Archive for the Trop Rock Happenings Category

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:

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

Thank you everyone!!

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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!

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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!


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!!

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Open Mic Key West

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Open Mic Key West 2014

(listen to “Liveaboard” while you read the blog!)


The Key West Open Mic at McConnell’s we’re doing has constantly had great success in the past and since we started doing it again at the beginning of the year, it’s picked up where it left off. As in the past, people read this blog from all corners of the world. Consequently, they also come from all over, more often than not, armed with an instrument to play, which they brought along with them on their vacation to Key West, because that factored into their decision to come to Key West for their holiday in the first place! I think I’m doing something right apparently! It goes without saying that we have our local core supporters who are there every week, week in, week out and if it were not for them, there would be no open mic to begin with. I refrain from naming names because I’ll inevitably forget someone and feel like a jerk

At this moment the open mic is on Thursday’s at 9pm. We follow Trivia night, so it’s not always starting precisly at 9. If any schedule changes do take place, I’ll post both here and on Facebook.

As I’ve stated in the past, every open mic is run differently. I’ve attended dozens run by many, many different people and having attended many in the past, I’ve come up with a system that really is as faultless as it can get. I’m not boasting, mind you. None of this was my idea, per say. I just took the best of all I’ve found and pooled them together. It works too! Damn well! So, to every open mic host that I’ve had the pleasure of attending your open mic, Thank you!! Especially David Leicht, who’s was the first I attended in Miami and, when it all boils down to it, it’s the closest I pattern mine after.

One thing that is mine and mine alone however is the theme. For starters, when someone new comes in the first thing I tell them is “If you can’t have fun here and be laughing, we’re going to throw your ass out!”

One quick note: This is an “Open Mic” not an “Open Jam”. The difference is slight, but in an open jam, there is usually a band, or an individual that you go up and play with. In an open mic, you go up on your own, or with friends that are with you. There’s not an established band or individual(s) that you play with.

Going back to the requirement of having fun, this also is required of myself as well. In order to do this and maintain being the laughing ringleader of this circus, I have to keep it as simple as I can. I therefore use a signup list. My view is that everyone is responsible for themselves to sign up and where they sign up is where they go. Easy and fair. You sign up number 6, you’re number 6.

There’s no bumping anyone ahead of anyone. At least not until Mick Jagger and Keith Richards walk through the door and only have 40 minutes to spare. We’re talking Jagger/Richards here, not a friend who just arrived into town. If players do want to switch, anyone it affects can’t be affected. So if player #6 wants to swap with player #3, fine. But player #3 is not now in the #4 slot, they are in the #6 slot. Therefore, players #4 and #5 are not affected… A.K.A. it’s fair.

I can’t tell you how many of these events I’ve been to where someone walks through the door and the host by passes all who’ve been there for an hour or two and puts them on stage. Here you have people who have spending a lot of money on dinner and drinks waiting to play and supporting the event, and they are suddenly treated like yesterday’s garbage.

I’ve seen the most passive, docile people in the world, suddenly have steam coming out of their ears like a whisteling teapot. These are people that are here every week, week in, week out. They’re the bread and butter of the machine. They don’t deserve to be treated like crap, In addition to that, it’s a completely moronic business decision from the get go. A.K.A. Never bite the hand that feeds you!

So, I put out a sign up list at one point or another, when I’m setting up. I’m always first on the list regardless. It goes without saying that I have to make sure the sound is correct for everyone else, so I’m that guinnea pig. I give Dani Hoy, my girlfriend and #1 roadie the option of being #2 first, as she’s helped lug everything from home. Sometimes she takes it, sometimes she opts for #4, #6, or whatever. After that, anyone who wants to play signs up. When we get through the list, we start over, so everyone has the opportunity to play twice, or more.

I’ve also been asked via message, text, and phone call “Can you sign me up for about 10:30″. Sorry. Everyone’s responcible for themselves. Like Bogart in Casablanca “I stick my neck out for no one”. Besides, it’s similar to the above case. There are people there buying dinner and drinks and maybe their signup would put them on at 10:45, yet someone waltzes through the door, having not spent a penny, and they’re ahead of the person who’s been there? Not on my shift.  It again, goes back to being fair for everyone.

At my open mic, it’s fair for everyone.

McConnell’s (900 Duval St.) is very, very good to us! On paper we run 9 to midnight. I can’t recall the last time we stopped at midnight however. The early side is !2:30, the late side is 2:00am. In fairness to other places, many have restrictions on how late they can play, so you’re limited. Another great thing about McConnell’s is that it’s right on Duval St. I can’t tell you how many people walking by, who normally had no intention of stopping there, hear the music through the open door, stop, look in, then come in! To say that thousands have come in because of live music, is not an exaggeration in the slightest. They’re not musicians, but like so many in Key West, they love live music!

My view is that as long as the register is ringing and everyone’s having fun, we’re continuing! This has been my policy, where permisable, forever. Some other musicians don’t care for it, they think I’m doing them a disservice. They think because I do it, they will be expected to do likewise. I don’t know what they’ll be expected to do? What I’m doing is the simple business sense that I’ve used in my former thirty year career, carrying over to this: Give the customer more than they asked for. The customer in this case is the bar/restaurant. It’s a known fact: When the live music stops, the customers leave. If I’m still playing, they stay.

My job as a performer in a bar is not to play music, per say. So many in the music profession just don’t get that concept in the slightest. A musician’s job is elementary and it’s truly amazing how many musicians just don’t get it. Likewise, it’s even more amazing how many bar owners and managers don’t get it either! A musician’s primary job, before anything else, is to make the cash register ring! Hello!

That’s why we’ll stay as late as 2am. Everyone’s having fun and the cash register is singing it’s favorite song!

My feeling is that because it’s fair for everyone, it’s a very successful open mic.

If you are coming to Key West, be it as a musician or someone who loves live music, stop by on Thursday nights at 9!


Dani Hoy and I have been playing about town recently as The Shanty Hounds. It’s been a blast! A few weeks ago I bumped into Redawg, the amazing drummer who plays the Zendrum. Redawg suggested we pool our efforts together and go as a trio. Talk about a new dimension!

