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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Beer and Lupulin


Beer and Lupulin

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I am grateful for all who follow the blog! Thank you very much! One of the things that I have mentioned from time to time, is that I also am involved with two radio podcasts, The Key West Music Show - Conch Rockin' in the Keys and  Key West Beer Tales - The Sum of All Beers.

Today's blog is a bit of a side bar, with a slant and a tip of the hat to Key West Beer Tales - The Sum of All Beers!

To hear podcasts of Key West Beer Tales - The Sum of All Beers, grab yourself a beer, get ready to laugh, and enjoy a podcast!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/key-west-beer-tales-sum-all/id998187973

The subject here is actually quite interesting and even those who don't imbibe in alcohol might find interesting!

Have you ever run into someone who when they drink beer that are fun and happy, but if they drink hard alcohol they become a complete asshole? I use that last word only because it's quite appropriate. They drink beer, smile, laugh, crack jokes, tell funny stories, and often go on, stimulated with friendly conversations and sharing ideas. On the days they drink hard alcohol they curse, talk badly about people, start arguments, some get in fights, some get arrested. Of course I'm certainly not talking about everyone, mind you, but we've all come across such individuals from time to time.


Why is this? Some will say alcohol. No argument there, however the question still looms as to why it happens with hard alcohol and not so much with beer, both of which have alcohol. Others will say it's a psychological condition. No argument here either. I used to see a girl named Sandy when I lived in Miami, who after she polished off several cocktails, she was ready to conquer the world. Her personality did a complete 180! Perplexed about this, I enquired with my cousin Bryan, who's a psychologist. Bryan's answer was immediate, short, and to the point. "She's a pathological alcoholic".  Okay, so this Sandy had some issues.

However, the quest of finding out why people react differently between beer and hard alcohol still remains unanswered, at this stage of the blog. Lets look a little further for the answer.

How about we look at Scotch, Irish Whiskey, and beer for a moment. The beginning process for all three is virtually exactly the same, as are the ingredients at that stage. Barley malt and water and the making of what's known in the industries as wort. What happens after that is perhaps where the crux of the difference lies. For the sake of not being too technical, especially for those who might find the process tedious reading, the next ingredient added to beer, is the bitter and flavoring agent, hops. No whiskeys use hops at all, however beer does. Without hops, beer would be an exceedingly sweet beverage. With whiskeys, the distillation process takes that sweetness out, so they don't need a bittering agent, nor do any other distilled beverages. Additionally, hops also act as an antibacterial  preserving agent to beer, so with beer it carries several functions.

A little background on hops. Hops, Humulus Lupulus, being their Latin name, are a member of the Cannabaceae family of plants. This family consists of eleven sub-groups, of which also include the Celtis and Cannibis plants. Like citrus plants, these family of plants are so closely related they can be grafted.

The active ingredient in hops is called lupulin. Lupulin is the powder that comes from processing the hop corns. Lupulin is said to make people relax and frankly, be happy and inspirational. World famous beer authority, Fred Eckhardt calls it "The Lupulin Effect". Who'd disagree with Mr. Eckhardt? In regards to their sister plant, cannabis, who's active ingredient is THC, the inspirational quality seems to be along the same vain, albeit lupulin is not an intoxicant, however it is a stimulant. Doctors have also used lupulin for medicinal purposes for centuries, as well.  It is here that you find the reasons as to why beer has that happy effect on people, where hard alcohols do not.
Lupulin makes you happy!

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I recall years ago learning that the English defined "Beer" as being a malt beverage brewed with hops. "Ale", was for a short time, what they defined the malt beverage made without hops. This was in the 1500's. That didn't last long however. Soon after ale and beer are virtually one and the same, and in the 1840's ale being identified as the top fermented style of beer, while the new lager was the bottom fermented variety.  It was the Dutch and the Flemish Belgians who introduced hops to England. The earliest recording of hops was around 822 in a German Abby.

Today hops are grown around the world, the major producers are Germany and the United States.

But that doesn't matter really as far as today's blog goes today. That's another story.  The point being, Hops are what makes you happy!

So raise a glass of ale or lager and lets all give a toast to Humulus Lululus, the great hop plant!



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Lupulin in action! Do these people in Key West look like they're not having fun?
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Lupulin in action! Do these people drinking Guinness look like they're not having fun?
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Lupulin in action in England! Even the horse is having a good time!
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Bar in Hawaii ... Having fun!
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Oktoberfest - Augustiner Breau Tent - Happy people indeed!

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Diamond Bell Saloon in the Wild West... having fun with Lupulin!

