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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!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

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

Key West Summer Weather

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

There is no air pollution in Key West.

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

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

New Album/CD In The Works - Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

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


(Misty Loggins and I doing Island Blue)

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

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

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

Beer Show!

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


https://www.facebook.com/KeyWestBeerTales

A Twitter page:

https://twitter.com/thekwbt


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

KW Beer Show Airing/Stations Schedules:

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 at 7 every day of the week other than Mondays
http://www.radioa1a.com/

The Shore - Friday at noon

http://wnyshoreradio.com/

Tiki Island Radio - times TBA


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

http://www.tikibeachshop.com/

More to come on this as we go!


 Thanks again for reading the blog everyone!

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

Search: Key West Chris

Thank you everyone!!




Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Radio Show and Some Bad Business in Key West


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                          (Looks like an electric palm tree!)






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

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

For the Key West Beer Tales - The Sum of All Beers:
https://www.facebook.com/KeyWestBeerTales

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

https://www.facebook.com/TheKeyWestMusicShow

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SOME BAD BUSINESS IN KEY WEST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Really.

(Regarding the required hour long strut down Duval attempting to bring back business to the hovel, you may have noticed that it's mentioned that this is against city code? Well, they were cited for it in 2012. They had court date after court date postponed and put on to continuance until this week when it was all supposed to finally be heard. I'm not sure what happened, but the docket no longer has any record whatsoever of there ever being any kind of a hearing, or it ever even being on the record books at all. Unusual, to say the least.)  

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