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Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Bucket List,The Dry Tortugas! Fort Jefferson

Bucket List

In English, there's a slang expression which is "Kick The Bucket". For those who read this blog where English is not your first language, to kick the bucket means to die. The origin dates way, way back, with the theory that if someone were to hang themselves, get up on a bucket with a rope around their neck, then they would kick the bucket away and that would be the end of things. Here's Shakespeare in Henry IV Part II, 1597: "Swifter then he that gibbets on the Brewers Bucket." "gibbets" is an Od English word meaning hang. However, it must be noted that in today's use, "Kick the bucket" only means to die, it doesn't mean suicide.

The "Bucket List" is derived from the aforementioned phrase. It's widely viewed as a phrase that the movie "The Bucket List" may very well have coined itself in 2007 when it was made and today has become part of the English lexicon.

What the bucket list is, is a list of things one wants to do before they die. For many, death could very well be fifty years away, but they still have a bucket list. As for myself, I've never actually sat down and written the things I want to do before I go, but I do have them in my head. 
One has always been to go to The Dry Tortugas!

The Dry Tortugas are a cluster of key islands, the furthest west of the Keys archipelago. Today it is a National Park. They lie seventy miles (113km) west of Key West.  Discovered in 1513 by Ponce de Leon, he named them Las Tortugas. or translated into English, The Turtles, because of the abundance of turtles in and around the islands. Many years later the word "Dry" was added, as there is no fresh water on the islands. Today there are seven islets, which are actually an atol. In the past there have been as many as eleven at one time. However these islets have come and gone, then come back again over the centuries. It's a common thing in the Keys actually. Shifting sands are always a common occurrence down here, be it in the Dry Tortugas, or Key West. The islands they come and they go.

My girlfriend Dani and I were up early and checked into the Yankee Freedom III catamaran around 7:15 am and before we knew it, we were off. The Yankee Freedom runs quite fast and the seventy mile trip to The Dry Tortugas was about 2  1/2 hours'

About nine miles out we passed Ballast Key, which is the southernmost point of the contiguous United States. It's owned by a man named David Walkowski, a Key West resident, known for wise real estate investments and developments. He also has a house he built on Ballast Key, which is currently on the market for $15,000,000.00. Regretfully, I'm a few bucks short.



Ballast Key

The entire day was a bit overcast. Every now and then a few drops would blow by, but never warranted a rain coat or shelter. On the way there we passed other un-inhabited clusters of the Keys, including the Marquesas Keys, which I named in my song "Sailing".



The main Island of the Dry Tortugas is named Garden Key and is the sight of Fort Jefferson, which began construction in 1846. This was about the same time that Fort Zachery Taylor (Fort Zach) and both East and West Martello towers were built in Key West, by the U.S. government. Consequently, their styles are quite similar. The biggest difference is size. Just a guess here, but you could most likely fit five or six Fort Zacks inside Fort Jefferson!

It turns out that Ft. Jefferson is the largest masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere! sixteen million bricks were used in the construction. It actually takes up virtually the entire island!

(picture from Wikipedia)

The fort was actually never completed, although it was put into service. Like Key West's installations, it remained in Union hands during the American Civil War.

Dani rented gear and went snorkeling while I explored the fort further. She reported later that the snorkeling was fantastic! All kinds of fish and coral. I saw her from the top of the fort and snapped a few pictures of her with the zoom lens!



I love historic things and history itself. I recall going to the Coliseum and the Forum in Rome, Italy and I was just astonished! While this was not the Coliseum or the Forum, it did strike that same chord in my for my love of history. I loved every minute of it and I highly recommend the trip for anyone visiting the Keys!






It even has a mote!





The day we went, the water was amazing! It had a silver look to it, quite unlike the water in Key West.













Most of the guns were sold for scrap in the early 1900's, after they were obsolete. Several remain however. The biggest guns at the time could fire about three miles (5km).



View from the top of the fort. The Yankee Freedom III is at the dock.




Okay! So I achieved knocking one off of my bucket list! While I do have others to go on that fun list of things to do, one thing is for certain, I will return to the Dry Tortugas!


Again, I highly recommend the trip to the Dry Torguas! We took the Yankee Freedom III there and the entire crew were nothing short of first rate! You catch Yankee Freedom III at the beginning of Grinnell St. right at the dock.

You can also fly there via seaplane that leaves fron the airport in Key West.

For those who like camping, camping overnight is available also. Bear in mind two things here however. As it is a national park, alcohol of any kind is not permitted. Also, it is not called the Dry Tortugas for nothing, so be sure you bring enough drinking water with you for your stay!

