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Monday, January 26, 2015

Richard Crooks Memorial

Report on the Richard Crooks Memorial


As seen in previous blogs, The Richard Crooks, widely regarded as the finest musician in Key West,  memorial was Sunday, January 23. The gathering started at The Hog’s Breath Saloon and went flawlessly. The Hog’s Breath were very generous with their time, space, and furnished free Bloody Mary’s to all whom attended… and a lot attended!

We arrived there early with our friends Brian Fields and Michele Tafoya, who were visiting from Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was a perfect day as well for January, 66 degrees ( 19C) and sunny!

As I say, a very, very good crowd was on hand and everyone was in good spirits to celebrate Richard’s gift of sharing his life with all of us. It was a very good thing indeed!


I saw Nina Robinson Crooks, Richard’s widow, whom I’ve known since shortly after I arrived in Key West, almost seven years ago. As anyone might imagine, this wasn’t easy for her. I did my best to comfort her. The crowd had several posters with a great picture of him on it for the parade. A great idea and they looked fantastic, but I knew that it was hard on her seeing his likeness. I gave her a few hugs of comfort.

Key West has had what’s known as a traditional New Orleans style funeral procession that has been going on since the beginning of time. Drums, Tubas, Trumpets, Flugelhorns, clarinets, saxophones, and percussion of many types, followed by a procession that headed down Duval St. from the Hog’s Breath to Sloppy Joe’s, where “The Pianamal”, Barry Cuda was playing. The parade marched right in! Of course, ‘Cuda had played with Richard for years at Sloppy Joe’s, the Hog’s Breath, B.O.’s Fish Wagon, The green Parrot, and many more venues about town.  As a matter of fact, they cut several albums together as well, with the same fabulous producer I used, Dan Simpson. A great rendition of “When The Saints Come Marching In” was done and then the parade, headed down Duval again and on to Southard, where it finished up  at the Green Parrot, for it’s final stop of the day.


When I was originally asked to help spread the word on the event, it was emphasized to me that this was not an “Event”, but a memorial for Richard. This was something that was asked to be emphasized.

In that vein I stated in the previous blog:

“For those planning on attending, understand, this is not an opportunity to suddenly be in the limelight and have an ego-explosion on the stage of the Green Parrot. “

First of all, the music was fantastic! Lot’s of people from all over. Key West, of course, New York City, where Richard spent around thirty years as a session drummer, even as far away as California! What a great honor. A sign up list was put out for those who wanted to play. I was right near it and signed in the number one slot.

Those who are familiar with my open mic know that I stick to the signup list like the Bible. It just saves mountains of headaches. People play where they sign up. This event I knew would be different than mine however. The musician who was doing stage management  has his own way of doing these things, which I respect. Seeing him have a signup list was a first, but when it was all said and done, there were around twenty signups, so it was really essential. It was a good call in my book.

As I say, the music was great! However, after the first set of musicians finished their set, it became very apparent that what had set out to be a memorial for a fallen friend, had turned into something akin to “The Ed Sullivan Show” or “Don Kirschner Presents!”. This was no longer a memorial, but an “Event!” or a “Show!”.

In addition to that, as it turned out, the Green Parrot had a 5:30 Soundcheck with a band they had contracted with prior. Bottom line, this event was ending at 5pm. The Green Parrot was not stage manager, for this event either. How the guy who was running stage management figured he'd have acts doing five, six songs each when there were a total amount of thirty people there ready to play... well, lets just say he has better musical skills, than he does stage management. We all have our fortes.


 However, this was Richard’s event. Everyone was there to pay their respects to him.

Richard had played with virtually everyone. Several albums with Bob Dylan, a good amount of recording with Paul Simon. David Bromberg was kind enough to fly into Key West and do a song in his honor and say some great words about his friend Richard. Much appreciated to all who came, be they from New York, California, or just around the corner.

As I mentioned, David Bromberg came in from New York and played one song, I think he got the idea of what a memorial was. David came on stage, said his piece regarding Richard, funny too, played a song, and left the stage so that others could do likewise. He's seen here playing with Paul Cotton of Poco. Thank you David Bromberg.





