Thursday, November 19, 2015
My friend Chris Uhland is in the hospital. He stayed with us on Saturday evening and on Sunday morning I was on the computer when he said "Something really weird is happening. I have blood in my urine". Making a long story short, he's now in Baptist Hospital in Miami having had a 7lb. cancer tumor removed, as well as his kidney and spleen. They say he had the tumor for about seven years. A pound a year growth I gather?
Some of you may recall the live video feed of the TRMA awards at MOTM that was to take place, but was canceled for unknown reasons, which I mentioned in my last blog? Well, that was Chris "thedigidude" Uhland on the video side of the show, with the A1A Media Group.
One of the things I saw very early on in getting to know Chris, was that he always puts business first. Harry Teaford, of Radio A1A, is the other half of the A1A Media Group.
As the story was told to me, when Harry approached Chris about starting the A1A Media Group, like anything else he does, Chris did some research into this "Trop Rock music" to see what kind of potential it had and frankly, if it was worth his time.
One of Chris' other jobs is with the Keys television station WEYW. WEYW is connected business wise with WPBT up in Miami. In doing research into Trop Rock, Chris was able to access all of the media stats available, via both WEYW and WPBT. In his research, Chris found that according to all the media stats, Trop Rock has over two million fans. Over Two Million fans! After finding this out, Chris felt the A1A Media Group was justified and on solid ground with both Harry Teaford, and the potential growth for video media in this group.
Please keep Chris in your prayers. The energy he gets from prayers, good thoughts, vibes... etc, keeps him going. He's a very energetic guy. Watching him work is like watching the Energizer Bunny in the commercials! He doesn't stop! He's got several months ahead of him, so please don't forget him. He's a great guy, in addition to being a fantastic asset to the genre.
(Chris "thedigidude" Uhland (R) on the set)
With the stage set, first and foremost I would like to say that I'm happy to be a member of the Trop Rock Music Association! The group started off as a fan club for the group Latitude and was then called The Margarita Mafia and was overseen by Latitude's co-head Tom Becker.
The Margarita Mafia started giving awards at MOTM for various accomplishments within the Trop Rock genre. I always thought this was a great idea having a club voting and giving out awards. It keeps everyone in the club active within the club as well. Obviously, it comes as no surprise that a fan club of a band vote members of the band winners of the clubs awards. It would actually be a surprise if they didn't vote them in. A few years ago they changed their name to The Trop Rock Music Association and rightfully so, continued their club awards.
As I say, I'm all for clubs having their own awards. I belong to The Trop Rock Music Association (TRMA), as well as The Southernmost Coconut Castaways and The Key West Parrothead Club. Membership for each is only $20.00 and for myself, it's money well spent. The Trop Rock Music Association is the only one of the three that has awards.
As I write this, The TRMA show 340 members on their website, while their Facebook page has at this writing, 1,225 members. It should be noted that it may be that not all members of TRMA are signed to their website, as well as a number of people who like a Facebook page are not members of a given club.
Lets go back to my friend Chris "thedigidude" Uhland. His research into seeing if Trop Rock would be worthwhile for him to invest his time into, utilizing the media information available through stations WEYW and WPBT's sources, showed him that there are over two million fans in Trop Rock.
Just to underline this, back in August when Dani Hoy and I played at the Sandbox, Danny Lynn of Tiki Island Radio drove down from Tennessee to interview us before the show. Another station, AMI Radio, was going to air our performance live. As it turned out, the weather wasn't looking too good for an out door event and AMI Radio elected to pass. With that, Danny and I talked and decided to go with a spontaneous Tiki Island Radio broadcast of the concert. There was no promotion, as this was right off the cuff. Additionally, the rain held off. We played for a total of four hours, with a break to see the sunset.