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Bar Jerez in Torremolinos Spain... having a blast  with lupulin!

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Lupulin in Italy!

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Bar Federal, Buenos Aires ... getting down with lupulin

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Laughter and quaffing beer laced with lupulin in Japan!

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Philosophical discussions stimulated  by Lupulin at L'Academie de la Biere on Boulevard de Port Royal, Paris



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Hops are our good friend!


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Again, To hear episodes of Key West Beer Tales - The Sum of All Beers, grab yourself a beer, get ready to laugh, and enjoy a podcast via iTunes!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/key-west-beer-tales-sum-all/id998187973


Lupulin makes you happy!


So, be happy. Drink a beer!






Thank you for reading the blog!

Cheers!

Key West Chris

P.S.
For additional reading on "The Lupulin Effect" be sure to check out this piece written by world class beer authority Fred Eckhardt.

http://allaboutbeer.com/article/the-joy-of-beer-and-the-lupulin-effect/

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Trop Rock Music Festival At Sea



Well, this is going to be a bit different! On April 16th 2016 the brand new Norwegian Escape  will be leaving Miami for Nassau, Tortola (BVI), and St. Thomas (USVI) and the Shanty Hounds, Dani Hoy and myself, will be aboard as part of the Trop Rock Music Festival At Sea, on April 16th, 2016!


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Getting a bit more specific, the cruise will be aboard the Norwegian Cruise Line's brand new ship, Escape. When I say brand new, I mean brand new! It's so new it's not even built yet! It's currently under construction in Papenburg Germany by the Meyer Werft ship building firm, a firm that has been building ships since 1795. In addition to having faith in German products, plus the added fact that this company is still family owned and in it's seventh generation, gives me a serious feeling of confidence.

http://www.escape.ncl.com/

Norwegian's Escape is due to be launched in October of this year, which also give a vote of confidence, in that if there are any growing pains, they'll be ironed out well before April 2016.  The ship has a capasity of 4200 and will be the largest ship ever based in Miami. We're talking a state of the art ship that will be brand new.

In addition, ... get this.. Escape will also have "Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville at Sea". This is the first floating Margaritaville at sea that will feature both the restaurant, as well as the 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar! Norwegian Cruise Line is also calling it a "Waterfront Music Venue". In the future Norwegian Cruise Lines( NCL ) will expand Margaritavilles to other cruise ships, as well as two of their destination locations. Hummmm. A Trop Rock cruise, Margaritaville music venue on board, does anyone want to place bets as to where we're playing on the ship?




Destinations will be St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Tortola, British Virgin Islands, and Nassau, Bahamas!!!!! WOW!

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Margaritaville at Sea/5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar on the Norwegian Cruise Line's newest ship, Escape. Photo by NCL.

Naturally, as this is the Trop Rock Music Festival At Sea, in addition to us there will be other trop musical acts as well! Trop Rock Junkies, Barefoot Richie Starrett, Deanna Brown, Jimmy Stowe and the Stowaways, Matt Vrba, Tim Charron, Pop Tart and the Flip Flops, What's Going On, Florida Gulf Coast, Doug Walker, not forgetting Harry Teaford of Radio A1A, and writer and humorist Sammie Mayes.

I've always wanted to play on a cruise! Several years ago a friend was promoting me and when she put a cruise together, she didn't include me. Close but no cigar. Well, now my "ship has come in" and my ship will be easily the finest ship the world has to offer, The Escape! On April 16th 2016 we depart Miami for St. Thomas (USVI), Tortola BVI), and Nassau. Big thanks to Harry Teaford of Radio A1A!!!

http://www.radioa1a.com/


 Anyone who is interested in joining us, please do!


Seriously, it doesn't get any better than this! Live Trop Music, a brand new absolute state of the art cruise ship sailing the Caribbean in the spring. Come and join us!!!!

Contact Deanna McElwee at 404 994 3656 or at dmcelwee@cruiseplanners.com



http://www.destinationsbycruiseplanners.com/rw/cruise/4793


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Monday, June 22, 2015

"ISLAND LIVING"


                                                            Island Living

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Key West. It’s the end of the line. A remote outpost, so to speak. things happen here that are not the norm for other places. The power goes out from time to time. Some say they can’t stand it when it does. Me? Well, yes if it happens at the wrong time, it can be a pain in the neck. I don’t deny that. However, I also feel that it’s the expected character of the place. After all, if power stayed on all the time, we might as well live on the mainland! Key West and all of it’s sister keys in the Conch Republic, we’re the last bastion and a remote civilization apart from the norm.

