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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Trop Rock

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.


  1. Nice job! There is so MUCH more to Trop Rock that has not even been tapped! Barry Cuda is just the tip of the iceberg..... I personally like the island beat with the growl of NOLA and the individual stories that pulls it all together!

  2. If you're in Key West, be sure to see Lenore Troia play. You can find her schedule at her website.

    Great Jazz with a bit of TropRock thrown in! Tell her Mad Marty said Hello!!!

  3. Well put a singer-songwriter, I can totally relate to what you are saying. Here in Texas, where I ply my TropRock tuneage, we have what we refer to as Texas Music. It, too, covers many genres. Bottom line is...if is written and/or performed in Texas, by about Texans or Texas places or culture, it is considered to be Texas Music, regardless of actual genre. It could be country, rock, folk, blues, hip-hop, rhythm & blues; any combination of the above, you name it... it could fall into the vast realm of Texas Music. We even have our own variety of Gulf Coast style TropRock here, written by some incredibly talented folks like Jerry Diaz, Kelly McGuire, Dennis Davis, Troy Allan, Don Burke, Larry Joe Taylor, Kelly Brown and Tropical Denny. Sunny Jim, Eric Stone and Ron Bertrand -to name a few - started out here, too...then there also are folks like Joe Bennett who have migrated to our Gulf Coast shores to ply their trades. I'm thinkin' that this just the beginning of the ground swell of what we know as TropRock! Keep up the good work...continue to spread the word and preach the gospel!