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Friday, November 11, 2011

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.

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.

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!


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

Also available at iTunes. Search: Key West Chris

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