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Thursday, December 26, 2013

A lazy drive through the Florida Keys, Part 1

December started off with a bit of a twist for me. For quite some time I’ve been dealing with heart disease and now and then it rears it’s head. My issue is cholesterol which causes blockage in the arteries that are in my heart. The good news is that I have a great cardiologist and his team, here in Key West, Dr. Bruce Boros. I drove up to Miami Beach and was in and out of the hospital in less than 24 hours. The solution is having a stent put in, which opens up the artery and the blood flow returns to normal. The weird thing about this is that there is virtually no recovery period! One minute you’re feeling like you’re ready to check out, the next you’re ready to run around the block! Many thanks to Dr. Boros as well as the team in Miami Beach headed by Dr. Berger.

While I was away a great deal of thanks must be expressed to Cindi Hogan, Sheri Pogue, and Paddy Lynch who all took turns walking Cajun and Tooloulou!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   THANK YOU GUYS!!!!!

The great thing here was the fact that it required a drive back through the Keys to get home! I always tell anyone coming to Key West to be sure to take your time driving through the Keys to appreciate them for what they are. In English we have a saying for this that goes “Take time to stop and smell the roses”. I elected to do this as well. Prior to moving to Key West, I lived in the southern area of Miami/Dade County and consequently I’d hop in the car and take a 30 mile drive (49 Km) to Key Largo. What a perfect excuse to head and stop there on my way home! I found myself at one of my favorite haunts which is one of the best bars in the entire world, The Caribbean Club. Some may remember the Caribbean Club from my blog a while back naming the ten best bars in the Florida Keys?

I arrived about an hour before sunset, which is always impeccable, as the back of the Caribbean Club is on Black Water Sound.

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Caribbean Club Dock.

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The Caribbean Club from the dock

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Boat off of the Caribbean Club at sunset


Caribbean Club Panorama

Boat leaving to parts unknown

I made a rendezvous with my dear friend Nina while I was there and we headed over to another place in Key Largo, Sharkey’s (also see ten best bars in the Keys) where our friend Mike was playing. I’ve known Mike for nearly twenty years, from my days in Miami/Dade! What a great thing it was to go as well! I ended up getting to sit in with his band for a couple of songs. Special thanks to his band mate George for allowing me to play his outstanding Jimmy Page Signature Les Paul! So, here I was, only hours out of the hospital after a heart procedure and I’m sitting for a couple of songs! Thank God for medical science!

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I stayed overnight in Key Largo and continued my trip in the morning after grabbing a breakfast at a restaurant in Key Largo that I often go to, Mrs. Mack’s.

My next stop was in Islamorada, a town south of Key Largo consisting of about five or six islands. For me, my stop there this time was Robbie’s. Robbie’s is really just a shack. It’s a lot like stepping into a time warp actually. What is so unique about Robbie’s is that off their dock, you can feed the tarpon with buckets of fish that you can buy at the shack. A tarpon is a good sized game fish. They are not edible. Here we’re not fishing for them, but rather feeding them! There are also a lot of pelicans hanging out there as well, who are more than happy to compete with the tarpon for the fish!

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Posing pelican with Tarpon behind him

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“The Keys Rabbler” gets me everywhere!

Leaving there, my next stop was just a pedestrian bridge, built on the old traffic bridge. These are all up and down the Keys, this one being at Lower Matacumbe Key. I was amazed at the strength of the current. Bear in mind that this is that the bridges are where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Flor8ida Bay/Gulf of Mexico. Driving south, you’ll have the Atlantic Ocean on your left and the Gulf of Mexico on your right. The tidal currents were amazingly strong here!

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I’ll continue this trip on the next blog!
I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday season!

CD is available on iTunes, CD Baby, CD Universe, Rhapsody, and Beachfront Radio.
Search: Key West Chris

Thank you everyone!

Happy New Year!!!!

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Best Band In Trop Rock, - none are within 1000 miles of them.


This last Saturday evening I had the great thrill to hear what is easily, the best Trop Rock band in the world. The funniest thing is, I’d be willing to wager that if they were told that, their first response would be “Thank you!”, as they’re all very polite people. Their next response from at least 2/3’s the band most likely be “uh… what is Trop Rock?” Ironic, as it's a style they virtually spearheaded the invention of!

(R - L: Quint Lange, Richie Ciavolino, Ken Fradley, Din Allen

The Survivors formed in the late 1970’s in Key West. They brought what was a true tropical twist to the songs they played, be it one of their own, or a cover song that wasn’t tropical. Often you’d hear a song they’d start playing and after a bit you realize it’s a song you know, only the arrangement is changed entirely!  Imagine Cream’s song “I Feel Free” done as an Afro/Cuban song!!!! Their influences spread from around the Caribbean, Afro/Cuban, Bahamian, Jamaican as far north as New Orleans and as far south as Brazil. Hearing songs in English is the norm, however singing a song in Spanish or Portuguese is not at all uncommon for them, if that’s the style called for. Of course they are rooted in U.S. music, having grown up and cut their teeth in the U.S. The styles they play range from Funk, to Bossa Nova, to Reggae, to Calypso, to Rock, to Junkanoo. What they actually developed was a true sound of Key West, along with the amazing Bill Blue, who to this day is playing his original Blues about town. Both have been around for over thirty years and it’s a fantastic complement to each other, as their styles of music are so different from one another.


(Din Allen and Kenny Fradley)

The Survivors music is “ALIVE”. It’s a living, breathing entity. Every time they play a song, it’s a bit different than the last time they played it. There’s nothing sterile or canned about it and its seat of the pants the whole way. Improvisation is a main ingredient of their music. This is a fantastic feature as well, as it’s here that every version is different, plus, for folks on the dance floor rocking to the Survivors, instead of dancing to a song for 3:45, they are jamming for maybe 8 minutes into the coolest groove you can imagine. And these guys are focused on the groove!  Who knows with the Survivors? They may just get the impulse to sague into another song with no warning, no plan. It always works too! Additionally, it never gets boring, as some improvisational pieces are prone to get. They know how to keep it interesting.

The core of the band are brothers Woody and Din Allen on guitar and bass, with Quint Lange on percussion. They’ve been at it for thirty five years or so, here in Key West. This year they were joined by Trumpet/Cornet/Flugelhorn extraordinaire virtuoso Kenny Fradley, who's worked with U2 and did arrangements for big bands such as Cilia Cruz, plus that evening they had long time Key West drummer Richie Ciavolino, who handled the skins with authority and fit like a glove. For this gig, Quint played congas throughout.

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It’s kind of funny regarding Trop Rock musicians in general. 99% of them live in places like Tennessee, Michigan, mainland Florida, California, New Jersey.. ext. and when they write songs about Key West, their music sounds like they came to Key West, visited and left. They are writing music from a tourist perspective. The Survivors songs are written from a perspective of someone who lives here on a day-to-day perspective. They are not living in a fantasy world. Day to day Key West is their canvas, not the Key West of someone who arrives for a week and writes about tiki bars. I fully understand and empathize with those who do that. It’s those memories of being here at a tiki hut that get them through the winter in Peoria. It’s an escape. Well, for those who live here, it’s not an escape, it’s a reality and that’s what people like the Survivors write about, the reality of living here.  Additionally, it’s not written with a pie in the sky view of everything is wonderful, because the reality is, it never is, or will be. It’s written with the viewpoint of the person that works every day to make ends meet and loves living here.

