanted to move here, however the stars didn’t line up until six years ago. Consequently, I’ll be a fresh water conch next May. Yey!

But before I moved here, I was the type that searched out the off the beaten path holes in the wall. In 1980 I would come down and hang out at Captain Tony’s and Sloppy Joe’s.  Back then, Sloppy’s was a real bar, not the corporate BS that we have today. Later, I quickly found The Green Parrot on Whiteheard St. and that was forever my home bar when I was in Key West.

In a previous blog, I rated The Green Parrot as the number one bar in the Florida Keys, followed as close as a NASCAR draft by the Caribbean Club in Key Largo.  The ‘Parrot was closed for three or four days last week having a new floor installed. C;osed? The Green Parrot? Sacrilege! HA HA
 Personally, I find it disappointing, although I haven’t seen the new floor as of yet.

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One of the coolest things about the ‘Parrot for me is the history of the place. It’s the type of place that makes you think “If the walls could talk!”. The floor is no different! It weaves and buckles here and there. After all, the place, in various guises, has been around since 1890. As I mentioned, the floor was uneven in places, but I thought that only added to the character of the place. The jury is out on the new floor until I see it, but regardless, it’s still the Green Parrot and it’s not as though some company in Dallas bought it and is turning it into a fern bar, or anything. In this day and age, they may just be having to protect themselves in the event with the old floor some drunk falls and sues their ass.

Getting back to visiting Key West, often when people are vacationing here, their minds shift into some odd mode and they do things that they wouldn’t do at home.

Here’s a funny thing to keep in mind. Traffic lights carry the same meaning in Key West as they do in the rest of the world. Red means stop, yellow means prepair to stop, and green means go. Silly as that may seem, I can’t begin to count how many time a day I see pedestrians not even look crossing a street and they are walking against a red light.

Then again, there are the drunks. Drunks in Key West? Key West consumes more alcohol per capita than any other city in the United States.

Last night I was driving down Duval St. (the main street in Key West) and there was an individual walking down the middle of the street with ear phones on, texting, completely oblivious to my 5000LB (11,000KG) Dodge van! I was tempted to give him a good, loud blast of my horn, but a loud horn just doesn’t belong in Key West. Loud horns are for the mainland. So, I just motored around him nice and slow. He never even knew I was there.

The bottom line is use the same caution you would back where you live. The Lower Keys Medical Center ( the local hospital) actually opens up an entire wing, all three floors, in tourist season.

The maximum speed limit in Key West is thirty miles an hour(48 Kph) and that’s only on North Roosevelt and South Roosevelt Boulevards. Everywhere else is 20. Because of this, I’ve put the purchase of the 16 cylinder, 1000 horsepower, 258mph (418Kph) Bugatti Vayron on hold.


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I’ve always said, if you are visiting here, once you get to where you’re staying, don’t get back into your car until your suite cases are back in the trunk! Key West is best seen on foot! After that, by bicycle. Scooters are convenient, but aside from filling up the hospital, you don’t get to see the subtle things that make this town so unique and especially currious.  Exploring is an activity of the visitor. Walking by a small, one way lane and you can only say to yourself “Hummm… what’s down there?” and go investigate.

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Be sure to keep an eye out for the follow up blog to this “Visiting Key West (part two)” I’ll have it up quickly!

Thank you for reading the blog!!!

Key West Chris

To obtain my music:


 photo Shanghaid6-1.png

My CD is available on iTunes, CD Baby, CD Universe, Rhapsody, and Beachfront Radio.
Search: Key West Chris

Thank you everyone!!

Article source: http://keywestmusic.blogspot.com/2014/10/visiting-key-west-part-one.html

The Bucket List,The Dry Tortugas! Fort Jefferson

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Bucket List

In English, there’s a slang expression which is “Kick The Bucket”. For those who read this blog where English is not your first language, to kick the bucket means to die. The origin dates way, way back, with the theory that if someone were to hang themselves, get up on a bucket with a rope around their neck, then they would kick the bucket away and that would be the end of things. Here’s Shakespeare in Henry IV Part II, 1597: “Swifter then he that gibbets on the Brewers Bucket.” “gibbets” is an Od English word meaning hang. However, it must be noted that in today’s use, “Kick the bucket” only means to die, it doesn’t mean suicide.

