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Wednesday, February 26, 2014


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Facebook and the Talking Shit Cruise

Facebook can be a great tool, in addition to a recreation. No secret there. It can also, what we call in English, open a can of worms, if you’re not careful. To open a can of worms is an English expression meaning to create a situation that causes unpleasantness, or trouble. (For those whose first language is English, please understand that a great many people who read this blog, are from non-English speaking countries). This happened the other day when I posted a bit of frustration of hearing a band at a bar playing Mustang Sally, which I stated was an extremely over played song. The flood gates opened! I also stated that Margaritaville and Brown Eyed Girl were overplayed, subsequently. Some stated that I was absolutely correct, while others defended playing the songs. It was all good. Then the shit hit the fan. Someone posted that on a Trop Rock cruise out of Tampa/St. Petersburg a week and a half before a lot of people were, what we call in English, “Talking Shit” about me. Again, for the readers whose primary language is not English, this means saying bad things about me.

This came as a surprise to me. Yeah, there’s one person I know who might and that was the person who organized the cruise, as a matter of fact, but with the exception of the band Homemade Wine, who are all good friends of mine and my friend Christine, I really don’t know anyone on the cruise personally. At least not that I know of, or have met them face to face. Yet, here it is said that "a lot" were calling me “an asshole”, according to a post on the thread in Facebook. How is it that someone who doesn't even know an individual says that they're an "asshole"? Especially someone who's primary goal in life is to make people laugh and be happy. Really?  I’ve deleted the thread, however I copied it.

It struck me as odd because what do I do? I do everything in my power to make people happy and laugh. The only time I get defensive is if I’m insulted.

One of the things stated was that I was someone who is taking advantage of my girlfriend, Dani Hoy, as we’re both musicians. They said I was “using Dani”. Using Dani? Really? Are they actually serious? They obviously don’t know anything about me whatsoever.

So anyway, the flip side to all of this, is that it gives me an opportunity to introduce myself to the readers of this blog and show them part of me that isn't shown here otherwise. I normally don’t wave my own flag. It’s not my nature. However, because of the hoopla of the aforementioned situation on Facebook, I kind of feel obliged set a few records straight.So, we can kill a few birds with one stone.

For starters, I don’t talk behind people’s back. If I have something to say, I’ll say it to them directly and they know where I stand from the beginning.

Secondly, I’m very focused on good ethics. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Those standards hold true both on and off a cruise ship by the way! HA HA HA!

First of all, a bit on my background musically. In September of 1995 I walked into a bar in Miami and my life changed that day. For the previous dozen plus years or so my musical life was dormant.  I was more focused on my business career and all that went into it. I had played guitar since I was 14, played in bands, and seemed to have a knack for writing songs, albeit a bit underdeveloped back then. However, when I walked into Chubby’s Bar B. Que that day, things started to change and it changed quickly. 

Before I knew it I was playing in front of people again, both as a solo acoustic player, as well as an electric lead guitar player in the house Country band, the Chubby’s Bar B. Cued Band! :-D  Then, I was also hired into a Blues band, Outa D’Blues. Additionally, I was also doing a few solo acoustic gigs as well, here and there.

Around Spring of 1996 I started messing around and ended up writing my first song in years, “Titusville!”
By the time 2000 rolled around, things were rolling musically for me. McClure and Trowbridge Publishing Nashville offered me a contract and signed me as a song writer. They immediately picked up my songs “Titusville!”, “You Got Me Walking in the Rain”, Albuquerque”, and “Sara”. So, in short, I’ve been a Nashville published songwriter for fourteen years. Here’s a demo of “Titusville!”

Also in 2000 I started a band with my buddy Bruce Turkel, which he sold me on as being a foundation to showcase my songwriting. Bruce strongly suggested that I use my name in the band, in order to highlight the fact, so we named the band “Chris Rehm and the Rabble Rousers”. Again, I’m not one to blow my own horn, so to speak, but Bruce is an advertising/branding genius and owner of a large advertising and branding firm in Coconut Grove, “Turkel”, so I gulped and did what he suggested. I’m proud to say he and I are great friends to this day! (Youtube search Bruce Turkel and enjoy!).

