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Monday, April 30, 2012

Three Sailing events in one week! Many Captains!, Plus Intro to The Key West Songwriter's Festival 2012

SUNSET SAIL Photobucket ^ Listen to “Sailing” while you read the Blog!^ What a great week on the water, here in beautiful Key West! I am truly blessed with great friends who own boats! On the 25th, Captain Larry Poff and his able mate Michelle Dougan, hot off of their two month sail to the Bahamas, took a group of us out for a late afternoon sunset sail aboard his Morgan 41 sailboat Transition. There’s really something that is so relaxing and fulfilling about being on a sailboat. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy powerboats as well; however a sailboat is so peaceful, cutting through the waves using only the wind. It’s a very natural experience. Also, one can’t help both admire the expertise of the captains involved. Sailing may be fun, but it’s also work that requires a great knowledge of the sea, the wind, and how to deal with both in a million different circumstances. When I was young my dad had a sailboat; a Kells 24, I believe it was. The Lilly M, named after my mom. He always told me “Aboard a boat, there can only be one captain” . Aboard Transition, Captain Larry Poff is the undisputed captain. On his way back from the Bahamas Larry ran into a storm between Bimini and Florida which has sustained winds of 60 knots (65mph/106kph). He got back safe and sound. That says it all for me. Nature doesn’t wait for you, so If Larry says “jump”, I say “how high?”. The sail that night was superb. Beautiful sunset as well! I tried to film it for the blog, but fellow passenger Pat (Paddy) Lynch kept busting my chops about throwing me in. I was laughing my ass off. Then he started making noises like he was getting sick… then he actually DID start to get sick! Oh The Humanity! The Battle Photobucket Collage photos by Rachel Siegel! Thanks Rachel! A Couple of days later I was aboard Aurora, for the Conch Republic 30th anniversary battle re-enactment, also known as “The Bloody Battle. It’s theConch Republic Navy, Air Force, and Army vs the Coast Guard. The invitation came weeks earlier from Captain Blackheart Charlie and Rachel Siegel. Some may know Blackheart and Rachel from the cover of my CD “Shanghai’d and Marooned in Key West (things could be worse)” Blackheart and Rachel are the two pirates on the right of the CD cover picture dragging me into Captain Tony’s Saloon…. Hum.. There are a lot of Captains in this blog, huh? I arrived at the dock prepared and met with the rest of the crew, which consisted of Captain Wasabi and his wife Captain Kristie “Mamasabi” Metcalf. Also aboard were Sandy Martin Layfield and Venessa. Captain Blackheart called a meeting before we left port explaining the hazards involved and how to handle them aboard Aurora. Safety issues. Very important on a boat indeed! Also discussed were the rules of engagement; what can and can’t be used as weapons. We arrived at the area where the battle was to take place (in front of Mallory Square) and eventually the other boats involved arrived as well, including USCG cutter Sawfish. We all did an inline parade past the dock at Mallory, then turned around. The Sawfish (the opposition) pulled up next to us and we opened up on each other. We had two very good, strong hoses. The Sawfish had at least six, maybe eight. It seemed like forever while the Sawfish and the CRS (Conch Republic Ship)Aurora were engaged, but we never gave up. At one point at least three of Sawfish’s hoses were trained specifically on me. After what seemed like an eternity, it got to the point that I couldn’t breathe and I handed my hose over to Captain Wasabi, who continued to fight on. Finally, other ships of the Conch Republic came and also took on the cutter. Meanwhile, from the air the cutter was bombed with toilet paper by the Conch Republic Air Force, while shore batteries of about five mortars and cannon blasted away with black powder. Eventually, after about an hour, the Sawfish retreated back to it’s dock at Trumbo Point and the Conch Republic Navy started hosing itself. I must say that the crewman on the Appledore was the one I had the most admiration for. They only had one weak hose and he attempted to give us a go with it. Wasabi and I both trained our hoses on him. The guy wouldn’t give up. He just stood there with his weak hose and we blasted him forever. Hats off to that “Never Say Die” Crewmember of the Appledore! In the end it was a great fight and we all ended up at Schooner Wharf at 7:30 for the surrender. On stage the Conch Republic Navy accepted the Sawfish’s surrender and invited the captain and crew to join the Conch Republic Navy, which they did. The only poor thing about it all was the sound system at the surrender ceremony. You couldn’t hear a