FANTASY FEST, MOTM, and TIPPING/GRATUITY
^ Listen to “Key West Blues” featuring the Key West Junkanoos, who were recorded LIVE in the Goombay Festival parade!!! ^
Fantasy Fest is rapidly approaching. Buckle your seat belts and hang on. This year’s theme is “Aconchalypse” is this year’s theme, in recognition of the Mayan prediction for the end of the world coming in December.
Fantasy Fest is far and away, the wildest celebration in the United States and quite possibly, the world. Fantasy Fest is a ten day festival which actually starts with the Goombay Festival. The African American population in Key West, by and large traces their roots to the Bahamas (likewise in Miami who also have a Goombay Festival) and that is where the Goombay Festival originates. The Goombay Festival includes a parade with the Key West Junkanoos, a Key West Bahamian Street band consisting of many drums, often brass instruments, and always very colorful costumes. This parade is a MUST see! They start on Whitehead St (just a few doors up from my place) at the corner of Whitehead and Truman. They head up Truman, then down Duval to Petronia St., where they turn left and go to the end, where a concert is held.
At night the place to be is the Blue Heaven restaurant where a smaller ensemble of Junkanoos play on the water tower. Regretfully, in the last two years the establishment across the street from Blue Heaven has been blaring their “music” to the point that the Junkanoos over at Blue Heaven, are all but drowned out. Hopefully this year they’ll be more respectful. Everyone can enjoy their music without being oppressive on others.
The Goombay Festival starts on Friday and on Saturday it’s basically a street food festival with food from the Caribbean and South America. Sunday a few things start hopping on Fantasy Fest and Monday they close Greene St in front of Captain Tony’s after six. As the week continues, the festivities continue down Duval St, which is likewise closed. Different bars have different parties. There’s a plaid party at Captain Tony’s, where everyone wears plaid. Finnegan’s Wake has a green party; Sloppy Joe’s has a toga party. Kelly’s has … a wild party, while The Green Parrot usually has The Russian Elvises playing. These parties are held throughout the week, so the revelers go to one party one night and another party the next.
Body paint is considered clothing, indecently. Because of this, nudity is not uncommon at all, some to more degrees than others. The funny thing is that everyone is very, very respectful during Fantasy Fest. If you want to take a picture of a girl in body paint, you simply ask and the answer is inevitably, “yes!”.
The Fantasy Fest parade is always held on the last Saturday of the month. On this day, 90,000+ have gradually arrived on the island over the week and the parade of over fifty floats rolls from the Truman Waterfront, up Southard St., down Whitehead St, across Front St, and down Duval to its culmination at United St.
I could go on for hours and hours, but if anyone wants to see Key West, Key West’s absolute panicle is Fantasy Fest. Often the visitors of other festivals held here come and think they are really getting wild. Nothing comes remotely close. Nothing. It’s akin to winning at a little slot machine, verses breaking the bank in Monte Carlo!
Here I’m posting some pictures from years past and be rest assured, we’ll have more from this year’s as well!
MOTM is also coming to Key West again, officially from Wednesday, October 31st to Sunday, November 4th. Unofficially of course, it starts on Monday, October 29th. The official event is held at the Casa Marina, with very, very few minor exceptions. What baffles me is that there are people who actually go to “The Casa”, as it’s known locally, and never leave! Really? What’s the point of coming to Key West? I can see staying there as a hotel and perhaps seeing some of the events, but actually staying there full time… why bother coming to Key West in the first place?
Fact of the matter is, Key West is hopping all over town with trop rock events everywhere. Plus, this is KEY WEST, not main street U.S.A. How many times when I was working in the gallery when I first got here, did I say to people visiting “You know? This is a different country” and EVERY ONE AGREED! “It really IS!!” All in all, there will be about 6,000 visitors to Key West for the MOTM related festivities. For those of us who are locals, this always pales in reference to the ten days of Fantasy Fest, which directly precedes it, where 90,000 + descend on our fair island hamlet, often with revelers dressed in outlandish costumes, or less. After that extravaganza, anything would pale beside it. However, it’s a very nice break at the same time.
Key West is an interesting enigma. On the one hand it’s considered Mecca for the Trop Rock world, on the other hand there’s really not all that much Trop Rock that goes on here the other 51 weeks of the year. Willie T’s will have Trop Rock artists for maybe half the month, albeit on one of their three shifts, the other two shifts being a rock set of one nature, or another. Schooner Wharf might have a Trop Rock band in about once every six to eight weeks. Having said that, they DO have Michael McCloud there every Wednesday through Sunday in the afternoon. Margaritaville always has Trop Rock acts in, however who wants to go to Margaritaville? It’s a tourist trap, no different than Sloppy Joe’s, or the most obnoxious bar on the island, Irish Kevin’s, which is geared to the 21 - 30 year old crowd anyway.
