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Friday, March 16, 2012



^ "Seaplane" played at the Key West Songwriter's Festival^

I recall visiting Key West and when the American Eagle turbo props flew over, I would joke to my friends “Oh! That’s the plane from Lisbon”, a joking reference to the movie “Casablanca” where it was the quest of all in Casablanca to be on that plane. Of course, in Casablanca everyone wanted to be on the plane leaving, where in Key West, everyone wants to be on the plane arriving! That joke hasn’t worn out and I use it to this day, since I moved here. Oh sure, we can all arrive on a jet, but coming into a tropical island with the historic significance of Key West, it’s just so much more romantic to fly in on a prop plane! From Miami International Airport, the flight is just under an hour and the flight over the Keys is astronomically beautiful. I dare anyone to try counting the islands!

Regretfully however, American Eagle will no longer be flying their ATR 72 prop jets into Key West as of April 5th 2012 and have terminated their leases on them. This is a sad day both in aviation, as well as Key West. From now on, the basic connecting shuttle flights from Miami or Ft. Lauderdale will be conventional, commercial small jets.

The Chalk’s Airlines used to fly their seaplanes in from Miami’s Watson Island, on Biscayne Bay as well as also to the Bahamas, however that stopped when the company ceased operations a few years ago. It was a regretful point in history when the Gruman Mallard and Albatrosses of Chalk’s ceased their seaplane activity. Seaplanes would be a fantastic endeavor for a Key West shuttle airline, especially now with the economy on the upswing. Key West is having it’s strongest showing of visitors in years, btw!

Key West currently has a tour seaplane which goes to Ft. Jefferson, in the Dry Tortugas. I have yet to go on this tour, however it certainly looks like a lot of fun!

For information on the flights check out:

There is an adequate market for air service throughout the Caribbean for a seaplane airline. Obviously we’re not talking about an economy flight, however the market is certainly there. This year Key West is having it's strongest year of tourists and visitors in years. In addition, Antilles Seaplanes, based in North Carolina, are now building brand new, completely updated versions of the Gruman G-21 Goose in turbo prop form, which they call The Antilles G-21 Super Goose. The basic overall design is identical to the original Gruman aircraft, albeit with modifications made over the years and state of the art aeronautics, and also the aforementioned turbo props which replace the radial piston engines. It covers all the bases as well. This is not a restored, or refurbished aircraft. What we're looking at is a classic design, yet at the same time a brand new aircraft which seats ten. This is clearly the ideal aircraft for the endeavor!


Of course Key West would also be the perfect place to base such an air service out of. With the rich history of the G-21 itself, basing it in a historic city only makes sense, especially with perfect access to the Caribbean. Again, speaking of history, let’s not forget that Pan Am started off in Key West with seaplane service to Havana. Their original building is on the corner of Whitehead and Caroline St. and today is Kelly’s Caribbean Restaurant and Brewery. And who knows? Maybe in the not too distant future air service for all can be resumed to Cuba?

For information on the Antilles G21 Super Goose, stop by their website:

All Photos of the Antilles G21 Super Goose curtisy of Antilles Seaplanes


Beautiful Artwork of the seaplane landing in Key West by David Harrison Wright

Be sure to check out his sight!

Key West Chris' music is available for download at iTunes,CD Baby,CD Universe, Rhapsody, Beachfront Radio, and for physical copy at Green World Gallery, The Cork and Stogie, and Key West Bait and Tackle

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Open Mics/Open Jams & Yea Mon Cruise lands in Key West


^Listen to the demo of “Titusville!”* while you read the blog!^
*BMI, McClure and Trowbridge Publishing, Nashville…. Acoustic and electric Guitars: Chris Rehm, vocals: Chris Rehm/Bass and Drums: Nick Jason. One day I’ll cut a proper version!

A preface: Open Mics and Open Jams are two names for the same thing. The first one I attended was called an Open Mic, so for simplicities sake, I’ll use that term henceforth in the blog, though either is common and accepted.

