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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Happy Hour - Key West - The Boat House!




Happy Hour in Key West - The Boat House

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

½ way between A & B Seafood and Conch Republic Seafood




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


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

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

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



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





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



Candidly, their Small Plates are truly exceptional.

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



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



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



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



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


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



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

Negatives? Humm, Not really. 

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


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





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






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


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

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






Thank you for reading my blog!

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

I thank you in advance!



CD Baby



Amazon (song “Island Blue”)



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

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

$4.99!!!




Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Hemingway House - Key West






The Hemingway House

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

They usually look quite surprised and ask why.

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

Naturally, everyone laughs!

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

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



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

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



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

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

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



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





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

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

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








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

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






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

















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

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





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




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

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





Thank you for reading my blog!

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

I thank you in advance!



CD Baby



Amazon (song “Island Blue”)



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

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

$4.99!!!










Monday, December 12, 2016


Happy Merry Christmas From Key West






Happy Merry Christmas From Key West was written in 2015 by Dani Hoy, Bobby DeVito and Key West Chris Rehm,

Everyone wrote the lyrics for their own verse in the song, and likewise sang their own verse.

Chris wrote the chords and melody for the verses and Dani and Chris together wrote the bridge.

The final verse was sung by Dani and Chris together.

The recording was made at The Conch Rock Shanty, on Thomas St in Key West. It was a complete Key West party atmosphere, with a cast of Key West characters including Schmegly and our dogs, Cajun and Tooloulou all whooping it up in the background.





This little ditty is designed to make you feel good, smile, and hopefully even laugh! If you're not here, but love Key West, step into an authentic Key West party, from Key West! Have some fun vicariously with us, for a three minute romp into a party in paradise!

The song was recorded and produced by Chris Rehm, Dani Hoy, and Bobby DeVito, in Key West.

Mastered by Dan Simpson, Private Ear Studios, Key West.

At $.99 it blows those $5 stores on Duval into the weeds!

To purchase “Happy Merry Christmas From Key West” Click here!!!




HAPPY MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM KEY WEST


I (KW Chris)
C
HAPPY MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM KEY WEST
                                                      G
HAVE A HAPPY HOLLY JOLLY NEW YEAR

HAPPY HANUKKAH TO ALL OF OUR HEBREW FRIENDS
                                                            C
YOU KNOW IT'S THAT HOLIDAY TIME OF YEAR

II (Dani Hoy)
C
THINGS ARE MIGHTY FINE HERE IN KEY WEST
                                       G
TEMPERATURES AROUND 72

SNOWMAN MADE OF SAND

UMBRELLA DRINKS IN HAND
                                              C
EVERYONE IS TAN AND NOT BLUE


Bridge (Chris and Dani)

F                                         C
WE GOT MISTLETOE BUT WE AIN'T GOT SNOW
G                                                  C                 C7
ICE CUBES DISSOLVE IN OUR COCKTAILS
       F
WE DECORATE OUR BIKES,
C                               A7
RIDE AROUND AT NIGHT
D7                       G
AFTER A SUNSET SAIL






III (Bobby D)


WE'RE HAVING BEER AND OYSTERS HERE IN KEY WEST

HAPPY HAVING ALL OUR FRIENDS AROUND

THE ISLAND BOATS ALIGHT

AGLOW IN CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

EVERYWHERE GOOD CHEER IS FOUND


(Guitar solo, Bobby D!)



Bridge (Chris and Dani)

WE GOT MISTLETOE BUT WE AIN'T GOT SNOW

ICECUBES DISSOLVE IN OUR COCKTAILS

WE DECORATE OUR BIKES,

RIDE AROUND AT NIGHT

AFTER A SUNSET SAIL


IV

SO HAPPY MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM KEY WEST

HAVE A HAPPY HOPPY HOLLY JOLLY NEW YEAR

HAPPY HANUKKAH TO ALL OF OUR HEBREW FRIENDS

YOU KNOW IT'S THAT HOLLIDAY TIME OF YEAR

YOU KNOW IT'S THAT HOLIDAY TIME OF YEAR
Bb6/9                                                        C
IT'S THAT HOLIDAAAAAAAAAAAAY TIME OF YEAR!!!!


