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Monday, December 19, 2011

Inspirational Key West and the Conch Republic


Liveaboard by Key West Chris Rehm
^ Listen to Liveaboard while you read the blog! ^


Here in Key West there is an almost compulsive draw to be creative and in particular, original. We’ve had our share of well-known writers and performers over the years that need no introductions. There is some kind of energy here, which words can’t really describe. Maybe it emulates from the coral below us? Maybe it’s from our longitude and latitude, coordinated with a gravitational pull from the sun in relation to our proximity to the Bermuda Triangle? I’ll let soothsayers, scientists, geologists, and Santaria priests figure that one out, as I’m too busy taking advantage of it myself. Today we also have the creative vibe going. One example of many is a local performing artist, and all around good guy Bo Fodor, has been very active on both the video and music front, as of late. Over the last few months Bo has had two websites he’s introduced to the world from Key West . The first was Key West Coconut Telegraph Television, which is an internet television station running twenty four hours a day. It offers local coverage, as well as some fun, rare reporting from our sister city, ninety miles south of our southernmost point, Havana.

http://www.tikilive.com/show/key-west-coconut-telegraph-television

Bo has also more recently started an internet radio station, Key West Original Music Radio, which features exactly that! In addition, Bo has made slide videos for all of the music featured! I can’t imagine how long that took to do! Oh my gosh!! Great job Bo! If anyone wants to hear the sound of the Keys, this is where you can tune in 24 hours a day.

http://www.tikilive.com/show/key-west-original-music-radio

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I of course also feel the inspiration that emulates from this coral island as well and it suits my style perfectly. I’m someone who thrives on innovation! Blazing one’s own path is encouraged here. That shows up on my current CD “Shanghai’d and Marooned in Key West (things could be worse)” where we have ten songs and eleven different overall genres, all of which are Conch Rock and eight of the ten also wear the Trop Rock hat as well. Additionally, every song was inspired from the energy of this island.

With the website we’ve made some major innovative inroads as well! With the coming of digital downloads, both artwork and information have fallen by the wayside. While this is a big shame in so many ways, anyone who thinks digital downloads are going to go away, have their heads buried in the sand. What we’ve done, is set up all the information on the website in the music section! Each song has its own page, for instance. On each song’s individual page we have:

A) The Lyrics
B) The story behind the song
C) All of the personnel playing on the song.
D) Artwork from both local as well as international artists.

In some cases we also have a music track to go along with it. In addition, we have three unreleased tracks available for listening along with a story to go along with them as well. Thus far, we’re the only artist doing all of this. Some may have some things. I know Jimmy Buffett has the lyrics on his site, for
Instance, however there is no information other than that. I’ve talked to a producer/publisher in Nashville about what we’re doing down here and he was quite excited about it. I have the impression that in time, we’ll see more artists doing similar things with their music on their websites.

http://keywestchris.com/shanghaid-marooned-key-west-things-could-be-worse


Of course here on the Blog we’re also infected with the creative vibe/energy/inspiration that oozes out of the rock we live on called Key West. In addition to the Key West news from the source, we also add pictures and/or a collage, as well as a music clip… not forgetting a video, every now and then! 
Thank God for The Conch Republic’s creative inspiration!


J. Harold Lowry of course is also drawing inspiration from the Conch Republic archipelago for his book "Key Lime Floats". A book that will surely bring a smile to your day! Available in either paperback or via download via Kindle!

http://www.jharoldlowry.com/key_lime_floats.htm

It's a plethora of inspiration down in the entire Conch Republic!


This last week Country Singer/Songwriter/Actress and all around great person Misty Loggins was in town. Misty texted me shortly prior to let me know she’d be here and I texted her back saying “Hey! Want to cut a song with me?” She said “Sure!”. Fantastic!... only one problem. I didn’t have a song for her to sing. Hummm… off to work! So I wrote a song, “Island Blue” for her to sing. This is the first song for my next album “All The Best From Key West”, which is how I always sign off on letters and e-mails. Misty nailed it! Plus, in addition, again, it’s exploring new ground. At the moment we have Misty, Richard Crooks on drums, and myself on guitar, so the canvas is progressing well, but we still have a ways to go and more instruments to add. Dan Simpson is again at the helm on the board. I’ll have more info on this one when we finish it, hopefully in a couple of weeks.


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All the Best From Key West!

Key West Chris

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Gary Hempsey, MOTM Revisited, Female songwriters/performers


The Greatest Country by Key West Chris Rehm
^ listen to “The Greatest Country” while you enjoy the blog! ^

News Flash Bulletin! This just in, It looks as though I will be interviewed on NPR Radio in a couple of weeks, before the end of the year!!! Conch Rock/Trop Rock goes on the National Public Radio syndicated network! More news as it develops!!!!!!


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I can’t think of a better place to live, then in the Conch Republic! Anywhere from Key West through Key Largo and the 107 miles and forty some odd bridges linking the archipelago of islands, which started as a railroad, back ninety nine years ago. However, life being life, nothing is perfect and the Conch Republic is certainly no exception to that rule. A very ugly event happened recently in Key West, as a matter of fact, which have everybody shaking their heads in bemusement. Gary Hempsey, a local performer who’s been playing at Captain Tony’s for something to the tune of twenty years, wanted to cut back his schedule there, in order to explore some new things. Instead of saying “Hey Gary! No problem. What works for you?”, the manager just up and fired his ass.

One of Captain Tony’s sons posted on Gary’s FB page that he knew his dad would not be happy about this at all. I’m sure that the ashes of Captain Tony himself, have gathered and turned into a water spout/cyclone, somewhere in the Florida Straits. For those who don’t know Gary, he’s first and foremost, his own man. He’s a very unique guy with a great character. Everyone when hearing the news was awestruck in disbelief. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I heard the exact same statement “What? You’re kidding, right? How could anybody fire Gary Hempsey from Captain Tony’s?” Gary was one of the key faces of Captain Tony’s; a stalwart of the institution itself, who played there with the late Captain Tony’s full support and blessing. What happened here was a disgrace. It was an insult to Gary and his loyalty to the bar for two decades, the patrons who always make a point of catching his show when they are in town, his extensive local fan base, all of the other great employees who work there, additionally the action sullies the name of the bar itself. There is someone who needs to go from Captain Tony’s, but it’s certainly not Gary Hempsey.

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The pictures in the collage are Gary playing at his birthday party at Smokin’ Tuna back in August.


I had a really nice thing happen at MOTM that I forgot to mention in the last blog I had just rounded the corner at the end of Greene St. and turned up Elizabeth St. in my VW Bus, when I heard a group of people holler out “Look! It’s Key West Chris!”. I figured they were friends of mine and parked. They were right in front of the B and B next to Lazy Way, partying in the street. As I approached they all hollered out again. Turned out they were from North Carolina and in for MOTM and had recognized me and my VW from both Facebook and the Trop Rock stations that are playing “Shanghai’d and Marooned in Key West (things could be worse)”. I ended up hanging out with them for about a half hour, as they were kind enough to share a few beers with me. Thanks guys! My friends who I was meeting, Key Largo Joe and Cindy, thought I died! HA HA HA!