Enjoy!

Thanks again for taking the time and interest in reading my blog!

Key West Chris Rehm





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!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Open Mic Key West - 2014, The Shanty Hounds With Redawg, MOTM 2014

Open Mic Key West 2014



(listen to "Liveaboard" while you read the blog!)

OPEN MIC KEY WEST 2014!!!




The Key West Open Mic at McConnell's we're doing has constantly had great success in the past and since we started doing it again at the beginning of the year, it's picked up where it left off. As in the past, people read this blog from all corners of the world. Consequently, they also come from all over, more often than not, armed with an instrument to play, which they brought along with them on their vacation to Key West, because that factored into their decision to come to Key West for their holiday in the first place! I think I'm doing something right apparently! It goes without saying that we have our local core supporters who are there every week, week in, week out and if it were not for them, there would be no open mic to begin with. I refrain from naming names because I'll inevitably forget someone and feel like a jerk

At this moment the open mic is on Thursday's at 9pm. We follow Trivia night, so it's not always starting precisly at 9. If any schedule changes do take place, I'll post both here and on Facebook.

As I've stated in the past, every open mic is run differently. I've attended dozens run by many, many different people and having attended many in the past, I've come up with a system that really is as faultless as it can get. I'm not boasting, mind you. None of this was my idea, per say. I just took the best of all I've found and pooled them together. It works too! Damn well! So, to every open mic host that I've had the pleasure of attending your open mic, Thank you!! Especially David Leicht, who's was the first I attended in Miami and, when it all boils down to it, it's the closest I pattern mine after.


One thing that is mine and mine alone however is the theme. For starters, when someone new comes in the first thing I tell them is "If you can't have fun here and be laughing, we're going to throw your ass out!"

One quick note: This is an "Open Mic" not an "Open Jam". The difference is slight, but in an open jam, there is usually a band, or an individual that you go up and play with. In an open mic, you go up on your own, or with friends that are with you. There's not an established band or individual(s) that you play with.

Going back to the requirement of having fun, this also is required of myself as well. In order to do this and maintain being the laughing ringleader of this circus, I have to keep it as simple as I can. I therefore use a signup list. My view is that everyone is responsible for themselves to sign up and where they sign up is where they go. Easy and fair. You sign up number 6, you're number 6.

There's no bumping anyone ahead of anyone. At least not until Mick Jagger and Keith Richards walk through the door and only have 40 minutes to spare. We're talking Jagger/Richards here, not a friend who just arrived into town. If players do want to switch, anyone it affects can't be affected. So if player #6 wants to swap with player #3, fine. But player #3 is not now in the #4 slot, they are in the #6 slot. Therefore, players #4 and #5 are not affected... A.K.A. it's fair.

I can't tell you how many of these events I've been to where someone walks through the door and the host by passes all who've been there for an hour or two and puts them on stage. Here you have people who have spending a lot of money on dinner and drinks waiting to play and supporting the event, and they are suddenly treated like yesterday's garbage.

I've seen the most passive, docile people in the world, suddenly have steam coming out of their ears like a whisteling teapot. These are people that are here every week, week in, week out. They're the bread and butter of the machine. They don't deserve to be treated like crap, In addition to that, it's a completely moronic business decision from the get go. A.K.A. Never bite the hand that feeds you!

So, I put out a sign up list at one point or another, when I'm setting up. I'm always first on the list regardless. It goes without saying that I have to make sure the sound is correct for everyone else, so I'm that guinnea pig. I give Dani Hoy, my girlfriend and #1 roadie the option of being #2 first, as she's helped lug everything from home. Sometimes she takes it, sometimes she opts for #4, #6, or whatever. After that, anyone who wants to play signs up. When we get through the list, we start over, so everyone has the opportunity to play twice, or more.

I've also been asked via message, text, and phone call "Can you sign me up for about 10:30". Sorry. Everyone's responcible for themselves. Like Bogart in Casablanca "I stick my neck out for no one". Besides, it's similar to the above case. There are people there buying dinner and drinks and maybe their signup would put them on at 10:45, yet someone waltzes through the door, having not spent a penny, and they're ahead of the person who's been there? Not on my shift.  It again, goes back to being fair for everyone.

At my open mic, it's fair for everyone.




McConnell's (900 Duval St.) is very, very good to us! On paper we run 9 to midnight. I can't recall the last time we stopped at midnight however. The early side is !2:30, the late side is 2:00am. In fairness to other places, many have restrictions on how late they can play, so you're limited. Another great thing about McConnell's is that it's right on Duval St. I can't tell you how many people walking by, who normally had no intention of stopping there, hear the music through the open door, stop, look in, then come in! To say that thousands have come in because of live music, is not an exaggeration in the slightest. They're not musicians, but like so many in Key West, they love live music!