Suddenly we’re becoming the talk of the town! HA HA HA!

Before this, Dani and I would do our duo songs, then do our individual sets. With Redawg we play everything together. We’ve been playing at Seadogs/Hen and Hounds a fair amount and having a blast! Last Saturday we played until 2am! We were scheduled to 12:30 (see the above article on open mics for the reason why). There’s a lot of energy in this gig!

More to come on this as we progress, but we’re having a blast!

MOTM 2014

A few plans are in the works again this year for MOTM, here in Key West. For those not familiar, MOTM is the Trop Rock gathering in Key West at the end of October/beginning of November.

One event, yet un-named will be on the final day, Sunday November 2nd, from 1:30 – 5:30 at Sunset Tiki at The Galleon!

Some REALLY exciting news will be announced very soon on this, so keep tuned in! There will be a Bar. B. Que going with burgers, dogs, and maybe chicken. More on that as we dot the I’s and cross the T’s!!!!


I apologize for the pictures in this blog! Photbucket is going through some change and I can’t reduce the size of the pictures, so I’ve gone back to an old Flicker account for the pictures. As you can see, I haven’t figured out how to get the size option correct yet! HA HA HA!!!
 K.W. 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!!

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Key West Brew Fest, Tipping, Conchalele, Beer Show on Spreaker

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With the “Key West Beer Tales – The Sum Of All Beers” radio pod cast show coming into stride, The Key West Brew Fest is naturally a main focus for us. This year marks the fifth year of the event and according to the web site, there are over 150 beers represented here. I have no reason to doubt this, having just returned from the event.

As virtually half of the readers of this blog are not from the U.S., the first weekend in September is a national holiday, known as Labor Day. This year September 1st fell on a Monday, which is the day off, so the holiday was August 30, 31, and September 1st.

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While there are many events, the main event is always held on Saturday at South Beach, Key West, right outside the Southernmost Cafe, right on the beach. Large tents were set up by distributors and  contained all their representative beers from around the country. Importers were also there showcasing their products. Some of these beers weren’t available at all, such as the Steigl Brewery’s “Sonnen Koenig” ( The King’s Sons) aged in wine barrels and 1/2 in bourbon barrels. What a masterpiece and a true treat!!

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The event was a blast! All of the reps for the beers were just great. Most were very educated in their product, so as a beer nut, I was able to ask in depth questions and get informative answers.
Only two critisizims. While the Key West Brew Fest runs from Thursday to Monday at various places around town, holding their own events, the main event that I’m talking about here is only one day and runs from 4 – 8PM on Saturday. My feeling is that this event should be held on Sunday as well. On the flip side, the vendors are havng a blast right along with the crowd, so Sunday may be a recovery day.

There was also live music. Great that they had it! The problem was it was too loud. Anywhere within 75 feet (25 M) of the stage the most common word between everyone was “What???”. If their volume was set to 8, it should have been at 5. As a musician myself, I always have to rely on the bar staff to make sure my volume is acceptable. In a bar setting, or one such as this, the clientelle has to have the option of either listening, or having a conversation. On the stage, it’s often impossible to tell as we hear everything through a monitor, which is set for the volume on the stage, not the audience. The organizers need to establish a volume level for the performer. Any pro won’t be offended.

At our radio pod cast “Key West Beer Tales – The Sum of All Beers”, we’re hoping to have a table at next year’s event! This will be a bit of a twist, as I don’t think there were any organizations there over the weekend who didn’t have a beer to offer. The hope with us being that we can do a live broadcast. However, even if we can’t do that.. there are a lot of requirements, such as a strong internet connection, we’ll do the pod cast regardless.

I HIGHLY recommend anyone who is a fan of great beer, to make the trek to next year’s Key West Brew Fest!

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Tickets were $35 in advance via their website and $40 at the gate. They give you a 5 1/2 oz  or about 0165L  plastic glass. In plain terms, about half a bottle of beer.

Perhaps the finest way to sully, tarnish, and just plain drag your name in the mud in the Keys is to be a lousy tipper. The wait and bar staffs have their own coconut telegraph that blows up like gasoline to an open flame! I recall a few years ago being in one bar and hearing the staff talking about a particular customer, who was discribed in a not all that complementary fashion. … actually, that’s being quite kind. They were livid. The next day I was at another establishment on the other end of the island where I heard staff members talking about the same individual. He hadn’t been there, however the word had gotten around the island to watch out for him. That’s right, one end of the island to the other in 24 hours. He was kind of a well known guy as well, having been in the news, so it was somewhat easy to identfy him. In the end, no one wanted to be associated with him as he had been labeled an “asshole” and ended up moving after several months.

I had a friend come and see me at a bar I was playing at. At the end of the gig the waitress comes up to me and says “That friend of yours gave me a $1.25 tip”. A $1.25 tip. Her service was excellent as well. Unbelievable. I handed her four bucks which warranted the appropriate tip for the bill and told her that it was a reflection on me, as they there as my guest.

Tipping is based on an 18% standard. Here’s an easy way to figure it out. Round the 18% off to 20%… it’s good karma! Take your total… lets call it $50.00. Double it and move the decimal point one space to the left and you have a $10.00 tip. It’s not really too tough.
 Bottom line is if you can’t afford a 20% tip, you have no business ordering anything to begin with. Just go home. Frankly, it’s stealing. It’s a theft.


Several weeks ago we had someone arrive at the open mic I hold every Thursday at McConnell’s with a very unique instrument. It was a ukelele, however it was made from a south pacific conch shell! Bob McPhail, who spends part of his time at the Boca Chica marina, came up with the idea and started construction on it. He christened it a “Conchalele”!

As we speak there is only one in the world, however Bob has orders (and conch shells) for five more. These are all hand made and electrified. Construction is superb and it’s a stunning instrument that gets hoards of attention!

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Bob has a blog which showcases his Conchalele. Be sure to check it out. Anyone who plays a uke, will find it fascinating!!!


