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Monday, July 25, 2016

STORY BEHIND THE SONG - "AS LONG AS I LIVE ON THE ISLAND"






This song was written in preparation for my last album, "Shanghai'd and Marooned In Key West (things could be worse)". It's one of those pieces that "ends up on the cutting room floor", so to speak.

It needs to be stated that this song is not autobiographical! As it's sung in the first person, it sounds as though it is. That fact actually played into part of the reason I cut it out. The other reasons were that I hadn't actually given much thought to the instrumentation.

The level of production is something that varies from artist to artist. Some will send a producer an acoustic demo to a producer and they will do the arrangement, organize the musicians, record everything, have the artist do the vocal, then send them the completed piece. In many cases the artist really doesn't have hardly any input.That works well for many. It doesn't work at all for me however.

If it's my work, I'm involved 100% . I will get most of the musicians. The arrangements are virtually all of mine. I'll be there during the recording, making decisions on how/what the other musicians play, so on and so forth.

With this song, as I say, it never really made it past the writing/arrangement stage. This album would be my first foray into the Trop Rock genre and as you'll see from the lyrics below, it paints a pretty good picture!

The inspiration for the song was several people I either knew as friends, was acquainted with, or just saw here in Key West.

As I say, the song was written in the first person and it depicts, quite humorously, a complete Key West blow out's trials and tribulations. I had a lot of fun and laughs writing it!

1)
SUN COME UP MOON GO DOWN
JUST GOT IN FROM PAINTING THE TOWN
BURN THE CANDLE AT BOTH ENDS
SOMETIMES I JUST DON'T KNOW WHEN TO SAY WHEN, BUT IT'S ALRIGHT
AS LONG AS I LIVE ON THE ISLAND

2)
WOKE UP AT TWO IMAGINE THAT
I FEEL JUST LIKE THE CAT IN THE HAT
SWEPT EVERYTHING UNDER THE BED
COBWEBS CLUTTER INSIDE MY HEAD
BUT IT'S ALRIGHT  YEAH, IT'S ALRIGHT
AS LONG AS I LIVE ON THE ISLAND

(Bridge)
SUN RISE IN THE ATLANTIC
SUN SETS IN THE GULF
SO AS YOU SEE, IN SPITE OF ME, ALL IS WELL
AS LONG AS I LIVE ON THE ISLAND

3)
MET A FEW GIRLS AT A LOCAL SALOON
WE HEADED BACK TO THEIR HOTEL ROOM
STRIP POKER AND TWISTER ALL NIGHT LONG
LOST ALL MY CLOTHES HAD TO TAKE A CAB HOME
BUT IT'S ALRIGHT  YEAH, IT'S ALRIGHT
AS LONG AS I LIVE ON THE ISLAND

(Bridge 2)
SHOTS OF JUMBIE CHASED WITH BEER
PUSSERS RUM OVER ICE
LIFE HERE, IT'S ABUNDANTLY CLEAR,
IS QUITE NICE, YEAH IT'S QUITE NICE

4)
I HAD A REAL JOB BUT IT WENT SOUTH
I HAD THE VAPORS AIRING ABOUT
NOW I SELL TOURS ON THE STREET SIDE
MAKE A GOOD LIVING BUT IT COLLIDES WITH MY LIFE
BUT IT'S ALRIGHT, YEAH IT'S ALRIGHT
AS LONG AS I LIVE ON THE ISLAND
AS LONG AS I LIVE ON THE ISLAND
AS LONG AS I LIVE ON THE ISLAND

© 5/27/2009 Christopher R. Rehm  BMI







Thursday, July 21, 2016

Insights on Holding Songwriter Events

Insights On Holding Songwriter's Events!


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Over the years I've had the pleasure of running Songwriter showcases. They've all been fun, however there have been many improvements made over the years through both trial and error, or just flat out learning from Nashville and how they do it. Keep in mind that Nashville has perfected the method, having done them for almost 100 years and literally thousands of events. Believe me, theirs is the template to use!

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I learned from them by being part of The Key West Songwriter's Festival since 2010, the largest songwriting festival in the United States. The way they do it just flat out makes sense. 

Besides, why try blazing a new trail with all the trial and error that goes along with it, when the tried, true, proven way is at our fingertips?

On some of my early events, I ran it pretty much the same as my open mics that I had held. I learned from the best here as well, but in the end, an open mic is not a songwriter's event. That was the wrong way to do it.

It's not a regular gig either.

The underlining point here is, it's a songwriting event. Big difference!

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The first thing is that a songwriter's event which showcases multiple songwriters, is held in an In The Round format.

One disaster I had was having the single artist up at one time. The audience was horrible! For them it was just a bar gig with someone playing. They were talking and carrying on just like any other bar gig. At one point C.W. Colt was on stage and stopped his performance, admonishing the crowd "This is a songwriter's event, not a bar drunk!" C.W. never came back after that.  For some reason, with the In The Round format, that never happened again. Maybe it's because there are other sets of eyes gazing back at the crowd from the stage? I'm not sure, but it works.

In the In-The-Round format you will have two, three, or four songwriters on stage at the same time. Five is too many. The performers sit in a row facing the crowd and go in sequence, one after the other. Here, they have the opportunity to address the audience on a one on one basis, explaining on how the song they are about to play came about.

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As the ringleader, you will want to explain to them beforehand to keep their exchange with the audience to around one to two minutes. Some inexperienced songwriters will go on and on just having conversations with the crowd. The issue here is they are taking time away from all of the performers if they go over. You don't want one songwriter to get five songs and another four when it's all said and done because someone got too gabby with the crowd. If someone in the crowd wants to ask questions, they can do so after the performers are finished. 

One disaster I had was with holding the single artists



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The In The Round formula works so well as performers play one directly after the other. It's not as though one player is up there for a half hour and is followed by another. Here, you have that two, three, or four sharing the stage and every next song is by the next artist in line. Ever get an album where the songwriter's songs all sound exactly the same? They can be at risk of putting the audience to sleep. If that artist is on stage, with an In The Round set up, you'll never have that issue.

Here's one of the true beauties of the In The Round formula: As an organizer, you set the artists up on stage and you're done for the next hour! Having single artists up at a time, with a laundry list of performers, you're like a dog chasing it's tail all day long!

