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Monday, February 13, 2017

Story Behind The Song – Island Blue





Before I ever moved to Key West, I was a fan of Gweko's (A.K.A. Gary Ek), music video he made for James Slater's song, “Key West Address”. I thought it captured the entire feel of the town perfectly. It was made during the Key West Songwriter's Festival and had several visiting songwriter artists acting in it.

My first year in Key West, I attended an event at The Bottle Cap during the Key West Songwriter's Fest (KWSF) called “The Late Night Hang”. The Late Night Hang started at midnight and was actually after all of the events had ended. 

It should be noted for those not familiar with the KWSF,  it is the largest songwriters event in the United States.... excuse me, The World! From Key West's location, it's put on by Charlie Bauer and Danielle Holiday. Additionally, it's also put on by BMI Nashville, working in conjunction with Charlie and Danielle. With BMI Nashville being involved, you can imagine how many Nashville songwriters are taking part.

At The Late Night Hang was a place where everyone from Nashville would gather and let their hair down at the end of the day. In addition to artists, there were producers, record companies, managers, you name it, they were there.

Interestingly enough, it was actually an ASCAP event. ASCAP is essentially BMI's competitor. The Bottlecap was always mobbed. Inside, they ran it like an open-mic. They had a house trio to back up anyone who they called. Meanwhile, outside the terrace was bumper-to-bumper, and the parking area was flowing out into the streets with people.

So, I'm there hanging out and all of the sudden I saw a somewhat familiar face. I had to approach her.

“Hey! You're one of the girls in that video Gary Ek made for James Slater, Key West Address!” I said.

In a strong Gomer Pyle style southern accent she replied “I am! My name is Misty Loggins, what's yours?”. As it turned out, although she was a Nashville-based singer/songwriter, she grew up in northwest Georgia.


From that moment on, we became great friends! Every year when she would be back we'd make sure we got together. Last year she stayed with us. When I first was invited to play in the KWSF, we were paired on the same stage. We have a really fun chemistry together, with leg pulling and fun banter. The organizers picked up on that and have paired us every year subsequently.

The Key West Songwriters Festival 2017, will be from May 10th to May 14th,,,, Make arrangements to be here for this! It the best musical event all year in Key West  



So, with that as the back drop, a few years ago I get this call from her saying that she's coming down to play a week at the Smokin Tuna Saloon, here in Key West. I say “Fantastic!”. Then, almost with a knee jerk reaction I say “Hey, when you're down, lets cut a song together!” Her response was “That would be wonderful! Lets do it!” Done deal and she would be here in two weeks!

This would be fantastic! It was great for her too, because singing one of my songs would give her exposure to an entirely new audience!

After I got off the phone I started thinking. “Humm...er.... uh, I don't have a song for her to sing”

Hello!

So, I had two weeks to come up with a song for her to sing. My first week was just running into a brick wall. Nothing was working. Everything was forced and it just wasn't happening.

The first part of the second week... D Day, if you will, I woke up, went down stairs picked up my guitar and hit two simple chords, an E and a B7. “THIS IS IT!” No question about it.

I played with the two chords and it just took off from there. Before I knew it I had a full progression for the verses with seven more chords, a total of nine. This time it had a specific theme style and a direction musically. I now had it in the cross hairs and I was taking no prisoners. Next up, I put the bridge for the song together, which included five additional new chords. The song now had fourteen chords. I had a name for the song, “Island Blue”, and I could hear it in the song when I played it, though at this point that's all there was to it.


Although not based, or rooted off anything musically, the song had a Patsy Cline style to it. Something in the structural feel vane of I Fall To Pieces, Crazy, or, She's Got You. If Patsy Cline Country style music was a genre unto itself, Island Blue was within it's borders.

That's what I heard when I hit those two chords earlier, E and B7. The song would be rooted in Country Blues. What ever happened to Country Blues anyway?

Next would be the lyric story line within the structure of the music. As I mentioned, I already heard the line “Island Blue”in my head. The rest of he story came pretty quickly. Although structurally a Country style Blues, the story line wouldn't be a sad story. This would be the story of joy. The story of someone who goes on vacation to a tropical island, from some non-specific place on the mainland. Maybe it was Atlanta? Perhaps Boston? Chicago? Or maybe a small town, such as Ridgewood, New Jersey, or maybe Misty's home town, Hollywood, Georgia.

This would not be specific. It didn't need to be. Only that the protagonist, in this case represented by Misty Loggins, would have traveled to a tropical island, be it St. Thomas, St. John, St. Barts, Jos Van Dyke, Barbados, Key West, Martinique, Islamorada, what have you, and after being there for a few days, decided this was where she wanted to live and makes up her mind to do so.