Hindsight is also 20/20. I forgot to mention something about Kelly McGuire, who held his annual event at Lighthouse Court at MOTM. Kelly was here also earlier this year for the Key West Songwriter’s Festival, a.k.a KWSF. To be invited to the KWSF is a great honor, as it’s not a bar in Key West that invites you, but rather BMI Nashville, who is the host of the event. For those who don't know, BMI is BIG in the mechanical publishing rights side of the music industry.In other words, when a radio station plays a song, or it is played in a jukebox, or a performing artist covers a song, BMI are the ones who collect the royalties and pay the songwriter. Congratulations on that one Kelly!

There were so many great songwriters here for MOTM! It was a true pleasure to hear them! On flip side, there were also those who all wrote songs about getting loaded on Duval. Way, way too many, actually. I was ready to pull my hair out :-O if I heard another that weekend. Thank God for the great songwriters, they kept me from going insane.

Speaking of Trop Rock & Conch Rock, another area that is way open for growth is the implement of estrogen in the genres. There are so few women in the field, it’s on the cusp of being sad. The bright side there is Adrienne, who is based here in the Conch Republic. Adrienne is a graduate of Berklee, up in Boston and is truly a great songwriter and performer; someone who deserves much more attention. As she lives in the Keys, all of her music is Conch Rock, of which a decent amount also happens to fall into the Trop Rock genre as well. Be sure to check Adrienne out at her website http://adriennemusic.com/ and also on her Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/adriennemuz

Michelle Orlandi Becker has won the female vocalist of the year at MOTM for years. An accomplished songwriter in her own right, she and her husband Tom form Latitude.

Of course, there’s Nadria Shakur, the backup singer for Jimmy Buffett, is an artist in her own rite, indeed. The Atlanta based Nadira has a good mix of Trop Rock and R&B in her song repertoire. So, Nadira is partly Trop Rock.

Kristie Hayes Bobal had her CD release party during MOTM at Carmelo’s Bottle Cap. She was also interviewed on Beach Front Radio prior to the release. From what I heard of the CD, while it seems it was well produced and had some great sounding musicians on it, it falls into the genre of Southern Rock. No knock against the work itself; however it’s a missed opportunity for Trop Rock to have an additional female artist.


Dani Hoy, out of Pennsylvania, is making progress in the field. Good for her too! I hear the word on the street is that she is planning and perhaps working on an upcoming project. She played at Artist Koz’ Green World Gallery here in Key West for MOTM. Hopefully she’ll have a CD in there for sale as well before long.


Also, up in Panama, Florida there’s Sandra Heart Youngblood who accompanies her husband Steven Youngblood as a duo, playing the steel pan.

Here’s the bottom line; I just named a total of four female performers who are Trop Rock and or, Conch Rock full time artists. That’s Adrienne, Michelle Orlandi, Sandra Youngblood, and Dani Hoy; Nadirah Shakur being partially Trop Rock. Now, I must have missed one or two, maybe more… I apologize to those who, at the moment skipped my feeble brain. However, the bottom line is there is a huge opening for quality, female artists and particularly writers, in Trop Rock and Conch Rock.

Will keep y’all posted on my NPR interview as I learn more!
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Thanks to Melissa for the framed pictures of Cajun and Tooloulou!

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Crazy Weeks


THE CRAZY WEEKS
7 Mile Bridge by Key West Chris Rehm

^Listen to the demo of “7 Mile Bridge” while you read the Blog!^

Autumn brings two crazy weeks in a row of festivals to Key West. All are as different from one another as can be, as well. Not only the craziest festival in Key West, but easily the craziest festival in the U.S., and perhaps the world, Fantasy Fest, kicked off the insanity. Fantasy Fest is far and away, the largest -festival Key West has in the year, bar none. We’re not talking three thousand, ten thousand or fifteen -thousand. Fantasy Fest is more than three times larger than its second largest festival, the Key West Poker Run, which draws 30,000! We’re looking at 100,000 strong. This is the “Big Daddy” of Key West Festivals. To begin with, the event is not three or five days long, it’s a ten day event, starting with the Goombay Festival, to kick it off. It’s also not for the faint of heart, at least as far as clothing goes… or lack thereof. Fantasy Fest is actually a mascaraed party and body paint is considered clothing at Fantasy Fest. Frankly, the reality of it all is that maybe fifteen to eighteen percent are wearing body paint. It’s just that when you see those with nothing on… ah, let’s say it grabs your attention!

Monday and Tuesday have always been on Greene St. in front of Captain Tony’s , however this year it was so crowded early in the week, on Tuesday they extended it a day early down Duval to The Bull. Of course there were theme parties at all the bars on different nights. The plaid party at Captain Tony’s on Tuesday, the Toga Party at Sloppie’s on Thursday. The kinky party at Kelly’s… I missed Wednesday – Friday evenings as I wasn’t feeling up to par….more on that later. I was with the 40 ft. Sharpie Float again this year for the parade on Saturday. Always a great time on the float! Big thanks to Angus, Gary, Sherrie, Rachel, Blackheart Charlie, Kate, Ken, Cory, Bill, Mammasabi, Wasabi, Chevi, Jeff, Scott, Cindy, Key Largo Joe, Irish Hazel, Doug, Jan, Dave, Ashley, Rich in Spirit, Todd,… the list goes on.
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The day before the Fantasy Fest Parade, Rachel, with a bit of help from her beau, Blackheart Charlie, got us into the local’s mascaraed parade and was the mastermind behind it. Charlie had told me it was the greatest thing, as he had been in it last year for the first time. I had heard about it, but never had even seen it. Turns out, it is Key West’s best kept secret! What a blast! We joined this parade at the graveyard and a bunch of us who were in our float group went as “One Hula Family”, a parody on Key West’s motto “One Human Family”. Again, this was Rachel’s fabulous conception. Truly genius and ever so creative! A tip of the hat to Rachel indeed! This parade lasted about two and a half hours and full of locals on the side streets of Key West. Do it again next year? Damn tootin’!!!

For the Fantasy Fest Parade we hauled the float from Ken’s house to the staging area. I was the cook on the float and had been from the get-go at the meetings we had. Ken issued a grill and I was busy! I had to run home when I was done and regretfully, like the evenings where I missed Fantasy Fest, I wasn’t feeling up to par and realized that a 2 ½ - 3 hour march wasn’t in the cards for me, so I stayed home. Again, more on that later.
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Next up was MOTM
MOTM brings in the Trop Rockers and Parrot Heads to town, along with all sorts of live music to be heard all around town. There are also awards given out by the Margarita Mafia, over at the Casa Marina. Unfortunately for me, the release of “Shanghai’d and Marooned in Key West (things could be worse)” was too late for this years running, so we’ll be shooting for next year’s album of the year. All of the eighteen Key West players on the CD were just exceptional, not forgetting Producer Dan Simpson. They really deserve it!