A 1968 Buick crashes into a telephone pole on Angela St., a small one way street. The accident happens just past where Grannell St intersects with it, at the graveyard. The street is big enough for one car only. The telephone pole, which carries the power line, actually sticks out in the street, instead of being off the street. The Buick takes out it’s own headlight and cracks the battery located behind it. The pole splits in two and electrical lines send wild sparks cascading to the ground as the electrical lines fall, dancing on the ground in a macabre voodoo style. It’s actually an entertaining, brief light show. Fortunately, no one is hurt. Meanwhile, for the rest of the town, it’s “lights out”. The power is out again.

On the mainland no one would ever set a telephone pole in the street. It’s always just off the street. But Key West is old and you don’t encroach on the graveyard here. Believe me most of those graves were here before electricity was.

I’m okay with this!

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That’s one scenario. Here’s another. An inexperienced sailor is in rough seas and high winds, a little south of Marathon ( the halfway point of the Keys). He’s not in control of his vessel which sails too close to a restricted power line area near the highway bridges. The tall mast takes out a power line and for every point south of there  it’s…. you guessed it! Lights out!

I’m okay with that too.

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A power outage is something expected when you live so far away from actual civilization. At least mainland civilization. I mentioned earlier that it’s part of the character of the islands. It also contributes to the character of all who live here! HA HA HA! I personally feel it’s for the better!

As I write this, it’s June 21st, 2015, the longest day of the year. It’s early. Just after 7am. I’ve been up since 4:30. Why? Who knows? I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep, so I got up and started thinking about island living. I think about island living a fair amount, I guess. Next thing I knew. I was writing this blog, which I appreciate all of you taking the time to read.



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While it’s not restricted to island living, one of the things Dani and I love doing are BBQ’s in the back yard! It’s a wonderful activity and always shared with friends.

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Ribs cooking on the grill

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Hanging out

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Dani and I playing at a BBQ at the Conch Rock Shanty


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A hearty cheer

When cooking for friends, particularly visiting friends, I keep things to a Key West theme or recipe. Seriously, the main reason people come to Key West is to get away from where they live. Key West encompases so much as well! To start with, it’s a tropical island. Second, it’s part of the United States. Third, along will all of the other Keys, The Florida Keys have an air of their own. With this in mind, why would anyone want to eat the exact same thing they eat at home? Really? When I make dinner on the grill, it has to taste like it came from the Keys, not Sheboygan, Wi. or  Schenectady, N.Y. What’s the point of coming here if they don’t want local cuisine? They could just go downtown in their hometown and get whatever they want right there. When they’re here, they are in the Islands and at my place, we have island cuisine. Mostly pork or chicken, done various island ways. Secret marinades, or rubs may be used, perhaps also with my homemade BBQ sauce.

Everyone has a great time, there’s always lots of laughter involved.  If you’re coming to town, let me know. It doesn’t take much to convince us to have a Keys BBQ! Island Living.






Island living! Key West is four miles long (6.5km) and a mile and a half (2.4 km) wide. Some will tell you it’s two miles wide (3.2km), however they are misinformed. Regardless, the point being, it’s a small island. I bought a van three years ago. It was used, but new to me. a 2003 Dodge conversion van. I could almost live in the damn thing! Having said that, most of the traveling I do on the island is either by foot, or bicycle. When I need groceries I’ll take the van, or for anything else on the other side of the island. Yesterday I went grocery store (you guessed it! For last night’s BBQ!) and I looked at the odometer. As I mentioned, I bought the van three years ago. Yesterday I noticed that I’ve put 10,000 miles (16,200kn) on it since I bought it. Island Living.

Island Living. Key West is 106 miles (172km) from the mainland.However that’s not to civilization. You need to travel the “Eighteen Mile Stretch” through the Everglades before you get to Florida City. Everything in the Keys is geographically identified by the mile markers, known as MM. The mile markers start at MM 0, here in Key West. If you go to the Caribbean Club in Key Largo, it’s at MM 104. Bottom line, it’s a long way to civilization and gasoline costs $.30 - $.45 more per gallon than on the mainland. It is said that the fuel tanker trucks that deliver the fuel to Key West and the islands can only carry a half load. The logic here is that if the truck crashes and bursts into flames on one of the forty something bridges, the bridge won’t be destroyed. Regretfully, one did crash on a bridge a few years ago and a big fire ensued. The bridge didn’t melt and gas remains $.30 - $.45 higher than on the mainland. I drive 1/3rd less in three years than I did driving one year living on the mainland in one.Island Living.