For so many reasons, the In The Round formula is vastly superior to anything else.


What not to do at a songwriter's event? A couple of things to keep in mind.

A) This is a songwriter's event. It's an intimate experience with a songwriter, who is explaining how their song came about, then playing it, one on one. In a songwriter event you want people in the audience to feel that the songwriter is talking directly to them baring their soul about how the song came about, then playing the song in it's most exposed, vulnerable environment, which is their vocal and an accompanying instrument, such as a guitar, or a piano. Having a band at a songwriter's showcase is not a songwriters showcase, it becomes a bar gig. The intimacy is completely lost and it runs the risk of now a mumbo-jumbo free for all. Worst of all, if solo acoustic players play after a band, it sounds as though the bottom fell out. Before you had this band with drums, bass, maybe electric guitars, all of which are naturally going to be at a much greater volume. It's not fair to the performers who follow.

Having said that, often in a songwriter's event you'll have an artist who has an accompanist, say a second guitar, a violin, harmonica, etc, playing with them. This works.

B) A songwriter's event is a collective event. When you have multiple artists being showcased together in the In The Round setting, you don't have one set aside to do their own set solo. The by product of this is essentially saying to the other artists “You're just supporting So And So”. Songwriters events put songwriters on stage together. Let's look at Chuck Cannon at the Key West Songwriter's Festival. Chuck of course has a slew of hits! At the KWSF, Chuck will have his own event. He's the songwriter at say, 8PM at The Casa Marina on Thursday night. However, Friday afternoon, he will be one of three or four songwriters sharing the sage together. Same thing on Saturday. Point being, when he has his solo event, that's one event. When other songwriters are involved, he's one of featured performers sharing the stage with the others. It's part of the songwriters community.

I hope that helps those who host songwriter events!



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Be sure to check out my book “Bar Stories”

17 Five-Star Ratings as of July 20th!

https://www.amazon.com/Bar-Stories-Semi-Fictional-Adventure-Tour-Witnessed-ebook/dp/B01AHKCY1K/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1469125776&sr=1-1&keywords=bar+stories#nav-subnav


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Exploring Remote Florida Keys



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When most people think of the Florida Keys, they think of Key West, or Key Largo. Others will think of Islamorada, Marathon, Bahia Honda, or perhaps any of the other Keys that are linked by the forty two bridges that are known as Overseas Highway, which is the first 100+ miles of U.S.1.

Well, forty two bridges would link forty two islands, but of course there are also islands not connected by the bridges, such as Geiger Key, or No Name Key, which are off islands which are. I'm strictly guessing here, but I'm estimating the archipelago of islands which have people living on them could be around sixty five to seventy five.

However, the Florida Keys amount to much more than seventy five islands. In total, there are actually over three thousand islands in the Florida Keys!

By the way, a Key, or Cay (both pronounced Kee) is a small, low island.

How can one not be curious about exploring some of these? Back around seven years ago, my friends Rick, Cindi, and Jeff went out to one of these remote keys, and I've been going there ever since. With group of friends of ours, we recently went out there again earlier this week, renting a pontoon boat to get there.


Our destination was Marvin Key, or more correctly "The Marvins". There are two islands in the Marvins, neither of which has a singular name.

We rent the pontoon boat from Backcountry Boat Rentals, which is at Mile Marker 17 ( 17 miles north of Key West), Summerland Key. Every time we've gone, we've had fabulous service from them. The boats are in great shape and the man who sees you off, Alfredo, is very pleasant, yet also quite precise in his instructions, so there is no confusion.

Marvin Key is about nine miles west of Summerland Key, where the boat disembarks from, and the ride out there takes about an hour. You must stay within the guidelines of the trip, because it's very shallow and it doesn't take much to run aground.

The pictures will better explain what it's like out there. They really do speak for themselves.

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A channel the route takes you through shortly after leaving the dock.

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Dani Hoy piloted this trip.


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Some of the 3000 islands in the Florida Keys on the way out.

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New keys are constantly being formed. The sands are constantly shifting throughout the Keys and new islands sprout out of nowhere. A mangrove starts growing in it and next thing you know, there's a new island!

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Marvin Key is in sight!

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Marvin Key

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My dogs Cajun and Tooloulou always come on the trip. Here Cajun is the scout, making sure the island is safe for the rest of us.

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Following the trail Cajun blazed up the island.

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A sandy spot that looks like it would make a fantastic campground... one of these trips!... What? it's illegal.... hummmm...

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Cajun and Tooloulou checking out the other side of Marvin Key.

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The other side of Marvin Key.

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Coming back out the island path

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Fun in the crystal clear waters of the Florida Keys

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My friend Bill Cockrill's coozie  kept the beverages cool on a 90 (32C) degree day! Thanks Bill!



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We spent six hours at Marvin Key! It never gets old!!!!

I suggest keeping a link to this page for when you are at work and need a breath of fresh air!

BackCountry also has skiffs, in addition to pontoon boats. To contact Backcountry Boat Rentals:

http://www.backcountryboatrentals.biz/

Tell them Key West Chris sent you!  :)








Thursday, July 7, 2016

Story Behind The Song "Yippie Cayo Hueso!"

Story Behind The Song - “Yippie Cayo Hueso!”

(Quick note: I've been putting these "Story Behind The Song" posts in Facebook for several years. I came to the conclusion that putting them in the blog is better for access, so I'll be posting them here from now on. Thanks! Chris)

The name Cayo Hueso is the Spanish name for Key West. It actually translates to Bone Key, because when the Spanish first came to the island, they found human bones all along the beach, the result of a Native American war between tribes, long past.

I first came up with the name, then wrote the song. When I mentioned it to my friend Joe Gowran he said “I say that all the time”. My friend Gary then said “Yeah, Joe says that a lot!”. I couldn't recall it at all, however I spent a lot of time with Joe, so I figured it must have crept into my brain somehow.

My philosophy is if someone comes up with a saying that I use in a song, they get a co-writing credit. This isn't the norm. However, I feel that if someone never stated it to begin with, the song would have never existed. I did the same with my song “Raise My Glass To The Upper 48”, where I credited a co-write to my friend George Cornejo. Likewise, Joe gets credit on this one. In both cases, I wrote the whole song, music and lyrics.