When everything was all said and done, the broadcast brought in 28,365 average listeners over the entire show. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but 28,365 was the average. Keeping in mind that there are between fifteen and twenty Trop Rock stations broadcasting world wide, and Tiki Island Radio had absolutely no promotion for this spontaneous event, I think that easily underlines the figure of "over two million" that Chris' media sources gave. For that night Tiki Island Radio had 28,365 average listeners, while the rest of the Trop stations had their listeners as well, and no doubt, the vast majority of Trop fans doing something entirely different on a Saturday evening. So yes, the media figure of "over two million" comes across as accurate in my book and perhaps a bit conservative at that.
With all of this in mind, now lets go back to the TRMA. They show 340 members on their website and 1,225 fans on their Facebook page. I don't know how many members the club actually has. As I said before, someone who signs up, may very well not join their website and Facebook fans might not all be members. Some people have said they have around 600 paid members, others say over 800. Bear in mind, one has to be a member in order to cast a vote in the Trop Rock Music Awards. For this, I'm going to give the TRMA the benefit of doubling the highest number of members of the estimates that I've been given (800), which brings the total number of voting members to 1,600.
For the sake of easy numbers, lets call the media's call on the amount of Trop Rock fans of "over two million", to just plain 2,000,000.
The bottom line here is that 1,600 people voting on behalf of 2,000,000 equals .08%
Yes, that's not a typo, you read that right, .08%
Having said that, if the TRMA does have 1,600 members, at $20 per membership, that's $32,000.00. I have no problem with that whatsoever. Some may argue it, but as I've stated earlier, that's the going rate to join any club and they have expenses, just like anyone else.
Here's where I differ on it. However first I will state again, that fundamentally I support what they are doing. Their intentions are spot on and from the heart.
One of the things that myself, TRMA, and many others are trying to do is to make Trop Rock a recognized genre. At the moment, the artists, clubs, organizations, and radio stations within the Trop world see ourselves as our own genre, but those in the industry do not. They'll just label it as Rock or Country.
Should Trop Rock become recognized, it's a boost for all involved. Our fan base will at minimum, double and more likely, triple. Country star Kenny Chesney, who does a LOT of music that could also be categorized as Trop, has over 6,500,000 fans on his FB page. There really is a lot of potential here.
For a moment lets just pretend that Trop Rock did become a recognized genre. BMI, ASCAP, SESAC, all put us in our own category. You go on iHeart Radio, or Pandora and search Trop Rock and up come choices like Sunny Jim, Dani Hoy, Pup Morse, Jimi Pappis, Barefoot Reggie Starrett, John Friday, Chris Bellamy, Loren Davidson, Renn Loren, B-Man and Miss Behavin', hell, even me, Key West Chris, and the list goes on and on.
What happens with news, such as a new recognized genre, is attention and that attention comes from the media. This is the type of thing that the media would be all over as well! Believe me, that's where our exposure to new fans is at it's hight. Everyone in the media, the music industry, and the fans are all over it.
With the "everyone" that I mentioned, did you notice the first listed was the media? Yes, of course there will be Rolling Stone, the media television shows, and everything else that goes along with all the hoopla that would be happening.... including reporters who report along the same lines as say, the great Mike Wallace.
A reporter like that would have a field day with Trop Rock, regarding the awards, and subsequently the entire genre that was just created. Here's an organization that started out as a band fan club, run by the heads of the band, who won virtually all the awards throughout the history of the organization, then finally, the Trop Rock Music Awards encompass a total of maybe .08% of the entire fan base.
In short, as soon as the genre starts, it's down the tubes from the way an investigative reporter writes. It would make Volkswagen look like the Arch Angel Gabrielle in comparison to Trop Rock. Right or wrong, they will tear us to ribbons. We would qualify as confetti in New York's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
I couldn't say how the TRMA is set up on paper legally, and if it's set up properly, all is well and good. If not, it has the potential of blowing up like a gasoline storage facility hit by a cruise missile.