I’m okay with that.

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The Gulf Stream passing the south side of the island


Island Living. The Gulf Stream. What is The Gulf Stream? Well, it’s a combination of the tropical Caribbean waters and the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, merging and traveling up to Ireland and the United Kingdom, giving them and the European continent a much more temperate climate than they would have at their latitude without it. The Gulf Stream starts…. right here.

I’ve always contended that there is a certain magic in the air here, an energy. It’s a creative energy. One which stimulates musicians, writers, and artists, perhaps others as well. It’s a very good energy. Very positive.

In my opinion, that energy comes from both the Gulf Stream and the Trade Winds that help create it as it rushes past Key West. It’s also the main reason that when people come here for a vacation, they never want to leave. It’s that energy, it’s that vibe. Island Living.

Oh yeah… I have a song called “Island Living” too! ;-)

Thanks for reading my blog! It’s very much appreciated!!!


To obtain my music, be sure to check my website for downloads and physical CDs!! This site also has material not available on other sites.

http://keywestchris.com/

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

Thank you everyone!!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Conchs and Fresh Water Conchs


                                                Conchs and Freshwater Conchs

Lets start off with: What is a Conch? Lets get the pronunciation correct, to begin with. The ch has the same sound as it does in my name, Christopher. So, it's pronounced  "Conk".  I know a lot of people who read this blog have English as a second language and a conch is not something that would ordinarely get too much usage.  A picture of a conch is seen below.

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The term Conch (note the capital C) here in the Keys applies to anyone born in the Keys.  The term actually came from the Bahamas. Over there the term refered to Bahamians of European decent. There seem to be a lot of theories on how that came about. It seems that wherever these Bahamians imigrated to, they were called Conchs. Riviera Beach, near Palm Beach, had a section of town called "Conchtown", where Bahamian ex-patriots setteled. Also, in Miami's Coconut Grove section, a large amount of Bahamians setteled. Bahamians of both European and African decent, moved to Coconut Grove and Key West.

The Bahamian Conchs had been setteling throughout the Keys since the early 1800's. The term has been libralized here in the Keys however. Today, anyone born in the Keys is a Conch, regardless of race or heritage.

Myself, I was not born here, therefore I am not a Conch. On the other hand, I really don't know how it came about, but if you live in the Keys for seven years, you become a "Fresh Water Conch".

As I moved here in May, of 2008, I'm proud to say that I am now, officially a Fresh Water Conch!

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Picture by Ralph De Palma

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Stupidest Thing I've Heard This Year

The Stupidest Thing I've Heard This Year

If you read the blog, or follow me on Facebook, you'll know that I recently bought into a small bar here called The Cork and Stogie.  I wrote about it shortly after I made the move on April 1st. In that blog I mentioned that I was previously attempting to buy Viva Zapata with two other partners, but in the long run we realized we didn't have enough money to pull it off. The rent would be raising 50% after the first three months and it would be double what we started, three months after that. To make matters more nervous, this would be going into the slowest part of the year here.

http://keywestmusic.blogspot.com/2015/04/i-bought-bar-in-key-west.html

Before we pulled the plug on it we entertained the idea of having an additional partner and had one guy who expressed interest. We'll just call him R. Well, R was a pretty well known individual and had been around town for many years. Consequently, he also knew a lot of people. Knowing the right people, particularly in city planning and government can definitely be a feather in one's cap.

I had met R a few years back at one of the songwriter's festivals. The Key West Songwriter's Festival is full of people from Nashville. When I first struck up a conversation with R, he was wearing jeans and cowboy boots. Naturally, I thought he was from Nashville. To my surprise, he was a local. Every time I've seen him since, he's always got on long pants. It's not that wearing long pants is bad, but in this town, it's odd. Odd enough to say to yourself "Hummmm. This guy always wears long pants. I wonder what's up with him?". If I saw him around with shorts from time to time, the question would never come about.

Bear in mind that it doesn't mean they can't be trusted or anything. My friend Schmegley never wears shorts and he's a great guy! However, one does tend to at least ask the question when the long pants come into play and shorts never do.

One night in the beginning of March one of my partners in the Viva Zapata adventure and I were out on the sidewalk talking to R about to impending venture. He had some interesting ideas, I will say. He also had a few ideas that were completely off the wall, such as making Viva Zapata into a fine dining restaurant.