My view is that as long as the register is ringing and everyone's having fun, we're continuing! This has been my policy, where permisable, forever. Some other musicians don't care for it, they think I'm doing them a disservice. They think because I do it, they will be expected to do likewise. I don't know what they'll be expected to do? What I'm doing is the simple business sense that I've used in my former thirty year career, carrying over to this: Give the customer more than they asked for. The customer in this case is the bar/restaurant. It's a known fact: When the live music stops, the customers leave. If I'm still playing, they stay.

My job as a performer in a bar is not to play music, per say. So many in the music profession just don't get that concept in the slightest. A musician's job is elementary and it's truly amazing how many musicians just don't get it. Likewise, it's even more amazing how many bar owners and managers don't get it either! A musician's primary job, before anything else, is to make the cash register ring! Hello!

That's why we'll stay as late as 2am. Everyone's having fun and the cash register is singing it's favorite song!

My feeling is that because it's fair for everyone, it's a very successful open mic.

If you are coming to Key West, be it as a musician or someone who loves live music, stop by on Thursday nights at 9!


THE SHANTY HOUNDS WITH REDAWG

Dani Hoy and I have been playing about town recently as The Shanty Hounds. It's been a blast! A few weeks ago I bumped into Redawg, the amazing drummer who plays the Zendrum. Redawg suggested we pool our efforts together and go as a trio. Talk about a new dimension!



Suddenly we're becoming the talk of the town! HA HA HA!

Before this, Dani and I would do our duo songs, then do our individual sets. With Redawg we play everything together. We've been playing at Seadogs/Hen and Hounds a fair amount and having a blast! Last Saturday we played until 2am! We were scheduled to 12:30 (see the above article on open mics for the reason why). There's a lot of energy in this gig!




More to come on this as we progress, but we're having a blast!


MOTM 2014

A few plans are in the works again this year for MOTM, here in Key West. For those not familiar, MOTM is the Trop Rock gathering in Key West at the end of October/beginning of November.

One event, yet un-named will be on the final day, Sunday November 2nd, from 1:30 - 5:30 at Sunset Tiki at The Galleon!

Some REALLY exciting news will be announced very soon on this, so keep tuned in! There will be a Bar. B. Que going with burgers, dogs, and maybe chicken. More on that as we dot the I's and cross the T's!!!!

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I apologize for the pictures in this blog! Photbucket is going through some change and I can't reduce the size of the pictures, so I've gone back to an old Flicker account for the pictures. As you can see, I haven't figured out how to get the size option correct yet! HA HA HA!!!
 K.W. Chris Rehm





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, September 1, 2014

Key West Brew Fest, Tipping, Conchalele, Beer Show on Spreaker

KEY WEST BREW FEST

With the "Key West Beer Tales - The Sum Of All Beers" radio pod cast show coming into stride, The Key West Brew Fest is naturally a main focus for us. This year marks the fifth year of the event and according to the web site, there are over 150 beers represented here. Fellow broadcaster, Diamond Dave Jr. says it was 176! I have no reason to doubt this, having just returned from the event.

As virtually half of the readers of this blog are not from the U.S., the first weekend in September is a national holiday here, known as Labor Day. This year September 1st fell on a Monday, which is the day off we get, so the holiday was August 30, 31, and September 1st.

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While there are many events, the main event is always held on Saturday at South Beach, Key West, right outside the Southernmost Cafe, on the beach itself. Large tents were set up by distributors and  contained all their representative beers from around the country. Importers were also there showcasing their products. Some of these beers showcased aren't available at all, such as the Stiegl Brewery's "Sonnen Koenig" ( The King's Sons) which are 1/2 aged in wine barrels and 1/2 in bourbon barrels. What a masterpiece and a true treat!!

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The event was a blast! All of the reps for the beers were just great. Most were very educated in their product, so as a beer nut, I was able to ask in depth questions and get informative answers.

Only two criticisms. While the Key West Brew Fest runs from Thursday to Monday at various places around town holding their own events, the main event that I'm talking about here is only one day and runs from 4 - 8 pm on Saturday. My feeling is that this event should be held on Sunday as well. On the flip side, the vendors are having a blast right along with the crowd, so Sunday may be a recovery day.