In our first year we were invited to play the Sound Advice Ft. Lauderdale Blues Festival on the acoustic stage. The biggest complement I had was, out of the large crowd we had, was seeing legend Blues musician/writer John Hammond swaying back and forth with his eyes closed, to one of my original songs.
The following year we were on the Main Stage (out of five total). North Mississippi Allstars actually opened for us. A big tip of the hat goes to my friend Richard “Louis” Hackmeister for both of these!
When we started the band, as it was something to showcase my songwriting abilities, I thought it would be a fun idea to write a song for the bikers. Whenever I played previously, they’d always come up and complement me, so I felt as a songwriter, I could write a song for them, in appreciation. I wrote a song called “Fat Boy”, named after the Harley Davidson. Next thing I knew, I was writing song after song for bikers. “Sweet Dyna”, “ElectraGlide”, “Sturgis”, “Rainy Day”, plus several more.

I then had a wild idea. What would happen if we approached Harley Davidson with the idea of cutting an album for them that their dealers could showcase on their checkout counter? The idea seemed to me like a good one. Harley Davidson had over 1,300 outlets worldwide and accessories were a major part of their business. It took a long time and a lot of going back and forth. Harley actually liked the idea, however they were contracted with a firm in London, England to do all of their music needs. No one had ever done anything like that before and they weren't so keen on the idea. That was that. A little over a year later, Carly Simon did the exact same thing with Starbucks and sold several million CDs. C'est La Vie.

Here’s one of our songs, “Sweet Dyna” named after the Harley Davidson Dyna Glide model:

In 2009 I was now in Key West over a year when I started writing for my first CD. I had made a demo recording of one of my songs, “Raise My Glass To the Upper 48” and put it to a collage video. Naturally, I put it out on Facebook. To my surprise, I heard from DJ Jeff Allen, the top Trop Rock radio personality, saying “When you do a radio quality recording of that song, send it to me!”. Boy! Waas that a shot in the arm! 

In making that CD, the first objective I had was doing a first rate, quality production. I can’t tell you how many recordings I’d listen to in the genre, in which every song sounded the same. The first song sounded great, but I’d be dozing off by the third song. I’d be damned if my CD would follow the same route. That’s the antithesis of what I am. My idea is for every song to be different, not only from the last, but also different from any other song on the collection.

One way to combat this what I did was to write every song in a different root genre. The first song was actually two different genres, Afro/Cuban and Motown, the next was Jazz, the following Funk, then Country, South Seas, Kick ass Rock, Southern Rock, Barrel house Blues, Brazilian, and Bahamian.
The entire CD was focused on the Florida Keys as well. I had local producer Dan Simpson at the helm and we used 18 different musicians, all local based in Key West. The album was a tribute to all of them and was released on June 1, 2010.

Here’s what some had to say:

“Shanghai’d and Marooned in Key West (Things Could Be Worse)" covers so many different genres, it’s another great addition to the ever expanding sounds of Trop Rock by adding so many different new flavors to it.” Jeff Allen, Beachfront Radio

“Seriously, your album rocks dude. Love every song, It is perfection” Amo Bennett, Island Time Radio WBWC, Cleveland, Oh.

"Great C.D! love it! I listen to it all the time , cool idea's love it!  It’s out of the box and fun.... love it!"
Steven Youngblood Trop Rock 1290 WPCF, Pensacola

The one that perhaps carried the most weight however was from Miles Davis’ producer Shelly Liebowitz.