Yippie Cayo Hueso is a euphoric, upbeat, celebration of living in Key West and getting out on the water. I recall I was playing at Captain Tony's one MOTM (the Trop Rock festival in Key West held annually) and I was about to play my song “Sailing”. This was on the last day of the event and as I introduced the song, I asked the packed bar how many had been out on the water? Not one person raised their hand. My jaw hit the floor. Here we were, one hundred and six miles from the mainland on a tropical island, and not one of the crowd had been out on the water! No day sails, no sunset cruises, nothing. I've always felt that one of the most beautiful things about living here is getting out on the water! All of these people were missing out!

So the stage was set for Yippie Cayo Hueso. This would be a song highlighting sailing out on the waters off of Key West. The song is written in the key of E in both the chorus and the main body of the song.


Yippie Cayo Hueso”

(chorus)
Yippie Cayo Hueso, Yippie Cayo Way, Yippie Cayo Hueso, An Island In The Stream

Verse 1

Sailing out to Sand Key, a little bit north of the light
a pod of dolphins started playing, right off our port side

Verse 2

We came about and we headed south, the sea was quite serene
and that pod of dolphins showed the way, right off of our bow

(bridge)
back on the mainland they're wound so tight, sometimes I can't believe my eyes
just take a sail on a sunset eve, in the twilight you can't believe

(chorus)
Yippie Cayo Hueso, Yippie Cayo Way, Yippie Cayo Hueso, An Island In The Stream

Verse 3

Pelican flies like a B25, a half a foot off the waves
and when they're high they sure can fly, always carrying a smile... sometimes a fish!

(bridge)
back on the mainland they're wound so tight, sometimes I can't believe my eyes
just take a sail on a sunset eve, in the twilight you can't believe

(chorus)
Yippie Cayo Hueso, Yippie Cayo Way, Yippie Cayo Hueso, An Island In The Stream

Yippie Cayo Hueso

Yippie Cayo Hueso

An Island In The Stream


© Christopher R. Rehm/Joseph Gowran BMI





The structure of the song has the chorus kick the song off, which isn't unheard of, but it's not all that common either:

Yippie Cayo Hueso, Yippie Cayo Way, Yippie Cayo Hueso, An Island In The Stream

The line, “An Island In The Stream” is of course reference to the Hemingway book “Islands in the Stream”. The fact that the Gulf Stream rolls right by Key West, makes it specifically fitting for the song.

The first verse starts out with the line: Sailing out to Sand Key, a little bit north of the light.

Sand Key is a former key actually, located nine miles west of Key West. Today it's a shoal with a lighthouse. It's also the finish line for The Wrecker's Race, a sailboat race held on the last Sunday of January, February, March, and April organized by the Schooner Wharf Bar. I've been lucky enough to be in several of them over the years with my friend Larry Poff, on his boat, Transition.

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In the same verse the song talks about coming across a pod of dolphins.

A pod of dolphins started playing, right off our port side

Dolphins are often seen in the Keys and always a fascinating experience, as you would expect!

The second verse starts off by underlining the fact that this song is about sailing.

We came about and headed south

The term, here in the past tense, Came About, refers to the sail on a sailboat being switched from left to right, or visa versa. Power boats don't come about.

The song also underlines the fact that quite often dolphins will often swim with boats here.

And that pod of dolphins showed the way, right off of our bow


The song then switches to the bridge. Here is the awakening awareness of how fortunate those of us are who live in the Keys, be it Key West, Key Largo, or anywhere in between. The keys mentality is quite different from anywhere else.

Back on the mainland they're wound so tight, sometimes I can't believe my eyes

This is followed with the solution to the aforementioned angst

Just take a sail on a sunset eve, in the twilight you can't believe

For those who are musicians, this section takes on an interesting, fun twist. Up until now the song is in the key of E. Here it steps out of E as the progression goes Em9, B octave, F#m7, C#m7, C#7, F#sus4, F#, F#m add9, B, Bsus4, B.

The song then returns to the chorus of the song, then to the instrumental portion.

For the instrumental interlude, instead of using the structure of the body of the song, I took elements of both the bridge and the main body of the song. This time starting off with the B octave, then again utilizing the Em9, which is the reverse order of those two in the bridge. At this point it goes back to the B octave then to A. It does that twice and with it resolving on the A, it lends itself to a easy transition back to E and the standard progression of the song for the third verse.

Pelican flies like a B25, a half a foot off the waves, but when they're high they sure can fly, often carrying a smile... sometimes a fish!

Notes on this verse: Pelicans often will glide inches over the water. It's an amazing sight indeed! I likened it to Lt. Col. James Doolittle, who's B25s flew just above the water to avoid detection in the first bombing raid on Japan during WW II.



The song then revisits both the bridge and the chorus, then has a definitive, staccato ending.

Thanks for reading the blog! This song will be on my upcoming album "Jump Into De FiYa!"


Monday, June 27, 2016

Trop Rock Music: A View From My Angle.... It's A Bit Different


Trop Rock Music: A View My Angle... it's a bit different!

Trop Rock is often said to be escapism. For those who that pertains to, are folks who live in non-tropical environments and hearing stories of people going to tropical environments for a visit is something they can relate to. It's something they appreciate. Kind of a breath of fresh air.

More often than not, these songs are written by artists who live in similar environments. Places where in the winter months, it can get quite cold. So in say a January day when the snow is blowing outside, someone will pop on a CD that takes them away from that and onto a tropical environment vicariously.

Suddenly, they close their eyes and find themselves on say an island they always wanted to live in, but have never been able to do. It's a great thing!

In 1978 I moved to South Miami and with the exception of several years in Boston, in between, I was in Miami/Dade for twenty five years. For myself, I didn't need to escape to the tropics, I was already there. I lived a tropical lifestyle. Outside of work, I was always doing stuff that memories are made of.

