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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Blue Angles at NAS Key West... and more!

Every other year in April, the United States Navy holds it’s open house air show at NAS Key West. All branches of the service are represented as well. This year followed tradition and an incredible air show followed! Here are some pictures and videos from the event featuring the amazing Blue Angles F/A 18 Hornets!!!  Enjoy!!!




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Big thanks to Naval Air Station Key West!!!!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Being a Key West Artist and What's In The Hopper!

Being A Key West Artist

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Island Time Radio up in Cleveland recently were kind enough to interview me for the release of my new book, Bar Stories. Island Time has always been a great supporter of both my music, as well as having both myself and the “Key West Bar Tales – The Sum of All Beers” on for a beer segment on their show. As a matter of fact, the podcast was an off shoot of the segment of the Island Time Radio spot! The Beer Chat segment was on for almost a year before we started the podcast, which was inspired by being on Island Time. It most likely wouldn’t have ever happened without Island Tiles Beer Chat segment! Thanks Island Time!

The book interview went great! Dennis King, a.k.a. DK, is a fantastic guy and knows his way around the microphone like most know the back of their hand. It’s always great to be interviewed by a pro!

Naturally, the conversation drifted to include my music, which is my main focus. One of the things DK touched on was inquiring on what I’m doing currently, as well as the future. In the thick of this portion of the interview, DK made an observation which I actually took as a complement. He said something to the effect of “Your music isn’t really Trop Rock so much”.

The question brought me back to when my album “Shanghai’d And Marooned In Key West (things could be worse)” first came out. For starters, Island Time was always a great supporter of the album! Thanks DK and his sidekick, Amo Bennett! The late DJ Jeff Allen was also in love with it. I’d hear it on his station (Beachfront Radio), plus, I’d get calls and messages from friends that he was playing it left and right! Jeff often commented to me “You’re doing things that no one else is doing in Trop Rock!”. That’s me alright. HA HA! I never follow the crowd. Seldom do I drive the crowded highway. I’m the one who prefers blazing a new trail in most anything I do. 

Take my book, “Bar Tales” for example. I can’t find one other book that is available on Amazon, out of something like 20,000,000 (Twenty million) available books, which is about bar stories from the customer’s side of the bar. This wasn’t my intent, but when I finished writing it I thought it would be a good idea to see what others wrote on the same subject. Oh, there were books on bars, how to run them, guides to bars in various cities, how to mix drinks from a particular bar’s recipe, but nothing on stories about the antics that go on with customers. I didn’t set out to do this, I only discovered it after the book was completed! Apparently I blazed a new trail and never knew it! HA HA!

With that as a backdrop, getting back to DK’s observation, yeah, my music isn’t the same as all the others. The funny thing is, around 95% or more Trop Rock artists, don’t live in the tropics. As a Key West artist, I write about the daily goings on here, verses from the perspective of someone visiting for three to seven days.  I live here. I pulled that trigger eight years ago and moved 138 miles from my home in Cutler Bay, to Key West. Eight years down that road and I see things from a day to day perspective, as opposed to that of a visitor or a tourist.

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Additionally, I’m different from a musical structure point of view. This stems from my major influences in my musical interests. Almost all Trop Rock musicians’ number one influence is Jimmy Buffet. I love Jimmy Buffett. He’s a great songwriter and I have the highest respect for him. For myself, bands and artists such as The Allman Brothers Band, The Grateful Dead, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Frank Zappa, Bob Dylan, Dire Straits, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Santana, The Who, Martin Denny, the improvisation found in some of the said groups, as well as jazz,  all play a very much larger influence in what I do. All of that mixed in with the Tropical feel and lifestyle that Buffett brought to light, as well as living right here in Key West, the source, is what my music is. It’s bound to sound different. Story wise, it’s based on a local perspective. Locals and visitors will get it, tourists wont. Additionally, an artist is someone who creates. All artists have influences of course, but the artist creates, we don’t copy. DK’s observation made my night! What he said was actually a great contradiction, without being a contradiction at all, because although it was between the lines, it point blank at the same time. DK stated my music is original! As an artist, thank you DK!

What’s in The Hopper?

What’s in store for the future? Well, I had a bit of a bombshell dropped on me around a month ago in that Dan Simpson, resident musician and recording engineer for thirty five years here in Key West, is pulling up stakes and moving to Ashville, N.C.!  Dan produced my album “Shanghai’d and Marooned in Key West (things could be worse)”, to the extent that engineer and producer Shelley Liebowitz (Miles Davis, The Rolling Stones, Ella Fitzgerald, Dr. John, … etc) wrote me from Los Angeles and said “Chris I love your album!”. It was in the cards that he’d do the same on my next project album “Jump Into de Fi-Ya!”.  Regretfully apparently those cards had a couple of Jokers in them and their name is Ashville, N.C.

There are some producers that will take artist’s songs, from a demo they were sent. The demo may just be a very simple recording made with a guitar and a vocal. The producer may make an arrangement of the songs, or get someone else to do that part of it, then gather musicians together who record them. The original artist then records the vocal track and essentially from that point, they’re done, save for the mixing and mastering.

