Saturday, February 27, 2010
Regretfully I don't recall who said it, or exactly where I read it, other than it was on a Trop Rock site of some sort. My apologies to the author. What they stated was the following: "I live in the northernmost city in the Caribbean, New Orleans." I nearly fell out of my chair laughing. First because it was hysterical and second, because it was so true, especially from a musical, Trop Rock point of view.
I sit here today writing this blog, as always, from the capitol of Trop Rock music, Key West. I recall stepping out at MOFM festival in 2008 and hearing a Trop Rock band playing in the parking lot of the Hog's Breath Saloon. Everything they were playing was along the lines of Margaritaville, up beat and poppy. Nothing wrong with this, but I later heard other bands following the same, exact formula. What struck me was that what I was hearing was such a slim cut out of a very big pie and that there is such a large, un-tapped horizon in the Trop Rock genre, still to be explored and realized by so many.
This is one reason I laughed so hard when I read the aforementioned quote of the sage poster from New Orleans. New Orleans music has given so much.. for so long, mind you, to the Trop Rock scene, yet so few seem to realize it. I recall hearing Barry Cuda for the first time here in Key West, hammering out New Orleans good old traditional Blues, Boogie Woogie, Rock and Roll and thinking "Wow! That fit's this town to a T!!!" Is it Trop Rock however? Well, if New Orleans is the northernmost city in the Caribbean, it certainly fit's under the umbrella... as well as other genres as well, mind you.
A little over year ago, my friend Gary was doing sound with Dan Simpson at the Blue Heaven, for the womankind charity event and urged me to go. The band playing was a Key West treasure, whom I had never heard, The Survivors. Five bars into the first song I became a believer. Here was a groove, orientated band with a very funky sound, that capitalized heavily on improvisation. It was no wonder these guys have been so popular in Key West for over twenty five years. These guys were hot, like onions, garlic, and pepper sizzling steadily in olive oil on an iron skillet, while the chef laughed in good nature, while taking a swig off a cold beer. This was the complete picture that they were all part of. No one appeared to be the head of the band, they all just followed and fed off one another. The music I heard that evening was a living organism. I wasn't sure where it would take me next, it might take a left, when I expected it to go right. That's what made it fascinating! What I did know however was, This Was A Hell Of A Ride! This was Key West music on the cutting edge, at it's absolute pinnacle.
This was nothing even remotely akin to the music I heard at the Hog's Breath only weeks prior. Yet, that was the beauty of it all. The horizons for this genre of music can be endless. As a songwriter myself, I write songs that fall into many different categories. Ballads, Rock, Southern Rock, Funk, Blues, Caribbean, as far south as Brazilian Bossa Novas, which suggests that Trop Rock influences can run from Rio De Janeiro all the way up through to New Orleans..... and to the south Pacific as well, for that matter.
As I say, there's a very big pie to be had and a LOT of growth yet to be seen and explored.
The link below is The Survivors last November on Higgs Beach, here in Key West doing their song "En Cayo Hueso" (translation: In Key West) in two parts.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
To start with, there are always three root viewpoint perspectives on the best bars in Key West. One is the Tourist. Another is the Visitor, and the third is the Local. The Local is self explanatory, however, what is the difference between a Tourist and a Visitor? Complicated, yet simple. In a nutshell, A Visitor is someone who visits Key West and want's to move here when all the ducks are in a row. Maybe a few months, maybe a few years, but it's on the "Bucket List" of things to do. As it's on their agenda, they want to discover the local's bars, so they can get a feel for the lay of the land and be part of the scene. Because of this, many Visitors actually cherish the locals places more than the locals! The Tourist want's to come here, raise some cane that perhaps they can't where they come from, and go back home. The emphasis being on the desire to "Go Back Home".
Bear in mind, that all is good! Also keep in mind that the Tourist will have the desire to go to tourist bars, where as the locals and visitors tend to go to Local's bars. Yes, most bars cater to all, it's just that the percentages can range from 75% local to 0% Local. Many Locals would just as soon have molten lead poured in their ears, rather than go to some of the Tourist bars on Duval St. It could be used as a prison sentence for some. A sort of Devil's Island of the damned.
"Your Honor, I am at the court's mercy and I kindly ask the jury to have me tarred and feathered, then paraded about town for all to see, laugh at, and mock, rather than be sent to Irish Kevin's for an evening! I beg the Court's mercy to start boiling the tar now. Anything but that!"
Of course, be advised that the list below is a list of the best bars in Key West. Also be advised that they are chosen by a local, who, indecently, has no desire whatsoever to be tortured and left to rot on Devil's Island.
