Category Archives: Trop Rock Happenings

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The Stupidest Thing I’ve Heard This Year

The Stupidest Thing I’ve Heard This Year

If you read the blog, or follow me on Facebook, you’ll know that I recently bought into a small bar here called The Cork and Stogie.  I wrote about it shortly after I made the move on April 1st and wrote about it here. In that blog I mentioned that I was previously attempting to buy Viva Zapata with two other partners, but in the long run we realized we didn’t have enough money to pull it off. The rent would be raising 50% after the first three months and it would be double what we started, three months after that. To make matters more nervous, this would be going into the slowest part of the year here.

http://keywestmusic.blogspot.com/2015/04/i-bought-bar-in-key-west.html

Before we pulled the plug on it we entertained the idea of having an additional partner and had one guy who expressed interest. We’ll just call him R. Well, R was a pretty well known individual and had been around town for many years. Consequently, he also knew a lot of people. Knowing the right people, particularly in city planning and government can definitely be a feather in one’s cap.

I had met R a few years back at one of the songwriter’s festivals. The Key West Songwriter’s Festival is full of people from Nashville. When I first struck up a conversation with R, he was wearing jeans and cowboy boots. Naturally, I thought he was from Nashville. To my surprise, he was a local. Every time I’ve seen him since, he’s always got on long pants. It’s not that wearing long pants is bad, but in this town, it’s odd. Odd enough to say to yourself “Hummmm. This guy always wears long pants. I wonder what’s up with him?”. If I saw him around with shorts from time to time, the question would never come about.

Bear in mind that it doesn’t mean they can’t be trusted or anything. My friend Schmegley never wears shorts and he’s a great guy! However, one does tend to at least ask the question when the long pants come into play and shorts never do.

One night in the beginning of March one of my partners in the Viva Zapata adventure and I were out on the sidewalk talking to R about to impending venture. He had some interesting ideas, I will say. He also had a few ideas that were completely off the wall, such as making Viva Zapata into a fine dining restaurant.

He also flagged down some city government employee who walked by and chatted with him for a few minutes. Then another guy who walked by whom he hadn’t seen in years, by knew of this guy’s escapades here and in Panama with what the guy said was with the C.I.A. The guy wasn’t drunk, he was in-the-bag shitfaced. He made the most outrageous statements about blowing up an airport in Panama, in between swaying back and forth and almost falling over a couple of times. R seemed to have some sort of knowledge about this as well and asked the pertinent questions as the guy swayed to and fro. The next day someone posted a picture of the guy unconscious, laying in a random front yard, with a comical statement to go with it.

The next day the partner who was talking with R and myself asked if he could talk to me in private. We’ll call this individual K. K is a great guy it’s always great to see him. He has a great disposition and laughs easily.

We sat down and he says to me “Hey, I was talking to R and he was saying that he knows you’re into the Trop Rock music, but he says that he wants you to understand that if he invests here, he said he doesn’t want this place to become a Trop Rock bar or anything”.

My reply to K was “Lets see what develops. So far he hasn’t committed anything but talk” which K agreed with.

On the flip side however, I was completely amazed. What an extraordinary thing  for R to say! I mean, here is a guy who has lived here for quite some time, I think over two decades, and the bottom line is, he just doesn’t get it. Again, I thought he was from Nashville when we originally met. Now I was thinking he should try his luck in a place like Nashville.

Lets look at Key West and the Florida Keys biggest resource: Tourism.

Who come here and why?

Getting the specific stats on tourism isn’t easy. However I will say this. Key West gets a lot of visitors from outside the U.S. Having said that, the amount of Americans visiting here far outnumbers all combined visitors.  

Why do Americans come to Key West? Americans come to Key West because of what Key West is: A tropical island, many consider part of the Caribbean (Hey, if Bermuda is considered part of the Caribbean, there’s no reason we wouldn’t be) floating one hundred and six miles off the mainland loaded with palm trees, beaches, bars, restaurants, and art galleries. The best part? It’s it’s own country, the Conch Republic, albeit tongue-in-cheek, but it is part of the United States. One doesn’t need a passport to get here. Call it the best of both worlds!

People come here because they want the island life getaway experience. They want to feel the island lifestyle and be part of it,  take it in. Many businesses here on the island insist on piping in Island music, be it from this island, or others. I know of an art gallery which insists on having nothing but tropical music playing. It’s common and they’re not alone. This one particular gallery is very successful and has been here for over twenty years. Why do they play tropical music? The general manager stated “People come here to be in the island lifestyle and island music sets the stage for that.”

Two of the most successful musicians on the island over the years, fall into the category of Trop music. With our band, The Shanty Hounds, our repertoire consists of about 1/3 Trop music, 2/3 other. We consider ourselves pretty well rounded. Yet, people are out there, such as R who have a thing against the Trop music and because we play some of it and he had an ax to grind with it, for whatever reason, he throws us into a category that he doesn’t like and wants to make sure we don’t play it.

What amazes me is that people like R can be so ignorant. Regretfully he’s not alone. Fortunately, he never joined us (nothing to do with music) and also, we never bought Viva Zapata. Unfortunately, as remarkable as it may seem, in business some people often put their personal likes ahead of feeding their cash register. They cut off their nose in spite of their face.

Article source: http://keywestmusic.blogspot.com/2015/05/the-stupidest-thing-ive-heard-this-year.html


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ANOTHER WAY OF WRITING A SONG

ANOTHER WAY OF WRITING A SONG

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In the last blog I just posted, I talked about one way to write a song, being in the spirit right after the Key West Songwriters Festival concluded. I mentioned that was one way I write a song, however there were others. Regardless of where I’m coming from when writing a song, I will always have a pen and paper ready. As I play and lyrics come to mind, I’ll flip the guitar over and write the line down that I come up with. I’ll do that immediately. If not, I’ll forget it. Likewise, if I’m out doing things and an idea comes to mind, be it a melody, lyric, or song idea, I’ll note it in my phone as either a note, or a voice memo. If I don’t, again, I’ll forget it. A LOT of songwriters tell me they do the same.

 As I’m in the muse as far as writing goes and I’m on a roll, here’s another way that I write a song.

Two songs here I’ll extrapolate on, “Dildo Key” and “Island Blue”.

In both of these cases, unlike the first songwriting post on “The Beach!!!!”, which was based on spontaneity, these two songs were projects to be done before any music or lyrics were established.
In the case of “Dildo Key”, what had happened was I was looking at a soundings chart of the upper Keys, which includes everything from Key Largo and Islemorada on the east, to the west coast of the tip of Florida. For those who don’t know what a soundings chart is, it’s basically a road map for boaters listing the depths of the water. It’s also called a depth chart.

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Well, while looking at the chart my eyes almost popped out! There was an island named “Dildo Key”! I rubbed my eyes to make sure there wasn’t an error, however it remained the same!
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This is not something that could be by-passed by a songwriter! How could you pass this up? No, here was a song that was being handed to me on a silver platter! In this case it was different than “The Beach!!!”. As I said, “The Beach!!!!” was spontaneous. “Dildo Key” became a project in the making before any of it was ever looked at musically, or lyrically.