I was so fortunate to have cut an album with Richard, Shanghai’d and Marooned in Key West (things could be worse). Plus, there are two tracks of his that will be on my next album “Jump Into de Fi Ya” as well. What an honor and a blessing indeed, not only to play with the maestro, but to get to know such a beautiful and damn funny human being! Damn. I’m lucky!  

Additionally, I’ve been to a lot of his gigs here in Key West and had a lot of laughs with him too. Richard and I had a similar view on life that included a good deal of mirth. My personal favorites for catching him play was most likely at B.O.’s Fish Wagon with Barry Cuda. Maybe Kenny Fradley on trumpet/flugelhorn, or perhaps Chief Billy on upright bass and harmonica.


Richard Crooks with Bong Hits For Geezers at B.O.'s Fish Wagon



The great part about it all was that a vast amount of people came to pay their respects to Richard, which was a great tribute to the man who so many loved, admired, and respected. The Green Parrot was stuffed to the gills! As mentioned, The parade was just super fantastic as well!

Godspeed Father Time. You are loved!  

Richard Crooks. Photo by Ralph DePalma Photography, Key West photo RichardCrooks_zpsb5e82787_1.jpg

Richard Crooks - Photo by Ralph DePalma Photography, Key West

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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!!
 




Friday, January 16, 2015

Bucket List II: Boca Grande






^ Listen to Misty Loggins singing my song “Island Blue” (Dani Hoy on background vocals) while you read the blog!^


Bucket List II: Boca Grande

Back in September I wrote a blog on achieving one of the goals on my “Bucket List”. As many who read this blog have English as a second language, I’ll explain what the “Bucket List” is. To begin with, it’s a slang phrase based off of another slang phrase, so the interpretation isn’t obvious. The original phrase comes from England and is hundreds of years old. That slang phrase is “Kick The Bucket”, referring to someone dies. The phrase “Bucket List” means a list of things someone wants to do before they die. In the blog a few months ago, I achieved one of my bucket list goals by going to the Dry Tortugas, which lie 75 miles (122km) west of Key West.

Dry Tortugas Bucket List Blog: http://keywestmusic.blogspot.com/2014/09/the-bucket-listthe-dry-tortugas-fort.html 

On my birthday, January 3, 2015 I achieved another item on my “Bucket List” and visited Boca Grande Key, an island in the Mule Keys, nine miles (15km) west of Key West and part of the Florida Keys.

The only way to get there, is by boat. I was very fortunate in that I hired Captain Bob Cadzow’s “Beyond Key West” to take us there. Captain Bob has been on the water all of his life, so it puts you at a state of ease, being on a craft with him. He’s also very knowledgeable of the area and waters. A big plus was that the boat itself, “Beyond”, had two brand new engines on it. Less than twenty hours on them. A comfortable, honest confidence that leaves nothing in the imagination for those whose first thought is “what can go wrong?”. Captain Bob left no room for that with both himself and his boat. Plus, Captain Bob’s personality has the laid back approach one expects to find in the Keys. It goes without saying that Captain Bob is a U.S. Coast Guard licensed 50 GRT Master.

We arrived at the dock in Key West Bight, right off of Turtle Kraals restaurant, armed with sandwiches, beer, and water. We were all set!

We left Key West around 11:30am. Captain Bob told us we’d be an “hour or so” to get there and that we'd run into a bit of choppy seas just off of Key West, but that would only last about a mile. Sure enough, it lasted about a mile and wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. We actually arrived in less than an hour. I like conservative estimates!

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(leaving Key West Bight)

The group I was with included Dani, of course, in addition to our great friends Chris Robinson Kirstin “Butoxi”, and Beth Schreier.

Out on the water here is always fascinating for me. There are so many islands that are completely uninhabited here, that stirs the imagination! You’ll see one in this bow shot looking over Chris and Kirstin’s shoulders.

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I don’t think I mentioned, Boca Grande Key is an uninhabited island and is part of Florida  National Marine Sanctuary. Although the name is in Spanish, meaning “Big Mouth”, it is always referred to in the English pronunciation of “Boca Grand”. Interestingly, the word “Key” is never used in the local vernacular. This can be confusing for visitors, as there is a town on the west coast of Florida named “Boca Grande”.