I have an analogy I often use regarding the people who come here for vacations and that is that they are divided into two groups. One is a tourist. A tourist comes here and has a great time, then goes back home. The second is a visitor. A visitor comes to Key West and wants to become part of it, but for reasons that life throws at us all, perhaps they can’t live here.  A tourist will come and see the Survivors and say to themselves “Wow! This is really cool!”. A Visitor will come and say “Woh! I feel the vibe and the rhythm of the Keys, the pulse of the island! This is IT!” Hearing thse guys could be the motivational factor of actually making them pull the plug and move here. The fact is, you can’t write real music about Key West unless you live here and deal with the day to day struggles and oddities that happen. The Survivors have been at this, in the trenches, so to speak, for 35 years.


( Woody Allen)

Seeing the Survivors live is the best way to experience them. Bear in mind, these guys were Trop Rock decades before the genre ever existed and like I stated in the beginning, it wouldn't surprise me if 2/3 of them had no clue what Trop Rock was. Likewise, there are chances that they might not like being pigeonholed with the genre?

If I were to put in a video of them playing into this blog, it would be a complete waste for someone who never heard of them before. It would be a reward to those who have however. In my view, you have to see them live first however. You have to feel the vibe, the pulse, the groove in person, in Key West, otherwise it’s a waste of time.

Here’s the kicker: The Survivors play only once a year these days!!!!


The finest band in Trop Rock, who may not even know they are Trop Rock, who were playing the genre decades before it ever existed, actually unknowingly creating it, and who might even scoff at being labeled as such, only play once a year!

Seeing the Survivors is not going to a concert, it’s a religious experience.

Once a year they play the festival to benefit Womankind, an organization here in Key West which offers woman’s services.  The festival is held every November and this year was held at Blue Heaven. Keep an eye on the schedule next year, you REALLY don’t want to miss these guys!!!

This band is a living organism. Not one band in Trop Rock comes within 1000 miles of them.

The Survivors are AMAZING.

To obtain my music:

My CD is available on iTunes, CD Baby, CD Universe, Rhapsody, and Beachfront Radio.
Search: Key West Chris

Thank you everyone!!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Open Mic - Key West

OPEN MIC – How I run mine!

Since I re-entered the music scene eighteen years ago, one of the most useful tools that were awarded to me, was attending open mics. I recall my friend in Miami, Charlie Rathburn, telling me about the first one I attended “Everyone’s here to have a good time. No one’s here to judge you, just have a good time.  Now I don’t know how good you are, but there will be people who are better than you and people that aren’t as good as you. But everyone’s having a good time”. That turned out to be very true indeed. Over those years, regardless of my level in playing music, I’ve always attended open mics.  One of the added benefits of going to open mics is that by nature, people with common interests attend them, so it’s inevitable that you come away with new friends. Perhaps another attribute, one of those things that is what is referred to as “reading between the lines”, no matter how good you are, or more importantly, how good you become, It also keeps you humble.

One of the things that I found was that every open mic I attended was different. Whomever ran it had their own style of organization. The great thing was that none were bad, just some better than others, for different reasons. I recall one in Tampa, at a bar called the Corsair, where you brought your guitar and jammed with the house electric blues band. The bar had sequins in the ceiling and a lingerie show that preceded it. Then, across town in a small coffee shop, lined with sofas and coffee tables, there was an acoustic open mic, in a very intimate setting, in a place where no alcohol was served.

Over the summer a bar around the corner from me, McConnell’s, was having an open mic. They were throwing it on a Thursday evening for some reason. The reason I say for some reason was because there apparently wasn’t any for thought put into it, as another open mic in Key West was on Thursday’s as well, with Larry and Dora at the Rum Barrel. Consequently, I never made it to that open mic. One night Larry and Dora’s open mic was cancelled, so I figured I’d finally have an opportunity to check out the one at McConnell’s. I got there and there was no open mic. They stopped doing it.
The next day I went in to talk to the owner, whom I already knew. I offered to run an open mic for him. He suggested Thursdays, which brings up rule #1 in my book:

Rule #1:  Know your market!

If you don't know your market, it's like running down the street blindfolded, hoping you don't crash into anything. I suggested to him that it wouldn’t make since going to go head to head with another open mic. That’s shooting everyone in the foot. My idea was Wednesdays. To begin with, we’re focusing mostly on a local clientele, so you don’t want it too close to the weekend. You need to give the patrons a little air to breath and Wednesday was perfect as it’s slotted directly in the center of every week. When this was brought to the owners attention, he agreed Wednesday was best and we started the following Wednesday. So, it's the organizer's job to know what the market is and what's best for themselves, as well as the venues. And understand, as an organizer, you may be the only one who does.  

To help get us going, 104.9 The X Key West was there to broad cast live. Not only live, but LIVE! Everyone who played was live, on the air! Additionally, this was both internet and terrestrial radio. So people could hear it in their car stereo, or in Los Angeles via the internet. We actually did this for several weeks. The station was doing it on an internet card. After that however, they needed to use McConnell’s internet, however McConnell’s internet connection is extremely weak and it just wasn’t working at all. Thanks to Gary, Sheri, and Bernard from 104.9 The X Key West!

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The way I run my open mic is, at least in my mind, the logical way. What I’ve done is take the best from all of the open mics I’ve attended over the years and rolled them all into one, and then toss in some of my own pizazz for good measure. We’ve already covered Rule #1, know your market.

Rule #2:  Make it FUN!

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This is the most important rule of all. What you want to do is make sure everyone’s having fun! Everyone starts with one’s self. As an organizer of anything, you’re the one that carries the atmosphere and the color of the event. Also, everyone includes not only the patrons, but also the staff. When the staff arrive and are feeling “Oh great! Tonight’s Open Mic!” it’s a great barometer! Plus, if you’re having fun, the patrons are having fun, and the staff is having fun, you’ll make out just fine.

(Popeye having fun at the Open Mic! )

How do we make it fun? Well, for starters, in any open mic, the organizer needs to check his/her ego at the door. In trying to assure that everyone is having fun the first objective is to make sure that you’re not aggravating anyone. How many times have I been to an open mic where the host gets up and plays forever? That will never happen at my open mic. When that happens people start rolling their eyes and say “Is this thing ever going to start?”. As a host, we must realize that the people rolling their eyes are the ones who are paying, in the form of buying product, for the privilege of playing. By having a long set list for the host becomes a frustration for the patrons who come to play.