Early on I would take bike rides on the weekend. I had a great bike, a Fuji 12 speed. I'd head over to Old Cutler Rd, an extremely beautiful road that runs south from Coral Gables and heads south. I recall once there I was heading to Coconut Grove at a pretty good clip on the bike path that is part of Old Cutler Rd. when one of these guys in spandex racing gear passed me on his racing bike. He threw down the gauntlet and I picked it up without hesitation. We were about three miles out of Coconut Grove and I immediately picked up the pace and drafted him, no more than a foot and a half from his rear wheel.

The bike path is quite rustic on Old Cutler. It's not a straight path at all. Its laden with turns, ups and downs, the works. It was January or February and around 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26C) and the two of us were going at 95%, shifting gears with no let up, as we swept up and down, over and about on the bike path. When we reached the entrance to Main Highway, the final half mile to the 'Grove, on athe blind sweeping curve, I passed him. What a sight that must have been Some guy in cut off shorts and a t shirt passing Mr. Spandex professional. As we arrived in Coconut Grove, I stopped at a rickety little old bar, went inside and rewarded myself with a couple of ice cold Red Stripes. January/February, 80 degrees and riding my butt off like there was no tomorrow. Living a Tropical life.

On other times I was out with my friend Bob Mejia and his wife Kim, who had a Bertram 46.6 sport fishing boat. We were out almost every weekend on Biscayne Bay. It's amazing when you go off the continental shelf. The water goes from aqua blue/green to the darkest blue you can imagine! The foam breaking from the bow cutting through the water is the whitest white you've ever seen as well!

We would often party on the sand bar, south east of Key Biscayne, far inside the shelf, of course. Once we also partied at one of the houses in Stiltsville!

Stiltsville is a group of houses built on the water about a mile south of Key Biscayne, where Biscayne Bay meets the Atlantic ocean. At one point there were twenty seven, or so. Hurricanes took their toll and there are only seven left. What a treat that was!




I recall once earlier, on my friend Bill Newcomb's boat, we came across a couple of dolphin. We shut the engines down and stopped to take a look at them. As we looked into the deep blue water, dark blue as can be, it became clear that at various different levels this was a pod of around ten to twelve dolphins, all swimming at various depths, as far as thirty feet down. That's how clear the water was! Living a Tropical lifestyle.

Then there was the Coconut Grove Art Festival, the largest art festival in the Southeast. What a blast that is every year!







In 2008 I moved further south to the Conch Republic, A.K.A.The Florida Keys. As a matter of fact, I moved to the furthest south the road goes in the Conch Republic, to it's capital, Key West, 126 miles south of the “border”, Which is at The Last Chance Saloon, in Florida City, and I've been here ever since.

The point of all of this is to underline the fact that I'm in my thirty fourth year living in the tropics.

So when it comes to writing songs, I'm not escaping anything, I'm here and I have been for a long time. When I used to come to Key West, I always wanted to be part of the town, not so much someone visiting for a commando attack of Duval Street.

Likewise, when I was living in southern Miami/Dade County, I'd run down to Key Largo, or Islamorada (say: Isle amorada) often for the day on a weekend, as well as playing gigs at Gilberts, Pirate's Cove, Wahoo's at Whale Harbor, the former KOA, the former Kenny's in Key Largo, plus I sat in with friends many times at The Caribbean Club, Sharkey's, and a few others. It was only thirty five minutes away.

So unlike many other Trop Rock artists, I write from a local perspective. While others may write from a perspective of coming to, say Key West, for a weekend reprise from their regular life, I might write a song like this, about living on a tropical harbor.

“Yeah, Something About A Harbor”


I'm seeing it with Dani as well. Of course she wrote popular songs like Drunk on Mallery Square, and End Of The Road before she moved here. As I write this, she's been here over two and a half years. She's a local. On her upcoming release she has a song called Back Country Pontoon Party, which is a song influenced by our many local excursions to Marvin Key, which is around nine miles west of Sugarloaf Key, which itself is seventeen miles north of Key West. It's only accessible by boat and we often rent a pontoon boat at Back Country Boat Rentals, http://www.backcountryboatrentals.biz/



Before I had a Trop release, I made a demo of a song I wrote named “Raise My Glass To The Upper 48”. I wrote this shortly after arriving. My friend George Cornejo came down to visit and when he was leaving he said “You're down here in the Keys and we're all in the upper forty-eight”. The song took off from there. It's not common among songwriters, but I gave George 10% co-writing credit. My view of it was, if he never said that, the song never would have existed.

It talks about living in Key West and mentions the things you'll see in day to day life here. Again, not the tourist viewpoint, but the local perspective and why I live here. It's played with a Brazilian Bossa Nova feel. Living a tropical lifestyle.

I thought it would be fun to make a collage video using still pictures I had taken, that would match the places and scenes that the lyrics mentioned in the demo. It turned out pretty good, all things considered. Keep in mind that the song was a demo, not something that was acceptable for radio.

At MOTM in 2009, the annual Trop Rock gathering in Key West, D.J. Jeff Allen, far and away the most influential radio personality in the genre at the time, actually searched me out. He introduced himself and told me he absolutely loved the video I made. He looked me straight in the eyes and said “When you make a CD, I WANT it!”.


Later, when my CD did come out, he was my biggest cheerleader! He often said to me “You bring so many new ideas into Trop Rock!”. He particularly loved the fact that I used a clarinet on my song “The Beach!!!!” and mentioned it often.

For me, this was a natural thing. Bear in mind that I had lived in Miami for twenty five years. My first wife Mercy, is Cuban and I was part of her family. Cuba consequently has a very large influence on me in so many ways. I wrote “The Beach!!!!:” in a Cuban style structure. The clarinet is one of several main instruments in Cuban music, so by adding a clarinet to the song was a natural for me. For Jeff, it was a major eye opener.

Jeff was all over my album for years. He always said to me “Your music is so different, I love it!” I recall my friend Artist Koz, who had the radio on all the time in his Green Worls Gallery here in Key West (http://www.greenworldgallery.com/), once mentioning to me “Beachfront Radio (Jeff's station) is playing the heck out of your CD man!”

Yes, my music is quite different than most. The reason for it is elementary when you look at it. The vast majority of Trop Rock songwriter's main influence, is Jimmy Buffett. I always enjoyed Jimmy Buffett as well! He's a great songwriter and I've always enjoyed his work. Later, I also went head over heels with his phenomenal books!

