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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Beer Show! Key West Beer Tales - The Sum of all Beers



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Key West Beer Tales - The Sum Of All Beers

We've been doing both a beer show podcast and a music show podcast since last summer and we've had a blast doing them! The beer show has been available on the Spreaker site for a while. These are shows that have already aired. We're also picking up new stations!

The beer show is very unique and frankly, I see it as far superior to anything else out there as far as a beer podcast goes.

In most cases when a consumer is investigating a beer of any sort, they'll look on line naturally. There are a good deal of web sites that cover and critique beer. Rate Beer, Beer Advocate, Yelp, Untapped, Beer-Universe, Beer Of The Month Club, and there are most likely others that I don't know about. Of course, this shows what a healthy state of interest beer is enjoying today!

Ours is different however. To start with, it's recorded in a bar, the Cork and Stogie in Key West! Fitting for a show of our nature! Secondly, we're authentic. The place we get our information on the beers is from the brewery itself. Now and then a brewery has a website that has little or no information on a beer. When this would happen I looked at the aforementioned  sites to see if they had any information on the beer in question. Many times in doing this I found erroneous information. With one particular beer I found alcohol content (ABV - alcohol by volume) to be 3.7 on one site, 4.2 on another, and 5.0 on another.

Obviously, none of these could be trusted, because it appeared that they were pulling numbers out of a hat. So, with us, if it's not from the brewery, we don't state it without a disclaimer that it's only an educated guess. We don't arbitrarily stick a number that we pulled out of the air and list it as verbatim. Others seem to do this regretfully. With us, it comes from the brewery or we categorically state that we are guessing and also give a range that we're guessing.

Draft beer can vary. If the brewery lists a beer as 5.0 on line, a keg may arrive which has a sticker on it showing 5.2. It will seldom be more than .2 over/under, and we'll state that particular keg's brewery listing. Again, it's the rating from the brewery that we go by. If not, we don't without a full blown disclaimer. It's a matter of integrity.

Our panel is quite unique and covers a wide range, giving the listener a good foundation to work from. The standard panel we use is five, although sometimes one or more may have other commitments and can't make the show. On a few occasions we've also had a small live audience.

However, here's our roster and how we all fit in. I'll start with myself and name the crew in the order that we sit at the show.

Key West Chris: I'm the host of the show and the old school beer guy. I started drinking quality beer when I was eighteen (legal age back then) and became intrigued with it from the beginning. I bought the book The World Guide To Beer by English author and patron saint of  beer, Michael Jackson, just after it was was first released and proceeded to buy over forty books on beer thereafter. The beer in my refrigerator today, is never the same beer that is there tomorrow, nor has it been my whole adult life.There is no beer that is my favorite, or favorite style. Every beer has it's place.

Dani Hoy: Dani is new (but getting more and more a veteran!) to quality beer and therefore a vital part of the show. She'll often ask questions that I, or some of the other crew, would never cross our minds. Everyone is new to beer at one point or another. We all were. Dani fits a vital role in our show because of this. So, it's very important to address that side of things and cultivate those with a new interest in cerevisia or cervisia, the Latin names for beer! Dani is the gateway for that side of the show! From my perspective that is equally tied for being the most important part of the show.

Cultivating new lovers of beer is vital for growth and interest and while it may share a front seat with other vital responsibilities, nothing goes in front of it. What other beer show features a novice's questions as part of the panel? I think we're unique here as well. Dani is also the editor of the show, which for each 47 minute podcast, takes her four to six hours to complete. YEY Dani! Additionally, Dani is a marvelous chef in the kitchen, so she has a very educated pallet which is now expanding to quality beers!

Cowboy Mark Straiton: Mark is a fascinating individual who, from his native Connecticut, traveled the world and happened to be a major beer enthusiastic while doing so! He's also right on the money as to exactly what is trending in the beer world, at this exact minute, as well as when it changes five minutes from now. While I'm the old school beer guy, Mark is the new school beer guy. His tales of beer from his around the world travels is always great fn from street meat in Austria, to fearing for his life in Moscow! He's extremely well versed and educated on beer and funny enough, his and my pallets are quite similar in many circumstances. Mark is also a very well versed bartender and an accomplished chef, who's worked in restaurants both in Key West and his old stomping grounds, Brooklyn, N.Y..