The song was done before noon. I was in Private Ear studio with Dan Simpson on bass, and the great Richard Crooks on drums by the end of the week.

Misty came in and laid her track down. The key of E wasn't working for her, on this particular morning, so at her suggestion, we changed the key to F. It's been that was ever since. Misty nailed it too!


Later, we brought in Ericson Holt on piano and organ, plus, we added Gary Carter up in Nashville, on pedal steel. Later, my girlfriend Dani Hoy was added on background vocals. Dan Simpson did all the engineering, recording, and mixing.

The song is the first song to be available from my upcoming album “Jump Into de FiYa!!!”


On an interesting side note, this is the only song that I've written for a specific person to sing, other than myself.


It's available on Amazon for less than a dollar:










 ISLAND BLUE   
                                                                       (Key - F) 



(intro) F F7 Bb Db9 C9 F Cdim


              F       F7                             C7                       Dm7                                   Gm7   C7
ISLAND BLUE     YOU’RE GONNA TAKE ME BACK THROUGH THE WINDS OF TIME
                    F           F7                           Bb               Bb7                   F           Db9 C9   F Caug
OH ISLAND BLUE     YOU’RE GONNA CHANGE THIS HEART OF MINE
2
  F       F7             C7                 Dm7                                   Gm7   C 7
I CAME   TO THIS ISLAND FOR SUNSHINE AND MARITIME AIR
                    F         F7                     Bb                   Bb7                 F                     Db9 C9 F
OH ISLAND BLUE YOUR SANDY BEACHES IT SEEMS SO UNFAIR

Bb Maj7                                             F Maj7
WHEN I CAME TO YOU I HAD NO WORRIES IN THE WORLD
                Bb Maj7                         F Maj7 F7
I WAS AS FREE AS A SEAGUL IN FLIGHT
  BbMaj7                                       F             F7
I STAYED A FEW DAYS I COULD FEEL IT
Gm7                           Am7                             Dm7         Dbm7 Cm7                           Bb Maj7 Gm7
BENEITH MY FEET MY WHOLE WORLD WAS CHANGING AND I KNEW DEEP DOWN INSIDE
C7                               F             Db9 C9 F Caug                      
            THIS WAS MY LIFE


3
                    F   F7                       C7                       Dm7               Gm7     C7
OH ISLAND BLUE NO I’M NOT CRYIN’ HAVE NO MISERY, NO PAIN
                    F       F7                   Bb             Bb7         F                         Db9 C9 F
OH ISLAND BLUE IT JUST ISN’T FAIR TO FEEL THIS WAY   (laugh)

BbMaj7                                             EFMaj7
WHEN I CAME TO YOU I HAD NO WORRIES IN THE WORLD
                BbMaj7                         FMaj7   F7
I WAS AS FREE AS A SEAGUL IN FLIGHT
  BbMaj7                                       F               F7
I STAYED A FEW DAYS I COULD FEEL IT
Gm7                           Am7                             Dm7         Dbm7 Cm7                           Bb Maj7 Gm7
BENEITH MY FEET MY WHOLE WORLD WAS CHANGING AND I KNEW DEEP DOWN INSIDE
C7                               F             Db9 C9 F Cdim                      
            THIS WAS MY LIFE
4
        F     F7                           C7         Dm7                                           Gm7           C7
SO I SAID GOOD-BY TO THE CITY AU REVOIR TO MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS
          F       F7                 Bb                           Bb7       F       Db9 C9 F     F7
AND HELLO   TO THE TROPICS               ISLAND BLUE
          F       F7                   Bb                           Bb7       F       Db9 C9 F Caug         F7
AND HELLO   TO TO THE TROPICS               ISLAND BLUE
© 12/5/2011 Christopher R. Rehm BMI

Island Blue

Drums: Richard Crooks, Bass: Dan Simpson, Vocals: Misty Loggins, Keyboards: Ericson Holt, Guitar: Chris Rehm, Pedal Steel: Gary Carter B/G Vocals: Dani Hoy









Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Key West Happy Hour - Bagatelle


                         






Bagatelle is a very beautiful, very classy, restaurant located close to the beginning of Duval St. directly across from The Hogs Breath Saloon, at 115 Duval St.