As I mentioned in my last blog, I write the music first. With that in mind, I needed a proper foundation to build on. For myself, it’s like building a house. You don’t start with the roof, or the first floor, you start with the foundation and build up from there. The way I look at it, the music is the most important part of the song. I’ve heard people who wrote the most prolific lyrics, but the music they applied to it, is a complete and utter sleeping pill, or mediocre. For others it works however, but not for me.

Therefore, I had the opportunity to set the stage for the song!
Now, with a name like “Dildo Key”, it has to be something with a comic, fun feel. That goes without saying! I figured something along a barrel house blues could work. Me being me, the progression would have to have a traditional feel, yet be unique at the same time. As I mentioned earlier, it needed to also have a humorous twist! The end result is a progression that stands on it’s own, related to virtually nothing else, yet at the same time, it sounds familiar.
What I came up with for the basic progression was:

E  C#7  F#7  B7    E C#7 F#7 B7   E  E7  A  A7     E  C#7  F#7 B7   and a turn around of E C#7 F#7 B7 E B7 E B7

That worked! It’s it’s own progression.

Now that that was established, I had a very original format to work lyrically within. this was exactly what my quest was. A solid, original foundation was ready to be built on. The lyrics would easily fit in this wheelhouse! Mind you, it doesn’t happen all the time! This can bite you in the ass quite often, when you least expect it.

As an example of this, the title song of the album “Shanghai’d and Marooned in Key West – Things could be worse”, never materialized. The song just never cut it for my standards. However that happens no matter how one writes.

With “Dildo Key”, we were cooking with oil!

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The lyrics were naturally peppered with suggestive innuendos, as one would expect from a song named after a island called Dildo Key. How could it not be? It likewise didn’t hurt that the key next to Dildo Key is Johnson Key… seriously, how did this happen?   

Lyrically “Dildo Key” turned out to be one of my longer songs, with six verses. The first verse was designed to set the stage of a guy singing happily and just heading out fishing in the Florida Keys. The next verse, he gets there, all is quite normal until he arrives at the destinaltion, Dildo Key, which immediately after it is named comes the “horror chord” hit suddenly and abruptly. It’s EC#FGC#E… OUCH!!!!

As I say, the rest of the song is peppered with inuendos designed to crack a smile and hopefully some laughter!

I wanted Barry Cuda to play piano on the track. ‘Cuda has been a Key West icon for thirty years and while being a great cut up, he’s seriously a blues authority. I sent him a demo of the song and a lyric/chord chart to learn. Like almost all of the guys who played on the album, he arrived and when it came to playing the song he suddenly stopped and said “Hey! What’s going on here?”. This is an issue I always ran into as my songs aren’t your basic chord progressions. It can be a pain in the ass, as a writer. It’s also expensive when musicians realize there’s a lot more to the song than they assumed and they wind up learning it in the studio. On the entire album, only Richard Crooks went over every song and charted it as well, before arriving in the studio.

‘Cuda learned it very quickly however and did a superb job on the song as well! There are several people out there who tell me Dildo Key is my best work. I don’t agree with them, however it is surely my most humorous! Tuba and all!!!

Dildo Key can be found on CD Baby, CD Universe and iTunes. Search “Key West Chris”
Here’s the CDBaby link:  http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/keywestchris


ISLAND BLUE

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Another song written with a subject in mind was “Island Blue”. My friend Misty Loggins called me from Nashville to say she was coming down to play for a week at Smokin Tuna. I said “Hey! Why don’t we cut a song while you’re here?” she thought it was a great idea. It was after I hung up that I realized I didn’t have a song for her and it was only two weeks before she would be here. Uh Oh!

I went a week walking into walls. Nothing worked. Then, I was on my satee one morning trying to come up with something and went from an E to a B7 and it rung! Suddenly I was off to the races! I came up with an original progression that would fit the Patsy Cline/Willy Nelson genre of Country. The progression and song is entirely different, but you could easily put it in the same category as “Crazy”. The progression went:

E, E7, B7, C#m7, F#m7, B7, E E7 A A7 E C9 B9 E Bdim
For the bridge:
A Maj 7, E Maj 7, A Maj7, E Maj7, E7, A E Maj7, E7, F#m7, G#m7 C#m7 Cm7 Bm7, A Maj7, F#m7, B7, E, C9, B9, E, Bdim

So, here I ended up with a very original progression with a foundation that was as solid as a rock, which invited lyrics to build off of.

The story would be of a person who visits the tropics from afar and decides to move and stay.

When we cut the song Misty asked if we could move the song a half step up, to accommodate her voice. No problem! So when we recorded it, we did it in F and it’s been that way ever since, be it if Misty, myself, or Dani were singing it.

Here’s the song. It will be on my next album “Jump Into De Fi-Ya!”, although it will not be this particular cut. The one we’ll use is a different mix altogether and with Dani on background vocals.


                                                              ISLAND BLUE
I
ISLAND BLUE YOU’RE GONNA TAKE ME
BACK THROUGH THE WINDS OF TIME
OH ISLAND BLUE YOU’RE GONNA CHANGE THIS HEART OF MINE
II
WHEN I CAME TO THIS ISLAND
FOR SUNSHINE AND MARITIME AIR
OH ISLAND BLUE, YOUR SANDY BEACHES, SEEM SO UNFAIR
(Bridge)
WHEN I CAME TO YOU I HAD NO WORRIES IN THE WORLD
I WAS AS FREE AS A SEAGUL IN FLIGHT
I STAYED A FEW DAYS I COULD FEEL IT
BENEATH MY FEET MY WHOLE WORLD WAS CHANGING
AND I KNEW, DEEP DOWN INSIDE
THIS WAS MY LIFE
III
SO ISLAND BLUE, NO I’M NOT CRYING
NO MISURY, NO PAIN
OH ISLAND BLUE IT JUST ISN’T FAIR
TO FEEL THIS WAY
(Bridge)
WHEN I CAME TO YOU I HAD NO WORRIES IN THE WORLD
I WAS AS FREE AS A SEAGUL IN FLIGHT
I STAYED A FEW DAYS I COULD FEEL IT
BENEATH MY FEET MY WHOLE WORLD WAS CHANGING
AND I KNEW, DEEP DOWN INSIDE
THIS WAS MY LIFE

IV
SO I SAID GOOD BY TO MY CITY
AU REVOIR TO MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS
AND HELLO TO THE TROPICS, ISLAND BLUE
AND HELLO TO THE TROPICS, ISLAND BLUE
©2011 Christopher R. Rehm, BMI


While there is no right way or a wrong way to write a song, in both this blog and the last you’ll have read that I always set the foundation first and foremost. This works well for me. Lennon/McCartney, Jagger/Richards, Garcia/Hunter, and Jobim/Moraes among others, use(d) this method as well.


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All the Best From Key West!

Thank you for reading my Blog!!!!