Diamond Dave: Dave is our lighthearted member who keeps us laughing. After all, laughing is essential when drinking beer! Hell, if we were too serious the show would be boring! We all have great senses of humor and Dave is often the catalyst who gets us laughing, like throwing gas on the fire, when we already are! Are there any shows that offer this? I don't think so! Dave is quite knowledgeable on beer as well and has been a major IPA fan for over fifteen years. Dave is our "Go To IPA Guy"!

Dave Senior: Dave Senior is the owner of The Cork and Stogie, here in Key West where we record the shows. One of the greatest attributes here is having a bar owner on the panel! Dave sees things from a totally different angle than anyone else. Dave sees what people are buying on a day to day basis and orders his beer accordingly. Tell me another show that has that?Dave is also an expert on both cigars and wine, which again brings things to the table not found elsewhere.

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Key West Beer Tales reviews beers, we don't rate them. Rating beer is B/S. I recall doing a show where we featured Pilsner Urquell. Now, Pilsner Urquell has always been regarded as one of the finest beers in the world. One of the on line beer websites had it rated by their subscribers, in the seventies out of one hundred. Seriously? What many highly respected beer experts over the last century and 3/4, the highest in their field, have called the finest pilsner available, these people are rating in the seventies? I'd love to see the woodwork they're crawling out of! Probably 1313 Mockingbird Lane! Another rating had an opinion of Stella Artois as "tasting like Budweiser".  did that individual burn their tongue with a blow torch or something? What kind of people do they have rating anyway?

Those are but two examples that lead me to believe that there was not only a call for our show, but also a need for it as well.

So, we comment on the beer and note what flavor impressions each one of us pick up. Everyone in our group has a very educated pallet. Some may not be routed in beer. Dani's stems from cooking. Dave Senior's comes from wine and cigars. Interestingly enough, when anyone expresses a taste, everyone else picks up on it. I can't say how many times one of our panel says they taste something I did not detect. From that point on, I notice it, however had they not brought it up, I may never have noticed it on my own. The same can be true for our listeners!

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We often do pairings. Who better than to ask on pairings then peope who are great in the culinary arts as well as being beer lovers? Cowboy Mark has been a professional chef! Dani is great in the kitchen and used to prepare daily meals and dinner for a bourgeoisie couple in a stately mansion on the Patomac. I'm not too bad in the kitchen myself, or better yet, on the grill. So in pairings we offer a very good basis to go by.

Here's one thing you don't see in pairings that we do somewhat often actually. No one is sticking a gun to our heads and saying "Pair this with something!". Quite often is the case that one of our panel will just flat out say "I'm not going to pair this with anything". So often I see pairings being done like a knee jerk and a pairing is a must. Well, you know what?  No it isn't. Some beers just stand on their own. For instance, last night we reviewed Old Ruffian Barley Wine out of the Great Divide Brewery out of Denver, Co. Fantastic beer!!! Pairing? Me? No thanks. I think that beer is best drunk as an aperitif, after a meal, all by itself. In other words, there's no B/S from any of us. ( on the no B/S stand, Cowboy Mark recently described a beer as tasting like a pine cone that had been up a skunk's ass. Now while I'm not sure how he knows what that tastes like, that's certainly a no B/S approach! HA HA HA!)

In addition, as we're based at the Cork and Stogie in Key West (1218 Duval St) we also do cigar pairings. Dave Senior is an expert, as are Diamond Dave and Cowboy Mark as well. Who else offers cigar pairings?

Key West is becoming a popular destination for beer enthusiasts. In addition to The Cork and Stogie there are many bars that offer fine beers. We've had beer entrepreneur Chris Schults, owner of The Porch, 2 Cents, and the soon to be opened Waterfront Brewery, on as a guest and plan on having him on again! Great guy with a vision! Also in the cards is a visit to Bone Island Brewing, a new brewery here in Key West.

We've also had the CEO of Stiegl Brewery from Salzberg, Austria, Robert Schraml interviewed right in the Cork and Stogie on our show! He flew 4000 miles in part to be on our show in Key West. This was planned months in advance. What other show has interviews with CEO's of large breweries, from Europe no less, on their shows?