Again, I think that the intent of the TRMA is very sincere and they put a lot of blood,sweat, and tears (this year particularly) into it. For their efforts both past and present, they should be commended!
On the flip side, unfortunately, it's very vulnerable.
A couple of years ago, Beachfront Radio had a contest where listeners wrote in and voted via e-mail. If memory serves me correctly, they had around 14,000 votes. If those figures are correct, Beachfront is at .7%, up from .08%. Additionally, the voters at Beachfront Radio didn't have to join a club, or pay dues.
Trop Rock has grown quite a bit in the last two years as well. Case in point the 28K+ listeners we had with Tiki Island Radio on a live broadcast one evening from The Sandbox (Thank you Pablo, Diana, Sheryl, Rick, Debbie, and Danny!), was twice the size of the replies that Beachfront Radio received, I believe over a two week period.
Obviously, in my opinion, it's clear things should change from the status quo. I don't think the TRMA should be a by product of a fan club for anyone. Additionally, it's my view that anyone who is a fan of Trop Rock Music, should be able to cast a vote and shouldn't be required to join a club to do so, or pay a fee. This was the thing I liked best about Beachfront Radio's contest a couple of years back.
As it stands right now, the TRMA is a fan club, who self-appointed themselves as the delegation to award those in the genre and in doing so, changed their name from The Margarita Mafia to the very official sounding Trop Rock Music Association. Again, this is a self-appointed group.
I think other options could prove more democratic and farther reaching. One idea could be having all the Trop Radio Stations pool together contests from their own listeners. One of the coolest things about this crazy genre, is that each station plays different artists from one another! The results could be fascinating!
Thanks again for reading! Tell everyone what you think and we can pool ideas! I made a Facebook page to do so. Here's the link:
Sorry, but the bottom line is .08% of Trop Rock fans voting for 99.92% of the fans just doesn't cut it.
All The Best From Key West
Key West Chris Rehm
Update, Day Two
After over 133,000 views on this blog, an epilog is unprecedented. However, after yesterday's release of this blog, so many have offered information and experiences via messages to me, or posts, that an epilog is only appropriate. After yesterday's feedback, I can only imagine today, tomorrow, and the next few days will be similar.
One question that popped up was with the TRMA was:
1) Does one have to be a member to be nominated?
The answer to this was no. Only members can nominate those for awards though. However, if say Jerome Howard were nominated, he could only get an award if he joins TRMA, and pays the entrance fee to do so.
Opinion: This is obscene, plain and simple. If true, this puts the organization into serious question regarding integrity. Frankly, calling it by it's true definition, this would be extortion. It sounds like something the Mafia would do.
2) A former TRMA winner suggested that the figure I came up with of .08% was being generous. The Media figure of over 2M Trop Rock fans is set in stone. My figure of 1,600 votes within TRMA would therefore be the number in question. As I mentioned above in the piece, I've heard TRMA numbers as low as 600, which would equate to .03% of the media figure of 2M. It doesn't really make a difference in the end however, as .08% and .03% are light years below even 1%.
3) Many are in question regarding TRMA's legal incorporation. Most are suggesting that it is not set up as a legal entity at all, and that it's basically a group of people who have a private club, with no legal incorporation whatsoever. I have no information on this one way, or another. This is however, the general consensus of what I'm seeing from others.
Sunday, November 1, 2015
MY MAIN GUITAR
Six years ago I got word that my guitar, “Bell”, a 1975 Guild D25M which I have had since I was 19, had its final truss rod adjustment. The tech informed me that if he turned it any more, the neck would snap. The only way to repair it would be for the neck to be taken apart, which would cost hundreds of dollars. A new guitar was in order.
I went to the Guitar Center in Kendall/Miami to check out what they had. At that time I lived nearby in Cutler Bay. Guitar Center had an acoustic guitar room that had two sections. The far section was the high end guitars. I went in there first. I played Martins, Gibsons, and Taylors, but the problem was, at that time I couldn’t afford any of them. So I went into the other room and played the less expensive guitars.