As our beer show, “Key West Beer Tales – The Sum of All Beers” has no time that makes it go bad, we’re now posting the shows that are already aired on Spreaker! Now you can listen to all of our past shows that have already been aired on the radio stations!
 When listening, be sure to have a beer at the ready and vicariously drink a beer in Key West with us! Also, make certain you have your laughing pants on!

Here’s the link, plus you can also download the ap for your smartphone!

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For the up to the minute hot off the press radio pod casts, here’s the current schedule:
KW Beer Tales  Airing/Stations Schedule
KWOM – 10am and 10pm

Trop Rock Radio – Sundays 5 – 6

Radio A1A – Monday’s at 7 and last week’s show every other day

The Shore – Friday at noon

Tiki Beach Shop –  Monday, Wednesday, Friday  –  2Pm

Tiki Island Radio – times TBA

“LIKE” our Facebook Page!!!

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!!

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Key West Summer Weather, New Album C/D In The Works Part 1, The Beer Show

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Key West Summer Weather

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One of the great things about Key West is that predicting the weather is really not all that difficult. The seasons are different, but each season and sometimes months are the same year to year, for the most part. So easy, in fact, that baring the unusual oddities or, God forbid, a hurricane, it’s pretty similar from one day to the next.

So easy in fact that I made this generic weather forecast for local station 104.9 The X radio station. It’s not the first I’ve done for them. I did another a couple of years ago and it still works just perfectly!

As the video says, it’s going to be hot! t is summer after all and we’re in the tropics as well, so what would anyone expect?

Every day I take note of the temperature. This year’s been a bit hotter than last year. Back then we had a total of three days that hit 90 degrees. That’s 32C for our metric readers. This year, I’ve lost count… back in June! It may sound like a big difference, but in reality, it’s splitting hairs. Is there really a major difference between 89 (32.2C) and 90 (31.7C) ? Not at all.

When I first moved to Florida, several decades ago from New Jersey, where I grew up, I worked in Coral Gables (a city surrounded by Miami). I recall walking down the street at lunch time and while the ambient temperature was around 88 (31C), the same as New Jersey/NYC, the difference was in the power of the sun. Walking down the street, the power of the sun felt as though it was pushing you harder into the sidewalk. If I weighed 150lbs (68 kilos), it felt like I was carrying an extra 20 pounds and weighed 170 pounds (77 kilos). It’s the power of the tropical sun and that’s what it’s like in the Key West. Consequently, what you do is walk on whatever side of the street that has the shade is! Pretty simple and common sense.

I’ll hear people sometimes complain about the summer heat. I think that’s pretty foolish, if you ask me. You’re in the tropics, it’s summer time, what do you expect? Of course it’s hot. The true facts are that very often in the summer, it’s hotter in New York, Boston, Pittsburgh, Chicago, or Atlanta, than it is in Key West. Key West has never hit 100 degrees (38 C). I recall growing up thirty miles west of NYC and the summer hitting 106! (41 C). Additionally, the air there often wouldn’t move for days on end. It would just sit there. In the town next to where I lived, Ridgewood, N.J. there was a scenic overlook in a section of the town refereed to as “the Hights”. Right off this overlook, the land dropped maybe fifty feet (16.5 M) and there was a valley which stretched right to NYC. On a clear day, it was beautiful. However on these days where the air didn’t move, it was a brown cloud of air pollution that just never moved out.

In Key West, we have the trade winds blowing through. 90% of the time, there’s a breeze and that 10% when there isn’t one, it doesn’t last all that long.

Humidity is high in the summer as well. Again, when people complain about it, it’s the same here as it is in NYC, Chicago, or Boston. For someone who heads north for the summer, weather wise speaking, they are jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

For visitors, summer is the true deal, as far as visiting Key West and the smart travelers visit then. They already know all of the aforementioned weather I explained above, plus the hotel rates are, far and away, the lowest of the year.

New Album/CD In The Works – Part 1

I’m starting to put together ideas and songs for my next album, which I hope to start recording this fall. There is a big weight to follow up my last one “Shanghai’d and Marooned in Key West (things could be worse)”. When Miles Davis’ producer writes from L.A. to say “Chris, I love your CD! It makes me feel like I’m back in the Keys!” it means this next project has extremely large shoes to fill!
For those of you who are not in the music industry, I’ll share a few things that go into making a new project like this. I say project because I really don’t know what the next name for these are going to be? Back when they had vinyl, it was an album. Then when CD’s came out in the early 80’s, it started being called a CD. Today? Who knows? Aside from live performers like myself and the Country music field based in Nashville, the music industry is all downloads. So I’m not sure what to call it, or what it will be called down the road. Maybe back to “Albums”?

Henceforth, that’s what I’ll refer to it as.

The first thing I have to deal with are the songs that will be on the compilation. It’s like choosing favorite children. I was wrestling for a name for the album until I wrote a new song for it. It was a tricky song to write, in that in this case, it has to make you smile and hopefully laugh, yet continue to be fresh all the time, continuing to make one smile and laugh when they hear it, time after time. If it’s done like a joke, it’s funny at best the first few times once on hears it. After that, it’s all over. So it can be a fine line. With this song, I gave it a wide birth because I don’t need to be walking a tight rope, fifty stories over a mote of crocodiles.

The title song is called “Jump Into De Fire”. Unlike “Shanghai’d and Marooned in Key West (things could be worse)” this album will have a title track. Shanghai’d actually had a title track, but I never completed writing it, so it missed being on it. So, we have one song on it for sure! Another song that will be definitely on it will be the newest mix of Island Blue, featuring Misty Loggins on vocals and Dani Hoy on background vocals.

When I recorded Shanghai’d, one of my main objectives was to have every song sound different from any other song on the album. I can’t tell you how many albums/CDs I’ve listened to over the years, where every song sounds like the song that preceded it. No thanks. One of the ways I achieved that was to write songs in different root genres. We had Afro/Cuban/Motown, Jazz, Country, Funk, Barrel House Blues, Brazilian, Bahamian, so on and so forth. In the end, nothing sounded like anything else on the album. In addition, I also used a lot of different musicians on different songs, so that contributed greatly to the album’s diverse sounds.