Future plans for the show include little field trips to different places in, not only Key West, but through out the Florida Keys!

Some video is also in store! We hope to have clips here and there, now and then which we'll have on our YouTube site. We have to learn how to walk before we can run, but it's in the cards!

This is a beer show. In being a beer show, it's different than many other shows in one particular regard. Yes, you'll get a very good variety of opinions and in puts. Yes, you'll pick up all sorts of fascinating facts about beer that you never knew. Yes, our stats come from the brewery itself, we don't invent them on the fly, Yes, our panel is quite diverse which without doubt is our strongest point featuring traditional opinions, the new and trending opinions, new quality beer drinker 's questions and opinions, the pub owner's viewpoint on what people are buying this month, this week, and today. however we're different in one other very important aspect and this is a vital aspect  which separates beer drinking from so many other subjects:

We know how to laugh!

 We're beer lovers, we're not beer snobs.

Indeed we know how to laugh! We know how to have fun! We don't hold ourselves above anyone and we love to educate those who want to know more and everyone has a blast doing it!  The antithesis of any type of snob.

So come join us! Be sure to grab a beer before you tune in and have your laughing pants on and pad and pencil ready!

We do out show from our benevolent sponsor's bar:

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

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To hear any of our past shows check out our Spreaker account!
It works the same as Youtube or Soundcloud! Here's one show:

And here's the library link to all past shows:

For all of our latest, up to the minute shows airing on radio stations on line,  here's the weekly schedules!

KW Beer Show Schedule (all times are EST)

KWOM - 10am and 10pm Daily

Trop Rock Radio - 6pm Friday

Radio A1A - 10am Tuesday

The Shore - noon on Saturday

Tiki Beach Shop - 2pm Monday, Wednesday & Friday

Permanent Vacation Radio - 10pm Monday & 8pm Friday 6pm Saturday

Beach Life Radio   Monday - Friday 7PM

Palm Tree Radio -

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Thank you!!!

To hear and download my music

(also available on iTunes, and CD Universe! Search "Key West Chris")


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Winter Relief!

                                                         Winter Relief!!!!

It's been a very difficult winter this year for most of the United States. Fortunately, here in Key West it's been fantastic, so we've been blessed!

Today, it's sunny and 82 (28C) degrees. I felt perhaps a bit of music from the Keys, as well as pictures, might go well!

Hope you enjoy!

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I hope that helps a bit! All the Best From Key West and the Florida Keys!

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!!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Recording In Key West With Homemade Wine

                              Recording In Key West With Homemade Wine

A little while back I mentioned that I was soon to embark on a new album. Well, there were some delays, but on February 12, 2015 I went into the studio and we got the ball rolling! This part of the album, is a bit of an island from what will be the rest of it.

This section actually is rooted almost two years ago when my friends with Homemade Wine out of Knoxville, Tn. were in town and we had a jam up in the band room at Margaritaville where they were playing.

At my suggestion, we jammed on Marshall Tucker’s song “This Ol’Cowboy”, as we were both major Marshall Tucker fans. Of course they were familiar with the song, but up to that point, had not played it before.

We had a blast playing it and percussionist, Tod Sheley, video taped it. It’s gotten a lot of attention on their YouTube channel. It was a great evening, without a doubt.

After this, we decided we’d love to write a song together. I started it, but whenever they were in town, regretfully there wasn’t time to get together and work on a song.Consequently, I wrote the rest of the song.

It was written musically by design to have a close relation to This Ol’ Cowboy, though at the same time, it’s very different. The song is entitled “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow”. Kind of semi-philosophical of how I lead my life. Learn from the past, live in the moment, set goals for the future, based on sailing on a sailboat motif/foundation.

Well, here we are and even though we never got to write the song together, we did record it right here in Key West.

The original plan was to record it with Dan Simpson, however Dan didn’t have the facility to do it live, which was the plan. A block away from me is Lance Taylor’s Key West Studio, so that was made the official destination. We could set the whole band up there and do live takes.

It’s an amazing studio, built into a small Conch House, not far from the Southernmost Point. It’s also Lance’s home, however it’s far more accurate to say that Lance lives in the studio, rather than the studio is in Lance’s home.

