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Tuesday, October 20, 2015


 photo PostcardOverseasHwy2.jpg


A few very odd things have been happening with the upcoming 2016 MOTM event, scheduled as usual,for the first week in November.

This year brought the TRMA (Trop Rock Music Awards) back to the Casa Marina,where the organizing body, PHIP (Parrot Heads In Paradise), holds their annual MOTM event. The TRMA having not been there recently, but had been in the past, now are returning. One of the most exciting things was that this year the awards were going to be televised on the internet via video streaming!

This is a marvelous thing! Media counts show there are over 2,000,000 Trop Rock fans out there in the world and of those, around 7000 - 8000 make it to Key West for the annual gathering and festivities. So that means that around 1,992,000 are staying home.

The video stream would mean that these people could watch and enjoy the awards event! What a great idea, both for the fans that could not attend, as well as the genre itself!

With less than a month to go, PHIP decided not to proceed with the broadcast. Why would they do something like this? At best it makes PHIP look bad, and that’s the best, mind you. Canceling media exposure is a definite step backwards, no matter how you look at it. I recall from twenty something years ago, someone I followed in sports said after he made an error "Any publicity is good, no matter how you cut it". Canceling publicity is going backwards.

Many of you know that I'm one of the proponents of making Trop Rock a recognized genre. I actually started a Facebook page "Make Trop Rock a Recognized Genre". Please look it up and join it! Canceling a web TV broadcast is working against the genre's expansion.

A1A Media, an affiliate of Radio, were to be  handling the video and streaming. After talking with A1A owner Harry Teaford, all he would say was that he didn’t understand why they cancelled the broadcast and he was very disappointed. 

Another oddity is the scheduling. When the TRMA was scheduled at The Casa Marina by PHIP, they were scheduled for Thursday afternoon. Then there was a change, again with only a few weeks to go, the TRMA is off the schedule entirely, replaced with Mac McAnally and Jimmy Buffett and The Coral Refer Band. The TRMA was off the schedule entirely.

Several days later, TRMA was rescheduled for Saturday from 4:00 - 5:30, albeit without the live video feed.

Next we get to perhaps the strangest thing of all. According to a few different sources, participants in the entire PHIP run MOTM at The Casa Marina were reportedly told that they could say that Buffett was in the MOTM event on their private websites… but could’t say anything about it in social media!

Meanwhile, PHIP has it on their on line schedule.

How does this make any sense? PHIP have it on their schedule for all to see, but people scheduled in the event can’t put it on their Facebook page? How does this make sense? It sounds like a paranoid lawyer, tripping on acid, who came up with this ridiculous scheme.

Hey look, I like Jimmy Buffett. Hell, I am one of a few on the planet that have the earliest live recording of him, playing with Steve Goodman in a bar in Coconut Grove called Bubba’s,. They were on their way back to Key West from Nashville, after recording Pink Crustacean! (Thank you Dave!) No one knew who he was when Steve introduces him. However, Jimmy Buffett, nor anyone else, should muscle their way in to an event, at the last minute, causing complete mayhem with everyone who’s been organizing the event for a year. Things like this need to be done in an organized fashion. Upsetting the applecart only harvests large problems for everyone, even those who are not immediately involved. Look before you leap, or you run the risk of looking like a bull in a china shop.

Finally, I’m hosting some events during MOTM around town, one of which is to promote the Trop Rock Festival at Sea, being held at the Sunset Tiki Bar, Wednesday, November 4th, noon to 5. The idea here is that we would have performers who are on the cruise, playing at the event. That way people who are already booked, get a preview and those who are not, might just decide that a cruise to St. Thomas, Tortola, and Nassau, might be a great time!

One of the performers on the cruise, is also in the PHIP event at the Casa Marina. When I invited him he replied “Sorry, but they are adamant about exclusivity.” In short, if a performer is playing at the PHIP event, they are not allowed to play anything but the PHIP event at the Casa Marina. It's in their contract.

I had heard this last year from a few performers as well. According to them, it’s in the contract they signed with PHIP.

I don’t understand how an organization like PHIP can restrict a musician’s income? That would strike me as being incorrigible. 