However, as far as being a musical influence goes, Jimmy Buffett was on my second tier. He wasn't my top drawer. Who were? Lets see, Bob Dylan, Gregg Allman and Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers Band, Jerry Garcia Robert Hunter and Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Frank Zappa, Djavan, Santana, Robbie Robertson, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Jean Luc Ponty, James Taylor, Glen Miller, Neil Young, Michael Franks, David Crosby, Steven Stills, Asleep At The Wheel, Albert King, B.B. King, the list goes on and as you can see, it's very diverse. Progressive Rock, Jazz, Blues, Western Swing, Folk/Rock/Songwriters, Brazilian, Cuban, Big Band...

So I came into Trop Rock from a very different angle than virtually everyone else. It's no wonder my music sounds different that most. Jeff realized this right off the bat and that's what he appreciated most about my contribution to the genre.

I always loved the tropical sound! Growing up, my parents played Martin Denny records quite often. I always loved that sound! Martin Denny had spent quite a few years touring Latin America and when he relocated to Hawaii, he brought that influence to his music as well. I love that, especially the rhythms and percussion instruments!

We also had music from the Caribbean flowing through the house. Harry Belifante was one of their favorites. Calypso and Bahamian music were were often played.

On the radio I was hearing Antonio Carlos Jobim. I loved the different sound he had! The chords weren't the same as everyone else. It was as though they were from another dimension and offered so much different color! Instead of hearing chords like C, F and G in a song, which is just fine, here I was hearing much more colorful sounding chords that had a magic feel to it. F Maj7 G7 Gm7 F#7 Fmaj7 F Maj9 F Maj7. What was this? Well, it's some of the chords to Girl From Ipanema, specifically. It sounded incredible to my ears. What it was, was jazz in a Latin setting. Plus, here I was hearing songs that painted pictures of Rio, or Brazil as a whole. I clearly saw beautiful beaches with swaying palm trees, populated by people who loved the sun, water, and living life to the fullest.

This clip has Astrud Gilberto singing the Jobim song “Girl From Ipanema”. She was the original voice of the song with Jobim and Stan Getz. (The clip starts at 36 seconds) This version was recorded over twenty years after the song was a hit.


The Allman Brothers, The Grateful Dead, and Jazz were always big influences on me for several reasons. For one, I always liked improvisation. Music is a living organism when allowed to be. There's a big difference between playing on top of the music and playing within it. I recall leaving a concert once that I was very disappointed with. Some guy behind me says to his friend “Man! That was fantastic! It was just like the record!”. I turned around and said “That's what was wrong with it! It was completely canned. It was sterile. I just paid all this money and I could have stayed home and heard the exact same thing.”. This is one of the core reasons people follow tours of bands like the Dead or the Allmans. The Allmans might play Whippin' Post, or the 'Dead may have played Truckin' twenty times in a month, but every time it's different. Where are they going to take it tonight? Who knows? It's a living organism. 

Additionally, within these bands and this style of improvisation, musicians don't play on top of the band. Everybody listens to what is happening around them with their fellow musicians, and the music is a weave of everyone playing off one another. Yes, they're playing on the high wire without a net. Do they fall off? On occasion, yes. However, this is art and art is never perfect. True art is always on a razor's edge and always runs a risk. How many times did Picaso take a canvas off the easel and throw it away? How many times did Hemingway tear out a paper from the typewriter, crumble it up and throw it in the trash next to his desk? The more appropriate question here was more like: How many times did Ernest throw out his trash can in one day? Sage points indeed for any true artist.

Frank Zappa taught me that there are no limitations in music. The sky is the limit and don't let any barriers hold you back. If you feel like doing something, just do it.

The first thing I listen to in a song is the music. There has often been times that I've never known what the lyrics were to a song were. I only heard the voice as the melody line. From my vantage point, the very first thing a great song must be is great music. That's the foundation. It's a lot like building a house. With a weak foundation, the house will collapse. With a strong foundation you have something you can bank on, to build and color the song. The music will set the stage and the lyrics then will navigate the song to where it's going. It's a team effort.

Back to the songwriting aspect, with Buffett not being one of my top tier influences, I've come into Trop Rock with a totally different approach. DJ Jeff loved it and I'm very grateful to him for it! Regretfully, we lost Jeff to cancer a couple of years ago. We were good personal friends as well. I miss him.

Lastly, I'm Trop Rock, not so much Trop Pop. Pop does exists in my catalog, but it's not as prominent. I wrote my first pop song with “The Beach!!!!”, plus I've written others that haven't been recorded like “Island Ladies” and “Jump Into de Fiya!”. However for every twenty songs I write, two or three might be pop orientated. Rock, Southern Rock, Jazz, Country, Latin, Blues, Bahamian, even blues.. it falls under the Trop Rock umbrella. I must also say that I write in other genres and don't limit myself. For instance, I've written some music and sent it to a Nashville lyricist who's working with it currently.

While on the subject of Nashville, I've been published there since 2000 with McClure and Trowbridge Publishing. Because of that, I've also been in the Key West Songwriter's Festival (KWSF) since 2010, which is largely a BMI Nashville event held in Key West, with major support and colossal organization here in Key West via Charlie Bauer and Danielle Holiday. It is my highest honor in music to be a part of it, bar none. Thank you Charlie Bauer, Dani Holiday, and BMI!

Not having Buffett as a top drawer influence has it's draw backs as well, and some are major. There are members of the Trop Rock press that just aren't interested at all. It's an old school approach. I know one Trop Rock performer who hit big when they made their debut. A friend said to them “You know a lot of people in the genre think you're moving way too fast and haven't done your due diligence”. Huh? What kind of attitude is that? That's a similar outlook. There are those who are very guarded and won't push anything until it gets a certain degree of popularity. DJ Jeff wasn't like that at all. He was someone who if he liked something, he'd jump out of the plane without checking his parachute. He had that type of confidence. Perhaps that's why we were friends. Without taking risks one is destined for mediocrity.