As you walk into the house via the front door, you are walking into the drum room, complete with sound deadening, plus,  a set of drums that the late, great Richard Crooks donated to the cause, so that they could be put to use by all who need a set of quality drums to record with. A great philanthropic gesture indeed, by the Maestro, prior to his earthly departure.

From there you enter the control room, where all of the computers are. Mission control, so to speak. The bass was set up here, which gave great proximity to both the drums on one side and the rest of us on the other. On that other side is what would be the dining room, however this is where the rest of the band sets up. For us this day it was two electric guitars, an acoustic guitar, and added percussion.

Before all of this, we met up in the band room at Margaritaville, where the band was playing,  the day before. We actually were doing two songs, the other being another song of mine “Ride to the End of the Line Anyway”. Both songs needed to be defined structurally and the guys need to be versed with what was going on and when.

The guys were superb! What more could you ask for really? They not only gave their undivided attention, but also helped immensely in the arrangements. I had done the arrangements, however they refined and defined them. Ryan Sheley has a very keen sense of what works. Often as a writer/arranger one cannot see the forest for the trees as you become so embedded in it all.  Ryan would say “lets cut that bar before the chorus and just go right into it.” He was 100% correct. Thanks Ryan!

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(Ryan Sheley going over songs in the band room)

Rick Reese was fantastic at defining what went where and what chords were used. Having a Berkley College of Music graduate on hand was the proverbial silver bullet. The rest of the band was fantastic as well, all just falling into the arrangements as we went along.

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(Rick Reese in the band room)

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(Andy Westcott and Brad Williams at rehearsal)

Additionally, after that was done and I left, they continued to work on them later that night. These guys were dedicated professionals. Their efforts are greatly appreciated!

The next day we hit the studio. As always, there were a few glitches to overcome, but that’s expected and nothing was extreme.

The two songs I chose to do with them were both Southern Rock based songs. “Ride To The End of the Line Anyway” was on the Allman Brothers side of the tracks, while “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow” was from the Marshall Tucker Band side of town, influence wise. Doing two songs based on Southern Rock, who better that have Homemade Wine backing me?

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(Andy Walcott  of Homemade Wine in the studio, Key West, Fl. C.R. USA)

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(Rick Reese of Homemade Wine in the studio, Key West, Fl. C.R. USA)

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(Bradley Williams of Homemade Wine in the studio, Key West, Fl. C.R. USA)

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(Tod Sheley)

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(Ryan Sheley of Homemade Wine in the studio, Key West, Fl. C.R. USA)

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(Playing acoustic in this picture)

To show progress as it goes, here’s some snippets of the songs. A lot must be added still, but for those not in the business, it might be interesting to see how a song progresses.

Here’s a snippet of “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow”

And “Ride To the End Of The Line Anyway”

Some folks only know me from my album “Shanghai’d and Marooned in Key West (things could be worse)”. On that album I tried to bring in a bunch of influences I’ve had over my life in music. Consequently, every song was in a different root genre. Afro/Cuban, Jazz, Brazilian, Bahamian, Country… the list goes on.

The album got fantastic accolades from all over the radio and recording business. The late Jeff Allen said “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

Also, I received an e-mail from none other than Shelly Liebowitz from Los Angeles, producer of Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Dr. John… saying that he loved the album! It really doesn’t come any stronger than that. That’s a seriously heavy endorsement.

Fact is however, that although so many people within the industry had such good things to say about the album and played the heck out of it (and still do! Thanks everyone!), it hasn’t sold as much as I hoped for.

It was funny because as we were in the studio last night, Dani Hoy said to me with a smirk while listening back to Ride To The End Of The Line Anyway, “That’s not Trop Rock” to which I replied “No, it isn’t”. We both laughed. I then replied “It is Conch Rock however!”

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As sales within the Trop Rock community hasn’t been supportive enough, I need other options to augment sales from other angles, in addition to Trop.

Everything is my passion that I’m doing, that’s the most important thing for me, in addition to carving new trails to go down. The one thing I insist on is not sounding like anyone else…. even myself sometimes. Not necessarily the creed of a pop artist, but I’m a songwriter and a progressive artist anyway.

What will it sound like?  Key West and the Florida Keys, naturally!

You can take that to the bank.

More to come as it proceeds!

Thank you again!
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!!