“Jump Into De Fire”s goal will be much along the same lines of having nothing sound like anything else on the album. How it will be executed remains to be seen. Unlike Shanghai’d, there could very well be songs of the same root genre on this album, for one thing. Logistics may also come into play. Last year, after performing with Misty Loggins at the Key West Songwriter’s Festival (and her doing “Island Blue” for me) I wrote a new song, a duet for the two of us to do, “Sometimes We Tote The Load”. the logistics being that if she’s not available to fly down to Key West from Nashville when we record it, “we’re up the creek”, as they say.

(Misty Loggins and I doing Island Blue)

Dani Hoy and I are in progress of putting a song together, “Smile”. I have the music pretty much done and a fair amount of the lyrics. Dani’s looked at it a few times so far, looking forward to  seeing what she will add!

Meanwhile, there’s a bunch of songs I have to weed through and figure out what goes and what stays. Then, on the one’s that stay, band arrangements must be put together. Trust me, it’s a whole different animal from playing it solo live and playing it in a studio.

Updates on this will follow in each blog, as I think readers might like having some insight on how making an album all comes about.

Beer Show!

The beer show is stepping up it’s game big time! This week we had a live studio audience in the form of Tiffani and Mike Green, which was a first. At this time, Dave Sr. who owns the Cork and Stogie with his wife Leslie, has approved having guests. We’re very limited in space and the guests must agree to not talk. We already have five personalities babbeling away and that’s really the total limit we can have for a radio audience. However, for a nominal fee, you can be in our audience!
We’ve also have a Facebook page:

A Twitter page:

Here’s the schedule, All times are EST (a.k.a. Same as NYC)

KW Beer Show Airing/Stations Schedules:

KWOM – 10am and 10pm

Trop Rock Radio – Sundays 5 – 6

Radio A1A – Monday’s at 7 and last week’s show at 7 every day of the week other than Mondays

The Shore – Friday at noon

Tiki Island Radio – times TBA

Tiki Beach Shop –                                         Monday, Wednesday, Friday  –  2 PM

More to come on this as we go!

 Thanks again for reading the blog everyone!

To obtain my music:
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My CD is available on iTunes, CD Baby, CD Universe, Rhapsody, and Beachfront Radio.

Search: Key West Chris

Thank you everyone!!

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Radio Show and Some Bad Business in Key West

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                          (Looks like an electric palm tree!)

As I mentioned in a previous blog, my girlfriend Dani Hoy and I are doing not one, but two radio shows all of the sudden!

Stop by our pages on Facebook for each show, which will have airing schedules listed. I know a lot of you are in Europe, the times posted are Eastern Standard Time, which is -5 hours GMT and -6 hours for the continent.

For the Key West Beer Tales – The Sum of All Beers:

For the The Key West Music Show – Conch Rockin in the Keys:

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I really don’t care what people do behind closed doors. That’s their business, not mine and frankly, I have a lot more to be concerned about than being a busy-body, sticking my nose into other peoples personal affairs.

However, if it’s a business and when the buisiness is being unethical, that’s where I draw the line, especially if it’s a detriment to the town of Key West.
The Key West Adult Entertainment Club ( formally The Scrub Club) at 1221 Duval St. seems to always be in the news… albeit not so much in the LOCAL news and the news is ALWAYS bad. Very, very bad.

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Lets set the stage: The Key West Adult Entertainment Club is a strip club that features only private rooms.

The story here is always exactly the same. A customer goes in, must sign a waiver and is charged something in the range of about (hence to referred to as “@”)$200. After that runs out, everybody is naked and the guy hasn’t achieved what he went in there to begin with for. They have an ATM, but it’s down the hall. The guy being naked, takes the advise of the girl there and gives her his card to take out an additional amount of agreed money. Lets say it’s another @ $200, for arguments sake. He stays in the room and she goes and gets his @ $200 from their ATM. Naturally, he doesn’t see that the ATM fee is not$2.50, $3.00 or $4.00, but rather@ $50.00! The girl will NEVER come back with a receipt either. “Oh! I forgot to get your receipt and the transaction’s already closed” Of course if they did the customer would see the @$50 ATM charge.

 Now here comes the fun part. Every report carries the same M.O. Only the amounts are different. What they are said to do next is put in for another withdrawl! There’s another $50.00 fee and the ammounts withdrawn reports say are $600.00, $800.00, $1000.00, $1,500.00, $6,000.00… and so on! Meanwhile, the guys, more often than not, find out about this after they get back home, to Chicago, New York, Atlanta, New Orleans… You’ll see it in their local papers and once in a blue moon, maybe, just maybe, in a Key West paper, albeit, just in passing. Every report says that it cases are being investigated, but that no charges have been filed.

It does seem odd that all of these cases that pop up continuously, from all around the country, never have anyone charged. While I grant you for thinking that the clientele are pretty stupid for giving out their ATM codes to begin with, one has to consider the fact that A) the establishment knowingly is stealing their money and no doubt violating the trust and responsibility issues of having an ATM, a.k.a. a remote bank, there on premisis and in their control in first place B) The clientele is usually inebriated to some extent or another, C) At this stage of the game they are 75% – 99% of achieving nirvana and in their condition, clearly not thinking rationally. I’m amazed that the city of Key West doesn’t have the owners tared and feathered, then run out of town. However, they continue to operate.

There are police cars, often two or three, there responding to  issues there at minimum of once a day.

The word of mouth is perhaps the worst. What happens here is that these people go back home after being fleeced by this rat’s nest, and allow me to ask the question: Do you think they’re thinking of coming back to Key West? I doubt it. Likewise, can you imagine what they might be telling friends and acquaintances  of their overall experience in Key West? Granted, they may refrain from where they had their disastrous experience at this slut hut, but believe me, they’re not trumpeting the fabulous virtues this town actually does have to offer.