However, the genre is changing and it's changing very quickly. Two of the Trop Rock stations, Radio A1A and The Shore have listener ratings held weekly. The people who the listeners are voting and calling in for are not the ones that play at The Casa Marina for MOTM, for the most part. Those artists amount to only around 10% of the weekly tallies. I'll be curious to see how the Trop Rock Music Association (TRMA) deals with the remaining 90% that fans, who don't have to pay and join an organization, are voting on? Additionally, there are a lot more fans voting and calling in on the stations, than those paying for the privilege of voting in the TRMA.


Anyway, if you got this far you see what I'm bringing to the Trop Rock table. Is it conventional? Hell no. Conventional? That's just not me, no matter if it's Trop Rock, Blues, Jazz... or anything.

A local approach, with influences from all over the place, Rock, Jazz, Country, Brazilian, Cuban, Caribbean, with the emphasis on music being a living organism, with the freedom option for any song to go anywhere at any time.

Meanwhile, I have my book to promote, the new book to write, the two podcasts I'm involved with, The Chillaxing Party (https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheChilaxingParty/) JOIN!! Playing in The Shanty Hounds, writing music... I can't keep up with myself!



An important note: Music is like a language. When languages don't evolve and progress, they die. Look at the Latin language as an example. English is constantly evolving, as a contrast. Music is no different, albeit on a much more accelerated level. As I said earlier:

Without taking risks, one is destined for mediocrity.

Myself, I'm taking risks from a residential tropical perspective.


All the Best From Key West!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Trop Rock! Help it Grow and Join THE CHILLAXING PARTY!!!

The Chillaxing Party

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Hey Everyone!! 
The Genre I play in these days is called Trop Rock. What is Trop Rock? The funny thing about Trop Rock is that many who like it, don't even know it actually exists! Even funnier, many who actually play in it don't even know it exists!

In today's world of wearing many hats, it's no wonder. Myself, I fall into several different genres as far as what I play. If we take a look at my album "Shanghai'd and Marooned in Key West (things could be worse)" the genres I play in are Afro/Cuban, Jazz, Funk, Country, Pacifica, Rock, Southern Rock, Blues, Brazilian, and Bahamian. However, in utilizing those root genres, I incorporate them into the Trop Rock umbrella.

The Afro/Cuban rooted song "The Beach!!!!"

One of the things that bothers me about Trop Rock is that it isn't growing. We continue getting new songwriters/artists, however over the last seven or eight years, there hasn't been any efforts to bring in new fans to the genre. The TRMA has been making a big effort to bring fans into their organization as of late, However, the people they are targeting to join the TRMA are already fans of Trop Rock. We're not talking new fans, we're talking people who are already existing fans, just not in their club.

We've started an effort which is a pro-active group with the explicit purpose of bringing new fans into the genre. There are a few things in the works, however the first thing we're doing has been to start The Chillaxing Party. The Chillaxing Party is a complete farce from the word go, however what we're doing with The Chillaxing Party is running for the highest office in the nation and utilizing the motto of The Conch Republic , written by the late Secretary General of the Conch Republic, Sir Peter Anderson, modifying it slightly. "The Mitigation of World Tension Through the Exercise of Humor and Trop Rock Music". We added "and Trop Rock Music". Sir Peter will always be credited when using this statement.
The hope we're trying to achieve on the world stage of the election is hopefully some exposure for the genre. What larger stage could we work on than running for the highest offices in the world? This media will go on front page news, every single day, from now until Election Day in November! Myself and Brian Fields are running for the President and Vice-President of the United States! We know how to laugh. We've made some funny videos and put them up on Facebook. The reality is, average American is fed up with political rhetoric and the hatred spewed by candidates and a few of the followers of theirs who happen to be fanatics. the radical followers always amount to around up to 5%. We don't care about them. We care about the other 95%! We offer a breath of fresh air! We make people laugh! I was in sales and marketing my entire professional life. Trust me. When people laugh, you're 95% there.



People can get angry at Hillary, Donald, and Bernie for anything they've done or stand for. They can't get angry at 
The Chillaxing Party, because all we stand or is making people laugh and playing music!


Vote for me! I have facial hair! There has not been a President with facial hair in 86 years!

Our objective here is obviously not to win the election, but with enough exposure in social media, maybe we can attract some of the national news services to use our quest as a side story that might crack a smile here and there. Some guy sitting in a small town in Wyoming sees us on the news and laughs, then says to his wife "Hey Gertrude! These guys are a riot! What is this Trop Rock thing they're doing?" Next thing you know, they're looking into it and we have new Trop Rock fans!

We have reached out to all of the Trop Rock media to assist us, both radio and magazines. At this point Lyle Wilson of Radio A1A, has given a few shout outs on the radio, Don Winfield of The Shore has re-posted some of our promos and tweeted, as well as Big Papa, also at The Shore. Danny Lynn, of Tiki Island Radio has jumped on the bandwagon on behalf of the entire station with a fantastic video pledging support! Dennis King, of Island Time Radio, also known as DK the DJ, one of the longest established radio personalities in Trop Rock joined the Facebook page in support, as did Andy Forsyth of Beachfront radio! Todd and Cheri, owners of of Radio Trop Rock, jumped on the band wagon, as did Harry Teaford, owner of Radio A1A. We're hoping more join as well. Seriously, how couldn't they? It's only in their best interest to have more fans, just as it is for us. 



We can't expect to bat 1000, of course. I was advised by a media expert that there will always be those in grass roots media groups who feel safe in their own cocoon, and really don't want growth, or not willing to jump on any bandwagon until it's fully established. One of the two Trop Rock publications told us that they felt spoofs,or funny videos didn't fit their branding. Honestly, I was kind of taken aback by that statement. Perhaps eventually they wake up and smell the coffee? We feel that the great attitude and humor we are projecting with it, couldn't reflect and emphasize the attitude of Trop Rock better! I mean, this isn't a  string quartet, or a French horn society. This is Trop Rock! We're FUN!!!!

 Additionally, this is Trop Rock news. Two Trop Rock performers are running for the Presidency. How could you not report on it? However, so be it. Like I say, we can't expect to bat 1000.

We're asking you to join us! Lets get more Trop Rock fans into the fold! Help us spread the word!. If you see a post that we make that you like, re-post it! Make your own posts! We already have had fans make some for us! We ask that if you do make your own, not to take a political stand. The angle we're focusing on is the absurdity of BOTH parties together. "The Republicrats"! We will not focus on one or the other. We want to appeal to everyone!
Thanks!
All The Best From Key West!

