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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!!