The issue with these guitars was that they all sounded like they were made of cardboard. They weren’t even close to being in the same league as my Guild. I guess I played about five and then decided that I’d try it another day. My Guild was still a great guitar and at the moment, still played great.
As I was about to leave the room, my eye caught a stunning, blonde guitar. Surely this guitar was in the wrong room. I went over and picked it up. I played three notes and two chords and said “Holy smokes!” It sounded rich and full, just a great tone. I stopped and looked at the price tag. Three hundred and eighty nine dollars. I couldn’t believe it was so inexpensive! Needless to say, I bought it right there and then.
The guitar was an Ibanez Special Woods series. This model was made out of ash. Now ash is a wood that they make guitars out of, however not acoustic guitars. About half of the electric Fender Stratocasters are made of ash. The Louisville slugger baseball bats are as well.
The guitar sounded incredible when it was plugged in. The top end was clear and quite strong for an acoustic guitar. The bottom end was brassy and very ballsy. Actually, that’s quite a lame description of it. The bottom end sounds like a 155MM Howitzer. No joke. It’ll kick your ass into next week. When I cut my album, producer Dan Simpson was doing a sound check in the studio. After plugging in mics and getting the readings, suddenly he came rushing around the corner asking “What the hell do you have there anyway?” looking at the guitar in amazement. At that point in time he proclaimed it “The best steel string acoustic guitar for recording in Key West”. Dan has been recording and producing in Key West for thirty seven years.
The specific model is a an Ibanez EW20ASENT11202
Serial Number is SQ 07111410
It was two months after I bought the guitar that I moved to Key West. I name all of my guitars, however this guitar had been around for six months and still didn’t have a name. I had been going to an open mic at Harpoon Harry’s diner regularly and there was one night that I just wasn’t in the mood for playing, however I did want to support the event, so I went without my guitar.
When the organizer of the show saw that I didn’t have my guitar with me, he pleaded with me to play and use his Yamaha. I finally agreed and went up to play.
A girl out in the crowd hollered “Where’s your beautiful guitar?”
Without any hesitation I replied “I left The Blonde Bombshell home tonight”
Suddenly, it was christened with a name!
However, it wasn’t done yet. Remember it is made out of ash?
The full name of the guitar is: “The Blonde Bombshell With The Great Ash”
Photo by Ralph DePalma, Key West
MOTM Schedule for the Shanty Hounds
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
A few very odd things have been happening with the upcoming 2016 MOTM event, scheduled as usual,for the first week in November.
This year brought the TRMA (Trop Rock Music Awards) back to the Casa Marina,where the organizing body, PHIP (Parrot Heads In Paradise), holds their annual MOTM event. The TRMA having not been there recently, but had been in the past, now are returning. One of the most exciting things was that this year the awards were going to be televised on the internet via video streaming!
This is a marvelous thing! Media counts show there are over 2,000,000 Trop Rock fans out there in the world and of those, around 7000 - 8000 make it to Key West for the annual gathering and festivities. So that means that around 1,992,000 are staying home.
The video stream would mean that these people could watch and enjoy the awards event! What a great idea, both for the fans that could not attend, as well as the genre itself!
With less than a month to go, PHIP decided not to proceed with the broadcast. Why would they do something like this? At best it makes PHIP look bad, and that’s the best, mind you. Canceling media exposure is a definite step backwards, no matter how you look at it. I recall from twenty something years ago, someone I followed in sports said after he made an error "Any publicity is good, no matter how you cut it". Canceling publicity is going backwards.
Many of you know that I'm one of the proponents of making Trop Rock a recognized genre. I actually started a Facebook page "Make Trop Rock a Recognized Genre". Please look it up and join it! Canceling a web TV broadcast is working against the genre's expansion.