Special thanks to DJ Jeff, Captain Cali, and Brian Roberts who got me into the Beachfront Radio Beach Party at Sloppy Joe’s. What a blast! Brian, gave up his regular gig to put on multiple acts there. He did a fantastic job of it as well! What organization. Everything went so smooth and Brian is a true pro… and a great guy to boot. I bumped into my Coconut Castaway pal, Marc Hollander and hung out with him when I got there. Marc’s a great guy and he and his wife Tammy are great fun to hang with. Also, my friend Cindi Hogan was there! Then, my pal Key Largo Joe showed up! Then Jeff Lange! What a great time I got up and did my songs opening with a brand new song “Island Ladies” then followed it with two songs off Shanghai’d, “My Little Island Town” and then closing it with “The Beach!!!!” .. for Captain Cali, of Beachfront!  Coming off the stage, again I wasn’t up to par again however. My chest was pounding really hard. After a few minutes however, all was well again…

Funny, there I was driving down the street going to Sloppy’s when I hear a bunch of people holler out my name “Key West Chris!!!”. Turned out it was a group of folks from North Carolina who knew me from a few of the Trop Rock stations and FB! How cool is that? I later had a beer with them on the street! Thanks guys! Then, It was a great reward this morning when Trop Rock artist Swim Skinny posted a very nice complement on my FB wall. It’s always great to get encouragement on one’s art. It’s kind of on a special plateau however when it comes from a fellow musician. Much appreciated Swim!!!!

I also got to play at Kelly McGuire’s event at Lighthouse Point. What a great little venue, plus it’s only four doors down the street from where I live! Kelly’s a great songwriter as well and a very good musician to boot. He does this every year and it’s always a pleasure to go. Highly recommended!

On Friday I went to my cardiologist who did a scan on me. After that Key Largo Joe called and told me to meet him at the street gig on Duval. Mac McAnally was scheduled, but Joe said Buffett was playing. Now, bear in mind, every year there are rampant rumors that Buffett will show, but he never does. When Joe says so… Joe’s got inside info and he knows! Thanks Joe!Sure as anything, Buffet played on the corner of Duval and Fleming! The place was a sardine can, but it was great! Everyone there was ecstatic! MOTM has many events around town; many not part of the official event at all. I think Kelly’s falls into that category? The cool thing that I liked about it was Buffett did it for everyone. Not just those at the Casa Marina, but rather everyone at the event itself. Additionally, he only did songs that were 1975 and before…. a.k.a songs that he wrote during his primary years in Key West. What a great concept!

During the concert I had a call from my cardiologist. “You need to get to Miami asap!!!” Make a long story short, I nearly bought the farm on the way there. Arrived in Miami and the BP was 252/140. I got there just in time too. They did a catheter on me and cleared out a clogged stent that was previously put in. Now I’m back to normal! Special thanks to Richard, Lora, Gary, and Sherrie for watching my family, Cajun and Tooloulou while I was away. Woof-Woof!!!!

I was away, but I’m not gone!

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Shanghai'd and Marooned in Key West (things could be worse) Is available at:

http://www.cduniverse.com/productinfo.asp?pid=8538563

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/keywestchris

http://www.beachfrontradio.com/keywestchris.cfm



Also available at iTunes. Search: Key West Chris

Monday, October 31, 2011

MORE! To Do and Not Do in Key West!


Beautiful Day Down Paradise Way by Key West Chris Rehm

^ Listen to My Little Island Town while you read the Blog! ^

Lets get the don’ts out of the way first!

If you are incapable or just too damn phreaking cheap of leaving a fair tip (15 – 20%) to anyone who serves you drinks or meals, you really can’t afford to go out in the first place. Stay home. Stiffing a server or a bartender is stealing and a B/S tip is an insult. A few rotten apples give an entire event’s participants a bad name.


Don’t drive down Virginia St (first intersection south of Duval & Truman) between Duval and Whitehead. Parked cars are sticking out everywhere, it’s a two-way street wide enough for one car, and it’s just a street you may say “Why did I drive down here?”


Now the Do’s

The best beach in town is Ft. Zachary Taylor. Fort Zack, as we locals call it, is a state park and it is accessible via Southard St., west of The Green Parrot.
Sunsets are one of the things Key West is known for. All of the tourists flock to Mallory Square to see it and all sorts of performers, music, jugglers, high wire, you name it, lots of fun!

Another great place to see a sunset is on the roof of La Concha Hotel, at 430 Duval St. Sunset is fantastic from up there and everyone is welcome, you don’t have to be a guest of the hotel. Live music and a full bar are available as well.

The aforementioned Ft. Zack is also a great place to watch the sunset. You’re on the western tip of the island, which is cool also.

Visit Ernest Hemingway’s house! There is one major problem with Ernest’s house however; you’ll want to move in. The guided tours are wonderful and the guides work for gratuity as well.

Eating out is a great pastime here. For just a quick bite on the run, check out Sharkbites on South Street, half way between Duval and Simonton Streets. They have sandwiches for fewer than seven bucks. Ryan and Bill are the owners there.

On the corner of South Street and Simon St. is Ana’s, a Cuban convenience store with a walk up window. Great menu too! South Street is the street that the Southernmost Point is on.

Other great places of note for dining;
Blue Heaven is a must. It’s better experienced than described, so just go. If it’s too pricy for you to eat, go and hang out at the bar, which sits outside under a water tower that was from the Flagler Railroad.

Schooner Wharf is of course a great setting for eating anything. Their menu is good, while being right on the water, the scenery can’t be beat. They also now have breakfast. Say hi to Vicki or Debbi behind the bar!

Santiago’s Bodega, a little further down the street from Blue Heaven, this tapas style restaurant has rightfully been accused of having the best dishes on the island. I haven’t eaten everywhere, but this is damn good.

Pepe’s on Caroline St. is known for their breakfasts, although any other meal is likewise excellent.

Quick blog today… more in the next one!

Anyone in town who wants to say hello this week, I'll be on a quick gig at Sloppy Joe's Thursday, November 3rd from 3:15 - 3:30. Lots of great acts playing. I'll also be at one of Kelly Maguire's gigs after 4 at Lighthouse Court, across from Hemingway's house on Whitehead, (just a few doors north of me, actually)

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

TO DO AND NOT TO DO IN KEY WEST – ALSO LEARN ABOUT A1A!!!




TO DO AND NOT TO DO IN KEY WEST – ALSO LEARN ABOUT A1A!!!

Key West Blues by Key West Chris Rehm

^ Click the track and listen to “Key West Blues”* as you listen to the track!^

Well, with largest Key West festival, Fantasy Fest underway, and two others hot on its heels, here’s a quick little guide of what to do and not do in Key West. This won’t be stuff that you read in all the tourist BS, but rather, the real deal. I always say, there are two kinds of folks who come to the Keys. There are those who come and go home and look forward to coming back again and there are those who come and want to move here, as soon as their situations and stars come into alignment. While we welcome everyone to our island chain in the Conch Republic, this particular blog today leans 65/35 in the direction of the latter.


The drive from the mainland to Key West is consistently rated as one of the top ten scenic drives in the United States. This isn’t hogwash either. With the Atlantic on your left and the Florida Bay/Gulf of Mexico on your right, it’s a stunning and unique experience hopping the bridges and islands! The absolute best way to enjoy this trip through the 126 miles of the Conch Republic’s main street, Overseas Highway, U.S. 1 (not A1A, as some incorrectly refer to it as) is to take two or three days in getting here. I spoke to a friend of mine from out of town the other day. He thought The Conch Republic was just Key West. The Conch Republic extends to The Last Chance Saloon in Florida City which is 126 miles from Mile Zero, on Whitehead Street, here in Key West. On how this came to be, check this link of Sir Peter Anderson’s Conch Republic site:

http://conchrepublic.com/history.htm


The Conch Republic also extends west through the Marquesas Keys heading west, and on to The Dry Tortugas, which are about 70 miles west of Key West. On the other hand, as The Conch Republic’s Secretary General, Sir Peter will tell you, the Conch Republic is also a state of mind.