Additionally, having known a previous manager,  I was brought up to speed on a few things. They put up for housing a lot of their female employees. There are “requirements” they have to follow in the business and if they didn’t fulfill these “requirements” in any way, they are “fined”. The fines would be levied on them for being late, not hanging out on their front porch hoping to lure in customers, not doing their required one hour strut down Duval St. in attempt to solicit additional  business ( this is illeagal, by the way) , and for not moping up the floor after their customers achieved what they went there to begin with for.


There were cases when he worked there where some of the girls owed more than they actually made! Additionally, as they actually housed the women, they had them entirely over a barrel, so to speak. The girls didn’t have any money, as they had to pay off their fines and the establishment applied and deducted them against their earnings. How can they leave? They can’t. So they’re stuck there. Yes, this is happening in the United States, not a back alley brothel, where the streets smell like urine, in Bangcock, Calcutta, Shanghai, or Mumbai. It’s happening in Key West folks. This is a problem. This is a major problem.

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Sir Peter Anderson

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Sir Peter Anderson

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Thirty years ago a man named Peter Anderson arrived in Key West and Key West has been the benefactor ever since. Several years after his arrival, Peter Anderson  was appointed by the mayor, saloon owner Captain Tony, as the Secretary General of the Conch Republic. He was also knighted by the King of the Conch Republic, Mel Fisher, thus carrying the title of “Sir Peter Anderson”, of which he was very proud indeed.

His first main focus in being the Secretary General first was to ensure the floundering Conch Republic Days, the celebration of the independence of the Conch Republic, would continue on. This he did extraordinarily well and because of his gallant efforts over the years, to this day the festival is booming! He also started the Conch Republic Days Parade! Yahoo!!!

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(Sir Peter Anderson leads the 1998 Conch Republic Parade. Picture by Rob O’Neil)

My first introduction to Sir Peter was in 2006, I think it was? Because of the idiotic rules that the U.S. has for Cuban immigrants.( if they come here by boat or raft as immigrants, they must land on U.S. soil. If intercepted on water, they are repatriated to Cuba) In this case, a group of Cubans sailed on a raft to the U.S. and landed on one of the abutments of the Seven Mile Bridge here in the Florida Keys. Because they didn’t reach dry land, but rather one of the supports for the old bridge, they were collected and sent back to Cuba. Sir Peter consequently went to the Seven Mile Bridge and declared it Sovereign Conch Republic Territory. The rest of the Conch Republic territory, from the Dry Tortugas through all of the Keys, is joint U.S.and  Conch Republic. However, as the U.S. did not recognize the old Seven Mile Bridge as territory and sending the Cubans back, Sir Peter claimed is as sovereign Conch Republic. Additionally, his proposal was to build affordable housing on top of it! Apparently, somewhere there are architectural plans drawn up for it!

For me, a songwriter living in Miami at the time, with a serious eye on moving to the Keys, this was too good to pass up, so I wrote a song about it! It actually was supposed to be on my album “Shanghai’d and Marooned in Key West (things could be worse)” but on the day we were completing the rhythm section of the tracks on the CD, I was just completely out of gas, so to speak and when Richard Crooks said “Ok! What do we have next? The Seven Mile Bridge” I was just too tired and it never was recorded.

I do have a demo however and here it is:

While writing the song, I contacted Sir Peter for the first time. What I found was a man who possesed the very rare combination of a completely off the wall sense of humor, combined with an intelect that was very clearly far into the genious level. Now, take these two very uncommon attributes and add to it the fact that the man was anchored, as solid as concrete, with, get this: common sense and logic. Plus, he was a great proponent of having fun and incorporating fun into everything he did. 

After I moved here, one of my first order of business was to meet Sir Peter Anderson in person. This didn’t take too long as he was a part of the 2008 Phlockers Gone Wild party at the Blue Heaven restaurant’s outside stage area. He swore in the entire crowd there , with beer in hand, as Conch Republic citizens! The lead off picture of this blog, is him doing so that day.
Here’s another picture from that day, Sir Peter can be seen in white at the bar.

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Sir Peter also came up with all of the utterly fantastic sayings you’ll hear regarding the Conch Republic. Things like “A Sovereign State of Mind”,  “We Seceded Where Others Have Failed”, and “The Mitigation of World Tension Through the Exercise of Humor”. Sir Peter also got the Conch Republic passports rolling. I am a proud holder of one of these.

He also set up the Conch Republic website. Be sure to check it out!

The Conch Republic flag was also Sir Peter’s doing. Back when I made my business cards I asked permission to use it for the card. Naturally, without hesitation he said “Of course!” after a moment he said “Would you do me a favor? Would you mind putting ‘Used with permission’ under it? It can be microscopic if you want. All I ask is that it’s there”. I immediately said absolutely and it’s been on the cards since they’ve first been printed.

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Sir Peter was as well, a great proponent and organizer of good causes and charatible events, such as Reef Relief, of which he was elected president and  Habitat for Humanity.

I don’t think I would get any arguments at all if I stated that Sir Peter Anderson was the biggest proponent of the Conch Republic itself. He actually was able to make a living out of it. He was a true ambassador for this silly little country, this “fifth world state of mind” as he also acronymed it.

(Sir Peter Anderson explains the history of the Conch Republic at Schooner Wharf Bar)

His actions tought me a lot. As this little archipelago of islands, I quickly came to believe, having a long extensive sales background, that it is all of our responsibilities, to do our part in promoting the Conch Republic. Chances are actually maybe one in a hundred that individually we might gain somthing ourselves out of it. However we don’t do it for ourselves, we do it for all of us who live on these islands. “The needs of the many out weighs the needs of the few” as Mr. Spok had said. Being the wise, logical, man that I saw him as, when I spoke up on a subject Sir Peter spoke on, I’d always bang the same drum. Sir Peter always had the best interests of all and the Conch Republic at hand.
On a fuunny note: I recall several years ago I had heard that Mel Fisher had been the King of the Conch Republic, however he had passed away and I couldn’t find who was the current king. So, naturally I asked Sir Peter and he gave a very quick answer, without hesitation. “Mel Fisher!” was his retort. So I said “Well, Mel Fisher has been gone for several years.” and he answered “Yeah, so?” and I naturally replied “So even though he’s dead, he’s still the king?” and Sir Peter answered “Of course!!” I laughed my ass off! It’s that sort of humor that just encompass the Conch Republic.