1) The Green Parrot - The Green Parrot dates from 1890... or some say 1888. It's a Classic Key West Bar, from the get go. For starters, it's a real bar. There's no food, just Beer, Wine, and Liquor. The staff are real people. You won't get the "Hello, my name is Bubbles and I'll be your server tonight" Bullshit. They won't tell you about any specials, because there aren't any specials. It's a bar. In catering to the local working crowd, there is a Happy Hour however. Live music from all over the country and town Friday, Saturday and sometimes Sunday afternoons. The best jukebox in town, as well. No sniveling allowed. Drawbacks: None.
2) Schooner Wharf - Schooner Wharf is the best outside bar in town, located right on Key West Bight, off Lazy Lane. Great staff! Key West icon Mike McCloud plays six days a week from noon to five. It's real Key West, so if you don't like hearing the F word, don't fucking go. Music all the time, as well. Food's good too. Great music, fantastic atmosphere, great staff, great view, and you're outside. Hello. Drawbacks: None
3) Finnegan's Wake - Finnegan's is a fun Irish Pub located on Granell St., across from the power company. Irish music brought in on weekends from all over the United States. Best beer selection in Key West, no holes barred. Really! Kitchen open until 2 am. Very good staff. Drawbacks: huummmmm
4) Don's Place - Don's Place is most likely the very last place a Tourist will stumble into. It's well off the Tourist path, for one, located at 1000 Truman St., about 5 blocks east of Duval. A real bar that serves alcohol and no food. Darts, Jukebox, also has an outside Tiki Bar.
5) Hog's Breath Saloon - Hog's best asset... and it's a great asset, is that it has top notch live music from all over the island and the U.S. all day long. Good bar staff too. Drawbacks: Leans a bit on the corporate side
6) El Alamo Bar - A new bar, just off Duval's 200 block. Set up in a large courtyard and well managed by Billy. Music most evenings and a good bar staff to boot. Drawbacks: Still new and trying to find their nitch... but doing that very well!
7) Captain Tony's Saloon - What can you say? Hemingway used to hang out here five out of seven days a week. A woman is buried in the pool room. No food, it's a bar. Holds Florida's oldest liquor license. Dates from.... early 1800's. Woman have been known to take their shirts off and sing with the musicians from time to time. Good bar and apparel staff. Drawbacks: 1) Needs a new week-night manager. Annoying the crew all the time doesn’t work in a bar. 2) Waterless urinals in the men's room. Hello! Don't go in without a gas mask. Who was the Einstein who was suckered into this deal?
Saturday, February 20, 2010
A very fun evening last night over at B.O.'s Fish Wagon on Caroline St. Barry Cuda's been doing Friday nights for years now. The current line up he's with calls themselves "Bong Hits For Geezers". Of course, the current line up he's played with for years in various configurations. The trio consists of Richard Crooks on drums and Ken Fradley on trumpet, flugalhorn, and assorted percussion.
B.O.'s was stuffed to the gills, pun intended, but also fact, as Bong Hits For Geezers smoked the place on a frigid Key West night. Much of the music played last night had New Orleans as it's root. As many would expect, 3/4 of the cat-calling came from Crooks and Fradley heckling 'Cuda, keeping the crowd in stitches, yet never loosing a beat.... well, once they did... but it was part of the overall ambiance one would expect from a Pianimal gig!
Word on the street is that they've also been recording with Dan Simpson's Private Ear Mobile Recording Studio at a secret location quite recently. They are hoping to have their new album out, perhaps as early as March, if not April!!!
In a nutshell, if you want to see classic Key West, be sure to hit B.O's Fish Wagon Friday evenings from 6 'till 9 and catch "Bong Hits For Geezers"!
Sunday, February 7, 2010
SUPER BOWL CHILI
Chili is one of those dishes many think we’ve adapted. However, chili is a unique, American dish, originating in the Southwest, with stories abounding of it’s precise origin.
For years I’ve made a chili for the Super Bowl, which should be a national holiday, for even those, like myself, who don’t follow football on a regular weekly basis, usually drop everything to watch the Super Bowl and all that goes with it.
There is no recipe that continues year to year in my kitchen. Everything is based on what’s available and the mood I’m in. Because of my personal health issue with beef fat, I substitute ground turkey, which works great! For those who aren’t afflicted with cholesterol issues, feel free to use ground beef or a mix of beef and turkey. One of the advantages of turkey is that if you start off with, say a pound, after sautéing, you still retain quite a lot of meat, unlike beef which will reduce as much as ¼ . As it is called “Chili” we’ll start off with the chilies themselves.
2 Scotch Bonnet Chilies
2 Tsai dried chilies
4 Jalapeno chilies
4 Serrano chilies
1 dried ancho chili
1 bell pepper
1 ½ lbs ground turkey
4 cloves of garlic minced
3 onions diced
2 stalks of celery chopped
1-2 teaspoons of Herbes de Provance
2+ tablespoons of Worcestshire sauce
2+ tablespoons Steak Sauce
1 can tomatoes
2+ tablespoons of Badia Complete Seasonings
2+ tablespoons of Cajun seasonings
2 shakes of Cayenne powder
2 shakes Trappy’s hot sauce or Tobasco
1 16 oz. Can of kidney beans.