Article source: http://keywestmusic.blogspot.com/2015/05/another-way-of-writing-song.html


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Writing a Song

Writing a Song

At least one way I do it!
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With the songwriters festival over until next year, I’ll go about explaining on one way of how I write a song. There is no right way or wrong way to write a song, but there is a right way and a wrong way for particular individuals. This is fundamentally what works for me.

With myself, the first thing I do is come up with a melody. 60% of the time, it’s by accident. I’m just noodling on the guitar and suddenly something sounds cool. Sometimes it’s by experimentation, others by nothing better explained than as a mistake. I’ll start playing around with it and out of the blue a lyric comes in out of nowhere. It’s as though that’s the lyric that was meant for the melody I was playing with. From there a story evolves around the melody/chord progression. One example of this is “The Beach!!!!”

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With this song I was in the key of A and going from A to A6 to E9 back to the A to A6 then to a E7. All of this on the A on the fifth fret. It was in a Cuban 4/4 time and really flowed. I was playing around with it for about two weeks. Just having fun with it. Then one morning I was messing with it again when out of the blue came the line “Today I’m going to the beach”. The word Today” was long and drawn out emphasizing the anticipated excitement of going to the beach!  The next line came right away “It’s a sunny day and I’m on my way and I love to feel the heat” the progression had a Latin shuffle groove to it,  so I continued with it for one more verse, which likewise came right to me. The story was evolving and progressing quite quickly.

“See palm trees and coconuts get the sand in my feet”

The progression with those lyrics had run it’s course. The next line and chords came immediately as well, albeit a bit of a side step, by adding a chord that wasn’t in key, but it worked. The progression went C#7 F#m7 Bm7 D7 E7 and the lyric  “And life just don’t get better all the while, carpe dium, seize the day!”
The Latin phrase “Carpe Dium” was one I wanted to utilize and here was the opportunity! Bottom line, here was a progression and lyrics to go with it!

So what was at hand was the following:

TODAY —————————-
I’M GOING TO THE BEACH!
IT’S A SUNNY DAY AND I’M ON MY WAY, AND I LOVE TO FEEL THE HEAT
AND SEE PALM TREES WITH COCONUTS GET THE SAND, IN MY FEET
 AND LIFE JUST DON’T GET BETTER ALL THE WHILE, CARPE DIEM, YEAH! SIEZE THE DAY!

The next verse  likewise came as fast as lightning using the exact same foundation as the first verse.
TODAY——————————
I’M GOING TO THE BEACH!
HOP ON MY BIKE AND TAKE A RIDE, THE SUN, IS WHAT I SEEK
AND IT AIN’T FAR, WHO NEEDS A CAR? THIS IS ISLAND TIME, THIS IS MY BEAT
ON THE BEACH, OUT FROM THE STREET  SMELL THE FRIES COOKIN IN THE SUMMER HEAT

I wanted a bridge next and what came to mind worked perfectly, albeit a bit unusual in structure. Working within the Cuban rhythm that was at hand,  a Motown style bridge was added.  Bm7, C#m7,  D, E and the lyrics applied. Somehow it worked!
WON’T STAND BY THE WINDOW ON THE PHONE AND BE TALKIN’
GET OFF THAT COMPUTER AND BE ON MY WAY
TIME’S A WASTING, LIFE’S TOO PRECIOUS, I BETTER START WALKIN’
OUT THE DOOR, GET ON MY BIKE AND BE ON MY WAY

The bridge was actually very autobiographic actually. Often I need to kick myself in the ass to get off the computer and get out of the house!
So! Now I had a song structurally! The verse progression and the bridge progression. The story continued and the final outcome was the following:

                                                              THE BEACH!!!!
TODAY —————————-
I’M GOING TO THE BEACH!
IT’S A SUNNY DAY AND I’M ON MY WAY, AND I LOVE TO FEEL THE HEAT
AND SEE PALM TREES WITH COCONUTS GET THE SAND, IN MY FEET
 AND LIFE JUST DON’T GET BETTER ALL THE WHILE, CARPE DIEM, YEAH! SIEZE THE DAY!
2
TODAY——————————
I’M GOING TO THE BEACH!
HOP ON MY BIKE AND TAKE A RIDE, THE SUN, IS WHAT I SEEK
AND IT AIN’T FAR, WHO NEEDS A CAR? THIS IS ISLAND TIME, THIS IS MY BEAT
ON THE BEACH, OUT FROM THE STREET YOU SMELL THE FRIES COOKIN IN THE SUMMER HEAT

WON’T STAND BY THE WINDOW ON THE PHONE AND BE TALKIN’
GET OFF THAT COMPUTER AND BE ON MY WAY
TIME’S A WAISTING, LIFE’S TOO PRECIOUS, I BETTER START WALKIN’
OUT THE DOOR, GET ON MY BIKE AND BE ON MY WAY
3
TODAY———————-
I WORSHIP THE SUN
I WORKED ALL WEEK, PAID MY DUES, DON’T YOU THINK, I DESERVE A LITTLE FUN?
I’M HEADIN’ TO THE BEACH, I’LL TAKE MY TIME, NO. I DON’T NEED TO RUN
EVERYONE ON THE BEACH WEARS A SMILE, THE GOOD TIMES HAVE BEGUN
4
TODAY ——————-
I AM AT THE BEACH!
THE SUN IS SHINING AND I AM SMILING, OH YEAH, WHAT A TREAT!
YEAH, THE SUN BEATS DOWN, I JUMP IN THE WATER….. YOU BET! HEY!!! I’M AT THE BEACH!
AND LIFE JUST DON’T GET BETTER ALL THE WHILE, CARPE DIEM, YEAH! SIEZE THE DAY!
© 2009 Christopher R. Rehm   BMI

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So, that’s one way I write a song…. there are others, but I’ll get into them another time.

In all my writing, I write the music first. The music is the foundation of any song, so it can’t be compromised. So I write the music and tailor the lyrics to fit. It works for me, anyhow. Years after doing it this way, I had some encouragement when I learned that Lennon/McCarthy, Jagger/Richards, and Garcia/Hunter all did likewise


Download “The Beach!!!!” at:

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/keywestchris 

 Also available at iTunes. Search “Key West Chris”


Thank you everyone!!!

All the Best From Key West!

Key West Chris Rehm

Article source: http://keywestmusic.blogspot.com/2015/05/writing-song-one-way-anyway.html


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2015 Key West Songwriter’s Festival

                                     2015   KEY WEST SONGWRITER’S FEST!!!

(Listen To The Greatest Country while you read the Blog)

Key West Chris Rehm @ KW Songwriter's Festival photo KeyWestChrisRehmatSongwriters_zps788d6b48.jpg

The largest music honor has been bestowed on me once again and I will be in the 2015 Key West Songwriter’s Festival!

The Key West Songwriter’s Festival is the largest and most important musical event of the year in Key West, bar none.