Any conversation I’ve ever had with Sir Peter was always peppered with laughter, from both of us. Humor was one of our similar attributes and in our conversations it reared it’s ridiculous head all the time. His favorite regular spot to watch the Key West sunset was always Louie’s Backyard and he was always enjoying a quality beer… another similar attribute we shared!

On Tuesday, 16th of July, 2014 we lost Sir Peter Anderson to cancer. Back in October he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Ironically, from a man who never smoked. Unfair as it was, he fought a gallant battle and won on many fronts.  He was back from the hospital and was in at least two parade events and a ridiculouse running event that went across the Cow Key Bridge from Key West to Stock Island… about 100 yards!

On my next batch of cards the release will be augmented to:
 “Used with permission of Sir Peter Anderson”

Godspeed Sir Peter! It was an honor ato know you and you were a true inspiration. Thank you!

And in closing I will quote Sir Peter Anderson:

“Long Live The Conch Republic and Long Live  Every One of You”

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(Picture by Ralph DePalma)

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!!

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Dateline: Key West

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Dateline: Key West

A lot of fun things happening as of late, here at the Conch Rock Shanty ( what we call our house) in Key West. We moved a couple of months ago, fortunately only a block away from where we were. We used to be “90 miles and three blocks from Havana” now we’re 90 miles and two blocks from Havana! We now have a small yard, which facilitates a place for the dogs to run around, a garden, a hammock, a deck, and of course, a bar b. que! So, we’re off to the races, so to speak!

Media #1 – The Beer Show
Over the last  year and several months,  I’ve been involved with a small segment of a radio show up in Cleveland, Island Time Radio Show, hosted by Dennis King (DK) and Amo Bennett. My segment there is a small one. Ten minutes every four or five weeks. The subject was beer! It’s always been a lot of fun! I have a lengthy background on the subject, going back to when I was of legal drinking age, so I’m not someone who just hopped on a somewhat new bandwagon. I’ve been at it for a while. I collected over thirty books on the subject, both from the US and Great Britain, so it wasn’t merely a drinking  education either! HA HA!

When the show first started,  I did it in a small craft beer bar here, which was kind enough to allow us to do it there, “The Porch”. The first show went well, however it was done over the phone and a bar being a bar, there was too much noise from the background for the radio show to hear us clearly.
I was subsequently at my local bar, The Cork and Stogie, and was speaking to the owner, Dave Bevens Sr. about our situation with the show. He mentioned that The Cork and Stogie closed at eleven and if I would like, we could do it there after they closed! It worked out perfectly! Additionally, I had two great side-kicks with owner Dave Sr. and bartender and brewer “Cowboy Mark” Straiton!

The show was a blast! We had a great time and took it quite seriously actually. Around last September, Dave Sr. and I were at the Key West Brewfest talking with various vendors to see if they would be interested in backing us doing our own show. Everyone expressed interest! The issue was how would we do it?

Over the months that followed, there was little progress made in that direction, although the subject was often at hand. In December my girlfriend, Dani Hoy, moved to Key West and started contributing to the show. This was not a move made by nepotism, but rather a great and worthy addition to the show. In an age where beer interest is booming with new enthusiasts, Dani’s addition was perfect. Here was someone who really appreciated a quality beer, but didn’t know much about it. So, she asks the questions that the rest of us don’t see, but so many people are curious about!
We’ve continued the show with Dani and on a completely different subject, Dani and I get contacted by local musician and radio personality, Bo Fodor, about doing a music show for his internet station, KWOM (Key West Original Music). As Dani and I are both musicians, this seemed to be a great idea! However, when Bo offered the music show to us, I realized that here was the exact platform we were looking for with the beer show as well!

With the beer show we decided we’d have a video of the shows that we could make available to the public, sometime after the stations air the shows! To help us with this we took on Dave Bevens Jr. who has a background in audio/video to help us out in that department. In addition, Dave Jr. is also a bar tender at the Cork’ and adds a lot of fun and humor to the show!

We’ve done three of the beer shows so far and the very first one has just aired! In addition, we’re also picking up new stations!

When you tune in, be sure to have a beer in hand and you’ll be drinking a beer with us in Key West!
Here’s the current schedule and where it’s being aired:

KWOM – Every day, twice a day 10am and 10pm EST

Radio A1A – Mondays at 7pm

 Radio Trop Rock – Sundays 5 – 6

Media #2 – The Key West Music Show – Conch Rockin’ in the Keys

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As I mentioned, Dani and I were approached to do a music radio show which we jumped and named it “The Key West Music show – Conch Rockin’ In The Keys”. We’re doing it from our house, The Conch Rock Shanty,as we call it,  over here on Thomas Street in Key West. For our first show we had ourselves as guests, We had never done a pod cast before and felt that using ourselves as guinea pigs would be the best option. Before the first show aired, we had three stations lined up! Bo’s KWOM, of course, then Radio A1A with Harry Teaford hopped on, then The Shore, up in New York State, our first terestrial/internet station. Shortly after that we had Tiki Island Radio come aboard, from Punta Gorda, Florida followed by Steven Youngblood’s Radio Trop Rock up in the Pensacola area. Next thing we had The Tiki Beach Shop up in Chattanooga, Tn. Things are growing!
Our next guest was local musician and the guy who gave us the platform for both of our shows, Bo Fodor. The following show featured transplanted Hawaiian, here by way of Hawaii, Marine brat growing up, all over the US including California, Nashville, Arizona and the last twenty years or so, … Norway!