Join us by  giving us a "Like" on Facebook! It's the FUN thing to do!

Click this link!!!:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheChilaxingParty/ 




P.S. Our friend Mark Hanover, of https://www.twistedpalmstradingco.com/   put together this hysterical poster for us! Please check out his link! Thanks Mark!

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Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Cruise From Heaven, to Hell, To Utopia!



The Cruise from Heaven, to Hell, to Utopia!!!

The offer came in last year to play on a cruise. How could we turn that down? On top of that, when we were offered the deal, the ship was still being built! The Norwegian Escape was under construction in north-western Germany and would be going into sea trials in November. So, on top of everything else, it would be a brand new ship!

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The event we were hired for was to be called “The Trop Rock Music Festival At Sea” and would be showcasing a good assortment of Trop Rock music acts. In addition, along with Dani Hoy, my wonderful girlfriend and musical partner in The Shanty Hounds, as well as our two podcasts, “The Key West Music Show – Conch Rockin’ In The Keys” and “Key West Beer Tales - The Sum Of All Beers”, would not only be playing, but also we would be doing a beer podcast on the ship as well!
We drove to Miami, taking an overnight stop in Key Largo. We usually stay in one of two places there, either Sunset Cove, or The Pelican, which are right next door to each other. In addition, we always stop at The Caribbean Club for a libation or two while in Key Largo. This trip was no exception!

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In the morning we headed to Miami. Good ride, no delays at all. We got on the ship and boy, was it impressive! Considerably larger than the Titanic, completely state of the art, this ship made a great impression! We got to our room, got settled, and then went up on deck where we hooked up with members of our tour group.
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On deck of Norwegian Escape at Port of Miami, looking up Government Cut to Miami Beach and the Atlantic Ocean


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The WONDERFUL Dani Hoy!

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Steve Tolliver of the Trop Rock Junkies

After a beer or two, I went back to our cabin. The ship had not left port as of yet and I thought I’d take a short nap before it did. When I awoke we not only had left port, but we also were well clear of Government Cut, the channel that ships take leaving Miami out to sea. Miami was in the distance.

That evening Steve Tolliver and The Trop Rock Junkies were to play outside on the stern of the ship. Weather being weather, it started to rain and that put a regretful end to that. The end result was a jam at the first Margaritaville that evening. For all I know, as The Norwegian Escape is a brand new ship, this could have been the first jam held there.The Highway 1 Band was well represented there, as was Tim Charron!


We, The Shanty Hounds (Dani Hoy and myself), got to play a few songs too! Thanks to Donny Brewer for letting me borrow his guitar too! Afterwards, we had all sorts of people giving us fantastic complements and saying they couldn’t wait to see our show on Thursday!

The ship also had a host of restaurants and bars. We first went to the Irish restaurant, then on later we hit La Bistro, a fantastic French restaurant, Le Bistro, with a fantastic staff and French MaĆ®tre d’ named Adrian, who was always smiling and just as active as the rest of the staff. Everything on Norwegian was very, very professional!

On Sunday there was a group event at the 5 O’Clock Somewhere bar on the ship. Donny Brewer played, as did A.J. Angelo, Reggie Starrett, and a host of others sitting in. Fun afternoon indeed!

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Reggie Starrett

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A.J. Angelo performing with his brother Carmen on percussion

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Donny Brewer at the 5 O’Clock Somewhere lounge aboard Norwegian Escape

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Tea Wallace, Donny Brewer, and Carmen Angelo









On Monday afternoon, Dani and I did our beer podcast, Key West Beer Tales – The Sum Of All Beers,  from the first craft bar on a cruise ship, The District Brew House! We had actually stopped there on our first day on the ship and were duly impressed! 24 beers on tap and over sixty in cans and bottles. The Wynwood Brewery out of Miami is the signature brewery featured on the ship. Their beers were the beers that we focused on for our podcast. The three we had were their Pop’s Porter, La Rubia, and Wynwood IPA. All three of these beers were outstanding examples of their styles, and Norwegian must be recognized for making such excellent choices, as much as Wynwood should be acknowledged for the brewing talents.

Norwegian Escape was also kind enough to offer their top bartender, Wade, as well as two officers from the ship, Martin and Jose, for us to interview for the show. It was a lot of fun and a pleasure interviewing them. We also had a great crowd from our group there as well, which we are always very grateful for! Thanks everyone! What a great time and we understand this was the first radio podcast made on Norwegian Escape as well. Fun and good times all around!

We also videotaped the show! When the audio is done, I’ll post the link here, as well as on iTunes.




At around 4am on Tuesday morning I woke up with a lot of chest pressure. I’ve been down this road before, albeit not on the high seas. We called the ship’s emergency and they picked me up. We were on the same level as their infirmary, so it was a quick ride over. My blood pressure was through the ceiling. Their staff was fantastic and had me down to normal levels within a half hour, maybe less. However, we would be docking in St. Thomas in a few hours and they wanted me to get checked out at the hospital there.

I wasn’t crazy about the idea, but I knew they were most likely correct. Besides, what if this happened again when we were a few days out of port?

It must be mentioned that before I was taken off the ship, the organizer of the group on the cruise I was with, Deanna McElwee, came to see me. Deanna was great right from the conception of the cruise, which started late last summer. We had a cruise event that I hosted during MOTM in Key West in November and we’ve been in touch from the inception. Deanna was great from the get go and here I was on a stretcher about to be taken off the ship and she was right there with me. Thanks for everything Deanna!
At the ER in St. Thomas’ Schneider Regional I had a Dr. Lauck reviewing my situation. Dr. Lauk was an easy going guy and I felt comfortable with him from the start. My hope was that he would review my situation and I’d be back on the ship before 5, when it headed for its next port of call, Tortola.

Dr. Lauck came back a bit later with the news. I was in a situation that was too unpredictable and was at risk for a heart attack. In other words, I wasn’t going anywhere. Dr. Lauck wanted me to see the cardiologist. The cardiologist was on one of the other Virgin Islands, St. Croix, and would be here Thursday. It was now Tuesday.