© 2015 By Christopher R. Rehm, Danielle Hoy, and Robert R. DeVito BMI

To hear a sound bite and purchase “Happy Merry Christmas From Key West” Click here!!!



Thank you for reading the blog! 








Monday, December 5, 2016

The Making of a CD/Album - Part 3

The Making Of A CD/Album – Part 3

                                          Ian Shaw

The continuing story which follows the making of album“Jump Into de FiYa!!!!”

(See bottom of blog for links to Parts 1 and 2)



December 4th 2016 recording session at Ian Shaw's Warmfuzz Studio, for the current three songs in the hopper, was nothing short of superb.

The concentration was on two songs, Dockside Bar and 21st Century Girl, which actually wasn't my plan at all. The plan had been to get “Yeah, A Harbour” further down the road. However, the plan for that was sidelined when fate intervened.

For starters, our band,The Shanty Hounds, had played at Grunts Bar the previous Thursday, December 1st

                                 (Illustration by Dani Hoy)

Two years ago, Dani Hoy, Bobby DeVito, and myself co-wrote a Christmas song “Happy Merry Christmas From Key West”. We decided to do the song for the first time this holiday season at the gig. Bobby was in Chicago, so as a prank I called him on the phone, laid the phone down when it started ringing, and we kicked into the song. When we were done I picked the phone up and realized that, although it was still connected to Bobby's phone, it was on message. The thing apparently doesn't have a time limit! Who knew?

On Friday, Dani bumped into our friend Terri, who told her Bobby and his girlfriend Chrisie were in town!

During this time my friend Bruce sent me a text to say he was coming down from Miami. 

A bit of background on both of these characters. BruceTurkel and I have been friends for around twenty years, or so. Way back then, he had been taking harmonica lessons from a mutual friend, David Leicht. David suggested to me that Bruce and I would make a good musical pairing. We got together and played a lot and in doing so, became fabulous friends.



This was in my Miami/Dade years, and we played as a duo around Coconut Grove, and southern Miami/Dade County for several years. In 2000 I was fortunate enough to get published in Nashville and Bruce suggested that we start a band to showcase my songwriting. We started a Blues band, “Chris Rehm and The Rabble Rousers”. We had a blast with it! A boatload of talented, fun people passed through that band, which disbanded in 2008 when I moved down to Key West.

            Chris Rehm and The Rabble Rousers at Tobacco Road, Miami

About a year before I moved here, Bruce and his marvelous wife, Gloria, bought a second home here in the Keys, so it's been easy to stay in touch with them, as they're down fairly often. Bruce would often sit in wherever I was playing when he was down, as well. I wanted to have him on my first album. However, Bruce is a very busy guy and is often flying around the world in business. Regretfully, the timing didn't work out.

With Bobby DeVito, I originally had heard a lot about him from our mutual friend, Gary Ek. When we met, it was instantaneous. We got along as though we knew each other for years. That was 2009. Since then Bobby's been a roommate twice, and a house guest numerous times over the years. He also played on eight songs on my album “Shanghai'd And Marooned In Key West (things could be worse)”.

Way back, Bobby and I had a duo. “The Offending Culprits” , which Bruce sat in with a few times at Captain Tony's


With that as a backdrop and the stage set, lets move to the time at the moment in question here.


So, all of the sudden, it turns out that both Bruce and Bobby are in town again for the weekend! For me, there's no question about it. They have to be on the album.

I called Ian Shaw, the producer and engineer, who fortunately had an open afternoon at Warmfuzz Studio!

We first recorded Bruce on the song “Dockside Bar”, a song I wrote in 2006 about the things I saw in various bars on the water, in the Keys.

Although I wrote it in 2006, we never played it. Bruce had only heard the song once or twice from the recording we had already had and that was on Saturday, the day before the recording.