That is a frustration. It can get worse. What can be worse? One player arrives at 8 and another arrives at 9 and the organizer puts the one who came at 9 ahead of the one that came at 8. Suddenly you see steam coming out of the 8 o’clock player’s ears. Worse than that? The biggest faux pas in open mics is the host starts the open mic, has a few performers up, then… goes back up to play again themselves, making the patrons waiting, wait longer. When I’ve seen that happen over the years, every time it pisses off those waiting. Not now and then. Every time. “What the fuck are they doing? I’ve been here for an hour and a half and now they’re going up AGAIN????” The end results of this have been from people being pissed off, to packing up and leaving. Guess what? They are not having fun. Remember, as the person running the open mic, we must remember to check their ego at the door.

The first and foremost requirement is put myself on the exact same level as anyone else. As an organizer I wear a different hat than everyone else, granted, but I’m no different than anyone else there. I’m not special HA HA! It might not be obvious to everyone, but if not consciously, they realize it subconsciously. This is important. If you’re humble, no one is at all intimidated and therefore they are comfortable with you and the event.

(City Attorney Larry “Paco” Erskine made every single open mic held at McConnell’s! Thanks Paco!)

The first thing I do after setting up, is put out a sign up list. I’m at the top of the list. This is an essential in any open mic and something that is never questioned, as the host needs to set up and balance the sound system.  Wherever one signs up, is where they play. Easy enough? My sign up list motto is “I like to make friends, not piss anyone off”. When we got to the end of the list, it would go back to the top again. If anyone came in after we re-started the list, they would go on next.

I’ve had several requests via messages or texts asking “Can you sign me up?”. Sorry.  It’s like signing a check. You have to sign it. Again, everyone’s equal and along those lines, everyone’s responsible for signing themselves in. If I were to sign someone in before they arrive, should someone come in before them and as a result signs in behind them, it’s just not a fair playing field for everyone. And for me, a fair playing field is essential to keep a good atmosphere and everyone happy. It’s worked very well.

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The results we’ve had since we started, have been exceptional. In the doldrums of the slowest period of Key West’s year, we’ve had a packed house at McConnell’s. People would consistently be saying to me “Every place in town is flat out dead, but here the place is packed!”.  Guess what? Everyone, the customers and the staff was having a great time, loads of fun and laughter every Wednesday night. More importantly, the cash register was chiming in as well, singing its favorite song all night long.

(LA Wood played our open mic and rocked the house. About a month later she won the Malibu Misic Awards!) Congrats Laura!)

There were several times that when I was in the bar off hours of our open mic, one of the bartenders told me that “Jerry (the owner) told me he is very happy with the open mic nights!”.  This was the slow season. I was told consistantly that "Every bar from Fleming to here on Duval is totally empty. It's packed here!"The formula works and works well. Everyone was happy.

We were kind of open ended as far as time went. Technically our hours were 8 to 11. However, when 11 rolled around and I counted 29 non playing customers in the bar and 6 players still around, I said “We’re keeping it rolling!” Fact: That’s 35 paying customers in the bar. The problem is, when the live music stops, the crowd leaves. In all the open mics that were run at McConnell’s, we NEVER closed at 11. It was always 12/12:30/1:00am, depending on the crowd. If the cash register was ringing, the open mic kept rolling. I didn't get paid any more. I got a flat fee. However, it was good for the house, so I always kept it rolling as needed.

In order to promote the event, I bought two radio spots for the month of October. One on local station 104.9 The X Key West, the other on internet station Beachfront Radio. All totaled it was $475.00. I did this because it was good for the event and good for McConnell’s. Everyone was happy and our philosophy was working very well!

A little over a week ago I was approached by a new manager at McConnell’s, Sarah. Among other things, she informed me “Next week you’ll be ending at 9 o’clock. We have a new singer coming in”.  Her personality was extremely abrasive and was the type of individual that I’ve come across many times in my former professional career. She was someone who thrived on being in control. I told her “Well, I start at 8 and you want me to stop at 9?” Her retort was “Well, you’re just going to have to start earlier then”. I shook my head and said “No. I’m sorry. My people don’t even get here until nine. That’s not going to work.” As I’ve said, I’ve seen this all before. To begin with she didn’t have a clue about how the open mic ran. What she saw was the register rings suddenly take off at about nine on Wednesdays. That’s what we did. When at 8 – 9 you have 10 – 15 people in a place and 9 – 10 you have 65, between nine and ten is when most of the people start coming in for the Open Mic. With her idea of changing things around, she was thinking to lasso that 9pm on crowd and say “Hey! Look what my wonderful new idea and performer is producing!”. It was quite confusing when one takes into account that she wanted to pay two people, when she was getting the hours needed already at the price of one? Odd. She didn't realize that these were the open mic crowd, spectators and performers alike and for her, the problem was, it wasn't going to happen on my watch. I've been down that street before and it's a case of  "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me". It may not have been with her who was the first time, per say, but it was just old hat for me.

 I met with the owner the next morning and he changed it from 8 – 11, but their new performer would take it from there. I wasn’t clear as to why he hadn’t consulted me on it to begin with? Something like “Hey, we have an idea we wanted to run by you to get your impression and feedback on”. One would think that when you have a very successful night, it might be good to talk to the people involved first, before making a decision. I mean if the evening was a flop that would be another issue. Be that as it may, in the end I said “Fine. We’ll all leave at 11 and you can get a fair assessment of what we bring to the table and what your new act does for you. Besides, I don’t have a clue why you would hire a second performer when we go to 1am half the time anyway. You’re paying two performers for one night when you already have one who goes the hours you’re looking for. On top of that I come with a crowd and by and large, a local crowd at that. It’s also a proven product”. The local crowd that came in ranged from around the corner to Big Pine Key, 35 miles up the Keys. Because of this blog, my Facebook page, coupled with the fact that my music is played on stations across the US and in Europe, often the crowd we drew was people seeking us out who were in from out of town as well.

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Regretfully he didn’t realize this. The latest he was ever there was about 9:15 on a late night for him. In fairness to Jerry, he was in there every day at 10am. But I think it would have been beneficial to him if once or twice, he went home, rested up, and came back to see what was going on. However, usually he either already went home before we started, or was leaving shortly after I kicked it off on my first set. He also told me that the new manager told him that numbers weren’t that good on Wednesdays. Odd. We packed the place with professionals and their friends. These weren’t people who lived under an overpass. Everyone there was eating meals and drinking libations. That’s what I saw with my own two eyes, week in week out. I saw everyone smiling and having a great time, patrons and staff included. Again, one staff member told me several times that “Jerry is very happy with Wednesday nights”. Now, suddenly there is a new manager and reporting that the open mic people are drinking “water and cokes”. That's an insult to every patron who supported the open mic. The fact of the matter was, everyone was buying alcohol and many bought meals.She’s also doing the books and she goes by the name “Bandita”…. YIKES!

In the end they let us go. On the other hand, the atmosphere of mirth and fun had fallen off the edge of a cliff at McConnell’s in one night, when the new manager, spoke so rudely to me to me that evening.  It was sudden and quick. The most vital ingredient in the service industry, is to have a fantastic atmosphere. In that one night it was a lot like the change that Jimmy Stewart saw in "It's A Wonderful Life" when he went into Martin's Bar, after he no longer was born and finding the place full of angry people. Sadly, however that can be the nature of this business. The ignorant part of it is, when a bar cancels a performer, chances are better than average that they no longer frequent the establishment. When cancelling an open mic, one isn't only telling the organizer he doesn't want him any more, he just told all of the players and their respective friends who came in with them, that their business is no longer wanted. We usually had 40 -80 people in there. It's apparent that this establishment doesn't have a sales and marketing background.