For those not familiar with the Key West Songwriter’s Festival (KWSF), it is the largest songwriter festival in the United States and is put on by BMI Nashville, along with Key West’s Smokin’ Tuna’s Charlie Bauer and Dani Strampello Holliday. Everyone does a hell of a great job every year. I don’t know this year’s exact count, but in the past few years it’s been somewhere around 150 songwriters  You can imagine what a hand full it is getting everyone organized, for not only their music schedules, but also their lodging, transportation, and everything else that goes along with it. Hats off to them all!!!

It’s Much More Than Just a Songwriter’s Festival
_______________________________________

As I mentioned, this is a BMI Nashville event. So keep in mind, these are the finest songwriters in the United States. Every year Nashville virtually moves to Key West for a few days to stretch it’s legs at the KWSF. We’re not only talking about songwriters either. In reality, this isn’t just a songwriter’s festival, per say.We’re talking publishers, producers, AR people, record company owners and execs, you name it. They’re all here.This is an event where everyone gets together to not only hear great music by the writers, but also to let their hair down a bit, yet at the same time, catch some new acts they may not have seen before. It’s not at all uncommon for them to  put a few business deals together. In short, the KWSF is a major event on so many levels!

So, as you can see this is not just any songwriter festival. Of the approximately 150 songwriters in the event, I think about a half dozen are Key West songwriters. The rest are from, or through Nashville.

I’m very fortunate in that I have been a Nashville published songwriter with the firm McClure and Trowbridge Publishing Nashville, for the last fifteen years. When I first got into the festival, it was through my publisher in Nashville, George McClure. He’s assisted in sending good vibes to the festival ever since on my behalf! Thanks George!

http://trowbridgeplanetearth.com/

Since that first time, Key West promoters Dani Strampello Holliday and Charlie Bauer have also been batting for me as well! Thank you Dani and Charlie!

The last two KWSFs that I’ve been in, I’ve been paired up with my good friend, Nashville based Misty Loggins, for the showcase. When I found out my schedule this year, in the beginning of March, I was thrilled when I had a call from Misty telling me that we were again paired up! Fantastic! Not only that, but we’re paired up playing on Key West’s South Beach at the end of Duval St.!

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(Misty Loggins)

South Beach was where I had my debut gig with the KWSF. As good as the other venues were that I’ve been at over the years, this was always my favorite! Playing on the beach, looking out to the  Florida Straits/Atlantic Ocean. Plus, it’s right at the Southernmost Cafe, so you can go inside and grab a bite to eat or,get yourself a libation at their walk up bar, right on the beach! They have a good selection of great beer there as well!

One thing about the KWSF however that is different from the other gigs that go on the entire rest of the year here in Key West, these are concerts, they are not bar gigs. At bar gigs people have the option to listen to the music, or chat with their friends. At the songwriters festival, these are concerts. The audience is here to listen to the songs, as they were composed, by the writers who wrote them. There’s no conversations. These are concerts. People are here to listen. As a performer, it’s something that we all love dong; playing for folks who are there to enjoy the songs we write.

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(Southernmost Cafe on South Beach)

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(View of the water at South Beach, Key West)

The other day I went over to the KWSF’s website and saw that fellow local Howard Livingstone will be joining Misty and me on our set! Howard’s a great guy and there will be a lot of laughs and great music to be had, no doubt!

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(Howard Livingstone – picture by Mark Reiman)


Misty, Howard, and I will be playing Saturday, May 9 from noon to 1 PM on South Beach, Key West. It’s the best location of all the events in the festival, in my opinion.

Stop by and catch our show!

Also, in the best of Key West traditions, 90% of all the shows are free (including ours!). Just walk in and enjoy!

If you are thinking of coming from out of town, book right away. It wouldn’t be the first time that every room in town is booked solid for the festival!

For more information on the Key West Songwriter’s Festival, please check out their website!


http://www.keywestsongwritersfestival.com/


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(On The Beach 2011)


Please also “Like” my music page on Facebook!

https://www.facebook.com/KeyWestChris


To hear and download my music

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/keywestchris

Also available on iTunes, and CD Universe! Search:  “Key West Chris”

Thanks Everyone!!! 

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At Viva

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Article source: http://keywestmusic.blogspot.com/2015/04/2015-key-west-songwriters-fest-listen.html


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I Bought a Bar In Key West!

                                                  I BOUGHT A BAR IN KEY WEST!

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Well, the title isn’t entirely correct. What I did was buy into a bar in Key West! Dave and Leslie Bevens, owners of The Cork and Stogie, after six years of ownership, were looking for a partner and it was just a natural fit for us. I’m grateful to both of them for taking me on!

To start with, The Cork’ is our regular local bar. Before Dani and I moved a year ago, it was three blocks away. Now it’s two blocks. We would stop by there several times a week and always felt right at home. It’s a neighborhood bar, which also gets the most interesting visitors from out of town, so there’s always someone interesting to chat with and who knows what might be the subject at hand?

Authors, comedians, actors, locals, and musicians seem to gravitate to the Cork’. It’s that kind of place!  

How this all came about was around the beginning of February Viva Zapata was up for sale. I ran over there when I heard about it and, along with two others made arrangements to buy the place. In the end however, I came to the realization that we really didn’t have enough to do the deal. We’d be able to close on it and keep it alive for a few months, but after that the rent would be going up on a graduated scale and be double what it started, in the height of the slowest part of the year. If we had another $100,000 or so, it could work, but that wasn’t the case. In the end we decided to pass on it. The owner had reserve people and they have since bought it and I wish them the very best!

Shortly after this, I was at the Cork and Stogie and Dave asked me if I’d be interested in joining the fold. For me it was a “no brainer”. Dave and I were friends outside the Cork’ and have known each other for years. He and Leslie are honest as the day is long and they call things as they see them, with no tap dancing involved, so to speak.

So, now I am a bar owner in Key West! What a thrill!

We have some things to accomplish and a few hurdles to crest to do so, however we’re underway!

Me, being a musician, would love to have live music at the Cork! We have the appropriate license from the City of Key West, however we don’t have the licenses from BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC, the companies that pay what’s known in the music business as “the mechanical royalties”, or the royalties that are paid when someone plays your song live at a venue, radio airplay, on a jukebox. So looking into that is on the agenda. The biggest hurdle is will it make money, or lose money? The Cork is extremely small. Without getting into specific numbers, lets just say that for the Cork to invest in paying for the mechanical rights to all three organizations, BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC, will it pay off? So, we’re not sure if having live music is something that will work. It’s ironic that a Nashville published songwriter (me) buys into a bar, but may not be able to have live music. I’m not complainig or groaning mind you. It is what it is. Over the years I’ve seen BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC sue bars and restaurants for not paying the fees and they win every time, rightfully so. What I’ve seen are damages judgements anywhere from $65,000 to close to $200,000. That’s not an option. At the moment live music is on hold and we’re using other sources for atmosphere music, namely Pandora.

We’re also looking at a new A/C system. The old one just won’t cut it when summer hits.

Patio seating is likewise a very large issue we have to look into. We have some homework to tackle concerning the City of Key West.


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The porch of The Cork and Stogie seems to always draw the trade winds that flow through Key West.

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Dani Hoy behind the bar at the Cork’ She doesn’t actually work there, but she looks like she does!