The trip through the Keys I’ll save for another blog, as it’s far too involved and important to be anything but a blog subject unto itself. For the moment I will say that every Key has its own personality and feel. If one want’s to experience “island living”, in its true form, stop and relax for a couple of days en-route is essential. Check out a couple of places in The Conch Republic, be it Key Largo, Islamorada Long Key, Marathon,… ex. There’s no place like The Keys, just like Bogart said in the movie Key Largo.

Once in Key West, the very first thing to do is park your car and don’t get back into it until you’re leaving, unless you’re going to The Hogfish, on Stock Island, or Geiger Key Marina on Geiger Key. More on that later! However, be advised, Key West is not car friendly in any way, manor, shape, or form. Parking is a pain in the ass. Be rest assured, you will get a ticket if your meter runs out, no if’s and’s, or but’s. Park facing the wrong way on the street, you’ll have a ticket in the morning.
When you arrive in Key West by car, if you are staying in Old Town, do not take Truman Ave. Truman is the same street as N. Roosevelt Blvd. which you get when turning right, coming on to the island. Once you clear Garrison Bight (the water and harbors on your right) it turns into Truman at the Eisenhower St. traffic light. You’re now entering Old Town. What happens here is first is White Street, which is usually backed up and then there is St. Mary’s Star of the Sea, which has a school as well. Can you say “another back up”? Then, just after that is Simonton St, where there’s a light. There’s always someone who wants to take a left here. Regretfully, traffic is inevitably coming the other way, so they can’t go until the light changes. Consequently, the back-up from White St and St. Mary’s Star of the Sea, is only exacerbated.

The way to avoid all of this, is to turn left when entering the island. Now you are on A1A, also known as S. Roosevelt Blvd. A1A in the Keys is only 2.25 miles long and it travels along the Atlantic coast, passing Smather’s Beach on your left, down to Bertha St. where the road takes a ninety degree turn. Chances are good that you’ll take your first left at Atlantic Ave. and continue from there. Get a map of Key West and just come in the back way, it’s more scenic, less frustrating, and a lot more fun! That stretch when taking the left and driving the 2.25 miles to Bertha St. is the only stretch of A1A in all of the Keys, so enjoy it!

After you ditch your car there are a few ways to get around. Being such a beautiful, historic town, with all sorts of nooks and crannies all over, the absolute best way to see and explore is on foot. The little, subtle things are noticed on foot. The next best way is a bike. Bikes can be rented for about $8 - $10 a day. Bikes are a great way to see the island! Additionally, you’ll get some exorcize! Scooters are popular, although most people who rent them, don’t know how to ride them to begin with. Accidents are not un-common and the hospital thanks them for their support. The hospital actually opens an entire wing during the season, which started this weekend.
Peddy Cabs are popular as well. The drivers also have a lot of knowledge the island and its history, so you get a tour guide and transportation all in one.
Taxis are also available.

Things that are a must in Key West!
Friday night from 6 – 9 at B.O.’s Fishwagon and catch Barry Cuda and Bong Hits for Geezers. What a band, what a place! This is The Real Keys and one of the real types of music that has pulsated through the Keys for decades. Bary Cuda actually built a chassis for his upright piano and wheels it from gig to gig!!! The absolute best place to see him is at B.O.’s Fishwagon, 801 Caroline St. B.O.’s is a shack… I’m not kidding; it’s an open air shack, with his old truck buried to its axels out front. In days gone by, B.O. would sell his fish off the back of his truck on Duval. He later got this open air shack, with a corrugated tin roof, which they sell their fish (and burgers) at. Rachel will sit on the counter and take your order and Bong Hits for Geezers belt out old New Orleans tunes from the twenties, thirties, forties, and even as far up as the sixties. This is the real Key West. Don’t miss it for some pseudo, wanna-be, who wrote a song about his three days in Key West, before he retreated back to suburbia, in outside of some city, USA. Bong Hits for Geezers are the real deal and living it in the Keys 24/7/365, for decades.


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One thing not to do: Ask me where to stay. I don’t know, I live here, so I don’t rent out a hotel, motel, B&B, or a Guest House room. I have a place of my own and I don’t sell hotel rooms on the side.
Thing to do: Go out to the airport and go for a Bi-Plane ride!!!! Scot Alan, a fellow Trop Rock musician (extraordinaire btw!!!) and I flew in one in September! I’d always wanted to go and Scot called me out of the blue and told me he was flying in and to meet me at the airport, here in Key West. What a blast that was! Check the blog I did a couple of blogs below this one. Check their site as well!
http://www.keywestbiplanes.com/
Thing to do: Get the hell out of town! On Stock Island, right next door to Key West is TheHogfish Bar and Grill. Fabulous place! The Hogfish is located right on the docks at Safe Harbor Marina. Not easy to find, but well worth getting there! This is where the Key West Fishing Fleet is these days and the Hogfish Bar & Grill has the freshest fish in town! http://www.hogfishbar.com/
Also, if you continue out U.S. 1, just past MM10 is a Shell station. Take a right on the road there and keep an eagle eye out for Geiger Rd. on the left, maybe a ¼ mile or more down. Take the left and you’ll be at the Geiger Key Marina in about 100 yards. This is a true, old time Keys local joint on the water. Great place! They also allow dogs!!! YEAH! Geiger Key Marina is owned by Michelle and Bobby Mongelli, who also own the Hogfish. The Mongelli’s are true Keys heroes in my book because they preserve Keys history and the traditions in both of their establishments. Geiger Key Marina is also a great place to stay if you have an RV or a camper. Check their site!
http://www.geigerkeymarina.com/
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That’s enough for one day… Ha Ha Ha!!!

All the Best From Key West!
Key West Chris Rehm
*= http://keywestchris.com/

TO DO AND NOT TO DO IN KEY WEST – ALSO LEARN ABOUT A1A!!!




TO DO AND NOT TO DO IN KEY WEST – ALSO LEARN ABOUT A1A!!!
http://soundcloud.com/chris-rehm/key-west-blues
^ Click the track and listen to “Key West Blues”* as you listen to the track!^

