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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Key West! The MOTM Adventure 2014 Part 2!

MOTM Part 2

Continued….

We left Key Largo for our next stop down the Overseas Highway which, as I’ve noted before, everything in the Keys is measured by Mile Markers (MM) which start in Key West with Mile Zero. That next stop was Robbie’s. at MM 77.5. Robbies is a must stop in the Keys! Old time Keys place where the main attraction is a rickety old dock, where you can purchase a bucket of small, dead fish and feed the large Tarpon there! Tarpon are a large fish, native to the Keys, Florida, and the Caribbean. Here’s a good video I found on Youtube from there!


There are other arts, crafts, and locally accented novelties (T-shirts, hats, …) available there as well. Our friends from New Mexico, Brian and Michelle, had never been there in previous trips to the Keys and were thrilled! Robbie’s is highly recommended!

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Having spent about an hour there, we continued on our journey south to Marathon and and off Overseas Highway to MM 54. We took a right at the light where there’s a Publix Supermarket and drove just past it to the first street on the right and then about ¼ mile to The Dockside Bar at Boot Key Harbor.

FYI, Boot Key Harbor is where Bogart was heading at the very end of the movie “Key Largo” on the boat when he radioed the Coast Guard! ;-)

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The Dockside Bar, owned by Eric and Kim Stone was the site of our second Pit Stop Party en-route to Key West. The Dockside was voted one of the ten best bars in the Keys a couple of years ago in this blog and rightfully so! Loads of Keys character! Naturally, there were loads of people attending and it was also one of the events that was a Beachfront Radio event! It was also broadcast live on the radio!

I had to be careful. The last time I played the Dockside, this happened!

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The Dockside is a true blast and is highly recommended!

Dani Hoy and I were fortunate enough to do a few songs too! We did Dani’s “I like It Hot”, a steamy jazzy song which can be found on her latest CD “Songs of Love and The Ocean”. As well my song “Liveaboard” (© 2006 Christopher R. Rehm BMI), which was actually inspired from events that occurred at the Dockside Bar in 2006!  Additionally, we did Dani’s song “Mallory Square” and my song “The Beach!!!!”. We finished it off with a new original song “Sometimes We Tote The Load”, which is a duet that Dani and I have been singing together and getting great compliments on! That always is wonderful on a new song! For performers, it’s like heading out on thin ice when you do a new song. Getting a great reception certainly takes a load off the shoulders. For all of our performances of this song, thanks to all who complimented us! It really means a lot to us!

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Half of the Dockside actually sits out on the water with the view of the Boot Key Harbor mooring field.

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A big thanks to Eric and Kim for hosting this great event and also to Bob Jaeger for handling the sound!


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After several hours, lunch, hearing a bunch of great performers like Rick Schettino, Eric Stone, Brian & Michelle (B Man and the Miss Beehavins) and many others, it was time to head further south to Ramrod Key and the final Pit Stop Party at Boondocks hosted by Tammy and Marc Hollander of the Southernmost Coconut Castaways!

Another great event, as is everything that Tammy and Marc put together is! A great turnout over their two day event, as well with musical host Steve Tolliver and his band TheTtrop Rock Junkies!


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(The Shanty Hounds at The Pit Stop Too event at Boondock’s)

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(Rick Schettino at Boondock’s Pit Stop Party Too)

Tammy and Marc are good, personal friends and I know that the organization that they put into it started about six or seven months before. It puts things into perspective of all the work that goes into these affairs and can easily be taken for granted by the rest of us who just attend.It short, they bust their tails!

So a very big thanks to Marc and Tammy, ( Bondocks), Eric and Kim The Dockside Tropical cafe, Ray Yu (The Original Pit Stop Party in Key Largo) for all of the three Pit Stop Parties!!!!!

From there we were off, dashing to Key West for our beer show “Key West Beer Tales, The Sum of All Beers”. We had the top people from the Stiegl brewery in Salzburg, Austria in specially for us to interview!

We arrived in haste, but nonetheless, on time and ahead of the Stiegl folks! A very big thanks to Robert Schraml, president of Stiegl, who was just a fabulous guest! The show just clicked on every level! It was our finest moment thus far with the beer show, without doubt! A very big thanks to Robert and also Roger Thompson III, the local rep for Stiegl’s importer!!!

I’ll post a link to that show after it airs.


To be continued… keep an eye out for “Part 3” coming soon!



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!!!!!

All the best from Key West!