Now I can’t expect every fan in Trop Rock to know Miles Davis. After all, that genre, for the most part, is a tropical themed Pop music and Miles Davis was jazz. However, to put it in perspective, Miles Davis was The Beatles of Jazz. If Miles did something, everyone would follow. If Miles said something, it was revered. The best musicians in Jazz all started with Miles, or played with him. Herbie Handcock, John McLoghlin, Chick Corea, Billy Cobham.. I could go on all day.

Shelly wrote me from Los Angeles after hearing my CD and said “Chris! I LOVE your CD!”

It really doesn't get any better than that and it’s a fantastic tribute to Dan who produced it, as well as every musician who played on it. I thank everyone from my heart for their contributions! As long as I’m in Key West I will not take off to Los Angeles, New York, or Nashville to cut an album with non-Keys personnel. How can the real feeling of the Keys be felt by people who have never been here? How many times have I heard the comment “Others might write a song, or even a CD about the Keys, but your CD FEELS like the Keys!”?

My songwriting is not typical. Much more often than not, I play chords that most never will know. I wrote a song last year that has twenty four different chords in it (“Seaplane”). My stuff is not pop music and I’ll never be as popular as most, but it is progressive and original. Another I hear a lot is “You don’t sound like anyone else.” Thank you! 

I may start a video series on how to play some of my songs, if the interest is there and justifies the time involved.

In 2011 I was invited to be a part of the Key West Songwriter’s Festival. To an outsider this sounds like a local event and while it is, it is also a Nashville event. It’s the largest songwriting event in the U.S. and put on as a BMI event, along with Charlie Bauer, here in Key West. I originally was entered into the festival by BMI Nashville, interestingly enough. I’ve been fortunate enough to be included in the event for the last three years. This last year there were three local Key West songwriters in the event, the other 147 were writers from Nashville, for the most part.

At the Key West Songwriter’s Festival

Another objective I have is to bring younger people into the genre. A friend of mine told me that one of the most popular Trop Rock artists told him “ Don’t play music that these people will dance to. Look at them. They’re all over 60. If they fall down, they’ll break a hip!” … and the people on the cruise called me an asshole!

A couple of years ago I had my friend from Nashville, Misty Loggins, sing my song “Island Blue”. Misty’s somewhere between mid-twenties and thirty. First and foremost, this was an artist decision on my part. I actually wrote the song for Misty specifically. However, there’s loads of room for growth in Trop and growth will come from people like Misty, Zack Brown, and Kenny Chesney, not from people like me, or anyone in it currently. The genre, if it will survive, needs younger people within it. Plans are for Misty to be on my next CD with Island Blue and more! ;-)

Here’s Misty singing “Island Blue”

In non-music ventures I’m almost finished writing a book, “Bar Stories” that should be out soon! I also have a screen play to get done. Then again, there is the Bar Tending With Boris video series which I started doing in 2012. All of this is comical, as my primary goal in life has always been making people smile and laugh.

Bar Tending With Boris Video:

I’ll say that again … as my primary goal in life has always been making people smile and laugh.

I hope that explains where I’m coming from, where I’ve been, and a touch on where I’m going. To the flapping mouths on the cruise ship, who obviously feel they must talk shit about people they don’t even know, get a life. I’ve been doing this a long time, in my ninetieth year, if you do the math. I’m not “using” my girlfriend, or anyone else for that matter. If anyone wants to pontificate about me, or Dani, don't be a coward, tell me to my face. End of story.

I will post on Dani in a future blog perhaps. Between now and then, trust me, you don't have a clue about us and it's none of your business. 

For everyone else, I hope this gives you a better idea of who I am and thanks for reading! It's a good thing to know a bit of background on whom you're reading! Sorry for the rant side of it. but it needed to be addressed. 

Thanks again!

