Search This Blog

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.

 photo DSCF0075_zpsfe8fe590.jpg

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!

 photo IMG_8815_zpscb6d68dc.jpg

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!

 photo IMG_9145_zps87542b03.jpg

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.

 photo IMG_9002_zps9f30b2d5.jpg

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.

 photo IMG_9014_zps0cecbf9c.jpg

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

 photo 2013-11-01MOTM1_zpsc3bb4195.jpg

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.

 photo MewRick_zps20393cce.jpg
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!

 photo MeandAllenatthePitStop_zpsfdb14e72.jpg

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!

 photo ConchRock_zps3d503e31.jpg

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.