Key West Chris

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Fantasy Fest/MOTM Part 1

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

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


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Dani Hoy and John Sausser at The Bull

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

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

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

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


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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just before sunset we ran up to my old favorite bar, the Caribbean Club, up US1 a couple of miles for sunset. Tough to beat both the establishment and the sunsets there. A lot of the 1948 movie "Key Largo" was filmed here and you can feel the spirits of Bogie and Bacall there!


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For the evening we retired to Sunset Cove resort, which I spoke about in the last blog. I love this place. As it turned out, our friend Rick Schettino was also there and he, Dani, Brian, Michelle, and I headed out on the dock with guitars playing commenced! After a short while a few people came out who were also staying at the motel and joined us. They were from Washington State and had spent the last week in Key West for Fantasy Fest and catching a flight from Fort Lauderdale for home in the morning.

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued.....




To obtain my music:

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

Thank you everyone!!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Visiting Key West (Part two) !!!

Visiting Key West  (part 2)

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



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

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




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

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Sunset Cove, Key Largo

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Sunset Cove, Key Largo
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Sunset Cove, Key Largo

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Sunset Cove, Key Largo

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

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Keys Music

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

"When we're driving, as soon as we hit the Keys, we put your album on the car stereo and listen throughout our drive through the Keys!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Things To Do!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A Funny, Yet  Typical Key West Tale!

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

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

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

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

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


Thank you for reading the blog!!!

Key West Chris

To obtain my music:

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

Thank you everyone!!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Visiting Key West (part one)

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!!




Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Bucket List,The Dry Tortugas! Fort Jefferson

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 National 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 contiguous United States. It's owned by a man named David Walkowski, a Key West resident, known for wise real estate investments and developments. He also has a house he built on Ballast Key, which is currently on the market for $15,000,000.00. Regretfully, I'm a few bucks short.



Ballast Key

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



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

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

(picture from Wikipedia)

The fort was actually never completed, although it was put into service. Like Key West's installations, it remained in Union hands during the American Civil War.

Dani rented gear and went snorkeling while I explored the fort further. She reported later that the snorkeling was fantastic! All kinds of fish and coral. I saw her from the top of the fort and snapped a few pictures of her with the zoom lens!



I love historic things and history itself. I recall going to the Coliseum 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 recommend the trip for anyone visiting the Keys!






It even has a mote!





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).



View from the top of the fort. The Yankee Freedom III is at the dock.




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 national park, alcohol of any kind is not permitted. Also, it is not called the Dry Tortugas for nothing, so be sure you bring enough drinking water with you for your stay!

Enjoy!

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

Key West Chris Rehm





To obtain my music:

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

Thank you everyone!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Open Mic Key West - 2014, The Shanty Hounds With Redawg, MOTM 2014

Open Mic Key West 2014



(listen to "Liveaboard" while you read the blog!)

OPEN MIC KEY WEST 2014!!!




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!


THE SHANTY HOUNDS WITH REDAWG

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!!!!

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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!!

Monday, September 1, 2014

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

KEY WEST BREW FEST

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. Fellow broadcaster, Diamond Dave Jr. says it was 176! 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 here, known as Labor Day. This year September 1st fell on a Monday, which is the day off we get, 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, on the beach itself. 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 showcased aren't available at all, such as the Stiegl Brewery's "Sonnen Koenig" ( The King's Sons) which are 1/2 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 criticisms. 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 - 8 pm on Saturday. My feeling is that this event should be held on Sunday as well. On the flip side, the vendors are having 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 clientele 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 http://www.keywestbrewfest.com/ 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.


TIPPING
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 described 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 identify 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.

CONCHALELE

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 and craftsmanship are 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!!!

http://conchalelemon.blogspot.com/

BEER SHOW NOW ON SPREAKER!

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!

The Key West Beer Tales - The Sum of All Beers, is Sponsored by:

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

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cork-and-Stogie/224580674233927


 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!
http://www.spreaker.com/show/key-west-beer-taless-tracks

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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
http://www.tikilive.com/radio/kwom-key-west-original-music-radio

Trop Rock Radio - Sundays 5 - 6

http://www.radiotroprock.com/Welcome.html

Radio A1A - Monday's at 7 and last week's show every other day

http://www.radioa1a.com/

The Shore - Friday at noon
http://wnyshoreradio.com/

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

http://www.tikibeachshop.com/


Tiki Island Radio - times TBA

"LIKE" our Facebook Page!!!

https://www.facebook.com/KeyWestBeerTales





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!!