So anyway, I’m looking for a new venue.

We had a great run there and I wish McConnell’s all the best. They have a fantastic crew there

Lesson learned? Indeed!

Rule #3: Educate the owner of the bar as you go.

I’ve always believed in the philosophy of “Give them more than they ask for”

I stuck to this philosophy by not only going from 8 – 11, but going the extra mile if there was still business in the house, which there always was, staying one time until 2am, but usually it was about 12:30 or so. That was for the sake of the house. I didn’t garner anything from it over and above what our weekly arrangement was, nor did I ask for it.

And also, taking out two radio ads at my own expense ($475.00) in order to promote my event there.
I’m not one to wave my own flag, however apparently this is something that I will do in the future, as far as keeping the owner a where of what I’m doing that is over and above the call of duty.  

However, dealing with ignorance is always one's worst adversary. One would assume that the bar owners/managers would be keenly astute to what is successful and making them money. However, some will throw a monkey wrench into the entire works, as we've seen in the aforementioned. Myself, I'm usually the quiet one who smiles in the light of success, allowing my actions to speak for themselves. Apparently this isn't the best philosophy. So, henceforth I'll be certain to make it known what is being done and blow my own horn a bit more.

I do what I do and I do it well.  And my philosophy of giving more than what is expected, will continue to hold true.

Meanwhile, I have a new venue to find!

All the Best from Key West!

Key West Chris

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


MOTM 2013

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Well the week was certainly eventful! I drove up to the Pit Stop Party in Key Largo on Monday. The drive through the Keys is always a treat It’s always rated as one of the ten most scenic drives in the U.S. with the Atlantic on one side and the Gulf on the other. The colors of the waters change daily as well.

It was my first Pit Stop event and as long as there is one next year and schedules permit, I will attend! I arrived there and was greeted by old and new friends! It is held in a private home in Key Largo, on a canal with a beautiful pool and surrounding area. The attendance was great! My guess was that there were about 75 people there, with bar b. que going, and lots of dishes donated by those attending.

One of the first surprises was seeing my old friend Rick West! I’ve known Rick for almost 20 years from back in our Miami days. Back then we both played in a bar called “Chubby’s B.B.Q.” where we both played. One day Rick, my cousin Joe, and I drove down to the Keys, just for fun. It was one of those cool Keys trips. Spontaneous, spur of the moment! Great time! a few months later, Rick moved to Key Largo and while he was there he would book me from one joint named Kenny’s (now Upper Crust Pizza), as well as others all the way to Whale Harbor in Islamorada. So this area of the Conch Republic is like my old home! While still living on the mainland I was figuring that this would be the area of the Keys that I’d end up in, so coming here to the Pit Stop was a great experience. Seeing Rick was especially nice as well.

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KW Chris w/ Rick West. Picture by Video Dave

Folks I knew there were Allen Holland, Dani Hoy, Rick Schittino, Mike Magnum, Steve Tolliver, plus I met a whole lot more! A great time in Key Largo was had by all! They had a tent where featured performers played and I was fortunate enough to play again with my pal “Frankendred” Allen Holland, with his steel pans on my set. Allen and I had played early last summer together for the Southernmost Coconut Castaways ( event, “Meet Me In The Keys” . We haven’t rehearsed at all since then, however this was the best we've ever played together to date! What a great time it was hearing all these fantastic people playing! Thank you Sue and John Singleton for your gracious hospitality!

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Playing with “Frankendred” Allen Holland at the Pit Stop. Photo by Video Dave.

The drive back the next day was stunning, as usual. I've said it before and I’ll say it again, as I did in a song I wrote called Poker Run: “The Atlantic on my left, the Gulf on my right…” and as I mentioned earlier, every time you make that drive the water is different as well!

Back down in Key West, under the name of “Conch Rock Productions” this year the ante was raised from one event last year to three events this year! Yahoo!

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The first event we held was The MOTM Open Mic held on Wednesday, October 30th at McConnell’s Irish Pub and Grill. What a turnout! We started an hour and a half earlier than usual, at 6:30 and went to sometime after 2am! Loads of performers, we had twenty two signups and everyone got their fair share of songs. It was a great evening, with Fun being the operative objective, as always in my shows.

Earlier that day I had a gig at Artist Koz’s Green World Gallery. What a beautiful time that was! We had a very good turnout and I believe Koz sold a fair amount of product to boot! In introducing me, Koz mentioned that I may have played more gigs there than anyone else! Wow! How cool is that? Thanks Koz!!!


Wednesday was a very busy day. For the second year in a row Barb Herzog invited me to play for the Mid-West Parrot Head Club at Schooner Wharf. It’s always a great time and this also was the second year in a row that my pals, Homemade Wide were the guest hosts of the event!

Thursday was our second annual “Tropical Songwriters in Paradise” event. There were fifteen songwriters in three groups of five. What fabulous songwriters and performers! It started a bit slow on the first set, however by the second set everything was rocking quite well and there was a good crowd all afternoon and into the evening, from that point onwards!

This year we held it in an In-The-Round style, which worked just incredibly well! It was basically a rotation between the five performers on stage. Each performer had a bit to say about their song, then they’d play it. This was different from a band situation. In this case the songwriter is up, alone with the song in an environment virtually the same as when they wrote the song. Just them and their instrument and nothing else. The song is fully exposed and there is no band. It’s only the writer and the song, which makes it a very intimate setting for the audience and the performer. In addition, for the audience, they are seeing five performers on stage together, taking turns in que. So, in the span of a half hour, they've seen five songwriters, instead of one.

The formula worked out perfectly! In doing these events, there is always an education involved and this time there was no exception to the rule. Next year we’ll start at around 3pm and go from there! The noon to three crown just wasn't up and out on the streets.

Friday I was invited by my pal Loren Davidson and Captain Ter Ry to play on their sunset sail. How many times have I been out on these waters here and felt so inspired to write a song about it, I can’t tell you!

It was kind of funny. The catamaran was docked in Key West Bight, right off of A&B Seafood and Sunset Tiki Bar, albeit down the dock and around the corner. My mission was to round up people who may have been running a bit late meeting back on the dock at Sunset Tiki. Well, next thing I do is bump into my friend and fellow performer Roger Jokela. He wasn’t scheduled to be on the cruise, but I dragged him along anyway and so as to not infringe on any of the other player’s time, I split my set with him. Worked out great too!

Saturday, I was playing Pearl’s Patio over on United Street. I must say I really love playing at Pearl’s! Everyone there is such a pleasure to work with, be it the manager Jason, or any of the bar tenders. It’s great because it’s both inside and outside at the same time as well. It's bar area is covered with a permanent canvas, so if it rains, no problem, but you're always out in the fresh air as well. What a pleasure indeed! New owners take over this month, so, as in all of these changes, fingers are crossed.