thing they were saying. Sir Peter Anderson came across like a champion; however everyone else might as well have been speaking without a PA at all. You couldn’t hear a thing. I was going to video it, but it was useless. Later, my pals in “Captains of the Devil’s Triangle”got up to sing some pirate songs, and it was the same issue with them. Nonetheless, it was a great time indeed! A very big thanks to Balckheart Charlie and Rachel Siegel for having me as part of the crew! Long Live The Conch Republic! (Note: Because of the poor quality of this year’s ceremony I’m using the video from 2010 which is audible) Sunday was the Wrecker’s Race. Back aboard Transition, with Captain Larry and Michelle. This was the last of this year’s Wrecker’s Races, as they are held on the last Sundays of January, February, March, and April. We were in the January event, however with Larry and Michelle in the Bahamas in February and March, we kind of book eneded the event. What a great time, as always though! This time the sea was a bit rough. We also had some squalls around in the area, which Captain Larry expertly managed to avoid. Despite all the rough seas, no one fell overboard however! :-)On board Jeep Caillouet coined the word of the day: "Spinnaker". At the awards ceremony, the same issue plagued the those on stage as did the night before; You couldn’t hear anything. Someone seriously needs to tweek the mics for events like this at Schooner's. I'd be happy to lend a hand. Wrecker’s Race: KEY WEST SONGWRITER’S FEST The Key West Songwriter’s Festival starts on Wednesday, May 2 and runs through Sunday, May 6th. I’m thrilled to be in it and will be playing on stage with none other than Misty Loggins! We’ll hit the stage on Friday, May 4th at 1PM at the Best Western Key Ambassador , which is by the airport on S. Roosevelt. About 140 Songwriters, most of who are in from Nashville, will descend on Key West. The vast majority of gigs around town are free. Only the ones at The San Carlos Institute, The Tropic Cinema, The Studios of Key West, and the Sunset Sails are charge events. All of the rest are free! That’s over thirty locations, hosting multiple events each! This is the largest and most important musical event in Key West every year. Additionally, virtually every music exec, producer, promoter, and publisher based in Nashville will be in town along with the songwriters! It’s going to be a BLAST!!! Buckle your seatbelts! Check the link! 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

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Best Live Bar CD Ever Made, Keys Tranquility,Shot Doctor, Key West - World Economic Barometer??? ,

Photobucket ^Listen to Dildo Key (it’s a REAL Key! See note at end of this blog) by Key West Chris, Featuring Barry Cuda on piano^ In 1999 I was writing for a music magazine called “Southeast Performer” and I reported on the music happenings in South Florida. This included Broward, Dade, and Monroe Counties (Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, and the Keys). I lived at that time in a town called Perrine, which became Palmetto Bay while I was there. It was fun reporting on the Keys, as it killed two birds with one stone: One was reporting and the other was the fabulous excuse of going to the Keys! The Keys weren’t that far either. Key Largo was only a 35 minute drive. Interestingly enough, I considered The Caribbean Club my local bar! To this day it ranks in my book as one of the top three bars in all of the world (there is no sole #1). I did several excursions to Key West, of course. After all, Key West is literally a music mecca for live music! How many times have I reported in this blog of friends visiting and being completely blown away about the live music scene here? It’s non-stop! . Well, I had come down to Key West in 1999 and caught Barry Cuda and the Sharks, who were playing at Sloppy Joe’s that day. Barry Cuda, “The Pianamal”, playing on his upright piano, complete with big rubber tires so he can roll it gig to gig, Steve Mello on drums, and Chief Billy on upright bass and harmonica. That was the Sharks. They had always been a favorite of mine down here. On this occasion however, they had just released a brand new live CD, “Fish Nuts”, recorded around the corner at B.O’s Fish Wagon by Dan Simpson. It goes without saying, I bought it. . After getting back home I popped it in the CD player (didn’t have one in the car back then) and immediately fell in love with it! Many people will rightfully say that The Allman Brothers Band’s Live at The Filmore East is the best live concert ever recorded in the history of Rock. It set entirely new standards on so many different levels. I will concur with them. However, what I found with Barry Cuda and the Sharks album “Fish Nuts”, back in 1999, was that this recording was the finest live bar album ever made. So, here