When we arrived somewhere past noon, there was only one boat there, a sailboat anchored about 100 yards off shore. No one else was there.

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(Arriving at Boca Grande Key)

Boca Grande Key is an atol. This is the inlet to the lagoon

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(Boca Grande inlet)

One thing that amazed me was the amount of Cormorant birds! Usually there are one, two, maybe three seen flying about. Here there were hundreds!

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(Cormorants at Boca Grande wreck)

We pulled up and anchored on the beach. The beach here is absolutely beautiful. As I mentioned, the only other boat here was the sailboat anchored off shore.

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(Captain Bob, Beth Schreier, Dani Hoy)


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(sailboat anchored off of Boca Grande)

The beach itself was stunning and as I say, at this point, the only other boat that was there was the sailboat anchored off shore. It was the most peaceful and serene afternoon.

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(driftwood)

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(beach)

After a couple of hours we had some neighbors roll in. They appeared to be a nice family and had the addition of a grill on the back of their boat. Nice touch! , We headed back to Key West about an hour later.

A great day was had by all and another bucket list was conquered! An excursion like this is highly recommended to all visiting Key West!

Our next trip we’ll go with “Beyond Key West” naturally. They’re a proven sure shot for us now. Not sure what we’ll do the next time as they also offer free dive spearfishing, free dive lobstering, paddleboards and kayaks,day, night, and overnight sails, fishing and snorkeling as well. They have two boats, both catamarans. The power boat we were on is a 21’ and for the sails they have a 26 (9m) catamaran sailboat with a 14’ (5m) width.

Maybe we’ll head out to the Marquesas Keys, about 10 miles further west than Boca Grande, or who knows? Maybe Cuba the way things are progressing!



Or phone Captain Bob direct at: 863  835 1427

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BeyondKeyWest 


 

Thank you everyone!

To obtain my music:



 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Richard Crooks Memorial, Where is Key West Heading?




^ listen to “Key West Blues” while reading the blog! ^

Richard Crooks Memorial

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I recently blogged about the passing of beloved musician, Richard Crooks. Fellow drummer Mick Kilgos has organized a memorial, which he wrote to me about. I’ll put it in Mick’s words:

“Sunday Jan. 25th, a Memorial Parade for Richard Crooks will be starting at the Hogs Breath parking lot at 12:00 noon. A complimentary Bloody Mary will be supplied by bartender Art Levin and the Hogs Breath Saloon. At 1:00 the Parade with the Conch Republic Funeral Parade Band leading, everyone will proceed down Whitehead St. to the Green Parrot Bar, where we will be greeted by our friend John Vagnoni. Friends and fellow musicians are encouraged to take part in the Memorial Parade and the gathering at the Green Parrot, where we will share music and stories about our very talented and much loved friend Richard Crooks.”

For those planning on attending, understand, this is not an opportunity to suddenly be in the limelight and have an ego-explosion on the stage of the Green Parrot. This is a memorial for our friend and teacher, Richard Crooks, so please be respectful of that. His family is expected to be there as well.


Where is Key West Heading?

Last year Dani and I, plus the dogs, Cajun and Tooloulou, took a little road trip up to Marathon. Marathon is one of the Keys and is located at the halfway point between the mainland and Key West, or 50 miles (81 Km) north of Key West.

We had gone to The Dockside, a wonderful bar located right on the water at Boot Key Harbor. It started getting late and we were thinking of spending the night. I have a Dodge Conversion van, which has a fold down bed in it. I contemplated the thought of staying in the van right by the Dockside, which is on a back road.

A few years back, I had a friend who actually lived in his van in Key West for five days a week. In his job he would drive a city bus by day and park in an obscure spot at night. He had a trailer in Homestead, Fl on the mainland, that he would stay in on his off days. He had been doing this over the years and would swim and shower at the Key West Municipal pool, so it worked out well for him.

My first trip down to Key West was in 1978. It wasn't uncommon then to see people living out of their cars. Perhaps not on a permanent basis, but rather their place to stay while visiting for a few days, or a week.