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The Cork and Stogie’s Living Room

So, now I’m an owner of a bar in Key West! I think the funniest thing about it all was, after Dave and I made the final agreement and I bought my share, we went and told bartenders Tiffany and Mark. Tiffany quit on the spot! HA HA! Actually, by coincidence, Tiffany was going to give her notice that day anyway, as it turned out. She’s starting a paddle board yoga business! Tiffany’s been just fantastic over the three years she’s been here. I of course, only saw her as a bartender for those three years and not a co-worker, save for the last two weeks, but The Cork and it’s patrons will all miss Tiffany! Good luck Tiffany!

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As we speak, The Cork has an assortment of over 60 beers, an excellent wine selection, as well as a unique collection of cigars, many of which are not found on the island.

The Cork and Stogie is located at 1218 Duval St., Key West, Fl. Conch Republic U.S.A.

When you’re in town, be sure to stop and check us out!!!!! 


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RIDE AROUND KEY WEST IN AN MGB

Recently Dave Senior and I went for a ride around Key West in an MGB owned by Brian Bradley.

If you’d like to see what Key West looks like from a 45 year old British sports car convertible, here it is! Thanks Dave and Brian!

Part 1

Part 2


Part 3

Thanks everyone!!!

To hear and download my music

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/keywestchris

Also available on iTunes, and CD Universe! Search:  “Key West Chris” 


 

Article source: http://keywestmusic.blogspot.com/2015/04/i-bought-bar-in-key-west.html


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The Wrecker’s Race!! Top priorities when visiting Key West included!

The Wrecker’s Race!

“Sailing”  from the album “Shanghai’d and Marooned in Key West (things could be worse)

To hear and download my music

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/keywestchris

(also available on iTunes, and CD Universe! Search “Key West Chris”)


The Wrecker’s Race!

In Key West every year there is an on going event called “The Wrecker’s Race”. It is held over four months every winter. The reason it’s called The Wreckers Race, is because part of Key West’s history is steeped in salvaging wrecked ships that were destroyed when they hit the reef, several miles off shore. When this would happen, those in Key West would sail out to the wreck, save the crew and then proceed to unload the ship of it’s cargo for themselves.

While this sounds like looting, it’s actually not and was 100% legal. As soon as the ship hit the reef and was destroyed, with the hull torn out and the boat sitting on the reef, the insurance paid for all of the cargo, as well as the boat itself. During this period in time, Key West was the richest town in Florida! This took place up to about 1890.

It’s the most natural thing, when living on an island, to go sailing! There are sailing and yacht clubs around the island, as one might expect. Many people live on their boats here as well. In short, the water is the crux of the reasons Key West exists. Everything revolves around the water here. Yes, we have bars. Alcohol is the biggest business economically in town, but bars would never be here were it not for the water. The main reason bars are here in the first place was to give a recess to those in the fishing business. Way, way, way back Captain Tony’s Saloon doubled as an ice house for the fishing industry. Word had it that in the early 1800’s the water came right up to Captain Tony’s… it wasn’t Captain Tony’s then of course and I don’t know what it’s name was at that time. However, sailors would come in on their off time for some beer or rum and who knows what else?

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Captain Tony’s Saloon, Greene Street, Key West, Conch Republic.

If you are coming to Key West, here are your top priories:

1) Get out on the water

2) Go see Hemingway’s House

http://www.hemingwayhome.com/

3) Catch Barry Cuda at B.O.’s Fishwagon Friday’s 6 – 9

http://www.bosfishwagon.com/friday-night-jam-session/

4) Get Out on the Water

5) Catch Bill Blue for a Soundcheck at the Green Parrot 5:30 – 7 Fridays
 http://www.greenparrot.com/key-west-live-music/

6) Get out on the water

7) Catch Michael McCloud at Schooner Wharf  Wednesday – Sunday, Noon – 5
http://www.schoonerwharf.com/entertainment.htm 

 8) Get out on the water

9) Relax at The Cork and Stogie
https://www.corkandstogie.com/


So hopefully you get the idea that heading out on the water is imperative when going to Key West? If you don’t get out on the water when you’re visiting Key West, you just don’t get it. Hey, you’re on a tropical island that is in the United States, yet at the same time it’s a different country, The Conch Republic! Why would anyone not head out on the water here? Hello. This island is 107 miles from the mainland and is where the Gulf Stream originates, as the waters of the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico merge and bring temperate weather to Ireland and Great Britain. There are even palm trees on the south coast of Ireland! Guess where the seeds for those got their start?

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(Palm Tree in Ireland)

So, it goes without saying that getting out on the water is seriously what you want to do in Key West!

Every year, The Schooner Wharf Bar holds “The Wrecker’s Race” and everyone on the island is grateful for it! The race runs from Key West to the Sand Key Light, about seven miles west of Key West. It’s held once a month in January, February, March, and April. I’ve had the pleasure of being in the race around five times or so and this year I was invited by the boat Blue Ice, a 47 foot (16M) sailboat, to join them with Captain Bruce at the helm! What a wonderful time and day we had!

Pictures speak better than I ever can, so enjoy and a big thanks to Evelina, the owner of Schooner Wharf Bar who organizes all of this and also Captain Bruce and the crew of Blue Ice! A great list of passengers as well. Everyone had a complete blast too! The icing on the cake (Blue icing?? HA HA! ) was that we finished second in class!!!!

The Blue Ice is available for all sorts of endeavors! Check them out on their website for more!

http://www.blueicesailing.com/

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Blue Ice at the dock before leaving

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At the dock

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Leaving Key West Bight

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A beautiful sailboat visiting from the BVI

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Captain Bruce at the helm, leaving Key West Bight


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There’s a party below decks as well!

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The America cutting through the water!

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Our sails

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The host of the event, Evelina at the helm!

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Aboard Blue Ice in the race!


Thank you for reading the blog! The next should be up within a couple of days… Big, Fun news on the way!!!


Thank you!!!

To hear and download my music

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/keywestchris

(also available on iTunes, and CD Universe! Search “Key West Chris”)

Article source: http://keywestmusic.blogspot.com/2015/04/in-key-west-every-year-there-is-on.html


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Beer Show! Key West Beer Tales

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BEER SHOW

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Key West Beer Tales – The Sum Of All Beers


We’ve been doing both a beer show podcast and a music show podcast since last summer and we’ve had a blast doing them! We’ve had the beer show available on the Spreaker site for a while. These are shows that have already aired. We’re also picking up new stations!

The beer show is very unique and frankly, I see it as far superior to anything else out there as far as a beer podcast goes.

In most cases when a consumer is investigating a beer of any sort, they’ll look on line naturally. There are a good deal of web sites that rate beer. Rate Beer, Beer Advocate, Yelp, Untapped, Beer-Universe, Beer Of The Month Club, and there are most likely others that I don’t know about. Of course, this shows what a healthy state of interest beer is enjoying today.

