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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

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, A&R 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.

EDIT: Dani Holliday just informed me that there are actually 227 registered songwriters in the event this year, so I wasn't even close, being 77 short of the actual number! All the more work for her! Everyone needs to take their hats off to her, Charlie Bauer, and everyone from the Nashville end of the organizing side of things! Than you! Additionally, she mentioned that if you count bands, there are around 240, then add the songwriters coming here that are not in the event and you're most likely looking at close to and maybe even surpassing 500! Also she mentioned that  there are writers from L.A., New York, England, Germany, and Australia!!! :-O 

As for the event itself, this year it runs from May 6 - 10. Songwriters will be showcasing their songs all over town, at various different venues. With a very few exceptions, all of these events are free, in the best of Key West traditions!

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!

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 Livingston 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 Livingston - 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!

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(On The Beach 2011)

Please also "Like" my music page on Facebook!

To hear and download my music

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

Thanks Everyone!!! 

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At Viva

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

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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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

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


Thursday, April 2, 2015

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

(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

3) Catch Barry Cuda at B.O.'s Fishwagon Friday's 6 - 9

4) Get Out on the Water

5) Catch Bill Blue for a Soundcheck at the Green Parrot 5:30 - 7 Fridays

6) Get out on the water

7) Catch Michael McCloud at Schooner Wharf  Wednesday - Sunday, Noon - 5 

 8) Get out on the water

9) Relax at The Cork and Stogie

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!

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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

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

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Beer Show! Key West Beer Tales - The Sum of all Beers



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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! The beer show has been 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 cover and critique 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, it's recorded in a bar, the Cork and Stogie in Key West! Fitting for a show of our nature! Secondly, we're authentic. 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 the aforementioned  sites to see if they had any information on the beer in question. Many times in doing this I found erroneous information. 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 only an educated guess. We don't arbitrarily stick a number that we pulled out of the air and list it as verbatim. Others seem to do this regretfully. With us, it comes from the brewery or we categorically state that we are guessing and also give a range that we're guessing.

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 seldom be more than .2 over/under, and we'll state that particular keg's brewery listing. Again, it's the rating from the brewery that we go by. If not, we don't without a full blown disclaimer. It's a matter of integrity.

Our panel is quite unique and covers a wide range, giving the listener a good foundation to work from. The standard panel we use is five, although sometimes one or more may have other commitments and can't make the show. On a few occasions we've also had a small live audience.

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 host of the show and 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 thereafter. 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. Dani fits a vital role in our show because of this. So, it's very important to address that side of things and cultivate those with a new interest in cerevisia or cervisia, the Latin names for beer! Dani is the gateway for that side of the show! From my perspective that is equally tied for being the most important part of the show.

Cultivating new lovers of beer is vital for growth and interest and while it may share a front seat with other vital responsibilities, nothing goes in front of it. What other beer show features a novice's questions as part of the panel? I think we're unique here as well. Dani is also the editor of the show, which for each 47 minute podcast, takes her four to six hours to complete. YEY Dani! Additionally, Dani is a marvelous chef in the kitchen, so she has a very educated pallet which is now expanding to quality beers!

Cowboy Mark Straiton: Mark is a fascinating individual who, from his native Connecticut, 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. His tales of beer from his around the world travels is always great fn from street meat in Austria, to fearing for his life in Moscow! He's extremely well versed and educated 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, who's worked in restaurants both in Key West and his old stomping grounds, Brooklyn, N.Y..

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, like throwing gas on the fire, when we already are! Are there any shows that offer this? I don't think so! Dave is quite knowledgeable on beer as well and has been a major IPA fan for over fifteen years. Dave is our "Go To IPA Guy"!

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. Tell me another show that has that?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 last century and 3/4, the highest in their field, have called the finest pilsner available, these people are rating in the seventies? I'd love to see the woodwork they're crawling out of! Probably 1313 Mockingbird Lane! 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. The same can be true for our listeners!

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We often do pairings. Who better than to ask on pairings then peope who are great in the culinary arts as well as being beer lovers? Cowboy Mark has been a professional chef! Dani is great in the kitchen and used to prepare daily meals and dinner for a bourgeoisie couple in a stately mansion on the Patomac. I'm not too bad in the kitchen myself, or better yet, on the grill. So in pairings we offer a very good basis to go by.

Here's one thing you don't see in pairings that we do somewhat often actually. No one is sticking a gun to our heads and saying "Pair this with something!". Quite often is the case that one of our panel will just flat out say "I'm not going to pair this with anything". So often I see pairings being done like a knee jerk and a pairing is a must. Well, you know what?  No it isn't. Some beers just stand on their own. For instance, last night we reviewed Old Ruffian Barley Wine out of the Great Divide Brewery out of Denver, Co. Fantastic beer!!! Pairing? Me? No thanks. I think that beer is best drunk as an aperitif, after a meal, all by itself. In other words, there's no B/S from any of us. ( on the no B/S stand, Cowboy Mark recently described a beer as tasting like a pine cone that had been up a skunk's ass. Now while I'm not sure how he knows what that tastes like, that's certainly a no B/S approach! HA HA HA!)

In addition, as we're based at the Cork and Stogie in Key West (1218 Duval St) we also do cigar pairings. Dave Senior is an expert, as are Diamond Dave and Cowboy Mark as well. Who else offers cigar pairings?

Key West is becoming a popular destination for beer enthusiasts. In addition to The Cork and Stogie there are many bars that offer fine beers. We've had beer entrepreneur Chris Schults, owner of The Porch, 2 Cents, and the soon to be opened Waterfront Brewery, on as a guest and plan on having him on again! Great guy with a vision! Also in the cards is a visit to Bone Island Brewing, a new brewery here in Key West.

We've also had the CEO of Stiegl Brewery from Salzberg, Austria, Robert Schraml interviewed right in the Cork and Stogie on our show! He flew 4000 miles in part to be on our show in Key West. This was planned months in advance. What other show has interviews with CEO's of large breweries, from Europe no less, on their shows?

Future plans for the show include little field trips to different places in, not only Key West, but through out the Florida Keys!

Some video is also in store! We hope to have clips here and there, now and then which we'll have on our YouTube site. We have to learn how to walk before we can run, but it's in the cards!

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 them 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 on what people are buying this month, this week, and today. 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.

Indeed 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 of 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! Here's one show:

And here's the library link to all past shows:

For all of our latest, up to the minute shows airing on radio stations on line,  here's the weekly schedules!

KW Beer Show Schedule (all times are EST)

KWOM - 10am and 10pm Daily

Trop Rock Radio - 6pm Friday

Radio A1A - 10am Tuesday

The Shore - noon on Saturday

Tiki Beach Shop - 2pm Monday, Wednesday & Friday

Permanent Vacation Radio - 10pm Monday & 8pm Friday 6pm Saturday

Beach Life Radio   Monday - Friday 7PM

Palm Tree Radio -

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Thank you!!!

To hear and download my music

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


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

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!!