Later Saturday Dani Hoy had me on her sunset cruise, again on the same catamaran as the day before with Loren Davidson and Captain Ter Ry! Of course Captain Ter Ry was piloting the craft and it was smooth sailing! On this cruise Dani was the featured artist. She sounded great as always!


 In addition to her, we also had the Shot Doctor, Scott Allen, dishing out various “medications” from his intravenous bag hanging off of his I.V. Pole in his stethoscope shot glasses!


On Sunday I changed the event to “Trop Rock For Jeff – Dedicated to a Brother” because of the passing of our friend D.J.Jeff Allen. It was held at the Sunset Tiki Bar at the Galleon Resort (617 Front St). The idea I had was to have an open event to anyone who played in any event at MOTM. All they needed to do was swing by and I’d put them on the list to play. We had a fantastic turnout and Jeff’s gal, Carol Ewald, was there from start to finish. Thanks to all who came as patrons and musicians! It was a great afternoon. I’m thinking of doing it again next year, perhaps with a different name, but still in dedication to Jeff. Fly on Jeff! Thank you for everything!


There was the Trop Rock Music Awards on Thursday night as well. It was suggested to me a few years ago to join what is now the Trop Rock Music Association as I had a CD coming out and this was the place to gain recognition for it. As a member I can vote, as well as be a possible candidate. So, I’m in my third year of membership there. Every MOTM they hold their Trop Rock Music Awards here in Key West at the MOTM celebration week. Over the summer the members of the organization vote on pre-picked musicians, organizations, groups, and individuals for specific awards in the Trop Rock world.

I’m not exactly sure how all of these are chosen as entrants, however as a member, I am sent a voting ballot with choices to choose from. Naturally there is a lot of hullabaloo when people win and certainly many are deserved winners.

I started having second thoughts on all of this last year and I have the same issues this year. When I go to the member’s area on their website, it states “All Members (246)”. Last year I wrote to them inquiring about this. I mean, 246 members who are eligible to vote certainly seems like a case of the few deciding for the masses. Again, bearing in mind that only members can vote. I will also add that I had nothing in the works for this year’s awards, be it a CD, Vocalist of the year.. etc. Fact is, I had no releases this year, or last.
I received a nice letter back stating that all of the members of the organization (a.k.a. all of the potential voters) are not necessarily members of the website. I don’t recall the exact number that they stated were members, but it was something like 2,000.

Well, if we take the MOTM event alone, there are between 6 and 8000 Trop Rock fans in Key West for the MOTM event alone. While we’re not talking about a world-wide audience, but rather a group that attends the MOTM event alone, even there, we’re looking at one quarter of the people attending this event alone. How many Trop Rock fans are there worldwide?

Let’s look at the high side for the answer. How many recordings of their brand new CD does Jimmy Buffett sell? Kenny Chesney?, Zach Brown? Even if we drop them out of the equation, let’s look at what the radio stations that air this type of music pull in.  

Last year at my event I advertised on Beachfront Radio, the number one Trop Rock radio station on the planet. The numbers were something like 75,000 a week and in order to earn one “listen” the listener must be listening for an hour or more. This is one station. There are plenty more.

Of course, the bottom line here is that the Trop Rock Music Awards’, be it 246 or 2000 or so members, are voting on behalf of, what really amounts to several hundred thousand fans.

I think that a private club voting on behalf of an entire genre, is not the right road to travel. Additionally, how the names get on the primary ballots isn’t clear. On top of that, the two people who are consistently on the ballots, are officers of the organization.

I think it’s great that a small, private club, have their own awards. That’s fine, as it represents what their particular club likes. However, I think that if there is a Trop Rock annual music awards, it should be representative of the total fan base of the genre, not just a small club.  We’re talking several hundred thousand potential voting fans, not 246, or 2000.  

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dedicated to a Brother - DJ Jeff Allen

                                             Dedicated to a Brother


( A DJ Jeff wristband, a soundings chart of Key West, and a guitar which represents music, all things DJ Jeff)

The timing just flat out sucked. There is no better way to say it and there is no candy-coat to butter it up to make it better than it was.  I got the news via text, from my friend Dani Hoy. Earlier I saw an ominous post on Facebook from Christa, which pleaded for prayers for him and her mother.

I was running a gig with many people involved when I received the text from Dani “are you available?”. I pretty much knew at that point, though you never want to accept it. I tried to write back, but it was insanely busy at that point. I wrote “Jeff”  “did he pass?” when I pushed the send, the answer already came in. Jeff had passed.

For me, the news wasn’t entirely unsuspected. It was the timing that hurt as much as anything else.

Jeff, Carol, and I are good friends. There wasn’t much, regarding his condition that I was not privy to. I always told him, regardless of what the predicted outcome might be “Jeff, when we talk, we’re talking about the future. We’re not talking about doom and gloom. We’re talking about the future and all that it holds regarding the music. I know your situation, but if you are focused on living, let’s talk about things that are live and happening. You’re already going to be addressing your condition with everyone else. While naturally I’m interested and very concerned about it, I don’t want to be on that bandwagon. I want to be the escape from it, even if it’s for just a few minutes”

Jeff and I did talk about his condition several times, the last being a few months ago, where he informed me that he was terminal. We talked about it for maybe three minutes. All that was needed to be said about it was. He mentioned that basically the doctors had stopped treatment and now were focused on making him comfortable. Jeff told me some things that were private regarding how it affected him mentally, as well as physically. We both understood it to a “T”. I again told him that I knew that so many good natured people would always be inquiring about his health and therefore, my job was not to bring up the subject. My conversations would consist of music, the radio station, Key West, …ex. He appreciated that.

Jeff never spoke on the radio that he was terminally ill. So, while the masses knew he had pancreatic cancer, Jeff always put on a very brave fighting face and would let folks know of his battle, he never let on that he was near the end. Never looking for pity, but rather support for the fight against cancer cause. He was a very brave and noble man for that.

There are Trop Rock performers who have known Jeff for ten, fifteen years. I was different. I met Jeff at the 2009 MOTM when he was DJing at, of all places, Garden of Eden, a clothing optional bar on the roof of The Bull. The key word here of course is “optional”. Jeff was not naked, nor was I, HA HA HA!  

I had put together a YouTube video several months earlier, based on a demo recording I had of my song “Raise My Glass to the Upper 48”, which Jeff had seen and told me he really liked! The song/video focused on living in Key West and the Keys in general. I was so complemented in hearing that, I can’t explain. The recording I used on it was not airworthy for radio however. I knew that from the get-go, however Jeff mentioned that when I did record it for a CD, he wanted it.

Somewhere around that time Carol and Jeff became an item and they started Beachfront Radio. Whenever they were in Key West, we’d always hang out. One evening was particularly nice. The three of us just hung out at McConnell’s at a small upright table, grabbed dinner and a few beers. It was one of those times that later, often when we talked, we reflected on in fond retrospect. It was also funny because this drunk guy kept coming to our table and striking up a conversation. It was kind of funny/strange because I was playing there last evening, running the open mic, and was talking to my friends while someone else was playing. I was at that exact same table when I received the aforementioned text.