Regarding my friend living in his van, as time went on, it seems the city of Key West was becoming less and less tolerant  of people bedding down at night in their cars. The police were instructed to tell the people that they had to move on. My friend would sometimes say "Oh, I got rousted from my spot last night" at which point, he'd have to leave.

So, back to us in Marathon. The thought of staying there in the van on the side of the road at the Dockside crossed my mind and I verbally expressed it, along with the apprehension of being rousted at four in the morning and forced to move on.

I said this to my pal Popeye, who lives in Marathon and formally in Key West. He laughed and said "This is Marathon! This ain't Key West! No one cares if you sleep in your van. No, this ain't no Key West, I'm tellin' ya!".

The comment brought back the thought of "Where is Key West Heading?"
I read a story the other day and it involved Jimmy Buffett during his early years here. It mentioned that he got an apartment on Waddell Street, on the water, and it was $75 a month

My guess is that today that apartment is around $3,000 a month.
While one expects things to go up over the years I think that forty times the original value is a bit strong.

The same piece also mentioned that Buffett would often play for people to buy him a beer. This is an expensive island to live on, as shown above, and while a beer is always welcome, a $5, $10, or $20 in the tip jar is always welcome and helps out greatly with monthly expenses... Thank you!

When I first arrived in Key West in 1978, it was filled with salty dog shrimpers, authors, hippies, and saloons. "A sleepy little drinking town with a fishing problem" was one of the humorous mottos people attached to it. It is still a mecca for authors. If you read the blog I wrote entitled "In The Presence Of Greatness", that  will attest to that.


Saloons are still here as well, although some have been replaced, or had their image changed.

The Red Doors Bar, was a hard drinking bar of shrimpers in it's heyday. A place where on occasional fights would break out. It was nicknamed "The Bucket of Blood". Today it's a lady's fashionable clothing store. I’m not complaining about this, but it certainly is a very odd transformation going from a place with say, a stabbing every week, to a ladies fine clothing establishment.

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(The Red Doors today)

Shrimpers have gone. You won't find one shrimp boat at Key West Bight today. Large multi million dollar yachts have replaced them. You can find about six of them, sequestered over at Stock Island, the next island north however. It's sad. Having a fishing fleet adds so much to the color of every coastal town. Key West has lost theirs.




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(The Provincetown, Ma. Fishing Fleet)

Back when Buffett arrived here, playing original songs were encouraged strongly by people such as Captain Tony, who, in addition to being elected Mayor of Key West, was also a saloon owner.

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(Captain Tony’s Saloon)

It’s not easy finding a bar here that actually encourages original songs. Personally, I think there’s a market for it.


When I came here, be it on vacation, or when I moved here almost seven years ago, one of the things I loved were the street musicians!  It’s called “Busking”. It was just such an offbeat, beatnik-style freedom that one found in places like Key West, Provincetown, Greenwich Village. Pull a guitar out on a street corner in Miami and they’ll run your ass to jail! I recall reading about one such guy who spent a week or so behind bars there.

I played the street a couple of times when I was here visiting and had a great time doing it too!

Today however, it’s quite different. Gone are the days that one could just spontaneously go out on the street, with a guitar and an open case to collect tips. These days, in order to do that, one needs a permit.

It used to be the permits were applied for in November and could be picked up in December. The reasoning for this was the city only wanted locals playing the streets. Fair enough…. if you go to the point that you need a permit to play.

A few years back, it was decided that the street performers required insurance! At the time it ran about $300.00 per year. In order to get a license, a street performer required proof that they were insured and that $300.00 had to be paid up front. I don’t know what it costs today, however, it is required.

The city has a group called “Code Enforcement”. What these people do is walk around town, usually in pairs, and stop at various restaurants, bars, and stores and make certain that they are adhering to the city’s code of ordinances.

In addition to these, street musicians are often asked for their permits by the code enforcement officials. It’s a lot like the scene in the classic movie Casablanca, where the officers of occupied France stationed in Casablanca were asking for one citizen’s papers.

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Then there's the Conch Train. It's been running for about sixty years. A little tour that is loaded with fantastic, historical information. Apparently there are some in town who are now complaining about the speaker system on them, as they drive through their neighborhoods. I'd be willing to lay odds that these complainers have not been living with the Conch Train for sixty years. I'd wager that these idiots moved here while the Conch Train was well established and today want Key West to be just like it was wherever they came from, be it Scarsdale N.Y., Newton Ma., Atlanta, or Michigan.