Open Mics are one of the best ways to play music, have fun, and meet like-minded people. You don’t have to be a musician to go either. I recall back in 1995, I met my friend Charlie Rathburn, who was playing at a place in Miami called “Chubby’s Bar B Que”, right across the street from The Falls. It was a spur of the moment, and impulsive move. My cousin Joe”Joco/Jombo/”Connolly suggested we forsake our usual weekly spot and try something new, “Chubby’s”. Charlie was playing there and sat down next to us at the bar for his break. After finding out I was a guitar player, he suggested I come to the open mic they had there on Tuesday nights by saying “Look, I don’t know how good you are, but I can promise you this: There will be people better than you and people worse than you. Nobody’s judging you, we’re all just having a good time”. Charlie was right too! I’ll be eternally grateful to him for that too. I ended up addicted to it and also ended up as lead guitarist in owner Glen Strong’s house band “The Chubby’s Bar B. Qued Band”… without doubt, one of the most insane, off the wall country bands that ever existed! A few weeks after that, I was invited to play in Deny Rowand’s fabulous band, “Outa D’ Blues”, which worked out fantastic, as the two bands played on different nights! I wouldn’t have been in those bands, or gotten back into music if it wasn’t for Charlie convincing me to go to that open mic. Additionally, because of going to that open mic, I also got back into songwriting and completed my first song in years, “Titusville”, which begot me a publishing deal in Nashville. BTW, the most famous open mic is in Nashville, at a little place called “The Bluebird Café”. A LOT of Country artists were discovered there.

From that point on, I searched out open mics. I’ve gained lifelong friends for which I’m eternally blessed. Half the people were musicians and the other half people who loved music. Every open mic is different too. I attended two in Tampa, yeas back. One was in a quiet, little coffee house, where everyone sat on couches to listen and play soft acoustic. The other was in a bar called The Corsair. It had a lingerie show beforehand and had a fantastic blues band that backed up whoever was on stage for the open mic.

When I first came to Key West four years ago, naturally I searched the Open Mics out. Having found a few that died out pretty quickly, I heard about one just starting up at Harpoon Harry’s on Monday nights. It was run by Easy Ed and was a great time… and still is, though Easy Ed stepped aside maybe nine months ago. Harpoon Harry’s is on Caroline Street, across from the Waterfront Markey/Brewery. The food is suicide at night. Completely unhealthy stuff.. (Breakfast and lunch are great though!!!).. to the point that one performer actually wrote a hysterical song “They’re Trying To Kill Me Down At Harpoon Harry’s Bar”. On top of that, their TV’s always have on Fox with commentators like Bill O’Reilly. Imagine the political mindset of A) Key West and B) Songwriters and musicians… and they have Bill O’Reilly on??? Go figure? They’d be much better running cartoons! Seriously. Their saving grace however, is that they have a good staff and the open mic is fantastic, plus they have a full bar. In the first two years, they had someone new stop by and play every week. Some were traveling through, others just stopping by to play. Sometimes people will sit in with the players, other times they won’t. The musicians and staff create a great atmosphere and it’s always a great time. This open mic has a signup list and starts at 7 and goes to 10 every Monday evening.

Local performers Larry Baeder and Dora Gholson started their open mic on the rooftop bar of The Rum Barrel, on Front Street about a year ago. Theirs is the type where, for the most part, players have various musicians sit in on their set. You might go one night and have a bass player, keyboards, and a trumpet and the following week you might have a sax player. Larry’s always there to help out on guitar as well … and Larry’s been around the country for thirty years playing with everyone! The Rum Barrel has great food and a full bar as well. Larry and Dora kick it off at 7 and it goes until about 11, sometimes later. Great times on the rooftop of the Rum Barrel Thursday nights! No sign up list, just touch base with Larry. He’s really good at knowing who’s there and getting people up.