Well, with largest Key West festival, Fantasy Fest underway, and two others hot on its heels, here’s a quick little guide of what to do and not do in Key West. This won’t be stuff that you read in all the tourist BS, but rather, the real deal. I always say, there are two kinds of folks who come to the Keys. There are those who come and go home and look forward to coming back again and there are those who come and want to move here, as soon as their situations and stars come into alignment. While we welcome everyone to our island chain in the Conch Republic, this particular blog today leans 65/35 in the direction of the latter.
The drive from the mainland to Key West is consistently rated as one of the top ten scenic drives in the United States. This isn’t hogwash either. With the Atlantic on your left and the Florida Bay/Gulf of Mexico on your right, it’s a stunning and unique experience hopping the bridges and islands! The absolute best way to enjoy this trip through the 126 miles of the Conch Republic’s main street, Overseas Highway, U.S. 1 (not A1A, as some incorrectly refer to it as) is to take two or three days in getting here. I spoke to a friend of mine from out of town the other day. He thought The Conch Republic was just Key West. The Conch Republic extends to The Last Chance Saloon in Florida City which is 126 miles from Mile Zero, on Whitehead Street, here in Key West. On how this came to be, check this link of Sir Peter Anderson’s Conch Republic site:
http://conchrepublic.com/history.htm
The Conch Republic also extends west through the Marquesas Keys heading west, and on to The Dry Tortugas, which are about 70 miles west of Key West. On the other hand, as The Conch Republic’s Secretary General, Sir Peter will tell you, the Conch Republic is also a state of mind.
The trip through the Keys I’ll save for another blog, as it’s far too involved and important to be anything but a blog subject unto itself. For the moment I will say that every Key has its own personality and feel. If one want’s to experience “island living”, in its true form, stop and relax for a couple of days en-route is essential. Check out a couple of places in The Conch Republic, be it Key Largo, Islamorada Long Key, Marathon,… ex. There’s no place like The Keys, just like Bogart said in the movie Key Largo.
Once in Key West, the very first thing to do is park your car and don’t get back into it until you’re leaving, unless you’re going to The Hogfish, on Stock Island, or Geiger Key Marina on Geiger Key. More on that later! However, be advised, Key West is not car friendly in any way, manor, shape, or form. Parking is a pain in the ass. Be rest assured, you will get a ticket if your meter runs out, no if’s and’s, or but’s. Park facing the wrong way on the street, you’ll have a ticket in the morning.
When you arrive in Key West by car, if you are staying in Old Town, do not take Truman Ave. Truman is the same street as N. Roosevelt Blvd. which you get when turning right, coming on to the island. Once you clear Garrison Bight (the water and harbors on your right) it turns into Truman at the Eisenhower St. traffic light. You’re now entering Old Town. What happens here is first is White Street, which is usually backed up and then there is St. Mary’s Star of the Sea, which has a school as well. Can you say “another back up”? Then, just after that is Simonton St, where there’s a light. There’s always someone who wants to take a left here. Regretfully, traffic is inevitably coming the other way, so they can’t go until the light changes. Consequently, the back-up from White St and St. Mary’s Star of the Sea, is only exacerbated.
The way to avoid all of this, is to turn left when entering the island. Now you are on A1A, also known as S. Roosevelt Blvd. A1A in the Keys is only 2.25 miles long and it travels along the Atlantic coast, passing Smather’s Beach on your left, down to Bertha St. where the road takes a ninety degree turn. Chances are good that you’ll take your first left at Atlantic Ave. and continue from there. Get a map of Key West and just come in the back way, it’s more scenic, less frustrating, and a lot more fun! That stretch when taking the left and driving the 2.25 miles to Bertha St. is the only stretch of A1A in all of the Keys, so enjoy it!
After you ditch your car there are a few ways to get around. Being such a beautiful, historic town, with all sorts of nooks and crannies all over, the absolute best way to see and explore is on foot. The little, subtle things are noticed on foot. The next best way is a bike. Bikes can be rented for about $8 - $10 a day. Bikes are a great way to see the island! Additionally, you’ll get some exorcize! Scooters are popular, although most people who rent them, don’t know how to ride them to begin with. Accidents are not un-common and the hospital thanks them for their support. The hospital actually opens an entire wing during the season, which started this weekend.
Peddy Cabs are popular as well. The drivers also have a lot of knowledge the island and its history, so you get a tour guide and transportation all in one.
Taxis are also available.
Things that are a must in Key West!
Friday night from 6 – 9 at B.O.’s Fishwagon and catch Barry Cuda and Bong Hits for Geezers. What a band, what a place! This is The Real Keys and one of the real types of music that has pulsated through the Keys for decades. Bary Cuda actually built a chassis for his upright piano and wheels it from gig to gig!!! The absolute best place to see him is at B.O.’s Fishwagon, 801 Caroline St. B.O.’s is a shack… I’m not kidding; it’s an open air shack, with his old truck buried to its axels out front. In days gone by, B.O. would sell his fish off the back of his truck on Duval. He later got this open air shack, with a corrugated tin roof, which they sell their fish (and burgers) at. Rachel will sit on the counter and take your order and Bong Hits for Geezers belt out old New Orleans tunes from the twenties, thirties, forties, and even as far up as the sixties. This is the real Key West. Don’t miss it for some pseudo, wanna-be, who wrote a song about his three days in Key West, before he retreated back to suburbia, in outside of some city, USA. Bong Hits for Geezers are the real deal and living it in the Keys 24/7/365, for decades.
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One thing not to do: Ask me where to stay. I don’t know, I live here, so I don’t rent out a hotel, motel, B&B, or a Guest House room. I have a place of my own and I don’t sell hotel rooms on the side.
Thing to do: Go out to the airport and go for a Bi-Plane ride!!!! Scot Alan, a fellow Trop Rock musician (extraordinaire btw!!!) and I flew in one in September! I’d always wanted to go and Scot called me out of the blue and told me he was flying in and to meet me at the airport, here in Key West. What a blast that was! Check the blog I did a couple of blogs below this one. Check their site as well!
http://www.keywestbiplanes.com/
Thing to do: Get the hell out of town! On Stock Island, right next door to Key West is TheHogfish Bar and Grill. Fabulous place! The Hogfish is located right on the docks at Safe Harbor Marina. Not easy to find, but well worth getting there! This is where the Key West Fishing Fleet is these days and the Hogfish Bar & Grill has the freshest fish in town! http://www.hogfishbar.com/
Also, if you continue out U.S. 1, just past MM10 is a Shell station. Take a right on the road there and keep an eagle eye out for Geiger Rd. on the left, maybe a ¼ mile or more down. Take the left and you’ll be at the Geiger Key Marina in about 100 yards. This is a true, old time Keys local joint on the water. Great place! They also allow dogs!!! YEAH! Geiger Key Marina is owned by Michelle and Bobby Mongelli, who also own the Hogfish. The Mongelli’s are true Keys heroes in my book because they preserve Keys history and the traditions in both of their establishments. Geiger Key Marina is also a great place to stay if you have an RV or a camper. Check their site!
http://www.geigerkeymarina.com/
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That’s enough for one day… Ha Ha Ha!!!

All the Best From Key West!
Key West Chris Rehm
*= http://keywestchris.com/

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A GREAT HONOR, A GREAT CONCERT, AND A GREAT BIER!!!