A1A Media, an affiliate of Radio A1A.com, were to be handling the video and streaming. After talking with A1A owner Harry Teaford, all he would say was that he didn’t understand why they cancelled the broadcast and he was very disappointed.
Another oddity is the scheduling. When the TRMA was scheduled at The Casa Marina by PHIP, they were scheduled for Thursday afternoon. Then there was a change, again with only a few weeks to go, the TRMA is off the schedule entirely, replaced with Mac McAnally and Jimmy Buffett and The Coral Refer Band. The TRMA was off the schedule entirely.
Several days later, TRMA was rescheduled for Saturday from 4:00 - 5:30, albeit without the live video feed.
Next we get to perhaps the strangest thing of all. According to a few different sources, participants in the entire PHIP run MOTM at The Casa Marina were reportedly told that they could say that Buffett was in the MOTM event on their private websites… but could’t say anything about it in social media!
Meanwhile, PHIP has it on their on line schedule.
How does this make any sense? PHIP have it on their schedule for all to see, but people scheduled in the event can’t put it on their Facebook page? How does this make sense? It sounds like a paranoid lawyer, tripping on acid, who came up with this ridiculous scheme.
Hey look, I like Jimmy Buffett. Hell, I am one of a few on the planet that have the earliest live recording of him, playing with Steve Goodman in a bar in Coconut Grove called Bubba’s,. They were on their way back to Key West from Nashville, after recording Pink Crustacean! (Thank you Dave!) No one knew who he was when Steve introduces him. However, Jimmy Buffett, nor anyone else, should muscle their way in to an event, at the last minute, causing complete mayhem with everyone who’s been organizing the event for a year. Things like this need to be done in an organized fashion. Upsetting the applecart only harvests large problems for everyone, even those who are not immediately involved. Look before you leap, or you run the risk of looking like a bull in a china shop.
Finally, I’m hosting some events during MOTM around town, one of which is to promote the Trop Rock Festival at Sea, being held at the Sunset Tiki Bar, Wednesday, November 4th, noon to 5. The idea here is that we would have performers who are on the cruise, playing at the event. That way people who are already booked, get a preview and those who are not, might just decide that a cruise to St. Thomas, Tortola, and Nassau, might be a great time!
One of the performers on the cruise, is also in the PHIP event at the Casa Marina. When I invited him he replied “Sorry, but they are adamant about exclusivity.” In short, if a performer is playing at the PHIP event, they are not allowed to play anything but the PHIP event at the Casa Marina. It's in their contract.
I had heard this last year from a few performers as well. According to them, it’s in the contract they signed with PHIP.
I don’t understand how an organization like PHIP can restrict a musician’s income? That would strike me as being incorrigible.
On the other hand, there are several musicians who are in the Casa Marina event that are also playing around town as well. Is there a loophole in the contract? It’s certainly a curiosity.
THE KEY WEST SOUND
When I made my album a few years ago, I was adamant about having a sound that was Key West. The last thing I wanted was something that was a make -pretend Key West sound. I didn’t want something that was recorded in New York, L.A., Nashville, or someplace like that, because that’s what it would sound like, a Trop Rock album that sounded like it was recorded by people who don't live in the tropics. It happens all the time. On my album, I wanted it to sound like the Keys. I wanted people who lived, breathed, and played music here all the time, to be the people playing on it. Additionally, eight of the ten songs were written in my old apartment on Whitehead Street.
So, that’s who I put on the album and the album was recorded at The San Carlos Institute and Private Ear Studios. The San Carlos has been here since the 1870’s and Private Ear is over thirty years old.
Likewise with the musicians. Marty Stonely, who played woodwinds, has lived in the Keys over thirty years. Bubba Lownotes on bass has been here around twenty-five years. Bob Boyd and Barry Cuda, both on keyboards, have been here twenty five and thirty years. Pauly Walterson on congas, is a Conch and has been here his whole life, seventy years.