I knew it was coming, so it wasn’t so much a shock then it was a major disappointment and hurt.  Damn. Jeff covered everything so well, plus he did his last show the day before and was scheduled to leave for the Keys. It was to be a sail through the Keys, from Key Largo, I believe. The impact didn’t hit me right away. There was nothing I could do and I also had a job to complete myself and it wasn’t even 8:30 yet. I’ve been in situations like this before and candidly, I deal pretty well with them. As in the other previous situations I would deal with this later.

Jeff is a friend however. It wasn’t just a business relationship, or acquaintance. Both he, Carol, and I shared things that were private information. There was a trust and a bond. That’s a friendship. One, not a story that was private, but back early on in our friendship he inquired about the possibilities of him coming to Key West for the winter and shacking out at my place. Jeff is my friend.
However, when I arrived home after the gig last night, was when I opened up the doors to the emotion I had them closed for earlier in the evening. That’s when the pain of losing a friend landed home.

When my CD, “Shanghai’d and Marooned in Key West (things could be worse)” came out, Jeff was all over it. He was ecstatic on the production of it. I also had super accolades from Shelly Liebowitz, producer of Miles Davis, Dr. John, Ella…ex.  The production and musicianship was second to none. I’ll always be grateful to Dan Simpson (producer) and the 18 local musicians who made the album what it was.

First and foremost, Jeff LOVED Key West! I think that had a good bit to do with why Jeff liked it so much. I didn’t scoot off to New York, Los Angeles, or Nashville and record it with a bunch of studio musicians there. I recorded it at the San Carlos Institute, right on Duval Street and also at Private Ear Studios, here in Key West. Everyone on the CD lives here and they get it! They know the Key West vibe because they live it every day, on top of being as good musicians as anywhere on earth.

Jeff was a very sensitive and perceptive guy. He not only saw this, he felt it. This album represented everything about the Keys that Jeff loved and I was touched that he saw it in this light, because that was my goal. This album was designed to be feeding off of the pulse of Key West and the Keys. Not everyone has the ability to see or feel that. As a matter of fact, very few do. It's a musical variation of 'Reading between the lines'. Jeff picked up on that as soon as he got the CD.

I was also a guest interview on his show several times and almost a year ago, I was a co-host when the show went live in Key West from the former T's Bistro. I've gotten a fair amount of broadcast time down here on Key West and I guess I have a knack for keeping it fun and the ball rolling. It was always a complete blast being on the show with Jeff and we always had great ratings (thanks Everyone!). The last time I was on, I think it was around the time of the Key West Songwriter's Festival which I was in, the station received the highest ratings to that date. It was always great chemistry with Jeff and myself on the air. Always a lot of fun and laughing. I'm going to miss that a lot.

Another thing that Jeff liked, was where I was coming from musically. Unlike most Trop Rock musicians, I was entering the genre from an entirely different perspective and angle. Back in the 12” vinyl days I had hundreds of records. Of those hundreds of records, which ranged from The Allman Brothers, to Frank Zappa, from Charles Mingus to Pink Floyd, to Stephan Grappelli…I had one… one Jimmy Buffett record “Son of the Son Of a Sailor”, which I really loved. But that’s all I had. I remember being on stage over at Smokin Tuna in a big jam of Trop Rockers playing a Jimmy Buffett song with them, when they pointed to me to sing the next verse. I kept playing my guitar and shook my head no. The reason? I didn’t know all the words!

So, I came into the Trop Rock scene with an entirely different outlook and perspective. Different grooves and using chords that really weren’t used so much in the genre. Chords like a C6/9, G7#9, Em+9, or a A13. Jeff liked this and he played the hell out of my CD, for which I’m eternally grateful and honored.

Jeff may not have made it to Key West for MOTM this year, but more importantly, he did make it to California and back to the woman he loved more than anything in the world. It almost didn’t happen. Jeff was rushed to the hospital shortly before he left to go back to California. It had us all concerned. However, God gave him the extra time to get out to Carol, spend some time with her and then, he passed in her arms with his step-daughter there as well. We all are going to go at one point or another, but Jeff was truly blessed to go like this.

(Jeff and I at Koz’s Green World Gallery for the Ya Mon cruise. Photo by Tammy Hollander)

All of my shows at MOTM, The Open Mic at McConnell’s on Wednesday evening, The Tropical Songwriters in Paradise on Thursday (noon to 8),   and the Sunday Afternoon Chill Dockside at Sunset Tiki (Noon to 5), will be dedicated to a brother, DJ Jeff Allen. As a matter of fact the Sunday show at Sunset Tiki I’m changing the format. Any players that want to a song for Jeff, please stop by, plug in, and let it Trop Rock for Jeff.

Again, first and foremost, Jeff and I are friends. Often I'd send him pictures from his favorite island. I know that made him smile. I was just keeping him in the loop. I also used to send him songs that I was working on. I’d record it on my iPhone’s voice memos and send it to him as a message. He was always very curious about them, but never critiqued them at all. The last one I sent him was one that I was going to write with Ryan and Andy from Homemade Wine. I sent Jeff what I had to that point and he was excited to hear the rest. It’s still incomplete, but when it’s done, I won’t need to send it to his phone for him to hear it. He’ll be right here.

Godspeed Jeff it was an honor having you as a friend. Thank you.

“Key West Chris”   Rehm


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Getting to Key West II, MOTM, Keep Key West Funky, Love Lane Gang

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


When we last left off, I think we were talking about staying in Key Largo overnight. I can’t stress this more. Okay, file it under “The grass on the other side of the hill is always greener”, only the thing is, we’re still talking about the Conch Republic. Don’t forget, the Conch Republic starts at the Last Chance Saloon in Florida, which is the northern border. However, be it Key Largo, Tavernier, Islamorada, Layton, Summerland, Layton, Sugarloaf, Cudjoe.. ex stay at one of them for a day or two!! Also, bear in mind that some, such as Islamorada, are towns, not an island itself.  There may be seven islands in Islamorada, which includes the connecting keys.

I’m heading up to Islamorada on Saturday, so the next blog will carry more pictures and suggestions in the next blog… which will follow this one quite closely!


Our MOTM events are progressing very well! On Wednesday, October 30th I’ll be hosting the MOTM OPEN MIC At McCONNELL’S. This event will start at 6:30 and go until who knows when!
For a bit more information on this, check the Facebook Event page!

Then on Thursday, October 31 we’re repeating the Tropical Songwriters in Paradise event! This year we’re in the thick of everything at Durty Harry’s Stage at Rick’s! There’s a great Trop Rock line up consisting of some of the best writers in Trop Rock today! Plus, we’re doing it in an in-the-round format, meaning that there will be three or four artists on stage at the same time, trading songs and telling stories about them. Additionally, it is also going to be done as a tailgate party! Music, drinks, and a Bar B. Que! This will be a blast!!!