What they should do is move back.

This ain't the mainland.

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I could go on and on. with things that are shaping the island into something new. As to whether it’s for the better or not, I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.


However, one thing is abundantly clear: The overall quest of the island’s goal is to be more and more like the mainland cities in Florida, such as Tampa, St. Petersburg, Ft. Lauderdale, or Miami. 

Personally, I think they are not seeing the island's niche, that being an island at a far outpost from civilization. 

Jimmy Buffett saw this thirty years ago and left because of it. That was thirty years ago! A LOT has happened since then.






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!!

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Green Parrot, Notable Blogs of the Year, Grazie Italia, Happy New Year!

Happy Merry Christmas From Key West!



^ listen to “Happy Merry Christmas From Key West!” while you read the blog!^

Download the song for less than a dollar ($.99) at Dani’s site




The Green Parrot

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In a recent blog we spoke about the Green Parrot having it's floor re-done. There was some concern that the original character and feel of the old floor ran the risk of being lost. After all, the Green Parrot is a classic and historic Key West  venue, dating back to 1890! On the flip side, it was also stated that the management is top notch at the 'Parrot and had foresight and integrity to keep it authentic.

Well, the floor was completed and the result was....

Perfect! If you were to come to town before and after the job, you'd most likely never know it. Hats off to manager/owner John Vagnoni, who continues to ensure that the Parrot retains it's original character and feel over his years at the helm. Thank you John and company!

Of course, The Green Parrot was ranked the #1 in the most current  “ Absolute Ten Best Bars in the Keys” for reasons like this.




Most Popular Blogs of 2014.


I’m basing the most popular blogs of the year, not on views, but rather on “+1”s and comments. Having stated that, with blogspot, it’s really a bit of a pain in the ass to do so. If you don’t have a google account, you can’t do it. I figure if someone makes a comment, there are ten more who would, they just don’t want to go through the effort of starting a new email account. I’d do likewise.

So #1 with 20 +1’s and three comments is “Visiting Key West (part one)”


Next up with #2 was “The Bucket List, The Dry Tortugas! Fort Jefferson with eleven +1’s and three comments.


#3 with ten +1’s was “In The Presence of Greatness” where I had the honor of playing several of my own songs for world class author William Wright, poolside at his home, here in Key West.


#4 with eight +1’s was “Key West! The MOTM Adventure Part 2)” which included the two day drive we took from Key Largo to Key West



#5 was a tie both having seven +1’s. were “MOTM Part 3 and Must Do’s in Key West”


And also one from earlier this week, which is actually remarkable as it’s less than a week old, was “Richard Crooks - Father Time”. A sad blog which dealt with the passing of Richard Crooks, who was widely regarded both in Key West, as well as New York City, where he spent thirty years as both a studio musician and touring drummer.As this blog is less than a week old, it very well may change before the end of the year as far as +1s go.



A required mention is the blog with, far and away, the most views of the year,”Art, Music, Writing …. and more in Key West!” with more than double the amount of views than it’s nearest blog!


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To My Friends in Italy!!! Ai miei amici in Italia!!!  Grazie Italia!!!!

Ai miei amici in Italia! Sto facendo questo attraverso un traduttore, quindi perdonatemi se non è in perfetto italiano. Voglio esprimere, grazie a tutti voi personalmente per aver letto il mio blog costantemente durante tutto l'anno! Dopo gli Stati Uniti, si dispone di gran lunga, il più alto vista di questa blog.In molti casi, si hanno avuto più punti di vista rispetto agli Stati Uniti. Mentre questo blog ottiene vista da tutto il mondo, ho sentito la necessità di grazie personalmente per il vostro patronato leale e coerente. Grazie a tutti in Italia !!!!
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Happy New Year!

I may be back before the new year, but if not I wish you all, the absolute best new year of your life!

As I write this on December 26th (the day after Christmas, at this moment 10:52 EST, this blog has 99,851 views and should clear 100,000 within the next 48 hours.