There was also live music. Great that they had it! The problem was it was too loud. Anywhere within 75 feet (25 M) of the stage the most common word between everyone was "What???". If their volume was set to 8, it should have been at 5. As a musician myself, I always have to rely on the bar staff to make sure my volume is acceptable. In a bar setting, or one such as this, the clientele has to have the option of either listening, or having a conversation. On the stage, it's often impossible to tell as we hear everything through a monitor, which is set for the volume on the stage, not the audience. The organizers need to establish a volume level for the performer. Any pro won't be offended.

At our radio pod cast "Key West Beer Tales - The Sum of All Beers", we're hoping to have a table at next year's event! This will be a bit of a twist, as I don't think there were any organizations there over the weekend who didn't have a beer to offer. The hope with us being that we can do a live broadcast. However, even if we can't do that.. there are a lot of requirements, such as a strong internet connection, we'll do the pod cast regardless.

I HIGHLY recommend anyone who is a fan of great beer, to make the trek to next year's Key West Brew Fest!

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Tickets were $35 in advance via their website http://www.keywestbrewfest.com/ and $40 at the gate. They give you a 5 1/2 oz  or about 0165L  plastic glass. In plain terms, about half a bottle of beer.


TIPPING
Perhaps the finest way to sully, tarnish, and just plain drag your name in the mud in the Keys is to be a lousy tipper. The wait and bar staffs have their own coconut telegraph that blows up like gasoline to an open flame! I recall a few years ago being in one bar and hearing the staff talking about a particular customer, who was described in a not all that complementary fashion. ... actually, that's being quite kind. They were livid. The next day I was at another establishment on the other end of the island where I heard staff members talking about the same individual. He hadn't been there, however the word had gotten around the island to watch out for him. That's right, one end of the island to the other in 24 hours. He was kind of a well known guy as well, having been in the news, so it was somewhat easy to identify him. In the end, no one wanted to be associated with him as he had been labeled an "asshole" and ended up moving after several months.

I had a friend come and see me at a bar I was playing at. At the end of the gig the waitress comes up to me and says "That friend of yours gave me a $1.25 tip". A $1.25 tip. Her service was excellent as well. Unbelievable. I handed her four bucks which warranted the appropriate tip for the bill and told her that it was a reflection on me, as they there as my guest.

Tipping is based on an 18% standard. Here's an easy way to figure it out. Round the 18% off to 20%... it's good karma! Take your total... lets call it $50.00. Double it and move the decimal point one space to the left and you have a $10.00 tip. It's not really too tough.
 Bottom line is if you can't afford a 20% tip, you have no business ordering anything to begin with. Just go home. Frankly, it's stealing. It's a theft.

CONCHALELE

Several weeks ago we had someone arrive at the open mic I hold every Thursday at McConnell's with a very unique instrument. It was a ukelele, however it was made from a south pacific conch shell! Bob McPhail, who spends part of his time at the Boca Chica marina, came up with the idea and started construction on it. He christened it a "Conchalele"!

As we speak there is only one in the world, however Bob has orders (and conch shells) for five more. These are all hand made and electrified. Construction and craftsmanship are superb and it's a stunning instrument that gets hoards of attention!

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Bob has a blog which showcases his Conchalele. Be sure to check it out. Anyone who plays a uke, will find it fascinating!!!

http://conchalelemon.blogspot.com/

BEER SHOW NOW ON SPREAKER!

As our beer show, "Key West Beer Tales - The Sum of All Beers" has no time that makes it go bad, we're now posting the shows that are already aired, on Spreaker! Now you can listen to all of our past shows that have already been aired on the radio stations!

The Key West Beer Tales - The Sum of All Beers, is Sponsored by:

The Cork and Stogie
1218 Duval St.
Key West, Fl. 33040

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cork-and-Stogie/224580674233927


 When listening, be sure to have a beer at the ready and vicariously drink a beer in Key West with us! Also, make certain you have your laughing pants on!

Here's the link, plus you can also download the ap for your smartphone!
http://www.spreaker.com/show/key-west-beer-taless-tracks

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For the up to the minute hot off the press radio pod casts, here's the current schedule:
KW Beer Tales  Airing/Stations Schedule
KWOM - 10am and 10pm
http://www.tikilive.com/radio/kwom-key-west-original-music-radio

Trop Rock Radio - Sundays 5 - 6

http://www.radiotroprock.com/Welcome.html

Radio A1A - Monday's at 7 and last week's show every other day

http://www.radioa1a.com/

The Shore - Friday at noon
http://wnyshoreradio.com/

Tiki Beach Shop -  Monday, Wednesday, Friday  -  2Pm

http://www.tikibeachshop.com/


Tiki Island Radio - times TBA

"LIKE" our Facebook Page!!!

https://www.facebook.com/KeyWestBeerTales





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!!