He also flagged down some city government employee who walked by and chatted with him for a few minutes. Then another guy who walked by whom he hadn't seen in years, by knew of this guy's escapades here and in Panama, with what the guy said was with the C.I.A. The guy wasn't drunk, he was in-the-bag shitfaced. He made the most outrageous statements about blowing up an airport in Panama, in between swaying back and forth and almost falling over a couple of times. R seemed to have some sort of knowledge about this as well and asked the pertinent questions as the guy swayed to and fro. The next day someone Facebook posted a picture of the guy unconscious, laying in a random front yard, with a comical statement to go with it.

The next day the partner who was talking with R and myself asked if he could talk to me in private. We'll call this individual K. K is a great guy it's always great to see him. He has a great disposition and laughs easily.

We sat down and he says to me "Hey, I was talking to R and he was saying that he knows you're into the Trop Rock music, but he says that he wants you to understand that if he invests here, he said he doesn't want this place to become a Trop Rock bar or anything".

My reply to K was "Lets see what develops. So far he hasn't committed anything but talk" which K agreed with.

On the flip side however, I was completely amazed. What an extraordinary thing  for R to say! I mean, here is a guy who has lived here for quite some time, I think over two decades, and the bottom line is, he just doesn't get it. Again, I thought he was from Nashville when we originally met. Now I was thinking he should try his luck in a place like Nashville.

Lets look at Key West and the Florida Keys biggest resource: Tourism.

Who come here and why?

Getting the specific stats on tourism isn't easy. However I will say this. Key West gets a lot of visitors from outside the U.S. Having said that, the amount of Americans visiting here far outnumbers all combined visitors.  

Why do Americans come to Key West? Americans come to Key West because of what Key West is:

A tropical island, many consider part of the Caribbean (Hey, if Bermuda is considered part of the Caribbean, there's no reason we wouldn't be) floating one hundred and six miles off the mainland loaded with palm trees, beaches, bars, restaurants, and art galleries. The best part? It's it's own country, the Conch Republic, albeit tongue-in-cheek, but it is part of the United States. One doesn't need a passport to get here. Call it the best of both worlds! It's the U.S. and a foreign country at the same time!

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People come here because they want the island life getaway experience. They want to feel the tropical island lifestyle and be part of it,  take it in. Many businesses here on the island insist on piping in island music, be it from this island, or others. I know of an art gallery which insists on having nothing but tropical music playing. It's common and they're not alone. This one particular gallery is very successful and has been here for over twenty years. Why do they play tropical music? The general manager stated "People come here to be in the island lifestyle and island music sets the stage for that."

Two of the most successful musicians on the island over the years, fall into the category of Trop music. About 15% of all the music in Key West is Trop Rock. With our band, The Shanty Hounds, our repertoire consists of about 1/3 Trop music, 2/3 other. We consider ourselves pretty well rounded. Yet, people are out there, such as R who have a thing against the Trop music and because we play some of it and he had an ax to grind with it, for whatever reason, he throws us into a category that he doesn't like and wants to make sure we don't play it.

What amazes me is that people like R can be so ignorant. Regretfully he's not alone. Fortunately, he never joined us (nothing to do with music) and also, we never bought Viva Zapata. Unfortunately, as remarkable as it may seem, in business some people often put their personal likes ahead of feeding their cash register. They cut off their nose in spite of their face.

Monday, May 18, 2015

ANOTHER WAY OF WRITING A SONG


ANOTHER WAY OF WRITING A SONG

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In the last blog I just posted, I talked about one way to write a song, being in the spirit right after the Key West Songwriters Festival concluded. I mentioned that was one way I write a song, however there were others. Regardless of where I'm coming from when writing a song, I will always have a pen and paper ready. As I play and lyrics come to mind, I'll flip the guitar over and write the line down that I come up with. I'll do that immediately. If not, I'll forget it. Likewise, if I'm out doing things and an idea comes to mind, be it a melody, lyric, or song idea, I'll note it in my phone as either a note, or a voice memo. If I don't, again, I'll forget it. A LOT of songwriters tell me they do the same.

 As I'm in the muse as far as writing goes and I'm on a roll, here's another way that I write a song.

Two songs here I'll extrapolate on, "Dildo Key" and "Island Blue".

In both of these cases, unlike the first songwriting post on "The Beach!!!!", which was based on spontaneity, these two songs were projects to be done before any music or lyrics were established.
In the case of "Dildo Key", what had happened was I was looking at a soundings chart of the upper Keys, which includes everything from Key Largo and Islemorada on the east, to the west coast of the tip of Florida. For those who don't know what a soundings chart is, it's basically a road map for boaters listing the depths of the water. It's also called a depth chart.