Ours is different however. To start with the place we get our information on the beers is from the brewery itself. Now and then a brewery has a website that has little or no information on a beer. When this would happen I looked at these sites to see if they had any information. Many times in doing this, with one particular beer I found alcohol content (ABV – alcohol by volume) to be 3.7 on one site, 4.2 on another, and 5.0 on another. Obviously, none of these could be trusted, because it appeared that they were pulling numbers out of a hat. So, with us, if it’s not from the brewery, we don’t state it without a disclaimer that it’s an educated guess. We don’t arbitrarily stick a number that we pulled out of the air. Draft beer can vary. If the brewery lists a beer as 5.0 on line, a keg may arrive which has a sticker on it showing 5.2. It will never be more than .2 over/under, and we’ll state the particular keg’s brewery rating. Again, it’s the rating from the brewery that we go by.

Our panel is unique and covers a wide range, giving the listener a good foundation to work from. Our standard panel is five, although sometimes one or more may have other commitments and can’t make the show.

However, here’s our roster and how we all fit in. I’ll start with myself and name the crew in the order that we sit at the show.

Key West Chris: I’m the old school beer guy. I started drinking quality beer when I was eighteen (legal age back then) and became intrigued with it from the beginning. I bought the book The World Guide To Beer by English author and patron saint of  beer, Michael Jackson just after it was was first released and proceeded to buy over forty books on beer. The beer in my refrigerator today, is never the same beer that is there tomorrow, nor has it been my whole adult life.There is no beer that is my favorite, or favorite style. Every beer has it’s place.

Dani Hoy: Dani is new (but getting more and more a veteran) to quality beer and therefore a vital part of the show. She’ll often ask questions that I, or some of the other crew, would never cross our minds. Everyone is new to beer at one point or another. We all were. So it’s very important to address that side of things and cultivate those with new interests. Dani is the gateway for that side of the show! Additionally, Dani is a marvelous chef in the kitchen!

Cowboy Mark Straiton: Mark is a fascinating individual who’s traveled the world and happened to be a major beer enthusiastic while doing so. He’s also right on the money as to exactly what is trending in the beer world, at this exact minute, as well as when it changes five minutes from now. While I’m the old school beer guy, Mark is the new school beer guy. He’s extremely well versed on beer and funny enough, his and my pallets are quite similar in many circumstances. Mark is also a very well versed bartender and an accomplished chef.

Diamond Dave: Dave is our lighthearted member who keeps us laughing. After all, laughing is essential when drinking beer. Hell, if we were too serious the show would be boring! We all have great senses of humor and Dave is often the catalyst who gets us laughing, of throws gas on the fire, when we already are! Dave is quite knowledgeable on beer as well and has been a major IPA fan for over fifteen years.

Dave Senior: Dave Senior is the owner of The Cork and Stogie, here in Key West where we record the shows. One of the greatest attributes here is having a bar owner on the panel! Dave sees things from a totally different angle than anyone else. Dave sees what people are buying on a day to day basis and orders his beer accordingly. Dave is also an expert on both cigars and wine, which again brings things to the table not found elsewhere.

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Key West Beer Tales reviews beers, we don’t rate them. Rating beer is B/S. I recall doing a show where we featured Pilsner Urquell. Now, Pilsner Urquell has always been regarded as one of the finest beers in the world. One of the on line beer websites had it rated by their subscribers, in the seventies out of one hundred. Seriously? What many highly respected beer experts over the years have called Pilsner Urquell as the finest pilsner available, or inthe top three at worst, these people are rating in the seventies? I’d love to see the woodwork they’re crawling out of! Another rating had an opinion of Stella Artois as “tasting like Budweiser”.  did that individual burn their tongue with a blow torch or something? What kind of people do they have rating anyway? 

Those are but two examples that lead me to believe that there was not only a call for our show, but also a need for it as well.

So, we comment on the beer and note what flavor impressions each one of us pick up. Everyone in our group has a very educated pallet. Some may not be routed in beer. Dani’s stems from cooking. Dave Senior’s comes from wine and cigars. Interestingly enough, when anyone expresses a taste, everyone else picks up on it. I can’t say how many times one of our panel says they taste something I did not detect. From that point on, I notice it, however had they not brought it up, I may never have noticed it on my own.

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This is a beer show. In being a beer show, it’s different than many other shows in one particular regard. Yes, you’ll get a very good variety of opinions and in puts. Yes, you’ll pick up all sorts of fascinating facts about beer that you never knew. Yes, our stats come from the brewery itself, we don’t invent it on the fly, Yes, our panel is quite diverse which without doubt is our strongest point featuring traditional opinions, the new and trending opinions, new quality beer drinker ‘s questions and opinions, the pub owner’s viewpoint, however we’re different in one other very important aspect and this is a vital aspect  which separates beer drinking from so many other subjects:

We know how to laugh!

 We’re beer lovers, we’re not beer snobs.

We know how to laugh! We know how to have fun! We don’t hold ourselves above anyone and we love to educate those who want to know more and everyone has a blast doing it!  The antithesis of any type off snob. 

So come join us! Be sure to grab a beer before you tune in and have your laughing pants on and pad and pencil ready!

We do out show from our benevolent sponsor’s bar:

The Cork and Stogie
1218 Duval St.
Key West, Fl. 33040


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To hear any of our past shows check out our Spreaker account!
It works the same as Youtube or Soundcloud!

For all of our current shows airing, here’s the weekly schedules!

KW Beer Show Schedule (all times are EST)

KWOM – 10am and 10pm Daily
http://www.tikilive.com/radio/kwom-key-west-original-music-radio

Trop Rock Radio – 6pm Friday
http://www.radiotroprock.com/Welcome.html

Radio A1A – 10am Tuesday
http://www.radioa1a.com/

The Shore – noon on Saturday
http://wnyshoreradio.com/

Tiki Beach Shop – 2pm Monday, Wednesday Friday
http://www.tikibeachshop.com/

Permanent Vacation Radio – 10pm Monday 8pm Friday
http://www.pvradio.com/

Islandradio.net 6pm Saturday

Beach Life Radio   Monday – Friday 7PM

http://www.beachliferadio.com/

Palm Tree Radio – 

http://www.palmtreeradio.com/


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Thank you!!!

To hear and download my music

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/keywestchris

(also available on iTunes, and CD Universe)

  

Article source: http://keywestmusic.blogspot.com/2015/03/beer-show-key-west-beer-tales-sum-of.html


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Winter Relief!

                                                         Winter Relief!!!!

It’s been a very difficult winter this year for most of the United States. Fortunately, here in Key West it’s been fantastic, so we’ve been blessed!

Today, it’s sunny and 82 (28C) degrees. I felt perhaps a bit of music from the Keys, as well as pictures, might go well!

Hope you enjoy!

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I hope that helps a bit! All the Best From Key West and the Florida Keys!


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/2015/03/winter-relief.html


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Recording In Key West With Homemade Wine

                              Recording In Key West With Homemade Wine

A little while back I mentioned that I was soon to embark on a new album. Well, there were some delays, but on February 12, 2015 I went into the studio and we got the ball rolling! This part of the album, is a bit of an island from what will be the rest of it.