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(Renn Loren being interviewed at the Key West Music Show – Conk Rockin’ in the Keys with Dani Hoy)

The future of the show is pretty open. We just interviewed Eric Stone, owner of the Dockside Tropical Cafe up in Marathon Key. Eric is a great musician and songwriter who bought the establishment and re-opened it at the end of last year. We interviewed him as an owner of a bar/restaurant for a twist from always interviweing only musicians thus far. Also, we did the interview on location at The Dockside, which for us at least, is a first. Also in the very near future we plan on interviewing Daryl Brooke, owner of the Grateful Guitar music store, here in Key West and I’m sure we’ll also grab Wayne Sorbelli who owns the other music store on the island, Bone Island Music.  The field is wide open for us and there’s all sorts of things we have for both the music show and the beer show… in the hopper! Pun intended!

Feel free to listen in at any of the stations airing our podcast! All times listed
are EST  ( -5 GMT)

KWOM Key West Original Music  –  8am  and  8pm every day

Radio A1A – 10PM every day

The Shore –  Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon

Radio Trop Rock –    Tuesday @ 5pm, Thursdays – 5pm,  2 am Saturday’s and Sundays

Tiki Island Radio – 10:30am  and 6:30 PM Tuesdays

Tiki Beach Shop  – Times TBA

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Mercedes Benz, Mercedes-Benz Museum

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The Mercedes Benz Museum

Note: In this blog, I’m taking a side step from the usual Key West Blog, to share with the world an incredible experience I had, many, many years ago. As you’ll see, this experience was a very important part of my life, for which I am still amazed at to this day.

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I was twenty one and I was going out on my big adventure. back packing through Europe! I had no desire in the least to travel with anyone. just go by myself. A lot of people thought this was very weird. Myself however, I thought it made perfect sense. This way there were no compromises and I’d do everything I set out to do. It worked out perfectly, as it turned out. I went to every place in Europe that I set out to visit. Some places were more significant than others, however I got to see them all! As this story is specificly about the Mercedes-Benz Museum, I’ll restrict this blog story to that visit.

The preamble to all of this was that my father, Robert C. Rehm, had been working for Mercedes-Benz of North America (MBNA) since 1963, shortly after MBNA was formed, and was instrumental in setting up their North American sales organization. So, I grew up with the firm, so to speak. Every couple of months, my dad would come home with a new car that the company assigned him. This was an era where there weren’t all that many Mercedes on the road and passing cars would always wave to each other. Dad brought home over those years, the greatest assortment of cars! 200, 200D, 220D, 230, 250S, 250SE 280S, 280SE,280SEL, 280SL, 300SEL, 300SEL 6.3, 450SE, 450SEL.. I think he brought home virtually every model that was in the product line over those years, with the exception of the two 600 models! The only person in the organization who had one of those was the CEO of MBNA, Karlfried Nordmann, whom I met once at a company family get together.

In those early years where I was somewhere between seven and eight, my dad brought me home a book, “A Racing Car Driver’s World”, by Rudolph Caracciola, perhaps the most famous racing driver of his era (1925 – 1953). The book was fascinating and I loved every paragraph! Easily one of my favorite books I’ve ever read. I still have it to this day.

Reading this book was more of a passion than anything else for me, I found it tremendously exciting to read about the races, fellow drivers, and of course the cars themselves.

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)Caracciola in a W125 at Monte Carlo, 1937)

While Mercedes-Benz was ingrained into my soul, I also couldn’t help but love the competition as well. The Auto-Union of the thirties, was Mercedes’ biggest rival and what a car it was! It looked so sinister with the engine behind the driver. The engine was magnificent as well. Sixteen cylinders and designed by Dr. Porsche, for the first several years.

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(Hans Stuck Sr. in an Auto Union C Type)

In one passage Caracciola talks of a time where in a press gathering, he and Auto-Union driver Berndt Rosemeyer, switched cars and gave them a run. Imagine that today? I don’t think so HA HA HA! They both agreed that the ideal car for 1937 would have an Auto Union engine and a Mercedes transmission… albeit, with the engine in the front.

The bottom line here was of course, that I learned everything I could about all of the Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix and record cars (in 1938 a Mercedes-Benz record car set the fastest official speed ever recorded on a public road. It still stands today, 76 years later).

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I knew these cars like the back of my hand and I read about them day in, day out for fourteen years, so, as you can imagine, visiting the famous Mercedes-Benz Museum was a top priority for me, to see these cars I had only read about prior.

I first landed in England and toured their before I went to the Continent. I was in Munich and mentioned to a few fellow travelers in the youth hostile I was staying at, that I was planing on going to Stuttgart to see the museum. This was always met with the same answer “Oh Stuttgart is an industrial city. It’s all Mercedes and Bosch”. Obviously I wasn’t going to give their advise any attention. I was going to Stuttgart, no matter what they said.

When I arrived in the Hauptbahnhof (train station) as soon as I alighted from the train, a local approached me with a friendly smile and asked “Are you looking for the youth hostle?” in English. I said I was and he gave me directions. On the way there, I’m guessing it was maybe six or eight blocks, I was approached by at least three other people offering to help me find the youth hostile, all with a friendly smile and a sincere attitude of giving visitors a warm welcome. Forget what the tourists said in the Munich youth hostile (Munich itself was wonderful!), I found Stuttgart to be a very friendly city. I tied it for being the most friendly on my entire European tour, with London.

The next day was my big day and I set off for the Daimler-Benz factory, which within it’s complex was the Mercedes-Benz museum. It was a somewhat cold day in October as I crossed the Neckar River and saw the outside of “The Wall of Death”, the Mercedes test track that I’d seen so many times in the Mercedes magazine “In Aller Welt”, that my dad would bring home. What a thrill!

After passing that, there was an entrance to the factory compound with a guard house. I approached the guard house and in my best German, asked the guard inside how I could see the museum. To my stonishment and dismay, he told me that the museum was closed. When I heard this I exhaled and it seemed that every ounce of enegry left my body. The guard saw my disapointment and went on to explain that a terrorist group, the Badder Meinhoff Gang, had kidnapped and brutally murdered a board of directors member of Diamler-Benz and that the factory was closed to all outsiders.

I was so dejected, but I fully understood. The needs of the safety of the firm out weighed the dreams of my own As I turned to leave, I had only one option that I just thought of. I pulled my wallet out and handed the guard my father’s Mercedes-Benz of North America business card. I told him that was my father and he asked me for my passport. I didn’t hesitate. The last names matched of course and he looked over at me and said “Ein moment, bitte” and he picked up the phone to make a call.