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Well, while looking at the chart my eyes almost popped out! There was an island named "Dildo Key"! I rubbed my eyes to make sure there wasn't an error, however it remained the same!
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This is not something that could be by-passed by a songwriter! How could you pass this up? No, here was a song that was being handed to me on a silver platter! In this case it was different than "The Beach!!!". As I said, "The Beach!!!!" was spontaneous. "Dildo Key" became a project in the making before any of it was ever looked at musically, or lyrically.

As I mentioned in my last blog, I write the music first. With that in mind, I needed a proper foundation to build on. For myself, it's like building a house. You don't start with the roof, or the first floor, you start with the foundation and build up from there. The way I look at it, the music is the most important part of the song. I've heard people who wrote the most prolific lyrics, but the music they applied to it, is a complete and utter sleeping pill, or mediocre. For others it works however, but not for me.

Therefore, I had the opportunity to set the stage for the song!
Now, with a name like "Dildo Key", it has to be something with a comic, fun feel. That goes without saying! I figured something along a barrel house blues could work. Me being me, the progression would have to have a traditional feel, yet be unique at the same time. As I mentioned earlier, it needed to also have a humorous twist! The end result is a progression that stands on it's own, related to virtually nothing else, yet at the same time, it sounds familiar.
What I came up with for the basic progression was:

E  C#7  F#7  B7    E C#7 F#7 B7   E  E7  A  A7     E  C#7  F#7 B7   and a turn around of E C#7 F#7 B7 E B7 E B7

That worked! It's it's own progression.

Now that that was established, I had a very original format to work lyrically within. this was exactly what my quest was. A solid, original foundation was ready to be built on. The lyrics would easily fit in this wheelhouse! Mind you, it doesn't happen all the time! This can bite you in the ass quite often, when you least expect it.

As an example of this, the title song of the album "Shanghai'd and Marooned in Key West - Things could be worse", never materialized. The song just never cut it for my standards. However that happens no matter how one writes.

With "Dildo Key", we were cooking with oil!

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The lyrics were naturally peppered with suggestive innuendos, as one would expect from a song named after a island called Dildo Key. How could it not be? It likewise didn't hurt that the key next to Dildo Key is Johnson Key... seriously, how did this happen?   

Lyrically "Dildo Key" turned out to be one of my longer songs, with six verses. The first verse was designed to set the stage of a guy singing happily and just heading out fishing in the Florida Keys. The next verse, he gets there, all is quite normal until he arrives at the destinaltion, Dildo Key, which immediately after it is named comes the "horror chord" hit suddenly and abruptly. It's EC#FGC#E... OUCH!!!!

As I say, the rest of the song is peppered with inuendos designed to crack a smile and hopefully some laughter!

I wanted Barry Cuda to play piano on the track. 'Cuda has been a Key West icon for thirty years and while being a great cut up, he's seriously a blues authority. I sent him a demo of the song and a lyric/chord chart to learn. Like almost all of the guys who played on the album, he arrived and when it came to playing the song he suddenly stopped and said "Hey! What's going on here?". This is an issue I always ran into as my songs aren't your basic chord progressions. It can be a pain in the ass, as a writer. It's also expensive when musicians realize there's a lot more to the song than they assumed and they wind up learning it in the studio. On the entire album, only Richard Crooks went over every song and charted it as well, before arriving in the studio.

'Cuda learned it very quickly however and did a superb job on the song as well! There are several people out there who tell me Dildo Key is my best work. I don't agree with them, however it is surely my most humorous! Tuba and all!!!

Dildo Key can be found on CD Baby, CD Universe and iTunes. Search "Key West Chris"
Here's the CDBaby link:  http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/keywestchris


ISLAND BLUE

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Another song written with a subject in mind was "Island Blue". My friend Misty Loggins called me from Nashville to say she was coming down to play for a week at Smokin Tuna. I said "Hey! Why don't we cut a song while you're here?" she thought it was a great idea. It was after I hung up that I realized I didn't have a song for her and it was only two weeks before she would be here. Uh Oh!

I went a week walking into walls. Nothing worked. Then, I was on my satee one morning trying to come up with something and went from an E to a B7 and it rung! Suddenly I was off to the races! I came up with an original progression that would fit the Patsy Cline/Willy Nelson genre of Country. The progression and song is entirely different, but you could easily put it in the same category as "Crazy". The progression went:

E, E7, B7, C#m7, F#m7, B7, E E7 A A7 E C9 B9 E Bdim
For the bridge:
A Maj 7, E Maj 7, A Maj7, E Maj7, E7, A E Maj7, E7, F#m7, G#m7 C#m7 Cm7 Bm7, A Maj7, F#m7, B7, E, C9, B9, E, Bdim

So, here I ended up with a very original progression with a foundation that was as solid as a rock, which invited lyrics to build off of.