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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, February 17, 2014




The Conch Republic stretches from the Dry Tortugas, through the Marquesas Keys, then the Mule Keys, to Key West and on up through the Keys to The Last Chance Saloon in Florida City. The Last Chance Saloon is at the end of what’s known as “The 18 Mile Stretch”, section of U.S. 1, which runs from Gilbert’s Resort, on Jewfish Creek, up through the Everglades/mainland section of the Conch Republic. As there is nothing but everglades between Gilbert’s Resort and The Last Chance Saloon, we’ll focus here from Gilbert’s Resort on down, for this. The only road in and out of the Keys is U.S. 1, which is measured in “Mile Markers” (MM) for the addresses on it. MM 0 is in Key West on Whitehead Street, which is the start of U.S. 1 and Gilbert’s is MM 107.9, which is on the north side of Jewfish Creek in Key Largo. For those of you outside of the U.S. that’s 174.8 Km.

Now from Gilbert’s to Florida City, the first stop of civilization on the mainland in Miami/Dade County, it’s 18 miles (29km). Here’s the funny thing about the Keys. While there are towns like Key Largo, Tavernier, Islamorada, Marathon and so forth. Now while these towns do have their own local governments, there really is no “Downtown”. It’s not as though you can go for a walk and window shop at the stores, or anything. Basically, if you go someplace here on these islands, you drive on U.S. 1 to get there. But none have a downtown, per say. This is a good thing though, so please don’t take it the wrong way. But here’s the interesting thing about it all and perhaps something unique to the Keys. If someone from say, Gilbert’s Resort in Key Largo, or a person in Islamorada decide to head to Key West, they say “I’m going into town”, as Key West is the one place in the Keys that actually does have a “Town”. Then again, if the same person at Gilberts or Islamorada are going to say Florida City, or Miami they’ll say “I have to go to Miami” or, in the age old Keys tradition “I have to go up to Florida”.

The fact is, from say Gilbert’s to “Florida” is only 18 miles and Key West is 107.9 miles, yet the person in Key Largo considers Key West part of the community and Miami Dade County, something almost foreign, or alien to the Keys even though it’s much closer. Likewise for any other place in Florida, for that matter. I just use Miami/Dade as it’s the closest example.

A couple of fun examples of how Key West is “town” to all throughout the keys and in doing so, puts the Keys as a whole, in that same mindset from one end to the other.

As mentioned, the road in and out of the Keys, U.S. 1, (this is NOT A1A, btw)  runs 107.9 miles (174.8km) through the islands of the Keys, then a further on up the mainland another eighteen miles (29km) to the border of the Conch Republic at the Last Chance Saloon, in Florida City. Also, the Conch Republic extends westerly across the water, through the Mule Keys, the Marquesas Keys, and on to The Dry Tortugas, about 70 miles (113km) west of Key West. Additionally, the keys north of Key Largo, Old Rhodes Key, Elliot Key, Boca Chita Key, Sands Key, and finally Stiltsville in Biscayne Bay, bring the Conch Republic’s boundaries well over 250 miles (405+ km)



Boca Chita Light

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Boca Chita Church
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And over this 250+ mile spread the mentality is the same. It’s unlike that of the mainland entirely. I recall back when I lived on the mainland and driving down to the Keys, it was as though a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders when I crossed into the Conch Republic. Everyone says it’s a different country, within the United States. When I was working in an art gallery in Key West, I often would joke with visiting clientele and say “You know you’re in a different country, right?” the answer was inevitably something like “Oh! You got that right!”. This is nothing like the mainland here. In my song “Raise My Glass to the Upper 48” I say:

“Friends and family they call me say why not visit back home?
And although I love ‘em dear I don’t ever want to leave here”

Here’s Dave Bevens, owner of the Cork and Stogie, who sums it up best in this brief interview!

It’s true. No one wants to leave here. Plus, you know what happens when they do? They all come back. As Richard Van Der Mude says about the Keys “This is not the real world” and it’s not. I’ll head up to the mainland and say to myself “What the hell did I just do?” I can’t wait to get back to the archipelago of islands that runs across forty something bridges, island hopping across paradise. Some may land in Key Largo, others Tavernier. Some in the islands of Islamorada, a few in Marathon as well. Most will head to Key West. There’s more jobs there, for one and a population of about 25,000, out of the 75,000 in the Conch Republic.

