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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

What Is Trop Rock Music - Part II Solar Power Not Allowed in Key West, Happy Holidays!

What Is Trop Rock Music?   Part II -  Solar Power Is Not Allowed in Key West, -  Happy Holidays!!!

2015 MOTM Pit Stop Party at Popp's Motel in Key Largo. 

In the last blog we looked at some of the early influences of Trop Rock music. Specifically we looked at Martin Denny and Antonio Carlos Jobim. We also touched on Jimmy Buffett in his early Key West stages. I included a very early recorded piece of his that I have, Cuban Crime Of Passion, which he recorded live at a Steve Goodman gig in Coconut Grove, on their way back to Key West after recording the album “A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean”. Interestingly enough, when I posted that clip it had sixty six plays and at this exact moment it has two hundred and five! It’s getting around! 

Maybe one day I can post the rest of the concert, which had the Godman/Buffett duo covering the Hank Williams song “You Win Again”, plus, “I Have Found Me A Home”, “Cuban Crime Of Passion”, “Death Of An Unpopular Poet”, and “Ghost Riders in The Sky”?

I’ll get back to Mr. Buffett in a bit, but first let’s look at a style of music that preceded Buffett and Trop rock has virtually never acknowledged, for reasons that this writer has no understanding, and this would be Latin Rock. The very first thing that comes to anyone’s mind when it comes to Latin rock, is of course, Santana. Let’s face it, he invented it.

Carlos Santana grew up in Mexico and later moved to San Francisco, where he started his group, Santana. It wasn’t long before Santana became a household name after they played at Woodstock a short time later. There’s no way on earth that this music couldn’t be considered as Trop Rock.
The curious thing about Santana was that the music he was playing, was largely Afro/Cuban rooted. Santana was of course Mexican, and in Mexican culture, Afro/Cuban music wasn’t the norm.  This was an oddity.

Samba Pa Ti

For myself, I see the Latin Rock/Jazz/Salsa/Timba as an undiscovered oasis that can easily be also carried under the Trop Rock umbrella. The percussion itself is a particularly interesting influence to incorporate. Hopefully some Trop radio stations will carry more Latin music in the near future.

Many Trop Rock artists use the congas, and the congas of course come from the Afro/Caribbean influence on Trop. Here’s one example from my upcoming album, this is a fade in snippet to my song “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow” where you can hear Tod Sheley, then of the band Homemade Wine, on the congas.

One thing that I have forgotten to mention regarding Trop Rock music, and music in general, is that no one has to be locked into a particular genre. I talked about Carlos Santana earlier. If you look at his Wikipedia profile, he’s listed as Latin Rock, Chicano Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Blues Rock, Jazz Fusion, Tejano. Jimmy Buffett is listed as Rock, Country, Country Pop, Folk, Gulf and Western. So being listed as multiple genres is very acceptable. An artist doesn’t have to be locked into just one.

When Jimmy Buffett’s album “A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean” ( a tung in cheek take off of Marty Robbins’ song “A White Sport Coat and a Pink Carnation”) came out,  it brought to light, perhaps by chance, a type of music that was focused in a tropical island setting, namely Key West. Buffett stayed with the theme all along and it stuck. Today,  almost forty three years after its release, Buffett is one of the world’s wealthiest musical artists, with an estimated net worth of over $400M.
Many performers who were inspired by Buffett, fall into the singer/songwriter category. Kelly McGuire and the late Hugo Duarte are two prime examples. Buffett hit a chord (pun intended) with singer/songwriters on many of his ballads, such as the aforementioned “I Have Found Me A Home” and “Death Of An Unpopular Poet”. Many feel the ballad is his greatest forte. If the ballad is Buffett’s greatest forte, that would make “A Pirate Looks At 40” his greatest song.

In 1982, Bertie Higgins released his song, Key Largo.  It charted #8 for that year. Higgins later anointed the style of music he was playing as Trop Rock. The name has stuck ever since and Bertie Higgins is the one who is credited on christening the name.

The interesting thing about Trop Rock today is that, while many performers are considered what’s known as “Parrotheads” (Fans of Buffett), many are not. In its evolution, Trop Rock has taken on new artists with influences that are not Jimmy Buffett, while some of those artists and fans don’t even care for Buffett. Growth is always good. If something stagnates, it will die. New influences are always part of growth, so on the one hand, while some are surprised to hear that some musicians in Trop Rock are not fans of Buffett, it’s expected.

To Be Continued…. 

Solar Power Not Allowed in Key West

Now that statement sure sounds strange, doesn’t it? The number one reason people head to Key West is because of abundant sunshine! Sunshine, from the Dry Tortugas to Key Biscayne, is the entire Conch Republic’s biggest asset. One would think that city government would embrace something like solar power, wouldn’t you? 

However solar power is not permitted in Key West! Well, the city can set up solar panels to power lighted street signs and the word on the street says that old City Hall on Greene Street may soon become solar powered. However, for the average citizen or business, solar power is, as the Germans say, Verboten!*

No, I can’t attach solar panels to my roof in order to conserve energy. God forbid, I may get more than I need and have to sell it back to the electric company! The electric company could then sell it to say, New Jersey, and make a profit.

The rumor mill says that the city and the electric company have struck some kind of a deal with freezing the price of oil for an extended period of time… a.k.a. Years?

Want to hear the biggest oddity of all? Christine Gorham was running for the utility board as pro-solar. Her opponent, Mona Clark, who already held the office and was against solar power, won in the October election.

Make what you will of the voters in Key West.


It’s the Holiday Season! The Shanty Hounds, (Dani Hoy and myself) along with our dear friend Bobby DeVito, wrote and recorded a holiday song “Happy Merry Christmas From Key West”!
The objective was to capture the Key West bacchanalia atmosphere!
Everyone wrote their own verse (I’m first, Dani’s second, Bobby’s third) while Dani and I co-wrote the bridge.
The song captures the fun, partying, festive atmosphere that is Key West and also features our dogs, Cajun and Tooloulou! Let’s also not forget our friend Schmegly, who happened to stop by while we were recording!
This is 100% a Key West production. Everything was done right here. The song was written and recorded at our house, The Conch Rock Shanty, and was mixed and mastered at Private Ear Studio here in Key West by none other than the great Dan Simpson!
If you love Key West, this will complement your Christmas music collection perfectly.

To purchase it, here’s the link to CD Baby. It’s less than a dollar! That’s right!  $.99
So, please, help support the blog! Have a bunch of joy, fun, and laughs and download it from CD Baby!

Thank you for reading the blog!!!

* = Verboten, of course translates quite easily to it's English cousin's word of forbidden. Use of the German word is for emphasis. ;-)  

1 comment:

  1. Cuban Crime Of Passion, which he recorded live at a Steve Goodman gig in Coconut Grove, cd review