The story would be of a person who visits the tropics from afar and decides to move and stay.

When we cut the song Misty asked if we could move the song a half step up, to accommodate her voice. No problem! So when we recorded it, we did it in F and it's been that way ever since, be it if Misty, myself, or Dani were singing it.

Here's the song. It will be on my next album "Jump Into De Fi-Ya!", although it will not be this particular cut. The one we'll use is a different mix altogether and with Dani on background vocals.




                                                              ISLAND BLUE
I
ISLAND BLUE YOU’RE GONNA TAKE ME
BACK THROUGH THE WINDS OF TIME
OH ISLAND BLUE YOU’RE GONNA CHANGE THIS HEART OF MINE
II
WHEN I CAME TO THIS ISLAND
FOR SUNSHINE AND MARITIME AIR
OH ISLAND BLUE, YOUR SANDY BEACHES, SEEM SO UNFAIR
(Bridge)
WHEN I CAME TO YOU I HAD NO WORRIES IN THE WORLD
I WAS AS FREE AS A SEAGUL IN FLIGHT
I STAYED A FEW DAYS I COULD FEEL IT
BENEATH MY FEET MY WHOLE WORLD WAS CHANGING
AND I KNEW, DEEP DOWN INSIDE
THIS WAS MY LIFE
III
SO ISLAND BLUE, NO I’M NOT CRYING
NO MISURY, NO PAIN
OH ISLAND BLUE IT JUST ISN’T FAIR
TO FEEL THIS WAY
(Bridge)
WHEN I CAME TO YOU I HAD NO WORRIES IN THE WORLD
I WAS AS FREE AS A SEAGUL IN FLIGHT
I STAYED A FEW DAYS I COULD FEEL IT
BENEATH MY FEET MY WHOLE WORLD WAS CHANGING
AND I KNEW, DEEP DOWN INSIDE
THIS WAS MY LIFE

IV
SO I SAID GOOD BY TO MY CITY
AU REVOIR TO MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS
AND HELLO TO THE TROPICS, ISLAND BLUE
AND HELLO TO THE TROPICS, ISLAND BLUE
©2011 Christopher R. Rehm, BMI






While there is no right way or a wrong way to write a song, in both this blog and the last you'll have read that I always set the foundation first and foremost. This works well for me. Lennon/McCartney, Jagger/Richards, Garcia/Hunter, and Jobim/Moraes among others, use(d) this method as well.






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All the Best From Key West!

Thank you for reading my Blog!!!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Writing a Song - One Way Anyway

Writing a Song

At least one way I do it!
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With the songwriters festival over until next year, I'll go about explaining on one way of how I write a song. There is no right way or wrong way to write a song, but there is a right way and a wrong way for particular individuals. This is fundamentally what works for me.

With myself, the first thing I do is come up with a melody. 60% of the time, it's by accident. I'm just noodling on the guitar and suddenly something sounds cool. Sometimes it's by experimentation, others by nothing better explained than as a mistake. I'll start playing around with it and out of the blue a lyric comes in out of nowhere. It's as though that's the lyric that was meant for the melody I was playing with. From there a story evolves around the melody/chord progression. One example of this is "The Beach!!!!"

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With this song I was in the key of A and going from A to A6 to E9 back to the A to A6 then to a E7. All of this on the A on the fifth fret. It was in a Cuban 4/4 time and really flowed. I was playing around with it for about two weeks. Just having fun with it. Then one morning I was messing with it again when out of the blue came the line "Today I'm going to the beach". The word Today" was long and drawn out emphasizing the anticipated excitement of going to the beach!  The next line came right away "It's a sunny day and I'm on my way and I love to feel the heat" the progression had a Latin shuffle groove to it,  so I continued with it for one more verse, which likewise came right to me. The story was evolving and progressing quite quickly.

"See palm trees and coconuts get the sand in my feet"

The progression with those lyrics had run it's course. The next line and chords came immediately as well, albeit a bit of a side step, by adding a chord that wasn't in key, but it worked. The progression went C#7 F#m7 Bm7 D7 E7 and the lyric  "And life just don't get better all the while, carpe dium, seize the day!"
The Latin phrase "Carpe Dium" was one I wanted to utilize and here was the opportunity! Bottom line, here was a progression and lyrics to go with it!