Same was true with the producer, Dan Simpson. Dan hitch-hiked into Key West in 1978.
This album had to be 100% through and through, Florida Keys. It had to be the real deal, or nothing. That's where I live. I don't live in Michigan, New York, Oregon. I live in Key West and that was the sound and feel I wanted for that album, Key West.
At one point when we were recording the album, Dan Simpson and I were throwing around ideas for one song and I suggested "Maybe a steel drum?"
Dan dropped his chin and looked at me with his eyebrows forward.
Me: "You don't like steel drums?"
Dan: "It's not that I like them or don't like them. Your objective is to have an album that sounds like Key West. Steel drums are NOT Key West at all. It never has been."
I was reminded of this last evening, after our Thursday night gig at Grunts. Pauly Walterson has been sitting in with us on congas and after the gig we were shooting the shit.
Now remember, Pauly is seventy years old and spent his whole life in bands and around music. He’s also the best Conch to talk to about Key West history, bar none.
The subject somehow goes to steel drums and Pauly says “Take steel drums. They are not Key West. They’re in Jamaica, or Trinidad. And Reggae? That’s not Key West either, that’s Jamaican. What we are is Junkanoo from the Bahamas. You know Junkanoo with all the drums! We're also Cuban. Of course we have a lot of old time Country in our roots too.That’s what we are Bahamian, Cuban, Country, and later Rock and Roll. There are no steel drums in either of those cultures, nor in ours.”
There you have it, directly from the man himself.
The Key West Junkanoos in the Goombay Parade several years ago. This year's Goombay Parade is Friday, October 23rd.
Junkanoos playing Blue Heaven in 2012 on top of the watertower
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
The new app by Twitter, Periscope, introduced last May, is a great asset to the Shanty Hounds! We’ve been broadcasting a lot of our live shows. What a great tool this is! We’ve had people from all over the country and the world watching our gigs!
For those not familiar with Periscope, it’s a brand new live video that is broadcast from your smart phone. People who are subscribed to you will be notified, but others who are not subscribed can also watch it on Periscope. Although it goes through Twitter, Periscope subscriptions are not automatically taken from your Twitter account, as it stands alone.
We first were introduced to it from our friend Janet Nathan, who arrived at one of our gigs with it and broadcast it all over the world! We’ve since used it to broadcast not only our gigs, but also a few of our famous BBQ’s in the back yard at the Conch Rock Shanty! Trust me, for our friends in cold climates, this will be key once winter hits and you can go, via your phone or computer, to a live Key West BBQ and actually participate in it as you can send messages to those broadcasting!
One note: At gigs Periscope is mounted on a tri-pod and is unmanned, so we wont see the comments you post... but everyone else who's watching will!
It’s really a blast! Follow us! The Twitter and Periscope account is:
Live and Learn
We recently were hired to play a large gig with a parrot head club, around 400 miles north of here. The amount they paid us pretty much covered our transportation there and back. We were figuring that what we made in tips and merchandise sales, would be what would make the trip worthwhile.
It was a long ass trip and when we finally got there, the place was beautiful. It’s a very large retirement community and in this particular group there were around 200 people attending. The president of the club was fantastic, with a very good nature as well. The club members also seemed like a lot of fun too.
We had a great time playing and the gig went quite well.
There was only one problem. At the end of the day, out of the 200 people attending, only six people tipped us! Two put in five dollar bills and four put in singles. Fourteen dollars total in tips. We did not sell one CD or any merchandise either. Candidly, we were in a state of absolute shock! We honestly couldn't believe people could be so inconsiderate.
In short: We lost our ass.
It should be also stated that one kind gentleman bought us several beers, as did the president of the club. I consider that a tip. So, if we add them to the six others, we have eight people who tipped us. Eight out of two-hundred people. That’s 4%. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.
Will we go back? Well, let’s just say that if they do ask us back, the flat fee will be significantly different than it was last time.