For myself, that would not work. I’m an artist who is involved in virtually everything that’s done. I’m playing a guitar, collecting musicians to play, suggesting to maybe a keyboard player what sound I’m looking for. When the engineer is doing the mix I may say, “Let’s bring the rhythm guitar up in this two-bar segment”. A lot of this is actually wearing the producer hat. Point being, I’m a very hands on artist with what I want. Working with Dan was always a pleasure! He always came up with great ideas on everything and as I say, losing him is heartbreaking.

Having said that, Key West has a world class producer who moved here a few years ago from London, England, Ian Shaw. Ian’s been in the recording business for over thirty years and has many laurels and awards to his credit in the United Kingdom. He still bounces back and forth between London and Key West on various projects. We had lunch at Frenchie’s CafĂ© a week ago and agreed to record a couple of songs I’ve written, “Yippie Cayo Hueso” and “Tote The Load”.  Something new and exciting!

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Ian Shaw

Of course I have a bunch of other songs that need to be recorded, however my budget at the moment restricts me to doing these two songs to start with, then when there’s more funds accumulated, we can add more.

It goes without saying, if a good minded, philanthropic soul would be interested in helping the project out, we’re interested! Thanks in advance!!!!


 Thanks for reading the blog!  All The Best From Key West!

My book “Bar Stories” is available through Amazon! At this moment it has 12 five star ratings! Only $3.99!!!!

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, March 28, 2016

Trop Rock Radio Poll and Tips on Recording

With Dani Hoy and I doing not one, but two podcasts that are aired on so many Trop Rock stations, we take the opportunity to listen to them as well. One of the things that has always blown me away is the fact that virtually all of these stations play different music from different artists! In addition to that, many radio personalities tell me that they are inundated with artists who are sending them material, to the point that they can’t keep up with it! That’s a healthy genre!

Granted, while some of it is stellar, that’s the pinnacle. There’s likewise the above average, average, and below average, like anything else in life. I don’t envy the one who makes decisions. It’s really tough when someone calls to follow up on their submission and they have to be told that their music “Wasn’t what we were looking for”. On the same token, these radio guys aren’t drill sergeants, they’re radio personalities. They are expected to be nice guys. So it’s got to be tough for them to put on the rejection hat and tell someone they are not going to play their recording and actually make them feel good about it!  

As a songwriter/musician/recording artist, there have been times when a song comes on and I say to myself, as I change the station “How did that song end up on the radio? My goodness!” My guess is that the artist was a really, really nice guy and the radio folks didn’t have the heart to tell them their song wasn’t up to par.

I think one of the best advices I’ve heard told to artists from a radio personality, was from the late DJ Jeff Allen. Jeff suggested many times, over and over, for the artists is to get a great producer. That not only was a great way of telling someone that he wasn’t going to use their recording, but in the end when the artist did seek out a good producer, they had a work that was vastly superior to what they had before and it was air quality.

Producers have very unique personalities by nature. A good producer has the ability to tell an artist that a particular song is crap and it shouldn’t be included on a recording, having the artist agreeing with them and feeling good about it. The great producer will also help cherry pick the best songs, which in the end, make the artist look their best.

As I say, we listen to a lot of radio, specifically Trop. One thing that one particular Trop station is doing that is quite unique, Radio A1A in Islamorada, Conch Republic Florida Keys has started its weekly top 40 vote. Again, as I stated earlier, every station has its unique artists, as well as common ones tossed in the mix.

What I found, by far, is that the artists who have been winning, are a bit out of the norm. Also consider that these people voting are listeners. They don’t have to pay to be in a private club. These are fans who listen to the station.

For the week of March 13, the top ten votes of the forty were for Todd Trusty, Conch Republic Band, Bill Cockrell, Beach Bum Pirate, Flip Flop Boys, Roger Jokela, Ron Bell, Donny Brewer, Max Soelzer, and B Man and the Missbeehavins.

For the week of March 20th - Cory Young, Todd Trusty, Joe B, Todd Donnelly, Sean Gassaway, Barefoot Reggie Starrett, Ray West, B Man and the Miss Beehavins, Jimmy Buffett, and Bill Cockrell.

What this does is inspire food for thought. Here’s what the people of one radio station are voting for. The group that coined the name “Trop Rock Music Association” hold their Trop Rock Music Awards every year, none of these names have ever appeared on their list of nominees. Additionally, none of the Trop Rock Music Association’s nominees, or winners are on either of these lists this top ten. On the 3/20 list, Don Middlebrook was #20, Brittney Kingery was #25 and Southern Drawl Band was #40. On the 3/13 vote Howard Livingston was #22, Don Middlebrook #28, and Brittney Kingery #35.

It certainly raises an eyebrow and leaves one to ponder.

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Thanks for reading the blog!  All The Best From Key West!

My book “Bar Stories” is available through Amazon! At this moment it has 10 five star ratings! Only $3.99!!!!

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!!