So what was at hand was the following:

TODAY ----------------------------
I’M GOING TO THE BEACH!
IT’S A SUNNY DAY AND I’M ON MY WAY, AND I LOVE TO FEEL THE HEAT
AND SEE PALM TREES WITH COCONUTS GET THE SAND, IN MY FEET
 AND LIFE JUST DON'T GET BETTER ALL THE WHILE, CARPE DIEM, YEAH! SIEZE THE DAY!

The next verse  likewise came as fast as lightning using the exact same foundation as the first verse.
TODAY------------------------------
I’M GOING TO THE BEACH!
HOP ON MY BIKE AND TAKE A RIDE, THE SUN, IS WHAT I SEEK
AND IT AIN’T FAR, WHO NEEDS A CAR? THIS IS ISLAND TIME, THIS IS MY BEAT
ON THE BEACH, OUT FROM THE STREET  SMELL THE FRIES COOKIN IN THE SUMMER HEAT

I wanted a bridge next and what came to mind worked perfectly, albeit a bit unusual in structure. Working within the Cuban rhythm that was at hand,  a Motown style bridge was added.  Bm7, C#m7,  D, E and the lyrics applied. Somehow it worked!
WON’T STAND BY THE WINDOW ON THE PHONE AND BE TALKIN’
GET OFF THAT COMPUTER AND BE ON MY WAY
TIME’S A WASTING, LIFE’S TOO PRECIOUS, I BETTER START WALKIN’
OUT THE DOOR, GET ON MY BIKE AND BE ON MY WAY

The bridge was actually very autobiographic actually. Often I need to kick myself in the ass to get off the computer and get out of the house!
So! Now I had a song structurally! The verse progression and the bridge progression. The story continued and the final outcome was the following:

                                                              THE BEACH!!!!
TODAY ----------------------------
I’M GOING TO THE BEACH!
IT’S A SUNNY DAY AND I’M ON MY WAY, AND I LOVE TO FEEL THE HEAT
AND SEE PALM TREES WITH COCONUTS GET THE SAND, IN MY FEET
 AND LIFE JUST DON'T GET BETTER ALL THE WHILE, CARPE DIEM, YEAH! SIEZE THE DAY!
2
TODAY------------------------------
I’M GOING TO THE BEACH!
HOP ON MY BIKE AND TAKE A RIDE, THE SUN, IS WHAT I SEEK
AND IT AIN’T FAR, WHO NEEDS A CAR? THIS IS ISLAND TIME, THIS IS MY BEAT
ON THE BEACH, OUT FROM THE STREET YOU SMELL THE FRIES COOKIN IN THE SUMMER HEAT

WON’T STAND BY THE WINDOW ON THE PHONE AND BE TALKIN’
GET OFF THAT COMPUTER AND BE ON MY WAY
TIME’S A WAISTING, LIFE’S TOO PRECIOUS, I BETTER START WALKIN’
OUT THE DOOR, GET ON MY BIKE AND BE ON MY WAY
3
TODAY----------------------
I WORSHIP THE SUN
I WORKED ALL WEEK, PAID MY DUES, DON’T YOU THINK, I DESERVE A LITTLE FUN?
I’M HEADIN’ TO THE BEACH, I’LL TAKE MY TIME, NO. I DON’T NEED TO RUN
EVERYONE ON THE BEACH WEARS A SMILE, THE GOOD TIMES HAVE BEGUN
4
TODAY -------------------
I AM AT THE BEACH!
THE SUN IS SHINING AND I AM SMILING, OH YEAH, WHAT A TREAT!
YEAH, THE SUN BEATS DOWN, I JUMP IN THE WATER….. YOU BET! HEY!!! I’M AT THE BEACH!
AND LIFE JUST DON'T GET BETTER ALL THE WHILE, CARPE DIEM, YEAH! SIEZE THE DAY!
© 2009 Christopher R. Rehm   BMI

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So, that's one way I write a song.... there are others, but I'll get into them another time.






In all my writing, I write the music first. The music is the foundation of any song, so it can't be compromised. So I write the music and tailor the lyrics to fit. It works for me, anyhow. Years after doing it this way, I had some encouragement when I learned that Lennon/McCarthy, Jagger/Richards, and Garcia/Hunter all did likewise


Download "The Beach!!!!" at:


http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/keywestchris 


 Also available at iTunes. Search "Key West Chris"


Thank you everyone!!!

All the Best From Key West!

Key West Chris Rehm