The song itself is in the key of G, although parts of it wander into G's relative minor, Em. Bruce actually would switch between harps (slang for harmonicas) during the recording! Amazing!



(Sorry, the song Bruce is playing is only audible through the headphones in this part)


When Bruce put a track down, Ian would ask Bruce for something a little different, maybe a little behind the beat in one part, or right on it in another. Other times, he asked for something more assertive. Bruce delivered every time. He obviously has a lot of studio time under his belt. He was just incredible!

                    Bruce Turkel at Warmfuzz Studio, KW

Before he was finished, I asked him to put a drone-type harmonica at the very beginning of “Yeah, A Harbor”. The song is in the key of E, but his E harmonica started at too high a note than I was looking for.

Ian to the rescue! “Do you have a G harp? I can change the pitch to E”

Listening to Bruce play the G against the solo guitar in E was like hearing cats fight, or fingernails on the blackboard, it was the worst! However, when Ian played it back, everything was in the key of E and sounded perfect! Ian then had him do it again, this time with a bit of a warble to the drone. Turned out great!


Bruce was done for the day, I thanked him, and he was off to Miami. We were disappointed because he had to go back, and hence, couldn;t play Grunts with the Shanty Hounds that evening. One of these days!

Thanks Bruce!!!


Next up was Bobby D. Now Bobby has played in studios for over thirty years. He knows his way around the block like he knows the back of his hand. Sunday, December 4th was no exception to that rule.

The song 21st Century Girl, was a bit of an enigma for me, speaking honestly. I knew the feel I wanted. The song played on my guitar parts, is an up stroke rhythm, in a certain type of Cajun rhythm. I wasn't sure what to add to this. My initial thought was an accordion.

Ian heard something different however. While we both heard the Cajun part, Ian was thinking of something more along the lines of Eric Clapton's “Lay Down Sally”, which in turn had a big J.J. Cale influence.

Bobby came over to my house, just before we headed to the studio. He listened to the song for the first time and said “I'm thinking something like a Mick Taylor era 'Stones feel, in a way”


Well he played it that way on his first take. It sounded fantastic! Ian however mentioned the Lay Down Sally feel, and Bobby said “No problem” and went right for it.



The song is actually quite faster than Lay Down Sally and has a lot more energy. Lay Down Sally is a laid back song, while 21st Century Girl is get up and go. Ian of course realized this from the start, long before anything Bobby added took place. However, in conveying that to Bobby, and Bobby just falling in with it, produced something magical!

               Bobby DeVito laying tracks at Warmfuzz Studios KW

To start with, Ian set up the guitar amp and effects for the tone he was looking for, while Bobby went for the position 4 pickup option on the Stratocaster. There were naturally some adjustments and accents locked into for the electric rhythm tracks. Ian saying “Give me a little more accent here”, or “I'm thinking something a bit different than what you're doing, maybe like on the beat, and some Bah Bah Bah! In this part” Bobby would then say “Oh! I have something for you!” and depending the part, would give him exactly what he was looking for, or if it wasn't a specific request, throw something entirely different at a specific part, and Ian would give a big thumbs up!

After the first electric guitar track was added, Ian adjusted the tone of the guitar and the same process was repeated on the lead guitar track.




With 21st Century Girl, I now have a better idea of where to go with the recording from here. With the quicker tempo, the song doesn't sound like Lay Down Sally at all, but that was Ian's intent. This song now has a better Musical identity and definition. It... ROCKS!


At the end of two and a half hours, we were done. Turned out fantastic. It's truly an honor to be working with these guys!

Lets see where the next stage takes us! We still have a ways to go on all three of these songs, but the light is at the end of the tunnel!

I hope you're enjoying this series!


If you'd like to help with the production of these songs, pick up some of my other music! The proceeds are going directly back to financing this recording! Thank you in advance for doing so!

Itunes


CD Baby



Amazon (song “Island Blue”)



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

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

$4.99!!!

Thank you!!










Links to Parts 1 and 2

The Making of a CD/Album Part 1



The Making of a CD/Album Part 2