This section actually is rooted almost two years ago when my friends with Homemade Wine out of Knoxville, Tn. were in town and we had a jam up in the band room at Margaritaville where they were playing.

At my suggestion, we jammed on Marshall Tucker’s song “This Ol’Cowboy”, as we were both major Marshall Tucker fans. Of course they were familiar with the song, but up to that point, had not played it before.

We had a blast playing it and percussionist, Tod Sheley, video taped it. It’s gotten a lot of attention on their YouTube channel. It was a great evening, without a doubt.

After this, we decided we’d love to write a song together. I started it, but whenever they were in town, regretfully there wasn’t time to get together and work on a song.Consequently, I wrote the rest of the song.

It was written musically by design to have a close relation to This Ol’ Cowboy, though at the same time, it’s very different. The song is entitled “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow”. Kind of semi-philosophical of how I lead my life. Learn from the past, live in the moment, set goals for the future, based on sailing on a sailboat motif/foundation.

Well, here we are and even though we never got to write the song together, we did record it right here in Key West.

The original plan was to record it with Dan Simpson, however Dan didn’t have the facility to do it live, which was the plan. A block away from me is Lance Taylor’s Key West Studio, so that was made the official destination. We could set the whole band up there and do live takes.

It’s an amazing studio, built into a small Conch House, not far from the Southernmost Point. It’s also Lance’s home, however it’s far more accurate to say that Lance lives in the studio, rather than the studio is in Lance’s home.

As you walk into the house via the front door, you are walking into the drum room, complete with sound deadening, plus,  a set of drums that the late, great Richard Crooks donated to the cause, so that they could be put to use by all who need a set of quality drums to record with. A great philanthropic gesture indeed, by the Maestro, prior to his earthly departure.

From there you enter the control room, where all of the computers are. Mission control, so to speak. The bass was set up here, which gave great proximity to both the drums on one side and the rest of us on the other. On that other side is what would be the dining room, however this is where the rest of the band sets up. For us this day it was two electric guitars, an acoustic guitar, and added percussion.

Before all of this, we met up in the band room at Margaritaville, where the band was playing,  the day before. We actually were doing two songs, the other being another song of mine “Ride to the End of the Line Anyway”. Both songs needed to be defined structurally and the guys need to be versed with what was going on and when.

The guys were superb! What more could you ask for really? They not only gave their undivided attention, but also helped immensely in the arrangements. I had done the arrangements, however they refined and defined them. Ryan Sheley has a very keen sense of what works. Often as a writer/arranger one cannot see the forest for the trees as you become so embedded in it all.  Ryan would say “lets cut that bar before the chorus and just go right into it.” He was 100% correct. Thanks Ryan!

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(Ryan Sheley going over songs in the band room)


Rick Reese was fantastic at defining what went where and what chords were used. Having a Berkley College of Music graduate on hand was the proverbial silver bullet. The rest of the band was fantastic as well, all just falling into the arrangements as we went along.

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(Rick Reese in the band room)


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(Andy Westcott and Brad Williams at rehearsal)

Additionally, after that was done and I left, they continued to work on them later that night. These guys were dedicated professionals. Their efforts are greatly appreciated!

The next day we hit the studio. As always, there were a few glitches to overcome, but that’s expected and nothing was extreme.

The two songs I chose to do with them were both Southern Rock based songs. “Ride To The End of the Line Anyway” was on the Allman Brothers side of the tracks, while “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow” was from the Marshall Tucker Band side of town, influence wise. Doing two songs based on Southern Rock, who better that have Homemade Wine backing me?

To show progress as it goes, here’s some snippets of the songs. A lot must be added still, but for those not in the business, it might be interesting to see how a song progresses.

Here’s a snippet of “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow”

And “Ride To the End Of The Line Anyway”


Some folks only know me from my album “Shanghai’d and Marooned in Key West (things could be worse)”. On that album I tried to bring in a bunch of influences I’ve had over my life in music. Consequently, every song was in a different root genre. Afro/Cuban, Jazz, Brazilian, Bahamian, Country… the list goes on.

The album got fantastic accolades from all over the radio and recording business. The late Jeff Allen said “Shanghai’d and Marooned in Key West (Things Could Be Worse) covers so many different genres, it’s another great addition to the ever expanding sounds of Trop Rock by adding so many different new flavors to it.” Jeff Allen, Beachfront Radio

Also, I received an e-mail from none other than Shelly Liebowitz from Los Angeles, producer of Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Dr. John… saying that he loved the album! It really doesn’t come any stronger than that. That’s a seriously heavy endorsement.

Fact is however, that although so many people within the industry had such good things to say about the album and played the heck out of it (and still do! Thanks everyone!), it hasn’t sold as much as I hoped for.

It was funny because as we were in the studio last night, Dani Hoy said to me with a smirk while listening back to Ride To The End Of The Line Anyway, “That’s not Trop Rock” to which I replied “No, it isn’t”. We both laughed. I then replied “It is Conch Rock however!”

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As sales within the Trop Rock community hasn’t been supportive enough, I need other options to augment sales from other angles, in addition to Trop.

Everything is my passion that I’m doing, that’s the most important thing for me, in addition to carving new trails to go down. The one thing I insist on is not sounding like anyone else…. even myself sometimes. Not necessarily the creed of a pop artist, but I’m a songwriter and a progressive artist anyway.

What will it sound like?  Key West and the Florida Keys, naturally!

You can take that to the bank.

More to come as it proceeds!

Thank you again!
———————————————————————————————————–
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/2015/03/recording-in-key-west-with-homemade-wine.html


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Key West

Key West – Cuba – The Potential part 1

(listen to the Afro Cuban All Stars while you read the blog!)

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On December 17th, 2014, President Obama announced that the United States and Cuba would be restoring diplomatic relations. On January 19th 2015, the U.S. announced that they will be holding talks with Cuba ending travel curbs for U.S. diplomats. As it stands at the moment, both Cuban diplomats in the U.S. and American diplomats in Cuba are restricted in where they can travel. What this is however is a first step in the right direction.

The interesting thing here is, as far as U.S. politicians go, it’s a non-party issue. Some Republicans are for normalization of relations, while some are not. Likewise with the Democrats.

As far as citizens go, Gallup polls in December showed American citizens favored restoring diplomatic relations by 60%. Other polls went as high as 63%.

Just going by what I’ve seen on Facebook was remarkable. Bear in mind that I don’t take political sides on issues in public forums, such as Facebook, for the most part. In addition, I side with both parties on different issues. Because of this, my friends on Facebook are pretty evenly divided 50/50 as far as being Republicans and Democrats.

While the Gallup polls showed 60%, what I found from my Facebook friends posts, as well as reaction to my post on the announcement, was well over 90% in favor. It was to the point that one had to actually search out those against it. Those in favor came from both political parties.

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As I said earlier, the meeting in January was to improve diplomatic travel. They will also be establishing American credit card use in Cuba, which currently is not allowed and consequently, not in place. In addition, the talks in January were including agricultural subjects. In addition, the U.S. Embassy in Havana will re-open.