Sailing by Key West Chris Rehm

^Listen to "Sailing" while you read the blog!^
Also for CD or download see the website for links! http://keywestchris.com/

A GREAT HONOR, A GREAT CONCERT, AND A GREAT BIER
One of the great traditions of Key West is having the United States Navy here based here. On March 5th, 1822, Lt. Commander Matthew C. Perry sailed to Key West aboard the Navy schooner Shark, planted a U.S. Flag and claimed the Keys and The United States ( years prior to that, the Spanish considered Key West itself, to be “Northern Havana”). Then on April 1st 1823, Commodore David Porter established the U.S. Navy in Key West in order to eradicate piracy, which was running rampant in the area. The United States Navy has been here ever since. In more recent history, Key West was a very active submarine base, in addition to having the Key West Naval Air Station, which is active to this day out on Boca Chica Key, a few Keys up from Key West. The submarine base fell to the wayside with the coming of the nuclear submarine. The new nuclear subs dwarfed the WWII diesel subs and were too large to fit inside the Truman Waterfront. The Navy has given the inner dock and property of the Truman Waterfront to the city of Key West, although they may take it back at any time, if they deem it necessary. The outer pier, named the “ Mole Pier”, remains the property of the U.S. Navy. We often get U.S. Navy ships in for leave, for a few days, as well as NATO ships, from Great Britain, Canada, and Holland also on leave, in the last few years.
In all of the nearly two hundred years of U.S. Naval presence in Key West, the one thing we’ve never had was a U.S. Naval Ship being commissioned here. We do have a nuclear submarine named the USS Key West, which operates somewhere beneath the vast Pacific and carries a crew of 127 Sailors and 16 officers. No question about it, a great honor for the city and one which the town is very proud.
On October 1st of this year, something changed however. The USS Spruance, a 509ft, 9200 ton, $1B destroyer with a crew of over 280, was commissioned here in Key West. She arrived in Key West a week prior and I was fortunate enough to be able to take a tour of the ship. Unfortunately, but understandably, photographs were not permitted inside the ship. I did get several from the outside however. The tour was just fantastic. My Guide was one of the officers of the ship, whose rank and last name, I sadly missed. First name was Rafael and I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m guessing he was an American of Philippine decent. He mentioned on the tour that his father was also a career U.S. Naval officer.
The tour was outstanding on every level. The first thing I noticed was how polite the entire crew was. I’ve seen this before as well, on visits to the Boca Chica Naval facility. From these visits I’ve deducted that the word “Sarcasm” is strictly a civilian usage. And while I myself get somewhat sarcastic from time to time, it was really a breath of fresh air, almost like stepping into a foregone time where values were on a higher level in many areas, than they are today. The ship left Key West sometime on either Sunday or Monday. I went down to see it late Monday night and she was gone. She will be based in San Diego and I wish her, her officers and crew, the very best.
Come to think of it, with Key West being the southernmost point of the United States, I can’t help but think that having a couple of U.S. Navy ships based here, could only make sense.

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Now on to the music front! The week prior to the USS Spruance’s commission, there was the Key West Musician’s Festival held at the Smokin Tuna. This was a benefit for Sister Seasons, a philanthropic group here in Key West, who assist artist who become ill. I was happy to donate a fist full of CDs to the cause, plus play a set. I’m not sure how many performers there were, but all were required to be Key West residents. Performances by such artists as Chief Billy, Cory Haydon, Bill Blue, Erickson Holt, Liz O’Connor, George Victory, Paul Cotton, Laura Wood, to name a few! Plus lots of superb people sitting in with many of the above, such as Marty Stonely, Deb Hudson, Chris Cook, Joel Nelson, Mick Kilgos, Kenny Fradley, Bubba Lownotes.
What an event! And hats off to the organizers Steve Mellette and Ken & Laura Floyd, A.K.A. Singing Iguana Productions, who did such a great job putting everything together for the event and Charlie Bauer, of Smokin’ Tuna for being a great host for the event.

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Collage photos by Steve Mellette, Gary Ek, Chris Rehm, and who knows? Maybe someone else!

BEER OF THE BLOG
This week’s beer is more than appropriate, Spaten Octoberfest Bier from Munich! Beer in German is spelled Bier, but pronounced the same as in English.The beer is labeled “Ur Marzen”. It’s supposed to have the umlaut over the a, but I don’t know how to do that and it’s 1:24 am as I write this, so just make pretend it’s there please. Marzen means that it is brewed in the month of March. In the old days, it was stored over the summer months in caves in the Bavarian Alps and brought out in the last two weeks of September, to celebrate the coming October harvest. It was originally celebrated for the King of Bavaria, but the Bavarians had such a good time with that, that they found the harvest a great excuse to do the fest every year after that. Spaten Brau was also the original beer brewed for the occasion, so on the label you’ll note it says “Ur Marzen”, which translates to “The Original March Style” beer, which is also known as Oktoberfest Beer. Naturally, it will be found at the Oktoberfest in Munich, along with beer from several other incredible beers from Munich, such as Lowenbrau, Augustiner Brau, Thomas Brau, and Pauliner, all of which are brewed in Munich, Bavaria. Other breweries throughout the Bavarian state of Germany, of which there are well over one thousand, brew the most marvelous varieties of Oktoberfest found on earth. Becks, as nice as it may be, also brews an Oktoberfest, but like breweries on this side of the pond, it can’t hold a candle to its Bavarian cousins down south. If you have an opportunity to get a Bavarian Oktoberfest, do yourself the favor! If there are more than one variety, but them as well and have a taste comparison! You’ll be amazed at how different they are from one another, yet likewise astonished at the superb quality you’ll find in all of them. There’s no substitute for the very best there is to be found.
Prost!!!

(P.S. I'll be at the Cork and Stogie Friday, October 7th, from 6 - 9!
Be sure and stop by!)
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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Key West Bi Plane, The Shot Doctor Bar Crawl, Key West Poker Run


Key West Blues by Key West Chris Rehm


^ Listen to Key West Blues while you enjoy the Blog!^

KEY WEST BI PLANE FLIGHT, SHOT DOCTOR SCOTT ALAN, & KEY WEST POKER RUN

So, there I was, just doing some things around my place when I get a text from Trop Rock artist Scott Alan, also known as The Shot Doctor, for that marvelous apparatus he invented, of the same name. I knew that Dr. Scott Alan was coming to town on a promotional/charitable event he was involved with, which happened to be a bar crawl. We had talked about it several times in the previous weeks. It was also a benefit for Naval air families stationed in the area. Of course Key West is home to the Key West Naval Air Station, something all Key Westers are very proud of. For me it hits close to home as the Truman Annex living quarters for the service men and women, is just a couple of blocks away from home for me, being located right next to the Southernmost Point.

I look at the text from Scott and it says “Can you fly at one today? Open Cockpit” Hummm… Fly? Is this a vernacular for go out and plow a few down, perhaps in an open air bar? It’s 11 am. I reply “Fly?” I ask. "In the bi plane" comes his reply. What a treat! I met Dr. Shot Alan… er, Dr. Scott Alan at the airport and we went over to Key West Bi Planes where we met Col. Ray Cunanas, son of Key West stunt pilot legend Gen. Fred Cubanas. It should be noted that all of the planes that Fred Cubanas owns, are members of the Conch Republic Air Force.

Col. Ray Cubanas was extremely pleasant and professional. He is also the main pilot for the bi plane rides. I found Ray has the ability to explain everything with an air of freshness to it. Remarkable considering he does this many times a day. He’s clearly someone who loves what he does. The aircraft is in pristine condition and is a 1942 Waco bi-plane. After some picture taking on the ground Scott and I buckled into the front seat and Col. Ray in the rear. He fires up the nine cylinder, air cooled radial engine and what a great sound! We taxi down the airport and then off we go, Up! Up! And Away!!!