On Sunday November 3rd, I’ll be hosting “Sundeay Afternoon Chill Dockside at Sunset Tiki”! This will be run from noon to 5pm. The Sunset Tiki is right on the water, behind The Galleon at the end of Front St. You really can’t beat this setting with a stick!!!

NOTE!!! This event has been changed! With the passing of DJ Jeff, the event has been changed to "Trop Rockin' For Jeff - Dedicated to a Brother DJ Jeff Allen". Any musicians playing in MOTM are welcome to stop by and Trop Rock for Jeff in his memory.

Same time, same place, just that the event has changed..

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All of these events are being sponsored by The Grateful Guitar here in Key West 305 453 6413
Located at Duval Square, Duval St.
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It’s been a LONG time since Jimmy Buffett lived here. Every now and then someone claims that he still maintains a home someplace here, or perhaps up a few islands, but none of this has ever been substantiated. One of the main reasons that he left was because he felt that the town was losing its funky character. One of its monikers was “A little drinking town with a fishing problem”. Of course this was always told in good fun, tongue in cheek. Well, over the years the fishing fleet has been thrown out and now, what’s left of it, anchors in the shadow of the power plant on Stock Island. I recalled when I used to come to visit seeing the fleet docked over by Turtle Kraals. For me, having spent my youth in Cape Cod, I felt right at home. It was like a tropical Provincetown! Today, Provincetown still has their fleet, we’ve exiled ours. It’s things like this that is why Jimmy Buffett left here. The little guys are getting pushed out of here one by one. It’s nothing new, but it continues and a lot of people have been pushed out over the years and the funkiness is depleting.

As I say, it’s been going on for years and continues to escalate. The latest victim is a trailer park on the corner of Virginia and Simonton streets, The Southernmost Cabana Resort. Frankly, the Southernmost Cabana Resort is a cool little community of old trailers nestled in a beautiful grove of trees which provide a fantastic little hammock. These trailers are mostly around fifty years old. The folks who live in them can't afford anything much more than what they have here. Is it pretty? In one of those Key West funky moments, all one can really say is “Wow!”.  It’s like stepping into a time warp! It’s a rare gem, in my eyes. All of these old, funky trailers living in this beautiful, shaded hammock.

The owner however, had different ideas and with the full support of Mayor Craig Cates and most of the City Commission, have given the residents until October 31 to get out. You see, there’s progress to be had at hand! Sic. Why have all these old trailers littered with riff-raff, when you can have… Condominiums??? It fits right in too.. at least with the mayor. Mayor Cates seems to always be supporting some sort of program that is promoting the paving over of Key West. Lets turn Key West into an island version of Miami. Hello! They've offered to help relocate the residents up the Keys about twenty miles to a trailer park named “Lazy Lakes”.  In other words, they've exiled these folks from Key West so that they can build condominiums and tear down most of the trees and move out the old trailers in doing so. Seriously, I wonder how the mayor and the commissioners who voted these people out, manage to sleep at night. Jimmy Buffett approve? Hardly. Captain Tony? Don’t make me laugh.

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Say good-by to another bit of Key West funky character and history.

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My friend Patty Rossi Holden and I are in the process of starting a campaign called:

“Keep Key West Funky!”
More to come on that soon!! !


Talk about a breath of fresh air!!! The Love Lane Gang has become the biggest craze in Key West over the last six, or eight months.  Everyone who hears them, just flat out loves them! The core of the band is Jerrod Isaman on guitar and lead vocals, Missy Parker on washboard and vocals, Steve Gibson on mandolin and vocals, and Stephen La Pierre on upright bass and vocals. Additionally, they also may have Jason Sands on banjo, or Brielle Jeanette on vocals… Honestly, the band can consist of as many as a dozen members, you really don’t know what the band may consist of until you get there.

Tired of heading down Duval and hearing yet another performer playing Margaritaville, Brown Eyed Girl, or Sweet Home Alabama? Well, get this! The most interesting thing about these guys is that, my guess is that 70% of their repertoire dates from between 1915 – 1945! These are the types of songs you expect to here on a small lane, such as Love Lane (yes, there is a Love Lane in Key West!). Their set is also peppered with more contemporary music.. say up to the seventies, an English ballad, or some Dick Dale surf music, but in addition they have ta fantastic selection of original music, much of which is rooted in Americana music. When people pass by wherever they are playing, they stop, their jaws drop in awe, stand in a daze for a bit, then smile and enter the bar. This band is FUN! You’ll hear stuff like Cab Callaway, Parisian Gypsy Jazz, Bluegrass, … it’s an endless! Additionally, they are always adding to their repertoire, not at all afraid to go out on a limb. The Love Lane Gang can be found around town, however they play every Friday at McConnell’s 8 – 11 and Salute on Sunday 5:30 – 8:30. What a breath of fresh air these guys are! They are FUN!!!!      DAMN!!!

Thank you for checking out the Blog! 

To obtain my music, be sure to check my website for downloads and physical CDs!! This site also has material not available on other sites.

Also My CD is available on iTunes, CD Baby, CD Universe, Rhapsody, and Beachfront Radio.
Search: Key West Chris

Thank you everyone!!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Getting To Key West, MOTM Events, A1A Revisited

^Listen to Misty Loggins sing my song “Island Blue” While you read the blog!^

Getting Here

As far as any trip goes to Key West, the first thing you have to do is get there! There are three ways to get to Key West, one is by boat. This is the finest way, no doubt, particularly if you’re on a private boat! There is also the Key West Express, which travels from Fort Meyers and I believe it’s a three hour trip. Personally, I prefer sailing into the Keys. There’s nothing as peaceful as coming in under sail, with only the wind and the boat cutting through the tropical waters, making any sounds of movement. It's completely natural. Sailing in the Keys is a beautiful experience indeed! If anyone comes by any other way, I strongly suggest going out for a sunset sail while you're here!  There are an assortment of sailboats that head out every evening. If you would like to look into it, touch base with my friend Bruce Nielsen who books them!

Here's his FB page:

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Having said that, most don’t have the opportunity to take a boat and the other two ways are to either fly, or drive. Flying is kind of generic for the most part, with one exception, Silver Airways. Silver Airways recently started flying to Key West, taking up where American Eagle left off, using turbo props! What a joy to hear propellers in the air! Let’s face it, flying in a jet is about as exciting as white bread. However, think of the romance of flying into Key West on a prop plane! Now that’s an adventure!!! The romance of flying into Key West on a prop plane is really hard to beat! Silver flies into Key West from Ft. Lauderdale, Cape Coral, and Tampa.

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Of course the other way of getting here is by car. Many people fly into either Miami, or Ft. Lauderdale, rent a car and drive here. This is a fabulous way to arrive! You enter the Conch Republic on the mainland, driving on US 1 when you pass The Last Chance Saloon, which is the last building in Florida City before you hit the 18 mile stretch, then drive through the Everglades before you hit Key Largo. The Last Chance Saloon is the border of the Conch Republic and the U.S. ;-) The drive through the Keys is always rated as one of the top ten most scenic drives in the United States and one not to be missed!!!!

Here is where so many make a grave, regretful error! 