Thank you all for your interest in this blog, Key West, the music of Key West, and the happenings and silly stuff that goes on here. I very much appreciate your support!

All the best from Key West!

“Key West Chris” Rehm









To obtain my music:

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

Thank you everyone!!

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Few Holiday Songs From My Friend Scott Alan!

A Few Holiday Songs For The Season!

Over the last few years, I’ve come to the conclusion that my friend Scott Alan, originally from Boston, also Berkley College of Music graduate, is by far, my favorite Christmas musician! He’s also as good a friend as can be! In addition to being a master musician, he’s also known as “The Shot Doctor”  Be sure to check him out at:




Scott Alan doing the 1949 song Mele Kamikimaka with his friend Paul Christensen



Scott Alan doing “Let Those Sleigh Bells Ring Tonight”



“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Scott Alan!


Be sure to check out Scott Alan, at http://www.theislanddoctor.com/

Get yourself a Shot Doctor!

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(The Shot Doctor, Scott Alan,
off of Key West aboard the sailboat “Transition” administering his Shot Doctor)

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( The Shot Doctor with the author, utilizing the shot doctor)



Be the first on your block to have a “Shot Doctor”!

Buy a few for a party! !!!



Thank You  for reading the Blog!

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah, and Happy New Year!!!



To obtain my music:

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

Friday, December 19, 2014

Richard Crooks A.K.A. Father Time

Richard Crooks, A.K.A. “Father Time”

“Father Time”. That’s what engineer/producer Dan Simpson referred to drummer extraordinaire,  Richard Crooks as. That's where I leared of the name first, though it was bestowed on him years earlier in New York.  We lost Richard December 16th. The finest musicians in Key West all said Richard was the best of the best. A Californian, Richard actually came to Key West via New York City, where he spent something in the vicinity of thirty years, as the “go to” drummer for everyone.

“Everyone”. Who’s this “everyone” anyway? Now I can’t say, because I don’t honestly know, but maybe Richard did play in a jazz trio in Battery Park on Sunday afternoons. Maybe yes, maybe no. What I can say is that Richard played and recorded with a plethora of  people, such as  Dylan, Paul Simon, Lowden Wayneright III, David Bromberg, Odeta,... the list goes on and on.

Richard was kind enough to play on my album “Shanghai’d and Marooned in Key West (things could be worse)”. He also played drums on my song “Island Blue”, which will be on my next album,  “Jump Into De Fiya!”. The memories of recording with him, as well as getting to know him, will always stay in my memory fondly. It will always be a great honor for me. Having said that, Richard was often the first to laugh and always had a fantastic, easy going, personality. You couldn’t help but love the guy! Either at the recording sessions we were involved in, or just shooting the breeze, there was always great fun and camaraderie involved!



(Listen to Richard Crooks’ silky smooth brush work on “Raise My Glass To The Upper 48”)

However, Richard was always the most professional player I’ve played with. Before we recorded my album, I gave everyone who was going to play on it an acoustic demo that I recorded, so that they could learn the songs. Now mind you, the entire crew were first rate musicians. When we got into the studio, more often than not it became a musician saying to me “Woh! Wait a minute, what the hell did the song do there?” to which I replied “I gave you the demo recording, and the chord sheet that went along with it. Didn’t you listen to it? Then they would say “Well, I was thinking your stuff was like that other Trop Rock guy...…” and I would reply “No, my stuff isn’t like his or anyone else's. My stuff has chord changes that are not the norm. They go off the beaten path, but manage to flow quite naturally.  That’s why I took the time and money to record and give you the recording and lyric/ chord charts, so you wouldn’t be learning the damn song in the friggin' studio.”

Richard, on the other hand, didn’t arrive in the studio cold turkey figuring he’s just knock it out, never listening to the demo to begin with. No, Richard not only listened to the arrangement demos, but he also charted out each and every song.

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(Richard Crooks viewing the music chart while recording “Shanghai’d and Marooned in Key West ( things could be worse)”


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It was kind of funny, somehow I managed to pretty much get it all right on my stuff, but there were two or three times when something was not quite the way it was presented by myself. Richard would say “So this is supposed to go another measure, you’re saying?”. I’d “Well, yeah, that’s my mistake Richard”. Then I’d get the look and he’d go back to his self made chart and make the correction and give me “the look” again.