we are in 2012, thirteen years later, and I can safely say that it remains the finest live BAR album ever made in the history of recording. Nothing comes remotely close. What makes “Fish Nuts” so exceptional is a combination of things. To begin with, it’s the band, of course. Barry Cuda and the Sharks were the ideal bar band to begin with. They were very, very good for starters, yet at the same time, quite loose. Literally anything could happen off the cuff, at one of their gigs! Secondly, the location, B.O.’s Fish Wagon, that ramshackle shack with a corrugated metal roof, no walls and lobster pots, fishing nets and marker buoys draping the place, is the ideal motif to set a backdrop for Barry Cuda and the Sharks loose cadence. Additionally, at B.O.’s there is no stage, per say. There’s a part of the joint (and a ”joint” is the best description of the place, if there ever was one) where the band sets up, however it’s right in the middle of the place with tables all around. The looseness of the place fit’s the looseness of the band. It’s very common to see a patron walk right past ‘Cuda and say something to him in the middle of a song. So the audience is a very active participant in any of Cuda’s gigs there, “Fish Nuts” being no exception and no doubt a key reason that recording came out so well. Several guest musicians sit in on various songs as well. As I stated thirteen years ago, if any performer wants to learn how to do a live bar gig, this is the example. Likewise, if anyone wants to have an example of what a real Keys gig is, this is it! I would play this CD at parties I threw and everyone there would always ask “What IS this??? This is fantastic!”. Barry Cuda has changed the name of the band to “Bong Hits For Geezers”, although they still use “Barry Cuda and the Sharks” for corporate gigs. Richard Crooks is now on drums and you’ll still find Chief Billy at some of the gigs as well. Kenny Fradley is there on Trumpet and Flugelhorn as well. Additionally, they play around town, but you can always catch them on Fridays at B.O.’s Fish Wagon, from 6- 9. Buy it at “Barry Cuda and the Sharks – Fish Nuts – The best live bar album ever made in the history of recorded music, bar none!” KWCR The Shot Doctor, Scott Alan was in town for a few days and stayed at the place. We had a great time together and look forward to his return. His Shot Doctor was a major hit with the Spring Breakers, as you can imagine! I spent a couple of days at my friends, Rich and Cindi Hogan’s, up in Cudjoe Key, again this last week. Jeff Jackson and I drove up. It’s a completely different perspective there. The reality is, Key West is the big city as far as the Keys go anyway. I find it funny when I meet folks from out of town who say “It’s so laid back here!” referring to Key West. I suppose from their perspective it is. Hanging out with Rick and Cindi really is what I call “Keys laid back”. Everything is quiet, for one. Peace and tranquility abide on the other Keys. I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone coming to the Keys, to spend a day or two, at least in some of the other Keys. Additionally, every Key is different from the other and has it’s own personality. I keep talking about doing a bus tour of say 45 people, or so of the Keys stopping in maybe two Keys overnight on the way to Key West, a day or two here, then two more on the way back… Maybe three or four performers… Hummmm! Photobucket Key West has been having a superb season this year. It was only this week that I actually passed a B&B that had a sign out that said “Vacancy”. It actually caught my eye. I mean, there was a vacancy sign! I haven’t seen that all season! The town’s been packed and everyone seems to be doing well because of it. Spring break just ended and that was bumper to bumper for the month of March. I’ve also had friends from out of town throughout the season calling to see if I knew of any hotels, B&Bs, ex. That had rooms available. With all the economic sad news we’ve been hearing, I’m hoping that Key West is a barometer for the coming year for the rest of the world. Imagine that, The Conch Republic being gauged as world barometer for the economic outlook. HA HA HA HA! Photobucket Note on the song Dildo Key at the top of this week’s blog: I was looking at a soundings chart ( a road map for sailors) several years back of the upper Keys, when my eyes popped out. I cleared them, however I was still seeing the same thing. There, plain as day, six and a half miles south/south east of Flamingo was an island named “Dildo Key”… right next to it was.. Johnson Key..No fooling! Naturally, I had to write a song about it! I mean seriously, how couldn’t I? Here’s a copy of it, just so you know I’m not pulling your leg! Longitude: -80.8736809 Latitude: 25.0404059 Photobucket 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