“Popeye” Dan Cunard just started an open Jam at Bobalu’s, on Southard St., right next to The Green Parrot. Thus far they’ve only had two, but it’s been a great success in the early going. Popeye’s is on Tuesday’s and starts at 7 and goes until 11. Check with Popeye when you get there so you can play. Great time, great atmosphere.

Like anything in the music/bar business, when the first gig is played, the time clock starts ticking. Sooner or later it ends. Some end sooner than later. I recall one that was on here, the guy who ran it didn’t have a signup sheet, couldn’t keep track of who came in, and if his friends came in, he’d scoot them in in front of everyone else who were waiting.. and buying drinks and meals waiting to play. He couldn’t figure out why people were getting upset. Nice guy and a great player, just organizing an open mic really isn’t his forte. That fell by the wayside.
Someone mentioned that there is another starting at Grunts, just off Whithead on Caroline St. Haven’t heard much more about it yet however.

There used to be an open mic at Sippin’, a coffee shop on Eaton St, just west of Duval on Sunday nights. It was acoustic based and also had poetry reading. It’s been a while since I was there, so I’m not certain if it’s still up.

I was fortunate enough to be involved in the Beachfront Radio’s Yea Mon Cruise 2012, when it made Key West it’s port of call! The cruise ship rolled into Key West from Ft. Lauderdale at 8am and my gig was at Artist Koz’ Green World Gallery at 712 Duval, for the kick off! What a great time! Artist Koz, quite often has musical artists play at his gallery and I’ve been fortunate enough to have played there before! This was a bit different, as it was a morning gig and cruise that Beachfront Radio had rolled into its first stop, Key West, Monday morning. A good amount of folks from the cruise headed to Green World Gallery, right off the ship! We had a great time at Green World Gallery. I played for over an hour then was relieved by Gary Phillips, then after that by Jimmy Jr. Hal, and Mark of Jimmy and the Parrots, who were the host band on the cruise. After that, everyone headed up to Smokin’ Tuna, where Jimmy and the Parrots (This time including Jimmy Sr.) took the stage. They also had Howard Livingston on the bill as well… towards the end I was up with all of them singing Jimmy Buffett songs, as well as Marshall Tucker’s “Can’t You See?”. A great time was had by all and a big thanks to Artist Koz, and his wife Pam Campbell of Green World Gallery, Captain Cali and Jeff Allen, of Beachfront Radio, Jimmy and the Parrots, Howard and Cindy Livingston, and Charlie Bauer of Smokin’ Tuna.


Friday, March 2, 2012



^listen to Misty Loggins singing Island Blue while you read the blog!^


Hey everyone! Been away from the blog for February, so I apologize! I had a fun helicopter ride to Miami and a day and a half stay at the hospital. Regretfully, they didn’t stay to fly me home, but my friend George Ardito drove me from Miami Beach to the Caribbean Club in Key Largo, where my friend Cindi Hogan picked me up and drove me to her and her husband Rick’s place in Cudjoe Key. I spent the rest of the weekend there with the two of them and a pack of dogs, which now also compromised of Cajun and Tooloulou, whom Cindi took care of while I was away. Big thank you to them for that and also to my friend Nina Locardi, who drove up from Key Large (100 miles) to rescue them and bring them to Cindi and Rick’s.

It was a good opportunity to get out of Key West and see some of the other Keys. A funny thing about the keys is that if you’re only five miles from Mile Zero, on Stock Island, or 107 miles up at Gilbert’s Resort in Key Largo, if you’re going “into town”, you’re going to Key West. Mind you, there are towns in the Keys, such as, Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Sugarloaf… ex., However, while there are these towns which are indeed incorporated towns, none have a “town”, per say. Yes, they have a stretch of commerce along Overseas Highway, but no real downtown areas.
Key West is the downtown of the Keys. Having said that, getting off of Key West and getting to some of the other Keys, is a true pleasure. For Conch Republic residents, Key West is the hustle and bustle. Get out of Key West and it’s the true definition of the term “Laid Back”. In Key West, everybody’s doing something. Going to the Southernmost Point, Bar Hopping, taking a Conch Train or a Trolley tour, sightseeing.. ex.