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On February 9th, 2015, the American company Netflix announced that they will be servicing Cuba. Expect to see more and more companies starting to do likewise as time goes on.

What will come of all of this should be normalization for travel for everyone. I say should, because Congress will have to approve ending the fifty something year old embargo first. Politicians often put their personal agenda ahead of that of their voters, so there’s the possibility it could be rejected.

It’s clear what the people of the United States want however. Hello, Washington D.C.! Please be sure you are listening! Right now, I can fly to Beijing, Communist China, invest millions of dollars in investments, even live there, if I choose. However, at this moment I can’t go to Cuba and spend a dime. Congress, please take note. The majority of your constituents are NOT in favor of this. Make your decisions accordingly. 

While there are many hoops of fire to clear, the end result should be for Americans being able to travel freely to Cuba.

Assuming Congress does what the American people are in favor of, lets jump ahead a bit to the point that, say I, a U.S. citizen, can get on a plane and fly to Cuba on a whim.

That’s how it used to be! I recall when I first moved to Miami well over thirty years ago (I’ve been in Key West for almost seven), I recall hearing stories from all sorts of people. They would tell me how they would head to Havana for a weekend, prior to the restrictions being put into place. It seemed that clubs and bars were the normal attractions at the time. Of course they were talking about the 1950’s, and of course, things have changed there since then. However, albeit a bit behind the other communist countries in Europe, Cubans are discovering that making money isn’t such an evil thing after all.

The bottom line here is: How will opening up Cuba effect Key West?

It takes some thought and for myself, it’s such a stimulating thought that when I think about it, ideas flow like cocktails out of a shaker. More often than not, as one idea springs up, three more replace it, in the refining process. So where do we start? The question can be overwhelming. There is so much to talk about and options are literally endless. Additionally, the thought of all of the legal snaggles, obstacles, and headaches that have been created in the political porcupine over the last fifty four years, is mind boggling. For what I’m doing here, that would only be a quagmire for creativity, so I’m going to omit those thoughts for the time being. Repeating the aforementioned question, where do we begin?

There’s only one place to begin logically and that’s at the beginning.

The start of this is imperative to begin now, not run around like headless chickens once the embargo and travel restrictions are lifted. This way, when they are lifted, Key West is hopping into the drivers seat in the fast lane, while everywhere else is scrambling.

 Lets face it, Key West is the closest point in the U.S. to Cuba. From the Southernmost Point at the end of Whitehead Street states that it is 90 miles to Cuba. Key West is closer to Cuba than the closest Walmart. It’s also closer to Cuba than it is to Miami, both by a good deal at that. Both anchor points of local tour guides, here in Key West. So, from a geographical point, Key West is an ideal location for a Cuban connection of any sort. Additionally, the Cuban population here is not the radical Cuban population that one finds in Miami. Key West has always been more open to friendly relations with Cuba.

The Key West International Airport currently isn’t hosting any regular international flights. However, it is a registered international airport. Additionally, in 2011 Key West was authorized by the U.S. government to send and receive flights from Cuba. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Cuba also has to authorize the flights and if I’m not mistaken, this has been in progress for several years. Hopefully, now with the resumption of diplomatic ties, this will be expedited.

The Key West airport director, Peter Horton, the mayor, Craig Cates, and the city commissioners must all be commended on getting Key West International Airport authorized as an airport for service to Cuba. The foresight they had by getting it completed as far back as 2011, gives a lot of confidence in the overall Key West’s overall outlook for Cuba. Lets call ace’s, aces. They had the foresight in getting it done well before any of the current developments announced in December 2014. That’s beyond a good move in anybody’s book.

Strictly thinking on my own behalf, the next move would be giving an attachment between Key West and Cuba. My preference would be:

“Key West – The Gateway To Cuba”

To begin with, this is an accurate statement once flights can be re-established. Key West’s first name was Cayo Hueso. The nickname for Key West in Cuba was “Habana Norte” (Havana north). Cultural ties with Cuba run deep and well established. The cigar industry was huge here in the 1800’s. All of the tobacco came from Cuba and was rolled here.

On the 600 block of Duval sits the San Carlos Institute. The San Carlos was originally a school for Cuban children whose parents came to Key West. It’s a beautiful facility, the current structure having been built in the 1870’s. It was owned by the Cuban government up until the Cuban revolution.


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The classrooms have ceilings that are 20ft high! It’s the type of structure you would find in Old Havana.

The underlying point here, of course is that Key West and Cuba are very closely connected.


Years ago, I had heard that Key West and Havana were “Sister Cities”. In doing this piece I researched that and found nothing unfortunately. Perhaps I was mis-informed? I’m not certain. However, as at one point the citizens of Cuba referred to Key West as “Habana Norte”, what could they be other than sister cities? Perhaps this can be a quest to be achieved?

Most of my professional life was in sales. In my time in Miami, I worked for a man named “Joe D”, or “Mr. D.” who owned a large firm and not only owned it, but was also the general manager and took a very active role in the sales department.

Mr. D. would hold weekly sales meetings and one of the things he instilled on the sales staff was “selling the sizzle” that our product offered. Sure, someone may come in and say they were looking at a Corvette, but wanted to look at a Porsche as well. Of course the Porsche was a better car, but we had to show the potential customer why it was better. Such as Porsche won thirteen victories at Le Mans, plus two victories in cars that used their engines. Things like that. Nothing B/S, just highlights that make a Porsche a thoroughbred and not a run of the mill car. The Porsche costs significantly more than the Corvette, a cost that must be justified.


The exact same thing is true with Key West being the ideal point of disembarkation to Cuba, in the very near future. Sure, anyone can take a flight out of Miami to Havana, or Tampa, Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago, San Juan, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Atlanta, New York and Los Angeles, for that matter. All are already authorized to fly to Cuba. Plus, lets face facts. When the time comes and Cuba frees up for the average person to fly to Cuba, on a whim, at that, the vast majority will fly out of those aforementioned cities.

Key West is a small, quaint little town that is an island less than two miles wide and four miles long sitting on the very outer fringes of the United States, only ninety miles from Cuba. It’s “Habana Norte”, perhaps by then, a sister city. Perhaps one can fly to Key West for a week and take a day or two excursion to Havana? The Hemingway connection alone, between Key West and Havana, is unparalleled.


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 There are all kinds of ideas people can have use Key West as the Gateway to Cuba. Like the aforementioned Porsche, one sometimes needs to show the attributes, the panache, and the romance as the reason to go to Cuba from the Key West. Another very wise sales manager and friend I worked with, Rick Asci, often said “Often the best deal is not always the best price”. If that’s not the truth, I don’t know what is!

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As Time goes on, I’ll visit the subject of Key West and Cuba as things develop. We’re only at the embryonic stage at this point.

However, there’s no reason at all that Key West can’t be considered “The Gateway To Cuba”.

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Article source: http://keywestmusic.blogspot.com/2015/02/key-west-cuba-potential-part-1.html


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