The vast majority drive straight through to Key West. 

The smart traveler will take a day or two to get to there. Granted, from the first point of civilization one hits after “the stretch”, Gilberts Resort, to Mile Zero in Key West,  is only 108 miles. The Keys are without doubt, the most laid back places I’ve been in my life. I am not including Key West in that statement, mind you. Key West is a lot of fun and I love it, but it certainly isn't laid back at all. Its balls to the wall, pedal to the metal right up to 4am in the morning. Staying a couple of nights on the way down, you can really get a feel for what the Keys laid back atmosphere is all about.

The absolute best thing to do is stop around Key Largo for the day/evening. It’s also cheaper than Key West as well. I mentioned Gilbert’s Resort earlier. I’m familiar with it because I used to play there with my band, The Rabble Rousers before I moved to Key West. Gilbert’s sits right on Jewfish Creek at the base of the bridge to Key Largo. Since they built the new bridge, there is an exit specifically for Gilbert’s. Whether you stay there or just stop for a refresher, Gilbert's has to be the absolute king as far as Tiki Bars in all of the Keys. The main bar is a HUGE Tiki Bar, easily the largest Tiki Bar in the Keys! Jim the bar tender, is one of the best in the business. Once he knows you, when he sees you come in the next time, your drink is on the bar before you get there!

They also have a smaller Tiki Bar, about 1/3 the size of the large one. Additionally, there are all sorts of little tiki tables scattered all over, if you want to be slightly away from the bar.

Like many other great places in the Keys, this is old time Keys, not the new, glamour we’re seeing encroaching on Key West.

Check this out! Gilbert’s has a few panoramic views available on this page:

I also just checked, rooms there for Monday October 28th are $69 and $79 for double occupancy. Be it here or anywhere else in the Keys, take a day or two to unwind, because trust me, coming to MOTM what you’re going to do is get all wound up. Gilbert's, like many other places in the Keys archipelago, is old time Keys. 5 star? Hardly. But what it is, is the real deal. There are all kinds of places like this throughout the Keys. I mention Gilbert's because I know it.

The Keys are one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been to. Don’t do yourself the disservice of just driving through. Stop for a night or two. It’s hard to beat.

Some pictures of the Keys
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Robbie’s Marina, Islamorada
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Blackwater Sound, Key Largo

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Caribbean Club, Key Largo

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Key Largo - Sharkey's Pub and Galley. This bar sits right on a cannal and is hidden away in Key Largo.

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As I said, the drive down is consistently rated as one of the most scenic in the U.S. You are island hopping with the Atlantic on your left and the Gulf of Mexico on your right. Every day the water is different as well!

The road down to Key West once you hit Key Largo, is only one road and that is U.S. 1. That’s it. It’s also called Overseas Highway. This is NOT A1A.

U.S. 1 runs from Key West to Fort Kent, Maine. It starts in Key West and runs 2,369 miles. Key West the sign reads “Mile 0” on Whitehead Street. It turns on Truman and up just before White Street, is Mile Marker 1.

A1A is an alternate route in Florida. The name means “Atlantic 1 Alternate”. There is virtually no place in the Keys where an alternate could possibly be placed, other than a small section of road, two miles, in Key West where there is a section of A1A. This runs from Bertha Street to the Cow Key Bridge, where it ends. This is also known as South Roosevelt Blvd. When Jimmy Buffett wrote the song that says “Strolling down the avenue that’s known as A1A”, he was talking about strolling down South Roosevelt Blvd. most likely past Smathers Beach. (his first video, Come Monday,was largely filmed on S.Roosevelt/A1A.

A1A also has its own Mile Markers. It doesn’t have a Mile 0 sign, but one mile up from Bertha St. is Mile Marker 1. A1A’s MM 1, is about three miles from US1’s MM 0. A1A ends is at the Cow Key Bridge. At that point you merge with US 1, just past it’s Mile Marker 4.

So, in the Keys, A1A is two miles long and located in Key West. The road that takes you through the Keys, across all of the bridges Key Largo to Key West, is U.S.1, not A1A. A1A picks up again on the mainland up in Miami/Dade.

I made this video last year, so you can see all of A1A in the Keys on the quick drive.

The Drive Down is: To be continued in the next blog!!!


This year I’ll be hosting three events! Anything you see labeled “Conch Rock Productions”, is us! Look for my logo!

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Last year we had the Tropical Songwriters in Paradise event and it was such a success, we’re doing it again! This year however, it is moving to Durty Harry/Rick’s at 202 Duval St. right in the thick of everything. I’m really excited about that too! This year, we’re doing in the same formula as the largest songwriter’s festival in the nation, the Key West Songwriter’s Festival, does. Frankly, I haven’t a clue why I didn’t do it this way before. Or for that matter, why no one else has ever done it this way at MOTM?

What we’ll be doing is an In-The-Round formula. In other words we’ll have three or four songwriters on the stage at the same time. One will talk a bit about their song then play it. The next artist then does the same when they are done and it just rotates. The great thing about this for the audience is that they get to see three or four different artists on stage at the same time!

Additionally, I just heard from Rick’s manager and he is also going to have it set up as a tail gate party with a B.B.Q. going! This event will be Thursday, noon to 8pm.

Here’s a good example of how an in-the-round works, with Jon Roniger at the 2011 Key West Song Writer Festival. You’ll notice there are four songwriters on stage with him. Ours will be the same format!

The evening of the night before, Wednesday, October 30th from 6:30 – whenever, I’ll be hosting MOTM OPEN MIC AT McCONNELL’S!!!

Last year I had so many artists wanting to play the songwriter’s event, but I just couldn’t fit everyone in. The open mic is a perfect solution for that! The format is simple. There’s a list, one signs when they get there. When they’re called, they play. Easy! We can go as long as we need too. I’m initially scheduling it to end at midnight, but if there are patrons and players in the bar, we can go as long as 4am. We’ll play that by ear. McConnell’s has a full bar and a great menu as well! The kitchen closes around 10:30. I looking forward to a great crowd!
McConnell’s is at 900 Duval on the corner of Olivia and Duval, noe block north of Truman Ave.
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The other event I’ll be hosting is the “Sunday Afternoon Chill, Dockside at Sunset Tiki. This event will be at Sunset Tiki, which is on the water, behind the Galleon Resort at 617 Front St. This will be Sunday, November 3rd noon to 5pm. I mean, it’s tough to beat live music at a dockside bar, isn’t it? Seriously!!!

NOTE!!! This event has been changed! With the passing of DJ Jeff, the event has been changed to "Trop Rockin' For Jeff - Dedicated to a Brother DJ Jeff Allen". Any musicians playing in MOTM are welcome to stop by and Trop Rock for Jeff in his memory.

Same time, same place, just that the event has changed..

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View from Sunset Tiki:

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Thanks for reading the blog!


To obtain my music, be sure to check my website for downloads and physical CDs!! This site also has material not available on other sites.

Also My CD is available on iTunes, CD Baby, CD Universe, Rhapsody, and Beachfront Radio.
Search: Key West Chris

Thank you everyone!!