Every establishment that has Happy Hour in Key West, has their own start and stop times. Bagatelle's runs from 4 – 6. My girlfriend Dani Hoy and I arrived just after Happy Hour started. It's a fabulous atmosphere! The property is nothing less than stunning. Built as a mansion in 1884, it was a private home. Somewhere around thirty years ago, it was moved to its current location on Duval.

With a wraparound veranda, and large windows allowing the beautiful trade winds to breeze through, in many ways Bagatelle is like stepping back in time to a melancholy era.

As I mentioned, Dani Hoy and I arrived just after Happy Hour started. It was moderately busy, but not too busy. Consequently, we had no trouble at all finding two seats at the first-floor bar. Our friend Dee Dee was coming and there was a seat for her as well.



We sat at the bar and enjoyed the fresh breeze. As I mentioned, the atmosphere was like stepping back in time and was wonderful. You could easily see yourself being in a 1940's movie, albeit in color!

Five minutes passed and not only were we not served, we weren't even greeted at the bar. When we were at The Boathouse a week earlier, the place was mobbed, however right after arriving, the bartender said with a big smile “Hi! How are you? Can you give me a second or two and I'll get your order? Thanks!”Additionally, employees who weren't even our servers, gave a cheerful greeting as they passed. At Bagatelle no one ever even greeted us at the bar for five minutes.

Dani suggested we try upstairs. We left the first-floor bar and headed up the stairs to the bar on the second floor. It had a beautiful, similar feel to downstairs. I must say, I loved the overall feel of the entire establishment. It is just marvelous!



We sat at the upstairs bar and within ten seconds we were greeted by the bartender, who's name was Kim. Kim was fantastic throughout our stay there, right on top of things the entire Happy Hour!

For starters, I ordered the Heavy Seas Pounder Pils out of the Heavy Seas Brewery in Baltimore. I never had it before. It uses four European hops, three German, one Czech and European malt. Sounds great, however, I wasn't all that impressed with it honestly and I switched to Stella thereafter. 

Having said that, there are very few American craft lagers that can hold a candle to the traditional European lagers. The Stella worked fine with what we ordered! Granted, a Warsteiner, Bittburger, K├Ânig, or Pilsner Urquell offer far superior beers that would complement Bagatelle's cuisine to the highest degree. No reflection on Bagatelle however. Their clientele are more likely to know Stella anyway. and the Stella does work! More like hats off for them trying something out like Heavy Seas Pounder Pils, which is out of the norm! The beer at Happy Hour was a very reasonable $5 each.



Dani had the Blueberry Basil Lemonade and liked it so much she had two! The Happy Hour drink menu were all $6.



The Happy Hour Fare had six items on it, all $5 each. Perfect price for Happy Hour!

We had the Causu Maki, a curious mashed potato wrapped around a filling of the day, sushi style. The filling when we went was smoked salmon. Wonderful!






We also had the Asian chicken dumpling pot stickers, which were fried, and served with a sweet chili sauce. My arteries would have appreciated them steamed perhaps, however they were excellent none the less.





Third, we had the Tuna Tartare, a splendid dish that hopefully had enough omega 3 in them to dissolve the cholesterol from the delicious pot stickers! :-D



I had heard a lot about Bagatelle's Happy Hour and it was all very good. My over all experience there was quite good as well. The six option menu at $5 kept things from being confusing and makes for an easy decision for the clientele, not to mention a quick order for their kitchen.

The atmosphere was as good as you'll find, in addition to being very unique. The food was very good and everything was priced right.

While we sat at the bar, Bagatelle offers a large assortment of tables, with beautiful wicker chairs, upstairs, downstairs, inside and out. They also offer a large outside bar and seating upstairs. this section was closed when we were there. It looked as though they were setting it up for the evening.



In the service business, one of the most important things to do is acknowledge the clientele when they arrive. A good example of this was shown by Kim, in the upstairs bar, on the day we went.


Key West Happy Hour Rating: “FOUR STARS”







Thank you for reading my blog!

If you'd like to support my efforts, please look into my music, as well as my book "Bar Stories"!

I thank you in advance!



CD Baby



Amazon (song “Island Blue”)



Also, please check out my book “Bar Stories”. It's a fun book about various bar situations I've seen, witnessed, or participated in over the decades. If you're looking for a depressing book, you're in the wrong place!

This book is FUN! Additionally, purchasing this book also is helping me write the three other books I am currently working on: “The Absolute Best Bars in the Florida Keys”, “Living On A Tropical Island” (also known at this point as “Island Living”), and “Time Traveler”. Bar Stories is only: 

$4.99!!!

Thank you!!

Bar Stories













Saturday, January 14, 2017

Happy Hour - Key West - The Boat House!




