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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.  


  1. I always enjoy your blog, Chris. It allows me to be there in spirit in Key West when in actuality I'm stuck elsewhere.

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