I pleaded with Dani to rejoin the ship and continue the cruise. She needed a vacation, not this. However no matter what I’d say, she wasn’t leaving me. It says mountains about her. I’m a very lucky guy.
So basically I was in the hospital for two days waiting on the doctor. The ship left of course, so there were lingering questions that remained at hand as well. While the ship was in St. Thomas, there was an event at a dockside bar named Latitude 18 and most of the musicians in our group attended.

Latitude 18. Now here was a curiosity. Before we ever left on the trip, our friend Jerry Theese, who plays bass with us, suggested we seek out Latitude 18. He knows finding an out of the way local bar on a marina was up our alley. Our friend Jeff Lange, who lives in St. Thomas, had set up the jam there for the cruise. Dani went to the jam with everyone else while I was still on the ship. Then she learned I was being sent to the hospital and got a ride back. The owner of the bar, Rick, heard of our plight and was kind enough to offer Dani the use of their band room to stay in while we were marooned on St. Thomas! Wow! He didn’t even know her, or myself! Proof that there are good people in the world! Thank you Rick!!!
It was on Thursday evening that I met Dr. Griffith, the cardiologist from St. Croix. What a pleasant man with an easy laugh. It was funny because he went to school in Miami and we actually has some mutual acquaintances. I think it was around 11 PM That I was wheeled into the ER and Dr. Griffith performed his magic. Thank you Dr. Griffith!

On Friday Dr. Rohloff, the head of the hospital, released me. I can’t tell you how good it feels to step out into fresh air, having been holed up for a few days! Big thanks to Schneider Regional Hospital. Everyone there was great!

What a place to walk out to! I had never been to the Caribbean. This was much different than the little island of Key West that I lived on. These islands were volcanic way back when. Lots and lots of hills!

It was at this point that I met Rick. He picked us up and drove us back to Latitude 18. It was Friday morning and Dani had been staying here since Tuesday. 

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Beach off of Latitude 18

Some of you may have my book “Bar Stories” and perhaps some may know that I’m also working on a new book, “The Absolute Best Bars in The Florida Keys”. Well, Latitude 18 is the type of bar that would be in my book, if it were in the Keys. My type of place!

For starters, it’s on the water. Big plus! Second, it has a dock. Third, it’s hard to find! As a matter of fact, when the previous owner set up its GPS location, she did it from her house and mistakenly used her house coordinates, so the GPS is wrong!

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Now some may shake their head at that, but myself, I think it’s fantastic!

Latitude 18 fit us like a glove. On top of that, not only did Rick put us up, but get this, he gave us a gig on Saturday! Here we are, stranded and marooned on a Caribbean Island and we end up with a gig! How amazing is that? The Shanty Hounds play St. Thomas, USVI!!!

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The gig went great and in addition to that, I got to meet my Facebook friend Jeff Howard and his wife Micki. It was additionally funny as my other friend in St. Thomas, Jeff Lange had never met Jeff Howard, but they did that night.

We had a great gig and ran it live on Facebook’s new live video streaming ap for the world to watch. We called it “The I’m Not Dead Yet Gig”, a takeoff on the Monty Python skit from “The Holy Grail” movie. What a blast that was! Plus, all told we had nearly 700 views, so that’s a great success in my book as well.

Here’s the link to the gig: 


By this point the cruise we were on had been over since 8 am that day and here we were gigging in St. Thomas! 

We jokingly said we were thrown off the ship and marooned castaways in St. Thomas. Although it was tongue in cheek, it was actually true!

The reality of it all was that everyone on Norwegian Caribbean Line and in St. Thomas were fantastic! Top notch all the way and they all did what was needed to keep me above ground.

However, the fact remained that our pals on the cruise were back in Miami and we were still in the Caribbean running on overtime!

On Sunday we thought it would be fun to check out St. John! The ferry was only $7.00 and the ride was around 15 minutes, or less.

We LOVED St. John! What a beautiful island! 

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Key West is not the only Mile Zero!!!!


Then Dani spotted it. It wasn’t quite noon yet and a Sunday to boot, there was a sign that read “Tap Room” up on the second level. 

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We just had to go. We walked in around noon on the nose and the woman behind the bar, Tori, was just fantastic! The beer was a craft brew from St. John named “St. John Brewers” and their beers were excellent! We told her about our Key West Beer Tales - The Sum of All Beers podcast and we did a live broadcast from there, as well as live video! The chef was Jeremy and we had both he and Tori on the video!



Jeremy suggested we check out the beaches there. It wasn’t on our list actually, however as it was a high recommendation from a local, we took it to heart and caught what they call a Safari Taxi to the beach, about 5 or 6 miles (9 Km) away.

We ended up on Trunk Beach, a national park… then back into town!
 Pictures say it best!


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Dani Hoy, St. John

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St. John Harbor

On Monday we flew back home. It certainly was an adventure, if ever there was an adventure!
We landed at Miami International Airport and my friend George Cornejo met us and drove us to port of Miami where the car was. Thanks George!

It was a wild and crazy trip, there’s no doubt about that! What amazing people we met. It’s funny, you end up seeing so much bad things in the world, but here we ran into so many good people! From the entire group we left with, to the crew on Norwegian Escape, to their medical crew, to the medical staff of St. Thomas, to Rick, his staff, musicians, customers at Latitude 18 in St. Thomas, to Tori and Jeremy at St. John Brewing and their customer Guy…. It was just plain remarkable! 

Meeting so many great people in various places, ... such beautiful places at that, was truly Utopia!!!

A situation that could have been a tragic experience, turned into an extremely rewarding one! Again, thanks to all!

Big thanks to our friends Loretta, Jerry, and Steve for watching the hounds while we were gone, especially the extra days! THANKS GUYS!!!

While we look forward to our next trip to wherever it may be, we sure are glad to be home with the family!

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HEY! LOOK BELOW!!!


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

My book “Bar Stories” is available through Amazon! At this moment its up to 13 five star ratings! Only $3.99!!!!

http://www.amazon.com/Bar-Stories-Semi-Fictional-Adventure-Tour-Witnessed-ebook/dp/B01AHKCY1K/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1457639261&sr=1-1&keywords=bar+stories




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!!

Key West Chris Rehm