All I can say was that the ride was fantastic! We flew down the southern coast of the island and then followed the shore around to the north side passing Ft. Zach and the Truman Waterfront. Over the water on the north side Col. Cabanas took us over the water. What a sight! The water in the Keys is magnificent with so many shades of blue and green. This is undoubtedly the way to see it, bar none! We also flew over down town as well. If you come to Key West, this is a MUST! We also opted for the optional DVD of our flight, which is from two video cams, mounted on the aircraft itself. Our flight was 25 minutes. They also have longer excursions available. It’s a short part of your stay, however the memories will last a lifetime.
For more info check out their website:
http://www.keywestbiplanes.com/

As I said, The Shot Doctor, Scott Alan, was in town doing a pub crawl. Now, bear in mind, Scott is a master musician first and foremost. He is a Berkley graduate and back when others were picking up a guitar and learning to strum Margaritaville or, Brown Eyed Girl, Scott was doing arrangements for big band jazz ensembles. Heavy stuff indeed. Scott also came up with his Shot Doctor and often does promotions. This crawl started at The Cork And Stogie, a fantastic little Mom and Pop cigar, beer, and wine establishment on the 1200 block of Duval. From there Scott and his entourage headed over to The Rum Bar in the next block. I met up with the traveling circus at a new bar, Overboard on the 700 blockof Duval. My friends Rick and Cindy Hogan arranged for Dr. Alan to have an I.V. stand, which he hung plasma bags filled with a green elixir. Dr. Alan, along with three quite attractive assistants, administered the potion from the plasma bags into everyone’s Shot Doctors. A great time was had by all and the tour continued to Willi T’s, where Key West icon Barry Cuda was playing, and from there on to Krawls off Duval. Trust me, anyone with a sense of humor and an easy laugh, will LOVE the Shot Doctor!
“Is there a doctor in the house”?
Check out his sites!
http://www.shotdoctorworld.com/
http://www.theislanddoctor.com/

This week was also the Key West Poker Run. I missed the actual year for the event this was, however it’s got to be pushing forty. The sponsor of the event Phil Peterson’s Harley Davidson up in Cutler Bay and Miami, started his business right here in Key West back in the fifties. The Poker Run starts there and runs to Key West. The event usually brings in close to 20,000 bikers and the town is always glad to see them. These guys are not afraid to spend money at art galleries, jewelry stores, in addition to the usual bars and guest houses. In addition, they are good tippers, from what I’ve been told from my friends in the service industry.

This Saturday I’ll be part of a new event “ The Key West Musicians Festival” at Smokin Tuna. Lots of folks playing too. If you’re in town, stop by! If not, you can always tune in to their live streaming video cam. I am currently scheduled to go on at 1pm. It looks like I’ll also have my friend Deb Hudson helping me out on a few songs as well! Whippeee!!!!!

http://keywestchris.com/

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Porch & Beer, Smokin Tuna & Music



My Little Island Town by Key West Chris Rehm

^ Click to hear "My Little Island Town" while you read the Blog!^

A very interesting thing started in Key West just over a year ago. The Porch opened on the corner of Caroline St. and Duval, across Caroline from The Bull, in the gorgeous Porter Mansion. One of the owners and publican is Chris Shultz, well known co-author of the bible for anyone even contemplating of moving to Key West, “Quit Your Job And Move To Key West”. The Porch is much more along the lines of a pub, than a bar, per say, but call it what you will. It’s warm and homey,only has one TV (thank God!) and resides within its stately surroundings inside the Porter Mansion. The Porter Mansion dates back to 1838, according to Dave, who was sitting next to me and lives upstairs, so he should know. And yes, you can take your libation out to the large veranda that is in front of the estate and have a seat and enjoy it in classic fashion.

What The Porch is, to be more specific, is an establishment that focuses mainly on, what we call today, Craft Beer. They also have a splendid wine selection that lines the entire wall of their adjacent sitting room. The really curious thing is that they always have a very knowledgeable clientele on hand. Many are locals and many more are visitors to Key West, from all over the globe, who didn’t just stumble across The Porch by accident. These people heard about it and searched it out. Personally, I find this remarkable for such a quaint little place, that only opened in July, 2010! They usually have roughly a dozen or so, craft brews on draft. How many they have in bottles, I’m not even going to guess, suffice to say it’s extraordinary. There is a chalkboard behind the bar that is jam packed with beers on hand, both from the U.S. and around the world. Bear in mind, this is Key West. We’re on the outer fringes. We’re talking the end of the line. It’s one hundred and six miles to get back to the mainland and almost one hundred and thirty to get to civilization, in the form of Florida City’s Last Chance Saloon.

Getting all of this rare beer here must have involved a lot of time and effort in logistics, which can’t be overlooked as well. Hats off to Mr. Shultz, his partners, and the distributors. The staff is exceptional as well. Very knowledgeable and well educated on the products they handle. Equally as important, it’s a fun crew setting a great atmosphere in a great place.

Here is the fascinating thing that seems to be somewhat of a byproduct of The Porch’s success. First off, the owners of The Porch have started looking into the Waterfront Market, with the intention of turning the Wyland painted building into a brew pub. Naturally, there are a lot of hurdles to clear, however it’s progressing as expected. Next, there is Krawl Off Duval, which opened a little over month ago. This is on Southard St., just a few doors east off Duval, as the name implies. Like The Porch, Krawl Off Duval focuses on craft beer. As I understand it, they are hoping to have a large selection of draft beers in the near future.

Also in the works are two more brew pubs, one on North Roosevelt and another on Eaton St. I don’t think these are too far off either. The town’s main home brewer, Jim Brady also mentioned on a KONKAM radio interview that he’s purchasing some beer equipment over on the west coast of Florida. There’s also talk of yet another craft beer establishment opening somewhere around the 600 block off Duval.

It should also be stated that Kelly’s Caribbean Restaurant has been brewing their own beer at their restaurant for at least a dozen years. Frankly however, they’ve always focused on their establishment as a restaurant, more so than a brew pub. Their beer was lacking, in my opinion, however they now have a new brewer there, so I’ll have to stop by again.

In the past, of course Key West had the Key West Brewery, which produced the famous Key West Sunset Ale and the beautiful Sunset Wheat. The brewing company closed its doors years ago, however the Melbourne Brewing Company continues brewing their beers about 330 miles north of Key West. There also used to be a brew pub on the two hundred block of Duval. However that ceased being a brew pub at least ten years ago.
However, the bottom line here is that Key West, like a wild fire, is very rapidly becoming a high quality brew town and unquestionably, The Porch has spearheaded this movement. Hats off to them!

On the musical front, Smokin Tuna is hoppin’! The bar opened a couple of months ago in the former El Alamo location, run and co-owned by former Hogsbreath manager Charlie Bauer. Charlie was there for nearly twenty years and the Hogsbreath has the most live music in town, running from noon until two am seven days a week. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but Smokin Tuna is stretching its legs bit by bit. They’ve had a good assortment of quality music acts there thus far, in the pm hours. I was fortunate enough to be invited up to play at Gary Hempsey’s birthday celebration to do a fun version of the Neville Brother’s tune “Yellow Moon”. Thank you Gary!

My friend and a major musical supporter in town, Steve Mellette, also invited me to play there on Saturday, September 24th, for the Key West Musician’s Festival. A fabulous assortment of players will be there including Bill Blue, Chris Cook, Chief Billy, Cory Hayden, Ericson Holt, George Victory, Kenny Fradley, plus a bunch more including the fabulous Deb Hudson and Joel Nelson, who both were kind enough to share their incredible talents on my new CD “Shanghai’d and Marooned in Key West (things could be worse)”. Many thanks to the Smokin Tuna and Charlie Bauer for hosting and Singing Iguana Productions for putting it together! 20% of the proceeds also go to the Sister Season Fund. Smokin Tuna is directly up the street across from Irish Keven's, at 4 Charles St. Saturday, September 24th Noon to Six PM.