Olive Oil as needed.
2 capfulls of Ol’ Sauer
Dice all of the fresh chilies, onions and garlic and sauté them in the cooking vessel you’re using with olive oil. When done, place in a bowl. Sauté meat in olive oil until brown. Return sautéed vegetables and add everything else including the desired amount of water (how soupy do you want it?). Stir it up and simmer it all day at a very, very low heat until the start of the game. Everyone should have their Super Bowl Chili in front of them at the kickoff!
Lots of COLD beer is also highly recommended. “Is this going to be spicy?” It’s chili. Of course it’s going to be spicy!!!
Notes: If Scotch Bonnet Chilies are not available in your area, use their cousins, the Habanero. They have the same heat, although the Bonnets are more aromatic and flavorful.
Jalapenos and/or Serrano peppers are essential in flavoring the chili.
Ol’ Sauer is a Key West thing. Use lime juice or lemon juice
Improvise on seasonings. Hey, this is Chili! There’s no precise recipe so just have FUN with it!!!!
Lets hope for a great game, great commercials, and The Who at halftime!!!!!!
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Well, it's been an interesting week, to say the least! :-D It's been said that it would take a heart attack or a crow bar to get me off this island, or at least out of the Conch Republic.
Tuesday through Friday I was up in my old home town of Miami as a guest of the University of Miami's Medical Center. A BIG thanks to Dr. Zembrano, Dr. Berger, and especially Dr. Boros, who's here in Key West!
Another big event this week was seeing Sir Christopher Flowers back in Key West! Years ago he was knighted by Mel Fisher, the King of the Conch Republic, Hence, the "Sir" title. Chris is a keyboard wizard and the town's missed him greatly!He'd been away for six months and it's great to see him back! I bumped into him walking the Whippets two days ago and again this morning. He's happy to be back and looks to be focussed in a positive direction! Great to have you back Chris! Oh, it's also his 20th birthday today! Happy Birthday Chris!!!
This weekend is, of course, the Super Bowl! I'm tied to New Orleans, if for no other reason that Cajun and Tooloulou hail from Baton Rouge! Looking forward to a great game! Not sure where I'll watch it however.
In the news there's talk about $300,000.00 "improvements" to Higgs Beach. Stuff like this always scares me, when you get people who want to renovate things. Next thing you know they'll do something sacrilegious and tear down the classic gazebos!!!! I HOPE NOT!!!
Monday, February 1, 2010
As a songwriter, often the weather can be an inspiration. Today was a case in point. When I woke up it was raining like there was no tomorrow. It was rainy and overcast all day, as a matter of fact. Certainly not the norm for Key West. Yet, so often we see a rainy, overcast day as something depressing, when in fact, they can be a very beautiful, unique day! That was the inspiration for the song that bubbled out of me about three this afternoon. (note: in compressing the original Word document which the song was written on, the chords do not fall in the propper places... sorry).
A BEAUTIFUL DAY DOWN PARADISE WAY
C C6/9 C C6/9
SKYS ARE CLOUDY RAINS FALLING DOWN
C C6/9 C C6/9
THINKING OF YOU WISH YOU WERE IN TOWN
F F Maj7 F F Maj7 C C6/9 C C6/9
SILVER DROPS RICOCHET HIGH OFF A ONCE BUSY STREET
Em F Maj7/C G/B F Maj7/C G C C 6/9(x4)
SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY DOWN PARADISE WAY IN KEY WEST
DOWN IN THE KITCHEN COFFEE IS BREWING
ON THE STOVE TOP A SOUP IS STEWING
ALL THE WHILE THAT RAIN KEEPS FALLING DOWN
SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY DOWN PARADISE WAY IN KEY WEST
Dm9 G Dm7 F Fmaj7 G
RAIN KEEPS FALLIN’ THE NIGHT CALLS FAR FROM THE DAY AND WHILE
Dm9 G Dm7 F Maj7 G
I’M TEXTING KISSES THROUGH DROPS THEY ARE MISSING THEY HEAD SO
F Maj7 Em+9 C C6/9 C C6/9
FAR AWAY FAR AWAY
TIN ROOFS ARE SINGING, RAIN’S CRASHING LIKE CYMBLES
MY MIND IS WONDERING, IMAGINATION GOES WHIMSICALLY
DOWN THE STREET AS I LEAP PUDDLES FUTILY
IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY DOWN PARADISE WAY IN KEY WEST
IT’S ONE OF THOSE UNUSUAL DAYS IN KEY WEST
IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY DOWN PARADISE WAY IN KEY WEST
© 2/1/2010 Christopher R. Rehm BMI
(note: ¾ time, up-beat allegro, jazzy )