On the other hand, there are several musicians who are in the Casa Marina event that are also playing around town as well. Is there a loophole in the contract? It’s certainly a curiosity. 


When I made my album a few years ago, I was adamant about having a sound that was Key West. The last thing I wanted was something that was a make -pretend Key West sound. I didn’t want something that was recorded in New York, L.A., Nashville, or someplace like that, because that’s what it would sound like, a Trop Rock album that sounded like it was recorded by people who don't live in the tropics. It happens all the time. On my album, I wanted it to sound like the Keys. I wanted people who lived, breathed, and played music here all the time, to be the people playing on it. Additionally, eight of the ten songs were written in my old apartment on Whitehead Street. 

So, that’s who I put on the album and the album was recorded at The San Carlos Institute and Private Ear Studios. The San Carlos has been here since the 1870’s and Private Ear is over thirty years old. 

Likewise with the musicians. Marty Stonely, who played woodwinds, has lived in the Keys over thirty years. Bubba Lownotes on bass has been here around twenty-five years. Bob Boyd and Barry Cuda, both on keyboards, have been here twenty five and thirty years. Pauly Walterson on congas, is a Conch and has been here his whole life, seventy years.

Same was true with the producer, Dan Simpson. Dan hitch-hiked into Key West in 1978.

This album had to be 100% through and through, Florida Keys. It had to be the real deal, or nothing. That's where I live. I don't live in Michigan, New York, Oregon. I live in Key West and that was the sound and feel I wanted for that album, Key West.

At one point when we were recording the album, Dan Simpson and I were throwing around ideas for one song and I suggested "Maybe a steel drum?"

Dan dropped his chin and looked at me with his eyebrows forward.


Me: "You don't like steel drums?"

Dan: "It's not that I like them or don't like them. Your objective is to have an album that sounds like Key West. Steel drums are NOT Key West at all. It never has been."

I was reminded of this last evening, after our Thursday night gig at Grunts. Pauly Walterson has been sitting in with us on congas and after the gig we were shooting the shit.

Now remember, Pauly is seventy years old and spent his whole life in bands and around music. He’s also the best Conch to talk to about Key West history, bar none.

The subject somehow goes to steel drums and Pauly says “Take steel drums. They are not Key West. They’re in Jamaica, or Trinidad. And Reggae? That’s not Key West either, that’s Jamaican. What we are is Junkanoo from the Bahamas. You know Junkanoo with all the drums! We're also Cuban. Of course we have a lot of old time Country in our roots too.That’s what we are Bahamian, Cuban, Country, and later Rock and Roll. There are no steel drums in either of those cultures, nor in ours.”

There you have it, directly from the man himself.

The Key West Junkanoos in the Goombay Parade several years ago. This year's Goombay Parade is Friday, October 23rd.

Junkanoos playing Blue Heaven in 2012 on top of the watertower


  1. Seems pretty short-sighted to me, Chris. Music changes, music evolves, and music is a reflection of the current times. To say that pans aren't "Key West" is like saying that an electric keyboard isn't country or a synthesizer isn't pop. They weren't always, so they can't be?

    Key West music is like a melting pot of instruments, cultures and genres. To make a blanket statement such as "this belongs,that doesn't" is not only close-minded, but disingenuous as well.

    1. What is being stated here is by two Key West's most respected musicians that have 100 years of music experience in Key West between them. What they are saying is that steel pans have never been part of the Key West sound or culture. I wouldn't say that's close-minded or disingenuous at all. I'd call that historical fact. Thanks for reading and commentating Duane!

  2. Thanks for your insight Chris as always. I've watched these events evolve into the cluster they are over the last month or so and i must say this years seems like a total disorganization and a lack of respect for the effort of the hard working artist like yourself and others.
    This totally goes against the effort we all try to put into the Trop Rock campaign.

    1. Thanks Tiki Man! I'm actually clear of it as I'm not in the PHIP event at the Casa, nor have I bought tickets to attend. I know people who have worked year round, only to be butted aside at the eleventh hour apparently because JB wants to be a part of it all of the sudden. On the flip side, there's a lot more going on around town than there is at the Casa and the Shanty Hounds are very busy. that week I'm happy to say!