It wasn’t a bad look, but more akin to a teacher sitting at their desk giving you the same look after you made a mistake on a paper. What it was, was a look that taught you. One that you learned from.

Then, with an upbeat tone he’s say “Okay, lets go!” One definitely learned when you  worked with Richard. Everyone did. Once he made his point, it was over and time to move on with a good spirit and vibe, because if the spirit and vibe weren't there, the entire session would be spinning it's wheels. That was the antithesis of what Richard Crooks was all about.

Richard was modest, to a “T”. Yes, he played with Dylan and Paul Simon, and a myriad of others. However, he wouldn’t volunteer that at all. He wasn’t the type to pipe up and blow out “Oh! Yes! I’ve played with Dylan! I’ve also played with Paul Simon! You should have been to the session I did with David Bromberg and the tour that followed!”

No, that wasn’t Richard at all. If you asked him, he'd be more than happy to share his stories and anecdotes. they were always peppered with humor and mirth. However, those stories never surfaced unless requested.

Knowing he was from California, I asked him if he ever played in the San Francisco bay area. HA HA! I then learned that he had played during the Summer of Love (1967), played the Filmore and many other gigs in a band that played with The Grateful Dead, the Jefferson Starship, Quicksilver Messenger Service.. the list went on! The point being, all you had to do with Richard ws ask.

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(Richard Crooks arrives at the San Carlos Institute in Key West to record “Shanghai’d and Marooned in Key West (things could be worse)”



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(Richard on the brushes… and loving it! Hear this song above "Raise my Glass To The Upper 48")

Here’s an amazing thing about Richard Crooks. When we were finished with the rhythm tracks, (Bubba Low Notes, played the bass at the San Carlos Institute sessions along with Richard, by the way!), we went back to the studio to prepare for the other instruments, that would be added to the rhythm tracks. As it appears on the grid on the computer, there are the sound waves and every few inches there are vertical lines. These are the exact points of where the beat lies. As humans, no one is perfect. Inevitably, a musician is either a touch in front of the beat, or a touch behind the beat here and there on occasion. The engineer will move it digitally to compensate for the error. I’m talking about drums, however this can happen with all instruments.

Well, on all of Richard’s tracks, there was not one piece that Dan had to move. Not one. Ten tracks, all perfect, to a “T”! Engineer/Producer Dan Simpson said “This is the way it always is with Richard. It’s unbelievable. He’s like this all the time. That's why I call him 'Father Time'!”.

My life long friend, Vintz McKeon, came to Key West a few years back. Vintz and I had been in bands together until I left New Jersey and moved to Florida when I was twenty one. Vincent is an extraordinary drummer, based in New Jersey, not too far from NYC and is in the city very often catching music shows of all sorts of genres over the years. From the Allman Brothers, to Charles Mingus, to The Band, to Tower of Power, to James Taylor, to Miles Davis. He’s also active, playing with a band named “The Harmony Brothers” for the last several years. When Vintz heard Richard, he was in awe.



(Richard on "Mile Zero" off "Shanghai'd and Marooned in Key West (things could be worse") 

I had never played with Richard, up to the point of recording, but playing with him on the rhythm tracks was just a natural. It was like riding on a magic carpet. It was just, flat out perfect.

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We’re all going to miss Richard immensely and anyone who either heard him play, or played with him, is truly blessed. Every player he ever played with, and even those who didn’t, learned so much from Richard Crooks, we’ll be forever in debt.


("Island Blue" featuring Richard Crooks on drums)

Guitarist Larry Baeder mentioned to me the day after Richard's passing that the entire music fraternity in New York City was mourning. I can tell you that so is the one in Key West.

Godspeed Richard. Thank you so much for sharing, not just your talent and knowledge, but even more so, your marvelous life itself with all of us.

Key West is so grateful you chose to be part of this island.

My most sincere condolences go out to his wonderful wife Nina and his entire family.



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( Richard enjoying life, playing and recording naturally)


to view some of what Richard has recorded over the years check this link;



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!!