Some who come here from the mainland, after a while have trouble adjusting to some of the quirks. Their first impression is falling in love with the place. However, after they hear what they call “The F Bomb” dropped nonchalantly so often, they become bewildered and confused, as well as offended. Imagine, someone getting offended by the F word in the Keys! Really? My doctor “Looks like we have to change your fucking prescription” Lawyer “We really fucked them didn’t we?”. Musician on stage at Schooner Wharf “I know about 3000 fucking songs so just let me know what the fuck you want to hear”.

When visitors hear this at a restaurant when someone is playing, they are often taken aback, at first, but then laugh. When some move here they don’t know what to make of it at times. Some get upset. Why? Because they’re thinking from a mainland point of view. Others want to change it! Really? It was one of the reasons they moved here to begin with. It falls into the free thinking aspect of the grand scheme of “Island Living”. These are people who mentally, are still back on the mainland. Here's some news for them: You're not on the mainland, you're on an island. Lighten up and have some fun! Laugh a little!

I may go into a bar and as soon as the bartender sees me says “Hey Key West Chris! Fuck you!” I laugh and say “Hey Fuck you too!” We both laugh, shake hands and I order a beer. Here in the islands, it’s actually a term of endearment, between friends.

Recently I saw a post about it and the comments from people off the islands were along the lines of “Oh! They’re just ignorant”, or “They don’t have a vocabulary and they’re uneducated.” Somehow I have a tough time seeing a doctor and a Lawyer, who spent 9 years each in college being “Ignorant” and ‘Uneducated”. What I do see are people who just don’t get it. “When In Rome”.

Regarding a song written about Key West, this is actually pretty easy. A tourist will write songs about coming to Key West and doing things we all did/do as a tourist, or a visitor (there’s a difference). The local songwriter will write songs about the day to day goings on. Listen to Michael McCloud’s songs “Closin’ The Bars” or “Pool Shootin’ Woman”. The Survivors “En Cayo Hueso”, or for that matter my song “Raise My Glass to the Upper 48”.  It’s all based from a local perspective.


Ding Dong The Witch is Gone! Yes, the manager that was the inspiration for the Key West Open Mic leaving McConnell’s Irish Pub and Grill at 900 Duval, has been fired and sent down the road tarred and feathered, figuratively speaking at least. As a result of this, the Key West Open Mic has returned to McConnell’s, this time on Thursdays, from 9 to at least midnight! The first one on the new schedule was this last Thursday and drew a good crowd! We actually had one of our blog readers, Curtis, show up from Jacksonville and play his first solo open mic! He did a great job too!


Curtis from Jacksonville

Everyone is welcome, be you a spectator or a player. Rules are the same as always. Sign up on the list. No one gets moved ahead of anyone else, whatever number you are on the list is where you play, I don’t care if you’re Sting or Cheryl Crow, wherever you sign up, is where you play. When the list finishes, we start at the top again. It’s fair and easy. Plus no one gets upset. The objective is for everyone to have FUN!!! So swing by and have some fun!


After disembarking from a cruise ship a passenger asks a local vendor:

 "Do you take American money here?"

Yeah, this really IS a different country alright! HA HA HA!


For those in Key West, once a month, be sure to check out the new Key West Artisan Market! This is a fabulous addition to Key West and is getting rave reviews by all that have attended! This month's is this coming Sunday, February 23, 2014!!! The event is held in the parking lot of The Restaurant Store, on Eaton St. Live music, crafts, fresh produce, and.... BEER!!!! The beer is brewed on premises at the Rastaurant Store, by Bone Island Brewing  and this Sunday's event will be the official grand opening of the Brewery! 9 am - 2pm.

Here's their Facebook page, so you can check it out!

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Thanks folks! Keep smiling! See you next blog!

Find me on Facebook:

Thank you everyone!!

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!!