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Saturday, May 18, 2013

2013 Key West Songwriter's Festival

2013 Key West Songwriter’s Festival


Key West Songwriter’s Festival interview by Gary Ek with Misty Loggins and Key West Chris

The Key West Songwriter’s Festival went just incredible, as always! What a marvelous event and what great talent to be enjoyed. To sum it up there were thirty venues hosting one hundred and fifty songwriters. I recall several years ago I was attending an event at Blue Heaven and there was a young woman who was playing a piano. I was in the standing area and a woman next to me says to the woman next to her “Oh look! She’s playing a Taylor Swift song!” to which I gave her a nudge and said with a wink “Actually, Taylor Swift is playing her song. That woman on stage is the one who wrote the song.” That’s pretty much what the songwriter’s festival is all about. Last year I recall hearing the writer of the song John Waite made popular, “I Ain’t Missing You At All”, then later one of the writers of the song Jimmy Buffett and Martina McBride made famous, “Trip Around The Sun”.

As a local, I always chip in and give a hand where I can. In the last few years I’ve marched around town distributing the posters for Dani Strampello Holliday, who works with local organizer Charlie Bauer. This year I was delivering a poster to a scooter store a couple of days before the event and there is Mark Mason of BMI, the main Nashville based host/sponsor of the event, renting a scooter. Like we always say here “It’s a small town!”

About a week or so before the event, Jeff Allen interviewed me on Beachfront Radio out in Oxnard California. I was thrilled to learn that that show I was part of, had the highest ratings ever! What a great way to get things rolling in high gear! Thanks Jeff and Carol!

The event always kicks off out on Sunset Pier, at the very base of Duval, and like always it was very crowded. Naturally I met some old friends there in from Nashville. My dear friend and for a second year in a row, my songwriting fest stage partner, Misty Loggins, was there talking to some of her friends. Naturally as an element of surprise I just went up and stood shoulder to shoulder to her as she was engrossed in conversation. After about fifteen seconds, curiosity got the better of her and she casually turned to see who this rude individual was standing so close to her.  Her eyes bugged out and we threw our arms around each other laughing. It’s always great to see good friends whom time has put a physical distance between, but the bond of friendship remains strong and unscathed.

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(Misty and I just after we bumped into each other on Sunset Pier)

I also bumped into Chuck Cannon there. I actually only met Chuck there last year for the first time. Chuck’s been writing massive hit songs for something like twenty something years. He’s also played in every Key West Songwriter’s Festival since day one.

Another fun thing is running into people whom you’ve met in years past. This was the case bumping into photographer Pamela Burkard and her daughter Jenna, who was traveling with her mom for the event, all the way in from San Diego! On a few occasions I bumped into Jenna during the festival and it was just so wonderful to see someone so enamored with the event and all of the performers! That makes it all worthwhile.

Local photographer Nick Doll was seen all over the festival, having been contracted by BMI, the host from Nashville, to be the official photographer for the event! I met Nick when he was a bartender at The Porch. Nick always impressed me back then as he seriously studied beer and could talk quite knowledgeably with anyone on the subject. He’s been self-employed now as a photographer himself for well over a year and the fact that BMI contracted him, speaks volumes! Congrats Nick!!!! 

The event moves from the Sunset Pier to the Pier House across the street. The Pier House just sold about a week after the event, so it will be interesting to see what becomes of it next year.

I also ran into my friend Kent McCoy, music appreciator extraordinaire! Kent is a retired police officer from Pennsylvania and always has a permanent great attitude, and a sincere enthusiastic smile whenever he arrives in town!

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Christine Wartenby was also in from New Jersey. Christine is in several times  a year. She’s real Key West visitor, not a tourist.  Somehow I don't seem to have a picture with Christine :-( 

In addition to all of the scheduled performances, there were events held at non-official venues as well. I stopped by The Cork and Stogie, a non-event venue just a block and a half from where I live. Wow! Three guys playing there who were simply outstanding! The Cork seriously doesn’t have the room to hold an official event, however the intimate setting on their front porch was excellent for that “Up close and personal” touch. Craft Beers, superb wine, accompanied the fantastic music and made such a great atmosphere for the afternoon.


Local songwriter Rusty Lemmon and I were two local songwriters in the event this year, so I felt it my duty to show support and make sure I made it to his gig at Conch Republic Seafood. I was a bit late getting there though as Captain Tony’s needed to see me about playing there on Saturday. I caught Rusty’s set and he did the town of Key West proud! Way to go Rusty!

Jeff Harris was the other local in the event, however I completely missed his performance. :-(

My event was at Southernmost on the Beach, at the other end of Duval, a few doors east down South St. As I mentioned earlier, Misty Loggins and I shared the stage and thanks to Ms. Dani Strampello Holliday, local organizer and fantabulouse individual, we found we were on the only timeslot that ran from noon to 1 on Saturday in the entire event!!! Holy Molley!

Again, meeting new people, I met Alan Mayer out of Nashville, whom I had been friends with for several years on Facebook. Alan is a photographer and it’s always fun hanging out with folks you know through social media. Alan prides himself as to never wearing a tie, which puts him in very good standing in my book! (He does wear a bow tie on his FB page, but that was only because he wore it in a play he was in!)
Our gig went fantastic! We had beautiful weather, a great setting, and happy people. My friends from Southernmost Coconut Castaways, Marc and Tammy Hollander, were kind enough to handle the merchandise table for all of the performers at the event that day as well. It was reassuring having friends so close by. Plus, the crew over at Southernmost on the Beach were superb, a credit to manager Boomer, the hotel manager there.

Naturally Misty and I did the song that I wrote for her specifically, which has enjoyed bucket loads of radio airtime from Hawaii, across the Pacific to California, across the Continental United States, hopping the Atlantic Ocean to Great Britain and the European Continent, “Island Blue”.