He was on the phone for quite a while,making a series of calls, obviously talking to different people and waiting on their replies. After about a half hour, he stuck his head out of the guard house and said in English “Welcome! You’re one of the family!” and shook my hand with a smile from ear to ear. He informed me that they had arranged for a car to come out, pick me up, and bring me to the museum. I was elated, yet a bit confused. The bottom line was, I was going to the museum!

What had turned out happened was the guard called a director of the facility, who in turn called someone else higher up the chain of command, who did likewise until one of them called my dad at MBNA in New Jersey, who confirmed who I was. Amazing!

After a few minutes, a black 220 airport style limo comes and picks me up at the guard house. I thanked the guard profusly. I know I made his day, as much as he made mine. An executive was in the car and greeted me warmly. As we drove to the museum, within the complex, he talked about how sorry he was that the museum had been closed, but it was a securty situation we all had to deal with.

When we arrived at the museum we walked up to the front door and he pulled out his keys, unlocked it, entered and… really… turned on the lights. He mentioned to me to make myself at home and stay as long as I liked. He would be in an office there if I had any questions, as he had some work to do. He also mentioned that later in the afternoon, there were people from the U.S. picking up their cars on what is known as, the European Delivery Program and were going on a factory tour in Sindelfingen, if I wanted to go, I could.

Here I was, they opened up the Mercedes-Benz museum just for me. I couldn’t believe it! I was in a state of both shock and gratitude. Nonetheless, I spent about three hours, looking at all sorts of cars, but spent most of my time around the racing cars W25, W125, W154, W156, W165, W196.

 photo MercedesW154_zps2d426998.jpg
(1938 W154s in France)

 photo MercedesW156_zpsa82db7ef.jpg
(1939 W156)

 photo MercedesW165_zps8bd4f417.jpg
(1939 W165 Tripoli)

 Even the still-born Type 80, that Hans Stuck Sr. and Dr. Porsche had as a project with Mercedes-Benz, designed with a Daimler-Benz DB 601 aircraft engine but never run, for the world land speed record, was there.

 photo mercedes-benz-t80-display_zps34766379.jpg
(The type 80)

A few hours later, I was off by a special factory bus to the Sindelfingen factory, to see how the product was manufactured, with a group of people picking up their brand new Mercedes-Benz cars. I rode the bus back to the main facility in Stuttgart and had a great conversation with the tour guide about all things Mercedes-Benz.

To this day, decades later, I am completely blown away by the acts of kindness and compassion, by so many people at Mercedes-Benz in Stuttgart. They all went so far out of their way to help a member of the “Family” see his dream come true. I felt it extremely important that this experience be documented.

 photo MercedesStar_zps3f68b73e.jpg

Mercedes-Benz built an all new museum several years ago. I felt it important to mention this amazing act of kindness that was extended to me years ago and I hope I do get to visit the new facility one day!

As a songwriter, one day I’ll write a song about this incredible experience.

Of course, I write this from my own perspective, however it goes much deeper than that. What was exhibited here was a sense of loyalty of workers to the firm they worked for and the belief that together they were all a team. Here we had a series of employees, from a guard at a gate, to super high executives all pulling together for the sake of a co-worker’s son. Strings were pulled, a lot of strings were pulled and in a day where overseas calls cost a fortune, that didn’t matter the calls were made. They actually opened the museum for me, a twenty one year old wearing a flannel shirt and hiking boots. That has always instilled a serious sense of pride of being a part of such an organization.

I am eternally grateful to all at Mercedes-Benz and to every one in the firm,  I say “Thank you und Vielen Dank!”

Christopher R. 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!!

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WFR – not quite on island time, on my way to paradise

Posted in Island Enthusiasts, Island Time, Trop Rock Happenings | Comments Off

Did you ever have one of those days when things just don’t seem to go right.  I have had about five in a row.  Last Thursday I was driving my old car to Atlanta where I was going to leave with a friend to use while I am in the islands.  I made it as far as just outside of Montgomery, Alabama and it broke down.  When I say broke down, I mean it broke down.  I am not a mechanic but I got a tow truck to pull it into a small shop and they were able to look at it on Friday.  It needed some steering part that had to be ordered and it would not be in until Monday.    In the interim I spent a couple of unexpected nights in Wetumpka, Alabama where I stayed at the Wind Creek Casino and Motel.  It is a pretty nice place and though I am not much of gambler, I had some fun in the Casino. Monday of course was a holiday so my car part arrived today. About six hours of labor later my 1968 MGB is back on the road and I will be driving on to Atlanta tonight.


I will be in Atlanta late this evening and  I will spend the night with my friend and his wife and then tomorrow  leave for Miami,  Port o Spain, Trinidad and on to St. Lucia.  I will arrive in St. Lucia day after tomorrow at about daylight.

I think it only fitting that I spent a few hours on the side of the road with a broken down car, just to get my mind right for the trip back to the islands. I can’t wait to see the beautiful blue waters and the palms swaying in the breeze.  I can almost smell the spices in the air, taste the fresh seafood and feel the sun shining down on my skin.  I don’t know exactly how long I will be on St. Lucia but I know for sure it won’t take but a few short hours to decompress and get back on island time.  I have been away too long.

It is funny how life gets in the way of living.  I had some personal business…life…to get behind me so I was out of the islands much longer than I wanted to be.  During my time off I wasn’t sitting still.  I have spent a time in western Canada, Alaska, San Francisco, York, England and a few other places. None of which were tropical. The nearest thing to tropical was a four day trip I made to San Diego last December and trust me it was far from tropical.  I love San Diego and I enjoyed some great seafood and time on the rather cool beach but, I need the tropics.

Anyway, by this time tomorrow I will be in Port o Spain, grabbing a bite to eat, waiting to board another plane on to St. Lucia.  I hope to be able to fill you in once I land and get my feet back in the sand.

William Fair Roberts…not quite on island time, on my way to paradise.

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