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

This Isn't The Real World


Well, Labor Day Weekend is upon us. I recall up in the United States the common belief is Summer starts on Memorial day and finishes up on Labor Day. Perhaps the biggest reason I live here is my way of flipping my nose at that philosophy. My late cousin Joe Connolly used to say "There's no reason whatsoever to live in a clod climate!" and I believe he was right! So, here I am in the American Tropics, Key West.

Walking the dogs today I stopped by The Bottle Cap Lounge liquor store, outside the bar. They're great lovers of dogs there and always have treats for the dogs at the walk up window. Chuck was there and we shot the breeze while Tooloulou and Cajun enjoyed a biscuit. While chatting, Chuck used a phrase that a very sage and respected friend, Richard Van Der Mude has used from time to time when describing Key West and the Conch Republic as a whole. When talking about why we live here, he explained "This is not the real world".

A more true statement couldn't have been made. This is a main reason that when visitors come, after they leave, they have to come back. This is why those of us who live here, likewise feel the invisible magnetic draw to return as soon as possible.

I wouldn't dream of arguing that places such as The Grand Canyon, or NYC, or Cape Cod, The Great Lakes, Texas, California.. I could go on, but I wouldn't argue that any of these places are just wonderful places. However, they are The Real World and that's perhaps the most rudimentary difference between Key West and everywhere else. Living in the Conch Republic is almost akin to living in some sort of cartoon world. Yes, the laws of physics still apply here. If someone visiting gets so drunk that they fall down face first on the concrete, they're going to get hurt. The hospital here actually opens up an entire wing for tourist season. Likewise, if a group of visiting tourists rent a fleet of scooters and ride down the street all grinning like Alfred E. Newman honking their horns, guess what? They are still a bunch of jackasses.

However, down here is still a completely different mentality than anywhere else, not only in the U.S., but in the world. People realize it as well. Everyone's mindset changes when they get to the Keys. More time than not, they subconsciously realize that they are no longer in the real world. This is why everyone wants to come back, because this is not the Real World.


A great surprise this month over at The Key West Bait Shop's Live Bait Lounge this month. Every month they have their Beer of The Month and this month they featured "Casa Beer" from Casablanca, Morocco. As the sporting sort, I gave it a try, expecting it to fall on the 3, maybe 4 range of the 1- 10 scale. Surprise! Easily a 7+ and a perfect beer for a hot, summer day. Absolutely stunning label as well. Bottle and label rating is a solid 10. It's absolutely stunning, emitting style and design that captures it's origin perfectly. The Key West Bait and Tackle is located right at Land's End, which also hosts Turtle Kraals and The Raw Bar. Proprietors Chris or Joe are always there and Beccy is usually behind the bar. Stop by for a beer! ... Oh, they have all of your fishing requirements too! :-)

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

New Stuff!




Well, well, well... been too long! I guess I've been busy! Or a bit indolent.. at least as far as the blog goes, so my apologies. Lets see going over everything in these last months would just take way, way too long! But here are the high lights!

The CD/Album is finished, out and available! Available through me, or CD Baby, itunes, or CD Universe. The CD's name is "Shanghai'd and Marooned in Key West (things could be worse)" . You can look it up under that name, or just put in "Key West Chris", that's a lot quicker and easier. Eighteen of Key West's finest musicians kicking ass on ten songs!

Also!!! Website is up as of TODAY!!! Still growing, but we are blazing new trails in CD/Albums and Websites that have never been done before. Check it out! We still have loads of room to grow and expand too!

http://keywestchris.com/

Conch Rock also now has an insignia,which you would have noticed at the top of the page, done by local artist Abigail White, plus we have a back up by Artist Koz.

Off to bed now, but soon to follow in a couple of days with more exciting happenings from Key West!!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Key West and Havana, Cuba




Back around 1994 I's say, I was living in Miami and read a fascinating story in New Times, about a sailboat, I believe it was, that would take passengers from Key West, to Marina Hemingway, in Havana, Cuba. I found this incredible and went so far as to mail the article to a friend of mine who had a 38ft. sailboat, suggesting he do it to. My friend, Rick, thought I was daft, regretfully and never took me up on the idea. More regretful than that, was that I never pulled the trigger myself and came down to Key West to cruise, if I could, even in steerage if need be and see the forbidden isle of tobacco, sugarcane, and my all-time favorite, all things Hemingway. When I finally did move here I searched it out, but apparently it fell by the wayside/quayside somewhere in between.

I posted an old picture postcard from the Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Havana (This is the bar that Joe Russell named his bar after in Key West) on my facebook page and learned quite a bit more, thanks to replies by Bill Blue and underlined by Pati Crimmons, there were also Key West – Havana fishing tournaments, as well as a sailboat race. In my foggy memory of the New Times piece from the mid-nineties, I’m thinking that the sailboat race may have spawned the idea for the passenger sails. It rings a vague bell. Bill mentioned that his friend won it one year and the dolphin he caught hangs at Sloppy Joe’s bar. Both the sailboat race and the fishing tournament have since also fallen by the wayside/quayside as well.

The thing that started all of this posting was a conversation with my friend Mike Del Portillo, who lives in Texas, but was born and raised in Miami, albeit conceived in Cuba. He sent me an e-mail about an enterprise resort he wanted to start in a Free Cuba. That’s what harvested the old memories of the New Times piece. Then, by funny chance, the very next day I stumble across a piece about President Obama relaxing a couple of regulations regarding Americans traveling to Cuba. Nothing major, mind you, but a step in the right direction, in my opinion. The new rules allow students and religious groups to visit Cuba.

Well, all of this got the grey matter churning. Here we are, while it’s still bubbling away and far from a complete idea, this is what I’ve come up with thus far. The sailboat race is educational for many on board. A trip to Cuba is educational for any American on board, therefore, all classify as “Students”. In addition, if Scientology can actually get away with passing itself off as a religion in the eyes of the IRS, a government institution if there ever was one, can’t fishing do likewise? If you have any doubts, just listen to The Conch Republic’s own Mike McCloud and his song “Fishing Fool” and any argument against it will quickly be put to rest.

So, we re-instate both the fishing tournament and the sailboat race as a start. Perhaps a Hemingway tour can be added in the near future as well? After all, companies from The United States of America recently restored Ernest Hemingway’s boat, Pilar and also his home in Cojimar, just outside of Havana, Finca Vigia. Additionally, what would a Hemingway trip to Cuba be without a stop or few to La Floridita Bar? This was his favorite hangout and also where the Daiquiri was invented. The last I heard, the Sloppy Joe’s in Havana was being restored, so naturally that would be part of the educational student tour as well.
In times like these we also will require alternative methods to facilitate the modus operandi. My suggestion is that all traveling to Cuba, at this time, can only do so through the Conch Republic. In leaving from the Conch Republic, all traveling must have an official Conch Republic passport that must be stamped and logged by U.S. Immigration on both departure and return. A US passport must also be carried, however it will not be stamped by either US or Cuban immigration. All people traveling on these trips must be US Citizens. http://conchrepublic.com/



This is where we are at the moment. Any suggestions please e-mail to:

keywesthavana@gmail.com


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