On the other Keys it’s just … quiet, peaceful, and tranquil. When Cindi stopped at the Caribbean Club to pick me up, I had been there for a few hours. Just hanging out I got to see the flock of wild parrots, Conyers I believe them to be, that stop by late in the afternoon. I gazed out at the dock, where generations of docks ago, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Becall became friendly while filming the movie “Key Largo”. The dock sits in Blackwater Sound, where you will see the most outstanding sunsets.

Waking up the next morning in Cudjoe was a different world from Key West. There was not a sound around. The dock was peaceful and the water of Cudjoe Bay was tranquil. I couldn’t help but admire life off of Key West in the Keys. The thought of organizing a bus tour of the Keys came back into my brain. It’s one I’ve had before. A tour that would take a group of folks up the Keys from Key Largo to Key West, stopping at maybe two or three stops along the way, for an overnight stay, live music, good food, and a great time. It seriously would be worth it!

Michelle Dougan and Larry Poff stopped by Cindi and Rick’s on Saturday evening and Rick had a bonfire party! A fantastic dinner was cooked by Rick and Michelle cut my hair… which was way overdue. Later, I fell asleep and Cindi dressed me up in scallop shell bra, a silly cowboy hat and a shamrock on my crotch..and took a picture.. naturally! Who wouldn’t? HA HA HA!

On the music front, I’m thrilled to announce that my single “Island Blue”, sung by the marvelous Misty Loggins, hit #1 for the week last week at Island Dreamz, up in NewYork!!!! What a thrill! Thanks to all of the listeners there and Big Ed!

Additionally, the song is getting lots of air time with Trop Rock 1290 up in the Florida Panhandle. A Big thanks to them and Steven Youngblood.

Island Time Radio, up in northern Ohio has likewise had it on their play list.. Thanks to Dennis King (DK) and Amo Bennet!

Radio Gruenstadt, in Gruenstadt, Germany is also it! :-O

And finally, Beachfront Radio has also been airing it as well! Being as the song will be on the next CD of mine, “All the Best from Key West” and that’s a bit off time wise, we’re making the song available on Beachfront’s music hut shortly. It will be originally either as a single at $.99 or together with “Shanghai’d and Marooned in Key West (Things Could Be Worse)”. Thanks Jeff and Captain Cali!

By the way, that's Misty on the cover shot for the blog, up top!

Life is good and getting better!

Anyone traveling to Key West specifically should really look into the Key West Bar Card and the Key West Restaurant Card. The Bar card cost is $20 and will give you buy one drink get the second one free at a rate of one use per hour. With that in mind, the card will pay for itself in the first day at the rate people in Key West drink! There are eleven bars that participate in the program:
Schooner Wharf, Blue Mojito@ Hyatt Resort, 801 Bourbon Bar, The Bottlecap and Groove Lounge, The Stoned Crab, JDL’s Big Ten Pub, Pearl’s Patio, The Rooftop Café, Aqua, Sweet Tea’s, and McConnell’s. This is good for the card holder only, so if you are traveling with friends, they have to likewise get their own card. The Key West Bar Card runs from January 1st 2012 to December 31st, 2012.

The Key West Restaurant Card works along a similar idea, however the execution is a bit different on both ends. The Restaurant Card will give you 10% off your meal and will set you back $10, which covers you from January 1st, 2012 to December 31st, 2012. Participating Restaurants are: Hogfish Bar & Grill, Santiago’s Bodega, The Roof Top Café, Mangia Mangia, Harbourview Café at the Pierhouse, Camille’s, JDL’s Big Ten Pub, The Creperie, Flaming Bouy Filet Co., The Stoned Crab, Bobalu’s, D.J.’s Clam Shack, and Croisants de France.

The Website below will tell you the many places the cards can be obtained.