Happy Hour in Key West - The Boat House

Location: The docks at A & B Marina, Key West

½ way between A & B Seafood and Conch Republic Seafood




Key West is loaded with Happy Hours! Not every eating/drinking establishment has them, mind you. However, the ones that do are cherished by locals and visitors alike. Of course, locals know most of them just by the fact that they have 365 days a year to explore. Plus, Happy Hour is always a good draw!


If you ask ten locals in Key West what the best Happy Hour is, eight to ten will say The Boat House. The Boat House is part of The Commodore Restaurant and located right on the docks of the A & B Marina. For those of you familiar with Captain Marlin Scott's Key West Reports on his own Facebook page, as well as his Fishmonster Magazine's page, his boat, Real Time, is docked directly out front.

*Be sure to check out the Facebook link for one of his video reports, this one at The Boat House, at the end of this blog!

One of the main ingrediants to a good Happy Hour, is the company that you share it with! On this venture, I was with my betst half, Dani Hoy, and our very dear friends Larry Poff and Michelle Dougan!



While upstairs The Commodore offers white linen dressed tables, downstairs, and a more formal dining experience, downstairs, dock level, is the Boat House.It's a real bar that can be boisterous, though always civilized. The place rocks





There is no set standard time for Happy Hour in Key West. Those establishments who have Happy Hour set their own times. The Boat House Happy Hour runs from 4 to 6:30. All of their draft beer and their Small Plates, are half price.



Candidly, their Small Plates are truly exceptional.

I started off with their Boathouse Bread. This is mandatory. There's a very good reason everyone orders it and that's because it's simply exceptional! They ad d their Chef's Toppings, which include cheese.and seasonings. You'll think you died and went to Heaven.



On this visit I ordered the mini kabobs of filet mignon and tomatoes, which comes with a dipping sauce as well. Certainly, a treat to the taste bud senses, if there ever was one.



The third item was the fish bites, which is the catch of the day. Today the catch was grouper. A very lite batter and a tartar sauce. Perfectly done!



For our last dish, we ordered the Baby Lamb Chops with rosemary, garlic, and balsamic. Totally amazing!



Cap it off with a fabulous atmosphere, right on the docks of Key West! 


The Boat House has a full U-shaped bar, a long common table, booths, as well as tables, so there's something for everyone.



The crowd is totally a mixed crowd, creating a fabulous atmosphere. Clientele ages ran from 21 to 90+. The staff has always been exceptional and when we went on Friday, we first waited for a table, at the bar. Our bartender was Jessica and she was exceptional. Additionally, our server at our table when we were seated, was Maria, As busy as she was, always kept a great attitude and played along with our jokes.

Negatives? Humm, Not really. 

When I was checking on our table at the host stand, a customer who looked like Nicolas Cage, asked the host how to get to Mallary Square. The host didn't know where Mallery Square was. Odd. I helped Nicolas out, however. The directions are really easy from there.


On another evening there, a few years back, my friend Cyndi thought it would be fun to dress our friend, Doug, up in drag at Happy Hour at the Boat House! Doug is 100% straight, but he's always up for a laugh... Boa and all!





As I mentioned earlier, The Boat House is regarded by far as the best Happy Hour in Key West. That says a LOT because there are a lot of damn good Happy Hours in this town!




Key West Happy Hour Rating is "FIVE STARS +"






I'm adding Key West Happy Hour reviews to the blog. At the moment there isn't a set schedule for them, however, you'll see them popping up from here on!


*Captain Marlin Scott's video report visiting The Boat House on the night we were there. Hey! We're in the video!

https://www.facebook.com/fishmonstermagazine/videos/10154903927505419/






Thank you for reading my blog!

If you'd like to support my efforts, please look into my music, as well as my book "Bar Stories"!

I thank you in advance!



CD Baby



Amazon (song “Island Blue”)



Also, please check out my book “Bar Stories”. It's a fun book about various bar situations I've seen, witnessed, or participated in over the decades. If you're looking for a depressing book, you're in the wrong place!

This book is FUN! Additionally, purchasing this book also is helping me write the three other books I am currently working on: “The Absolute Best Bars in the Florida Keys”, “Living On A Tropical Island” (also known at this point as “Island Living”), and “Time Traveler”. Bar Stories is only: 

$4.99!!!




Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Hemingway House - Key West






The Hemingway House

I'm always at the ready when I see tourists here looking at a map and offer assistance with directions. Because of my close proximity, often they are looking for The Hemingway House. I usually tell them right after I point them in the right direction, “I hate that place!”