The “Bucket List” is derived from the aforementioned phrase. It’s widely viewed as a phrase that the movie “The Bucket List” may very well have coined itself in 2007 when it was made and today has become part of the English lexicon.

What the bucket list is, is a list of things one wants to do before they die. For many, death could very well be fifty years away, but they still have a bucket list. As for myself, I’ve never actually sat down and written the things I want to do before I go, but I do have them in my head. 
One has always been to go to The Dry Tortugas!

The Dry Tortugas are a cluster of key islands, the furthest west of the Keys archipelago. Today it is a Florida State Park. They lie seventy miles (113km) west of Key West.  Discovered in 1513 by Ponce de Leon, he named them Las Tortugas. or translated into English, The Turtles, because of the abundance of turtles in and around the islands. Many years later the word “Dry” was added, as there is no fresh water on the islands. Today there are seven islets, which are actually an atol. In the past there have been as many as eleven at one time. However these islets have come and gone, then come back again over the centuries. It’s a common thing in the Keys actually. Shifting sands are always a common occurrence down here, be it in the Dry Tortugas, or Key West. The islands they come and they go.

My girlfriend Dani and I were up early and checked into the Yankee Freedom III catamaran around 7:15 am and before we knew it, we were off. The Yankee Freedom runs quite fast and the seventy mile trip to The Dry Tortugas was about 2  1/2 hours’

About nine miles out we passed Ballast Key, which is the southernmost point of the contiguas United States. It’s owned by a man named David Walkowski, a Key West resident, known for wise real estate investments and developments. He also has a house he built on Ballast Key, which is currently on the market for $15,000,000.00. Regretfully, I’m a few bucks short.

Ballast Key

The entire day was a bit overcast. Every now and then a few drops would blow by, but never warranted a rain coat or shelter. On the way there we passed other un-inhabited clusters of the Keys, including the Marquesas Keys, which I named in my song “Sailing”.

The main Island of the Dry Tortugas is named Garden Key and is the sight of Fort Jefferson, which began construction in 1846. This was about the same time that Fort Zachery Taylor (Fort Zach) and both East and West Martello towers were built in Key West, by the U.S. government. Consequently, their styles are quite similar. The biggest difference is size. Just a guess here, but you could most likely fit five or six Fort Zacks inside Fort Jefferson!

It turns out that Ft. Jefferson is the largest masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere! sixteen million bricks were used in the construction. It actually takes up virtually the entire island!

(picture from Wikipedia)

The fort was actually never completed, although it was put into service. Like Key West’s installations, it remained in Union hands during the American Civil War.
Dani rented gear and went snorkeling while I explored the fort further. She reported later that the snorkeling was fantastic! All kinds of fish and coral. I saw her from the top of the fort and snapped a few pictures of her with the zoom lens!

I love historic things and history itself. I recall going to the Collasium and the Forum in Rome, Italy and I was just astonished! While this was not the Coliseum or the Forum, it did strike that same chord in my for my love of history. I loved every minute of it and I highly recomend the trip for anyone visiting the Keys!


The day we went, the water was amazing! It had a silver look to it, quite unlike the water in Key West.


Most of the guns were sold for scrap in the early 1900’s, after they were obsolete. Several remain however. The biggest guns at the time could fire about three miles (5km).


Okay! So I achieved knocking one off of my bucket list! While I do have others to go on that fun list of things to do, one thing is for certain, I will return to the Dry Tortugas!


Again, I highly recommend the trip to the Dry Torguas! We took the Yankee Freedom III there and the entire crew were nothing short of first rate! You catch Yankee Freedom III at the beginning of Grinnell St. right at the dock.

You can also fly there via seaplane that leaves fron the airport in Key West.

For those who like camping, camping overnight is available also. Bear in mind two things here however. As it is a state park, alcohol of any kind is not permitted. Also, it is not called the Dry Tortugas for nothing, so be sure you bring enough drinking water with you for your stay!

Enjoy!

Thanks again for taking the time and interest in reading my blog!

Key West Chris Rehm

To obtain my music:

My CD is available on iTunes, CD Baby, CD Universe, Rhapsody, and Beachfront Radio.
Search: Key West Chris

Thank you everyone!!

Article source: http://keywestmusic.blogspot.com/2014/09/the-bucket-listthe-dry-tortugas-fort.html

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