As I mentioned, we played for an hour. It’s a great setting and people have been telling me since last year when Misty and I played together “You tow have a great show! You really complement each other very well!” I’m still hearing that same comment here a couple of weeks after this year’s event. We do have an on stage chemistry and I took advantage of it at the end this brand new song of mine, “Sea Plane” ! HA HA HA!

Misty had a good laugh on that one… you’re safe until I get my pilot’s license Misty!
Here’s Misty doing the Title song to her CD “Talk Country To ‘Em”

I constantly get messages from friends around the world daily. These folks are coming to Key West to visit asking where I’m playing. I think it would be great if we could parlay that into playing here at Southernmost on the Beach, where the videos and pictures they see in this blog. They just hired a guy from Islamorada to play there, who had his first gig there this week, so who knows?

The Key West Songwriter’s Festival is a BMI event. In years past ASCAP had a minor presence there with an event every midnight at The Bottle Cap called “The Midnight Hang”. What it used to amount o was an open mic for participants of the Festival. Unfortunately, the ASCAP people pretty much avoided putting any of the Key West writers up (Hello! I’m one of them! ), which in my view is a bit rude to the host city, however in the grand scheme of things, everyone loved that event in years past. This year the event was dropped and a lot of the performers were very disappointed about it. I think I’ll talk to local organizers Charlie and Danielle to see if they might be interested in doing something like the old event of years gone by, next year. I’d be happy to organize it, if he’s interested!

On Sunday there’s the unofficial event at The Mango Tree Inn on the corner of Flemming and Simonton, for their pool party. I was told last year “You HAVE to go!!”, so this year I went. Like the event at The Cork and Stogie, this is not an official event. There were all sorts of great songwriters there and it certainly was a fun event! When I arrived, local drag artist Gina Maserati was playing songs poolside with Ray West. Inside they had an open mic of sorts, however it was a lot like the ASCAP event of years past in that they shied away from any local artists. While Gina and Ray had played poolside, in the main living room was where this took place. Very intimate with an up close and personal feel to it. For some reason the sound system they were using sounded like it was a left over from Cab Calloway's era. It sounded like a shoe box. The intimacy of the room overrode it however. I had spoken to the music organizer about playing, but after four hours I left without being called. I will most likely will stop by next year; however it will just be a long pit stop most likely.

On the Trop Rock front in the Festival there were a few of us in the event. Margaritaville is a natural for Trop Rock artists and for this year they had John Frinzi and Aaron Scherz. I met John Frinzi briefly on the Monday before the festival. I was doing my poster delivery thing and suddenly there was my pal Will Parker having a beer. Well, what better an excuse at the end of the day than to share a beer with Will? Turned out he was doing the sound there and in came John. Great meeting him! Dani Hoy was also in town playing one of the unofficial events at Pearls. I also bumped into Jimmy Parrish at Misty's other gig with Brent Burns on the South Beach. I'm not sure if Jimmy was playing anywhere, or just checking out the festival? Nice to meet him though! Loved Brent Burns set with Misty! Brent Burns. Now there's a guy who has things going on! Last year he missed the festival because a horse of his won one of the supporting races at the Kentucky Derby! This year, only a day or two after he did his set with Misty, he posted a picture of himself with friends sitting at a cafe, in old Paris.... Paris, France that is. Brent Burns is my new idol!

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Misty Loggins, myself, Dani Hoy and Brent Burns after Misty and Brent's set. Photo: Kent McCoy

The official event ends on Sunday night, however my friends Thom Shepherd and Coley McCabe were playing a few doors down the street from where I live on Monday at Lighthouse Court. I helped out with donating a sound system that they could use and they were kind enough to allow me to play a set during their break. That’s an honor indeed! Coley had worked in Nashville for major publishing house Big Red Tractor. Additionally, Thom has had five #1 hits by various artists. His latest one was “Redneck Yacht Club”. What a privilege to play with these guys!!! And what a way to close out the 2013 Key West Songwriter’s Festival! Thank you Coley and Thom!!!!!

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Coley and Thom

On a final note: The last two years I've had the real honor of sharing the stage with Misty Loggins. Over the years I've known her, Misty has become not just a fellow songwriter/musician, but also a dear friend and through that I've come to see that she's a very, very unique and beautiful human being. Misty has a wonderful ability which seeks out the very best in people she comes in contact with, then she focuses on that good point. As humans we tend to like people who bring the best points out in ourselves, because everyone is in their best element when they know they are appreciated. Misty does this with everyone she comes in contact with. She's a very special woman. I' already looking forward to seeing her next year at the Festival! 

In closing, it was such a great honor to be one of only three Key West songwriters in the 2013 Key West Songwriter’s Festival. I am so gratefully  humbled.

Special thanks to:
George McClure: McClure and Trowbridge Publishing Nashville inc.
Charlie Bauer: Key West organizer of the festival and owner of Smokin’ Tuna Saloon
Dani Strempello Holliday: Key West organizer with Smokin Tuna Saloon
Mark Mason: Organizer with BMI, Nashville

For music downloads please check my website :
(This site also carries unreleased studio material as well as demos.)

I'm also found on iTunes, CD Baby, Rhapsidy, and CD Universe, Search “Key West Chris”

Thanks everyone!!!

 "Key West Chris" Rehm

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1 comment:

  1. The KWSF was phenomenal! I got to see quite a few amazing acts while there and got to talk to Even Stevens! I'm going to make sure I'm there for the whole thing next year.

    Thanks for the blog (and the mention). It was great hearing you and Misty as well as Misty and Brent Burns. I LOVE" Seaplane" and" Island Blue" and Misty's tune, "Talk Country to 'Em" among others.