They usually look quite surprised and ask why.

“Because they won't allow me to move in!”

Naturally, everyone laughs!

I try to make a point of going there once a year. Well, that's the goal. As with so many things in life, those in close proximity are more likely to be on the receiving end of procrastination.

As one of the books I'm currently writing involves a bit of Hemingway in it, I scooted the three blocks over to the house for some research into obtaining a book there. Naturally, we did a tour and had a look around.



Houses here in Key West are, speaking as a matter of fact, stunning. The architecture ranges from Conch homes, brought over from the Bahamas and rebuilt here, to bungalows, to so many homes in Old Town, which were made for New England sea captain's winter homes, in the style that they enjoyed in New England. If you took away the palm trees, a picture of many of these homes could easily be confused with Chatham or Gloucester sea port homes.

The Hemingway House is unique to itself, however. It is the only French Colonial style house on the island that I am familiar with. It sits on the second highest point on the island at 16 ft. (Solaris Hill is the highest in Key West at 18 ft. while Lignumvitae Key is the highest overall in the Keys at 19 Ft)



The home is just stunning. Back in the day when it was built in 1851, there was no such thing as air conditioning, of course. Therefore it's very airy and breezy, with large windows which used to be open to allow the breeze. It also has a basement, which is highly unusual for any house in the Conch Republic, be it in Key West, Key Largo, or anywhere in between. Tours don't include the basement... I want to see the basement!

The ceilings are high, perhaps ten feet (three meters) and the major rooms and hallways all have chandeliers from Murano, Italy, that the Hemingways installed.

The home is decorated with many pictures of Hemingway, as you would expect.



The pool is enormous, with a cost of $20,000 when it was built in 1938. This equates to $330,000.00 today! They had to dynamite it. There's no other way to get through the coral rock base here. In the end, it was actually about 2 ½ times more expensive than the entire house was, only several years earlier, when they bought it in 1931 It's 10 feet deep (3meters) at the south end and half that at the north end. It's sixty feet long (18.2 Meters) and twenty-four feet wide (7.3 Meters). There's a great tale about it, which the tour guides will recant to you.





I don't want to go too far into depth on the property, in the event you decide to visit. If so, definitely go on one of the organized tours of the home. The guides will give a very informative tour of the facility. When you go on the tour, at the end, be certain to tip (gratuity) to the guide. $5 or more per person is polite.

If you are from Europe, please understand that tipping (Gratuity) is part of our culture here and how many actually make their living. At a place like Hemingway's, there's not a base, but five dollars or more is good.

In restaurants and bars, for reasons I can't explain, 18% of the bill is where it starts. I usually make it simple and round it off to 20%. It's easy to figure. A $100 bill gets a $20 tip. $50 a $10 so on and so forth.








So, the Hemingway house is a must for anyone visiting Key West. They also have a bookstore on the property. After doing the tour, I can't imagine anyone not wanting to read something by Hemingway.

The Green Hills of Africa, Death in The Afternoon, To Have and Have Not, For Whom The Bell Tolls (released a year after he left Key West, but largely written here) are a few of the works he wrote while living in this house.






For many visiting Key West, their destinations are focused on the various watering holes. That's a fun thing, however, Key West offers places such as Hemingway's home, which offer something geared more for those who enjoy more cerebral enjoyment, be it for an afternoon, or the entire visit.

















The gardens at Hemingway's house can only be described as being lush. 

When I'm there, I don't want to leave.





I've purposely left massive information out of this blog so as not to spoil so many facts that go along with The Hemingway House for when you go! Enjoy!




In the end, if I won a huge lottery, yes, I'd love to live in Hemingway's house here in Key West. However, after only a moment, the reality is, this is not for any individual, in this day and age. This is an American treasure, to be shared with the entire world. 

The Hemingway House is located at 907 Whitehead St, a few doors down from the intersection of Truman and Whitehead intersection.





Thank you for reading my blog!

If you'd like to support my efforts, please look into my music, as well as my book "Bar Stories"!

I thank you in advance!



CD Baby



Amazon (song “Island Blue”)



Also, please check out my book “Bar Stories”. It's a fun book about various bar situations I've seen, witnessed, or participated in over the decades. If you're looking for a depressing book, you're in the wrong place!

This book is FUN! Additionally, purchasing this book also is helping me write the three other books I am currently working on: “The Absolute Best Bars in the Florida Keys”, “Living On A Tropical Island” (also known at this point as “Island Living”), and “Time Traveler”. Bar Stories is only: 

$4.99!!!