An excellent bar is Smokin’ Tuna Saloon. Smokin’ Tuna will often find Scott Kirby playing there, as well as the occasional Trop Rock performer, during an event or a promotion. Also, maybe once a month or so The Hog’s Breath Saloon will feature a Trop Rock performer on one of their sets. Again, like ‘Tuna, during events such as MOTM, they’ll load up.
This year I will be hosting an event “Tropical Songwriters in Paradise”, which will be held at “T’s Bistro and Bar” at 1114 Duval. Thursday, November 1st! There is no cover charge!!! (any place that has a cover charge, excluding cruises, avoid. 51 weeks a year cover charges do not exist in Key West, so don’t allow someone to treat you like the village idiot, just because you’re unfamiliar with it. As I say, the cruises are different and well worth every penny).
This event is the quieter end of Duval, not far from the Southernmost point and the songwriter event will accordingly fit the neighborhood. Because of its nature, it will be held during the day, noon – seven pm. Here songwriters will both explain their songs, as well as their craft.
It’s going to be an intimate affair; up close and personal with the artist. Most will be solo, though there are a few who will be up there with co-writers as well. Additionally, there will be national acts, international acts (where else will you get to hear a Trop Rock artist from… Norway???) plus artists who make their home here in the Conch Republic, as far up the Keys as Marathon. You can see what music written in the Keys sounds like! It’s a wide gamut indeed! Conch Rock!!!
T’s Bistro and bar offers both inside and outside seating, plus a full bar. They also have an outrageous menu, with about six breakfast items at $4.95. Home cooked meals at fast food prices. They also have a nightly dinner special every night at $9.50. These go on every day, seven days a week.
As for the “Tropical Songwriter’s In Paradise” event, here’s the tentative schedule:
Tropical Songwriters Schedule
11:55 -12:25 Key West Chris - Conch Republic
12:30 – 1:00 Renn Loren Norway/Hawaii
1:00 – 1:30 Dani Hoy – Pennsylvania
1:30– 2:00 C.W. Colt – Conch Republic
2:00 – 2:30 John Friday - Florida
2:30 – 3:00 Swim Skinny – Ohio
3:30 – 4:00 Allen “Captain Frankendread” Holland – Illinois /Pennsylvania
4:00 – 4:30 Loren Davidson - California
4:30 – 5:00 Adrienne- Conch Republic
5:00 – 5:30 Rich In Spirit – Conch Republic
5:30 – 6:00 Ray West - Conch Republic
6:00 – 6:30 Homemade Wine’s Ryan Sheley & Andy Westcott
6:30 -7:00 Young Rebel Goombas’ – Richie Saccenti, Cosmo Mallardi, Rob Cutts
Stop By and enjoy the fun! Artists will have their CDs available. Additionally, artwork from our pal Artist Koz is adorning the walls, all over T's Bistro and is available for purchase!!! How cool is that?
I will be playing at additional events as well:
Monday at the Rum Barrel with Loren Davidson's open jam.. starts around 8 I think?
Wednesday - 9:30am to 12:30pm Loren Davidson and Dani Hoy's cruise gig
Wednesday - 7:00 - 7:15 Schooner Wharf
Thursday - I kick off the songwriter's Gig at T's Bistro & Bar at noon
There’s an event on Friday that I will be at, which hasn't been announced as of yet, so I’ll extend the courtesy and wait for them to do so first.
I may also do a mini house concert here at my place on Sunday, November 4th, serving the Key West Bar Tending With Boris’ Carl Tanzler Bloody Mary/Bloody Maria…This IS the best “Bloody Mary” in the entire Conch Republic, Bar None!!!! not sure on that one yet however..
It’s expensive to live here. Housing is very expensive. For a single bedroom loft apartment in Key West, I pay the same as I did in Cutler Bay, Florida, only 138 miles north of here, for a three bedroom house, with a built in pool. A lot of the people in town live paycheck to paycheck. Personally, I have very little tolerance for someone who doesn’t tip fairly. Frankly, they are thieves and they are stealing from the people who render services and time to them.
Here’s the golden rule of thumb on gratuity:
If you can’t leave an 18% or more tip to your bartender or restaurant server, you have no business ordering anything there to begin with.
It’s really that simple. Elementary my dear Watson, as Sherlock Holmes would say! I use 20% because it’s both fair and easy for a simple mind like mine. ;-)
So, if your bill is $40.00, you leave $8.00, or $48.00 total.
AND DON'T FORGET TO TIP THE LIVE MUSICIANS!!! ha ha ha ha!